Some 70 per cent of motorists set to use their car or motorhome for a summer get away
More than four-in-10 drivers in the UK (43 per cent) already have firm plans for a UK staycation this summer, according to research carried out by the RAC.
While only 13 per cent of the 2,100 drivers surveyed in April said they hoped to head abroad this summer, nearly half of this group (48 per cent) said they would try to take a holiday somewhere in the UK if coronavirus restrictions made going abroad impossible – which could have the effect of swelling traffic volumes during the summer months.
A quarter (24 per cent) said they would look to delay their trip to another date when restrictions are hopefully eased, whereas 16 per cent say they would simply forego a holiday this summer.
One-in-10 (11 per cent) were uncertain as to what they would do in that event.
With official data showing that 19 of the 20 countries to which UK residents make the most visits in the summer are currently on the government’s ‘red’ and ‘amber’ list and are effectively off-limits, the RAC research points to the possibility of an extremely busy summer on the UK’s roads.
“What’s more, if those who have foreign trips planned can’t take them there is every chance the roads will be far busier than they would be in a normal summer, especially if we’re blessed with good weather as this will cause the number of day trips and weekend breaks to rocket.
“If traffic volumes really do swell this summer, it could turn out to be more important than ever that drivers check their vehicles before setting out to avoid a breakdown at the roadside – oil, coolant and screenwash levels should be checked, and all tyres should free of damage and inflated to the right levels for the load being carried, particularly if the whole family is on board and the car is jam-packed.
“Anyone who’s put off getting their car fixed or serviced during Covid should take action sooner rather than later to avoid their staycation being spoilt by a breakdown.”
This VW Scirocco came into us with an intermittent running fault, it would randomly put the engine management light on and go into limp mode.
Firstly we carried out a diagnostic code read to see if there were any stored codes and what they related to?
Several codes were stored relating to faults in different systems! Oxygen sensor, Boost pressure and EGR system.
We decided to carry out a smoke test on the intake system as all of these faults can be affected by an air or boost leak.
(A Smoke Tester fills a system with lightly pressurized smoke allowing the user to see any small leaks that may not be obvious to the naked eye.)
We found a leak from around the inter-cooler area but the car needed stripping further to be able to access this area, once the bumper had been removed we could see clearly that there was a split in the inter-cooler housing which was small enough to allow the car to still run reasonably well but bad enough to throw out several sensor readings.
After we replaced the inter-cooler and cleared all related fault codes we carried out a road test and checked live data, all sensors were reading as they should and the car drove perfectly without putting the engine management light on and no more limp mode.
More than half of drivers do not know when next service is due
Highways England and Aarons Autos are this week encouraging road users to carry out regular vehicle maintenance and checks during the current national lockdown after a new survey revealed that more than half (54 per cent) did not know when their next service is due.
Nearly a third (32 per cent) of road users admit they only carry out basic vehicle maintenance, such as checking their tyre pressure or oil levels, at best every few months or never.
This is in spite of advice to perform regular vehicle maintenance – even when a vehicle is not in regular use during lockdown – on top of the recommended annual service and mandatory MOT.
In response to the survey, Highways England and partners – breakdown provider, Green Flag, and Aarons Autos – are now highlighting the importance of basic maintenance and checks in helping road users to avoid breakdowns or endangering themselves and other drivers.
Without proper care and attention during lockdown, owners risk tyre problems, flat batteries, weather damage and issues due to fluid levels running low when they begin using their vehicle again.
Jeremy Phillips, head of road user safety, said: “While the country is in still in lockdown, we want to remind drivers to act now and carry out those important basic checks.
“Doing regular maintenance, rather than waiting until the end of lockdown is in sight, will ensure their vehicles still work and preventable breakdowns are avoided when restrictions are lifted and the nation gets back on the road.”
“Car batteries are often the hardest hit. During the first lockdown, over 60 per cent of our callouts were for battery-related issues and the colder weather will also have an impact by reducing the battery’s ability to hold charge.
“Carry out a few basic checks to make sure your car is ready for when you need it.
“Don’t leave it until your next MOT or service if you know or feel there is something wrong with your car.”
For more information or to make a booking you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01332 205070 or just click the ‘Book Online’ button.
We are seeing lots of BMW 1 Series and 3 Series with ABS faults caused by the same fault.
The codes for this particular BMW were –
5DC1 – Wheel Speed Sensor Rear Right Extrapolation
5DC2 – Wheel Speed Sensor Exciter Ring Rear Right Periodic Fault
After seeing these codes on the Diagnostic Scanner we needed to take a look at the rear right Wheel Speed Sensor and Reluctor Ring to see if there were any obvious faults.
We could see the problem straight away, what seems to happen with the BMW drive shafts is that rust starts to build up underneath the reluctor ring pushing it away from the the shaft causing it to catch the ABS Wheel Speed Sensor.
To repair this fault you can either try to remove the rust from the drive shaft and replace the reluctor ring and wheel speed sensor (if required), we have seen problems with this repair as once the rust is removed from the drive shaft the outer diameter is smaller and the reluctor rings can come loose and cause more issues.
We replace the complete drive shaft to ensure this cannot happen, in this case we replaced the ABS speed sensor too as it had been damaged due to its contact with the reluctor ring.
Once replaced we cleared all the fault codes from the BMW and carried out a road test whilst checking Live Data on our Scanner to make sure the speed sensor was reading correctly.
This Renault Traffic came into us with its EML (engine management light) on and had a lack of power.
The first job was to carry out a diagnostic code read which showed up several codes relating to EGR valve faults.
As it is quite a big job we needed to get authorisation from the customer to remove the front end off his van access the EGR valve.
Once we had removed the front end we could access the EGR valve and start to remove it, once removed we could see the problem.
The EGR valve and pipes were completely full and blocked with carbon deposits which was stopping the valve from working properly.
We replaced the EGR valve and cleaned out all the pipes to and from the valve, this cleared the codes and allowed the vehicle to drive at full power.
Unfortunately due to the amount of carbon build up in the pipes we determined that the rest of the intake system would have similar carbon deposits in them and may need cleaning in the future.
We advised the customer to take the van on several long journeys at an average RPM of 2500 this will allow the engine to carry out a regeneration of the DPF (diesel particulate filter) and help clean out carbon deposits from the intake system.
This will no doubt have to be carried out several times to get the engine into a good internal condition.
The biggest problem with modern diesels is that people drive them economically and on short journeys, this is what causes the carbon deposits to build up and cause issues, ideally they should be used for long journeys at least once a week to allow the engine to clean itself.
For more info on EGR or DPF faults don’t hesitate to contact us.
This Volkswagen Jetta came into us with its engine management light, DPF light and glow plug light illuminated. It had very little power and needed some attention.
Firstly we carried out a diagnostic code read to see what fault codes were causing the light to be on, several codes relating the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) being blocked or soot content to high and one relating to boost pressure lower than expected.
Next we tried to clear the codes and restart the car to find out which codes stayed live, in this case all the codes stayed.
We tried to carry out a Diesel Particulate Filter Regeneration which with this particular car has to be done whilst driving.
You have to drive the car in 4th or 5th gear at approximately 2000 rpm until the DPF light goes out, this can take up to 40 minutes depending on how blocked the DPF is.
The regeneration did not work, so back to the workshop for some more tests.
We tested the differential pressure before and after the DPF, this is done using a pressure gauge which is connected on to the pressure sensor pipes, if the pressure is to high the DPF wont allow you to carry out a regeneration and the DPF will need to be cleaned out using chemicals either on or off the car.
The DPF soot content on this Jetta was very high so we decided to remove the DPF and have it chemically cleaned.
Whilst the DPF was off we decided to check in to why we were getting a code for low boost pressure, we checked the turbo actuator pipes for leaks which all seemed ok then we checked to see if the actuator was working using a vacuum tester, the actuator wouldn’t hold vacuum.
We removed the turbo actuator and tested it against a new one (see the video below)
Once the DPF had been cleaned out and we had replaced the faulty turbo actuator it was time to retest the the car.
We cleared the codes and took it for a road test, all the warning light extinguished and we had full power, brilliant.
After speaking to the customer we realised that the car had lost power several months ago and he didn’t have it looked at until now due to the fact of not just one warning light being on but three on the dash.
The car wouldn’t carry out a driven regeneration of the DPF (which they do regularly under normal circumstances) due to the faulty turbo actuator which then caused the DPF soot content to increase until it was full causing all the warning lights to come on.
The Moral of this story is ‘Warning lights are important‘ if you have a warning light come on on your car get it checked out before it causes any more damage.
There are a number of car checks you can perform both around the car and under the bonnet to help keep it in good running order and prevent a breakdown.
Getting your hands dirty under the bonnet might sound like something you should leave to the professionals, but there’s no reason why you can’t maintain some things yourself.
Spending five minutes carrying out these simple checks every few weeks – and certainly before a long journey or an MOT – can save you a lot of time and money in the long run, not to mention help keep you safe on the roads.
To keep things simple, here are 12 simple car checks you can carry out today to keep your car safely on the road and on the right side of the law. We also have a quick video from RAC patrol Matt Woodbridge demonstrating four simple under-the-bonnet checks:
When it comes to preventing a breakdown, remember the acronym FORCES, which stands for Fuel, Oil, Rubber, Coolant, Electrics, Screen wash.
Check you have plenty of fuel in your tank for your journey. It may sound obvious but you’d be surprised just how many people run out of fuel, particularly in harsh winter weather.
Check your oil level is between the minimum and maximum mark on your car’s dipstick and top up if necessary.
If you don’t know which type of oil you need to use, refer to your owner’s handbook or speak to your local dealer.
When it comes to rubber, check both your tyres and wiper blades on a regular basis.
Check your tyres for general wear and tear, splits or bulges, and crucially tread depths (remember to check the inner tread too). Minimum tread level is 1.6mm, although in winter it’s advisable to have 3mm of tyre tread to help with traction and grip.
Also ensure you’ve got the correct pressure in your tyres, checking your owner’s handbook if you don’t know the correct inflation.
Examine your wiper blades and make sure they clear your screen effectively as these won’t last forever and need replacing from time to time due to splits and cracks.
In winter, you can prevent your wiper blades freezing to the windscreen by placing a thin sheet of plastic or cloth, between the wiper blades and the windscreen. Or you can try using de-icer or warm water to free them up before starting your engine.
Check your car’s coolant level. The last thing you need is a frozen engine or for your car to overheat.
Although it’s a sealed system and shouldn’t need to be topped up, you should always double check, especially before a long journey.
Check your coolant levels when the engine is cold and look in your handbook for the location of the filler cap and for the correct coolant and mix to use should you need to top it up.
There are plenty of electrics in your car – from headlights and fog lights to your battery – and they all need to be checked regularly to keep you safe.
Walk around the car and make sure your lights are all working, even the number plate lights, as you can be fined for having a registration that can’t be seen.
You should also check your battery, making sure the terminals are clean and tight (cleaning off any corrosion with hot water and applying petroleum jelly) and that the engine starts correctly.
If your engine struggles to start when you turn the key, get the battery checked out at a garage. If your battery is over four years old it may be getting to the end of its life and could let you down.
When you’re having your battery tested, ask them to check the starting & charging system and whether anything is draining your battery – this will give a better picture of your car’s overall electrical health.
If you are having your battery test ask them to check the charging system and the drain on your battery – this will give a better picture of your car’s overall electrical health.
6. Screen wash
Check your screen wash level in the tank under the bonnet (check your manual for its location), topping up if necessary with a quality screen wash additive or pre-mix, which you can pick up in most petrol stations.
Screen wash is important all year round. In winter snow and grit cause dirty windscreens, while in summer bugs and pollen can easily smear your view – so never put off checking your levels
Make sure you’re prepared for a breakdown and are kept safe at the roadside.
Aside from the vital FORCES checks and if you feel confident enough it’s also worth carrying out a few additional car maintenance checks on other parts of your vehicle to extend its life and avoid a breakdown.
7. Engine air filter
A faulty or clogged-up air filter could reduce your fuel efficiency and lead to reduced engine power, which is why mechanics recommend getting it replaced every 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first.
If you think your filter needs checking or replacing, simply locate the filter (usually in a black box under the bonnet) and remove it, making note of how it fits before you insert the replacement and fasten the box back shut.
Check your vehicle handbook for instructions.
8. Spark plug (petrol engines only)
More of a replacement than a check, but spark plugs are integral to the running of your engine – one or more faulty plugs will cause an engine misfire so it’s worth knowing how to replace them.
Generally, spark plugs need replacing every 30,000 miles or so and you’ll need the right tools if you want to replace them yourself. Also check your handbook or consult a dealer to check that a DIY replacement is possible.
It’s hard to underestimate the importance of properly-functioning brakes, so keeping them maintained is essential.
Start off by checking the brake fluid level and if low, top it up – check your vehicle handbook for the correct fluid specification Be careful as brake fluid is corrosive, and if you feel unsure then get a professional to take a look at it.
Brake fluid should be changed at certain mileage intervals – again, check your handbook for service details.
10. Air conditioning
Whether it’s 35 degrees outside or barely breaking freezing, it’s essential your aircon unit is fully functioning. However, apart from visual checks of the pipework, there is not a lot for you to check yourself.
Air conditioning system servicing should be carried out by a competent person with the correct equipment. A typical complaint is when the air conditioning does not feel cool enough on hot summer days, this may indicate that the system requires re-gassing – specialist equipment is required and so should be entrusted to an authorised service centre.
No-one wants their car to be known as a “skip-on-wheels”, so keep things clean with a regular interior clean, clearing out your footwells, wiping down your dashboard and keeping only the essentials in your boot.
It’s not just about being a neat freak, a clean interior also keeps you safe on the roads – you don’t want any discarded bottles dangerously rolling underneath your pedals.
Keep the outside of your car clean with a regular wash. If you’re doing it by hand, focus on the headlights, brake lights and number plates as these help you see and be seen on the roads.
Keep all windows clean and clear at all times. As well as being unsafe, an unclean windscreen that limits your view of the road could see you fined for driving a car in a “dangerous condition.”
Should I take my car to a garage?
If you carry out these simple car checks, your car should stay on the road without seeing a mechanic for longer, but if a more serious problem arises you should always seek professional help.