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.”
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.
We recently came across a problem in the Garage which we have not come across before, which was the ‘Low Oil Pressure’ warning light coming on after replacing the Oil and Filter on a 2019 Ford Ranger 3.2.
After searching on a couple of the Motor Trade platforms we use it seemed that we were not the first to come across this problem, but we spoke to our local Ford Dealer and they said they knew nothing about it.
There was apparently a technical bulletin which had gone out to dealers saying that if the oil and filter change was not completed within fifteen minutes this problem would occur due to the oil pump draining and not being able to re-bleed itself.
Personally we believe this is a poor design, when we drain the old oil from your car we want to remove as much of the old oil as possible (obviously some oil will stay in certain places of the engine) allowing the new oil not to be diluted with it.
In this particular case the only way we could bleed the oil pump was to flood it, we added five litres more oil than specified to bring the level inside the sump up to the bottom of the oil pump meaning it didn’t have to pull the oil up but just push it.
Once we had got the oil pressure up we drained off the extra five litres of oil, road tested the car and then re-checked the level.
We hope everyone is taking care and doing their best in this strange and worrying time. Trying to fight this Corona Virus is a bigger job than most of us initially thought but we do seem to be getting there and some of those business’s that were affected by Covid19 are starting to re-open.
Aarons Autos will be re-opening its doors as of the 1st June 2020 and once again be offering its excellent ‘Services’ to the general public and local business’s.
We are putting several measures in place to keep our customers and staff safe from the Corona Virus;
We are fitting a Perspex screen across the whole office counter which will have a small cut out for customers to pass keys through and for them to make payments (card payments are preferred but we will accept cash)
We will be enforcing a one customer in reception at a time rule and customers will not be able to wait in the reception area whilst large repairs are being carried out.
All customers vehicles will be wiped down with anti bacterial wipes pre and post work being carried out, technicians will wear gloves whenever possible.
We will be supplying small hand sanitiser bottles for customers and technicians to use after any transactions.
We ask that customers will leave out their ‘Locking Wheel Nut Keys‘ and ‘Service Books‘ where required so we do not have to search around the car trying to find them (reducing contact inside the car).
If you have any other worries or queries please don’t hesitate to contact us.
MOT’s have been extended, but we are urging customers to have their MOT’s carried out as soon as they possibly can (or feel safe enough to do so).
There are several reasons we are suggesting getting your MOT done sooner rather than later;
18 months is a long time for your car to go un-checked, if you had not had your car Serviced just before the ‘Lock Down’ and your MOT was due how do you know if your tyres, brakes or suspension are safe!
Garages are going to be inundated with MOT’s that are actually due on the date you want yours doing (12 month MOT’s) so imagine the difficulty for the garage to deal with double the amount of MOT’s, this is why we suggest contacting us early so we can spread out the work load.
Think of your local Garage. If NO MOT’s are carried out in April or May what will happen next year? Garages will have less work in those months and possibly struggle.
If you would like to book in for the first week of June please contact us by email email@example.com or our Facebook page ‘Aarons Autos Derby Ltd‘ if you would like to contact us after the 1st June just call us as normal between 8.30 – 5.00 and we will be happy to help.
Aarons Autos will still be open for business over this strange and worrying time and we are doing our very best to make sure when you visit the garage that we limit contact between ourselves and customers.
We are regularly cleaning the office work top, door handles and card machine to limit the chance of spreading this Corona virus and are advising customers to leave their cars with us rather than waiting.
Our technicians are using latex gloves where possible when driving customers cars to reduce contact between steering wheels and gear sticks.
We are offering a collection and delivery service to our elderly and high risk customers where they can leave their car keys in a pre arranged place (that they can see from inside their house) and making payment over the phone allowing us to collect and return cars with zero contact with the customer.
One of the main reasons we are staying open and not taking advantage of the Governments generous offer to pay 80% of our wages is for you, our customers. A lot of our customers are elderly, work for the NHS or other first line services and we understand the importance of having their cars safe and legal to enable them to carry on working and help us beat this Corona virus.
If you have any worries about your booking please do not hesitate to give us a call.
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Number of misguided motorists that avoid servicing over cost fears is “alarming”
Half of UK drivers worry about unexpected car bills, survey finds
Millions of motorists are avoiding car maintenance over fears of unexpected problems, with many admitting that they avoid getting their car serviced in case vehicle faults are found.
Around half of UK drivers (47 per cent) worry about having to pay for unexpected car repairs.
The survey of 2,000 motorists also found that a quarter (24 per cent) of those who worry about unexpected problems say this uncertainty is putting them off getting their car serviced.
The research suggests that drivers are paying hundreds of pounds to pass an MOT, with five per cent paying £1,000 or more to get their vehicle through the test.
Further MOT analysis reveals that around 40 per cent of cars fail their MOT at the first attempt.
Lauren French, product manager at RAC MOT Assist, the company behind the research, said: “Clearly, taking a car in for a service or MOT can be a nerve-wracking experience with many drivers concerned about what might be uncovered, and the unpleasant financial consequences that can result.
“But it’s even more alarming that this experience is enough to put some people off getting their car serviced in the future.
“Just how many people are driving vehicles on the UK’s roads that they know have problems?
“The best advice to any driver is to keep on top of servicing and maintenance work – the quicker problems are identified, often the cheaper they are to remedy.”
“Spread your Servicing and MOT costs.”
Here at Aarons Autos we advise our customers to spread their servicing and MOT if cost is an issue, this way they can plan for the up-coming months.
If the car has any advisories on the MOT they can save money and have those carried out with a ‘Service’ six months later, and also if we find anything on the service they can save and have the work done when there MOT is due.
Peugeot RCZ engine management light on Fault code P0016 and engine rattle.
We see quite a few Peugeot RCZ’s with engine management lights on and when diagnosed the fault code is P0016 Synchronization lack of coherence between engine speed sensor (crank sensor) and inlet camshaft sensor. This means that the engine is sensing that the timing of the vehicle engine is incorrect when running. The reason for this is that on this engine model (that is also fitted in the BMW MINI and other vehicles) the timing chain stretches due to either a mechanical component being worn, not being serviced regularly or low oil levels.
Peugeot RCZ 2012 fault code P0016
With the Diagnostic code read taken place we first remove the rocker cover and fit the engine timing pins to see how stretched the chain is but on this one we could see even with fitting the engine timing pins how far the chain had stretched.
Rocker cover removed with no timing pins fitted.
Having timed the crank and inserted the timing pin we went to time the cams and as you can see they were many teeth out. The two cam timing plates should meet together in the middle and both together.
Timing tool fitted showing how incorrect the timing was.
We removed the Chain and corrected the timing so that the new timing chain kit could be fitted.
Timing chain kit removed.
We always fit a brand new full timing chain kit that includes tensioner, chain, rocker cover gasket, guides, sprocket and VVT pulley.
All new parts fitted and timed up correctly.
With the new timing chain kit fitted and a oil and filter change completed the ecu was reset and the car ran allot quieter with no engine management light or code coming back on.
https://youtu.be/AkQTHUgsOSM Aarons Autos is the best car servicing garage in the world