The cold is now starting to set in, so here’s what you need to do this winter to reduce the risk of a breakdown and make sure that you are equipped to deal with the conditions.
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Check your car
- Antifreeze – check coolant level regularly and, if required, top-up with a mixture of the correct type of antifreeze. Your garage should check concentration to ensure adequate cold temperature protection.
- Battery – the most common cause of winter breakdowns. A battery more than five years old may struggle in the cold – get it checked and replaced if necessary to avoid the inconvenience of an unplanned failure.
- Fuel – keep at least a quarter of a tank in case of unexpected delay.
- Lights – check and clean all lights regularly to make sure you can see and be seen clearly. Carry spare bulbs.
- Tyres – should have at least 3mm of tread for winter motoring. Consider winter tyres for improved safety. Check pressures at least every fortnight.
- Windscreen – reduce dazzle from the low sun by keeping the screen clean inside and out. Now is a good time to renew worn wiper blades.
- Screen wash – use a 50% mix of a good quality screen wash to reduce the chance of freezing in frosty weather.
- Locks and door seals – stop doors freezing shut with a thin coat of polish or Vaseline on rubber door seals. A squirt of water dispersant (WD-40) in locks will help stop them freezing.
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As the main summer holiday season approaches, drivers who will be towing a caravan or trailer are being encouraged to pay particular attention to their tyres before setting off. The advice is being issued by not for profit organisation TyreSafe in a bid to help road users reach their destination safely.
“The summer months are normally the peak season for towing-related incidents on our roads, many of which are tyre related,” comments Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. “However, by making some thorough safety checks as part of any travel preparations, many of these needless problems can be avoided.”
Figures from the Highways Agency reveal that in 2013 nearly 5,000 towing-related incidents occurred on its roads, with almost half of these happening between July and September. As one of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations, the South West region saw the highest number of summer towing incidents, accounting for more than a fifth of the UK’s total.
To minimise the risk of suffering a tyre-related towing problem, drivers are being advised to make a number of key safety checks on both their caravan or trailer and their towing vehicle.
Firstly, it’s essential that tyres are correctly inflated for the applied load. Tyres that are under-inflated are much more likely to overheat and suffer from a rapid failure which can lead to loss of control of the vehicle. Furthermore, any resulting debris left on the carriageway can prove extremely hazardous for other road users.
Details of correct pressures for caravans and trailers can be found by visiting here. Drivers should also remember that, when towing, pressures on the towing vehicle may need to be adjusted accordingly. Details of this can be found in the vehicle manufacturer’s handbook.
Tyre tread depth should also be checked to ensure they exceed the UK’s legal minimum requirements of 1.6mm across the central three quarters around its entire circumference. This can be checked either with a calibrated tread depth gauge or very quickly using a 20p coin. Simply place a 20p coin in the main tread grooves of the tyre and, if the outer band of the coin is obscured, then the tyres should exceed the legal minimum. If the outer band is visible then the tyre tread depth may be low and should be inspected immediately by a tyre professional.
The final aspect drivers should pay attention to is the general condition of the tyres. Owners should look out for any signs of damage such as lumps, bulges, cuts, cracks or uneven wear. If any of these are present, the vehicle should be inspected by a tyre professional.
“When it comes to the summer, we most often think about caravans and trailer tents being towed but our useful advice should be applied equally to other towed vehicles as well,” continues Jackson. “For example, many boat and horse owners will also be hitching up their trailers and they should follow these same precautions to ensure they have a trouble-free journey.”
Before taking to the roads this Summer, you can take several simple precautions to keep your family safe and save money at the fuel pumps. Extreme heat and long drives can be tough on cars. Cracked hoses, leaky radiators, under-inflated tyres and dirty filters can significantly lower your fuel efficiency, or worse, lead to a total breakdown.
Tyres are one of the most overlooked parts of a car. Under-inflated, over-inflated, worn or misaligned tyres can be extremely dangerous, particularly in hot summer weather. Don’t forget to check your spare tyre.
Belts and Hoses
Check hoses for cracks, leaks and loose connections. The most vulnerable parts of the hose are those nearest to clamps where the hose connects to the radiator or the engine.
Belts can also be visually checked for cracks and damage. Take note if the belt looks excessively shiney or smooth.
Cars are designed to run hot, but there’s a limit to how hot they should run. A combustion engine is most efficient at around 93 degrees Celsius. If an engine is allowed to get too hot, moving metal parts can actually start to melt and fuse together, causing a variety of internal problems for your engine. For summer driving, coolant should be added as a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water. You can even buy pre-mixed coolant so you don’t have to bother with the measurements.
Oil is the lifeblood of your car. It keeps your engine parts running clean, smooth and cool. Most owners manuals suggest that you change your oil and oil filter every 7,500 miles . Most of us do a lot of heavy driving during the summer when an engine is more likely to overheat. So at least check your oil before you head out on that road trip with your family.
Over the winter, your cars air filter can get clogged with salt and other debris. A clogged air filter can lower your fuel efficiency. Replacing a dirty or clogged air filter can improve your mileage by as much as 10%. If your air filter really dirty, then it needs to be changed. Air filters are relatively inexpensive.
The best way to keep your battery running smoothly is to keep it clean. Regularly detach the battery cables and wipe off the terminals. Make sure the battery is strapped down tightly and that all connections are secure. If you suspect that your battery is being overcharged or isn’t holding a charge well, take it to any branch of PTA Garage Services so we can run a quick battery inspection. If you suspect that your battery is being overcharged or isn’t holding a charge well, take it to a service shop where they can run a quick battery inspection. And if you need to replace the battery, make sure that it’s the right battery type for your specific make and model of car.
Winter can be tough on windscreen wipers. Ice, snow, salt and extreme temperatures can cause cracks and tears in the rubber which in turn lowers the effectiveness of the wipers. If your wipers are leaving visible streaks or take several passes to clear away light rain, they need to be replaced.
Brakes need to be replaced when the lining on your brake pads or brake shoes are worn down past the minimum thickness specified by your car manufacture – You can have your brake linings checked at any branch of PTA Garage Services. The following are some signs that your brakes need to be checked or replaced.
Your brake pedal becomes very soft and spongy
Your brake pedal is very hard or needs a lot of pressure to stop
Your brake pedal rests too low or too high
Warning lights on your dashboard
Loud and constant scraping and grinding sounds coming from the brakes
The most common cause of a malfunctioning air conditioning unit is a low level of refrigerant. This could be caused buy a leak somewhere in the system. Since modern air conditioning systems are complicated, PTA Garage Services can check out any problems and recharge the system if required.
Garage Services Edenbridge
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This branch offers the following services
Air Conditioning Specialists