Motoring Tips

We service and repair all makes of cars and vans at our Plymouth garage.

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Cold weather car care

cold weather car care Car care during cold weather

Test your battery:

During cold weather, extra demands are placed on the battery by lights, wipers, de-misting and heating.

Faulty batteries cause a lot of cold weather car breakdowns.

A car battery has a limited life span of around 5 years; this can be reduced by extreme temperature, high demand, short journeys or insufficient use.

 

Test antifreeze strength:

Anti-freeze at the correct mix is vital. It can prevent a frozen engine block, water pump and radiator. 

If the car engine starts OK but starts to overheat, stop immediately - the radiator could be frozen. 

If the engine or radiator are frozen, they must be allowed to defrost before driving. This can take several days during cold weather.
A 50-50 mix of a good quality anti-freeze with water can help to prevent these problems. 

A word of warning! Antifreeze is poisonous to people and animals. It tastes sweet - if you spill it, please wipe it up.
Windscreen wipers:

Wipers can freeze to the glass. If you operate wipers while they are frozen, you can damage wiper blades and the wiper motor.

So before switching on the wipers, de-ice the windscreen and free the wipers by hand. A good windscreen de-icer spray will operate at -15c.

Screenwash can freeze:

If it does, don't keep operating the screenwash or a  fuse could blow. Fuses are often shared by more than one connection, so you could lose power to more than the screenwash.
To help to prevent the screenwash freezing, add screenwash additive to the water. Use a stronger dilution of screenwash additive in colder weather. Or use a pre-diluted screenwash suited to the temperature conditions.  
Frozen door locks and seals:

Spraying WD40 (or other water-dispersing spray) into car door locks, and around door seals, can help to stop them freezing. Make sure the spray you use is suitable for use on rubber.

Never force a car key into a door lock, or use it to twist a frozen door lock as the key could snap. And if the door is frozen shut, don't force it open or the door seal could tear. Pouring cool water around the door can un-stick a frozen seal, but care should be taken as the sudden change in temperature could crack the window glass.
Brakes:

Car brakes can freeze stuck if they were wet when the temperature dropped.

If you've just washed your car, drive it to clear excess water before parking.

If you were driving on wet roads before the temperature dropped, and the brakes are now stuck, start your car and move a little forwards or backwards, applying the foot brake gently, to free them.

 

Phone text or email to book a cold weather or pre-winter  check.

Driving in the dark

driving at night Driving in the dark

Here’s some practical advice from The Institute of Advanced Motoring (IAM).

Now the clocks have gone back, it’s time to share advice with riders and drivers who will be travelling in the dark this winter. Remember, travelling in the dark requires motorists to take extra precautions, and our tips will help you get through those gloomy mornings and dark nights.

Squeaky clean windows

It’s always best to check your windscreen, rear window and side mirrors are clean before starting your journey. Visibility is obviously poor in the dark so clear your windows of any ice or mist to help you see what is going on around you.

Switch it on

Use your headlights so you can see other people on the road and they can see you. When visibility is poor, use the headlights of the car ahead of you to guide you with driving on the road – this will help you see further ahead. Check your lights regularly and make sure they are working correctly.

Beam night

When you are driving on a road without street lighting you should switch on your main beam. It shows you what is ahead and will help you identify both dangers and opportunities better. However, to avoid dazzling other road users you should dip your lights.

Optimal vision driving

If you’re required to wear glasses while driving make sure you wear them in the dark, and keep a spare pair in your glove compartment. To ensure your night vision is not affected any further avoid looking directly at other vehicles lights – let their lights simply guide you to see further ahead. Simply look to the side of them to see past them, rather than at them.

Road reflection

Reflective road signs and motorway studs are designed to help you drive in poor light. Use these to help you see ahead and show you the direction of the road.

Keep your distance

Do expect street lights to be switched off in the early hours of the morning and be prepared to increase your stopping distance. Judging the speed of oncoming vehicles is harder in the dark – reduce your speed and watch out for dazzle on dark sections of the motorway.

MOT testing information

We can take your car for its MOT We can take your car for its MOT

A vehicle registered for use on the road in the UK must pass the MOT. An MOT is a type of mechanical and emissions test. In the UK, cars are tested yearly when they are 3 years old. The MOT test is designed to ensure a vehicle meets at least the minimum standard of road safety and environmental standards.  

 

The items that are tested are listed in ‘The MOT Inspection Manual’. Items can only fail a test for the reasons on an MOT computer’s failure menu. The tester must be specific about the reason for failure.

 

The MOT can only check the condition of the items on the test, at the time of the test. It cannot check anything that is not included in the MOT. This means that an MOT is not evidence of the overall mechanical condition of a vehicle; A vehicle must be serviced regularly to maintain its mechanical condition.

 

As testers are not allowed to dismantle items, there is a limit to what can be checked. For example, brake shoes are enclosed by a brake drum. They may pass a brake test at the time of the MOT. But this does not guarantee that the brakes will operate safely for another 12 months.

 

If an MOT tester can't see an item, but thinks it is in a dangerous condition, they cannot fail the vehicle. They must ‘Pass and Advise’, noting the possible dangerous condition on the MOT computer. This also applies to items that are not included in an MOT test, but thich the tester thinks are dangerous.

 

If your vehicle receives a ‘Pass and Advise’ certificate, it is advisable to have the vehicle checked. To preserve the safe mechanical condition of a vehicle, carry out repairs and regular servicing.

 

If a vehicle fails the MOT test, the failure items will be noted on the VT30 Certificate. Although there is no set time for carrying out repairs, the failed vehicle cannot be legally driven, unless it is going to a garage for MOT repairs to be carried out, or back to the MOT Testing station for an MOT re-test.

 

If a partial re-test is carried out within a set time (currently 10 working days) then the re-test is free.

We can take your vehicle for an MOT test, carry out any repairs and take it back for a re-test. Please phone, text or email to arrange this.

 

See THIS LINK for more information on MOT testing.

How to use car air conditioning

car air conditioning Car air conditioning

Car too hot to sit in?

Leave the doors open for a couple of minutes, to let trapped heat escape.

Start the engine.

Open the windows. 

Set air conditioning blowers to Max.

Switch the AC on (and Econ off).

Set the heater temperature controls to Minimum and to Fresh Air.

Direct the air through Face Level vents.

When heat has been blasted out and the car is cool, close the windows.

Turn on Recirculation. Keep it on this until the interior and fabric cools down. Then lower the speed or turn the Recirc control to Fresh Air, or both.

When the inside is really cool, you can turn the blowers down again, or off.


If it's warm and your car is misted up:

Use full heat on the screen along with the air-con. Once de-misted, reduce heat and blower to suit.

 

In some vehicles, leaving the control on re-circ can cause condensation. Switching to Fresh-Air should prevent this.


If you're doing everything right, but your windows are still misting up, contact us to check the car air conditioning system and fix any problems.

 

We can also decontaminate air conditioning systems. This helps to remove bacteria that can cause smells and have been linked to allergies.

 

Phone, text or email to book an air conditioning regas, service or repair with us.

How to save fuel

Fuel saving tips Fuel saving tips

Tyres: Check tyre pressures weekly: Incorrect pressure can create more engine strain. This increases fuel consumption.
Weight: Remove unnecessary weight: Is the boot full of items you don't need. Increased weight = increased fuel consumption.
Drag: Consider the aerodynamics: Roof racks, roof boxes, open windows and sunroofs can cause 'drag', which will increase fuel consumption.
Driving style: Heavy acceleration and braking will use more fuel. Drive smoothly; maintain a safe, steady speed and think ahead. 
Engine: Don't leave the engine ticking over: Instead of long warm-up periods, try driving with a light throttle for the first few miles. 
Short journeys: When an engine does not reach operating temperature, it uses more fuel. Avoid unnecessary short trips.
Air conditioning: It increases engine load, so switch it off when possible.
A light right foot: Use a light foot on the throttle and a steady speed, or 'cruise control' for long journeys.
The correct gear: Efficient gear changes at the right speed will prevent engine strain. Change gear below 2500rpm on a petrol vehicle, 2000rpm on a diesel vehicle.
Regular servicing: Dirty air or oil filters, Diesel Particulate Filters, and oil or gearbox fluids can all reduce fuel economy.

 

When was your car last serviced? Phone, text or email to book with us.

Drive down motoring costs

motoring tips Drive down the cost of motoring

Car insurance

This is probably the biggest motoring expense. If you can be bothered to shop around, you might save money. Set a reminder for a couple of months before your car insurance is due. Contact an insurance broker. Or search a reputable comparison website. Even applying online to your existing car insurer can produce a cheaper premium!

 

Car Servicing

An annual car service is a necessity. It helps car safety and reliability, which may avoid the cost of a car breakdown.  Clean oil and air filters help to save fuel. Small mechanical problems can be spotted and nipped in the bud, before they become a major problem that isn’t so cheap to fix.  Independent garages are often cheaper than main dealers. And they’re also able to service a car while it’s still under warranty, without invalidating the warranty.  

 

Car maintenance

Check fluid levels and car tyre pressures regularly, to minimise car repair costs. A low oil or coolant level can damage an engine. Under or over inflated tyres will cause the tyre to wear unevenly. Under inflated tyres can produce drag, causing the car to use more fuel.

 

Producing power uses fuel

The electrical power needed to use lights, air conditioning, demisting and heating, is generated via the engine. Generating this power uses more fuel. Save fuel by switching off anything you don’t need.

 

Driving with care

Driving a car at 60mph can typically use 9% less fuel, then driving at 70mph! Drive smoothly and anticipate the road ahead. If you can slow down when approaching red traffic lights, but keep on moving slowly, your car will use less fuel than stopping and starting. Try using a light foot when accelerating, and change gear smoothly when the right speed for the gear, is reached. This uses less fuel than heavy acceleration and allowing the engine to strain in the selected gear.

 

Phone, email or text to book a car or van service or repair at our Plymouth garage.

Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) maintenance

DPF image DPF Diesel Particulate Filter
DPF
A Diesel Particulate Filter catches small particles of soot from diesel fuel, to decrease environmental pollution. The filter is tested as part of an MOT test. A blocked (or missing) filter will cause MOT failure.
 
Blocked DPF

If the filter is not cleaned regularly, the soot eventually blocks the filter; This can cause excess fuel consumption and MOT failure.

 

Automatic DPF regeneration

The vehicle will automatcically try to clean and 'regenerate' the filter at regular intervals. Stop-start driving conditions and city driving can prevent the regeneration process from working. If this happens, a warning light will illuminate on the dash.

 

How to allow the DPF automatic cleaning process to take place

You generally have to drive at a steady speed, around 40mph for about 10 minutes. It's usually that simple! 

Why this works:

To keep the DPF working correctly, the ECU makes small adjustments to fuel injection timing. These increase the exhaust temperature and initiate regeneration (cleaning) of the DPF.

This regeneration process takes about 10 minutes.

Maintaining the speed and distance gives time for the ECU to complete the regeneration process.

 

Read your vehicle handbook to find out exactly what guidelines apply to your vehicle. And carry out the DPF automatic cleaning process regularly, as required by the vehicle manufacturer, to maintain the life of the DPF. 

 

What if the DPF automatic cleaning process doesn't work?

Contact us to book a deep clean of the filter.

Deep cleans are usually successful in regenerating the DPF filter. If the process fails, the DPF can be sent away for specialist regeneration, which is a more expensive process.

We can also replace the DPF filter with a new filter. 

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Allans Vehicle Services,

Wixenford Depot, Plymstock, Plymouth, Devon, PL9 8AA.

VAT no: 909 7647 80

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Allans Vehicle Services

Wixenford Depot

Colesdown Hill

Plymouth

PL9 8AA

 

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News

Busting rust in Plymouth!

 

MOT advice ON THIS LINK

 

Welding and undersealing.

Has your car or van failed the MOT due to corrosion?

THIS LINK  shows how we repaired a rust corroded Mazda Bongo.

 

Bongo ATF

If you drive a Mazda Bongo, do you know how to check the ATF (gearbox fluid level)? Download the factsheet ON THIS LINK.

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Car and van service and repair in Plymouth Car and van servicing & repairs
Mazda Bongo servicing and repairs in Plymouth Mazda Bongo servicing & repairs
Car and van undersealing in Plymouth Undersealing for cars & vans
Car & van air conditioning in Plymouth Air conditioning for cars & vans
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