Category Archives: Car Maintenance

Title: Top 5 Causes of Car Breakdown

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Summary: Car breakdown is one the things motorists dread the most, and statistically, it’ll happen to you at least once in your driving life. As prevention is better than the cure, take a look at the top 5 causes of car breakdown below.

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Meta Description: Get to know the top 5 car breakdown causes on the Bristol Street Blog, including engine overheating, tyre wear, and spark plug problems.

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Car Breakdown - 1

Car breakdown is one the things motorists dread the most, and statistically, it will happen to you at least once in your driving life.

Contrary to popular opinion, breakdowns don’t just happen to older vehicles, also being common with new vehicles. There’s a good reason for this. Owners of older cars can be more motivated to take care of their car, anticipating potential trouble and getting any problem areas sorted out. However, if you’ve just bought a new car, it might take a while to get a proper “feel” for it. As such, it might be more difficult to notice or anticipate problems.

The fact of the matter is that breakdowns aren’t always due to age or lack of care of a vehicle, and could be due to environmental factors, or easy mistakes in day to day vehicle maintenance.

As prevention is better than the cure, take a look at the top 5 causes of car breakdown below.

Refuelling problems

One of the most common breakdown causes, fuel problems, is also one of the easiest to prevent

Thousands of people a year either forget to refuel completely, or only notice the little red light flashing until it’s too late. If this happens to you, you should try and pull safely into the roadside as soon as you can.

Another surprisingly common breakdown problem is also to do with refuelling; filling up with the wrong fuel. Around 150,000 people a year fill their petrol engines with diesel and vice-versa. Although an easy mistake to make, it’s one that can leave you kicking yourself, causing real damage to your car if not dealt with properly.

If you find yourself putting the wrong fuel in, avoid starting your vehicle, as this could seriously damage your engine. The fuel will need to be removed from your car, so get in touch with your roadside assistance provider and they should be able to do this for you. If you’re worried about making the same mistake again, special caps can be purchased to put over your filler neck to make it difficult insert a wrong fuel nozzle.

Wheel damage

Flat tyres and wheel damage are another top cause of breakdown. Whilst some flats might be caused by driving over sharp or harsh road surfaces, many cases are preventable. Lack of care, infrequent changing, and the wrong pressure are frequent sources of flat tyres and tyre damage, and all are easy to rectify and prevent.

The best way to make sure your tyres are in good nick is to head in for regular servicing. Whilst learning how to change a tyre isn’t too much hard work, checking for some expert opinion is advisable. Even if you’re sure your tyres are in good condition, getting a second opinion won’t hurt, and can help you figure out what the problem is if anything goes wrong in future.

Flat battery

The dreaded flat battery is another big reason for roadside call-outs and no-starts.

If you mainly use your car for short frequent trips you’ll be at a higher risk of this, as you might not be giving the battery enough time to recharge between journeys. For infrequent drivers, it’s a good idea to invest in an “intelligent charger” that can be connected to the battery for long periods, to ensure you’re fully charged.

Leaving headlights running is one of the most common causes of battery drain. If you’ve ever kicked yourself for forgetting to switch your headlights off overnight, don’t panic. The chances are that the battery won’t be completely drained, and if you have a mains car battery charger to hand, you might be able to recharge it.

Another good idea is to keep some jump cables in your vehicle. That way, if you find your battery giving up while you’re out and about, you’ll just need to find a Good Samaritan to help you recharge.

Car Breakdown - 2

Engine overheating

Overheating is common in summer, when high temperatures, the glare of the sun, and an increased reliance on air conditioning all combine to increase the likelihood of engines giving out.

Almost all vehicles have a temperature gauge, so if you’re driving and see this slipping into the red, it’s a good idea to pull over before you overheat completely. Then turn off the air conditioning and any other features that might be using energy, and turn on your car’s heaters. In the peak heat of the summer you might find this tip a little odd, but it does work; just remember to get out of the car first unless you’re wanting a sauna experience. The heating system works by taking heat away from the engine, which means that turning it on actually works to cool your vehicle down, and recover from overheating.

Another good idea is to take a look at your coolant levels, found in a small plastic container near your engine’s radiator. If this is low or empty, you might have a leak on your hands. Check underneath your car, and see if there’s any liquid present. If there is, you shouldn’t drive any further; call roadside assistance, and take your car into a dealership garage to be looked over. If you don’t spot any liquid, fill the coolant tank with more water and coolant for a temporary solution. However, if you find your car overheating frequently, you should still take it to a mechanic to be assessed for any serious faults.

Spark plug problems

Spark plugs can be one of the most neglected parts of a vehicle, and also one of the most problematic if they’re not well taken care of. Signs of a faulty or dirty spark plug can often be difficult to spot, but if your engine sounds like it’s vibrating roughly when you’re at a stop, you frequently struggle to start your car, and your engine misfires, they could be the cause.

Whilst a common cause of car trouble, luckily, spark plug problems are easy to rectify. If you’re unsure how to change one yourself, just take your car into a garage and a technician should be able to change them in no time.

So, if you’re neglecting your car, persisting on even though you know something’s not quite right, or just want to brush up on what might be the cause if the worst does happen, we hope our advice has helped. If you think you’re likely to suffer from any of the problems above, and want some tips on how to prevent car breakdown, the Bristol Street Motors team will be happy to help out. Who knows – it might even be time to invest in a new car.

Author: Tom

Title: A Guide to Tyre Maintenance

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Summary: Tyre maintenance isn't just important for safety, but also for the general well-being of your car. If you’re driving on worn out tyres, there’s a good chance you’re causing damage to your vehicle, not to mention your drive quality.

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Meta Description: Discover how to change a tyre and everything you need to know about tyre maintenance at Bristol Street Motors. Find out more here.

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Tyre Maintenance

We might not give much thought to them when driving down the road, but our car tyres are constantly working hard to keep us safe. Even if your vehicle has traction control, skid prevention and anti-lock brakes, nothing can compensate for badly damaged, worn-out or incorrect car tyres.

However, tyre maintenance isn’t just important for safety, but also for the general well-being of your car. If you’re driving on worn out tyres, there’s a good chance you’re causing damage to your vehicle, not to mention your drive quality.

But how can you check your tyre pressure, and how do you know when it’s time to inflate? Again, how do you change a tyre and prevent punctures from occurring? To help out, we’ve put together a handy and simple guide to tyre maintenance. Take a look below.

Checking tyre pressure

In addition to carrying out visual inspections for signs of wear and tear, an essential part of tyre maintenance is keeping a close eye on air pressure. Under-inflated tyres can be the cause of blow-outs due to the increased heat and fiction they encounter. However, overinflated tyres aren’t good either, as they can be susceptible to damage from potholes and bumpy roads.

Therefore, you should check your tyres’ air pressure at least once a month. The correct PSI (pounds per square inch) should be listed in your owner’s manual, on the driver side door panel or inside your fuel flap.

Most petrol stations will have a high-quality air-pressure gauge to measure your tyre’s PSI. Simply unscrew your dust caps, place the gauge over the valve ensuring there is a tight seal between both, and measure the pressure. You can then add or release air as necessary.

How to change a flat tyre

First of all, the following equipment is essential or highly recommended:

  • A jack
  • A wheel wrench
  • A spare wheel
  • A warning triangle
  • A cloth
  1. Make sure your car is in a safe location away from any traffic. Turn on your hazard lights and place your warning triangle at least 45 metres behind the vehicle.
  2. Remove any cover or cap to gain access to the wheel nuts and give them a slight turn to the left with your wrench. Then, place your jack under the jacking point (the location of which can be found in your owner’s manual) nearest the wheel. You must ensure this is correct to avoid damage or an unstable lift. Turn the jack handle to raise the wheel completely off the ground. You can then remove the wheel nuts and the tyre.
  3. Lift the spare onto the mounting surface and tighten the wheel nuts by hand. After the first nut, tighten the one opposite and keep going round to ensure an even alignment is achieved.
  4. Turn the jack handle to lower the car until the wheel hits the ground then remove the jack from underneath. Use your wrench to tighten up the wheel nuts and ensure everything is secure. Drive with caution at first and if using a space saver spare wheel, don’t exceed its recommended speed limit.

How to avoid flat tyres

Even though flat tyres are somewhat inevitable for most motorists, you can reduce the risk of punctures and blow-outs through good maintenance and sensible driving. The main preventative measures are:

  • Avoiding roads with rough surfaces
  • Looking for hazards while driving
  • Checking your tyre pressures regularly
  • Checking for uneven wear and good tread regularly
  • Not overloading your vehicle

We hope that this guide has given you a good introduction to tyre maintenance. If you’re still unsure about changing a tyre or checking your air pressure, don’t worry. Just get in touch with your local Bristol Street Motors dealership, and we’ll be happy to help you out with whatever you need to know.

Author: Tom

Title: How Long Does an MOT Take?

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Summary: Ever wondered how long an MOT takes, why you need an MOT, or how much an MOT costs? At Bristol Street Motors, we’ve put together a guide to the most frequently asked questions about the MOT test.

Meta Title: How Long Does An MOT Take

Meta Description: If you want to find out how long an MOT takes you can find it here with the Bristol Street Motors guide. You can also book your MOT online today.

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Car MOT

Ever wondered how long an MOT takes, why you need an MOT, or how much an MOT costs? At Bristol Street Motors, we’ve put together a guide to the most frequently asked questions about the MOT test.

What is an MOT?

The MOT test is a test that checks that a vehicle is in a roadworthy condition. Designed to ensure that a vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards set out by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), all cars must receive an MOT test at some point in their driving life.

Driving without a valid MOT test is illegal and carries a potential £1,000 fine. No points can be issued for driving without an MOT, however, 6 – 8 points can be issued for driving without vehicle insurance. An expired MOT voids most – if not all – vehicle insurance, because insurance companies have a section in their terms and conditions which states that the owner of a vehicle must keep their vehicle in a roadworthy condition, and an expired MOT test breaches this.

So, it pays to keep up with your MOT tests.

When do I need an MOT?

You must get an MOT test once every year if your vehicle is over three years old or in some cases once your vehicle is over one year old.

You can renew your MOT up to one month before its expiry. So, drivers have a fair amount of flexibility as to when they can have a new MOT test carried out (in other words, there’s no real excuse for not getting one). If you are unsure of when your vehicle needs a new MOT, details of the earliest date you can have a new test will be printed on your existing MOT certificate.

Points to consider:

Always book your test in advance if your certificate is due to run out.

How much will my MOT cost?

The price of your MOT will be dependent on the type of vehicle you own. For example, an MOT for a goods vehicle will cost more than an MOT for a family hatchback.

MOT test centres can only charge up to the official maximum for an MOT. Most companies promote cheaper rates than the official maximum, but it’s important to know what the maximum is so you have a good idea of how much a test is going to cost.

If you’d like an MOT cost estimate for your car, you can always get in touch with Bristol Street, and we’ll be happy to give you a quote.

Points to consider:

The maximum price of a car MOT test is £54.85, but this will often be cheaper.

Where do I get an MOT?

You can get an MOT test carried out at any approved MOT test centre, such as a Bristol Street Motors dealership. This is often your best bet, as a dealership will employ technicians who specifically deal with specific manufacturers and models, meaning you’ll know your car is in good hands.

Approved centres must always show an official ‘MOT Test: Fees and Appeals’ poster on a public notice board on their premises. It is illegal for a test centre to advertise or perform MOTs if they are not approved to do so, and an MOT carried out at such a centre will not be valid.

What do I need for an MOT?

Once you have booked your vehicle in for an MOT at an approved centre, it’s important to collect all necessary documents. You will need to produce your V5C, or Vehicle Registration Document, and take with you a means for payment. It’s a good idea at this stage to account for any work that may need to be carried out on your vehicle to ensure it meets road safety and environmental standards. So, make sure that you have enough money to cover any unexpected bills. Common failures include faulty windscreen wipers, non-working lights, and worn tyres.

How long does an MOT take?

There is no golden rule when it comes to the length of time an MOT takes, however the test itself will usually take no longer than 60 minutes. If your vehicle requires work to ensure that it meets road safety and environmental standards, then depending on the level of work required, your car may be at an MOT test centre for a couple of days. This reaffirms the position that it’s incredibly important for you to plan ahead with your MOT test and ensure that you have another means of transport.

After the MOT test, what happens?

If your vehicle passes the MOT test, you will be presented with an MOT pass certificate. Your vehicle will also be registered on computer databases for the record.

If your vehicle fails the MOT test, you will be presented with a ‘notification of failure’ from the test centre. This failure is recorded in the central MOT database. If your existing MOT test certificate is still valid, you will still be able to drive your vehicle, however if your prior certificate is no longer valid, you can only drive your vehicle to pre-arranged appointments with a garage or MOT test centre.

How to check the MOT history and MOT status of a vehicle?

You can easily check the MOT history and MOT status of a vehicle by heading over to this webpage on the Direct.gov website. You can check the date of a test, odometer (mileage) reading, and expiry dates of a test pass. All you will need to use this service is your V5C Vehicle Registration Document, or your VT20 test certificate and VT30 refusal certificate.

Think you’re ready to book your car in for an MOT test? At Bristol Street Motors, we can provide MOT testing that is thorough and professional. Get in touch with a dealership near you today, to see how we can help you out.

Author: Tom