• AA’s new Car Genie can predict breakdowns

    The AA has launched a self-install gadget that predicts vehicle breakdowns before they happen. Car Genie simply plugs into a vehicle’s on-board diagnostics (OBDII) port and it can report what is going on under the bonnet and predict up to a third of breakdowns. Data is viewable in a corresponding mobile app and in the …

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  • Skidmarx Race Screens Now Include S1000RR and ZX-10R

    Skidmarx have been producing a wide range of aftermarket screens for motorcycles for years now. And they cover a wide range of machines for road and track use. The latest additions to their range are Skidmarx Race Screens for popular track and race bikes including the BMW S1000RR (2015-on), the Kawasaki ZX-10R (2016-on), and the new 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

    The Skidmarx race screens are made in the UK from 2mm cast acrylic. They’re 33% thinner than the road versions, which not only saves weight, but also means better vision looking through the screen. Which is important when you’re tucked in behind it more often on track. Plus an aftermarket screen will also protect the original version if and when you decide to sell your bike. And you can choose from standard, double bubble, TT Tall sizes, or even get one made-to-measure.

    New Skidmarx race screens include the 2016-on Kawasaki ZX-10RR TT Tall Screen
    The Skidmarx TT Tall screen for the Kawasaki ZX-10R (2016-on)

    If you’re still using your standard fairings, the race screens can be supplied with 6mm diameter holes to fit straight in. Or you can get them un-drilled if you need to customise them to match a race fairing. You’ll be in good company, as Skidmarx current supply BSB frontrunners JG Speedfit, and road racers including James Hillier.

    Skidmarx BMW S1000RR TT Tall Screen
    A Skidmarx TT Tall Screen for the BMW S1000RR (2015-on)

    The other advantage of using a Skidmarx aftermarket screen is the potential cost saving when it needs replacing. Prices for race screens start from £39.95, compared to the cost of a new replacement from the original manufacturer.

    Thinking about a motorcycle track day or starting to race? We’re compiling a guide section to help you, including the ultimate guide to motorcycle track days.

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  • Win an Aston Martin fit for a Dame

    Oscar-winner Dame Judi Dench has teamed up with the RAF Benevolent Fund to launch a unique raffle to win a limited edition Aston Martin worth £275,000. The actress, who played M in seven James Bond films and is long-time supporter of the RAF’s leading welfare charity, said the lucky winner “will certainly have a licence to …

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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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