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10 Tips to Keep Your Car Engine in Perfect Condition

Automotive technology is constantly improving and modern cars are often capable of clocking up more miles than could ever have been dreamt of in the past coupled with ever-increasing service intervals. It almost seems as though we can now simply forget about engine maintenance. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth and keeping an engine in perfect working order requires rather more than good luck! There are a few simple measures that go a long way towards keeping the engine running well, lasting longer and with reduced risk of breakdown.

  1. Frequently Check Oil Levels – This may sound absurdly obvious but it is surprising how many drivers fail to carry out this most basic of all checks. Many cars offer electronic checks of oil levels but these are often wildly inaccurate and only give warning at a very low level. There is no substitute for regular checks on the dipstick.

  2. Change Oil Frequently – The manufacturer’s recommended period between oil changes should be regarded as an absolute maximum figure. Any car subjected to many short journeys or extended periods of high-speed driving will benefit from more frequent changes.

  3. Use Good Quality Oil – Car manufacturers invariably specify suitable grades of oil but even cars for which the lowlier grades are said to suffice will benefit from the use of synthetic or semi-synthetic oils which maintain their viscosity over a wide range of temperatures.

  4. Check Coolant Levels – This is another check that is often overlooked until it is too late. Electronic monitoring of levels is unreliable and waiting until the system overheats often means that major damage has already been done. Obviously, antifreeze should be of the correct concentration and type. Under no circumstances should different types be mixed.

  5. Check the Condition of Belts – Drive belts are an unavoidable feature of car engines powering auxiliary items such as alternators, power steering or air-con. A simple visual inspection and the renewal of any showing signs of wear can help to avoid a future breakdown. For those engines employing belt-driven camshafts, cam-belt failure can be catastrophic. Manufacturers usually specify cam-belt replacement intervals but many breakages still occur within these periods so the best recommendation is to change these belts much more frequently possibly at half of the quoted recommended mileage.

  6. Change Filters Regularly – Oil and air filters lose inefficiency as they are used and so it is essential to change them regularly.

  7. Use the Correct Grade of Fuel – Many cars are designed to run on standard grades of petrol and using a higher octane fuel offers no advantages. Other cars may require a high octane fuel and a lower grade can potentially cause problems such as pre-ignition and overheating. Many others are able to utilise different grades with no risk of damage in which case the higher octane fuels usually offer better performance and efficiency.

  8. Do Not Disregard Engine Warnings – Almost all cars feature a system of on-board diagnostics and any fault usually results in the illumination of a dashboard display lamp. Many drivers regard these warnings as a nuisance and there can be a tendency to ignore them especially when they display intermittently. This is folly and any warning messages must be investigated.

  9. Check for Fluid Leaks – A visual check of the engine compartment should be made for any signs of leaks. Any fluid leak is potentially very serious and should be remedied without delay. Any signs of coolant, lubricant, fuel or hydraulic fluid could all be warnings of impending disaster. Perhaps the only insignificant fluid leak is the dripping of condensation from an air-conditioning system.

  10. Engine-Friendly Driving – Adopting a considerate driving style can reap benefits in terms of running costs and engine longevity. Engines should be treated carefully when cold and warmed up by driving gently rather than by idling for a long period.

There is a well-known adage of “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!” but this should never form the basis of a maintenance schedule. You certainly would not want your favourite airline to adopt such a policy so why should any motorist? If you can maintain your car correctly then you have the option to browse used cars for sale as well as new ones, in safe knowledge you are able to keep it ticking over in a healty and well maintained way.

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How to Reduce Tyre Overloading

We love travelling in cars, vans and motorhomes for the freedom and comfort they give us. And we love the fact we can bring lots of things along. But when we pack our lives into our cars or load the caravan for a trip, we often forget to think about how much additional weight we are adding. Tyres can’t bear unlimited weight! Just because your van has enough space to fit that bike, boat, and a cooler packed with food doesn’t mean your tyres can cope with the task. The same applies to an SUV towing a trailer or a car with a roof box piled high for a road trip.

For a safe trip, it is crucial not to overload your vehicle. It is very important to adjust your tyre pressure depending on the weight you have added. We’ll tell how to avoid overloading tyres when on a long trip.

Why is overloading dangerous?

The tyre is doing very hard work supporting the total weight of the vehicle and withstanding deformations, speed, heat and incredible forces. Heat causes exfoliation and separation of tread pieces as well as sidewall cords damage that can progress even after the extra load is removed. If your vehicle is overloaded then these forces are multiplied. Every tyre has a specific weight limit you shouldn’t exceed or it will simply fail – think about what will happen if you experience a blow at in your hugely overloaded car at high speed on a busy motorway.

Consistently using tyres on the top of their weight limit degrades tyres the same as overloading them for a short time. If a tyre has already been underinflated or damaged, even a small extra load can lead to a blowout.

How can overloading be avoided?

1. Know your limits. At first, you need to find out how much weight your tyres need to support. This information can be found in your cars owner’s manual or on the sticker placed on the driver’s doorjamb. Then check the tyre’s maximum load capacity on its sidewall. It must be equal to or more than the total load you are going to bring along. In this case, your tyres must be inflated to their maximum pressure (this information can also be found in the owner’s manual), which MUSTN’T be exceeded. Let’s assume that information on the tyre’s sidewall says “Max 2,000 lb @ 35 psi”. It means that the tyre can carry the maximum of 2,000 pounds being inflated to no more than 35 pounds per square inch. It also means that, once your car has 4 tyres, the total weight of the car and baggage mustn’t exceed 8,000 pounds.

If in doubt refer to Tyresafe’s car tyre or caravan tyre pressure calculators.

2. Choose tyres accordingly. If you need to haul heavy loads, consider changing your tyres for another set with the same size but a higher load capacity or slightly larger tyres. Consult a tyre specialist before opting for larger tyres. Another solution is to increase pressure in tyres if their maximum pressure limit allows doing so. For your RV, use only caravan tyres that match your owner manual’s specifications.
3. Choose motorhome wisely. If you are going to rent a recreational vehicle, do it with your prospective load in mind. Modern RVs vary in design, size, and loading capacity. Some of them have equipment for carrying a certain type of cargo like a motorcycle, bikes, or a boat.

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SW Motech Kit Out the BMW R nineT Racer

SM Motech has released a range of accessories to protect your BMW R nineT Racer from damage, or to add some stylish luggage. The German firm has added to the Legend Gear range for vintage-style bags, and sturdy guards and crash bars for Boxer engine. Check out the SW Motech products for the BMW R nineT Racer below.

SW Motech products for the BMW R nineT Racer

SW Motech Legend Gear Luggage for the BMW R nineT Racer:

Whether you plan on a motorcycle holiday, commuting, or just have too much to carry in your pockets, bike luggage comes in rather useful. And the SW Motech range suits the retro look of the R nineT Racer. The bags are constructed from waxed canvas and Napalon synthetic leather to look like classic motorcycle kit. But they also have a polyurethane coating on the inside, waterproof inner bags and rain covers for modern protection from rain and damp.

The two pannier style bags are the SW Motech LC1, which carry 9.8 litres per side and cost £139.99 per bag, or the larger SW Motech LC2 which carry 13.5 litres and cost £149.99 each. Either size will be attached using SLC Side Carriers which are designed for the R nineT Racer with touch steel tubing fitted to original mounting points. That gives you the flexibility to carry one or a pair of bags, and there’s a quick-lock system to get them on and off quickly. You can attach other Legend Gear bags onto each pannier using the army-style webbing loops and alloy hooks. The side carriers cost £59.99 each.

SW Motech BMW R nineT Racer Legend Gear Side Bags

Alternatively, there’s also an SW Motech Legend Gear Tank Bag LT2 available for £125.99. That’ll carry 5.5 litres, and attaches with a classic strap mounting. The strap has two clip buckles, to let you get to the fuel tank filler when you need it.

You get the same mix of vintage look construction and waterproofing as the panniers. But for the handy stuff you need when riding there’s a clear PVC window for smartphones and satnavs. Plus a hole for your charging cables. And you can also add accessory bags or smart phone bags for more storage by using the same additional fastening system.

SW Motech BMW R nineT Racer Legend Gear Tank Bag Strap

SW Motech Crash Protection for the BMW R nineT Racer:

So that’s all your kit carried. But what about saving your retro BMW from damage? There are three options to save your engine in particular from potential problems.

The SW Motech Engine Guard will protect the block and sump from debris being thrown up off the road, particularly by the front wheel. It’s made from 4mm brushed aluminium, and has a rubber mounting to reduce vibration. It attaches to your bike via existing mounting points, using steel brackets. And it features air intake holes so your engine still benefits from the cooling airflow. It costs £178.00.

SW Motech BMW R nineT Racer Engine Guard

For the sides of the engine, you can also invest in SW Motech Cylinder Guards. You can probably guess they cover the valve and spark plug covers. So they’ll help if the side of your Boxer engine comes into contract with the road. Laser-cut, brushed aluminium is used, with an anodised aluminium pad, and a rubber lining to cushion the engine in a fall. You can choose from Black and Gold or Black and Silver finished for £158.99 per pair.

SW Motech BMW R nineT Racer Crash Bars and Cylinder Guards

And for even more protection, why not whack on a paid of SW-Motech Crash Bars. The heavy-duty steel protectors come in a choice of plain powder coasted black for a stealthy look at £177.99. Or shiny stainless steel to give you even more to polish at £226.99.

As always, it’s a fair investment for all the crash protection listed. But having seen a brand new Japanese middleweight written off when a low-speed fall cracked the engine casing, it’s a lot cheaper to add crash bars in advance. Especially when your insurance excess will often be a couple of hundred pounds anyway. And they’ll save the engine from scuffs and marks when you might consider selling it in a year or two. Which means you’ll be able to get more cash.

So those are the current SW Motech products for the BMW R nineT Racer. If you’ve already bought and fitted any, let us know what you make of them in the comments. Or your thoughts on the R nineT Racer itself…


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There’s an all-new A8 on the way, but it’ll be hard to beat the current version of this high-luxe limo, blogs Road Test Editor Howard Walker.

It’s no secret that Audi will be pulling the silk off an all-new A8 flagship next month. Word has it that not only will the car have a polarizing, love-it-or-hate-it new design, but it’ll pack more computing power than a Google server farm, allowing it to move one step closer to fully automated driving.

One of its multitude of ground-breaking features will be its new Traffic Jam Pilot function that’ll enable the car to legally pilot itself at speeds up to 35 mph in freeway stop-start traffic. Look Ma, no hands. Behind-the-wheel texters, tweeters and Subway foot-long sandwich-eaters, prepare to rejoice!

As someone who regularly beats his head against the dashboard trying to master the complexities of modern-day automotive technologies, the thought of an even-more complex Audi is, to me, about as thrilling as a computer virus. To ready myself for this all-new A8 however, and put its upcoming tech into perspective, I just spent a deliriously joyful week behind the wheel of the out-going A8, in this case a 2017 A8 L 3.0T quattro.

You gotta love a car that lets you enter an address into its nav system by simply scribbling it with your finger on a small touch-pad on the center console. This current version has been around since 2010, so design-wise it’s about as youthful and fresh-faced as Nick Nolte in a police mugshot!

Yet with its stretched, limo-like wheelbase, huge grille and honking 20-inch alloys, it still has a tremendous elegance and huge on-the-road gravitas. Valet parkers will fall over themselves to find a primo spot for it outside the front door.

And to drive it is to love it. The A8L comes with a choice of two engines; a potent 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 good for 450-horsepower, or a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 cranking out 333-horsepower. Want horsepower nirvana? There’s a short-wheelbase S8 Plus with a thundering 605-horsepower version of the big 4.0 V8, though that’s simply a speeding ticket waiting to happen!

Trust me, no one will be disappointed with the performance of the supercharged V6. It’s super-quiet and refined and has no shortage of muscle to punch the lightweight A8 off the line, or surge past slower traffic on a two-lane back road. Part of its eagerness is down to the A8’s magical eight-speed Tiptronic transmission. It responds instantly to calls for kickdown, and shifts from one gear to the next with all the smoothness of hot molasses flowing from a jar.

Through the curves, the car’s standard all-wheel drive quattro setup, shuffles drive between each wheel to ensure optimal traction. The feeling for the driver is one of sublime poise and balance with real agility. It’s arguably the sportiest-feeling big sedan in its class.

While the ride is a little on the firm side for a car so focused on delivering sublime comfort for those inside, it’s in keeping with the car’s driver-focused image. Yet who wants to drive when you can luxuriate in the car’s amazing rear seats? The A8L is five inches longer than a standard-wheelbase S8, with those extra inches going into the back to provide true stretch-out space.

I know, the analogy with biz-jets is a bit over-used, but that’s exactly what sitting in the back of an A8L feels like. Power-up the massage function, recline the rear backrest, crank-up the 630-watt Bose surround sound system, and chill.

This being the flagship of the Audi range, you’d expect quality. But the A8 goes above and beyond, with its glove-soft diamond-stitched leather, a gorgeous mix of satin-and-varnished timber, Alcantara headliner and brushed metal detailing. The base price of a 2017 model year A8L 3.0T is $82,500, but nicely-loaded you’ll pay closer to $93,000. Though I expect that with an all-new A8 landing at dealers towards the end of the year, there’ll be good deals to be had on leftovers.

All I’d say is that the all-new A8 will have to be pretty awesome to outshine this current version.

For more information about the latest luxury-performance vehicles from Audi, please visit

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Goodwood Festival of Speed’s F1 treats

Reigning Formula One World Champion Nico Rosberg will be among the motor racing stars at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed (June 29 – July 2). He will be roaring up the famous Goodwood Hill on Sunday July 2 in his 2014 Mercedes F1 W05 Hybrid, while Russian Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas will take …

The post Goodwood Festival of Speed’s F1 treats appeared first on Automotive Blog.

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