• 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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  • Buying Second-Hand and Revealing a Car’s History

    In the market for a second-hand vehicle? It can be daunting to navigate such a large market, but when you know what to look for and how to find it you should not have too much trouble. It is vital that you are thorough with your search and are not rushed into any decisions as there are a lot of dishonest sellers out there and the vehicle may not be as advertised.

    Checking the Car Over

    Once you think you have found the right vehicle, the first thing to do will be to check it over and take it for a test drive. This will involve much more than simply kicking the tyres – fortunately, there is a lot of helpful information online to help you with this process. In addition to this, a smart move is to enlist the help of a mechanic who will be able to provide their assessment of the automobile. This ensures that it is safe to drive and will give you peace of mind.

    The History

    A lot of motorists think that this is enough to determine whether or not they should purchase the vehicle, but this is absolutely not the case. Equally important is learning the history of the vehicle – this will indicate if there are any recurring issues, how many owners it has had, how far it has travelled and if it has a hidden history (stolen, unpaid parking tickets, previously written-off, outstanding finance etc.)

    A hidden history could reveal itself further down the line and cause a major issue for the buyer. In addition to this, concealing an aspect of the vehicle’s past may allow the seller to negotiate a higher price. This is why it is absolutely essential that you carry out a vehicle history check before making a purchase on a used-car. The seller may have done this themselves, but it is always worth doing it yourself for peace of mind.

    Uncovering the History

    These checks, available from companies like cap hpi, reveal an in-depth history and everything that you need to know to make an intelligent decision. You should ensure that there are no major issues with the car’s history, and also check that this information matches what the seller advertises.

    Buying a used car can be daunting, but by knowing how to inspect a vehicle and how to reveal its history it should allow you to search with confidence and find exactly what you are looking for.

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