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Expert advice: summer car checks for a safe, reliable getaway

summer car checks
Carry out our checks to help ensure a trouble-free trip (Picture iStock/Solovyova)

Now’s the time when most of us are either going away or preparing for our summer break. And it’s when our cars come into their own as a trusty family workhorse. Below are six basic summer car checks you can carry out. They’ll only take a couple of minutes and will ensure your car performs safely and reliably while you’re away.

If you’re worried about anything, don’t hesitate to book your car in for some professional attention. Alternatively, you could take your car for one of Green Flag’s free vehicle health checks. But in the first instance, read on to see the six summer checks I think you should perform.

Pump up your tyres

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Quiz: How should you look after your car?

You should regularly check the oil level in your engine (Picture iStock/Moyo Studio)

One in 10 UK drivers say they never perform any kind of safety check on their vehicle. And 14 million licence holders check their cars once a year or less. Those are the shocking findings following some recent research by Green Flag and road safety charity Brake.

If you want to test your knowledge of car maintenance, why not try our quiz? It’s fun and it’ll help give some tips and pointers for what you should do to keep your car in top shape.

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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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Expert Advice: all about turbo trouble in your car’s engine

turbo trouble
This is what a turbocharger looks like inside an engine (Picture iStock/Kool99)

Ever more cars use turbocharging on their engines. And that makes turbo trouble a problem some drivers might face for the first time. A turbo is a way of getting a smaller, more fuel-efficient engine to match the power of a larger capacity unit.

To work their magic, turbos have to work at high speeds, high temperatures and high pressures so they can be susceptible to failures. But if a turbo packs up, the engine won’t necessarily stop. Here I look at what a turbo is and the kinds of problems your turbo car might experience.

What is a turbo engine?

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Valentine’s Day quiz: how much of a car lover are you really?

Is this you? Or aren’t you that passionate about your car? Our quiz tells all (Pictures iStockimages)

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.

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Expert comment: our New Year’s resolutions will help prevent breakdowns

New Year's resolutions

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

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Expert advice: should I choose synthetic or semi-synthetic oil for my car?

Synthetic oil

Back in the day, oil was oil. It came out of the ground and as long as it was the right viscosity for the engine, we’d trust it to do the job. Now there are effectively three kinds of oil: mineral, synthetic and semi-synthetic. And I’m frequently asked: “Should I use synthetic oil for my car?”

I’ve already spoken about the grade of oil drivers should choose for their cars. But once you’ve decided on that, what are the benefits of synthetic oil?

What is synthetic oil?

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How to save money on car servicing

car servicing

Be smart about car servicing and you can cut how much he’ll cost

Car servicing costs could escalate by as much as 10 per cent after Brexit. A new report conducted for car industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) warns that if tariffs and other trade barriers come into force when the UK leaves the European Union, prices could rise. It claims the average annual cost of car servicing would then increase to £777.

According to the SMMT, 80 per cent of car spares are imported. Almost three quarters of those come from EU-based suppliers. The SMMT is concerned that if no new trading relationship with the EU is secured, tariffs and customs barriers will hike the prices of these parts.

Last year, every UK car owner spent an average £707 on car maintenance. Tyres, lubricants and filters were the most commonly replaced items. However, demand is rising quickly for telematics devices and tyre pressure monitoring sensors. Read our five top tips on how to save money on car servicing.

What does servicing entail?

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