Tag Archives: automotive

MOT test header image

Even More MOT Test Knowledge!

Back in January we released this article shedding light on everything you need to know about the famous MOT Test system.

Now, we are back with another article providing even more knowledge, this time giving you all of the preparation you need for your next MOT test!

We will help you:

Be calm about your next MOT test

Find out when your next MOT test is

Learn the best MOT test etiquette!

Let’s begin with why you shouldn’t worry about your next MOT test. Well, it’s immediately obvious that you shouldn’t worry, as it’s bad for your health. Worrying tends to increase anxiety, which can make your sleep less and develop minor health problems. Worrying about something you can positively affect is also counter-productive.

To positively change your mentality about your next MOT test, here are a few preparations you can do.

  1. Wash your car. There could be cracks, scrapes or damages that have been concealed by dirt. Don’t get caught out by a mucky outer layer!
  2. Go to a garage and pump up your tyres. Whilst pumping them up, check the tread with a 20p coin to see whether it is above or below the legal 1.6mm limit (or 3mm recommended limit).
  3. Test all your lights and electrics, seatbelts and the horn.
  4. Unless your MOT test centre offers free fluid top-ups, like we do here at In Town Automotive, you should open your bonnet and add some liquids.

Once you’ve done all these, you should be feeling clearer about the state of your car, and may perhaps have an idea of some things that it may fail on. If you’re worried about when your next MOT Test is, and you want to find out quickly, you can do it online here: https://www.check-mot.service.gov.uk/

Once you’ve found out and added the date to your calendar, add another date a month before that gives you a month’s heads up! This way you shouldn’t get caught out. For Northampton drivers, add the number 01604 666700 to the note, just to be sure. That’s our number.

MOT Test Etiquette

What a treat, we’ve got not one, not two, not even three, but SEVEN brilliant etiquette tips for your next MOT test. These tips go above and beyond the four tips already given above, and will give you the edge when it comes to looking after your car.

  1. Get an extended warranty. If your car’s manufacturer warranty has expired, you can purchase a policy that covers you whenever your car needs repairs after an MOT or service. Think of it as insurance for the extra careful car owner.
  2. Read the small print. Don’t get caught out on technicalities by insurers, warranty providers or garages, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting!
  3. Half way between MOT tests (every six months), you should consider having a service, which here at In Town Automotive start from as little as £89.99.
  4. When you book your MOT test, ask what perks are included and what sort waiting times you could expect to face. If you have time to sit around and wait, that’s fine, but if you need a courtesy car, make sure you’re entitled before attempting to demand one!
  5. Some garages ask that you bring your V5/Logbook with you, so make sure you have it, if it is needed.
  6. Book in for your MOT test at least a month in advance. This way, you will get a great time and won’t have to risk taking time off work to get your car sorted. We are open on Saturdays…
  7. Missing your MOT test is a huge inconvenience to the garage, but could be an even worse inconvenience for you, especially if you get caught after it has expired. This could land you a staggering £1000 fine!

Well, we are good to you aren’t we! All this extra knowledge should serve you well when it comes to looking after your car and going for MOT Tests. If you want to know any more, call our dedicated reception team on 01604 666700.

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!

Winter Car Care Guide Northampton

Winter Car Care Guide: Ten Tips

Whichever way you look at it, winter really gives our cars a beating.

The horrible weather, the low temperatures, the constant freezing, expanding and defrosting of ice on the car and the harsher-than-usual driving conditions. Whilst some will succumb to the difficulties that winter brings to driving, some are plenty prepared and will reach the blossoming flowers of spring virtually unscathed. Winter car troubles, oh how we loathe you.

Without further delay, we bring you ten ways to look after your car this winter…

#1 Take it for a winter car service.

Having a winter car service is popular for many a good reason. Garages and service centres will charge your battery, top up your coolant and screenwash, check your tyre tread depths and assess your lights, as well as many other things. For many cars, this will make all of the difference.

#2 Winter tyres

After your winter car service, you may be recommended some winter car tyres, which are far more effective on cold, wet or icy surfaces then their summer counterparts. Braking distances are considerably reduced with winter car tyres. It should be possible for you to take your summer tyres with you, if they have safe tread depths. This means once spring comes around you can change your winter tyres back to summer tyres.

winter car

#3 Tyre pressure

Check your tyre pressure and pump them up if needed. There are some awful ideas out there, like those suggesting that having low tyre pressure will give you better grip on the road in winter. This is hogwash. Tyres should be at their optimum pressure for maximum effectiveness.

#4 Front and rear lights

Give your lights a good clean and replace the bulbs if needed. If you work standard hours, don’t be surprised to be leaving for work in the dark and getting home in the dark, you’ll be getting a lot more use out of your lights now than in summer. It’s not just about being able to see clearly either, you must be clearly visible to other drivers who may be driving in rain, sleet, hail or snow.

#5 Windshield

Your windshield is your friend, treat it well. We put together a great article about how to look after your windshield, which you can read here. The point to be made is that as well as de-icing it properly, it must be kept very clean due to visibility issues and most notably because of the low sun in winter, which often causes glare and in some circumstances, accidents.

winter car

#6 Winter emergency kit

Remember that old phrase, ‘preparation is the key to success’? With a winter emergency kit, if the worst does happen and you end up stranded somewhere in the cold, you’re going to wish you had one of these…

You’ll want something to keep your warm, like a thermal sleeping bag or a big woolly blanket. If your car is stuck in mud or snow, you will want a shovel and bit of carpet, first to dig your tyres out, then to gain some traction. For visibility you will want a reflective jacket and torch, or head torch. You might want snow chains if you can foresee some drastic weather conditions, and a tow rope and jump leads if your car is liable to go flat. Don’t forget food and drink (no alcohol!).

#7 More time and space

This is Stephen Hawking’s favourite tip for winter car management, time and space. Sorry. It’s valid though, that you aren’t the only one who has to suffer the elements this winter; it may take you longer to get around than in summer, so give yourself more time to get anywhere. A winter car service, winter tyres and an emergency kit won’t protect you from bumping into the back of someone if you don’t give them enough space on the road. Some would advise giving three times as much space when roads are icy or snowy.

#8 Breakdown cover

It’s reported that one in ten people in the UK don’t have breakdown cover. Their courage is not remarkable, it’s foolish. You never know when the worst might happen and your car will give up on you whilst you are out and about, so having breakdown cover is essential. If you were to break down in the middle of nowhere, you can only imagine the incredible feeling of relief when a recovery vehicle turns up!

winter car

#9 Salty undercarriage

Many people forget how damaging all the salt and grit on the road can be to our vehicles. Not only as it bounces up and down off the road, banging and scratching at parts, but also getting into little cracks and crevices. For rust to appear, it needs three things, water, air and steel. What the salt and grit from the road does is increase the flow of electrons to the chemical reaction and speeds up the process. If you have time, wash your car undercarriage with a hose, this will help you in the long run.

#10 Phone & traffic updates on

We can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your phone on and sign up to traffic updates. You can keep traffic updates on with the radio, but with the amazing things phones can do now, you can get an up to date report on there too. Signal may be affected in very rural areas. Next, take your phone and like In Town Automotive on Facebook and @InTownAuto on Twitter. This won’t directly help you if you get stuck, but we do have a great winter car service!

See our service options here…