IT’S coming towards the end of September and that means that temperatures are already dropping and it won’t be long until frosty mornings become the norm, so it’s time to get your vehicle ready for the changing weather. 

In cold, wet weather mechanical breakdowns will increase, so before the worst of the weather hits, it’s time to get the car sorted. Money is tight, bills are going through the roof and there’s worse to come, but we can’t skimp on car safety, so it’s time to get your vehicle serviced before winter hits. 

Cold weather can cause problems that good maintenance can prevent. For example, cold weather will affect the performance of your battery, with the increased use of lights, heater, wipers, and fans, your battery will be under strain. Get a battery diagnosis carried out now and, if necessary, get it charged back to optimal performance. Also, make sure you have the correct 50/50 water and antifreeze mix in your coolant system. Coolant becomes diluted over the years and a poor coolant mix could lead to an over-heating engine and a large repair bill.

Your tyres are important for steering and braking, so check you have a safe tread depth and that the tyres are inflated to the correct pressure. Over- or under-inflated tyres provide inferior grip, will damage tyres, and shorten their life dramatically. 1.6mm is the legal tread depth, however a 3mm tread in winter will provide better grip in poor conditions. 

Ask your tyre depot about winter tyres as these offer increased grip in heavy rain, snow, slush, and ice and are great if you live or work in a hilly area. 

It’s also important to check your lights to make sure there are no cracked lenses or faulty bulbs. Give your windscreen a thorough clean inside and out and top up your screen wash with a water and washer mix. Check your wiper blades and if in doubt replace them. Always keep a winter driving kit in your car: jump leads, torch, some basic tools, an ice scraper, some de-icer, a warning triangle, and don’t forget a phone charger in case of an emergency, you will be glad you did. And finally, always keep at least a quarter of a tank of fuel in case of unexpected delays, then at least you can stay warm. 

Never skimp on the maintenance of your car. So, until the next time... safe driving.  

The strange demise of the three-door


I CAME across a story this week of the owner of a three-door Ford Fiesta who decided to trade it in for a new car but has had difficulty in finding another three-door car to replace it. 

The owner needs a small car because the vehicle is garaged at night and nothing bigger than a Fiesta will fit in their garage and they need the three-door option because of the increased access the wider doors on a three-door car provides. 

I did some research and had difficulty in finding one to fit the bill. Two that I did find that are of a similar size are the Mini Cooper electric at £31,000 and the Toyota GR Yaris at £32,000. Compare those  to a new four-door Fiesta at around £21,000 and it is quite a difference in price. There was a time when most small car models were available in three- or five-door, the three-door very often utilised in sportier versions. But for some reason very few manufactures offer that option any more.

Good luck with your search.

Careful with that dashcam on your windscreen


DID you know that having a dashcam fitted to the windscreen of your car can result in an MOT failure? By law any obstruction to the view of the road ahead can result in a failure and mean rebooking and paying for a retest. 

Don’t think that you can simply remove an offending item after you have been told you have failed, as inspectors must make their decision based upon how the vehicle was presented to them. 

Dashcams are a great invention and something that could potentially help a driver prove their innocence in the event of a road traffic accident, but dashcams must be fitted correctly. 

An industry expert suggests that when fitting a dashcam you should obviously position it where it can capture the best view of the road, but ideally should be positioned either directly behind or to the left of your rear-view mirror so as not to obstruct your view. It’s also important to position it within the sweep of your wipers to ensure a clear recording in all weathers.

The obstruction rule also applies to air fresheners, club colours or garlands that dangle from your rear-view mirror. Stickers on your front screen and fluffy toys or animals stuck to the dashboard could also result in your vehicle failing its MOT. It’s very simple: keep your front screen clear of anything that is not needed or might obstruct your view so that you and others can be safe on the road. 

Vegan vehicle is on the way

HAS the car world officially gone bonkers?

From time to time we are offered weird and wonderful extras and alternatives with a new car, but I think this manufacturer has lost the plot – or have they? 

The BMW Group plans to launch its first entirely ‘vegan’ car interior in 2023. Apparently vegans don’t want to touch leather steering wheels or sit on leather seats. A vegan interior is being made possible primarily through the development of innovative materials with leather-like properties. 

BMW says that the introduction of new surface material will see the proportion of vehicle components that contain traces of raw materials of animal origin fall to less than one per cent.  In addition this product will help reduce CO2 emissions by 85 per cent.

Each to their own, but is this going just too far?