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Advice

Ten top tips for driving in Europe

With your UK driving licence you can legally drive in any European country – and so many of us do with Brits regularly taking their cars to France, Spain, Germany, Italy and beyond, especially for their summer holidays.

When you are driving over seas there are a few essential things you need to take in order to meet their laws, these may differ slightly from country to country but there are some standard requirements for driving in Europe.

 If you fail to meet the laws of the country and aren’t carrying one of the compulsory items they will issue on the spot fines...which is not what you want to be spending your Euros on!

1)      Full driving licence

You need to have both your photo card and your original paper driving licence with you as well as details of your insurance. If you don’t have the photo card licence then you need to carry photo ID (passport) with you in the car as well.

2)      GB sticker

You must display a GB sticker or have a GB plate – these can be bought as stickers, or magnetic badges or you can have it printed on your registration plate -  some countries (Switzerland for example) require both.

3)      A warning triangle

A warning triangle needs to be carried and be handily accessible - if you’re driving in Spain or towing a caravan you need two.

4)      Reflective vest

A reflective vest or high vis jacket must be carried and used in all breakdown situations.

5)      Headlamp adaptors, convertor kits or beam benders

These are the stickers that should be applied to your headlights and we would recommend applying them when getting on the ferry so you are compliant as soon as you disembark in your destination country. It is to make sure that you don’t dazzle other drivers based on the fact that we are driving on the other side of the roads.

6)      First aid kit

A first aid kit is compulsory in Austria and Croatia and advisable in the rest of Europe

7)      Spare bulb kit

These aren’t compulsory but are advisable anywhere you go, if any bulbs go whilst your abroad it is much easier to be prepared rather than risk penalties – or finding a foreign car accessories shop.

8)      Breathalysers

Breathalysers are a legal requirement in France...well they do make a lot of wine?! They are also advisable anywhere you go on holiday and plan to drive as different countries have different units as the legal limits.

9)      Fire extinguisher

Again fire extinguishers aren’t law but are definitely advisable to have in your car at all times, especially when in unfamiliar territories.

10)   Daytime headlights

In Croatia, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland you are required to have your daytime running lights – or standard headlights on in the day regardless of weather or driving conditions.

Whilst a UK driving licence is all you need – not all countries allow 17 year olds to drive; in fact in most of them including France, Spain, Italy and Germany you have to be 18.

We would recommend that where ever you are going to be driving on your holidays you should check out the specifics for that country, as there will be more detail on toll roads and general driving etiquette that will be useful.

As a reminder the speed limits for motorways in Europe are always set in km/h and are: 120 or 130 km/h - 80mph then for rural routes is 90 km/h - 55mph and for urban roads 50 km/h or 30mph.

So whether you are travelling by autoroute, autobahn, express ways, high ways or motorways on your holidays, make sure you comply – we have these handy European driving abroad kit on offer now that will tick all the boxes. 

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Scratched your car?? Don’t go Nuts – here’s our simple step by step guide to scratch repair.

Scratched your car? Don’t go Nuts – here’s our simple step by step guide to scratch repair.

We’ve all done it...whether the kids got too close with their bikes, you misjudged a gap – or someone else did scratching your car is annoying but luckily can be easily resolved.

MotorNuts have a massive range of car care products so we have the scratch repair process covered from start to finish – sanding to painting. Excellent products from well known and loved names including Turtle Wax and Autosol and we also have two new quality brand names from MPEX and ROAR.

For small scuffs and scratches the ROAR scratch remover is brilliant, but for deeper scratches and paint touch ups MPEX have a 5 step process in their DIY scratch remove kit. Add their primer, lacquer and colour matched touch up paint pen to the mix and it will be as good as new.

1.       First wash the area needing repair with warm soapy water, rinse and dry. Then use the P240 abrasive paper to smooth, then clean any dirt, dust and grease using white spirit and a cloth and when dry, remove any remaining debris.

2.       Mix body filler with hardener on to the mixing board provided using the white filler spreader. Mix for approximately one minute or until an even - 100 Parts filler - 2 parts hardener .

2.a) Apply the filler in a thin layer so that the surface is slightly higher of the level required. Leave to harden for 20 - 22 minutes at 20oC.

3.       After the filler has fully dried (Approximately 1 hour) sand down to required shape and the surface is super smooth using the abrasive paper wrapped around the rubber block. Start with P240, then P400 and finishing with P800 grade.

4.       De-grease the entire area using white spirit and a cloth. Make sure there is no dirt or fluff left behind.

5.       Mask the area using tape and paper provided to avoid any overspray. Start with the primer then when fully dried apply the colour then when colour is fully dry the paint is fully cured apply the clear lacquer of your choice (if required) as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

We match paint to order – we have over 77,000 colours simply select whether you need an aerosoltouch up pot or a high precision touch up pen then enter your paint code OR simply your registration number which will bring up your vehicles details and give us the information we need to mix the specific colour.

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MotorNuts check list for getting your car ready for a long journey

If you’re going on holiday or long journeys in your car this holiday period our expert team at MotorNuts have compiled this handy checklist to make sure your car is ready for the trip.

1. Tyres - pressure and tread

Firstly you need to check all your tyres are above the legal limit – a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm across ¾ of the tyre’s width. Once your car is ready and loaded to hit the road check your tyre pressures are what they’re meant to be – as stated in your handbook. And are you prepared if you get a flat or a puncture? space saver spare wheels can be a life saver to speedily get you out of sticky situation.

2. Engine oil - and fluid check 

A long journey is the perfect excuse to check all of your fluids are topped up so that includes:

·        Engine oil

·        Transmission / gearbox oil

·        Antifreeze and coolants

·        Brake fluids

·        Power steering fluids

It is also a great time to give your engine and systems a bit of TLC with one of our treatments or additives.

3.  Keep it cool

Hot weather can mean hotter cars – so make sure your coolant level is topped up (always check when the engine is cold). Whilst we are talking about keeping cool we would also recommend you make sure your air con is gassed and working, we also really recommend running an antibacterial cleaner through it to make sure it’s as fresh as it is cool.

4. Windscreen – wipers and screen wash

Check your windscreen for chips and cracks and get anything over 10mm repaired. Top up your screen wash and make sure your wiper blades aren’t smearing or squeaking... because that would be nearly as annoying on a  long journey as the unavoidable ‘are we nearly there yet’!

5. Lights

You need to check all lights are working and change any bulbs that need replacing - so that includes:­Headlights – main and dipped, Sidelights – front and rear, Indicators – front rear and side repeaters, Brake lights, Number plate, Reverse light, Fog lights – front and rear and Hazards. In many European countries you need to use day time running lights and have to carry a bulb replacement kit.

6. Keep it clean

Holidays + kids = messy car! Our top tip to avoid the inevitable food and beach mess everywhere is investing in some carpet car mats to protect your original floor and make it easier to clean and de-sand plus we have seat covers to keep the mucky fingers off the seats!

7. Travelling abroad?

To make sure you are compliant wherever you go over sees we have handy driving abroad kits with everything you need including GB stickers, beam bender headlight stickers, warning triangles and much more.

 

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What's YOUR Tyre Size? Find out NOW!

Knowing the tyre size of your vehicle is handy, and when it comes to buying the right space saver it's essential. Some people think the wheel size is what matters but it's the tyre size that we need to work out the correct space saver for your vehicle. 

So first up, HOW to find it. Then, when you do, you need to be able to understand it! It's not as complex as it sounds and here is the Motornuts guide to getting it right..

You may have never even looked properly at your tyres; most people think that as long as they're not flat or bald then everything's fine. A closer look will reveal your tyre size as it's usually printed right there on the side. To the uninitiated, it looks like a tangled jumble of figures but everything has a specific meaning.

As an example, let's say you look for your vehicle's tyre size and see something like this: 205/­55/­R16/­91/­V. Here's how it breaks down:

  • The first number (205 in this example) is the width of the tyre in millimetres 
  • The next number refers to the height of the tyre's sidewall, expressed as a percentage of the width. This number is also known as the 'aspect ratio' or 'tyre profile'. Lower profiles give greater control and handling but can mean a harder ride. If going to a lower profile with the same size tyres, speedometer readings will be affected and it is important to rectify this problem
  • The next figure is preceded by the letter 'R', which stands for rim. The number itself refers to the diameter of the tyre's inner rim, expressed in inches
  • Following this is another number (in this case 91) which refers to the load rating of the tyre
  • The final letter represents the speed rating, which is the maximum speed recommended for the tyre at full load. The lettering system is somewhat bizarre and comprises, in order; N, P, Q, R, S, T, U, H, V, Z, W, Y. The higher up in this list indicates a higher maximum speed.

The space saver wheels we sell from RoadHero solve a genuine problem with as many as two thirds of new cars not coming with spare wheels or space savers but repair kits instead and we find that most drivers prefer the peace of mind of having a traditional spare.

The RoadHero kits are specific to different vehicles make, model and year. If you cannot find your vehicle in our listings please contact our team for help.

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Car Maintenance - a basic guide from Sainsburys Bank

The guys at Sainsburys bank have pulled together this super handy infographic of all the basics you need to know when it comes to car maintenance.

Once you've carried out the basic checks whether you need car parts, oils, bulbs whatever - we have the parts and accessories for the job.    

Sainsbury’s Bank Visual Guide to Car Maintenance

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FAQs for Road Hero Space Saver wheels

Q - My car wheels are 19 inches but the spare wheel listed for my car says 18inches – is this right?

A - Yes – space savers can be slightly smaller than your usual wheel size

Q - How do I fit the space saver wheel?

A - The Road Hero spare wheel comes with the required tools for fitting – a jack and wheel brace and its all stored in a handy bag perfect to pop straight into your boot or boot well

Q - Are space saver spare wheels safe?

A - Space saver spare wheels are designed to be a temporary solution to get you safely to a garage to get your tyre fixed or replaced – they carry a speed limit of 50mph

Q - Will this space saver fit in my boot well?

A - In most instances there is a storage spot for a wheel under the boot floor, typically this may be filled with padding or used to store tyre foam etc. We cannot guarantee this as after market speakers etc can be added filling the space, best to check yourself first.

Q - When should I use my space saver wheel?

A - If you get a puncture or blow out then change to your space saver wheel and tyre until you get to a garage to get the original wheel fixed or replaced.

 



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Cold weather – have you checked your antifreeze?

There is lots of car maintenance to keep on top of especially in winter and something which is often forgotten is antifreeze.

Antifreeze is so important because it stops the water (vital in cooling your engine and radiator) from freezing.

Antifreeze or coolant is usually mixed 50/50 with water and this mixture at this ratio has a lower freezing point, it also allows heat to transfer from the engine to the inside of the vehicle, only water or only antifreeze (glycol) is no good.

Antifreeze also raises the boiling point of the engine coolant to stop engines overheating, plus it protects from corrosion and build-up of sediment, it is advisable to drain and change every so often.

A frozen cooling system is a common cause of vehicle breakdown and it can be an expensive break to fix and it’s simple and cheap to avoid.

Top tips for checking, changing or topping up your antifreeze;

-          Never open cap for antifreeze holder when the engine is hot

-          Use an antifreeze tester which easily shows the levels

-          Only add new coolant when engine is cold

-          Whichever colour your antifreeze is it should always be clear, any sediment or clouding and the system needs draining or flushing and replacing rather than just topping up.

-          Sludge or oil on the top of the antifreeze can signal a broken head gasket so if anything seems untoward ask an expert at a garage.

 

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Tips for driving in snow and ice

1st statement often used but ignored – is your journey necessary?

If so then like the girl guides say – be prepared! Pack yourself some essential supplies: de-icer, scraper, antifreeze topped up - plus just in case: shovel, blankets, torch, water or flasks. We have a handy AA winter driving kit perfect to keep in your boot. Also make sure you have plenty of fuel and plan your route sticking to main roads wherever possible.

If you are stuck in a queue or blocked and the snow is falling heavily, keep your engine running for warmth but periodically get put and clear snow build up from the exhaust.

If it’s snowing in the day use a dipped beam as its clearer, snow and lights can be dazzling. Only use your fog lights if visibility is very poor the Highway Code recommends less than 100m – if you can’t see the tail lights of the car in front of you it’s time to switch them on.

When the roads are snowy and icy:

-          Drive slowly and smoothly up and down the gears, no sudden jerky movements

-          Look way ahead to foresee hazards bends etc

-          Keep your distance, stay way back from cars ahead as stopping distance is drastically increased in icy conditions

-          In a manual car release the clutch as gently as you can, keeping engine revs to a minimum - change gear early as you accelerate and late as you slow down

-          In an automatic put your car into low ratio or manual mode and avoid sport settings at all costs, if you have an optional 4 wheel drive switch that on.

During the winter months make sure you take your car out for occasional long runs to allow the battery to charge up - especially if you’re only driving to and from work each day as using your lights and your heaters drains the battery quicker.

 

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Preparing your car for Winter weather

Its cold and its wet and the damp and dreary weather is starting to take its toll - no more so than on your car.

Rather than run the risk of problems, MotorNuts recommend a few basic checks and some prep you can easily do to get your car in shape for the winter weather.

-          Antifreeze

Running without enough antifreeze in your engine is risky business - worst case scenario resulting in major engine works. Simply test your levels with an antifreeze tester and top up ready for the cold weather.

-          Windscreen – washer, wipers, scrapers, cracks!

It’s all about visibility

1)      Top up your screen wash as grit on the roads means you will need to use much more.

2)      Are your wiper blades up to scratch, a simple replacement can make such a difference to a smear and squeak free wipe.

3)      Frozen up – get yourself a good scraper and some de-icer at the ready for the mornings.

4)      Windscreen cracks are more dangerous in winter when the water gets in and freezes.  The guidelines on windscreen chips state that anything over 10mm within the driver’s line of sight (width of the steering wheel) causes and MOT fail and need dealing with.

-          Bulbs

Dark mornings, dark evenings – dark days if we’re really lucky, all adds up to extra use of your lights making it more important than ever to check your bulbs.  It’s not just headlights – it’s also a legal requirement that your brake lights and tail lights are working, you also need to check your sidelights, indicators, reverse lights, 

number plate light and fog lights. We at MotorNuts love a super bright bulb and recommend performance upgrades which give off 5,200 lumens of bright white light as opposed to 500 from standard Halogen bulbs.

-          Cold start – no start

No one wants battery problems, particularly on the cold mornings. Dark nights and cold temperatures mean lights and heating used lots which pouts extra strain on your battery – particularly if doing lots of short journeys so your battery doesn’t have chance for a long recharge.  Get yourself a battery tester and if required invest in a new battery, or if it needs a boost a charger.

There are other bigger jobs that you can do too, such as fitting winter tyres, or investing in some snow socks or chains.

We’d also recommend our winter essentials basics pack and winter survival packs, and check out the rest of our winter products here

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Christmas present inspiration for the MotorNuts in your life

Racking your brains for what to buy your Dad? Puzzling over what Aunty Pat might like in her stocking? Don’t go Nuts – we’ve got gift ideas for all tastes and all budgets.

Are they a mega mechanic? How about the ultimate workshop companion - the Haynes Manual. Available for every make, model and year these straightforward guides cover everything from MOT prep, basic servicing and roadside repairs to full restoration projects.

Everyone knows someone who’s always got a dirty car! We’ve got this covered (literally!) with our perfect fit Seat Covers and Car Mats - and if all else fails we’ve got loads of car cleaning products, including a great new T-CUT Wheeler Dealer Vehicle Cleaning Kit - perfect present.

Fancy super smelling stocking filler? We have the much loved Jelly Belly jelly bean flavour inspired air fresheners including; cherry, vanilla, liquorice or even classic cocktail Mojito or Pina Colada.

Nothing says I love you like... vehicle security?! But seriously, steering locks, wheel clamps, hitch locks, all make great useful and thoughtful gifts, view our range of insurance approved market leading security products for cars, vans, caravans and trailers.

Know someone who loves to get out and about with their bikes? We have a great range of bike carriers, roof mounted, tow ball mounted or rear mounted ones.

Ok so it’s not perfume and diamonds but who doesn't love a practical present – every driver needs the winter essentials; so why not make sure their supplies are topped up with a winter essentials gift pack.

From parts to paints, oils, tools and much more MotorNuts have a massive range of accessories and parts available – avoid the crowds and shop online from the warmth of your living room with quick delivery and a friendly team of advisers on hand should you need any product advice.

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