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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Damages potholes can do to a car

Damages Potholes can do to a car

Like plants, potholes grow with the rain. During the winter, rainwater puddles on the surface, but gets into the cracks between the tarmac. Underneath the tarmac, it freezes pushing the tarmac out as it expands into ice. This combined with the constant pressure of vehicles driving overtop causes potholes to quickly form.

The most recent RAC pothole index shows that drivers are 1.7 times more likely to break down with pothole-related damage than they were in 2006 when the RAC began tracking.

These holes in the road aren’t just a simple bump, they are a serious issue for car owners. They can grow metres wide, or have drivers swerve to avoid them. Potholes increase the likelihood of a crash, and can cause expensive damage to your vehicle.

You might hit a pothole dead on, or just clip it with the side of a wheel. Two things will typically affect the extent of the damage caused:

  1. The speed at which you hit the pothole
  2. The depth of the pothole

We’ll take a closer look at the damages potholes can do to your car.

Increase tyre wear and tear

Tyres are designed for contact with the road, not to be bounced around or scraped against a hole. This means potholes can cause some serious damage like sidewall bulges, tread separation, or even punctures. Tyres dip into potholes, and under the car’s weight, compresses into shape. The hard tarmac can then cut into the rubber, damaging the wall or snapping structural belts within the tyre. Inflating your tyres to the recommended levels can help resist against pothole damage.

Damages wheels through potholes

Large potholes can cause scratches on your rims or even damage to the wheels. The harsh drop of some deep potholes impacts your wheels in a way they aren’t designed to handle. Cars aren’t regularly ‘dropped’ so have little resistance against wheel damage in these situations. Potholes can chip, crack, or bend a wheel. Chips and cracks are usually difficult to notice, as the tyre may cover up any damage. Bent wheels will not roll smoothly, and can impact on the performance of the tyres too. Significant chips, cracks or bends need to be replaced immediately, as it compromises the safety of the vehicle.

Driving through potholes affects your vehicle’s suspension

The suspension is designed to support the vehicle’s weight, absorb rough road driving, and ensure the tyre stays in contact with the road. A ‘drop’ into a pothole can cause suspension problems such as damaged shock absorbers, and broken ball joints. A damaged shock absorber or broken ball joints will cause a vibrating noise, wandering steering. A qualified mechanic will need to inspect the suspension system before individual parts are completely replaced.

The exhaust system can be damaged by potholes

Exhausts run along the length of the vehicle, and mufflers especially hang quite low. A deep pothole can potentially cause the exhaust system to scrape along the ground. Even some speed bumps can damage the exhaust system. The tarmac can cause scratches, dents, or even rip holes into the exhaust pipes, muffler, or catalytic converter. In extreme cases, you may lose power but over time you will usually experience a fall in fuel mileage as exhaust leaks cause the engine to use more fuel. You will want to check for damage, after particularly harsh scrapes. This may mean you have to get a mechanic round to hoist up the car and have a look underneath the car.

The vehicle body can be dented or scratched

Deep potholes can obviously scratch paint, especially around wheel rims and bumpers. They will also kick up dirt and tarmac, which means more cleaning.

Driving through potholes can cause alignment issues

Alignment issues can be quite noticeable when turning, as your steering wheel is off-center, the car pulls back in one direction, or the handling feels loose. Misalignment also causes tyres to wear down faster since one side is overused.

The final verdict on potholes

Don’t ignore a loud scrape or knock from a pothole! You can even claim back on potholes, and get the hole filled. Come to ClickMechanic to get a full quote and receipt for the job, which you can easily use as evidence for a pothole letter to the council.

Happy Driving

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

How Do I Know If A Suspension Bush Is Worn?

How do I know if my suspension bushes need replacing?

Suspension bushes are important parts of the suspension. It’s often hard to find out if you need a suspension bush is worn out to such an extent that it needs urgent replacement. Wear to the bushes usually takes place slowly, often you only find out that you have worn bushes after an MOT test. Deteriorated bushes are in fact one of the most frequent MOT advisories.

Symptoms of worn suspension bushes normally include an uncomfortable ride and unstable feel to the car. Especially when braking, accelerating or going through a corner. It’s important to get an issue like this fixed fast to ensure the safety of your car and your ride.

What Are Suspension Bushes?

A suspension bush is a rubber part that is fitted between most suspension parts. They ensure that there is no metal-to-metal contact between the parts it holds. It, moreover, controls the amount of movement between parts. Suspension bushes, sometimes called wishbone bushes, are small parts that are key to the safety of your car, steering, and handling.

The suspension bushes, therefore, have a very important role to play in making sure that your car drives smoothly. They will help dampen the impact of uneven road surfaces on the suspension. On top of that, they will filter out any vibrations or road noise in the process. The bushes also help keep your car stable when you change direction or accelerate or brake.

Suspension bushes are located anywhere on the suspension where one suspension part joins another part. Parts like a suspension control arm, wishbone or trailing arm all have one or more bushes. A specific type of bush called the ball joint can be found in the steering system.

Why Do I Need To Replace A Worn Suspension Bush?

The suspension bushes can deteriorate over time. They are constantly exposed to the elements as they are fitted underneath the car. As such they have to cope with a variety of things. On the one hand, there are temperature changes and on the other, there are the extreme forces that are put on the bushes. Then there is all the dirt that over time will nestle itself in and around the bushes. In short, it means that over time the bushes can become brittle, or can crack. At which point a suspension bush replacement is needed.

How Do I Know If I Need A Suspension Bush Replacement?

Often an MOT will pick up on decaying or damaged bushes. An advisory will be given if they are on their way out but not quite need replacing. You will normally fail your MOT if deterioration has continued to the point where a bush has split or cracked. Remember, a split or cracked suspension bush can be dangerous as it will make your car unstable. You will then need a replacement to stand any chance of passing your MOT re-test.

An MOT will, of course, give you a clear answer on whether a worn suspension bush needs replacing. But remember, it can’t harm to look out for signs that will tell you whether a change is needed anyway. Remember, a worn bush can make the car unstable or be the cause of an unstable ride, which is not what you want.

Signs that there is wear to the part do not limit itself to a bad ride. A clunking or rattling noise, for example, will tell that there may be something wrong. The symptoms will show up especially when you go through a corner or when you drive over a bad road surface. Another sign that can tell a bush is worn is when there is uneven tyre wear. One tyre, for example, can wear more than the other in a certain area.

Worn suspension bushed can lead to uncomfortable rides, making them bumpier than usual. Other signs that you should have these parts checked are changes to steering the car, less responsive brakes as well as troubles when you are accelerating.

How Do I Replace A Bush?

If you need a suspension bush replacement then there are different options to choose from. Often it’s possible just to replace the worn bush with a new one, but this can be tricky as a heavy press may be needed. Sometimes bushes can simply not be replaced on its own. They may only be available as part of the suspension arm.

If you’re not sure the suspension bushes on your car need replacing make sure to ask your mechanic to check the next time work is done on your car. With ClickMechanic, for example, checking the car suspension is a standard part of each car service.

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How Do I Know If I Need To Replace My Anti-Roll Bar?

How Do I Know If I Need To Replace My Anti-Roll Bar?

Anti-roll bars are fitted to just about any car these days. Most cars have an anti-roll bar on the front as well as the rear of the car. Anti-roll bars stabilize your car when you go through a corner. Whilst it is an important component it’s often tricky to know whether or not you will need to replace it. Luckily there are a couple of checks that can be done to find out if it needs replacing.

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Here’s How An Anti-Roll Bar Works

As its name implies the anti-roll bar reduces the amount a car body rolls when cornering. When you go through a corner a car has the natural tendency to lean to the outside, as its weight is shifted to that side. The component helps to counter this movement and ensure the car’s body rolls less. Anti-roll bars are usually fitted to the front and rear suspension systems.

The anti-roll bar connects one side of a suspension with the other. It is connected to the suspension arms by way of anti-roll bar drop links on each side. That way it can balance the forces put on the suspension system. The amount of weight it can bear will depend on the thickness of the bar that runs between the wheels.

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When To Replace The Anti-Roll Bars

Whilst body roll can never be entirely eliminated, the anti-roll bar does play a very important role in the process. If your car’s body rolls too much when going through corners it can become unstable. In extreme cases it can be that your car will be become difficult to handle, and you may lose control. It is therefore vital to ensure that it is in good condition.

If you experience problems with the anti-roll bar it’s normally due to worn bushes on either the bar or the links. The anti-roll bar itself normally doesn’t break and can last a lifetime as it’s simply a metal bar. The bushes, though, are made from plastic or rubber and can wear down or perish over time. Often wear to bushes can be identified by knocking or squeaking noises that occur when driving through corners.

If you are faced with those noises it may be time to get these bushes replaced. Often the bushes cannot be replaced separately from the anti-roll bar or link itself as they are pressed into the actual component. In those cases the whole anti-roll bar or links need replacing.

Of course, if you’re not entirely sure which of the parts need to be replaced it’s advisable to get help from an expert. We here at ClickMechanic have a suspension inspection available for these kind of situations.

Do I Need An Anti-Roll Bar Repair Before An MOT?

Do you have an MOT coming up? It’s especially important to address anti-roll bar issues if you’re taking your car for an MOT. Often MOT testers fail cars on perished bushes or other suspension issues. By getting the problem fixed in advance you reduce the risk of your car failing its MOT, and having to fork out for a re-test.

Does My Car Need New Springs?

Does my car need new springs?

There are a couple of  signs that can tell you that you need new springs. The most obvious one to check is if the car is sagging to one side. If this is the case, one of the springs will have become weaker and cannot carry the weight of the car any longer. When driving over bumps in the road you will find that a bad spring will not be able to reduce the impact as well as before.

A weak spring can also cause issues with the handling of the car, as the springs ensures the tyres can retain the best possible contact with the road surface. If a spring is too weak the car may lose traction when going through a corner or when you brake. The result of this is that it will be much harder to handle the car. It can potentially mean that you will lose control over the car.

Keep in mind that if a weak spring is not addressed quickly it may eventually snap. If a spring has snapped on your car you will normally find that the ride height has collapsed. The body of the car will then rest on top of the wheel and you will not be able to drive the car. If you experience the collapse of a spring when driving then it is advisable to stop immediately.

How To Tell If You Need A New Spring Or A Shock Absorber

Sometimes, it may not be entirely clear whether you really need new springs. It’s easy to confuse the symptoms of a bad shock absorber with that of a weak spring. If your car is bouncing a lot after going over a bump it’s easy to think that it’s a bad spring. Often it’s actually the shock absorber that’s the culprit.

The role of the shock absorber is to stabilise the springs after they’ve done their job of reducing the impact of a bump. If the shock absorber is weak it simply won’t be able to stabilise the spring. The result is your car will feel unstable and bounce along the road.
On the whole it is important to make sure your springs are in good shape, and replace them if needed. That way you can ensure you stay safe and comfortable. On top of that wear to other parts like the shock absorbers can be prevented as well.