• 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Subaru BRZ review

    Subaru BRZ review

    The Subaru BRZ is one of the best kept secrets of the auotmotive world.

    Developed alongisde the near-identical Toyota GT86, it’s an affordable back-to-basics front
    engined, rear-wheel drive 2+2 sports coupe.

    For 2017, Subaru has given the evergreen BRZ a mid-life facelift, equipment upgrade and distilled the trim options down to just one – SE Lux.

    Subaru BRZ review

    The exterior design tweaks are subtle, apart from the old school aerodynamic wing at the rear. Elsewhere, there’s a new front bumper, LED headlights and 10-spoke 17-inch alloys.

    You can choose from five colours, though Subaru’s iconic WR (World Rally) Blue Pearl is surely the one to go for.

    Inside, a 4.2-inch LCD colour display is added to the instrument display, featuring such sporting essentials as a G-Force meter and braking gauge.

    Subaru BRZ review

    The leather steering wheel is now smaller and boasts audio controls, while plastics generally have been upgraded or replaced by leather, giving the cabin a more upmarket feel.

    The Alcantra and leather seats are more comfortable than ever (the driver’s seat has a six-way adjustment), while a 6.2-inch touchscreen has been added to the centre console, though sat nav is a £1,250 option.

    The infotainment system is not as hi-tech as the best of them, but it does the job and, of course, offers full connectivity.

    Subaru BRZ review

    Traditionalists will be pleased to note that the cockpit is still adorned with plenty of retro-feel knobs and toggle switches.

    The rear passenger seats are fitted with ISOFIX anchor points, but as with most 2+2s, they are
    almost totally useless. Better news in the boot where there’s 243 litres of space available – 1,270 with the rear seats folded flat.

    The 2017 Subaru BRZ is more driver focused than ever. Sadly, there’s no extra power for the 2.0-
    litre 200PS ‘Boxer’ petrol engine, but it is more responsive, it still sounds suitably throaty and CO2 emissions are slightly lower.

    Subaru BRZ review

    Elsewhere, Subaru’s engineers have made various changes (to the steering, suspension, dampers and
    brakes) to tweak the driving dynamics and make the BRZ even sharper than before.

    Priced from £26,050, the BRZ is one of the most entertaining cars you’ll find for that money.

    The chassis is better than ever and it’s enormous fun on flowing country roads. Agile and engaging, it’s helped by a slick six-speed short-throw manual gearbox and it feels totally
    planted.

    Subaru BRZ review

    For the record, the BRZ is capable of 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds (but feels faster) and it tops out at 140mph. Fuel economy is a claimed 36.2mpg (and it not far off that in the real world), while CO2 emissions are a very average 180g/km.

    But here’s the thing. The BRZ is also now available with automatic transmission – and it’s a bit of a revelation.

    Subaru BRZ review

    It may sounds like sacrilege in a sports car package like this, but the auto box slams through the gears pretty well – even producing the odd pop on down-changes, allowing you to concentrate on the driving. The engine even sounds more sporty.

    Verdict: The new, improved Subaru BRZ is better than ever. With a mild makeover inside and out, plus enhanced driving dynamics, it has to be one of the best-value, most entertaining sports cars
    on the market – and it still looks just as cool.

    Review by Gareth Herincx

    Subaru BRZ review

    The post Subaru BRZ review appeared first on Automotive Blog.

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