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Car Ownership Guides - Understanding your Car & how to keep it in good condition

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  2. An induction kit is one of the most common performance modifications that can be fitted to any vehicle and is designed to increase the amount of cold air entering the engine. This is achieved by replacing the standard restrictive airbox setup and replacing it with ducting direct from the throttle body and a cone style air filter which is left open to more air. So why do manufactures fit restrictive airboxes I hear you ask. Well the reason why manufactures fit restrictive airboxes is to reduce noise emitted from the engine bay, as well as slowing down the speed of the air as it hits the filter to help with fuel economy and emissions. The downside of this for modifiers is that there can be a loss of power for the engine as well as throttle response being less responsive. This is where the induction kit comes in as it allows modifiers to regain the extra power, throttle response and induction roar which tuners desire. Let’s be clear though, the benefits in extra bhp or throttle response are often minimal from an induction kit unless the vehicle has other modifications such as a straight through exhaust system, ECU remap or uprated camshafts and better pistons. This is why you’ll see race cars fitted with induction kits as the benefits are supported by these other modifications. Where there is an improved power delivery this can often be found higher in the rev range, but can reduce response in the lower rev range. Thankfully on the whole the fitment of an induction kit is the same on all vehicles as we will demonstrate. The car for our walk through guide is a Mk2 Suzuki Swift 1.5 petrol, but I will show you pictures of a similar set up on a Mk5b Zetec engine Ford Escort. Both cars have more than 10 years of design between them but the fitting instructions would be the same. Tools required: Screwdriver Spanner/socket WD40 Step 1 An obvious one, but the first thing to do is open the bonnet and establish where your airbox and MAF sensor (airflow sensor) are situated. Step 2 Depending on the vehicle it might be worth disconnecting the battery. I’ll be honest, I didn’t as the only electrical component is the MAF sensor but for added safety you can do this if you’re not confident when working with mechanical/electrical components. Step 3 Untighten the screws and jubilee clips holding the air ducting and airbox in place. More than likely there will be at least two jubilee clips and four screws to undo. Usually there is a jubilee clip holding the air ducting to the throttle body and one holding the ducting on near the end of the airbox or filter. Step 4 Now before you remove the loose airbox from the car, check your new induction kit to see where the MAF sensor will fit. There should be a hole in the induction kit ducting where the MAF sensor will fit into. With any professional kit the MAF sensor screw holes or brackets (if applicable) in the induction kit ducting should line up perfectly with the MAF sensor. If it does, then remove the MAF sensor from the airbox. You may also find your car will have an extra breather hose like the Ford Escort. The breather hose will only need removing from the airbox end as it will get reattached to the cone filter once the induction kit is installed. MAF sensor Step 5 Carefully remove the airbox from the engine bay, being mindful not to damage any other hoses, engine components or the MAF sensor! Step 6 Now with the airbox out of the way you can offer up the new induction kit air ducting to the car. Place one end of air hose unto the throttle body and lightly tighten it with the jubilee clip. Depending on your vehicle you may find the induction kit manufacture has provided extra brackets to hold the induction kit in place. There will often be fitted to brackets/screw holes from where the old airbox once sat. Step 7 Then fit the MAF sensor to the air ducting and screw it in place. As previously mentioned, be careful with the MAF sensor as they can be fragile! Step 8 Fit the new cone filter to the end of the air ducting and tighten to the ducting with a jubilee clip. The fit the breather hose to the back of the cone filter (if applicable). Step 9 Unfortunately most induction kits do not come with a heat shield. We would recommend you buy one, most of which are universal. The benefit of the heat shield is to stop the new cone filter absorbing hot air from the engine (also known as heat soak) and thus reducing you bhp. The polished curved metal, wrapped around the left side of the cone filter is the heat shield Step 10 With your induction kit you should have another piece of flexible plastic tubing. This is your cold air feed. Place one end of the cold air feed near to the cone filter and then bend the tubing down/away from the engine to where it is most likely to get cold air, and attach it to secure bodywork or brackets with cable ties. Don’t attach it to any moving components, those that can get hot and don’t put it in the way of the fan! Depending on your original airbox design, you may find you can use some of the original airbox ducting as an additional cold air feed as we did on the Suzuki Swift. Step 11 Once you’re happy that the air ducting, cone filter and cold air feed are all in the right place tighten up all the necessary screws and jubilee clips to make the induction kit secure. Step 12 Most important of all, start the car up and with the help of an assistant lightly rev the engine to listen out for any air leaks and to make sure you’re engine management light hasn’t come on. Step 13 If everything is good at this stage, take the car for a drive to appreciate the improved induction roar and hopefully improved throttle response. And that’s it! Ford Escort before and after Trouble shooting Engine Management Light on If the engine management light is on this can be a result of the engine receiving too much cold air or hot air if it’s via heat soak. In a worst case scenario the engine management light could be on if the MAF sensor has been damaged when being transferred to the induction kit, if the fitter has provided due care and attention. If no components are damaged, then a remap could help resolve issue as well has proving further performance gains. Flat spots If you experience flat spots in the cars acceleration my advice would be to wait a while as the cars ECU has to adjust to the new reading received from the MAF sensor. If the problem persists after you’ve used a tank of fuel then it could suggest the car is running lean and getting it checked at a garage is advisable. A remap again could resolve the issue. Recommendations It is recommend having the car checked on a rolling road to see if any improvements have been made, but more importantly no poor affects have occurred to the engines performance through heat soak. It may also be wise having the vehicle checked with an MOT tester to make sure the vehicles emissions have not been affected from the installation of the induction kit. The legal bit Please note the instructions provided in this article are designed to be a rough guide and it is strongly recommended you follow any instructions provided by the induction kit manufacture where possible. Furthermore AutoEvoke holds no responsibility in the event of damage or injury caused to property, vehicle or persons during or after the fitment of an induction kit following from this guide. Owners and fitters follow these instructions at their own risk.
  3. Repairable Tyre Area Tread Gauge Is Your Puncture Repairable? If you are unsure as to whether a puncture can be fixed, this free printable repairable area gauge allows you to see in which area of the tyre tread it is possible to safely and legally repair a puncture. Is Your Flat Tyre Fixable? The “repairable area” of a tyre is designated as that where a repair can be carried out to British Standards (currently BS AU 159f). Because a tyre curves away from the middle of where the tyre rolls on the road, only the centre area is repairable. Sidewalls are not repairable. The repairable area is defined as a percentage of the tyre’s “nominal” section width and thus varies by the size of the tyre. The repairable area is based on the centre line, eg. 82mm means 41mm on either side of the centre line of the tyre. Using this handy repairable areas tread gauge, you can quickly find out if a puncture in your tyre is likely to be repairable. Follow the printing instructions so that it is the right size, cut it out, read the tyre width off its sidewall, then put the centre line of the gauge in the middle of the tyre where the puncture is. If the puncture falls between the markings for that size tyre, it is probably repairable. (Note that the tyre may not be repairable if the hole is larger than 3mm or there is other internal damage to the tyre.) Click on the image to download your free repairable area gauge in PDF format. Source article: https://www.etyres.co.uk/repairable-area-gauge/
  4. It’s not as though our Winters are getting colder or that we are experiencing longer spells of the Winter freeze, but when it does go below zero then we can reasonably expect to encounter a range of problems that may not have been there beforehand Below is a list of items worth getting checked before the Winter freeze catches you out: Screen Wash This can be a costly item to replace if a quality screen wash has not been used. Replacement usually involves removing the front bumper to fit a new reservoir if it has cracked due to the water freezing and the pump can also suffer the same fate. A quality screen wash solution contains an antifreeze agent which when mixed to the correct ratio can prevent damage to the reservoir, jets, hoses and pump. More importantly is the safety factor of being able to see where you are going with a clear screen from when you start off ! Wiper Blades Always ensure that you switch off the automatic wiper function when leaving the car overnight. Once the ignition is switched on then the wipers may activate and destroy the blades or even the linkage, which can be a very expensive replacement. Also ensure that the blades are in good condition to cope with the extra burden of clearing the windscreen in cold and wet conditions. Battery & Charging Batteries are more likely to fail during the Winter months due to the cold temperatures. Additionally, there is more strain on a battery when the engine and oil are colder. Sometimes, in extremely cold conditions, it helps to depress the clutch when turning the engine over as this disengages the transmission and allows the engine to turn over easier. Ensure the alternator is capable of keeping the battery charged at an optimum level by testing the charge rate. Also, check the drivebelt is also in good condition and tensioned correctly. Tyres These are one of the least maintained items of the car. Considering they have such an important job to do and also considering they have such a small footprint on the road surface, driving in icy conditions demand that the tyres are in a safe, and legal condition and to the correct pressures to ensure a safe trip. Engine Coolant If the antifreeze content is low then this can create major expensive damage to the engine and associated components. When ice forms, it expands and this can crack radiators, engine castings and even freeze components such as the waterpump (which can be part of the camshaft timing belt assembly). Ensure that the antifreeze content is to the correct ratio and sufficient enough to cope with freezing temperatures by having it tested. Lighting The lighting system is vital during the Winter months, not only for safety reasons but also for the legal aspect. You may not use your headlights much when driving in the Summer but chances are that most of your journeys during the Winter are in the dark mornings and evenings. Fuel System The cold temperatures can have an effect on the fuel system, although mainly with Diesel engines. Problems such as the Diesel fuel waxing and any water content freezing in the fuel filter. Allow extra time for the glow plugs to operate and replace any that are failing. Heating and Ventilation Ensuring that the cabin filter is replaced and the air conditioning system is functioning correctly can assist in the windscreen remaining clear for the duration of your journey. Brakes Make sure that the braking system has been checked periodically as it will need to be in good working order to cope with the colder temperatures. Brakes don’t tend to be too effective until some heat has been generated in the friction lining material, so don’t brake heavily until they have warmed up. ABS is obviously vital when driving in slippery conditions to ensure that there are no warning lights on the dashboard and if possible, check the operation of the system.
  5. Sunstrips can both be aesthetically pleasing and yet very useful. The concept actually originates to the 1970s, where certain cars would be fitted with a green tint across the top of the windscreen. Then in the 1980s and 1990s it was quite common to see racing cars being fitted with sunstrips to not only block out the sun, but also provide extra sponsorship space on the vehicle. This craze then later filtered onto both the modified car scene for a racey look, and the commercial vehicle sector to provide a space for company sign writing. If you would like to fit a sunstrip either for vehicle modification, company advertising or just to block out the sun on winter days then here’s our fitting guide: Step 1 Wash the windscreen. This might seem obvious but if you don’t then the sunstrip might not stick properly to the windscreen. Step 2 Place the strip on the car (unstuck!) to measure your desired width of the sunstrip, and then mark the point with tape (we used blutak). You may need an assistant to help with this and also remember the sunstrip can NOT be in the wipers sweep or cover more than 25% of the window area. Alternately some sunstrips come pre measured for your car to make them easier to fit. Step 3 Trim to the sunstrip to the desired size. Step 4 Spray the windscreen with a water/washing up liquid mixture to help get the sunstrip in the right place. Step 5 Peel off the backing of the sunstrip and attach the strip to the windscreen to the mark line (we used blutak for the marker). Step 6 Now the sunstrip is fitted, you now need to use the water/washing up liquid mixture with a squeegee to get the air bubbles out. A pin might also come in handy to help with this. Once this is done, you can admire your hard work. Please note we used more than one type of sunstrip for the making of this guide.
  6. Spark Plugs are a small, yet vital part for the running of your engine and they can also tell you what condition the engine is in. In addition, spark plugs are both cheap and easy to replace as well as being a regular serving item. The most seen types of spark plug conditions are seen below as well as what they could mean you’re your vehicle. Fitting Spark Plugs Step 1 Let the engine cool and make sure the ignition is OFF as you don’t want the vehicles electrical system to potentially run through you! Then you can open the bonnet. Step 2 Remove the engine cover from your vehicle. This step may not be applicable to certain vehicles, particularly classic vehicles. Step 3 Locate the spark plugs. This will depend on the type of engine fitted to your vehicle. Four cylinder engines have four spark plugs on the top or side of the engine in a line. V6, V8, V10 and V12 engines have six, eight, 10 and 12 spark plugs respectively which will be evenly spaced on each side. spark plug layout on a four cylinder engine Step 4 Remove the end of the HT lead attached to the spark plug which should just unclip from the spark plug. It’s worth doing one spark plug at a time so as not to get confused when you’re refitting the leads as incorrect fitment will affect the running of the engine. It’s also worth checking the condition of the HT leads because if they’re damaged then they too will need replacing. Step 5 Remove the spark plug using the correct sized socket or spark plug removal tool. Once the spark plug is removed its worth checking its condition by using the above guide. Then use a feeler gauge to check the gap between the spark plug as you’ll need the same gap between the new plugs so in order to get a good spark. This will usually be between .028 - .060 inch. If you need a spark plug removal tool then you can buy it here Step 6 Screw the new spark plug in by using your hand and then use the correct sized socket or spark plug removal tool to tighten the spark plug. Don’t over tighten the spark plug as it can cause damage to either plug or the head of the engine. Also I recommend to first screw the spark plug by hand as cross threading the spark plug could damage the head of the engine. Step 7 Reattach the end of the HT lead and then repeat step 4 – 6 with each spark plug. Step 8 Start the engine to make sure then engine is running properly. It the engine seems rough then I would advise to switch off the engine immediately and check that you have fitted the HT leads to the correct spark plugs. If you need to buy spark plugs then you can get them Here
  7. The language of tyres can seem a complex, and one few drivers understand. When choosing tyres drivers are guided by the tyre shop, and most drivers understand which Brands are premium, mid-range or budget and how to check tread depths. However the tyre sidewall gives you a lot of useful information, you just have to understand the hieroglyphics. Here is a useful tyre chart courtesy of Pearltrees to help you decipher the code:
  8. Having an auxiliary fuse box can be beneficial to those who intend to modify their vehicle, either for work or pleasure and who intend to add additional electrical components such as exterior/interior lighting, stereo upgrades and alarms to name but a few. To fit a battery master switch you’ll need: Auxiliary fuse box with junction box - Examples available from eBay Four gauge wire from an auto accessories/ICE shop Insulated spade connectors Step 1 Disconnect the battery. This might seem obvious but if you forget you run the risk of running the cars electrical system through you! Step 2 Run the four gauge wire from the battery to your chosen fuse box location. This could be in the engine bay or even in the cabin. DON’T connect the four gauge wire to the battery yet. Step 3 Connect the other end of the four gauge wire to the junction box. The other end of the junction box will split the electrical supply between your additional electrical components. Step 4 Those split electrical supplies are then individually connected with insulated spade connectors to the fuse box. Connection point can be seen at the side of this fuse box. Step 5 Mount/attach the junction box and fuse box to the vehicle. Step 6 Fit the correct size fuses to the fuse box. Step 7 Re-join the four gauge wiring to the battery. Then reconnect the leads to the battery and you’re finished. Please note that the items shown in the pictures may differ from the one available in your country, however the fitting process will be the same.
  9. Car security has come a long way in the last twenty years thanks to improved locks and immobilisers, however with the introduction of keyless entry and keyless ignitions car theft is sadly on the increase. To help boost security you could look at fitting a battery master switch which acts as a type of immobiliser by cutting off the negative earth electrical supply but allows the alarm, radio and clock to function when the master switch is fitted with a fuse holder. If this sounds like a good idea to you, then my first piece of advice would be to assess where you are going to fit the switch. You’ll probably need to do measuring so in order you can buy/make brackets to hold the switch. To fit a battery master switch you’ll need: 1. Battery master switch, with key and fuse holder Examples from eBay 2. Four gauge wire from an auto accessories/ICE shop 3. Four Ring terminals 4. Suitable brackets 5. Nuts and bolts. This will depend on the size of brackets you’ve bought/made and where you have placed them. Step 1 Disconnect the battery. This might seem obvious but if you forget you run the risk of running the cars electrical system through you! Step 2 Assuming you have decided on where you’ll fit the switch, the next job is to attach your brackets through the holes in the switch base. Step 3 Attach the ring terminals to the four gauge wire. Step 4 Break into the battery negative lead and attach the four gauge wire with ring terminals. It might be worth crimping it to hold it in place as well. Step 5 Connect the negative battery lead to one of the master switch connectors and use a ring terminal to connect the fuse holder. Step 6 Connect the other end of the fuse holder to the switch and then re-join the four gauge wiring to the battery. Step 7 If you haven’t done already, attach the switch and its brackets to your chosen part of the vehicle. Step 8 Then fit the fuse into the fuse holder. Your fuse and fuse holder may differ from the one shown in the picture. Step 9 Test your handy work by fitting the red key and starting the ignition. If all is well then take the red key out and job done. Just don’t lose red the key! Picture below showing an example of the finished article. Please note that the items shown in the pictures may differ from the one available in your country, however the fitting process will be the same.
  10. Cleaning your car offers the ultimate reward for motorists: a gleaming vehicle that turns heads when you drive around or park up. Just giving your car a good shampoo is all well and good, but the best way to ensure a truly sparkling vehicle is combining this with a beautiful polish and wax. And of course, you will not want to ignore your car’s interior as no one wants to be driven around surrounded by an unkempt mess. There are all kinds of products and tricks one can use in this regard, so as a helping hand, here’s our look at how you can best achieve the results you desire. Clean Your Car’s Interior While you might be tempted to jump straight to shining up your car’s exterior, it is the interior where you should begin. Start off by getting rid of any rubbish that is lying around the inside of your vehicle; drinks containers, sweet wrappers, food, and whatever else you have accumulated over the weeks. Once that has been thrown out, and no longer in your way, take your car mats and give them a good clean. Do this by applying soapy water or a car shampoo – more on this later – and scrub the mats with a stiff brush until clean, then just hang them out to dry. Car mats are designed to get dirty but it’s always a good idea to spruce them up a little from time to time. Next up, you will want to give the inside of your windscreen and windows a nice clean using a dedicated windscreen/window cleaner. Products such as Autoglym’s Ultimate Screen Wash — available on car caring website The Ultimate Finish — would be ideal here. Always follow your chosen products instructions but generally start by spraying the glass cleaner onto a microfiber cloth and wipe up and down, and then side to side to leave as few streaks as possible. Once your windscreen and windows are gleaming on the inside, wipe down your dashboard and steering wheel before finishing up by giving the car a thorough vacuum. To get this job done right, you will want to grab yourself a cordless vacuum, allowing you to clean all those hard to reach places. Gemma Tyler of Smart Vacuums – a one-stop shop for all things vacuum cleaning – spoke to us about just what to look out for in order to give your car the best clean possible. “When it comes to vacuuming your car interior my advice is to get something lightweight and cordless, ideally with a few accessories to get to those hard to reach crevices. You don’t want to be setting up extension leads and lumping clumsy corded vacuum cleaners outside every time you need to clean the car; this is a sure-fire way to keep putting that car cleaning on hold. One model I would recommend is the Gtech Multi-Mk2, priced around £150 which is not overly cheap, but is impressive and ticks all the boxes for keeping the interior pristine.” Washing Now that your car is looking up to scratch on the inside, we can turn our attention to the car’s exterior. The first step is to wash your vehicle and remove all surface dirt, as if you don’t have a completely clean vehicle, the polish applied later will not fully bed into the panels and the result will be below standard. We spoke to Trevor Catt of the Ford Owners Club who says to, “Ensure that the bodywork is thoroughly rinsed off with a hose or jet wash, starting at the top and working your way down being careful to ensure that no contact is made with the paintwork at this stage. Once rinsed, then shampoo can be lightly applied with a sponge over the bodywork, again starting from the top and working downwards. Ensure the sponge is rinsed out thoroughly at all times to ensure that no dirt or grit is transferred to the paintwork. Allow to air dry if polishing once dry, alternatively wipe over with a Chamois Leather.” When washing your vehicle, if you want the full works, perhaps try a car shampoo, such as the Auto Finesse Lather 500ml, which is tangerine scented and swirl free. And once the car has been covered, give it another hose down removing all signs of soap. Auto Finesse also provides a powerful non-acidic wheel cleaner, use this in conjunction with a brush to remove any build-up of dirt that may have occurred on your wheels. Once done, rinse off again with the hose. Polishing Now we get to the task of polishing. First things first, you should always polish your vehicle before waxing it. As wax is a very hardy material, it will reduce in effectiveness if you try to polish over the top of it. Very different to car wax, car polish is an abrasive product which helps to remove very fine layers from the top surface of your vehicle’s panels. This flattens out the surface so that an equal reflection of light is offered – thus ensuring the highly polished finish. Modern polishes contain diminishing abrasives, which break down into smaller particles as the solution is polished in. It means that there’s no need to use several different abrasive polishes to create the perfect finish. Once your car is completely dry, the first step is to pour some car polish onto a foam pad or microfiber cloth and work onto the panels. You will need to do this one step at a time to make sure there’s a truly even finish. After you’ve worked the polish across the whole of your car’s exterior, return to where you started and rub the polished area vigorously with a dry chamois cloth to remove the extra residue. Once this is done, you’re ready to start waxing. As with all car cleaning products, there are a variety of top polishes available, such as the Meguiars Step 2 Polish, available at EuroCarParts Waxing While polish will offer a gleaming finish, it won’t protect the paintwork like car wax will. Because wax is not only almost insoluble in water, but also has a melting point of between 82-86°, it’s the perfect product to use if you want to protect all the hard work you’ve done by cleaning. Not only does it retain the streak-free finish of your vehicle for longer, the durability of wax means that it also acts as a filler by temporarily smoothing out any imperfections found on the paintwork. If applied correctly and regularly, car wax, like this one from Auto Finesse, will help protect the paintwork of your new car for months on end. After choosing the appropriate wax, take an applicator pad and apply an amount no larger than a ten pence piece; this should cover an area around 60cm high and 60cm wide. If you’re unsure of how much to use, it’s worth taking a look at the instructions on the bottle. It’s always better to apply too little wax than too much. In the case of the latter, too much wax can be difficult to remove and often leaves an uneven layer. If the wax you’ve purchased doesn’t come with an applicator pad, using a damp sponge is a great alternative. Step two is to work the wax into the metal through gentle circular motions which overlap. This method guarantees an even and streak-free finish. Divide your car into sections and reapply the wax as necessary. If you have an orbital polisher available it will save you time and use up a lot less elbow grease in the process. Now you will need to wait for the wax to dry, and ideally, you’ll want this to be for as long as the manufacturer recommends. A good way to tell if it’s ready is with the finger test. Make a swipe in the wax with your finger and if it’s clear you’re ready to go ahead. If the wax smears, then you need to wait a little longer. Once it is dry, use a microfiber cloth to remove the excess wax to leave a completely streak-free finish. Original Article courtesy of Foray Motor Group Cleaning your Car
  11. Listed below are some UK based Car Owners Clubs and Forums. These are great to join and discover the many benefits to car ownership that these Clubs can provide. Ford Owners Club Jaguar Owners Club Lexus Owners Club Toyota Owners Club Subaru Owners Club Bimmer Owners Club (BMW) Audi Owners Club
  12. Below is a list of Workshop Manuals available through Haynes AUDI Audi 80, 90 & Coupe (Petrol) (1986-90) Audi TT (1999-06) Audi A3 (Petrol & Diesel) (2003-08) Audi A3 (Diesel) (2008-12) Audi A4 (Diesel) (2008-15) FORD Ford Fiesta (Petrol & Diesel) (2002-08) Ford Fiesta (Petrol & Diesel) (2013-17) Ford Focus (Petrol) (2005-11) Ford Focus (Petrol & Diesel) (2011-14) Ford Mondeo (Petrol & Diesel) (2007-12) Ford S-MAX / Galaxy (Diesel) (2006-15)
  13. A quick guide on how to reattach numberplates with the adhesive pads. Usually once you remove number plates the previous adhesive pads are still stuck to the bumper or what's left of them. 1. Use a hair dryer or heat gun to warm up the pad on the bumper 2. Then use your finger nail or credit card to scrape off the residue of the pads. 3. To further help to remove the residue you can use WD40 or white spirit which will help lift the glue off the bumper. 4. Then repeat stage 2 to remove more residue. Followed by stage 1 and 3 if it is being tough to remove. Hint: you could also buy specific cleaning products to remove glue and tar which unfortunately I did not have to hand. 5. Once the number plate area is clean you can attach the new adhesive pads. 6. Now align the numberplate and make sure it's straight. Job done!
  14. Exactly! It is amazing the difference paint can make and if people don't fancy red then they could paint their brake calipers and drums black to smarten tired looking brakes.
  15. Thanks for the report Steve and what a difference it makes to the car for the cost of a pot of paint !
  16. Painted brake calipers are often a common sight on various performance cars and race cars, but this doesn't stop you from doing it to your own pride and joy as we demonstrate on this Suzuki Swift. Walk through guide: 1. Jack the car up and remove the wheel. We did one brake at a time but ideally using axle stands are recommended. Also I'd recommend wearing gloves as we found the paint a nightmare to get off our hands!! 2. Clean the caliper with the use of a wire brush and brake cleaning spray and wipe off the dirt. And don't forget to mask off areas where you don't want paint reaching. Brake drums are pre-painted so wire brushing is not required. But brake cleaner is a must and again wipe off the dirt. Don't forget to mask off the areas which you don't want painting. 3. Now the fun bit! We used red caliper paint which has to be applied with a paintbrush. We felt this would be easier then dismantling the brakes or running the risk of getting spray paint everywhere. We ended up applying 5 coats of caliper paint, leaving 10-15mins between each coat. Depending on your make of car you may need to apply more or less coats but just play it by ear and use your judgment. 4. Leave the paint to touch dry before attempting to put the wheels back on. Let's face it, you don't want to chip the freshly painted calipers/drums or get wet paint on your wheels! 5. Once the caliper paint is touch dry then refit the wheel(s) and let the paint dry for 24 hours. This obviously means you can't drive your car during that time as the brake dust and road dirt will affect the paint finish. 6. After the 24 hour period you can now admire your work! Or if need be apply another coat of paint if need be. If that's the case then repeat stage 2 onwards. Have fun and thanks for reading. Steve
  17. What to look for when buying a used car - Used Car Buying Checklist Documents Can the seller show you the V5C registration document? You won't be able to tax the car without it. Is the seller the registered keeper shown on the V5C? If not, why are they selling it for someone else? Does the registration document have a watermark? Any spelling mistakes on the registration document? Do the VIN (vehicle identification number), engine number and colour match the V5C? Does the number plate match the V5C? Has the VIN plate been tampered with? Do VIN numbers etched on glass or lights match the VIN plate and V5C? Any sign of scratches on glass to remove etched-in marks? Does the fuel filler look as if it has been forced or replaced? Does the car have a current MOT (if the car's more than three years old)? Check the MOT history and status of a vehicle Mileage Does the mileage, age and appearance of the car look consistent? Any sign like worn screws that the instruments might have been tampered with? (Digital odometers can be tampered with electronically so clues like this won't exist) Check recorded mileage on service records, MOT 'certificates' and other documents. Does it look consistent with current mileage/condition and increase steadily year on year? Check MOT status and history online (with vehicle registration and make). Accident damage Any signs of inconsistent gaps between panels or mismatched colours that could be a sign of extensive repairs? Is the paint finish even across the car? Any traces of paint spray on handles, window seals or plastic mouldings? Could the car's colour have been changed? (Look under carpets and in other hidden areas in particular.) Any unusual looking welding under the bonnet or in the boot? Safety Are the tyres in good condition and all of the specification and dimensions? Tyres with less than 3mm of tread will have to be replaced soon. Is the spare wheel or tyre inflator/sealant kit in serviceable condition? Are the jack and other tools present? Do all the seatbelts operate correctly? Check there are no cuts or fraying that could affect the way they work. If airbags are fitted, Check that warning lights operate as described in the handbook – normally they will come on with the ignition and then go out? Do all lights and windscreen wipers/washers work correctly? Test drive Do all warning lights operate normally? Lights will generally come on to test and then go out – unless there's a fault. Are the brakes effective or does it take a long time or a lot of effort to stop? Is Braking even or does the car pull to one side? Any unusual noises when you brake? Is the handbrake effective? Any steering vibration or pull to one side? If ABS is fitted, does the warning light go out after the engine is started? Engine Any abnormal noises when the engine is started from cold? Does the oil warning light go out as soon as the engine starts? Any signs of excessive visible exhaust emissions? Does the clutch operate normally? A noise when you press the pedal or a high biting point could mean that repairs will be required soon. Is the catalytic converter in good condition? Look for a recent emissions test, either alone or as part of an MOT. This will confirm that emissions are within the stringent limits applied to modern cars. Is there sludge on the underside of the oil filler cap? This could indicate poor servicing or predominantly short journey use. Is the oil level right? Too low shows neglect; too high could be a clue that the engine is using oil but it could just have been over filled in error. Has the cambelt been replaced according to the service schedule? Locks, windows and general controls Do all the locks, including central locking and remote control, work properly? Do all windows, including any sunroof, open/close normally? Any signs of forced entry, damaged or different locks, suggesting they've been replaced? Have you got all the right keys? Check the handbook to see which keys were provided when the car was new. Modern keys are expensive to replace, particularly the coloured 'master' key provided by some manufacturers to programme new spare keys to the car. Are locking wheel nuts fitted? Check that the special adapter required is included with the tool kit. Make sure it fits too. Do all the minor controls operate correctly – heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, radio/CD, navigation etc? Original article source: courtesy of the AA http://www.theaa.com/car-buying/used-car-inspection-checklist
  18. A few Hints & Tips on improving fuel economy and saving money! Check your tyre pressures regularly....improves rolling resistance of the tyres and decreases fuel costs and tyre wear Don't carry non-essential luggage in the boot and also remember carrying excess fuel is also a considerable weight (fuel up more regularly with less) Remove roof racks and bars to decrease wind resistance and improve aerodynamics Use the gears correctly in a manual gearbox...early upshifting does not improve fuel economy and increase wear on the drivetrain Ensure wheel alignment is correct as this will lead to excessive drag on the tyres which increase fuel consumption and wears tyres prematurely Anyone think of any more hints and tips on improving economy and reducing driving costs? Feel free to add them on this thread
  19. Checking tyre pressures regularly helps to stay safe on the road & save you money By ensuring that your vehicle's tyres are inflated to their recommended tyre pressure levels, you could: • Extend the life of your tyres • Improve your vehicle safety • Maintain fuel efficiency Click this link to find the correct pressures for your car NOTE: ALWAYS CHECK THE PRESSURES WHEN THE TYRES ARE COLD ADDITIONAL TYRE CHECKS When you check the tyres pressures, you can see at a glance whether there are any issues with a tyre losing pressure, adjustments to the wheel alignment needed or even a fault in the vehicle suspension. The signs that something is wrong is seen as excessive wear on the inside, outside or centre of the tyre tread. You should then take the car to a garage for them to check the steering and suspension for wear or damage. v
  20. Tyre Size Calculator Wheel/Rim Size Calculator - Shows acceptable rim width range for the tyre size Wheel/Rim Size Calculator shows the acceptable wheel/rim width range for any given tyre size in accordance with the ETRTO standards and Databooks of the leading tyre manufacturers. It gives You the answer to the question "What rims fit my car?" Each tyre manufacturer has a specific rim width range on which the tyre can be mounted. Failure to follow rim width recommendations may result in poor tyre performance or possible wheel and/or tyre failure. Choosing a wheel near the middle of the accetpable wheel range will give a balance between ride quality and handling. A wider wheel will improve handling at the expense of ride quality, while a narrower wheel will improve ride quality at the expense of handling. Consider these compromises when selecting wheels. To check the sizes using the calculator please follow this link http://www.tyresizecalculator.com/tyre-wheel-calculators/wheel-rim-size-calculator Try the Wheel Offset/Backspace Calculator which calculates the offset and the backspace, the important measurements for positioning the wheel/tyre assembly inside the wheel well. This calculator also gives the option to compare wheels, to compare the offset and the backspace of one or more additional wheels to the original wheel. Original Source http://www.tyresizecalculator.com/tyre-wheel-calculators/wheel-rim-size-calculator
  21. Nearly 50% of all cars that fail an MOT do so because of small faults that could be avoided by simple, at-home car maintenance. These problems are easy to correct, and fixing them before taking the car in for its MOT could help you pass first time and avoid garage costs To help, Ring, the automotive specialist in bulbs, wipers, battery care and tyre care, has some advice on the simple things that can be done to avoid an MOT fail. Lights and signalling – 17.8% failure rate 4.5m cars fail because of lamps, reflectors and electrics every year. Doing a quick bulb check before you take the vehicle to the garage could avoid an MOT fail. Make sure you check all the exterior bulbs – this includes the side light, indicator, tail light and number plate lights. The registration plate lamp being out accounts for 4.5% of MOT fails. When it comes to headlamps, there are plenty of options out there, including upgrades to help bulbs last longer or put more light on road for safer driving. We recommend you always replace bulbs in pairs, to ensure the light output is equal from both headlights. Ring stocks a range of bulbs, including long life versions, and for headlamps, try the new Xenon150 bulbs (nationwide – SSP £39.99), which put up to 150% more light on road without compromising on life. Tyre condition – 7.5% failure rate Well maintained tyres are essential to ensure safe driving – and neglecting them could mean a failed MOT. The legal requirement for tyre tread on passenger vehicles up to eight seats is 1.6mm, but studies show that when the tread drops below 3mm, stopping distance begins to be significantly affected. Checking tyre tread is easy and requires a simple depth gauge. However, to ensure your tyres are both safe and helping cut down fuel consumption, drivers need to check the pressure as well. For a digital gauge that gives accurate readings on a large backlit screen, records the correct pressure and has an integrated LED light, Ring suggests the RTG7 Programmable Digital Tyre Pressure & Tread Depth Gauge. This is easy to store in the car and easy to use, wherever you are. Available nationwide, SSP £24.99. While there is no legal requirement for tyre pressure, under- or over-inflated tyres will reduce the traction between the tyre and the road, making driving less safe and less fuel efficient. For easy pressure top ups, try the Ring RAC635 Digital Tyre Inflator, with preset for accurate inflation. This industry-recognised inflator can inflate a 13” tyre from flat to 35PSI in under 3 minutes – making tops up quick and simple. Driver’s view of the road – 6.8% failure rate Cracks in the windscreen and worn wipers are a big reason for vehicles to fail. As wiper deteriorate gradually, drivers often don’t realise they are no longer clearing the windscreen effectively. Choosing and fitting the right blade can seem tricky, but Ring’s new range of Ultravision Wiper Blades (SSP £9.99 to £13.99) make blade selection easy. The unique, patent-pending clip fits 95% of the car parc, meaning that drivers just need to know the blade length for their vehicle to select the correct blade. The clip adapts to fit the seven most common wiper arms. Henry Bisson, Marketing Manager at Ring, says “Motorists could be making savings by carrying out basic checks and maintenance at home, but often they don’t realise that these minor faults could cause an MOT fail. What’s more, having well-maintained tyre, blade and lighting are driving safety essentials, so making sure they are regularly checked and replaced when necessary is critical.” For more details on Ring’s range of bulbs, wiper blades and tyre care, visit www.ringautomotive.com Original article source: http://www.drivn.co.uk/avoid-common-mot-fails/
  22. Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF) Many cars registered after 2007 will have a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) factory fitted in an attempt to lower diesel soot emissions. The introduction of the DPF is aimed to deliver an 80% reduction in diesel particulate (soot) emissions. This appears to be a great idea but in reality the system has many problems and the most common one is the particulate filter warning light illuminating, indicating a partial blockage of the filter. Different driving styles are required to keep the DPF system functioning correctly. One of the major issues surrounding this is with urban stop/start driving where the filter cannot regenerate sufficiently and the system becomes blocked. HOW DOES IT WORK ? The DPF is designed to trap the soot generated by the engine and burn it off whilst driving. Once collected, it is burnt off at high temperatures by a process called 'regeneration'. This regeneration is generally carried out passively while driving at sufficient speed (such as a motorway run) which will raise the exhaust gas temperature to burn off the soot emissions. If 'passive' regeneration does not work sufficiently to keep the DPF clear then 'active' regeneration will be required. This is when the engine electronics take over to run a programmed running strategy to clear out the DPF by introducing a post-combustion process to raise the temperature. Sometimes, the DPF active regeneration gets interrupted and cannot complete the process under normal urban driving conditions. This may bring on the DPF warning lamp on the dashboard indicating that the filter is partially blocked. Instructions are usually included in the drivers' handbook to instruct on how to drive and for how long to fully clear the DPF. WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF IT BECOMES COMPLETELY BLOCKED ? Generally, a blocked DPF can mean very expensive repair bills. If the filter system block ups to an unacceptably high level, then the vehicle will need to be taken to a garage for a forced regeneration. This can result in a very expensive replacement DPF being fitted. Another problem that can arise is that of 'washdown' of the cylinder bores. This is when fuel being introduced in the active regeneration stage washes down the cylinder bore and mixes with the engine oil, therefore diluting it. Two further problems can arise from this....poor compression, which can prevent the engine from starting and running efficiently. Also, the engine can become a 'runaway' which quite simply means it will suck up the oil and fuel mix from within the sump and burn it, which in a diesel engine will run the engine (even with the ignition switched off) to an ungoverned speed by consuming the oil and ultimately run to destruction! IS IT WORTH GETTING THE DPF REMOVED ? In the long run, it may be worth having the DPF removed from your vehicle if you only drive the car locally or for short distances. Removal involves cutting out the DPF and replacing it with a straight through pipe. Additionally, the engine management computer will need remapping to enable the car to run with new settings to bypass the DPF. This generally improves performance and also improve the overall fuel efficiency.

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