Transmission Problems and How to Fix Them!

engine transmissionYour vehicle’s transmission has a vital role. When you change gear, your car’s transmission works to transfer the engine’s power to the wheels to move your vehicle along. Whilst this sounds like a relatively simple and straightforward process, transmission involves the use of countless components, all of which have to work together in perfect harmony to ensure your vehicle runs smoothly. With such an essential part to play, transmission problems and failures have the potential to literally stop a vehicle in its tracks, a fact that makes being aware of the warning signs and associated issues important for any car owner.

Here at Collison Motoring Services, we provide a long list of mechanical repair services to ensure your vehicle functions well from the inside out. As a result, we understand the transmission system more than most, and know the problems that can become apparent and the solutions that will help get your vehicle on the road once more. Read on to discover the most common transmission problems affecting vehicles today and, more importantly, how to fix them.

Low or contaminated transmission fluid

Both manual and automatic transmission vehicles need specialist fluid to keep the clutches and bands that are integral to the gear change process well lubricated. Transmission fluid however doesn’t last forever. Over time or as a result of leaking or contamination, transmission fluid can become low or dirty. Both issues prevent the gears from getting as lubricated as they need to be, causing problems like grinding, overheating and slipping. Continuing to operate your vehicle with low or contaminated transmission fluid can cause complete vehicle failure in time.

The solution? Apply the right amount of clean and debris-free transmission fluid to your vehicle, it’s as simple as that! Conducting regular fluid level checks will also mean low levels, contamination and leakages can be spotted early and successfully rectified. Checking your transmission fluid once a month is recommended. How often the transmission fluid is changed however can vary from vehicle to vehicle. Some cars and vans require their transmission fluid to be changed as little as every 30,000 miles, others need it changed every 100,000 miles. New vehicles with automatic gearboxes require no fluid changes at all, unless failure strikes, with the fluid sealed within meant to last the life of the vehicle.

A worn clutch or gear synchroniser

Manual transmission relies on several components, two of which are the clutch and the gear synchronisers. Failures in either of these components can cause significant transmission problems, including total transmission failure. Wear and tear of both components can happen over time, whilst mechanical errors can be caused by hydraulic fluid leaks and even human error, if your driver is frequently changing gear without releasing the clutch.

The solution? Depending on the level of wear, your clutch or gear synchroniser may need to be replaced to get your vehicle’s transmission working smoothly again. Correcting some of the underlying issues, i.e. fixing leaks and changing driving habits, is also recommended.

Needle bearing failure

Some transmission problems are only applicable to automatic transmission systems, the most common being needle roller bearing failures. These bearings may be small and light but they have essential roles to play in preventing the grinding of gears in automatic transmission systems. As well as resulting in grinding and brushing noises emitting from your transmission system, failed needle roller bearings can stop gears from moving efficiently.

The solution? As with any transmission problem, spotting the warning signs early and acting fast is important. Keep an ear out for grinding noises when your vehicle is in motion and don’t put off seeking professional help.

If the transmission fluid in your vehicle has changed colour or condition, fluid levels are low, you spot signs of a leak, your transmission is slipping or your transmission is overheating, it’s time to call our specialist teamfor help.



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How to Change a Car Lightbulb Easily

Car light bulbsWinter is well underway, which means less favourable weather conditions are now a reality for most parts of the country. Team this with the shorter days, and conditions become even more difficult to handle for the average person. With the dark nights and poor weather, now couldn’t be a better time for vehicle owners to think about their visibility, with your car’s lighting and wiping systems vital parts of the equation.

Whilst vehicle lighting concerns more than just your headlamps, making sure you’re lighting the way with some high quality, fully working car lightbulbs is crucial. Cue our guide to changing a car lightbulb easily! Read on to discover the essential steps you should take to see and be seen on the roads this winter.

Why is good car lighting important?

Just how well your vehicle’s headlights light up the road in front of you isn’t just a matter of aiding your visibility and alerting your fellow drivers and pedestrians of your presence. Great visibility courtesy of well-maintained headlights, significantly cuts the risk of being involved in a road traffic accident. According to RoSPA, 40% of road traffic accidents happen at night when vision is reduced and hazards are more difficult to spot.

Good vehicle lighting ensures you gain a clearer view of the road, whether you’re driving at night or during the day in poor winter weather conditions like rain, fog or snow.

How often do bulbs need changing?

Just as your car will age, so too will the bulbs in your headlamps. Lighting technology has progressed significantly in recent years, with the ultra-bright LEDs featured on the latest makes and models of vehicle providing optimum performance and visibility whatever the weather. With development, car lightbulbs are now lasting much longer but they’ll still need replacing. The average tungsten-halogen car headlight lasts between 500 and 1,000 hours. Xenon headlights last ten times longer, averaging around 10,000 hours. LED headlights provide the best performance with an average lifespan of 30,000 hours. The service life of your car’s lightbulbs however can be influenced by a number of factors.

The most obvious sign that replacement is required is of course a failed bulb. You should however keep an eye out for bad or failing headlight bulbs to ensure you don’t get caught out when you need great lighting the most. It is also an offence to drive without a fully functioning set of headlights. Offending drivers will be pulled over by the police, handed a vehicle defect rectification notice and given up to 14 days to sort the problem. After repair, proof in the form of a repaired vehicle or a receipt for the work must be presented to the police. Replacing bulbs that are on their way out is recommended. If your headlight bulbs are dim or flickering bulb replacement could be imminent.

Can I change my car lightbulbs myself?

The quick answer to this is – yes! Whilst gaining access to your headlight bulbs can be tricky, changing your car’s lightbulbs is something that you can do at home. The process takes as little as five minutes and all you need is the right replacement bulb to get the job done. You can follow our step-by-step guide below or consult your vehicle handbook for instructions on changing the bulb:

  1. Before you begin make sure your vehicle’s engine is switched off. Open your car bonnet to locate the back of the headlight housing.
  2. Remove the cover of the headlight housing to gain access to the blown bulb. You may need to twist the connector or release a lever to remove the cover.
  3. Remove the blown bulb by hand before replacing it with the new bulb. When doing so, make sure any oily residue from the old bulb doesn’t come into contact with your skin and/or transfer onto the glass of the new bulb. Once lit, any oil will heat up and damage the glass of the new bulb.
  4. Check that the new bulb is installed securely before applying the cover of the headlight housing and checking that the bulb works correctly.

Make sure you select the right replacement bulb. Most vehicle handbooks offer details on the type of replacement car lightbulb you require.

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Why is My Car Overheating in Winter?

engine overheatingWith winter here to stay for a few months, you may think that your vehicle overheating problems are over for one season. Car overheating is synonymous with the summer season, but even when there is no warmth, your vehicle is susceptible to overheating issues. Getting your car ready for winter and keeping the issues that could result in vehicle failure at bay is of course important, there is after all no worse time to breakdown.

Overheating is an issue that’s just as common during winter as it is in the summer, but you can prevent this problem or at least spot the signs of overheating early to ensure it doesn’t slow you down this holiday season.

The reason for overheating in winter

With the majority of vehicles utilising internal combustion engines, even extreme cold won’t prevent overheating problems. Engines produce heat all on their own using friction and combustion, meaning they need very little help from the weather conditions outside to overheat.

Friction in particular, caused by your engine’s internal components interacting at speed, and combustion produced by the compression of both fuel and air both produce energy, energy that can cause temperatures to rise beyond what your engine can cope with. Your vehicle’s cooling system is charged with keeping your engine’s temperature successfully regulated, whether overheating occurs during the hot summer months or cool winter season. If faults arise within this cooling system, as they commonly do without the right maintenance or repair, your engine cannot be sufficiently cooled.

Coolant leaks and blocked thermostats are particularly common and will result in overheating without repair. Low coolant levels and cooling fan failures are other culprits of overheating.

The signs of overheating

Knowing the signs that your vehicle is overheating is important. If you spot the following signs you should avoid driving your vehicle until the underlying issue is fixed. If you are on the road already and symptoms of overheating become apparent, it is advisable that you pull over, turn the engine off and call for professional help. Driving a vehicle that is overheating for a prolonged period can result in difficult and expensive to repair damage to the engine and associated components.

Your vehicle is likely to be overheating if:

  • Steam or water vapour is rising from its bonnet
  • An unusual odour is being emitted from its engine
  • Your temperature gauge is reporting a figure above the normal limit.

How to prevent overheating this winter

There are many steps you can take to prevent overheating and other winter vehicle problems. Whilst the season is well underway, it’s never too late to complete the driving checks and maintenance musts that prevent issues like overheating. Checking your vehicle’s coolant level and ensuring it’s topped up if it is on the low side is vital in preventing your engine from freezing or overheating. Even sealed systems that shouldn’t need topping up regularly should be checked, particularly if you plan to take on a longer journey. Always check coolant levels when the engine is cold. If they need topping up, make sure you select the right coolant for your make and model of vehicle. Your handbook should provide all the details you need regarding the right coolant for your car.

To prevent overheating look out for other potential issues that could affect the success of your vehicle’s cooling system. As well as your vehicle’s coolant levels, the condition of the coolant can tell you a lot about its effectiveness, with dirty coolant often the sign of underlying issues. As part of your checks you should also note the condition of your cooling system’s hoses and thermostat, and check for signs of leaks.

Checking your cooling fans is another recommendation. This should be completed regularly to ensure both the fan and temperature sensor are in good working order. To check your cooling fans set the car heater to cold, run the car then allow it to stand idle for five minutes. Your cooling fans should begin automatically to reduce the temperature of your engine so make sure you keep an eye on your gauge. If your cooling fan doesn’t cut in or fails to bring the temperature down at an effective rate, you could have a problem with the fan, its wiring or the temperature sensor.

Do you suspect that your vehicle has an overheating problem? Don’t delay, let our servicing and repair specialists give it the once over. Contact ustoday to discuss your requirements or book an appointment online.

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How to Clean the Underside of My Car

As the saying goes “cleanliness is next to godliness”, and with a recent study showing that British drivers spend an awful lot of time in their vehicles – 32 hours of every year is spent stuck in traffic! – it’s not just your home that should be kept clean. The cleanliness of your car is important, particularly during the winter months where your car faces some tough challenges on the road due to adverse weather conditions, excess road debris and surface salts.

All year round a clean car can unlock a number of advantages for the owner, retaining the value of the vehicle, protecting its paintwork and ensuring a good driving experience in a vehicle you’re proud to be seen driving. Vehicle safety is also improved with regular car cleaning. Thanks to valeting, your windscreen, mirrors and lights can all be kept free from dirt, ensuring your vehicle is not only more visible to other drivers and pedestrians but visibility is enhanced for you as a driver. It’s not just the parts of your vehicle that you can see that need to be kept in tip top condition however.

The underside of your vehicle should be clean and debris-free to keep harmful contaminants and dirt at bay. Without the right maintenance and cleaning the underside of your vehicle in particular can accumulate dirt and debris that prevents the vital components within from operating as they should do. Here are our top tips for cleaning the underside of your car and keeping the underbody of your vehicle just as pristine as the rest of your ride.

To jack or not to jack?

The decision to jack or raise your vehicle for underside cleaning is entirely up to you. Many people choose to clean without a jack with modern day cleaning apparatus and products providing all the power you need to clean to a good standard. Underbody lances can also be used to target those difficult to reach places on the underside of your car.

Those who can’t fit under their vehicles may want to lift their cars with steady jacks, particularly if you are looking to achieve detail clean quality.

Choose your time

When you clean the underside of your vehicle is just as important as how. Cleaning your vehicle underside should be reserved for cooler weather conditions. Cleaning in warmer weather is not a great idea, as the products you use will dry to the surface of your underbody and various components quickly, making them more difficult to remove. Before cleaning you should also allow your vehicle to cool as excess heat from components will have the same effect as cleaning the underbody in hot weather.

Select your products

The right products and cleaning equipment will make all the difference for drivers wishing to clean their vehicle undersides to perfection. Products that are intended for use on heavily soiled, exterior areas are the ideal choice. Degreasers, traffic film removers and heavy duty all-purpose cleaners all do a great job too. The cleaning products you choose should be applied generously to the underside of the car, many also require time to do their magic before being rinsed away.

Rinse off thoroughly

After waiting the recommended time for the product to set, all product should be rinsed thoroughly and at high pressure. Many choose to follow up this rinse with a specialist foaming product to clean the tighter and more awkward areas of the underside. Most foaming products must be left to set for a long period of time before being washed off, so make sure you have no car journeys planned for the rest of the day.

Whether opting for a foamy finish or not, regular underbody cleaning ensures that the excess grime, grease and dirt picked up from the road can be kept under control and you can reap the rewards of a clean and debris free vehicle.

You don’t have to clean the underside of your vehicle yourself. Let us valet every part of your vehicle for you to keep it in the very best condition. We offer a number of professional valeting programmes for your perusal, contact us today for more details.

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How to Change Windscreen Wipers – A Guide

With the winter months fast approaching and adverse weather conditions on their way, ensuring your vehicle is prepared for all the joys of the season is important. Rain, sleet and snow are all part and parcel of winter, and your windscreen wipers play an integral role in maintaining the safety of both driver and passenger in the face of these.

Knowing when to change your windscreen wipers isn’t as difficult as people think. When in use, wipers past their prime will make a screeching sound and/or juddering movement as they sweep across the windscreen of your vehicle. The effectiveness of the wipers will also be impacted, with streaking commonplace. Upon inspection, windscreen wiper blades that were soft and flexible, will be hard and damaged, another indication that your wipers need swapping for shiny new ones. Wiper blades that no longer make contact with the windscreen should also be replaced.

Safe driving is of course a priority for every vehicle owner. Ensure damaged wipers don’t let you down this winter, keep your visibility high in the most challenging season and prevent the windscreen scratches caused by cracked blades by changing your windscreen wipers. Discover our step-by-step guide to changing your windscreen wipers here.

Remember preparation is everything

As with any vehicle maintenance must, changing your windscreen wipers requires a bit of prep work to do properly. Choosing the right replacement wipers for your vehicle is of course important. With a range of sizes and styles available, including conventional, flat and hybrid blades, selecting the right ones is also challenging. Your vehicle’s manual will provide vital information on the most compatible wiper choice. There are also online tools that specify sets based on your car make and model. Measuring the length and, where possible, noting the make of your existing wiper blades is also a great idea.

Getting started

Once you’ve found the wiper blades for you, turn off your vehicle, removing the key from the ignition. Lift your existing wipers up and away from your windscreen. Most windscreen wipers should lock in the upright position once they’re fully extended. Others must be locked manually by opening a locking tab or pushing down a locking button. You are then free to slide the wiper out of the wiper arm. Be sure that they are locked into an upright position as the arm flipping back at this stage could crack your windscreen.

Fit your new wipers

All that’s left to do is slide your new wiper into place within the arm. Again if you have locking buttons or tabs these should be used to click the replacement blade and arm back into place. The wiper can then be lowered onto your windscreen – it’s that simple!

Your windscreen wipers are a vital part of upholding driver and passenger safety all year round. Make sure you replace worn, damaged or out of date windscreen wipers before the winter months set in. Whilst keeping an eye out for the warning signs mentioned above is essential, as a rule of thumb your windscreen wipers should be replaced every six to 12 months to ensure optimal visibility.

For further advice on and assistance with any aspect of vehicle maintenance, including the replacement of your windscreen wipers, please contact our team today.

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When is a Vehicle Beyond Repair?

When is a Car Beyond RepairWhether you’ve been involved in an accident or your vehicle has suffered a major fault, hearing that your car may be beyond repair is never easy. Here at Collison Motoring Services, we provide a long list of repair, maintenance and servicing options for customers with vehicles of all makes and models, and cars in varying conditions. We use our experience and expertise along with the latest tools, techniques and technologies to bring damaged, unkempt and tired vehicles back from the brink but how do you know when your vehicle is beyond repair?

We’ve all heard of the term ‘write-off’. More commonly associated with insurance claims, a vehicle can be written off for a number of reasons and insurance companies use strict guidelines to determine a vehicle’s status. The criteria for insurance write-offs was recently revised. As of 1st October 2017, the previously utilised A, B, C and D categories were changed to A, B, S and N. Each category relates to the damage that a vehicle has suffered, whilst the cost of repair and the effect on safety is also considered when determining whether a vehicle should be written off. The same criteria can be used to decipher whether a car is beyond repair. In this blog post, we take a closer look at the new write-off categories, as well as discover what it means if your vehicle is written-off.

Your guide to the latest write-off categories

Ranking the severity of damage your vehicle has suffered as a result of a road traffic accident isn’t easy. There are a variety of factors that must be considered to ensure the safety of you, your future passengers, and the pedestrians and road users around is upheld to the highest standard. Category A remains unchanged since the 2017 reform. Cars that fall into category A are so badly damaged that they can never be permitted for use on the roads again. These cars are destined for the scrap yard and even its parts cannot be salvaged and resold. Category B was also unchanged by the reform. Cars in this category have also suffered severe damage but some parts may be salvaged and resold. Whilst you’ll never see the shell of a category B vehicle on the road again, its parts could be reclaimed to make other vehicles roadworthy.

Formerly known as category C, the new category S relates to vehicles that have suffered structural damage. Vehicles classed as category S aren’t beyond repair but will need professional attention to be made roadworthy once more. Category N (formerly D) is reserved for vehicles that have just sustained fixable cosmetic or electrical damage. Whilst there is more of a possibility that category N vehicles will be safe to drive again, these non-structural faults may be too expensive to repair with owners often choosing to scrap the vehicle to keep things economical.

What’s next for my written off vehicle?

If your vehicle has been written off or is deemed beyond repair, the category given to it will determine its fate. As detailed above, category A and B vehicles will be nothing more than scrap, with a possibility of salvaged parts for category B cars. Owners of category A, B and S write-offs must notify the DVLA. Category N vehicles do not need to be reported. Category N and S cars can still be resold at a lower cost to ensure their owners make more than just their vehicle’s scrap value.

Car buyers must exercise caution when purchasing written off vehicles however. Your insurance premium is likely to be much higher if the vehicle has been written off. There have also been many cases where category S and N vehicles have been resold as non-damaged cars. If you are buying a second hand car, be sure to conduct a vehicle history check to confirm its status. You may be paying over the odds for a written off vehicle.

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