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 treadFirstly 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 checkA long journey is the perfect excuse to check all of your fluids are topped up so that includes:
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 coolHot 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 washCheck 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. LightsYou 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All about your engine fluids and how to check them
Our expert MotorNuts recommend that you should check your engine oil, antifreeze and brake fluids once a month and always top up before a long journey, it’s always best to check fluids when the engine is cold.
1) Starting with engine oil - choosing which oil may seem confusing - is it fully synthetic, semi synthetic, and then there is lots of numbers (viscosity’s) to choose. Most car owners need a fully synthetic engine oil which tends to have longer life, will cope with higher temperatures and more extreme pressures hence why they tend to be used by manufacturers of modern cars they also extend their service intervals by significant margins.
2) Next up is your transmission oil or gear box oil, it is the lesser known sibling of engine oil however equally important for gearbox and axle longevity. Most manufacturers recommend changing the transmission oil between every 30,000 and 60,000 miles. Don’t be alarmed –transmission oil is usually red or green in colour, so there’s no confusion with the other oils
3) Antifreeze and coolants are next. These are essential to maintaining the engine temperature so it doesn’t get too hot or too cold. As well as preventing water from freezing up, antifreeze is vital because it raises the boiling point of engine coolants to prevent overheating. When changing the antifreeze look for the clear overflow plastic container near the radiator. If the liquid is below the minimum line, fill with a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze.
4) Brake fluid is available in three main specs; dot 3, dot 4 and dot 5, you can easily check which one you need with our vehicle look up system above. Brake fluid is used to transfer force into pressure and to amplify braking force. The brake fluid is usually in a clear reservoir marked with minimum and maximum lines.
5) Power steering fluids are essential for obvious reasons and easily checked and topped up – this needs to be kept lubricated to avoid any damage so check regularly. The small tank is located near the firewall, at the windshield’s base and the level should be between the minimum and maximum levels.
A MotorNuts top tip is to run an engine treatment through your system as it can often clear any build ups or blockages and issues and even switch off warning lights, maintaining performance as well as maximising fuel economy and reducing emissions, they’re especially good to run through before your car goes for its MOT.
At MotorNuts we know what it’s like to love your motor, now if you want to make it even more special and unique we have lots of cost effective ways to customise your car.
In some cases car customisations can mean big work and big money; replacement exhausts, new wheels, body kits the list goes on, but MotorNuts have some cheaper, easier customisations that will help make your car that bit cooler.
Seat covers – not fluffy ones!
Yes you could buy aftermarket specialist racing seats – but you can also spruce up your interior with car seat covers.
Shiny bright white headlight bulbs
Just over the last couple of years the sporty bright white head lights have started appearing on luxury and sports cars and subsequently there has been a steady increase in demand to replace standard bulbs with Xenon bulbs or performance upgrade HIDs.
As well as looking pretty awesome The Xenon HID 5500 performance upgrade bulb gives 20% more light on the road and gives the brighter whiter light appearance.
Car mats look good and serve a purpose – protecting your cars original carpet. MotorNuts do tailored fit car mats for most makes and models as well as universal fit premium carpet ones and super protective rubber ones.
We particularly love the Kraco Luxury Carpet Floor Mats which are made from quality deep pile carpet and available in black or bang on trend grey.
Coloured caliper paint
This is one of our favourite customisation cheats – cheap easy and looks ace – the Foliatec brake caliper lacquer.
These super simple kits allow you to paint your brake calipers in an array of popular colours, 24 to choose from including RS Blue and Rosso Red as well as metallic’s, mattes and even a few neon shades.