Ensure Your Car Is Roadworthy And Safe To Drive

On the occasion of Road Safety Week, we recently conducted a survey of over 800 motorists which revealed that 7 in 10 car owners delay going to a mechanic when car problems arise – which could potentially be dangerous not only for drivers and passengers but may put fellow road users at risk as well.

Combined with a 31.7% MOT failure rate in the UK, it could mean that millions of cars on UK roads have potentially safety-related critical issues. Putting off fixing issues on your vehicle, whether flagged on an MOT or something that comes up when you drive, could lead to further damage over time.

Here’s a few common issues that should be addressed as soon as possible, to help ensure your car is in tip-top condition:

Abnormal squeaks, squeals and vibrations

If you notice any unusual high pitch squeaks or squeals coming from the car while driving it could mean that something has become loose or become faulty. It could mean there is a problem with your brakes, suspension or steering and it’s definitely something you should get checked by a mechanic as soon as possible.

Dashboard warning lights

Dashboard warning lights

This is the most obvious sign a driver can be given that something is wrong with the car while on the road. There are a huge number of different dashboard lights which can appear on modern-day cars, so refer to the vehicles manual book to ensure you’re familiar with what they mean.

As a general rule of thumb, orange/amber warnings need checking urgently, but the red warning may require you to pull over and stop driving immediately. It’s always worth getting warning lights on your dashboard diagnosed at the earliest opportunity.

Brakes and suspension

If you find that the car “pulls” to one side while braking, that could mean damaged brake linings, fluid contamination, failing wheel cylinder, seized brake caliper or even a failed suspension component. It’s important to get an inspection as soon as possible to identify and fix the problem.

If the brake light on your dashboard turns on, always get a professional to check your brakes and recommend next steps. This helpful post gives more details on signs that your brakes need attention.

Tyre Safety

Tyre safety

The easiest way to check tread depth to ensure it meets the minimum legal standards of 1.6mm is by placing a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of your tyre. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when it is inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit. If the outer band of the coin is visible, then your tyres may be illegal and unsafe and should be checked immediately by a mechanic.

Over or under-inflated tyres can also pose a risk to vehicle safety. Check your tyre pressures as incorrect pressure will cause damage to the tyre and may even render the tyre dangerous.

Be a Road Safety Hero by ensuring you service your car periodically and get your car checked if you notice something is amiss or isn’t working as it should.

Alternatively, a Vehicle Health Check is a great way to help check if your vehicle is in good condition. Head to our website and a vetted mechanic can carry out a health check at your choice of time and date.

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What Car Repairs Can Mobile Mechanics Do?

Have you been in a situation where you needed to go to a garage to have your car repaired but didn’t have the time? Or maybe you were unable to drive the car at all? Mobile mechanics are extremely convenient since they come straight to you and are trained to fix a variety of car problems mobile.

Although certain car repairs require the vehicle to be on a ramp, most repairs can be done mobile as long as the vehicle is in a safe position and on solid ground.

Here are some popular repairs that can be carried out by mechanics right on your driveway:

Braking

Brakes

Most brake-related repairs can be done mobile including brake pads and discs, brake shoes, brake caliper replacement and brake hydraulic fluid change.

Servicing

Servicing

Mobile mechanics can also perform routine maintenance such as an oil change, an interim service, a full service or even a full-fledged major service.

Electrics

Electrics

Some jobs relating to the electrics of the car can also be done without the need of going into a workshop. Common repairs include battery replacement, alternator replacement and starter motor replacement.

Engine

Engine

Even engine related jobs can be carried out mobile like timing belt replacements or fan belt replacements. Jobs such as head gasket replacements and draining and replacing of the coolant or antifreeze can also be done on your driveway.

Steering & Suspension

Suspension

Some common steering and suspension mobile repairs include coil spring replacement,
power steering pump replacement and the replacing the steering rack.

So the next time you need your car fixed, you could actually have it repaired right outside your door with the help of ClickMechanic’s vast network of highly skilled mobile mechanics. And don’t worry, if the repair cannot be done mobile, we also offer free collection and delivery if the vehicle is driveable.

Simply enter your postcode and vehicle details to get an instant price for the service. A vetted mechanic can carry out the work at a location convenient to you and at a date and time of your choice.

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5 Signs That Your Brakes Need Attention

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Your car’s brakes are one of the most important aspects of safe driving. At the moment, most braking issues are due to vehicles being stood for a number of months which is due to corrosion to the brake discs. Another common issue is seized parking brakes, especially vehicles with rear drum brakes or drum parking brakes.

Maintaining your brakes is critical to staying safe on the road so it’s important to know the signs when your car might need new brake pads, shoes, drums or calipers.

  1. Brake system warning lights appear on the dashboard

    A number of vehicles have sensors on the rear brake calipers that illuminate the brake pad warning light when the pads (or discs) are coming to the end of their service life. It could also mean brake fluid is low. If the brake light turns on, always get a professional to check your brakes and recommend next steps.

  2. Brake Noise When Stopping

    Noise when braking is common, and it can often mean that your brakes are dirty or that your brake pads are worn down. However, if you hear a loud squeak or a scraping sound then it’s probably because your brake pads or shoes have worn down. If this is the case you should get it inspected by a mechanic urgently as it can affect your ability to stop safely.

  3. The Pedal Feels Soft When Braking

    This is often caused by a lack of braking pressure. You’ll need to press the brake pedal further to stop the vehicle which means it will take longer to come to a halt. This implies there is an issue with the brake hydraulic system so be sure to get a mechanic to check this out for you.

  4. The Steering Wheel Shakes When Braking

    A shaking steering wheel is usually a sign of a warped brake disc. Often the issue can be fixed by having the brake discs and pads replaced, but always check with a professional first.

  5. The Car Pulls To One Side

    This can happen due to a number of issues including damaged brake linings, fluid contamination, failing wheel cylinder, seized brake caliper or even a failed suspension component. In this case, a braking system inspection would be required to identify and fix the problem.

If you’re having trouble with your brakes, or if you are not sure what is wrong with your car, then our in-house mechanic team can help. Submit our technical assistance form with a brief description of the problem and your details.

Alternatively, to place a booking head to our website and a trusted mechanic can carry out a contact-free repair at your choice of time and date.

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5 Essential Car Checks To Do If You’ll Need To Start Using Your Car Again

As we’re sure you’ll be aware, the government has recently reviewed the Coronavirus restrictions and has made some changes.

For some people this may now mean you will start to use your car again after a longer period of being parked up or used a lot less than usual. If that is the case, you will likely find that your car may struggle to start or has other issues that will prevent it from performing optimally. Like humans, it needs a little stretch when it comes out of slumber!

However, there are a few checks you can do now to help ensure your car is safe and ready to set off again.

5 Essential Checks To Ensure Your Car Is Ready To Drive

  1. Battery & Electrics
    If your vehicle hasn’t been started periodically then the battery is likely to be flat. Firstly, insert the key into the ignition and switch to the first position, and if no lights come on, it’s very flat, if when you try to start the engine, the light flickers and you get either a slow turn of the engine or a rapid clicking, then the battery is too low on power.If you are not comfortable with or are unable to get help jump starting the battery, book an inspection with ClickMechanic for a technician to come out and help.
  2. Engine
    If you are fortunate and the engine starts, allow the vehicle to idle for 5 minutes before driving off. This will allow things to warm up gradually, belts to ease back into life and the cooling system time to circulate.
  3. Wheels & Tyres
    Whilst the engine is idling and warming up, it is a good time to check your tyre pressures as under-inflation will cause damage to the sidewall if you drive with low pressure in them, as well as being dangerous!
  4. Suspension
    During the tyre pressure check, take a quick look at the gap between the top of the tyres and the wheel arches and make sure it is even on both sides. If not, it could be a clear indication that a spring has broken whilst the vehicle has been stationary.
  5. Brakes
    Finally when you are ready to drive off, dab the brakes a few times and gently depress the clutch pedal a few times if it is a manual.If you haven’t driven 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 have been applied a few times, this will clean off. It may be a bit noisy to start with, but it’s ok!Hopefully, your handbrake will not have stuck on. However, if, as you drive off, the wheels drag or the car won’t move but instead rises up, it has stuck 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.One last word of advice, give your windscreen a wash as it’s likely to smear quite badly at the first few swipes so it’s best to do that before you set off!

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 place a booking online for our contact-free mobile mechanic service.

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Has My Car’s Handbrake Cable Snapped?

Has My Car's Handbrake Cable Snapped?

A snapped handbrake cable is one of the most common faults on older cars. Unlike most newer cars, which have an electronic parking brake, older cars have a handbrake cable. The handbrake cable runs from the handbrake lever to the back wheels of the car, and are prone to failure.

Traditional handbrake cables are usually made out of metal. Their condition will inevitably deteriorate over time. After all, the cables are fitted underneath the car and are exposed to the outside. That means all kinds of road debris and water is thrown at them. The cables can start to rust after a while, which will weaken them a lot. If the tension put on them gets too much for the cables then the most likely result is that the cables will snap.

How Do I Know If my Handbrake Cable Has Snapped?

Checking whether your handbrake cable is on its way out can be a bit tricky. After all, you can’t actually do a visual check without getting underneath the car. When using the handbrake it may be that your car stays put and everything feels fine. When looking up close, however, it can be that it is dangerously close to snapping.

Checking the condition of the cable is the best way to find out if it is one its way out. This will usually be done as part of a service when you bring in your car to the garage. That said, there are ways to check without a visual check. For example, a good sign that the cable is deteriorating is when you have to pull the handbrake lever up higher than normal to stop the car.

When a handbrake cable does completely snap the consequences can be catastrophic. It will mean that there is nothing to lock the car in its place when stationary. If you live somewhere where’s it’s flat it’s less of a problem, but imagine what would happen if you park on a slope. Your car will most likely just roll off without you!

It’s something you want to avoid of course. Replacing a handbrake cable often doesn’t take much luckily. The cables are often easily accessible from underneath the car. So a quick fix done mobile is often not a problem.

It’s important to get the problem fixed as soon as you notice any issues. Get help from a mechanic if you’re not sure which of the handbrake cables is needed. They will be able to tell you exactly what needs to be done to resolve the problem.

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Faulty Brakes: The Most Common Vehicle Defect in Road Accidents

Car crash

We have analysed the latest figures from the Department for Transport and can reveal that faulty brakes are the number one vehicle defect to contribute to 2016’s road accidents. However, looking just at cars, flawed tyres are in fact the most common defect to cause an incident.

With a total of 446 incidents, faulty tyres are the primary vehicle defect and contributing factor to car accidents in 2016. This is followed by defective brakes with 365 incidents, imperfect steering or suspension with 180 accidents and overloaded vehicles with 54 incidents. Defective lights or indicators (46 accidents) and mirrors (8 incidents) are less common and feature at the bottom of the table.

Looking at all recorded vehicles in road accidents, damaged brakes are more likely to cause an incident. This is because other vehicles such as motorbikes, buses and particularly bicycles, have recorded more issues with brakes than tyres. However, interestingly all vehicles in the UK are much more likely to have an incident involving defective tyres on the motorway, rather than as a result of imperfect brakes (85 incidents versus 17). This is because under inflated tyres will overheat quickly, particularly at high speeds, and can consequently ‘blow out’ and cause an accident. Whereas on A Roads, faulty brakes assume the top spot once again, as drivers brake more regularly.

Broken tyre

Focusing on location, the South East has the highest number of accidents caused by vehicle defects, with 297 incidents. In contrast, the North East appears to take better care of their vehicles as only 46 vehicle defect related road accidents are recorded. Looking at our capital, defective brakes (85 incidents) are much more likely to cause an issue than faulty tyres (34 incidents); the constant braking and lower speeds when driving in London perhaps being the greatest influence to this. The only two regions in which defective tyres are significantly more likely to cause an incident than faulty brakes are Scotland and the East Midlands.

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “Tyres and brakes control the movement of the car and so can easily cause a collision if they’re not in proper working condition. Being the top two occurring vehicle defects in 2016 emphasises that some UK drivers are not servicing their car regularly, or conducting simple checks, such as measuring the air pressure in the tyres. All drivers should follow their manufacturer’s recommended schedule and ensure that any anomalies are assessed by a professional as soon as possible. Doing so severely reduces the likelihood of these defects and keeps both yourself and other drivers safe on the road.”

The Ultimate Guide To Car Fluids

The Ultimate Guide To Car FluidsLike us, cars need to stay hydrated, however, it isn’t just water that they need. Cars have been getting more efficient and reliable, but they still need some maintenance. Fluids play a massive role in keeping your car running smoothly, from the brakes to the engine. Make sure to top them up to keep your vehicle in top shape. There is a number of fluids to check, for example:

  • Engine coolant
  • Engine oil
  • Power steering fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Washer fluid

Popping the bonnet and checking the fluids can help to keep your vehicle running well and at a lower risk of breaking down.

Let’s go through the fluids, how to check them, and how to top them up:

Engine Coolant

Coolant keeps your engine cool, which is important for efficiency, emissions, and most importantly to reduce wear and tear within your engine. Protecting the engine from overheating means you won’t be stuck with a nasty repair bill.

You should only have to check this fluid regularly, preferably every month, although this can be sooner because of a leak. You may also want to check the coolant during the summer, where leaks can be exacerbated by the overworked cooling system.

Warning: Never check your coolant while the engine is hot. You risk personal injury.

Under the bonnet, you should see a clear, or opaque container. It should have a min and max reading on the side, with the level of the liquid visible. If below the min line you will need to fill it to the max line, with a mix of water and coolant. If there is no container then you need to open the radiator cap to see if the coolant reaches the top.

Make sure any coolant you use is approved for your vehicle, and when opening the radiator, leave for a minute to release any trapped air bubbles.

To fill up on coolant, you have to unscrew the reservoir, and for most cars pour in a 50:50 mixture of water and coolant. The mixture does differ across car models so make sure to always check your car’s service manual. If you only have water to hand then this will work for a few miles but you should urgently seek out a nearby garage who will top you up with coolant.

Low levels of coolant may mean there is a leak in the system, which you can find by checking around a cool engine to find wet patches.

Engine oil

The parts in your car’s engine rotate and move up and down several times a second. This requires a lot of pumps, cylinders and other moving parts. All these moving parts rub together. Oil helps protect the system from wear and tear, while also making the parts work better, by lubricating joints and friction points.

You should be checking the system once every month or so, since the check is relatively quick. This helps avoid any issues with leaking oil or dirty oil.

Advisory: Run the car for 5 minutes or around the block so oil flows through the system first.
Check your owner’s manual to find the dipstick. Pull the dipstick out and wipe it down with a towel or rag. Reinsert it, then pull it out to check the level of oil in the tank. The dipstick should display a normal range of oil.

If the oil is below the range, then fill the oil tank with an oil designed to work with your vehicle. Make sure not to overfill the system as this will mean more leaks.

Low levels of oil could indicate a leak in the system, but dirty oil may mean components are starting to wear down. The oil should be yellow, or amber. Brown or dark oil may mean you need an oil filter replacement.

Power steering fluid

Turning an older car was a very heavy and exhausting task, as your arm muscles were responsible for a large part of turning the wheels on the ground. Modern cars have power-assisted steering, to make the steering of the car much easier by making it lighter. Power steering makes turning easy at any speed, using hydraulic fluids to make the wheels turn.

Usually, the power steering fluid doesn’t need to be replaced often, but spotting early signs of a leak could save your life. Since the fluid is crucial to the maneuverability of your car, you may slowly notice that turning becomes more difficult at low speeds, and a 3 point turn is more like a workout.

Just at the base of the windscreen, there is a small tank. If you can’t find it or are unsure about what it looks like then consult your owner’s manual. There should be an indicator on the tank, where you can see the minimum and maximum levels of fluid. If this isn’t the case, then you will need to open the cap.

Warning: Before you add the new fluid, clean the area around the opening to avoid contaminating the fluid.
Use the power steering dipstick to check the level of power steering fluid in the tank. Simply, remove the dipstick, wipe it down, reinsert it and then check the level.

Low fluid levels will need to be topped up, but it is essential that you use hydraulic power steering fluid that is specifically suited to your vehicle.

Having only a little power steering fluid left will have a noticeable impact on how easily your car steers. The low levels may indicate a leak somewhere in the system.

Brake fluid

Brake fluid acts as a pressurised step between your foot on the pedal and the brake rotors. This helps you brake more instantly and with less effort.

You shouldn’t have to check the brake fluid at all, but spotting a leak may just save your life from faulty brakes. Over time, brake fluid can become contaminated. Water, for example, will cause the brake lines to rust resulting in the fluid becoming contaminated. The dark fluid is a serious sign that the system needs a mechanic.

You can find the brake fluid reservoir near the back of the engine compartment. In most cars, the container will be opaque, with clear max-min lines.

Warning: Before you add the new fluid, clean the area around the opening to avoid contaminating the fluid.

Open the reservoir, and check that the fluid almost fills the tank. Top it up with the right fluid, consult your owner’s manual if you need some guidance.

Transmission Fluid

Similar to the engine oil and power steering fluid, the transmission fluid lubricates and cools components in your car. The transmission system contains gears, clutches, and valves that must move seamlessly while driving.

Transmission fluid should last the lifetime of the car but may begin to leak due to a knock or crack.

Your vehicle should have another dipstick to check the transmission fluid level. You should remove it from the system, wipe it down, reinsert it then check the level of fluid. Additional checks should be done on the colour, dark, cloudy or gritty fluid requires a mechanical diagnosis by a mechanic.

Top up the transmission fluid by pouring your vehicle specific transmission fluid into the fill tube. Run through the gears to let the new transmission fluid flow through the system. This can be a tricky job, if it not carried out correctly it can damage your transmission, leading to extra repair costs. It is advisable to get help from a professional mechanic to carry out the work if you’re not sure how to do it.

Low transmission fluid can cause rough shifting, odd noises when switching gears, and uncontrolled surges (in case of an automatic transmission).

Windscreen washer fluid

Windscreen wiper fluid might not be vital but it is important to your windscreen. Dirt builds up, and a little British rain doesn’t quite keep the glass clear. Windscreen washer fluid polishes your window to ensure there is greater clarity to your vision.
You may have to check on the amount of this every few months and even more in the summer.

Luckily, it’s the easiest to top up since the washer tank bottle is easy to find and normally doesn’t require a specific type of fluid.
Under the bonnet, there will be an opaque tank, usually labeled “washer” or “windscreen”. Pop the lid open and check the amount of fluid. If you are low simply pour more washer fluid in. You can use soapy water, but this will slightly damage the system, so only use it in emergencies.

Going without washer fluid will mean your windscreen slowly piles on layers of dirt. Windscreen wipers only cover a certain amount of the glass, so eventually, you build up “dirt goggles”

Fuel is the most important fluid in cars at the moment although, your other fluids are also vital to your car running well. Make a schedule to check the different fluids around your vehicles, and make sure to stick to any recommended service schedule. If you suspect there is an issue with a system, then get a Clickmechanic diagnostic inspection.

Happy driving

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4 Signs Your Car’s Brakes Need Replacing

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Maintaining your brakes is essential for safety, you never know when you might need to stop in an emergency. In order to save time and money, it’s important to know the signs that your car needs new brake pads, shoes, drums or calipers. Here’s the most common ones, and how quickly you should get them fixed by a qualified mechanic.

Brake Noise When Stopping

Noise when braking is common, and it can either mean that your brakes are dirty or that your brake pads are worn down. If you hear squeaking when stopping, but the performance is unaffected, your brakes may just need cleaning. However, if you hear a loud squeak or a scraping sound then it’s probably because your brake pads or shoes have worn down and the metal is scraping against the disc or drum. If this is the case you should book in urgently as it can affect your ability to stop safely.

The Pedal Feel Soft When Braking

This is often caused by a lack of braking pressure. It can be very disconcerting, as you’ll need to press the brake pedal further to stop the vehicle. The cause is usually leaking calipers, brake cylinders or air in the braking system. The lack of pressure can mean that the vehicle takes longer to stop, so be sure to get a mechanic to check it out as soon as possible.

The Steering Wheel Shakes When Braking

This is a common issue, a shaking steering wheel is usually a sign of a warped brake disc. This can be fixed by having the disc replaced. It’s best to get it fixed quickly, though, to stay safe.

The Car Pulls To One Side

This could happen when the brake lines are damaged or uneven. If you can feel the brakes dragging, then the likely cause is contaminated fluid in the system, or brakes that haven’t been adjusted properly. These issues can be dangerous, particularly if you have to stop suddenly.

To get any issues with your brakes sorted, simply head to ClickMechanic and make a booking. It only takes a couple of minutes and we’ll find the perfect mechanic to get your brakes sorted.

How To Extend The Lifespan Of Your Car Brakes

How to prolong the lifespan of your car brakes

Working brakes are essential to keeping safe on the road, and could even be the difference between life and death. It’s impossible to make your brakes last forever, most brakes will lose their effectiveness after 25,000 miles. However, it’s possible to extend this lifespan by adapting your driving style to reduce the strain on your brakes.

Smooth driving

Driving your car smoothly can have a big impact on how long your brakes will last. Everytime you brake your brakes will wear down a bit. It is therefore important to ensure that you only apply your brakes if you really need to. This may sound self-evident, but there will be times where really you could just let your car roll to a stop, instead of braking. Further to that remember that driving a car is all about anticipating what could happen next.

Braking technique

When slowing for a junction or at traffic lights, it’s better for your brakes that you come to a complete stop, instead of allowing the car to creep forward. The constant friction means that you’re engaging the brakes for longer, and this causes them to wear out more quickly.

Though it may sounds obvious, ensure that you’re never accelerating and braking at the same time, not only will it wear your brakes out, but also your tyres. So leave left foot braking to the Formula 1 drivers!

Removing weight & planning your route

In addition to changing your driving habits, you can also extend your brake’s lifespan by removing weight from your car. Ensure that you leave any unnecessary luggage (and passengers!) at home and you’ll reduce friction for your car’s brakes. You can also reduce wear and tear by planning routes that have less congestion and fewer junctions. The less you use the brakes, the slower they will wear out.

Not only will these tips help you to increase your brake’s longevity, they’ll also improve your fuel efficiency, meaning you’ll be saving your hard-earned pounds! To keep your brakes in top condition, you’ll need to get them maintained regularly and ensure the fluid level remains topped up.

If you’d like to get your brakes checked out, then don’t hesitate to book in. We’ll send a mechanic to ensure everything is in working order and fix it if not.

What Should I Do If My Brake Warning Light Comes On?

There are 2 main warning lights for the brake system, though many manufacturers combine these to simplify things. One let’s you know the handbrake is still on, and will have a “P” symbol, whilst a “!” means that there is an issue with the system.

What does the warning light mean?

If you have a single warning light, then it could simply be that the handbrake is still engaged. Ensure that it’s fully off, and if the warning light remains, then it’s likely there is an issue with the braking system. Usually, this is an issue with the brake fluid.

There is a sensor in the brake fluid reservoir that helps to ensure there is enough fluid in the braking system. Over time, your brake pads wear down and this means more fluid is pushed into the brake lines. This means less fluid is in the system and therefore the reservoir will dip below the level required to trip the sensor. It could also be indicative of a leak in the system, which will cause the fluid level to drop.

What should I do if the warning light comes on?

When the light comes on, first check that your handbrake is fully disengaged. If that doesn’t fix it, check the fluid level in the reservoir. If your fluid level is low, then have the car inspected for leaks or worn out brake pads or lines. If the fluid level is fine, then you should get your parking brake cable inspected.

Is it safe to drive my car when the brake warning light is on?

This depends on how severe the issue is. Low fluid levels will mean that the braking system won’t be working as effectively as possible, and you could have trouble stopping the vehicle safely. If the handbrake isn’t fully disengaged, the constant resistance can cause damage to your vehicle’s drivetrain and could lead to a costly repair down the line.

If you’re unsure about your issue, book an inspection and one of our mechanics will diagnose the issue for you and get your car sorted.