Car ownership

Expert advice: all about replacing an engine’s timing belt

timing belt
Here’s what your timing belt looks like inside the engine (Picture iStock/Warut1)

The cambelt or timing belt is an integral part of many engines. It also needs replacing on a regular – if thankfully not too frequent – basis. Read on and I’ll explain why the cambelt is so important, how you know if your car has one (not all do) and why replacing them is an absolute must-do.

Why is the timing belt so crucial?

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Surveys reveal most reliable cars and best garages

reliable cars
Coming out of lockdown it’s important to have a trustworthy garage (Picture iStock/FG Trade)

Reliable cars are vital for most of us. And garages plus the quality of service they offer are just as important. The last thing you want is to buy a new car and find that it either lets you down or when you need help, the garage offers shoddy service.

There’s an easy way to discover how dependable cars and their dealers are and that’s by asking the people with real-life experience of owning the cars. This is where surveys come in. We’ve combed reports compiled by Auto Express and What Car? to distil the information you need to know if you’re buying a new car.

Best garages

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Insurance groups: what are they, who sets them and which is your car in?

insurance groups
How cars behave in crashes is fundamental to which insurance group they are in (Picture iStock/monkeybusinessimages)

If you’re thinking of changing your car, how much you pay for insurance may be important to you. To help with this, all cars sit in insurance groups. Knowing about a car’s grouping will enable you to do an accurate, back-to-back comparison with other models you might be interested in.

Read on to find out what an insurance group is and how to find out what group a car is in.

What is an insurance group?

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MOT extension to end over unfit cars? Do your own vehicle health check

mot extension
Many MOT testing stations are open for business (Picture iStock/Marbury)

The UK’s six-month MOT extension might end early because of fears about increasing numbers of unroadworthy cars. Car owners are also being warned that if they don’t keep their motors in a fit state to be driven, their insurance may not cover them.

In the latest report by Green Flag and road safety charity Brake, an alarming number of drivers revealed gaps in their knowledge about vehicle maintenance. Around one in 10 drivers (9 per cent) claim they never carry out any vehicle safety checks.

One in four (27 per cent) said they care for their car just once a year. More worryingly, a fifth of drivers (20 per cent) said they’d knowingly driven an unroadworthy car.

We investigate why the MOT extension might end early and how you can ensure your car is roadworthy.

Who wants the MOT extension abandoned?

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What to do if your keyless entry doesn’t work

Modern cars are often accessed using remote fobs and keyless entry. But what do you do when it doesn’t work?

Thankfully, these vehicles are fitted with a key blade inside the fob, and a lock that’s either visible or hidden behind a cover on the door.

Below, we’ll show you some examples of what to do to gain entry to your car, and how to start it if the key is not detected.

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Falling petrol price: why it’s coming down and why it could go further

petrol price
The price of filling up is falling but how far will it go? (Picture iStock/AscentXmedia)

The petrol price is plummeting to below £1 a litre. However, some believe there’s room for it to fall further.

Since the beginning of the year, the price of crude oil – the raw material used to produce petrol and diesel – has more than halved. But although the cost of petrol at the pumps is falling, it hasn’t kept pace with rapid drops in oil prices. Here are two reasons why fuel prices might stay higher than you’d expect.

Reason 1: Fuel stations are suffering

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Expert advice: how to check your car’s fluids

fluids
It might look complicated but checking fluids is a simple task that anyone can do (Picture iStock/Ljubaphoto)

During lockdown, there’s every chance you won’t have been using your car as much as usual. Before driving it again regularly, it’s a good idea to check it and its fluids thoroughly.

All cars rely on fluids to operate properly. And it’s simple to check oil, coolant, brake fluid and screenwash. Follow my tips for doing so below.

When you’re checking a car’s fluids, it’s important that you park on a flat surface or you may think you haven’t got enough when you have, or more worryingly, vice versa.

How to check your oil

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Explained: how 3-month car finance payment holidays work

payment holidays
The majority of new cars are bought on finance. Relief is at hand for anyone struggling with repayments (Picture iStock/busra ispir)

Payment holidays for loans are an element of life we’ve had to get used to during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mortgage companies were quick off the mark to help customers struggling to pay for their homes. But what if you can’t meet car finance payments? Read on to find out what to do.

Car finance payment holidays launched

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Thousands report bad driving by using dash camera portal websites

dash camera portal
Dash camera footage is now responsible for thousands of driving convictions (Picture iStock/Toa55)

Ever thought of buying a dash camera for your car? More than three million UK drivers have already installed one of the dashboard-mounted devices. And the cameras have been such a hit with car owners that police are increasingly using the footage people send to them for making convictions.

In July 2018, the National Dash camera Safety Portal (NDSP) was set up. Since then, drivers, motorbikers and cyclists have uploaded more than 10,000 clips of footage. Around half of these have resulted in the police making convictions.

What is the NDSP?

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Pro tips on cleaning your car to stop COVID-19 spreading

stop COVID-19 spreading
Cleaning parts such as vents using an anti-bacterial and virus cleaner will help stop the spread of the disease (Picture iStock/zoff-photo)

There are 40 parts of your car that you should consider cleaning during the current coronavirus pandemic. Ben Murphy is the man who’s responsible for keeping Toyotas in tip-top shape for the Japanese firm. He’s outlined the 40 areas that he thinks drivers should target to stop COVID-19 spreading.

The virus is spread by tiny droplets sprayed from the mouth when an infected person coughs. And it can survive on hard surfaces. That means if your car goes to the garage for emergency repairs, it might spread the virus, or on return, harbour it. And if you get the virus on your hands while out, you can transfer it to other areas of your car. That could spread it to others.

How to clean your car

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