How The Lockdown Will Affect Diesel Cars – DPFs At Risk Of Failure

To beat the spread of Coronavirus government advice is to stay at home and only undertake journeys when absolutely necessary. However, if you have a diesel-engined car you may run into an issue with the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) during the current lockdown if you are using your car for short journeys.

How Does A DPF Work?

The DPF is part of the emissions control system on most Diesel cars and controls soot from passing into the atmosphere, making your Diesel more eco-friendly. As you drive the DPF stacks up with soot which it needs to burn off in order to ‘regenerate’ the system.

The easiest way to describe it is to consider this filter canister like a fireplace. You pile wood into it and when it gets near the top, you burn it. Well, in a similar vein, your DPF stacks up with the soot particles, but then needs to burn them out.

However, this can only occur under certain conditions. The amount collected has to be over a certain %, your engine has to be at optimum temperature and it needs to be over a certain speed for a sustained period of time.

Unfortunately, using your vehicle for short journeys prevents proper regeneration of the system. The regeneration criteria will simply not be met and the DPF will become too full and get blocked.

How Do I Know If I Have A DPF Issue?

If you have been driving short distances and not had the opportunity to give your diesel-engined car a good run, you are highly likely to see a DPF warning sign on your dashboard (see below), or something similar to it. It’s advising you that it has become blocked, and that urgent attention is needed.

DPF by BomSymbols
How Can You Fix DPF Issues?

Normally, a quick blast on the motorway can help to clear the DPF, but as government advice is to stay at home you cannot go for a jolly up the motorway to clear the system right now. It simply isn’t going to be accepted as a valid excuse for a trip out by Her Majesty’s finest boys in blue.

However, CickMechanic has a solution that can be carried out AT YOUR HOME. You don’t even need to leave your front door. It is called a ‘Forced Regeneration’ and is completed through the diagnostics system on your car by a trained mechanic with the specific equipment required to do it.

If you think you have a problem with your DPF, then book a FREE phone consultation  with one of our experienced in-house mechanics who can talk you through it in layman’s terms. Alternatively, you can use our new contact-free service to place a booking.

If you have friends with Diesel cars, please forward this onto them as the longer this lockdown goes on, the more likely DPF failures will occur.

How To Keep Your Car Safe And Ready To Drive

As we’re sure you’ll be aware, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 the government has asked everyone to stay home for all but essential travel. That means using your car only for the most essential journeys like shopping for basic necessities, attending to medical needs or, if you cannot work from home, travelling to and from work.

As a consequence of this, your car may move a lot less than usual, or potentially not move at all. Like humans, cars do not cope well with being left alone. They seize up, go flat and will moan and groan when they do have to move again.

So we decided to pull together 5 essential tips to help keep your car in good shape and ready for when you need it.

5 Tips To Keep Your Vehicle Safe And Ready

Battery & Electrics

If your vehicle isn’t started periodically then the battery is likely to go flat. Despite being switched off, certain circuits like the alarm and immobiliser do take a trickle of power, and can drain the battery over time.

So, to keep your battery in good shape, once a week at least, start the engine and let it run up to temperature to give the battery a boost.

Engine

To prolong the life of your engine and reduce the chance of seizure start the engine on a weekly basis. By starting the engine, you will give the oil a chance to warm up and run around the internal components and lubricate them.

It also gives the drive belts a chance to move their position against pulleys, tensioners and guides. If you don’t do this, the belts can become weakened at the constant pressure points.

The engine coolant will also get to circulate and as it also includes a rust inhibitor it will dilute any condensation and refresh the system. Once started, all the other items such as your alternator and water pump will self lubricate their bearings, once again prolonging their life and reducing the chance of seizure.

Wheels & Tyres

If a vehicle is left standing for a period of time, the sidewalls of the tyre in that one position will take all the strain. Moving the car forwards or backwards by just half a wheel turn will shift the pressure point.

This is also a good time to check your tyre pressures as under-inflation will cause further damage to the sidewall and may even render the tyre dangerous.

Suspension

Just like our joints, your car’s suspension needs to be kept supple. We are not suggesting going out for a drive but a little bit of movement can make all the difference! Even just sitting in the car will move a lot of the components enough to prevent most issues. You would be surprised by the amount of springs that break when a car is left stationary for a long period!

Brakes

When you give your car its weekly warm up, dab the brakes a few times and while your feet are down there, give the clutch pedal a bit of exercise as well if it’s a manual!

If you don’t drive your vehicle, inevitably your brake discs will gain a coating of rust. This is quite normal and in most cases once the car is moving and the brakes applied a few times, this will clean off. It may be a bit noisy to start with, but it’s ok!

And finally, don’t leave the parking brake on unless really necessary!

If you leave your parking brake on for a long period, it is highly likely it will “stick on”. So although you released the handle, the brakes are still applied. You will feel the car try and move but it may drag the wheel(s) or rise up and not budge! To prevent this, leave the car in gear and release the handbrake if it is a manual, or simply leave it in P on an automatic.

If you do forget and it sticks on, do not under any circumstances simply try and keep driving it to release it as you can damage the brakes. Book a mechanic to come out and do it safely.

If you are concerned that your vehicle may have become unsafe, unreliable or something has happened to it, book a FREE phone consultation with one of our experienced in-house mechanics or you can use our new contact-free service to place a booking.

The Importance of Locking Wheel Nuts

Locking wheel nuts are an important part of the security of your vehicle. They are obviously there to prevent the theft of your alloy wheels, which are expensive enough in their own right, but also the tyres too, which on larger vehicles and SUV’s can be as much again as the cost of the wheel.

How wheel locking nuts add to the security of your car

The most convincing reason to get extra security for your wheels and alloys is theft prevention. A number of thefts occur simply for the tyres as the market for cheaper “part worn” tyres has increased dramatically due to the consumer demand for bigger cross over vehicles that have bigger wheels and ultimately, more expensive tyres. Therefore it is important that you have a locking or security wheel nut/bolt on your vehicle.

Remember to ask for the locking key

Firstly, it is very important to ensure that the locking wheel nut removal tool is with the car when buying it second hand. You also need to ensure it is supplied on new cars too – ask your salesman where it is and in both cases ensure that it fits ALL the wheel nuts as it should!

Remember to keep the lock removal tool safe (but not too safe)

This sounds obvious, but is often overlooked – know where your locking wheel nut tool is and that it can be accessed easily when required. There is nothing worse than an inconvenient puncture, but that is made even worse if you can’t find the locking wheel nut tool!

It is also a very good idea to make sure it’s easily available to the technicians when taking your car for any repair or service. Not only does its unknown whereabouts hold up the mechanics but also means they have to go searching around your car, from glovebox to boot in order to find it.

What to do when the wheel lock removal tool is lost or worn?

All is not lost! Well, it is, but it isn’t the end of the world! The important thing is to act now and not leave it “until you need it” as that time may be the most inconvenient one.

Some locking wheel nuts can be removed easily using specially made removal tools and most garages and mechanics have them. However, these only work on certain types and if that is the case then there will be considerable work required to get them off. In some cases, there may also be damage caused to the wheel, no matter how careful they are in getting them off.

So, if you have lost your wheel nut tool, you need to get a new one as soon as possible. If the wheel nuts are the standard ones from the manufacturer, the first place to try is a dealership. If that yields no luck, then get in contact with us and we will source a mechanic to get them removed for you and supply a replacement set with a new key.

Wheels, alloys, and tyres are not the only car part thieves have an eagle eye on. If you want to know more about how to prevent theft of car parts, read our article on how to prevent catalytic converter theft.

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Happy driving!

Photo by Yucel Moran on Unsplash

Windscreen wipers and how to take care of them

 

We’ve all done it at some point, jumped into the car, started the engine and watched the windscreen wipers dragging across the screen as they were left on the last time the vehicle was used. Now that winter is looming and the drop in temperature is being felt, spare a moment to consider what your poor wiper motor and windscreen wipers will do when they have become frozen to the screen and are unable to move freely.

How windscreen wipers work

The majority of windscreen wiper linkages (the bit that makes them go back and forth) are held together by a simple plastic ball and cup technology. This is fine when the wipers they are propelling can swipe along without hindrance. However, when a wiper is stuck to the screen due to ice or snow, it will place the linkage and motor under increased stress and that can cause the weak point, the ball, and cup,  to part company and when that happens there is no alternative to either replacing the parts or getting a temporary fix done. This, of course, is both costly and inconvenient as you will not be able to drive the vehicle without working wipers. Depending on your car, repairing the windscreen wiper linkage starts at £100 and goes up to costs of £300 or even higher. Faulty windscreen wipers can also land you with a hefty fine if you are stopped. But it doesn’t stop here as damaged wipers will also put passing the MOT the first time into jeopardy if they fail to clear your windscreen for visibility.

Taking care of your wipers

Whenever you end your journey, make sure your wipers are turned off before you stop the engine. This will not only allow them to park in their correct position but ensure that they do not try and move the moment you start the car the next time.

If you forget or cannot remember if you parked the wipers and there is a hard frost, lift the blades off the windscreen before you start the car. They will still judder across the frozen surface which doesn’t do the wiper blades any good, but at least it prevents the linkage being damaged.

PS – Don’t forget the rear wiper too if you have one!

Happy driving!

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Photo by Thibault Valjevac on Unsplash