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Vehicle Servicing

We often get asked, “Do I need to get my car serviced, as I have not driven much over lock down”. Short but sweet, yes. In this blog I will try and give a layman’s overview with the second part containing more in-depth explanations.

Back when I started in the trade, the 1980’s cars required two services a year: the major service at 12 months and an interim service at the 6 months interval and the average cost was around £210 combined. A major service is now done at 2 to 3 year intervals with a smaller service every year.  This has helped keep costs down meaning the price of a service has not increased in price as much as people think.

With your car being stood for long periods of time, things tend to start to seize up. If you sat on your sofa for 3 weeks at a time you would feel stiff and may have seized up as well resulting in some exercise or a trip to the local back specialist for a tune up of service on your back. If you fail to look after yourself then your body starts to become unreliable. Your car is no different. Lets also not forget driving a your car in an un-road worthy condition could lead to an accident and attention of the local police resulting penalty points and a fine. Causing an accident of worse whilst driving your car could result in a court appearance.

Lets have a look at what can happen, and why we need to have our cars serviced:

Here is why. Engine oil is made up of chemicals as well as the base material, oil. Some of these chemicals can get broken down by water. When the engine is running heat is generated through the combustion of the fuel. This heat helps burn off any condensation that is drawn into the engine when it is turned off and cooling down. Cold air outside and around the engine meets the hot surface of the engine, condensation forms on the inside of the engine. Normally this is not an issue as the condensation is burnt off and evaporates out of the engine’s breathing system. Now with the national lockdown most vehicles have been driven over very short distances with the engine not having chance to reach full operating temperature. The condensation is moved around the engine with the oil effecting the oil’s performance. In engines that use stop start technology this can cause engine bearing damage. Replacing the engine oil on time with manufacturer approved oil helps reduce the possibility of water contaminated oil causing engine damage. Another factor is the possibility that the exhaust emissions could become effected resulting in an MOT fail. We have seen some vehicles failing the MOT test due to a lack of regular servicing and some with costly emission control device failures.

Tyres – we have started to see a rise in tyre side walls cracking. With the vehicle stood for long periods of time the tyres remain in one position for the duration. This causes weight loading on the tyre; also with UV light exposure, poor tyre pressure maintenance, heating up and cooling down through out the day, the tyres start to crack. Most minor cracking is safe but some are not. These cracks can spread very fast over a short period of time exposing the tyres construction, shedding the tyre outer material and leading to possible tyre blow outs. Top tip: check your tyre pressures regularly. If possible move the vehicle forward or backwards half a tyre rotation, then a week later move the vehicle in the opposite direction a full tyre rotation. This should help reduce the cracking. Servicing your vehicle at the manufacturers recommended interval will help reduce the cracking.  Also with the help and advice from your local garage you should be able to help reduce the cracking and plan for the next tyre replacement.

Battery – this is often overlooked as it is so reliable that we have forgotten how unreliable these used to be. Everyday, day in and out this device works. We even now have batteries for vehicles with stop start technology. Let’s not forget that stop start technology was invented to help reduce exhaust emissions and improve fuel efficiency. These batteries can be very expensive and should never be substituted with cheaper batteries that are of the incorrect type. Damage can occur to the vehicles electronic systems. Also a well looked after battery will last over 5 years. Batteries are charged by the vehicle’s complex charging system that is controlled by the vehicle’s onboard computers. These computers monitor and control the batteries charge rate. With the vehicle stood the battery is not being charged but is in constant use. Things like the alarm, anti-theft devices, clocks, radio memories, and other vehicle monitoring systems are all using the battery without the engine running. A bit geeky here, the battery is normally fitted with a condition device that monitors the battery charge. If the battery condition drops the monitoring system can and does turn off items to save battery power. It can only do this for about a week or 2; some cars can go longer but all of the time the battery voltage is dropping. When it reaches below 12 volts the battery is flat and is now in danger of failing. When the battery voltage reaches about 9 volts the chances are the battery has now failed and may never be as good as it once was. A service that follows the manufacturer recommended schedule should instruct the Technician to check the battery condition and the vehicle’s charging system for correct operation. We often see battery tests reports recommend the battery is charged which we undertake. Stop start equipped vehicles can have batteries costing twice the the cost of conventional vehicle battery.

Brake fluid – the most overlooked fluid change item on the vehicle after the gear box oil. Brake fluid is what we call hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture, water from the atmosphere. Now the only thing connecting your brake pedal to the brakes at each wheel is a kind of piston pushing brake fluid under pressure to each brake positioned at each corner of your car. This brake fluid has to transfer your effort when pushing the brake pedal to each brake. Now with water mixed in with the brake fluid things kind of change a bit. Brake fluid has a boiling point; mix water in and this boiling point drops risking the fluid boiling and causing a loss of braking. On a service the fluid is replaced at the manufacturers recommended interval. Also here is a thought: most of the braking system including the bits that push on the brake pads to stop your car are made from metal along with the brake pipes. Water in the fluid can cause corrosion. This rust can cause these metal parts to fail from inside out and cause brake seizures to occur costing money and making your car unreliable and dangerous to drive. Also brakes wear, left un-serviced these can wear out and cause many issues – not stopping is just one.

A service will help spot potential problems arising, so allowing you plan when you need to have some work undertaken. You can plan to get the most urgent work done first, saving money and planning your budget better. Here is a tip – always use a garage that belongs to trade body like the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI). Here at Earby Autos Ltd all our technicians and service advisors are members of the IMI who have signed a pledge to work to their code of conduct. We are also part of the Auto Care Group of garages.

Do you use Google or Trust Pilot or even Facebook for recommendations? That part is up to you. I would say yes with some caution. These platforms are open to abuse and garages are often targeted by people who seem to wish to harm a business for many reasons – some unscrupulous garages falsify their own feedback by submitting their own constructive feedback or ask close relations to add good feedback. The garage business has normally very little in the way of challenging what has been said about them. We use approvedgarages.co.uk – by using this service it stops garage owners from abusing the feedback.  Here is why: if a customer is not happy with their service Approved Garages will act as a go between – between the customer and the garage to try and resolve any issues, all free for the customer. It also helps future customers see a more realistic feedback of the garage.

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