Is your car’s stop-start system on the blink at the moment? If it isn’t working as you think it should, there might be a very good reason for it. Stop-start is designed to save you fuel and cut a car’s exhaust emissions by reducing the amount of time your engine sits idling without going anywhere. And it’s on nine out of every 10 new cars sold. But if it stops stopping, is it a problem? And should you take your car to the garage?
It might be due to the cold weather
Changes to Britain’s MOT test prove an alarming number of cars are on our roads in a potentially lethal state. Official figures show that nearly a third (32 per cent) of MOT failures were due to a dangerous defect.
In numbers, that’s 1.13m cars categorised as ‘dangerous’ after failing their MOT between the introduction of the revised test in May 2018 and the end of the year. This means the car is considered an immediate risk to road safety. The owner is then banned from driving the car until it’s been made road legal again.
However, the Government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says more than half of MOT failures are preventable. Drivers, it says, could avoid the money and aggravation that an MOT failure can cause by conducting simple maintenance.
What are the MOT changes?
Returning your car’s paintwork to tip-top might be easier and less expensive than you think. What a car looks like can be blighted by pockmarked paint, unsightly scratches and displeasing dents. However, canny drivers can put all these right with just a little bit of elbow grease. Read on to find how you can return your car’s paintwork to showroom fresh.
Do you keep to your New Year’s resolutions? Or do you forget them as soon as you’ve made them? No matter how quickly you give up going to the gym three times a week, I hope you’ll stick to the five resolutions here. Not only might they save you a heap of money before the year’s out; they could also prevent you having to sit at the roadside in a conked-out car.
Some recent research found that millions of drivers don’t even perform the most rudimentary maintenance to prepare their motor for winter. Here’s a handful of checks that will keep your car motoring long after memories of New Year’s parties have faded.
New Year’s resolution 1: check the oil
LEDs are the future of car lighting but they can come with a hefty price tag (Picture © DS Automobiles)
Drivers of some of our most popular small cars could have to pay as much as £846 for replacement headlamp bulbs. New research reveals that the cost of mending broken headlights is escalating because increasing numbers of cars are relying on LED technology.
The study by What Car? shows that owners of the Volkswagen Polo, the country’s sixth best-selling car, will spend £18 on a new halogen bulb. Meanwhile, it’ll cost drivers of the upmarket GTI version £846 because it has LED headlamp units. Owners of the Suzuki Swift SZ3 or SZT models will pay just £4 for a replacement bulb. However, drivers of the more upmarket SZ5 version will fork out £684 to replace the xenon unit. Read on to find out how much you might have to pay for a new headlamp bulb.
What kind of lights does your car have?
When the weather turns cold you really don’t want this to be you (Picture iStock/Sestovic)
Here in the UK, we might have had an exceptionally warm summer followed by so far, a mild autumn. But winter car faults are just around the corner, waiting to plague our motors and interfere with our best-laid plans.
Every year at Green Flag we see an increase in call outs as the weather gets colder. And it’s always the usual suspects. But if you act now, you can ensure you and your car are prepared for winter’s worst. Here are four popular faults and solutions for them.
Winter car faults 1: Non-start, fuel flooded
Emergency stops can be frightening enough without having dodgy brakes too (Picture iStock/RapidEye)
Braking and brake pads are vitally important when it comes to road safety. We’re frequently so consumed with how fast cars can go or the economy they return that we forget how important stopping is. And anyone who’s had any kind of brake failure will testify to what a terrifying experience it can be.
But some recent research revealed that the confusing way garages measure brake pads isn’t helping. It could mean drivers are leaving it too long to have their pads changed. Or they might even be changing them too soon, without getting the full amount of wear out of them.
How is brake pad wear measured?
Tyres might be on the scrap heap but they can still be sold legally in the UK (Picture iStock/Birdofprey)
If your car needs new tyres you might be shocked at how much replacement rubber can cost. But while often cheaper than new, buying second-hand tyres can have serious safety implications. New research has found that nine out of 10 retailers selling used or part-worn tyres are trading in illegal rubber.
Charity TyreSafe and Trading Standards have spent the past five years investigating part-worn tyres on sale in the UK. They discovered that just 13 of the 152 dealers they visited were selling roadworthy tyres. TyreSafe chairman Stuart Jackson said: “As far as we’re aware there is no other retail sector with such an atrocious track record.”
What exactly are part-worn tyres?
If you’re not sure about repairs, ask the technician to point them out to you. (Picture iStock/Sturti)
Has a garage recently suggested you need new brake fluid, an anti-freeze drain and refill or a fuel and oil flush? If so, how do you know whether it had to be done or was unnecessary work? Research by Green Flag has revealed that UK drivers spend £3.4billion every year on work by garages to their cars that doesn’t need doing. That’s around £90 per car per annum.
The problem stems from drivers not having the knowledge about their cars to question whether work recommended by garages is really required. More than a third of drivers (39 per cent) say they have no idea what’s checked when their car has its annual MOT roadworthiness check. But this is when garages often say jobs need doing.
Read on to discover which 10 jobs Green Flag believes should ring alarm bells if they’re suggested by a garage. And find handy hints on how to check whether the work really should be done.
“Your brake fluid needs changing”
Replacing a battery used to be so simple (Picture iStock/Igor-Kardasov)
We usually think that cold weather takes its toll on car batteries and causes them to fail. But it’s frequently hot weather that does the damage. Heat dries batteries out, causing them to lose their charge more quickly.
Then when temperatures fall, oil thickens up, it takes more current to turn an engine over to start it, the battery struggles to perform as it should and eventually fails.
One thing’s for sure: no one wants to be stranded with a dud battery. Bearing that in mind, it’s a good idea to think about replacing your car’s battery when the weather starts to cool. Here are some tips on doing that.
What kind of battery does your car need?