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.

Top 6 Signs of Car Engine Trouble

Top 6 Signs of Car Engine Trouble

A healthy engine is clearly the most important component in any car for it to run smoothly without any issues, and when engine problems do arise, it can be a daunting prospect to even acknowledge these problems. What’s more, you may not even recognise the signs of a car having engine trouble. The best way to ensure engine problems are recognised quickly is to get your car regularly serviced by professionals.

However, it is important to know the signs of a dodgy engine so that you are equipped to replace it or fix the problem, and this will also ensure your safety when driving.

If you are worried about your car and you suspect that the engine may be the main culprit, read on to find out more about the top signs of engine trouble with your car.

Trouble starting the engine

Trouble starting the engine

Many cars have trouble starting up in cold winter months, and sometimes you may even have to turn it over a few times before it revs into life. However, if this problem is prevailing to the extent where the car is not switching on at all, or if it is happening throughout the year regardless of weather, this may indicate that you are having problems with the engine.

If this is the case, your cylinder casing may be cracked, which can be caused by changes in temperature.

If you are experiencing any of these problems, it could be a sign of engine trouble and it’s best to get it sorted out as quickly as possible.

Oil leak

Another sign that your engine may currently not be in the best shape is that it is leaking oil. If you have seen your car leave a puddle of oil behind when parked, this could signify an oil leak in the engine.

An oil leak is a major issue and will need to be dealt with as soon as possible, otherwise, it could end up seizing up completely, causing hazards and potentially leaving you stranded.

Knocking sound

Knocking sound

This is one of the most common and well-known signs that your engine may be in trouble and is known to be one of the most impending problems with a car. If you have been hearing a suspicious knocking sound coming from your car, this could mean imminent problems for the engine.

The knocking sound can mean that the camshaft is no longer working in time with the pistons, and there is very little you can do about this than to replace the engine completely, so if this sign sounds at all familiar to you, you will need to start saving up to replace your engine completely or even your car if financially viable.

Smoking from the engine

Smoking from the engine

Perhaps one of the scariest signs that your engine might be in trouble is when the car starts blowing out smoke from the exhaust. This is often a sign that there is a bad mix of petrol and air in the engine.

There are a few options as to what this symptom could be caused by. Possibly the best this sign could be is that there is a problem with one of the tappets, however, it could mean a problem with the piston rings, which could mean a much more expensive full replacement of the engine.

If you start seeing a lot of smoke coming out of your car, it is best not to ignore this problem. In fact, you need to get it seen to as soon as possible before your engine cuts out on you completely. Take the car to the garage as soon as possible to get professional help.

Steam coming from the engine

Another fairly shocking symptom of a faulty engine is steam coming from it, which will appear to be coming from under the bonnet and signifies an overheating engine. Most commonly this is to do with a lack of fluid in the engine’s coolant system, however, it could mean a number of other things, including a problem with your engine.

Steam coming from the engine could be a sign that the engine’s gasket, radiator or pipes are leaking, and your engine could seize up fairly quickly.

If steam is coming from under your bonnet, it is highly advisable to get it seen to straight away, by a professional who will advise you on the problem and how it can be fixed.

Fire

Fire

Let’s face it, no one likes to see their engine catch fire, in fact, it can be one of the most horrifying moments of your driving life. If your engine catches fire, act immediately with a fire extinguisher, or if one is not available, move away from the vehicle immediately and call the emergency services.

An engine catching fire can be caused by several different factors, such as a fuel leakage, a short circuit, overheating, and accidents. However shocking it may seem at first, if you’re quick to put the fire out, it might not actually mean a new engine needs to be installed.

If left to burn though, the engine fire could damage fuel pumps and pipes and could lead to an explosion. It goes without saying that the issue needs to be sorted instantly.

So, those are the top 6 signs of engine problems, all of which need to be dealt with by a professional as quickly as possible once they are identified. If you are having difficulties and suspect that your engine might need some TLC, contact us at In Town Automotive for help and advice.

To prevent any major engine issues occurring, there are a few ways in which you can help to maintain your car’s engine. Changing the oil on a regular basis, using a good brand of oil, ensuring there is enough fluid in the coolant system and having regular services can mean the difference between a healthy and unhealthy engine and can save you a packet!

The Complete Guide to Maintaining your Rented Car

The Complete Guide to Maintaining your Rented Car

When you rent a car, be it on holiday or otherwise, it can be a daunting task to keep it looking pristine for when it is time to take it back to the garage. The deposit you put down on the car is sometimes hefty, and you don’t want to incur any unwanted fines for damage.

Instead of spending the last few days of renting the car worrying about taking it back, follow the next few easy steps and return the car looking brand spanking new!

Check the car before you drive it off

Check the car before you drive it off

One of the most important procedures to take before you even set off in your rented car is to check it thoroughly for any signs of damage. This includes scratches, scuffs, dents, and any damage to the interior too. It is especially important to take note if the car is at all dirty because any dirt from the road could cause you to be unable to see any scratches which are currently on the car before you drive it away.

Once you have checked for any damage, make sure to make a personal note of everything you have found, and also ask for the rent shop to do the same. This will ensure that you cannot be blamed for any damage which was already on the car before you rented it.

Checking the car for any even slight damage is extremely important so that you don’t incur any fines which aren’t your fault. This way, you won’t be worried about any existing damages and whether or not you could be caught out by them.

Check your safety

As well as checking the car for any existing damage, it is also important to check for any signs that the car might not be safe to drive. This includes looking at the dashboard for any warning lights and checking the oil level.

The car should have already been serviced and checked for any hazards, but it is best to make sure for yourself as much as possible before you drive it off.

Before whizzing away in your rented car, you should also make sure that the car is set exactly how your own would be, in terms of seat positioning of the driver’s seat, and the positioning of the mirrors. These are all factors which will increase the safety of your driving when you’re out and about.

Drive carefully

Drive carefully

This one goes without saying, but driving carefully is equally as important in a rented car as it would be in your own car. This is because the insurance policy will work in the same way, and you could find yourself having to pay out a lot of money if anything goes wrong. On top of that, you could also be asked to pay out for any repairs to damage which is caused when you are in possession of the car.

When you are in a car different to the one you are used to, it is easy to misjudge spaces and the size of the rented car, so it is highly important to pay particular attention to your surroundings, especially when you’re reversing and driving in tight spaces such as one-way streets.

It may also take some time to get used to the clutch, gears and other controls in the rented car, so you will have to allow for time to adjust by slowing down your speed. It is also important to pay attention to the speed limits and abide by them.

Many people choose to rent a car for a holiday in a foreign country, and this is another consideration for when you are driving the rented car. You will need to consider the speed limits, potentially having to drive on the opposite side of the road, and the layout of the car being opposite to what you are used to. For this reason, it is best to drive slowly at first whilst you are getting used to the car, and to make sure you know where you are going in terms of directions too.

Refrain from eating and drinking in the car

You may well be used to eating and drinking during long journeys in your own car, or when you are at a standstill, but in a rented car, you will need to refrain from doing so, as you could incur fines from a dirty or stained interior. This is particularly relevant if the seats in the rented car are fabric, as opposed to leather which is easier to clean.

It is also advisable to refrain from other activities which you may well usually do in your car, whether at a standstill or whilst driving. Painting your nails, smoking, storing junk and rubbish in your car, and doing your make up are all things you should avoid in a rented car.

If you do happen to make a mess in the rented car, it is important to try and clear up the mess as effectively as possible so that you don’t have to pay a charge for cleaning it.

Take pictures on final inspection

Last but not least, it is important to make sure you get a fair deal on your return of the rented car. More and more often, the procedure to return your car is much like checking out of a hotel where you simply leave your keys and walk out. It can even be the case that an employee does not even check over the car when you leave it.

If this is the case, you could potentially come to a dispute if any damage is recorded on the car after you have dropped it off and you believe it was not your fault. For this reason, it is important to take pictures, or even a video of the car at the rent shop before you leave so that you have proof to show that the car was in good condition when it was returned.

 

If you need any further advice on caring for a car, rented or otherwise, contact us at In Town Automotive and our professionals will be able to help you.

Faulty Tyres Contribute to Over 1200 casualties a year

The Importance of Tyre Safety

Faulty Tyres Contribute to Over 1,200 Casualties a year: The Importance of Tyre Safety

You may not often think about them, but your tyres are one of the most important parts keeping your car on the road, and for this reason, if they do happen to go wrong, the consequences could be detrimental to your safety.

in a report from the National Transportation Safety Board following figures of tyre related accidents, injuries and fatalities over 5 years, the importance of healthy tyres is accentuated with shocking figures. The research conducted shows that on average, 33 people die every year in accidents which are caused due to defective tyres on vehicles. The results also show that a further 1,200 people are injured each year in tyre related crashes too, with an average of 219 of these people having been seriously injured.

What’s more, it has been suggested by insurance experts that figures relating to accidents caused by tyre faults may even be underestimated due to people failing to report accidents, for example when only one car is involved in an accident.

Perhaps the most shocking part in these figures is that motor vehicle experts have claimed that most of these deaths and injuries could have been avoided simply by checking and maintaining tyres as required.

So, what needs to be done to maintain your tyres?

One of the main duties for drivers is to check their tyre pressure on a regular basis. Figures show that a vehicle with tyres which are underinflated by at least 25% are three times more likely to be involved in an accident, and this figure increases when it is combined with bad weather or other taxing driving conditions. In order to check that your tyre inflation is correct, check the vehicle handbook, or the inside of the door jamb and visit your nearest petrol station to check and use the air pump.

So, what needs to be done to maintain your tyres

It is also important to ensure that the tyres on your vehicle are in good condition, without any damage. If your tyre has bulges or tears on it or even a slow puncture, this can mean that it is likely to deflate or even blow whilst you’re on the road. Make sure to be aware when driving; if you hit a kerb or pothole on the road, stop when it is safe to do so and walk round your car afterwards, checking the tyres for any damage. If you do see any damage, it is important to get the tyre replaced as soon as possible, and do not drive the vehicle until you are sure it is safe to.

checking the tyres for any damage

The tread of your tyres is also a consideration for maintaining a safe vehicle on the roads and can be worn down simply when they have been used for too long. This may seem like a very slight issue, but in fact, it can be detrimental to the safety of your car. Worn out tyres can mean that the vehicle is more likely to skid in wet conditions, has a lesser grip on the road, are prone to blowouts and air leakage and can even lead to excess heat build-up from friction. For these reasons, it is highly important to check your tread death regularly. By law, the minimum depth should be 1.6mm.

Nobody likes to be told that their driving is bad, but it is possible that bad driving habits may be wearing your tyres down. Make sure that you get rid of any bad driving habits that are damaging your car to ensure a longer life for your tyres. It is important to be aware of any strange noises, smells and feelings when you are driving. From time to time, turn down the radio and just focus on your car.

Ensure you take your car for regular MOTs and services. During these, the professional will check your tyres and advise you of any replacements which need to be carried out.

If you would like more advice on maintaining your tyres for the road, contact us at In Town Automotive; we will be able to give you our professional advice and can get you on the right track for ensuring overall car safety.

9 Tips to Make Your Car Tyres Last Longer

9 Tips to Make Your Car Tyres Last Longer

If you’ve had to purchase new car tyres recently, you’ll know that there’s no denying that they can be a rather costly purchase. What with all the other regular car expenditures to fork out on for running your car, it is likely that you are reluctant to invest in your tyres again and again. By the looks of it, the cost of tyres is not about to get any cheaper either.

However, good tyres are worth the purchase and what’s more, they’re essential for a car to be running. Many people take pride in having the most on-trend alloys, which can change the entire overall look of the car. Not only that, but good, well looked after tyres can reduce your fuel consumption and make for a much more comfortable ride.

If you fail to look after your car tyres, you can find yourself purchasing them on an even more regular basis than completely necessary. Instead of simply accepting how much your tyres are costing you, there are some simple, easy and cheap tips and tricks that you can put into practice to avoid having to replace them as regularly. This will reduce the overall amount you spend on your car very significantly, so that you can use your money and more exciting things, such as sprucing up your car’s sound system, getting a new car wrap, or something entirely non-car related…

Here at In Town Automotive, we have drawn up a list of the most useful tips to make your car’s tyres last as long as possible.

Inflate your tyres

One of the most important aspects of caring for your tyres is to ensure that they are properly inflated. Having your tyres inflated at the correct pressure ensures maximum fuel efficiency and the safety of your ride. Properly inflated tyres are also less likely to be badly damaged by potholes and such hazards on the road.

It is especially important to take particular notice of your tyre pressure during winter months when it likely that you could be driving in bad weather conditions, as maximum traction is needed to avoid skidding and accidents.

Get into the habit of checking the inflation of your tyres every time you stop for fuel. This can be done by simply taking a look at the tyres for any bulging places or flatness. These signs could signify that the inflation is too low.

It is important to get the right tyre pressure for your car; not all cars are the same so you will need to check for your specific car. In order to find out the specific tyre pressure for your car, you can look for it on the inside of the door jamb or in the car handbook.

You can also check your tyre pressure at most petrol stations where there is usually a tyre air pump for minimal costs, or by using a digital or manual tyre pump.

Some vehicles are equipped with a tyre pressure monitoring system, which takes half the effort out on your part. This means that when the tyre pressure on the car is too low, a light will come on the dashboard to let you know.

As soon as you know that your tyre pressure is too low, you need to deal with the issue as soon as possible. If you fail to do so, you could end up with a deflated tyre, ruining the alloys and you could even get stranded, unable to drive your car home.

Drive carefully

It may sound obvious, but in order to increase the lifespan of your tyres, you will need to take care when driving. The way you drive can mean the difference between hundreds of pounds spent on the tyres, and the tyres lasting how they’re meant to. This means avoiding hazards and driving sensibly.

Driving on rough and damaged roads too fast, and not keeping enough of a distance between you and the car in front of you can all be contributing factors in damaging your tyres on hazards. For example, if you have enough time to avoid a pothole in the road, or if you go over a pothole slower, your tyres are less likely to become damaged.

It is particularly important to pay attention to the road ahead of you and take more time when there has just been a period of bad weather, which is when new potholes are most likely to appear.

Remember only to try avoiding potholes if it is safe and you have enough time to do so. If you have less time, it can sometimes be possible to slow down slightly before going over the pothole, but sometimes they are unavoidable.

Check tyre alignment

Check tyre alignment

The alignment of the tyres means that they are in the optimum position on the car, as specified by the manufacturer. It is important to get your wheel alignment put right as soon as you notice it’s not right, otherwise you could run into some problems. If your tyres are not aligned properly, this could mean that the tyres wear down more rapidly than they should, and it can even affect the handling and safety of the car.

Incorrect tyre alignment can be caused by hitting a kerb, going over a pothole or driving in places where your steering and suspension are put to the test.

A tell-tale sign of incorrect tyre alignment is the wear pattern on tyres. When inspecting the tyre tread, make sure they have about 3mm and 8mm worth; this is the safe and recommended measurement to ensure traction isn’t lost. If the tyre tread is very worn down, it is unlikely to pass its MOT and they will need replacing.

Spare a thought for the spare tyre

As well as thinking about the four tyres which are on your car, make sure you also consider the spare tyre which is often hidden away in the boot or under the car. When checking your tyres, it is also important to check if this one is safe to use too. If you fail to look after and replace this tyre when necessary, you will regret it massively when you suffer a puncture.

If you have bought a second-hand car, it’s also worth checking the condition the spare wheel is in, as you often have no idea whether or not it has been used, and for how long. It’s well worth checking it over to ensure that you’ve got a backup plan in place for those emergency situations.

Take care when parking

Take care when parking

A lot of drivers worry about damaging their alloy wheels hitting the kerb when driving, but an even more considerable worry should be about scuffing and damaging the tyres when parking. Sharp edges on the pavement could lead to a puncture or damage which could lead to the tyre blowing out in the near future, which can be frightening and dangerous, particularly on fast roads.

When parking against the pavement, take particular care not to scrape your tyre along the edge of the kerb. The risk of damaging your tyre can be decreased by choosing to park in sensible places which have ample room for your car. It is also important to be spatially aware when parking, use your mirrors and try not to cut corners in order to avoid any contact with kerbs when you are driving.

It is also advisable to park in places in which you do not have to bump over the kerb to get out the way of the road. It cannot always be avoided when parking, but it is important to consider your parking as much as possible when you are out and about in your car.

Stick to one brand

No two tyre manufacturers have exactly the same processes and procedures when creating their tyres. They all have their own advantages and disadvantages and use their own unique technologies to create their own original types of tyres.

Manufacturers design their tyres assuming that they will be used as a set, because they have those individual advantages which are unique to their own design, and for this reason, they perform at their best when they are used as a set.

Having multiple different brands of tyres on your car could put you at a disadvantage, causing your tyres to wear out more quickly, put a strain on each other for their different qualities, and ultimately costing you more money than they should. Having different brands of tyre on one car will likely only have a small impact on the handling of the car, however in terms of the way they wear and last, ensuring you only purchase one brand of tyre at a time can make a massive difference.

Therefore, if you need to change a tyre it will be most efficient to stick with the same brand of tyre, coinciding with the others. If you decide to change the brand of tyre you prefer, it is best to change all of the at once so that they are performing at the optimum.

Rotate your tyres

Rotating your tyres involves swapping the position of your tyres every so often to ensure to stop them from repeatedly being exposed to the forces which are specific to their position on the car.  For example, the front tyres hold more of the car weight, because this is where most cars have the engine, and also where people are likely to be in the car. This means they will have more pressure on them and are more likely to wear.

In the same way, in a country with right-hand drive cars, the turns are tighter on the left wheel, so the right-hand wheel will wear more quickly because they are travelling the furthest overall.

To avoid some tyres wearing in certain places and becoming damaged beyond repair, it is suggested that you get the wheel of your car rotated approximately every 5000 miles or so to make your tyres last longer, however, this distance can vary according to the manufacturer of the tyre and the make of the car.

If your car’s tyres vary in quality, it is usually advisable to put the best tyres at the back of the car. This is because, in the case of a tyre blowout, a front tyre blowout will cause an oversteering condition, which is easier to handle than the understeering condition caused by a back wheel blowing out.

Clean your tyres

The tyres are the part of the car which is constantly in contact with rough surfaces on the road and are most likely to get worn down by this, however many people still fail to see the importance of cleaning them along with the rest of the car.

Debris and dirt caught in the tyres can cause them to wear down and damage more quickly, but by simply giving them a good clean and taking care that no sharp objects are stuck and pressing into them, you can spend less money on constant replacements.

Scrub the treading with a bristled brush to remove any objects and general debris which can dig into and grate on your tyres, and you will reduce the risk of any damage caused by these unavoidable but easily dealt with issues.

Not only will cleaning your tyres spare you money by not having to replace them as regularly, but it will also make the overall look of your car much more valuable and appealing.

Reduce your load

Reduce your load

The tyres of your car are put under a lot of weight from the body, the engine and all the mechanics within the structure, and it is clear to see why it is important to check them regularly, with so much force being put on them constantly.

A good way to significantly increase the lifespan of your tyres is to reduce the amount of weight you carry around in your car. Most people have at least a few unnecessary items in their car, but sometimes they can pile up to a ridiculous extent.

If you have been hoarding piles of things in your car, make an effort to reduce it significantly, to lower the overall strain of what is put on your tyres.

To get a full professional look over your car and ensure that you are driving a safe, road-worthy car, it is best to contact the professionals at In Town Automotive.