• How to ensure your business vehicles pass their MOT

    By Permalink

    Want to ensure your vehicles pass their MOT? Worried about your business if your vehicles fail? Then read on to discover our hints and tips for making sure your vehicles pass their MOT.

    Most important of all is to ensure you stay on top of vehicle maintenance. Don’t leave things to the last minute; keep an eye on your vehicles all year round. Here are a few things to look out for:

    Checks to undertake

    Look at the wheels and tyres of your vehicles and ensure they are of a suitable type and size.  Also, examine the tyres to check that the treads are still deep enough to be legal. Depending on the size of your business vehicles the required depth may differ, but for cars and vans its usually 1.6mm. A quick rule of thumb is to slot a 20 pence piece into the tyre tread, if the outer rim is hidden from view, then the depth is sufficient. Just remember this has to be the case across the central three-quarters of the tyre and all the way around. There’s lots of advice about tyre safety available online if you need it.

    Lights, wipers, action

    Next, look to your lights, all of which need to be working correctly and don’t forget to check the indicators too. An un-obscured view of the road is, of course, crucial, so check that the windscreen wipers are working and that there is nothing masking your view through the windscreens. Check the condition of your windscreens too, as cracks or chips could result in a MOT fail.

    Don’t forget that your registration plates must be clear to view and securely in place, so give them a wipe and a check. Moreover, to pass their MOT tests the structure of your vehicles must be in reasonable condition, with no obvious damage or corrosion, including the doors, which should open and close firmly. In addition, check all of the vehicles’ fluids are topped up, including windscreen washer, oil and brake fluid. If the mechanics conducting your MOT tests can’t undertake the required emissions tests, your vehicles will fail.

    Speed, horn, seats

    Inside your vehicles check that there are no warning lights operating (if there are, check them out and resolve any problems before your MOT). Also, confirm the speedometers are operating, that the horns can emit an appropriate sound and that all of the required mirrors are present and positioned correctly. In addition, check the seating is secure and that all seatbelts are in good repair and functioning correctly. This list is not exhaustive, but it’s a handy overview of elements to check before your vehicles head off for their MOT.

    Services and maintenance

    The most significant thing you can do to ensure your vehicles pass their MOTs is to keep their services up-to-date, don’t scrimp on them. If you’re concerned about the maintenance of your business vehicles, one option is to look into putting a maintenance contract in place, but for a small business, this is not likely to be financially viable. However, you do have another option.

    Vehicle maintenance a worry?

    Don’t want the burden of maintenance? Then consider leasing vehicles instead, and you’ll never have to worry about maintenance again. Having reliable vehicles is one important step towards securing the future of your business so that you can count on your vehicles, and your customers can count on you. Lease business vehicles and you’ll have the best chance of being where you need to be on time.  Find a van leasing company so that you can get out on the road in a vehicle fit for your business.

    Continue Reading…

  • 10 Tips to Keep Your Car Engine in Perfect Condition

    By Permalink

    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.

    Continue Reading…

  • How to Reduce Tyre Overloading

    By Permalink

    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.

    Continue Reading…

  • Ford Focus RS Promises Cheaper Thrills

    By , , Permalink

    There was no question that the 2016 Ford Focus RS was going to be quick. That was always a given. No, the question was always “how quick?”.

    Now we know. With 350PS and 440Nm the turbocharged 2.3-litre Ecoboost propels the Focus to 62mph in just 4.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 165mph. That’s nearly a whole second faster than the previous fastest Focus, the RS500, and it’s a lot cheaper than that limited edition RS.

    It’s hardly a surprise that this is the fastest accelerating RS model ever, that’s progress for you! What is a surprise is the price that Ford are asking for this level of performance – just £28,940.

    In terms of thrills gained against hard-earned money spent there’s nothing that can touch it. It’s cheaper than a 300PS Golf R and makes the Leon Cupra, Megane Renaultsport and Astra VXR look under-endowed. What it emphatically does is stick two fingers up at the Audi RS3 and AMG A45, who tried to convince us that almost £40k was acceptable for a hot hatch. Jürgen Gagstatter, chief program engineer for Focus RS, puts it quite politely:

    “The all-new Focus RS delivers stunning performance and innovative technology at a price that will make both our customers and premium automakers look twice. After experiencing the acceleration and cornering capability of the Focus RS, drivers will question the sense in spending almost £10,000 more on a premium competitor.”

    So in other words, you’d have to be barking mad to spend another £10k on one of the German rivals. Unless you really, really want some of those pretty headlights.

    2016 Ford Focus RS

    Performance & Economy 2016 RS 2009 RS 2010 RS500
    Engine 2.3-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol 2.5-litre 5-cylinder turbocharged petrol 2.5-litre 5-cylinder turbocharged petrol
    Transmission 6-speed manual, front-engined, all-wheel drive 6-speed manual, front-engined, front-wheel drive 6-speed manual, front-engined, front-wheel drive
    Power (PS / bhp) 350 / 345 300 / 295 350 / 345
    Torque (Nm / lb.ft) 440 / 324
    (470 / 346 on overboost)
    440 / 324 460 / 339
    0 – 62 mph (seconds) 4.7 5.9 5.6
    Top Speed (mph) 165 163 165
    CO2 Emissions (g/km) TBA 225 235
    VED Band TBA K L
    Combined Economy (mpg) TBA 30.1 28.5
    Price (OTR) £28,940 £27,925 £35,437

    2016 Ford Focus RS (08)
    2016 Ford Focus RS Interior
    Ford Focus RS Dynamic Torque Vectoring
    2016 Ford Focus RS (09)
    2016 Ford Focus RS (07)
    2016 Ford Focus RS (10)

    The post Ford Focus RS Promises Cheaper Thrills appeared first on Driving Spirit.

    Continue Reading…

  • Every Little Counts For SEAT Leon Cupra 290

    Remember the SEAT Leon Cupra 280? Launched at the start of 2014 to a flood of praise and accolades (including from myself), it was seen as one of the best hot hatches on the market. Well, that’s so last year, because the Cupra 280 is gone.

    SEAT Leon Cupra 290 01

    SEAT Leon Cupra 290

    Instead we’ve got a Leon Cupra 290 and, as you might have guessed, it’s got a power increase of 10PS courtesy of a mild ECU remap. Which might not seem like much but, as a certain supermarket giant likes to remind us, every little counts. It takes the Leon’s output even closer to the Golf R, beats the Focus ST with ease and matches the Megane 275’s recent power hike.

    Not that you’ll notice much difference. The official acceleration times for the Cupra 290 are exactly the same at 5.7 seconds for the DSG and 5.8 for the manual transmission and top speed is still limited to 155mph. Economy and CO2 emissions are identical but the peak torque of 350Nm is at least available across more of the rev range than before, from 1,700rpm all the way to 5,800 rpm.

    Of course, you could go to an aftermarket tuner and get 4 or even 5 times the power increase along with some extra torques for a few hundred quid. The trouble is that might upset SEAT’s warranty department so if you want a little more power this is one way of getting it without affecting your Leon’s warranty.

    No official word on prices yet but expect to see a slight increase from the 280’s £28,485 OTR.

    SEAT Leon Cupra 290 02

    SEAT Leon Cupra 290

    Model 2015 Leon SC Cupra 290 2015 Leon SC Cupra 290 DSG 2014 Leon SC Cupra 280 2014 Leon SC Cupra 280 DSG
    Transmission 6-speed manual 6-speed dual-clutch automatic 6-speed manual 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
    Engine 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol
    Power (PS / bhp) 290/287 290/287 280/276 280/276
    Torque (Nm /lb.ft) 350/258 350/258 350/258 350/258
    Kerb Weight (kg) 1,395 1,421 1,395 1,421
    MPG 42.2 42.8 42.2 42.8
    Top Speed 155 155 155 155
    0-62 mph (s) 5.8 5.7 5.8 5.7
    CO2 156 149 156 149
    VED G F G F
    Price £TBA £TBA £28,485 £29,840

    The post Every Little Counts For SEAT Leon Cupra 290 appeared first on Driving Spirit.

    Continue Reading…

dd