Maintaining your car

The manual handbrake is history and it’s costing us dear

manual handbrake
Most new cars have an electronic parking brake (Picture iStock/Kenneth-Cheung)

If you bought a car that’s either new or just a couple of years old, you might have noticed something missing between the seats. Back in the day there used to be a lever that would operate the parking brake, more commonly known as the handbrake.

No longer. The reassuring old handbrake has been replaced by the much less substantial electronic version. And it could be costing us dear. Read on to find out why.

What is an electronic parking brake?

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Expert advice: 6 questions to ask when getting your car serviced

getting your car serviced
Ask our questions and you’ll get him rather than the dodgy place next door (Picture iStock/Minerva_Studio)

For most of us, getting a car serviced ranks somewhere close to going to the dentist. It’s expensive, it involves hassle and we can’t get away with not doing it. But there is another way.

Pick the right garage to start with and you can make the experience an altogether more positive one. Of course, it’s impossible to know what a garage is going to be like until you use it. But ask the following six questions and you’ve got a fighting chance of picking a decent one.

What trade body do you belong to?

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Our 2021 Christmas gift guide for car fans

If you need a bit of help with ideas for presents, read on to see half a dozen (Picture iStock/Tonito84)

Whether you want to give someone a pointer towards a present you might like, or you’re buying something for a car nut, we’ve got the answer. We’ve found half a dozen affordable gifts for all age groups with stuff that’s fun as well as more practical.

Build it and they will have fun

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Expert advice: cold-cheating winter kit to carry in your car

winter kit
Having a glove with your ice scraper will prevent frost-bitten fingers (Picture iStock/AlenaPaulus)

Around this time of year I always think about winter and what to carry in my car to make life simpler and safer. Compiling a winter kit of equipment to carry in the cold months is easy. It might help you out when temperatures plunge and it could be a life saver if you get stuck in snowy conditions.

Make de-icing a bit nicer

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More than half of car tyres are underinflated. Check yours today

underinflated tyre
Underinflated tyres can be dangerous and costly (Picture iStock/PattyC)

With winter approaching, tyres will play a critical role in how cars handle in colder conditions. New research by transport charity TyreSafe has found that 57 per cent of vehicles on UK roads have underinflated tyres.

Tyres determine how well a vehicle stops and steers. In slippery winter conditions, all the safety technology a modern car is fitted with will be pointless if it’s driving on underinflated tyres.

Here we look at why it’s so important for your tyres to have the correct amount of air in them.

Underinflated tyres wear more quickly

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Expert advice: what is a cabin filter and how easy is it to change one?

cabin filter
Replacing the cabin air filter is often an easy job (Picture iStock/MihajloMaricic)

If you get a funny smell whenever you turn the ventilation on in your car, you might need to replace the cabin filter. Here I’m going to look at what the cabin filter is and how it might be easier than you think to replace yourself.

What is a cabin filter?

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Fuel shortage advice: how to use less petrol while driving

The fuel shortage is causing queues and chaos all over the country. Right now, we’re encouraging all drivers to make sure they only hit the road if they’re certain they have enough fuel to make the trip.

If you are heading out, you’ll probably want to use as little fuel as possible. Well, just follow these steps and you’ll get the most out of the fuel you’ve already got.

1. Slow down and stay steady

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Highways England’s handy advice before you hit the road this summer

Summer is well and truly here, and we’re all excited to get in our (air-con filled) cars and hit the road for a holiday or day trip.

But, a lot of vehicles haven’t been on the road much over recent months. This can have a pretty damaging impact on their batteries, tyres and more.

That’s why Highways England has put together some simple advice to help all drivers give their motors some TLC.

(Oh, and if you have a Green Flag policy, make sure you read through to the end for something very helpful and totally free…)

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Quiz: How well do you know car dashboard warning lights?

Quiz: How well do you know your car's dashboard warning lights?

Take the quiz and see whether you can identify our dozen dashboard warning lights.

We learn how to drive, repeat the mantra ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ and remember what road signs mean. But how many drivers know their car’s dashboard warning lights? 

It’s important to heed any warning flagged up on your dashboard. Typically, they give drivers the opportunity to have a mechanical or electrical problem investigated and repaired by a garage, before it becomes serious enough to cause lasting damage to a car.

So, it’s well worth knowing what those warning lights mean. Take our quiz now to see how much you know.

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