Valentine’s Day is coming up and it’s time to shower the one – or perhaps ones! – you love with gifts and attention. But where does your car rank in your affections? Will you be showing it how much you care this year? Or don’t you really care for it at all? Take our quiz to find out how much love you lavish on your car.
Is your car’s stop-start system on the blink at the moment? If it isn’t working as you think it should, there might be a very good reason for it. Stop-start is designed to save you fuel and cut a car’s exhaust emissions by reducing the amount of time your engine sits idling without going anywhere. And it’s on nine out of every 10 new cars sold. But if it stops stopping, is it a problem? And should you take your car to the garage?
It might be due to the cold weather
Changes to Britain’s MOT test prove an alarming number of cars are on our roads in a potentially lethal state. Official figures show that nearly a third (32 per cent) of MOT failures were due to a dangerous defect.
In numbers, that’s 1.13m cars categorised as ‘dangerous’ after failing their MOT between the introduction of the revised test in May 2018 and the end of the year. This means the car is considered an immediate risk to road safety. The owner is then banned from driving the car until it’s been made road legal again.
However, the Government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says more than half of MOT failures are preventable. Drivers, it says, could avoid the money and aggravation that an MOT failure can cause by conducting simple maintenance.
What are the MOT changes?
Returning your car’s paintwork to tip-top might be easier and less expensive than you think. What a car looks like can be blighted by pockmarked paint, unsightly scratches and displeasing dents. However, canny drivers can put all these right with just a little bit of elbow grease. Read on to find how you can return your car’s paintwork to showroom fresh.
Do you keep to your New Year’s resolutions? Or do you forget them as soon as you’ve made them? No matter how quickly you give up going to the gym three times a week, I hope you’ll stick to the five resolutions here. Not only might they save you a heap of money before the year’s out; they could also prevent you having to sit at the roadside in a conked-out car.
Some recent research found that millions of drivers don’t even perform the most rudimentary maintenance to prepare their motor for winter. Here’s a handful of checks that will keep your car motoring long after memories of New Year’s parties have faded.
New Year’s resolution 1: check the oil
Drivers of some of our most popular small cars could have to pay as much as £846 for replacement headlamp bulbs. New research reveals that the cost of mending broken headlights is escalating because increasing numbers of cars are relying on LED technology.
The study by What Car? shows that owners of the Volkswagen Polo, the country’s sixth best-selling car, will spend £18 on a new halogen bulb. Meanwhile, it’ll cost drivers of the upmarket GTI version £846 because it has LED headlamp units. Owners of the Suzuki Swift SZ3 or SZT models will pay just £4 for a replacement bulb. However, drivers of the more upmarket SZ5 version will fork out £684 to replace the xenon unit. Read on to find out how much you might have to pay for a new headlamp bulb.
What kind of lights does your car have?
Here in the UK, we might have had an exceptionally warm summer followed by so far, a mild autumn. But winter car faults are just around the corner, waiting to plague our motors and interfere with our best-laid plans.
Every year at Green Flag we see an increase in call outs as the weather gets colder. And it’s always the usual suspects. But if you act now, you can ensure you and your car are prepared for winter’s worst. Here are four popular faults and solutions for them.
Winter car faults 1: Non-start, fuel flooded
Braking and brake pads are vitally important when it comes to road safety. We’re frequently so consumed with how fast cars can go or the economy they return that we forget how important stopping is. And anyone who’s had any kind of brake failure will testify to what a terrifying experience it can be.
But some recent research revealed that the confusing way garages measure brake pads isn’t helping. It could mean drivers are leaving it too long to have their pads changed. Or they might even be changing them too soon, without getting the full amount of wear out of them.
How is brake pad wear measured?
If your car needs new tyres you might be shocked at how much replacement rubber can cost. But while often cheaper than new, buying second-hand tyres can have serious safety implications. New research has found that nine out of 10 retailers selling used or part-worn tyres are trading in illegal rubber.
Charity TyreSafe and Trading Standards have spent the past five years investigating part-worn tyres on sale in the UK. They discovered that just 13 of the 152 dealers they visited were selling roadworthy tyres. TyreSafe chairman Stuart Jackson said: “As far as we’re aware there is no other retail sector with such an atrocious track record.”
What exactly are part-worn tyres?
Has a garage recently suggested you need new brake fluid, an anti-freeze drain and refill or a fuel and oil flush? If so, how do you know whether it had to be done or was unnecessary work? Research by Green Flag has revealed that UK drivers spend £3.4billion every year on work by garages to their cars that doesn’t need doing. That’s around £90 per car per annum.
The problem stems from drivers not having the knowledge about their cars to question whether work recommended by garages is really required. More than a third of drivers (39 per cent) say they have no idea what’s checked when their car has its annual MOT roadworthiness check. But this is when garages often say jobs need doing.
Read on to discover which 10 jobs Green Flag believes should ring alarm bells if they’re suggested by a garage. And find handy hints on how to check whether the work really should be done.
“Your brake fluid needs changing”
We usually think that cold weather takes its toll on car batteries and causes them to fail. But it’s frequently hot weather that does the damage. Heat dries batteries out, causing them to lose their charge more quickly.
Then when temperatures fall, oil thickens up, it takes more current to turn an engine over to start it, the battery struggles to perform as it should and eventually fails.
One thing’s for sure: no one wants to be stranded with a dud battery. Bearing that in mind, it’s a good idea to think about replacing your car’s battery when the weather starts to cool. Here are some tips on doing that.
What kind of battery does your car need?
Whether it’s hot or cold, extremes in temperature pose problems for drivers. And when the weather’s doing something we’re not used to, we need to know how to react. Here we bust seven popular hot weather motoring myths.
Myth 1: it’s illegal to drive in flip flops
Every industry has its own language; jargon that only the people working in the business understand. The car industry is no different. We’ve all had a mechanic take one look at our car, shake their head, suck air through their teeth and mutter something using words that might as well be in another language.
The result is people don’t trust garages. One study found that nearly half of drivers think technicians hiding behind confusing car jargon have ripped them off. According to property company Pentific, mechanics rank alongside politicians, car sales execs, journalists, estate agents and builders for being untrustworthy. But you need never be baffled again. Here we explain six pieces of commonly-used car jargon.
A new study reveals that millions of drivers could be being poisoned by the air in their car. The claims come after researchers from a company specialising in motoring pollution tested 11 popular cars.
We’ve already revealed the bacteria living in car air-con. Now a study has found that some new models do little to protect occupants from dirty air coming in via filters in the ventilation system. Nick Molden, whose company Emissions Analytics was behind the report, said: “Our research suggests many vehicles are a risk to their drivers’ health.”
Which cars did badly?
Do you know what’s living in your car’s air-con? You may never have considered it but a car’s air-conditioning system is a haven for bacteria. Scientists have even discovered that some of the bugs can be dangerous, leading to meningitis, urinary tract infections and sceptic arthritis.
Our expert has already written this useful guide on why you can’t expect air-conditioning to work effectively if it’s not regularly serviced. But new research has found out exactly what inhabits our air-con. In America, where air-con has been common in more vehicles for longer, they even have a name for the effect that exposure to these bacteria can have: Sick Car Syndrome.
What is the most common bug in our air-con?
The MOT test changes this weekend but you can be forgiven if you didn’t know. New research conducted by Green Flag reveals that six out of 10 drivers (58 per cent) haven’t realised the MOT changes are happening.
More worryingly perhaps, nine out of 10 drivers (89 per cent) are unaware that driving a car with an invalid MOT might result in a £2500 fine. And a quarter (25 per cent) don’t realise that driving a faulty vehicle results in a penalty. Read on to find out more about the changes and how drivers might be able to save themselves money.
What are the MOT changes?
Being able to fix a broken fuse in a car is one of the handiest pieces of knowledge any car driver can deploy. At some point in your motoring life a fuse in your car will blow. And very often you don’t need to pay an expensive motor mechanic to fix it.
You should be able to tell instantly if you’ve got a blown fuse because a function that you take for granted will stop working. It might be the 12-volt power socket, the windscreen wipers or the indicators. If it is the fuse that’s causing the problem, you may be able to fix it in a couple of minutes with a part that costs pennies rather than paying a mechanic. Here’s how.
Find the fuse box
This March we saw a significant increase in the number of customers ringing us with their engine warning light on. These faults were up by more than a third (39.3 per cent) compared with February.
Warning lights can be worrying and frustrating in equal measure. They’re a worry because they indicate trouble. And when things go wrong with cars, it usually costs money. They’re frustrating because while the lights reveal a fault, they don’t tell you exactly what the problem is. Here’s what you need to know.
What does an engine warning light signify?
Do you know your catalytic converter from air-con compressor and your spark plugs from your shock absorbers? You don’t have to be a mechanic to know the most basic car parts. But if you give a motor more than a cursory glance over, which components can you identify? Take our cunning quiz to find out how much you really know.
The older cars get the more likely they are to develop faults. And the worst of those is the intermittent fault; a noise or problem that’s there one minute, gone the next. The temptation for many of us is simply to tell the mechanic there’s an occasional rattling noise at the front and let them get on with it.
That’s fine but you wouldn’t go to the doctor, say you’ve got a pain in your leg and expect them to instantly diagnose the correct malady. And unlike most doctors, mechanics charge by the hour, so leaving them to find out what’s wrong will cost you.
But even the least mechanical people can make the technician’s life easier. And by doing so, they may even save themselves some money. Here’s how you should go about reporting an intermittent fault with your car to a garage.