Author Archives: Alex Robinson

Replacing a Faulty Head Gasket

Replacing a Faulty Head Gasket Part I

gasket

One of the most vital parts of any vehicle’s engine is the head gasket. It seals the head of the cylinder which houses the valves of the engine to the engine block which has pistons and crankshafts inside.

The leaks in the head gasket can range in severity. Negligible leaks can simply make the engine guzzle extra oil or coolant. Severe leaks can lead to the mixing of coolant and oil which causes loss of lubrication in the crankcase or absolute loss of compression which leads to relentless issues with drivability.  A car that runs poorly without an obvious explanation is likely to have a blown head gasket and should be checked thoroughly for the problem. There are few symptoms that point towards a blown head gasket. Any car showing signs of these symptoms should be put through a compression test to check the reliability of the head gasket.

The head gasket of a car is a simple piece of metal that is enveloped in a rubber-like material and yet its malfunction is one of the most disabling ailments that an engine can face. To understand why this is a matter of concern, you first need to understand the vital role your head gasket plays in your engine’s health along with understanding the various car engine problems.

What is a head gasket?

The cylinder head gasket is the seal located between the engine block and cylinder head assembly. An in-line engine design contains one cylinder head as this is arranged directly along the engine block.

A “V” shaped engine design for instance, the V6 or V8 comprises of two cylinder-heads one for each bank.  A V6 engine has 3 cylinders located on each bank.

Note: An extensive amount of labour is involved with the repair of the cylinder head gasket even if the displacement engine is smaller in size.

Get a professional to establish if cylinder head gasket repair is required or not with the help of official testing. This repair is intensive in nature and cannot be simply done for any reason at all. At times, it can end up doing much harm than good if not done properly.

Word of Caution: Ensure that you always employ safety measures while working on your car to prevent any injury or hazard. Put on the recommended safety gear including gloves and safety glasses while handling engine oil, coolant and other components of the vehicle.

Getting to the Task of Replacing a Faulty Head Gasket

intake

Before arriving on the conclusion that the task of replacing the gasket is the job best left to experienced professionals, you can make an effort to understand the reason why it is difficult to replace the head gasket on your own. This process requires major level of engine dismantling before you even get to touch and properly see a broken or a leaking gasket. Before you start working on the broken gasket, ensure that the cooling system is drained completely.

Next step is to ensure that the intake and exhaust manifolds employed in the system are completely removed. Follow this by taking out the timing cover, timing belt and timing chain one after another. The valve cover that wraps the engine valve should be taken out next. It is only when you remove the head of the cylinder completely, you will be able to see the head gasket. Give your car a complete once over in order to trace other car engine troubles.

If you intend to put your mind to perform a head gasket repair and replacement entirely by yourself, you have will have to carry out the steps mentioned above in reverse order after the gasket is fitted. Needless to say, this is going to take up a considerable amount of time and missing out on fixing any of the components can turn out to be an absolute disaster. Additionally, you will have to use studs for the engine to ensure torque functionality.  There’s a pretty good chances that the studs may have expanded already due to earlier torque and thus should be discarded completely.

While the job has heavyset technicalities attached to it, it is recommended that head gasket repair and replacement shouldn’t be taken up as a DIY project. This job needs a proficient technician like In Town Automotive considering the series of tests required before and after replacing the gasket. Overheating of the engine and white smoke emanating from the exhaust are basic blown head gasket symptoms. One cannot simply determine if the gasket needs to be replaced by just glancing at these symptoms because other issues with the car can also be responsible.

But, if you are going to execute the replacing of the head gasket on your own, you might as well do it properly employing each step with absolute care.

Given below is the A-Z guide that will be your gospel to analyse and replace faulty head gasket of your vehicle.

Part 1 – Collect Information and Supplies

Before you embark on the project, here is a list of materials you will require:

  • Cylinder head gasket kit
  • Engine oil
  • Engine oil filter
  • Spark plugs
  • Safety glasses
  • Torque wrenches (⅜” and ½” )
  • Code reader (optional)
  • Cylinder for old engine oil and coolant
  • Drip pans
  • Engine thermostat
  • Gloves
  • Tool set for mechanics with multiple socket and wrench combinations
  • Valve cover gaskets
  • Vehicle service manual
  • Timing belt set which is specific to your vehicle
  • Intake manifold gasket kit
  • Exhaust manifold gasket set

Step 1 of Part 1 – Locate the VIN

vin number

Gather information related to vehicle which is both specific and applicable to your vehicle. This is to make your hunt for the car components more simplified.

Your vehicle comes with two very important stickers. You will get information regarding the size of your engine with the help of the emissions sticker under the hood. The label inside the door jamb of the driver’s seat will show the vehicle identification number or VIN.

Step 2 of Part 1 – Find a vehicle service manual for your car

Knowing the size of the engine is integral as a number of engine designs vary and the components differ from one another.

Tip: The service manual of a vehicle is usually much more detailed than the vehicle owner’s manual. The service manual will contain of essential information and will also comprise of simple repair and car servicing procedures.

You will be able to locate this easily at several auto parts store and online vendors. If you do not find a service manual for your vehicle on the shelf, request an associate about placing an order for one. They are fairly cheap and the information it holds is very useful.

The service manual mentions the special tools that will be required for repairs and will state which car parts to leave out while the repair process is on. It may be mandatory to supervise the procedure a couple of times before you start with it yourself.  It is best to get acquainted with the work you are going to perform before you begin dismantling your car’s engine.

Tip: When trying to locate a cylinder head gasket, try purchasing a complete one that consists of many different seals. Even if these kits have seals that you might not really need or has duplicates, it is always better to have a seal when you really need one instead of not having any at all.

Spanner

When any car component is taken out, any related seals will have to be switched so as to eliminate the likelihood of potential leaks at the time of engine reassembling. Once the seals are replaced, it is important that you apply fasteners for each component at the required torque arrangements.

Contact us today to find out more about replacing head gasket. While you are at it, check out other services that we offer.

Identifying Most Common Car Engine Problems

Identifying Most Common Car Engine Problems

The inevitable part of car ownership irrespective of the age, make, mileage or model is occasional engine problems. Engine failure is never good news as it has the potential to put your car out of commission for an indefinite amount of time. It is very tricky to diagnose and the repair work involved can be complicated. While regular car servicing and maintenance may help reduce the need of car repairs, it does not guarantee that a car will not breakdown.

As the car amasses more miles, the likelihood of engine troubles also increases. However, not all engine issues will be so serious. The majority of the time the cause is something very simple, for instance – a dirty air filter. Whether the engine of your car is facing overheating issue or is emanating strange noises or misfiring, the reason could be arising from a multitude of issues.

How The Engine of Your Car Works?

How The Engine of Your Car Works

  • The blinking ‘check engine’ light can make any driver anxious. It could indicate anything from blockage, which is generally quick to diagnose, to the need for a major repair that is going to burn a big hole in your pocket.
  • The engine works from the inside of your car and that’s why its referred to as the internal combustion engine. The engine’s core job is to convert gasoline into energy which helps your car propel forward. In case of hybrid cars, the source of energy is different but that does not make the outcome any different. The same is applicable to diesel engines. It’s the universal truth that everyone swears by – without a working engine, your car is nothing but a useless and heavy heap of metal.

Getting To The Bottom of the Problem

Getting To The Bottom of the Problem

Consider the ‘check engine’ light not as the final nail in the coffin but rather as a sign that some component needs to be fixed. At In Town, our expert vehicular technicians commonly come across one of the following issues.

  • Inadequate Lubrication - The moving parts of your vehicle need oil as this will not only reduce friction but will also eliminate heat. Therefore, getting regular oil change is essential to the overall functioning of a vehicle. If proper lubrication isn’t ensured, it can result in overheating of the car and its component are likely to seize up. So, it is best to maintain the oil at an appropriate level as low levels can indicate burning or leakage.
  • Oil Pump Failure – Failure of the oil pump can result in what’s commonly known as oil starvation which is almost always lethal to any engine. Overhead cam engines are more at risk as the cam and the valve train are situated beyond the pump which means that it needs to be light enough to move quickly.
  • Dirty Oil – The build-up of oil tends to leave behind deposits on spark plugs, combustion chambers and intake valves. It can disintegrate a car’s bearings by leaving behind debris which embed in the surface. In case you come across a clogged oil filter, this is certainly the root of the problem.
  • Spark Knock – The type of combustion caused by the accumulation of too much heat and pressure in the engine’s combustion chamber is what is known as a spark knock or detonation. When this happens, you should be able to hear a metallic knocking or pinging noise. A small detonation will generally not cause major damage, but heavy knocks or prolonged detonation can pave way for serious damage to the car components. It has the potential to punch holes in your pistons, blow head gaskets, crush rod bearings, crack rings and pound piston ring grooves. Pinging noise at a stretch are a definite cause of concern.
  • Broken or Defective Oxygen Sensor – The sensor is entitled to measure the amount of oxygen that hasn’t been consumed by the exhaust. It then communicates to the data system of the car regarding the amount of fuel available in the gas tank. Any problem with the oxygen sensor means communication of incorrect information by the car’s system. This often results in lower gas mileage.
  • Poor Compression The combustion process of the car’s engine will be interrupted if the fuel and air aren’t compressed properly. If the valves fail to seal properly, the cylinder of your vehicle has a hole in it or probably the piston rings are worn which results in leakage of air which results in lack of compression.
  • Loss of Coolant – The most common cause for overheating is through loss of coolant. A quick glance on the coolant overflow reservoir will indicate if the coolant is leaking or not. If your engine repeatedly overheats, the constant high temperature can result in irreparable damage that can be troublesome to fix. Most cars are now equipped with temperature gauges or warning lights that will notify the driver of the overheating issue. Repeated overheating can potentially cause serious, not to mention expensive damage to the engine. Being cautious beforehand is the best option so make sure that you avoid this kind of damage by ensuring that the coolant is clean and the cooling system is in good operating condition. Additionally, overheating can be caused as a result of a cracked head or a blown gasket. Coolant loss and white exhaust smoke may indicate the dire need of getting your car engine repaired.

Common reasons of overheating are:

  • Defective radiator cap
  • Non-functioning cooling fan
  • Faulty thermostat
  • Dirty air filter
  • Low or dirty coolant level
  • Kinked or broken down radiator hose
  • Internal or external coolant leak
  • Clogged Radiator – Dirty coolant is a source of multiple problems. If the radiator fills with sediment from a dirty coolant, it will lead to overheating of the engine. There is also a possibility of the radiator becoming corroded if hard water is used.
  • Worn Spark Plug – Although a spark plug is small, it is one of the most important components that makes a car move. A worn spark plug will give out a weak spark. It may event prevent ignition entirely or cause ignition at the wrong time. A misfire will affect the power of the engine and fuel economy and thus result in massive amounts of potential damage.
  • Loose or Missing Gas Cap - One of the cheapest and easiest fixes your car will ever need over the course of its lifetime is the tightening or replacing of the gas cap. However, it is also an important one. A gas cap that is either loose or missing will result in evaporation of the gas from the car, reducing its gas mileage and potentially costing you hundreds of pounds.

Regular maintenance might seem costly but it is also important to keep your car in good working condition. If you want to make the most of your vehicle, ensure that you keep up with regular oil, tyre, clutch repairs and other maintenance that may crop up. Be sure to address any issue as and when they crop up.

Car Engine Study – How Reliable Are The Engines Of Your Car

Everyone is well aware of the most popular cars on roads today. It will be impossible for you to step out of your house without spotting a Ford Focus or a Vauxhall Corsa. As engines are at the core of a vehicle’s performance, we have to take a sneak a peek on cars that have the most reliable engines.

The Situation

The Situation

The engine is arguably the most vital component of any car and also the most expensive part to replace. Hundreds of requests for second hand car engines is received by garages on a weekly basis. Upon closely analysing these requests it can be deduced which cars on the country’s roads have the most trustworthy and reliable engines, under the premises that the more reliable the car’s engine is, the fewer requests will be received for a replacement.

How Did We Work It Out?

By analysing a data set covering a certain period, the most frequently requested engines in the UK were perused with special emphasis on the make and model of the vehicle.

By simply looking at the number of requests received for each make and model’s engines does not give an accurate estimation of the whole picture. It involved a lot of work wherein a number of requests had to be compared against the number of cars to find out the genuine reliability rating. For example, if there are a million cars of the same type on the road and thousand requests pertaining to the car’s engine are received, it can be said to be more reliable than a make and model that receives two requests, but only has a hundred vehicles on the road.

Final Analysis

A number of positive assumptions can be made about the cars that are rated most efficient. These vehicles may have the most lucrative engines making it possible for the vehicle to run for several years. It is a fact that cars with computerised engines and high performance systems are more likely to need dealer assistance and a completely new unit. It is really important to ensure that your car is road worthy and thus going for regular MOT is suggested.

The hunt for the best and most reliable car engine reveals that only a fraction of a percentage of all cars require replacement engine and that there is enough supply in the market to cope up with the demand for second hand car engines, which helps keep the motoring prices down, making car repairs more available for anyone on a budget. Speaking of budget, In Town Automotive has finance options available for unexpected car repairs that cannot be delayed.

Diligently following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule is vital for proper car maintenance. Regular services such as oil changes, fuel and oil filter replacement and tune ups are necessary to keep the car’s performance at its peak. Maintenance components such as the air filter are frequently overlooked but can have considerable impact on a car’s drivability and overall performance. Irrespective of the car’s age, proper upkeep and maintenance will help keep potential engine problems and breakdowns at bay.

Auto Repair Service From In Town Automotive

Auto Repair Service From In Town Automotive

There could be numerous explanations for all these issues but the solution is the same for all of them. You have to schedule an appointment with repair specialists for diagnostic and maintenance services. When it comes to car repair, you can recieve comprehensive solutions from In Town Automotive at prices that you can afford.

Get in touch with us today and our experts will be happy to help you figure out the appropriate steps. At In Town Automotive we promise to provide the care and attention your car needs to get back on the track.

How to Avert Impending Brake Failure

How to Avert Impending Brake Failure

Modern vehicles are perhaps one of the most complicated machines that we deal with in our daily lives. They are an assembly of thousands of parts that work together to ensure that we commute safely and comfortably from one point to another.

Statistics

Statistics

There were 182,560 casualties reported in the UK due to road accidents, between September 2015 and September 2016. The number of car occupant KSI (killed or seriously injured) casualties were a staggering 9,480 and it rose by almost 10 per cent compared to previous years.

According to a report, technical faults with the vehicle accounted for nearly 22 percent of these casualties; this is a significant number. It has surged tremendously from the 2005 figures where only 1.5% of accidents happened due to technical faults.

Most of these technical faults include problems related to braking system, lights and tyres. Brake failure was cited as the most common technical fault that caused the maximum number of such accidents.

Function of brakes

Most believe that it is the brakes that stop a car. But in reality, brakes provide the friction that brings the wheels to a halt.

Vehicles that are being manufactured nowadays mostly make use of disc brakes. Disc brakes consist of following components:

  • Brake discs
  • Brake pads
  • Callipers
  • Brake master cylinder
  • Brake lines

Function of brakes

The disc brake consists of a plate like disc which is attached to the wheel. Brake pads are placed within callipers and they are used to squeeze the plate to bring them to a stop. It is exactly similar to how you would stop a spinning plate by squeezing it between your thumb and fingers.

Brake pads usually consist of two layers. The first layer is a high friction material while the second layer is the metal plate that holds the friction material. The friction material comes in contact with the brake disc when the brakes are applied and it stops the brake disc from rotating. The backing plate not only serves as a platform for the friction material but also prevents excessive heat from building up and protects the brake calliper from this heat build-up.

 

Callipers

The brake callipers consists of small pistons that push the brake pads against the disc. It is due to this action that the moving wheels are brought to a halt. This motion of pistons is a result of hydraulic action of brake fluid which comes from brake master cylinder.

In order to distribute pressure evenly against the brake disc the calliper is fitted with two or more pistons. Higher number of pistons ensure that brake disc is not damaged due to uneven pressure being applied on its surface. For this reason, in high performance cars there are multiple pistons fitted to the brake callipers.

When we press our foot on the brake pedal there is a hydraulic brake pressure which is built up in the master cylinder. This pressure is transferred from the master cylinder to callipers through the brake lines. In a bid to reduce the efforts taken to apply brakes, modern brake systems have been developed with power assistance that increases the action of our foot on the brake pedal.

 

Effect of Heat

Heat is the biggest enemy of good braking. An enormous amount of heat is produced when the brake pads press against the brake disc. There is a sophisticated system that has been put in place to remove heat from braking systems, especially the front brakes that are heavily loaded. This system contains internal vanes that carry cool air to the outer edges from the centre of the disc. Due to this ventilation, the brakes become less prone to ‘fading’ and remain cooler.

Fading usually occurs when brakes are overheated and overused. Braking ability decreases significantly when the brake fluid boils in the callipers. You should understand that brakes have faded when you experience any of the following:

  • It takes a while before the brakes kick in.
  • The pedal depresses completely.
  • A burning odour is emitted from the brakes.
  • In extreme cases where the brakes have faded completely they can emit smoke or worse, catch fire.

When brakes begin to fade you should drive at lower speeds and try to use them only when required until you get the braking system repaired or replaced.

 

New Technology

Previously, brake pads were made from Asbestos type material that were quite efficient at resisting heat. But there was a major drawback of this material and this was the excess production of dust. Also there were many gases that were produced by asbestos pads during braking and this was another reason why car manufacturers were on the lookout for a better material for brake pads. These gases could interfere with contact of brake pads with brake disc and to prevent this holes were cross-drilled into the discs.

New Technology

However, there is a big issue that drilled rotors face and this is known as stress cracking. In order to prevent stress cracking, slots were created that promoted cooling and prevented gas from building up. Improved ventilation system along with replacement of asbestos pads led to the production of a highly efficient braking system.

The brake pads that are in use today are made up of materials that are safe for the environment thus making the latest braking technology more eco-friendly than their earlier generations. However, these brakes have their own disadvantage that they cause premature warping of brake discs that causes a pulsing feel in the brake pedal. It is a good idea to get your brakes checked when you take your car for a service.

 

High Performance Brake Pads

There is a variety of requirements that must be met by brake pads so that they can handle the everyday wear and tear that they are subjected to:

  • Steady performance even in wet conditions
  • Low squeal and noise
  • Low production of dust

High performance brake pads that are specially designed nowadays are capable of resisting high temperatures and do not fade easily despite high heat build-up. The only disadvantage of this braking system is that they are not equally efficient at braking in low temperatures. It is not a good idea to use racing pads on the street as they can never achieve the operating temperature that they are capable of withstanding.

 

Change your fluid

Brake fluid is susceptible to moisture and this can have a negative impact on the braking ability of the system.

  • The addition of moisture in the brake fluid lowers its boiling point. This increases the possibility of brake fluid boiling when heavy braking is used.
  • Brake fading becomes easier due to boiling of brake fluid and the fading accelerates when the vehicle is being driven downhill where frequent braking is required.
  • Moisture also leads to corrosion of metal components that are used in the braking system and this can lead to breakdown of braking system.

This problem can sound severe but the solution is simple. You only need to change the brake fluid from time to time to prevent the above problems from occurring. The frequency of servicing and changing fluid is usually specified by the vehicle manufacturer in the owner’s manual. If the vehicle is being used very frequently then you may have to change it more often.

 

Keeping the brakes happy

Keeping the brakes happy

The best indication of a well maintained car is its ability to apply brakes. Larger brake discs and higher quality brake pads are available for those who wish to take their car to the track. However, it is important to remember that not every braking system is suitable for a given type of environment. A braking system that is good at braking in a high temperature environment may not be equally effective in a wet environment. By regularly changing your brake fluid and making the right choices your brakes should perform without a flaw.

 

Dealing with Brake Failure

People with bad driving habits often do not maintain their brakes well. An inevitable and unavoidable situation awaits them and it goes by the name of brake failure. With the advancements that have taken place in the braking technology in recent times a person is more likely to be hit by a lightning than experience a sudden failure of brakes.

This makes it necessary for you to check the brakes each time you get behind the steering wheel. This is a test that you can perform on your way to office or college without having to include it in your clustered to-do list. There are two types of checks that you can perform to get yourself acquainted with the condition of brakes and these are the static and rolling brake tests.

Static brake test

Most of us panic at the mention of the word test as we think there is a lot of analysis and learning involved. However, tests of these kinds are such that anybody with a driving experience of few months can perform. The static brake test involves pressing the brake pedal as soon as you get into your car. If you feel some resistance from the pedal then your brakes are in the right condition.

However, if the pedal gets depressed completely to the floor without offering any resistance then your brakes may be in deteriorating condition or may have already deteriorated. In such cases it is possible that the fluid may have leaked or brake pads need replacement. Whatever the reason may be, it is not safe to drive such a vehicle.

Rolling Brake Test

This is not a test that can be performed on a stationary car. To properly perform this test, the car should be at low speeds of five to ten miles an hour. At such a speed you should apply the brakes to see if they are effective at braking. If the car comes to a halt instantly then your brakes are in good condition. However if the brakes take long to get applied then you may need to get the brakes checked.

Symptoms of impending brake failure

It is the inherent nature of every machine to give warning signs before a system breakdown. Brakes are not any different and give many signals when there is an impending brake failure. Most of the brakes that are used nowadays are hydraulic brakes that make use of a fluid to work effectively. It is necessary that the hydraulic pipes have the optimum level of fluids and any sudden change in fluid levels due to fluid leaks should be easily noticeable. The most common sign of a fluid leak is the brake pedal becoming softer and having a spongy feel to it.

Total brake Failure

Even though total brake failure is extremely rare there are instances when it has happened. In 2010 automobile industry giants Chrysler, Volvo, Honda and Toyota had recalled many vehicles that they believed were at a risk of brake failure.

As you must be aware every car comes with two types of braking systems. The main braking system is usually a hydraulic brake system while the other braking system is the handbrake. In case the main braking system suffers a breakdown you should bring the vehicle to a halt using the handbrake.

Most people already know how to apply the handbrake but for those who are not aware of it, you need to keep the release button on the brake handle pressed as you apply the brake. However, an important point to be remembered is that a handbrake is ineffective if the vehicle is over the speed of 40 mph or engaged in higher gears.

Engines dominate most of our conversations about a car. Performance is like the lead actor of a film who takes away most of the attention but safety is like the crew behind the silver screen, something that we often take for granted and rarely acknowledge. This blog has been written with the intention to highlight the importance of brakes and the steps that need to be taken to ensure that you are safe on the roads.

What should I do if I forget my MOT

What should I do if I forget my MOT?

It is a legal requirement for every vehicle of more than 3 years old to have an MOT test on a yearly basis in order to gain a certificate of being safe for the road. An MOT is important to for several reasons; it ensures that the vehicle is roadworthy, it gives you a heads up regarding any problems which may rise in the future, it gives you peace of mind as a driver and it is the law to have them done.

Despite the importance of taking your car for its MOTs, life sometimes gets in the way, causing some people to forget that their MOT is even due. In these circumstances, the realisation that you may have forgotten your MOT can be a shock, causing you to feel extremely stressed. You may not even know what to do about your situation, and how to resolve it.

If this all sounds very familiar, there is no need to panic, simply read ahead to find out what you need to do next to stay legal and avoid any fines as well as acting as soon as possible.

Do I need an MOT test?

Do I need an MOT test?

If you have not taken your vehicle for its MOT, it may be because you have only just come to the realisation that you need one. Every vehicle over 3 years old needs to go for an MOT test once a year. This will involve it being inspected before a certificate of roadworthiness is issued for the vehicle.

You need to book your car in for its MOT test every year, before the date on which it was tested the year before. For example, if your car went for its MOT test on the 15th August last year, the test will need to be completed by the 14th August to ensure the vehicle is fully covered year round. Also take into consideration that the vehicle may need repairs, which could hold you up from driving it even longer.

MOTs are not only important for legal reasons, but they are also important to insure the safety of you as the vehicle driver and other road users. The car will be checked for any potential safety hazards including brakes, emissions, tyres and many interior and exterior issues. However, the car’s MOT test only reflects a snapshot in time and is only a guarantee of a very basic level of safety. For this reason, it is highly important that you maintain your car in other ways too to ensure it is fully roadworthy, for example, taking it to be regularly serviced.

 

I’m not sure if I have a valid MOT for my vehicle

If you are concerned that your MOT certificate may be out of date, you may not even know if you have a valid MOT in place for your vehicle. Do not worry, you don’t have to rely on your memory; it is possible to find out whether or not you are due to take your vehicle for its next MOT.

The DVLA have an online service on which you can check if your vehicle has a valid MOT. Simply enter in the registration number, make and model of the vehicle, and you will be able to see whether the vehicle has a valid MOT certificate and, if so when it runs out. The process is easy, and should only take a few minutes.

Alternatively, if you have had the car for more than a year and have previously taken the car for its MOT, you will have been allocated with a VT20 MOT certificate of approval, on which the expiry date will be stated for your reference.

 

What are the consequences of forgetting your MOT?

What are the consequences of forgetting your MOT?

It is highly important that you stop driving your vehicle as soon as you realise that it does not have a valid MOT. It is illegal to drive a vehicle which has an out of date MOT, so you would be at risk of serious consequences if you do continue to drive it.

It is possible that you will incur a fine up to £1000 on the spot if you are caught driving a vehicle with no valid MOT.

What’s more, not having an MOT certificate can make your insurance invalid, so if you had an accident whilst driving the vehicle without an MOT certificate, your insurance may not cover you or pay out. This could cause serious implications, particularly if your car was in need of serious repairs or was written off due to the accident, and if someone else’s car needed repairing, this would also create problems for you.

I have forgotten my MOT; what should I do?

If you have forgotten your MOT, you need to stop driving your vehicle immediately. It is illegal to carry on driving it and you may incur a fine. Before continuing to drive the vehicle, you will need to take it for its MOT test.

Contact us at In Town Automotive as soon as possible to make an appointment for your MOT test, or alternatively book in online.

The only time you are legally allowed to drive your car without a valid MOT is when you are driving it to the garage. Do not be tempted to drive elsewhere in the car; even if you are just planning to go a short distance you may get caught out, and you will knowingly be acting illegally. What’s more, if you happen to get into an accident whilst driving you may not be covered by your insurance.

Once you have been allocated with a certificate of MOT stating that your car is roadworthy, you will be able to drive the car again freely, and will no longer have to worry about incurring any fines.

 

How to remember your MOT test

Despite the importance of your MOT test, it can be difficult to keep track of the date to ensure it is done on time. In fact, it was reported in a survey that a third of drivers have admitted to driving a car which does not have a valid MOT. Some of these drivers had even been driving their unchecked vehicles for longer than 6 months. Balancing the rest of your life alongside remembering these important dates can be too difficult to handle, but these deadlines need to be met, so it is important to make sure that you enforce a system which aids you in doing so.

The following tips may help you to remember when your MOT is due so that you never have to risk incurring penalties again:

  • Set a reminder on your phone for the month before so that you have time to book it in before it runs out
  • Write the date it expires in the calendar
  • Make the MOT date a memorable date, for example, the first of a month
  • Take your car for its MOT test at the same time as its car tax is due, or its service is due; that way you can book in for both at the same time
  • Write the MOT date in your yearly calendar
  • Go to the same garage each time your MOT is due and ask for reminders

The dangers of driving without an MOT

The dangers of driving without an MOT

It can be easy to ignore a reminder for your car’s MOT test; kidding yourself that you won’t get caught and you can leave it for another day with no problems. Many people believe that their MOT is unimportant and therefore keep putting it off.

However, the consequences for not having a valid MOT on your vehicle are significant and what’s more, you will be putting yourself and others in danger if you fail to take your car for its test.

Your MOT test involves an inspection of the safety of your car, so without it, you will risking the car being potentially defected. For this reason, having an MOT test will give you peace of mind and you will be able to drive knowing that you will be in full safety.

Figures show that people underestimate the importance of their MOT, with 70% admitting that they left it a week before taking their car to the garage, and several admitted to leaving it up to 6 months.

 

MOT statistics

Wherever your car is concerned, it is of paramount importance that you ensure it is as safe as possible; however, sometimes it can be very easy to be completely in denial about the seriousness of issues such as your MOT test.

The Department for Transport published research regarding facts and figures about MOT testing, including the following:

  • Vehicle defects are a contributor to 3% of accidents in the UK
  • On average, 40% of vehicles fail their MOT tests
  • As vehicle ages increases, so does the likelihood of MOT test failure, rising to 60% for a vehicle which is 13 years or older
  • As mileage increases, so does likelihood of MOT test failure, for example, 50% of vehicles which have driven 90,000 miles or more fail their MOT test.
  • The greater the distance travelled between MOT tests, the higher the likelihood the vehicle will fail its MOT test.

MOT: the rules

MOT: the rules

When it comes to owning a vehicle, you have a lot on your plate to remember. Insurance, road tax, servicing, and all the regular checks you have to do generally as a vehicle owner such as fluid levels and tyre pressure mount up to result in a very difficult process of having a lot of information to remember. Particularly for those who are new to driving, owning a car is a major responsibility.

For some people, failing to get an MOT test is sometimes due to a genuine unawareness of the rules. Just in case you are not completely aware of the rules regarding MOT testing, the following are all relevant:

  • If your MOT has expired, the only time you are legally allowed to drive your car is when you are taking it to and from the garage.
  • If your MOT has run out and you are stopped by the police on the way to the MOT, you will have to prove that you have an appointment which you are on the way to.
  • If your car fails its MOT, you can only drive it if the last year’s MOT is still valid for example if you took the car to its MOT test earlier in the year this year than last year.
  • If your vehicle fails its MOT test, you will not be able to drive it until the necessary repairs have been made and it has been retested with a positive result.
  • You can take your car for its MOT any time in the 12 month period after it has passed its previous MOT.
  • If your car fails its MOT, the necessary repairs are then made and the retest is completed within a 10 working day period, the retest should be free.
  • Tractors, goods vehicles which run on electricity, motorbikes made before 1960 and vehicle less than 3 years old are exempt from being MOT tested.
  • If you drive your car without a valid MOT test, you could incur a fine of up to £1000.

Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding MOTs in Northampton, the procedure and what is entailed, or if you would like to book in for MOTs Northampton at In Town Automotive, contact us on 01604 666 700, and our professionals will be more than happy to advise you.

Top 7 Car Hacks to Make Your Life Easier

Top 7 Car Hacks to Make Your Life Easier

When you own a car, you spend a lot of time in it, and probably even consider it to be much like a second home. You want it to look as good as possible and work as well as possible, avoiding any of the annoyances that occur whilst on the road to make your journey as simple and enjoyable as possible.

For some issues, of course, it is necessary to contact us, the professionals at In Town Automotive, to sort them efficiently and effectively. However, we have put together a few simple car hacks which will make your driving life much easier in the future. You can thank us later…

 

Brighten your headlights

Brighten your headlights

There’s nothing worse than dirty, misty headlights with stains and marks all over. Not only do they make your car look shabby and old, but they can also make your headlights dull, decreasing your visibility at night.

You probably think your only option is to fork out another lot of money for your car and invest in some headlight cleaner. However, this is not your only option. Your toothpaste is not only for cleaning your teeth, but it can also be used to clear up your headlights.

All you will need to get started is some regular toothpaste, a cloth or any old rag and some water, and then put in some elbow grease and scrub until all the dirt is gone.

However, if your headlights are in a terrible condition, it can be the case that not even a headlight cleaning kit will suffice; instead, it is sometimes necessary to get them fully restored by a professional, who will be able to make them look brand new again.

Avoid misty windows

Avoid misty windows

It can be a potential hazard when the insides of your windows mist up suddenly, making it a struggle for visibility. You may have thought that the only way to keep mist at bay is to invest in some expensive anti-fog spray. However, there is a much cheaper and effective way to control the situation.

To keep your windows from fogging up, clean a potato, cut it in half and rub the cut side on the windows, then leave to dry without touching.

Get through traffic quicker

Everyone wants to get where they need to go as quickly as possible when driving in heavy traffic, but if you’re not sure which lane to go in to get to your destination as quickly as possible, follow the lorries on the road. They usually have contact with other lorry drivers and traffic observers, who tell them which lanes to avoid and which will get them to places faster.

As well as following lorries in terms of traffic and lanes, it is also advisable to slow down if you notice that a lorry slows down suddenly. They are often advised on the best route to take and know when they need to slow down for certain roads, so instead of trying to overtake, slow down as well.

Extend your key fob range

When you’re stuck in the middle of a massive car park and have lost your car, it’s always a good idea to get your key fob out and use the flashing lights and noise of locking and unlocking to locate your car. However, as time goes on and your battery becomes less effective, you may have noticed the range of your key fob getting smaller and smaller.

With this simple trick, there is a way to extend the range of your key fob. It has been proven that the fluids in your body extend the range of the key fob for your car, so place the key fob underneath your chin and the range will become more extensive.

This trick is also a great hack for when you start walking away from your car and wonder whether or not you have locked it.

Create more cup holders

In a car, there are always too few cup holders for what you need. Either that or the ones you have are already used for storing keys and rubbish or are the wrong size, prone to spillages when you go round a tight corner or over speed bumps.

However, there is a way round this problem. You can create another cup holder by using a shoe. This is the perfect place and size to store your cups, making sure there are no spillages on your journey.

Protect your windscreen from broken wiper blades

Wiper blades are constantly in need of replacing from being broken and damaged in bad weather. If you are waiting to replace an old or broken windscreen wiper, the metal arm could scratch the windscreen glass, causing the glass to look old and need replacing too, which is a much more expensive investment.

However, there is a way to fix this issue whilst you are waiting to get them sorted by a professional. Grab an old pair of tights and wrap them tightly around the windscreen wipers. This will add an extra thick layer to the wipers, and without causing any problems with the motion, you will protect the glass from being ruined.

Whilst this is a temporary solution, it is important to remember that they will need to be fixed by a professional as soon as possible to stay safe when driving.

Get rid of motion sickness

Motion sickness can make any journey feel like a lifetime, but as unpleasant and persistent as it is, there are a few ways you can avoid it. The first is to take control by driving yourself, as this will make it less likely to for to get travel sickness in the first place.

Another trick to try is to tilt your head to the side on the onset of travel sickness; some people say this makes the nauseous feeling go away.

It can also be effective to watch what you’re eating and drinking before you embark on your journey. Make sure to avoid any alcohol, or any foods and drinks which make you feel bloated or are unusual or you. Some people also say ginger helps to ward off any feelings of travel sickness, so try taking some just before the journey.

It is also important to sit where is less likely for you to get travel sickness on the mode of transport you are using. For example, on a plane, the middle is the place where the least turbulent occurs, and on a train, it is best to sit on the forward facing seats.