Con-fused? What To Do When Your Car Blows A Fuse

At some point, you’ve probably heard someone mention that their car has ‘blown a fuse’, the reasons why can often be mystifying. This week we’ll break down what fuses do in a car and how you can best deal with a blown fuse.

Fuses are an integral part of a car’s electrical system, and help protect the various electrical components fitted to your car. With cars becoming ever more complex electrically, however, the number of fuses used has also increased. With this has come more confusion over which fuse could have blown and why.

Fuses – What Do They Do And What To Do If They Fail

  • How does a fuse work?
    The main part of a fuse is a thin wire or metal strip designed to melt at an electrical current draw slightly over the standard draw of the electrical component(s) and wiring it is protecting. When this metal strip or wire melts, it does so very quickly, which is why you can see them flash and pop, hence the term ‘blown’.
  • How do I know a fuse has blown?
    The first obvious sign is that the equipment you were trying to use, no longer works. You may also find that a few other items may not work either and that is a very clear indication of a fuse being blown. Many circuits use the same fuse to protect them, so for instance, if your radio, interior light and electric mirrors no longer work, it could be the fuse that covers them.
  • How do I find out which fuse has blown?
    The best place to start is your vehicle’s handbook, if you still have it. There will be a section on the fuses and what they cover. It will also tell you the location of the fuse box and also, more importantly, which fuse it is! Most fuses will be colour coded. The most common ones are 5A orange, 10A red, 20A yellow and 30A green. When you pull out the fuse, you should be able to see if it has blown by the broken strip or even a blackened burn mark where it has burnt.
  • Do’s and Don’ts
    • Only replace a fuse when the equipment, and ideally the ignition, is switched off.
    • If there are a number of items that are protected by one fuse, only switch them on one by one. Otherwise, if it blows a second time, you will not know what item is causing it.
    • Never replace a fuse with a higher rating than the one you are replacing. Equipment may be damaged, or in the worst-case scenario, the wiring loom can melt instead which can cause a fire!

If you are unsure what is wrong with your car’s electrics or need help finding out why a fuse keeps blowing, then book a FREE phone consultation with one of our experienced in-house mechanics or place a booking online for a diagnostic inspection.

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A Guide To Spring Cleaning Your Car

two bucket methodimg source:cargroom.co.nz

Why should I clean my car?

A lot happens when you park your car. Birds, trees and even the weather work against you. Even while driving, you are subject to other car exhaust particulates that give you a black soot dusting, not to mention all the muck they kick up as well. This dirt can strip away your wax, paint and then start to rust your car. Additionally, it isn’t that fashionable to have a tree stuck to your roof. This is a great reason to regularly clean your car as paint jobs alone can be extremely costly.

Does cleaning your car improve your MPG?

According to Mythbusters, there is a 10% saving on MPG if you have a clean car. They test a clean car, then muck it up for a second run, both over 65 miles. A dirty car does about 24 MPG while a clean car does 26.4 MPG, which looks like a pretty clean win. What does that 10% mean for you?

A saving of £120 per year (based on UK average mileage, mpg, the average cost of petrol). That’s about 50kg of yorkshire puddings, but who’s counting…

Here’s what Karl from UK Hypermiler had to say:

“These types of tests are very subjective – fuel efficiency figures can can vary wildly depending on all types of environment conditions including wind direction / speed, altitude and ambient temperature. They make great telly but are little use for the “average” motorists who will see guaranteed gains through changing their driving style rather than running a wet cloth over the car. The drag coefficient of the vehicle can be improved through modification but it’s the overall design of the body and under-pan that will have a great effect. This type of experiment is much more suited to a wind tunnel for greater consistency. Very questionable”

So should you clean your car? Yes. While the wins for MPG may be small or even negligible for most of us, it is also important to look good. Remembering your car is also a part of your personal brand; nobody looks good stepping out of a grime covered car.

When should I be cleaning my car?

Keeping off the daily grime is a challenge for the likes of Tim Westwood, not your average driver. There are plenty of reasons to put off a car wash, some people wait until a delightful finger painter has left their work on the car. To avoid that embarrassing display you have to regularly wash your car. The timing of the wash depends on your location and driving habits. A general rule of thumb is once a fortnight, which should keep it pristine. This will prolong the life of your paint job and make your car feel brand new even on its last legs.

How do I clean my car?

Put down the squirty bottle of Fairy Liquid™. Here is a guide right from getting equipment for cleaning your car, to how you dry your car.

The problem with sponge washing a car

People across the country use sponges, what’s so wrong with a cheap sponge? A sponge might be common practice but it isn’t recommended. It all comes down to the flat face of the sponge:

Washing gets rid of grime and grit, but some of this grit may be small and sharp, like stones or chips. Washing with a sponge, the grit becomes trapped between the paint and flat sponge. This embeds the sharp bits into your sponge. Now, wipe with the sponge and you will be creating tiny hairline scratches. These micro-scratches will add up and look horrible under the light but there is a solution.

Why should I use a Wash Mitt?

Wool or synthetic wash mitts are miles better than a typical sponge and will last longer. If you run your fingers through one of these mitts, you can feel the deep soft pile of fabric that is great for your car.

They are important as when heavily compressing the grit, it will not embed into the surface. The grit gets lost in the fabric layers so there is a lower chance to scratch. While not a perfect solution, these mitts will prevent a lot more costly work to your car.

Shampoo for your car got you scratching your head?

There are plenty of different shampoos out there, but only a few that will be good for you and your car. Here are the top two things to keep in mind when buying shampoo:

Lubricant washing solution – You might lose out on bubbles but you’ll get an easy clean. Lubricating the grit will allow it to slide right off. This means less leg work, and also less pressure on the sponge or mitt, so you’ll have fewer swirls too.
No harsh detergents – Using detergents will strip away polish and wax, leaving you a dull car. This is a particular problem with your paint. As anyone who does the dishes with bare hands will know, the soap can dry your skin, with similar effects on the paint. Dry paint will scratch off and leave unprotected metals, which can cause rust damage.

One bucket? Why not two? The two bucket method

As you may have guessed, this involves two buckets. Fill one bucket with your cleaning solution, a mix of shampoo and water, and the other with water.

  • Soak the mitt in the cleaning solution
  • Brush it along
  • Dunk it in the water bucket
  • Slosh it back into the cleaning solution

This will remove dirt off the sponge, so you aren’t wiping muddy water back onto your vehicle. The two bucket method is particularly useful when you are doing the wash with children.

How to wash your car

Start with the Wheels, Rims, Arches and Door Jabs.

Using a more disposable brush and water. These bits are usually clogged with dirt so will splash that muck around if done later. A serious build up of dirt in these areas may lead to faults later. You will want to beware of getting water into the electrical systems, such as the locks. Use some tape to come key components but otherwise, you can hack at it with your brush.

Pre-Rinsing your car

Like any bath or shower, you rinse before applying shampoo. Rinse your car by gently spraying directly at the car, to loosen up any dirt and wet the paint so things slide off. Blasting the vehicle with a hose may cause a lot of damage, or a lot of micro scratches across your cars. A watering can could suffice in place of a hose, provided you can keep the water warm.

Shampooing your car

Now the real work begins, this is the most important part of the wash. This will cleanse your car of any mess on paintwork such as dust, grit, mud, etc… I’d say use warm water, to keep your hands warm and kick off the muck.

Use two buckets and two mitts. One mitt for the top areas of the car, roof, bonnet, upper sides above the wheel arch line. The other mitt for the lower areas, below the wheel arch line, front and rear bumpers. This top down approach means cleaning solution will drip down, instead of dirt later. Remember not to wipe too fast or too hard as you can cause a lot of those dreaded scratches. Practice your karate, Daniel San.

Avoid letting the paint dry in the sun, as you will find there are water spots left by residue. This may mean rinsing your car again, or a light drizzle.

Rinsing your car

This rinse is to wash away all those bubbles from the shampoo, most will glide straight off. The best way to start is a light pressure, to let bubbles run, then increase the pressure as it clears. Make sure to rinse from the top, and leave the car beading water instead of hosting a new lake.

Drying your car off

Drying is a critical part of a wash that most forget. The best tool is usually a microfiber towel which can pick up a lot more water than you think. Proper care when drying will prevent water streaks, which are being stubborn to remove. Their streaks come from particulate residue in the water. All water has it, be it hard, soft, or straight from the heavens. The water evaporates, even if it isn’t too warm out, and leaves behind a residue trail of a droplet. The best way to dry, while intensive, is patting the vehicle dry, as this prevents any stray grit ruining your car.

Alternatively, you could just go to a car wash.

If you’ve got any car problems that a wash won’t fix then we can help.

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The UK’s Top 5 Romantic Road Trips to Drive this Valentine’s Day!

Only a few days to go until Valentine’s Day! And if you’re looking to plan the perfect date, why not really impress this year and take your other half on a romantic road trip? For inspiration, we’ve done the research for you to find the UK’s top 5 romantic routes. Read on and see which you would want to visit for a Valentine’s treat!

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “A scenic road trip is a perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day. It’s a chance to explore some amazing new places together from the comfort of your car, which is particularly a bonus given the weather! Just remember to share the choice of music…”

1. The North Coast 500, Scotland

For a truly breath-taking and adventurous drive, Scotland’s North Coast 500 is your ideal choice for this Valentine’s Day. Beginning and ending in the northern city of Inverness, this route skirts around the Scottish coast, covering over 500 miles of unparalleled scenery.

Along the ride, you can visit a number of impressive structures including the famed 1000-year-old ruins of Urquhart Castle on the Loch Ness banks. You can also discover some of the concealed and untouched beaches on the route; be sure to visit Moray Firth, home to around 130 bottlenose dolphins! Finally, it goes without saying that the road will also take you through some stunning views of the highlands, which alone are worth the trip! Be sure to save some time for this journey however, 5-7 days of traveling are recommended to take in all of the sights.

2. The New Forest

Offering both beautiful and relaxed surroundings, driving through the New Forest is a brilliant option for couples who are looking to take it easy and soak up the sun (hopefully!). Being less than one minute’s drive from the M27, it is easily accessible with countless activities and sights available for visitors.

Picturesque villages are scattered throughout the area, not to mention thousands of wild ponies and donkeys also roam-free, so take care on the road! For keen animal lovers, the New Forest Wildlife Park at Ashurst offers the chance to get up close and personal with some of the local wildlife. And for those that appreciate cars, The National Motor Museum in Beaulieu features over 250 vehicles and recounts the history of motoring. So there really is something for everyone! If you’re unsure of which route to take, the New Forest Tour offers an open-top safari-style tour of the area and covers three key routes to see all of the best sights.

3. The Dark Hedges, Ballymore, Northern Ireland

Any Game of Thrones fan will recognise this road; it is also known as King’s Road during Season two of the famous fantasy series, where Arya Stark travels north. While it is simply an avenue of beech trees folding into one another, the overall effect creates a true sense of fairy-tale wonder as you pass through it.

This inspiring formation, or the Dark Hedges as it is actually known, was planted two centuries ago to decorate the entrance of Gracehill House, a Georgian mansion. Today, it has become a renowned spot for photographs in Northern Ireland and attracts visitors from far and wide. Sadly, due to recent damage, it can no longer be driven directly down by motorists; however, there is parking nearby at the Hedges Estate Hotel and it is more than worth the walk for this enchanting experience. It is indeed a beautiful road to visit this Valentine’s Day.

4. The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is renowned for its scenic, picture-postcard villages and for the natural beauty of its countryside; just two reasons for being a perfect drive on February 14th!

But if you’re wondering which route to take to get the best views, why not follow the aptly named Romantic road? Cotswolds.info has mapped out its own circular route from Broadway which passes through Stow on the Wold and Bourton on the Water, taking the driver through a number of impressive sights. You will have the chance to explore the famed beauty of the Cotswold hill villages as well as the quaint river valleys and the charmingly idyllic country pubs. Covering 45 miles in total, it’s also more than suitable for a day trip!

5. The Lake District

As England’s largest National Park, the Lake District is filled with breath-taking scenery and raw, natural beauty. With an incredible mountainous landscape combined with vast lakes and, of course, countless activities available, each valley will not fail to please!

While the sheer size of this National Park means the possible driving routes are essentially endless, if you’re looking for guidance, Lake District Drives lists 15 possible routes to choose from. However, for a truly romantic experience, the Keswick to Borrowdale to Buttermere drive is a great pick. It features some of the most stunning sights of the mountain passes and allows you to stop and explore places such as Lodore Falls waterfall and Honister Slate Mine. The route covers 38 miles in total.

How to get the best car repair experience possible

We recently asked our customers about their experiences with mechanics and garages. A large proportion told us that they find engaging with a mechanic or garage a daunting experience.

Engaging with a mechanic or garage can be scary for a couple of reasons. Old school garages can be intimidating places with all the noise, smells, tools and machinery, especially if you don’t know a great deal about cars. To help cut through all of this, here are our top tips on how to overcome any car care anxieties, create a trusting relationship with a mechanic and get the best car repair experience possible:

Be nice 

It sounds simple but people often forget that mechanics are also human beings and want to deal with nice people. Don’t worry that you do not possess any technical understanding – that is what the mechanics are here for.

Ask questions around the repair and the mechanic’s experience

When you’re handing over your car to a mechanic, you want to know if it is in good hands. The best way to find out is to ask him or her some questions around the problem and way of working. Here is a list of questions we prepared for exactly this case.

Get familiar with your car

This sounds silly but this tactic helps to tackle car repair-related anxieties. You don’t have to become an expert but it helps reading the car owner’s manual, perform regular oil checks or simply have a look under the bonnet. How does the engine look like, where are fluids located? This basic knowledge helps you understand things better when you speak to a mechanic about a repair.

Plan and budget for car maintenance

Costs for car maintenance are a necessary life cost you should budget for like you do with your rent, mortgage or bills. The downside is, if it is not an MOT or service, you can’t plan for a repair so it often comes at the most inconvenient times. A high unplanned expense understandably can add to the daunting feeling which can overcome you when you step into a workshop. If it is possible, set a fixed amount of money aside on a regular basis, dedicated to cover the surprise repair costs.

Happy driving!

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Photo by Glenn Hansen on Unsplash

The Top 5 Car Repairs to Expect This Christmas and How Likely You Are to Face Them!

Christmas is only a few weeks away and it’s already looking to be a rather wet one! Yet, whilst many dream of a White Christmas filled with snowball fights and picturesque scenery, it is worth remembering that the colder or even freezing temperatures can be a killer for your car. Each winter, countless motorists face a variety of car issues and fear the potential cost to repair. This is why we have analysed our own data to find the most likely repairs which UK motorists will encounter over the winter. Read on to find out how you can prolong the most popular repairs and save money in the long-term.

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “Many motorists forget to take care of their vehicle at this time of year. Cold conditions can cause an array of expensive problems for your car and, with a little TLC, potential repair bills can be reduced and the repairs themselves may last longer.”

1. Wing Mirror Glass Replacement

Increased odds of its breaking at Christmas: 4.3x

Signs you need a wing mirror replacement:

– Glass is broken/scratched
– Casing is broken/scratched

Why is it breaking and how do I extend its lifespan:

On the icy roads, many motorists will struggle to control their vehicle at times and as such, they are far more likely to clip their wing mirrors or even slide into things. In fact, drivers are actually more than 4x as likely to damage their wing mirror glass in the winter compared to the rest of the year, so it’s a very common problem.

The only remedy for this would be to take more care on the road and reduce speed when necessary. Damaged wing mirror glass should be replaced as soon as possible, particularly if it restricts your vision.

2. Battery Replacement

Increased odds of its breaking at Christmas: 1.8x

Signs that a battery replacement is imminent:

– The car’s engine will turn over slowly prior to starting or will not turn over at all
– None of the electrical equipment works
– The battery’s terminals and connectors show signs of erosion
– A pale blue or white powder has appeared on parts of the battery

Why is it breaking and how do I extend its lifespan:

Despite lasting longer in the colder climate, winter’s freezing temperatures actually causes the battery to lose power. The colder environment means the engine will require more power to start up and continue to run. This is why the winter will usually finish off an old (5 years plus) or struggling battery.

You can prolong your battery’s charge by switching off electrical items such as the heater blower, the headlights and the rear screen demisters for a few minutes prior to switching the engine off. Short journeys during winter will also place additional strain on the battery, so bear that in mind when popping down to the shops! If you’re unsure of its current condition, have the battery checked professionally.

3. Coil Spring Replacement

Increased odds of its breaking at Christmas: 1.7x

Signs your car needs a coil spring replacement:

– The car will bounce excessively after driving over a bump
– The car leans to one side or one corner is lower than the others
– You may feel a difference in the car’s handling
– You may hear odd noises, such as a banging or even a ‘twang’ when turning the steering

Why is it breaking and how do I extend its lifespan:

The coil springs act as support for the shock absorbers. They smooth out any bumps or irregularities you encounter on the road’s surface and, as such, they will eventually wear over time. They are also made of ferrous metal, meaning they will suffer from corrosion. Most coil springs are coated in a plastic sleeve, however, this sleeve will suffer from nicks and scratches from road debris, which allows water to seep in and erode the metal.

During winter, the metal becomes brittle and will be more likely to break under shock, such as from speed bumps and potholes. This can lead to expensive damage if a worn spring reaches this stage, so it should be seen to as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms. Regularly washing debris off of the springs with a hose can help to prolong them.

4. Alternator / Alternator Belt Replacement

Increased odds of its breaking at Christmas: 1.6x/1.3x

Signs the alternator belt or alternator needs replacing:

– A battery warning light has appeared on the dashboard
– The dashboard/interior lights are not as bright as usual
– The battery does not charge or has run flat
– A squealing or screeching sound comes from the engine

Why is it breaking and how do I extend its lifespan:

The alternator charges the car’s battery, which in turn powers all electricals. As such, it too takes additional strain in the colder months when more power is needed to run the vehicle. The first and major indication that something is wrong will be the sight of a small red battery sign on your dashboard. This warning light should illuminate when you switch the ignition on and then go out when the engine is running. Should this light become slow to extinguish, that could be a sure sign that the alternator is on its way out.

In essence, there is little that the general car owner can do to prolong the lifespan of an alternator. However, it is important to give it the best chance of working efficiently by avoiding deep water and ensuring that the belt which drives it is in good condition. Should you start to hear a “squeal” on start-up or when driving, the belt may require adjusting or even replacing.

5. Starter Motor Replacement

Increased odds of its breaking at Christmas: 1.3x

Signs the starter motor needs replacing:

– The engine does not start or you have issues making it start
– The starter motor makes more noise than usual when you start the engine
– You can hear a clicking noise when you turn the key

Why is it breaking and how do I extend its lifespan:

As the name suggests, the starter motor starts the car – which is known to be a common issue during the wintertime. This is because, in a colder climate, more energy is needed to turn the starter motor and power the engine, putting additional stress on both it and the battery.

The starter motor will, once again, wear with time, and as it is for all repairs in this list, it should be replaced as and when necessary in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. Like the alternator, there is little you can do to generally prolong the life of a starter motor. However, if your vehicle is reluctant to start, avoid continually trying to run the starter motor without giving it a chance to cool down. For guidance, you should only use the starter motor for 30 seconds and then let it cool for 30 seconds before re-trying it. You should also, once again, avoid deep water, ensure that your undertray is secure and check that your battery is in good condition to give it the best possible power source to use.

If you are unsure whether something is wrong with your car, speak to one of our experienced inhouse mechanics by using our free phone consultation service.

Happy driving!

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Road Safety Advice Every Driver Should Know

Every 20 minutes, someone is seriously injured or killed on British roads. These accidents are all preventable if simple rules of road safety are followed.

Easy to follow road safety tips

Slow down

Speed is a crucial factor when it comes to road safety. The faster you drive, the greater the risk of accidents. Driving within the speed limit and using suitable speed in bad weather conditions is common sense. At speeds exceeding 50mph, a reduction in speed by 1mph can lower the likelihood of crashes by up to 5%. Test your knowledge with the Road Safety Stopping Distance Game

Never drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol

It is widely known that drugs and alcohol impair drivers’ judgment and perception, even small amounts below the legal driving limit can impact your reactions in traffic. Better be safe than sorry and plan ahead to get home safely.

It might take some courage but if you see someone planning on driving after a few drinks, try to persuade them to leave their car until the next day. Don’t get into the car with someone who has been drinking.

And don’t forget those mornings after a night out. Use this handy calculator to see how long you should wait before you get behind the wheel again. As a final thought: if you are taking any medication, even flu medicine can impair your ability to drive.

Stay focused and calm

Make sure you stay sharp and focused when driving. Planning your journeys and anticipate traffic events ahead can really take the stress out of driving. If you are feeling tired after some time behind the wheel, take a break. It is recommended to break up longer journeys after 2 hours for some fresh air and a stretch of your legs.

Avoid driving if you are under stress or feel angry as your mind might not be fully focused on the task at hand – driving safely. In these situations, it is recommended to wait for a while before driving off to allow yourself to calm down and refocus on safely driving your car.

Not only your mind can have an impact on how focused you are. Your eyes are working overtime while driving, so it is vital to have your eyes checked regularly and wear glasses or lenses if you have been prescribed some. This reduces tiredness and ensures your vision is perfectly clear and unobstructed while on the road.

Keep your passengers safe too

If you are regularly traveling with passengers in your car, it is vital to ensure they are as safe as possible – even on short journeys. Insist that everyone traveling in your car is putting the seat belt on before you take off. When you are traveling with children, always ensure they sit in fitting and appropriate child seats and are buckled up correctly.

Make your car safe to travel

There are a few more things drivers can do to contribute to safer journeys and car maintenance is key here. Have your lights and brakes checked regularly, e.g. during your regular car servicing appointment, ensure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure and remove any unnecessary weight you are driving around in your car. We have written a handy post about the 5 car and road safety checks you should perform before a long-distance journey.

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Happy driving and safe travels!

OEM vs Aftermarket Car Parts – What Is The Difference

OEM vs. Aftermarket Car Part Guide

When it comes to car repair, choosing the right parts can be confusing and in most cases overwhelming with so many options from OEM, OE, aftermarket or refurbished parts out there. To cut through this, here is our overview of the different part categories that are out there:

Genuine (OE) car parts

Genuine parts, often called OE (Original Equipment) parts are the same parts which are used and built into your car when it was first made. They usually come branded with the manufacturers’ logo on the part and/or on the box. Dealerships will typically use these parts when your car needs a repair. They are a safe option if you want to maintain the same quality and performance, however, they come with a high price tag if your car is no longer in warranty.

OEM car parts

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer and is made by a company that supplies car manufacturers with parts. While they are normally identical to genuine parts, they are sold under the manufacturers’ name rather than the carmakers’ brand. OEM parts usually retain the same quality as genuine parts, with the upside of a lower price point than genuine parts. They are ideal to be used on slightly older cars which are around 3-4 years old, or cars where the manufacturer warranty has just expired.

Aftermarket car parts

There is a huge market for parts that are not made by the original supplier. These parts are known as aftermarket parts and they are built using the same pattern as OEM parts. An often acknowledged issue with aftermarket parts is the wide spectrum of quality. Some aftermarket parts are manufactured to a high standard so that they are outperforming their OE/OEM counterparts. For example, products made by Brembo, Mintex or Pagid are known for their outstanding quality, surpassing their OE counterparts. On the other hand, some parts can be made using less durable material which means they can wear out faster. The outstanding benefit of aftermarket parts is the price point being much lower than the original equipment, which makes them perfect for older cars.

Salvage parts

Salvage parts are usually available at a very low price point, typically as they are taken from cars which were sent to the scrapyard, or have been sold on. They are second-hand parts, typically with not much history behind them. They range from anything from OE parts in perfect working condition or used parts with not much life left in them.

Reconditioned or remanufactured parts

Some car parts can be reconditioned by taking them apart and assembling them again, using new parts to replace broken pieces. This is usually true for engines or gearboxes. They can come at a higher price and as its a rebuilt part you should be asking for some kind of warranty.

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Happy driving!

 

Winter Driving – How To Stay Safe

Winter Driving - How To Stay Safe

Winter driving is a skill. Wet weather, snow or ice can make your car feel unstable. You may find it tricky to keep your car under control. But fortunately, winter driving is a skill that can be easily learned. What it’s all about is car control and a smooth driving style. That way you can reduce the chance your car will lose traction with the road.

Here’s a couple of top tips that will help you on your way to tackle even the most horrendous weather conditions.

Braking in wintery weather

Gentle braking is key in wintry weather, that way it will be easier to keep your car under control. Anti-lock brakes will go a long way in preventing the brakes from locking up but will do little once the car skids sideways. Just remember, braking hard for no reason is one of the worst things you can do in these winter months.

A better option is to slow down and to anticipate other driver’s behaviour. In other words, learn to read the road so you can react quickly and appropriately.

If you are concerned about your brakes and if they are still in good condition, have them checked and get a brake pad or disk replacement for maximum safety.

Steering on slippery and icy roads

Steering in winter is all about doing it smoothly. Reduce your speed when approaching corners and gently steer through a corner. This will enable the tyres to do their job of gripping the road much better.

Remember, if the car does start to slide it will be hard to regain control. You can recover your car whilst it slides sideways, but it will take a lot of skill and practice to master this. As you’re probably not quite Lewis Hamilton just yet, the best cure, again, is prevention. Just direct your car smoothly and neatly around those bends.

Changing gear

Changing gear smoothly will help keep your car in check. If you have a manual gearbox then make sure to cut your use of the first gear down to a minimum. That way you’ll make it less likely that your wheels will spin through on a slippery road surface. Speed up with care and try to use the higher gears to improve traction and to stay safe.

Clothing

Make sure you wear clothes suitable for winter weather. If your hands get cold, wear gloves that grip well onto the steering wheel to maximise control. Also, consider wearing a pair of driving shoes instead of clunky boots which can make you lose the feeling for gentle braking and accelerating. What you want to prevent is your shoes slipping on the pedals.

Remove your thick winter jacket before you get behind the wheel. Wearing a thick coat or jacket will keep you warm but will also impact how securely your seat belt is tightened. Studies and tests have shown that in accidents a seat belt worn over a padded jacket can cause additional injuries.

Top-tips

Having taken all this into account bear in mind that driving in snow or heavy rain can still be pretty dangerous. And in many ways, it is probably just best to not drive at all. A good rule is to only use your car if you really need to. And if you don’t really need to go somewhere, consider using public transport or stay at home.

Of course, if you are in a rural area and do really need to use your car to get to places then make sure you’re prepared well. We would always recommend doing an advanced driving course if you are in any doubt. Read our winter survival guide to make sure your car is ready to survive winter!

Happy driving!

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Increase your chances to pass the MOT test the first time

160215-dvsa-announcement-social

Always wondered what issue is most likely to fail your car when you take it for its MOT test the first time? Well, since the exacts contents of MOT tests were determined by law in 2012, comprehensive records have been kept showing the most likely defects found. Governing body Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has recently disclosed this information to inform you and us in more detail about what you can do to prevent your car from failing on often minor issues, saving you the hassle and saving yourself from forking out for an MOT re-test. Our little guide gives you the key details how your car can pass the MOT test with flying colours.

Lighting and signaling

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A considerable 18% of the reasons cars don’t pass the MOT test are due to general lighting issues, like bulbs that have blown, inadequate reflectors, hazard lights, and other signaling issues.

To give your car a better chance of passing its MOT, and at the very least increase your own safety, it is therefore super important that these items are checked to make sure they are all okay. To increase your chances to pass the MOT test, simply test if the head and rear lights, brake lights, indicator and number plate lights come on and are working as they should. Any blown bulbs can easily be replaced, your car owners manual will tell you how.

Brakes

Brakes are arguably the most important safety feature on your car, hence any MOT test will require these to be in tip-top condition. There is a great chance otherwise you will fail, and indeed the stats show that 10% of MOT failures are due to inadequate braking systems. This does not only concern the condition of your brake pads and discs but also check if your handbrake is in good condition.

If there are any strange noises when you’re braking, or if the car doesn’t stop as it previously did, then chances are there is something wrong with the brakes. Usual suspects will be worn or damaged brake discs or brake pads that have worn beyond the manufacturer’s limit. If you’re unsure just ask a professional for an opinion.

Tyres

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Apart from the fact that 8% of MOT failures in the last year are due to tyre issues, it only makes sense to ensure they are in a good condition in general and have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm (the current legal limit). There is an easy way to test if your tyres meet the legal standard using a 20p coin: insert the coin into one of the groves in the tread. If the outer rim is visible, then it is time to get your tyre replaced.

Remember, tyres are your car’s only contact point with the road surface and give your car the grip and stopping power needed to drive your car safely. Make sure that things like your tyre pressure, overall condition of the tyres and tread depth are checked out prior to the MOT test and have any issues addressed.

Driver’s view of the road

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Already aware that your windscreen wipers do not work properly or wiper blades are not as effective as they should be? Then there’s a good chance your car will not pass the MOT test on these items. Indeed, around 7% of MOTs fails were due to issues related to visibility in the last year and can range from windscreen wiper issues to damaged mirrors and window stickers.

With windshield wiper blades being some of the easiest and cheapest things to replace, make sure you sort out any aspects in the car that might obscure your view and easily increase your chances of passing your MOT test. Also, remember to top up windscreen washer fluid before you drive to the MOT centre.

Suspension

Whilst suspension issues will be more difficult to quickly check it is sometimes not hard to identify whether there is something wrong with the suspension. There may be strange noises when going over bumps or your car may be unstable if you go through corners. If you’re unsure exactly what the problem is then making sure to ask help from a professional, they will be able to find out more during an inspection.

Do you think your car is ready for its MOT? Then consider getting one with free collection and delivery to the test centre, and save yourself lots of hassle. Get a quote for your region now at www.clickmechanic.com/mot

Book your MOT now

Happy driving!

12 Top Tips for Drivers This Autumn

The temperature is dropping, leaves are piling and the clocks are going back in less than a week; no doubt autumn is definitely upon us! And whilst most drivers anticipate car troubles in the winter, the autumn is often overlooked and underestimated. During this season, the weather is very temperamental and is quickly subject to change; it can be wet, dark, windy, frosty or bright, making it more hazardous than assumed by drivers. This is why we have listed our top tips for drivers this autumn from driving in the rain to how to deal with winds and frost. Read on for expert advice on how to best prepare for the unpredictable and stay safe this autumn!

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “Many drivers forget what the autumnal elements can do to cars and the roads. Like the weather, the environment can be unpredictable in this season, so take your time when driving and try to anticipate any hazardous conditions. Above all, keep your car in check; there’s no reason you cannot hire a professional from ClickMechanic to confirm the condition of your vehicle.”

Driving In Heavy Rain / Wet Conditions

1. Watch for leaves and large puddles on the road when driving in rain and on wet streets – Once loose leaves are flattened and dampened onto the surface of the road, they become extremely slippery, making it tricky for even the tyres to grip. It’s also difficult to judge the depth of large puddles at times, which can become a hazard if driven at with speed. For this reason, you should try to avoid both if possible or drive slowly over them, taking extra care. You should be particularly aware of leaves if you travel on hilly roads.

2. Prepare your tyres – This goes hand-in-hand with the above tip. The roads will be harder to grip in the rain and so tyres should have at least 3mm of tread for effective traction. This grip will also be essential when it grows frosty over the coming weeks, so it’s best to get them serviced or replaced now. Also, check the pressure of your tyres regularly; under-inflation wears down the tread more quickly and over-inflation means they have less grip on the road!

3. Check the condition of your wiper blades – There’s often twice as much rain in the winter months compared to the summer months in the UK, so you should prepare your wiper blades for the worst. Clean them with a soft cloth and ensure they are in full working condition. If your sight is limited in any way during their use, replace them as soon as possible.

Dark Commutes

4. High beams on standby – Give your headlights and rear lights a clean with a wet cloth, removing all condensation and dirt, and make sure all are in working condition including the high beams. With the hour going back next week, commutes will be much darker and your lights will not only guide you but will make other drivers aware of you. Additionally, try to only use the high beams when you really need them and not when other drivers are approaching; they can easily blind them.

5. Take sunglasses – Not particularly useful in the dark, but with the shorter days comes a lower sun. As such, it can be awkwardly placed during your drive and even the sun visor can’t block it. Having a pair of sunglasses is always handy in the car, particularly in times such as these!

6. Stay alert – The darker mornings and evenings may leave you feeling drowsier behind the wheel than usual, especially if you leave the heating running. To avoid this, make sure you get enough sleep the night before, swap drivers if possible during long trips and drink caffeine if necessary. If you find yourself growing tired, pull over to rest and stretch your legs.

Frost

7. Give yourself extra time in the mornings – All drivers know the pain of trying to heat the windscreen from the inside of the car whilst frantically scraping at it from the outside. If the temperature drops to the frost level, give yourself extra time in the mornings to defrost the car before your commute – it is very dangerous to only scrape a small viewing hole in the windscreen and to rush to work in this state! To avoid the frost altogether, park your car in a garage or cover it overnight.

8. Check antifreeze levels – Antifreeze prevents the water in the engine’s cooling system from freezing. You can contact a professional mechanic to check this for you or buy an antifreeze tester for a small price.

9. Run the battery – In the colder climate, your car will need to run more energy from the battery to power itself, meaning the frost is a killer if your battery is on its last legs. It’s best to inspect it at this time of year to make sure it can survive the autumn and winter and have the battery replaced when necessary.

High Winds

10. Monitor your speed – when driving in high winds, the faster you drive, the more likely you are to be driven off course. Not to mention, high winds can also affect your car’s handling and braking. Therefore, always monitor your speed, take your time and keep your distance between yourself and other cars.

11. Anticipate debris – Prepare yourself for sporadic bits of debris in the road or even fallen trees. This is another reason for keeping your speed low in high winds.

12. Don’t travel unless necessary – Driving in high winds can make even the most confident drivers feel ill at ease. If the conditions on the road are hazardous or you feel uncomfortable driving in such weather, do not attempt to do so unless necessary.