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car repairs northampton economical driving

Car Repairs Northampton: Economical Driving

Does driving economically affect car parts? Our Car Repairs Northampton team advise…

When purchasing a car, many people now consider the fuel efficiency and how many miles per gallon of petrol or diesel the car could potentially run at. These same people, as well as many others, will have some knowledge about how to drive economically, which can make fuel last as much as 15% longer.

Those with a very keen eye will know that driving at 80mph uses 25% more fuel than at 70mph, driving at 70mph uses 9% more fuel than at 60mph and driving at 60mph uses 15% more fuel than at 50mph. That’s a lot more fuel between 50mph and 80mph. This means more miles for your money, so it pays to treat your engine kinder. It’s also better for your car parts and our car repairs Northampton team will tell you why…

The three universally accepted ways of driving economically are:

Have a car servicing regularly to maintain engine efficiency.

Use the right specification of engine oil.

Check tyre pressure to avoid rolling resistance.

After these three methods, there are dozens of other ways of driving economically, but for this purpose, we will take the accepted notion that driving economically means driving at comfortable speeds, accelerating and decelerating gently and changing gear carefully.

car repairs northampton driving fast

Driving at high speeds is not bad for your car, however hard acceleration on a cold engine can be. High RPMs on a cold engine will stress your car parts. It is a common mistake that sitting and idling the engine for a few minutes will warm the engine up, this is not necessarily true; it also wastes fuel. Driving the car below 3000rpm will warm the engine up and allow the combustion process to reach maximum efficiency within minutes. Basically, don’t drive off too quickly!

Whilst driving at high speeds is not bad for car parts, hard braking is. Hard braking is far more likely to occur during high speeds, as at lower speeds the driver is in more control of braking distances.

Driving short distances is surprisingly bad for your car parts. If the engine does not have a chance to warm up properly, the combustion process never reaches proper efficiency, which is damaging to various components. In theory, an older car with low mileage will be better looked after, however if this is the result of infrequent and short trips, the engine could be very damaged. Many car manuals suggest one third of trips to be city drives (stop-and-go over short distances) and two thirds to be motorway (consistent higher speeds and engine exercise).

Driving economically means you are less likely to excess the red line on the rev counter. While it may sound nice to rev the engine nice and loudly, what this is actually doing is pushing the engine to its upper limits, which may cause imbalances or parts failures. Driving at a medium RPM keeps the engine happy and comfortable.

Driving economically may also protect car parts in another way, related to revving. Often over-revving occurs when the car is in a low gear and is attempted to be driven at a fast speed, more often than not when coming down the gears too quickly. Alternatively, driving at a low speed and selecting a high gear is likely to strain the engine around the crank, as it can’t generate enough power. Many people are surprised to know that high mileage is less damaging to the engine than moving up and down through the transmission unnecessarily.

So there you have it, our car repairs Northampton team’s guide to economical driving.

Be safe out there!

Car Repairs Goodbye, Self-fixing Car, Hello!

Hyundai have announced that they are planning to make car repairs a thing of the past, thanks to a new concept ‘smart maintenance service’ that spots and repairs vehicles without the driver noticing.

That doesn’t mean that Hyundai specialists turn up at your house in the middle of the night and fix the problems in secret, that would be daft. The car’s engine would be hooked up to a computer that sends data to a Hyundai centre, where agents would be able to adjust the car’s settings and perform repairs remotely. Pretty nifty.

You won’t expect to see this car any time soon though, as Hyundai admit it is only a concept, and part of their mid-to-long term plans. In the short term, they are working on technologies that ‘bring the car to life’, especially ways in which mobile phones can be synced more easily.

The plan to have a car that is ‘smart’ is ambitious, as it would mean self-driving, self-fixing, traffic detecting, integration with mobile technology and more adaptability to the rapid changes in science and technology. It’s not only Hyundai who are moving towards these goals though; take Ford for example.

One of the main reasons car repairs are needed are from unnecessary accidents, and one way to make accidents less frequent is to make your car safer for other cars to be around. Ford impressively designed glare-free headlights, which use a mounted camera to recognise oncoming headlights from up to 800m away. The headlights block any light that may temporarily blind other drivers, reducing the chances of accidents and injuries.

Ford are an exception to the desire for a self-fixing car, they actively support human to car interaction, as they believe there is an art to vehicle maintenance. They reportedly do a lot of their testing in soundproof cells where an expert can listen for any flaws, rather than use robots that do it for them. The experts are trained using deliberately faulty engines, so they know which sounds to listen for! By listening to the engines and making sure they are faultless when they leave the production line, they reduce the amount of car repairs needed further down the line by the vehicle’s new owners.

For those in our industry, a world where car repairs don’t exist is perhaps a little daunting. If car repairs can be automated, in theory, so could MOT Tests, clutch repairs, wheel alignment, brake replacements, fluid changes etc. It’s not hard to image a room, a bit like an automatic car wash, that could repair your car with various pneumatic arms.

Perhaps though, the ‘self fixing’ car might still need mechanics, just less frequently. Tyre repairs are unavoidable, brakes should be changed regularly and liquids in the engine can’t magically appear out of thin air. The smart service would surely only slow down the effects of driving on the vehicle, and with more cars joining our roads every year, perhaps mechanics would still be fine.

What are your thoughts? Would you be interested in a world without car repairs? Tweet us @InTownAuto

 

car servicing northampton drip guide

Car Servicing Northampton: What’s That Leak?

Drip, drip, drip. Car servicing Northampton team here…

We all hope and pray that no liquid will start leaking out of our car and onto the floor, but sometimes it happens. Whilst it may seem like ‘if it is going to happen, it’s going to happen’, it can mostly be avoided through regular car servicing (with our car servicing Northampton team of course) and proper maintenance.

If that ominous drip does come along however, it’s important to know what you’re dealing with. These six rules of thumb should help you indicate the issue.

 

Engine Oil – Oil will always be somewhere between light brown and black, quite thick and with an unmistakeable smell.

 

Transmission fluid – Transmission fluid is either thin and red, or brown and thick.

 

Power steering fluid – Power steering fluid is similar in appearance to transmission fluid, being reddish or light brown, but always thin

 

Brake fluid – Brake fluid is clear to brown and slick

 

Coolant – Coolant usually appears in more vibrant colours, like yellow, green or pink and could be described as slimy.

 

Water– Water doesn’t really need much description, but if it’s clear and thin and scentless and leaking from your car, it’s probably water.

 car servicing northampton engine

Using these rules of thumb, you can work out whether you have a harmless leak or an immediate danger, like brake fluid! One way of working out what the leaks are is to place aluminium foil under the vehicle or car parts where the leaks appear and wait a few hours. After some time has passed, observe the leaks and follow the guide above. Whilst power steering fluid and transmission fluid may appear the same, where they drip from are a good indicator of what they are. Transmission fluid drips from the middle of the car, whereas power steering fluid drips from the front of the car.

If you suspect it is brake fluid leaking out of your car, make absolutely certain and don’t attempt to drive it. If your brakes don’t work, you are putting yourself in great danger, call our car servicing Northampton team immediately. Brake fluid is more slippery than any of the other fluids, though it is far less likely to leak in modern cars. The puddle will most likely occur right under the brake pedal if it does somehow happen.

Water leaks from your car will usually be as a result of your air conditioning hardware. As it builds up condensation trying to cool you down, it will then shed that condensation when the car is stationary. You’ll most likely find these leaks under the front passenger side.

Coolant leaks are more likely to be an issue in older cars, where the coolant blows off the engine when it gets too hot and drips onto the floor. In modern cars, this slimy colourful liquid is recycled by the cooling system to make it more useful and efficient.

And finally, engine oil. If your engine is leaking oil, don’t panic, this is pretty normal, but still needs addressing. The sooner you spot it, the more likely you are to stop a small leak becoming a large one. There are gaskets and seals in the engine which over time may loosen and start to allow small amounts of oil to slip through. The unmistakable colour and consistence of motor oil makes it easy to define for most car users.

Book in with our car servicing Northampton team to help you to spot an issue before it’s too late, saving you a fortune in the process!

Car Repair Northampton: The Pothole Problem

Does it grind your gears just how many potholes there are on our ‘lovely’ British roads?

Some days, it feels like we are being thrown around by the cracks and divots. Now, important research compiled by Kwik Fit has found that British motorists have had to fund a collect car repair bill of £684 million, due to potholes. When split, per motorist, that works out to be £108.60 for repairs to tyres, wheels, suspension, exhausts and other bodywork.

In total, 6.3 million motorists suffered damage to their car last year, and from the £684 million in damages, only 2.1% had been returned in compensation, just £13.5 million. The level of damage and the amount of car repair needed varies vastly from county to county and city to city, with Yorkshire & Humber and London facing the most. Wwheeelsh drivers needed the least car repair, followed by the North East.

The findings discovered that the South East, covering Bucks, Berkshire, Kent and more, had the largest collective car repair bill of £108 million, followed by London with £91 million.

car repair pothole northampton

Car Repair Northampton

Closer to home, residents in Wheatfield Gardens, Abington, were outraged that the council point-blank refused to maintain ‘the most potholed street in Northampton’. Residents claimed that no resurfacing had taken place for 50 years. However, the council claimed that because none of the potholes met their criteria (50mm deep or 250mm wide) they were not seen as dangerous. The fact that there are dozens of potholes is apparently of no concern.

They are on record as saying: “Unfortunately not all defects will be classed as safety defects since they will not be of sufficient severity to warrant action immediately, this doesn’t mean that there are no defects present. We appreciate that this may give the impression that we are ignoring problems, but we have to prioritise our limited maintenance funding and resources and cannot fix all defects reported to us immediately.”

car repair pothole northampton

Image courtesy of Northampton Chronicle

Well, we pay our road tax for the roads to be maintained, but we also voted for an extremely austere government, so we can’t have it both ways, that’s the reality.

In a related story, Warranty Direct revealed the cars models that had been most affected by the rise of potholes in the UK. The Mercedes Benz R Class came out on top, followed by the Saab 9-3 and the Hyundai Santa Fe. At the other end of the scale, you can rest your weary head if you drive a Ford S-Max or a Nissan Qashqai, as there have been no insurance claims for a pothole related car repair yet! The BMW X5 came out third on the most robust list, although somebody has made a mistake somewhere, as it also appears 8th on the first list…

The advice from our Car Repair Northampton team is to get your tyres and wheels checked regularly. Often the damage caused by potholes is accumulative, meaning it won’t show up immediately, but will get worse over time.

If you want to claim compensation for damage caused by potholes, BT made this brilliant guide.

mot northampton

MOT Northampton: Volkswagen Warnings Over Commercial Vehicles

The latest data from the DVSA suggests that 49% of all light commercial vehicles in the UK fail their first MOT test. Despite this high percentage, around 45% of the faults are simple to fix.

This reporting has come from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, who closely analysed the data and found that 32.2% of MOT failures were being caused by faulty bulbs! Another 4.8% were down to tyre tread and 8% consisted of faulty wipers, washer fluid, mirrors or number plates!

MOT Northampton team opinion:

The issue to note with this blog post from out MOT Northampton team, is not the high number of vehicles failing, but the astonishing percentage of fails that are occurring due to faults that should be picked up during regular maintenance and inspection. It asks the question, are these businesses looking after their vehicles properly? For many of them, it appears not, as something like a faulty bulb would be picked up during a car servicing immediately.

A further 41.% of Commercial Vehicle fails were down to brake and suspension wear, something that can be slowed down by proper driving and regular maintenance. We wonder, how many businesses have fleet care policies in effect?

Trevor Hodgson-Phillips, head of service and parts at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles said: “The latest results show us that UK van owners are still risking increased running bills, extended vehicle downtime periods and, potentially, a decrease in the overall resale value of their vehicle by not looking after their van properly. The roadworthiness of the vehicle is also something that business owners should be thinking about”.

He continued, saying “Should an accident occur and the vehicle deemed to be below standard, company owners could be left facing hefty fines or even prison terms.”

Are these problematic issues occurring due to a poor quality of aftersales? It’s unlikely, most car, van or LCV manufacturers are happy to get the vehicles they’ve sold back to them for maintenance and testing. This is an extra income for them, but as they made the vehicles, it is often the case that they are the best people to fix them (unless they are our MOT Northampton team, of course!)

If you have a van, or even better, a fleet of vans, In Town Automotive’s MOT Northampton team offer a class 7 MOT test, or a fleet management policy. Reduce your downtime, save money on repairs and keep your business on the road, call 01604 666700 today!