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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Unusual Vehicle Noises and What They Might Mean

Vehicle NoiseWhen it comes to identifying issues with your vehicle, using all of your senses is a must. Car issues can show themselves in many ways, with the odours and visual signs the first things even drivers with limited maintenance knowledge notice. How a car drives can also point to further technical issues that need repairing right away. Keeping an ear out for unusual noises is another way to pinpoint when something isn’t right with your vehicle, but which strange noises shouldn’t you ignore and what could they mean.

Humming

A humming or groaning noise may point to an issue with your tyres. Over time, tyres experience natural wear and tear. Whilst altering your speed and driving style can take you so far in limiting tyre damage, every tyre has a life span. A persistent humming or groaning sound is often the first sign of tyre wear, but to confirm that it’s your tyres that are the noisy culprit, it’s recommended you conduct other checks.

You should check your tyre tread on a regular basis. In fact, experts advise checking tyre tread every fortnight and after particularly long car journeys. The 20p test is the most commonly used method of checking tread. Simply insert the 20p coin into one of the grooves, if the outer band of the coin cannot be seen your tyres are above the legal limit. The legal tread depth for UK car tyres is 1.6mm. Drivers of cars with tyre treads below this not only put themselves and their passengers at serious risk but face a £2,500 fine and three penalty points per tyre if caught out. If you’ve just had your tyres changed don’t rule out wear. Premature wear is common and should be checked.

Grinding

The sound of grinding metal could indicate a vast range of issues. Your vehicle’s brakes and suspension can produce unpleasant, loud grinding noises when a problem is present. Whilst your vehicle’s powertrain may also produce a grinding noise when in need of repair. Your car should be checked by a professional immediately if it emits a grinding noise.

Squeaking

Does your vehicle squeak when in use? If the answer is “yes”, your brakes could be to blame. The squeak accompanying damaged or worn brakes tends to be high pitched and steady, particularly if it’s time to change your brake pads. Don’t ignore this squeaking noise for too long. Your brake pads have a vital part to play, and need to be in tip top condition to successfully slow down your vehicle and bring it safely to a stop. The condition of your brake pads can impact stopping distance, which means your car may take longer to come to a halt if for any reason you need to stop your vehicle abruptly.

Whilst there are no hard and fast rules regarding their lifespan, brake pads tend to last around 50,000 miles. Where you drive, how many passengers you carry, the amount of miles you drive and the type of brake pad installed can all make this lifespan higher or lower. Squeaking isn’t the only noise that could indicate worn brake pads. Screeching and grinding may accompany brake pads in need of replacement, with the latter likely if the pads have been worn down completely. Other warning signs that your brake pads need replacing are the presence of a warning light, your vehicle may also pull to one side.

Hissing

Hissing sounds coming from under the bonnet are particularly common during the summer months thanks to our vehicle’s cooling systems having to work that bit harder. If the noise is being emitted after the ignition has been switched off and smoke or mist is also present, your radiator, clutch fan, electric fan or hose may need attention.

Is your car making strange noises? Have your vehicle checked out by our team, sort the underlying issue before it becomes a problem and enjoy a more peaceful, pleasant ride sooner than you think.

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How to Change a Tyre

Changing a tyreTyres are integral components of a car. As well as keeping you firming rooted to the road, your tyres are essential to a safe and comfortable ride, providing the support your car needs to operate as it should do. As with the majority of car parts however, over time your tyres will experience wear and tear, and will eventually need replacing. Without replacement, poor, worn or damaged tyres not only reduce the performance of your wider vehicle, increasing fuel consumption and emissions, they increase your stopping distance putting you, your passengers, pedestrians and other road users at risk.

According to the AA, on average front tyres need to be changed every 20,000 miles whilst rear tyres can last for up to 40,000 miles. The lifespan of your tyres however depends on a number of factors, which makes understanding the signs that say tyre replacement is imminent important. A tread depth of less than the legal requirement (1.6mm) is the most obvious warning sign that your tyres need to be replaced. Whilst keeping your eyes peeled for cracks or blisters in the sidewalls of your tyres is another must when spotting wear. You may also notice that your car emits a humming or purring noise when in use and you may feel a greater amount of vibration when driving.

So you’ve noticed that your tyres need replacing, what next? Changing a tyre is something that you can do yourself, whether your tyres have reached the end of their life, you’ve suffered a flat or they’ve becoming prematurely worn. Our experts share the steps you should take to change a tyre.

Gather your tools

The tools you need to change a tyre are generally provided with your vehicle. Check your car owner’s manual to see if they are. All you’ll need is a jack, lug wrench and fully inflated spare to change a tyre. Depending on the conditions you’re changing your tyre in, you may also require a flashlight, rain coat, wood block (to secure the jack), gloves and wheel wedges. Keep your car owner’s manual handy too, you’ll find specific steps for changing your tyres there which makes for essential reading beyond this guide.

Choose your location

If your vehicle has suffered a flat tyre, you may not have the luxury of choosing the perfect tyre changing spot. Whatever your circumstances however, finding a safe location is important. A level stretch of road with a wide shoulder is the ideal spot for changing, whilst an empty car park or your own driveway is best setting you could hope for. Avoid changing your tyre in a place where your car could roll or on a road bend where there’s reduced visibility of oncoming traffic.

Once you’ve found a safe place to change your tyre, switch on your hazard lights and apply your handbrake.

Secure your vehicle

Wheel wedges are great investments for car owners who want to change their own tyres. These should be applied to your vehicle’s wheels to secure them in place. Where you place them depends on the tyre you need to change. If you’re changing a rear tyre, wheel wedges should be placed at the front of your front tyres. Whilst a front tyre change requires wedges to be positioned behind your rear tyres.

Once your vehicle is secure remove the hubcap or wheel cover to expose the lug nuts. You’ll find instructions on how to remove the hubcap or wheel cover for your specific vehicle make or model in your owner’s manual.

Loosen and jack it up

Using the lug wrench, loosen the lug nuts, turning them counter clockwise. Don’t remove them just yet, you should do this once your vehicle has been jacked. Place the jack under the vehicle’s frame and raise the vehicle with the jack. Once your vehicle has been raised avoid putting your arms, legs or body under the vehicle at any point. From here you can unscrew the lug nuts completely, removing the flat tyre by gripping the treads and pulling the tyre gently towards you.

Mount and tighten by hand

Use the lug bolts to mount your spare tyre, lining the rim as you go. The lug nuts should then be put back into place and tightened by hand. Your vehicle should be lowered to the ground before tightening the lug nuts fully with the wrench. After the final tightening the vehicle can be lowered completely and the hubcap replaced.

To finish be sure to check the pressure of your newly fitted tyre. You may also want to take your flat, damaged or worn tyre to a professional to determine the cause of deflation.

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