MotorNuts Car maintenance guides. Let our technical MotorNuts keep your car in tip top condition.
Antifreeze verses Coolant. What’s the difference?
Your car has been out on the drive all night and the temperature has dropped to -9°C yet the car starts first thing in the morning, even if you don’t. Or maybe this summer you have driven to the Cotê D azure it has been a constant 35°C all day and yet you drive all day without the engine overheating.
Admittedly these are things that most drivers take for granted, after all this is just what cars are designed to do isn’t it?
Well yes and no, but in each of the above situations you can thank your engine coolant additive for this wide range of performance.
Antifreeze is a bright green or yellow chemical that is mixed with the water in your cars engine, radiators and cooling system, it is there to stop your engine from freezing or overheating.
The Technical bit
Antifreeze or coolant is a chemical, usually either Ethylene glycol or propylene glycol which, when added to the water in your engine changes the freezing point and the boiling point of the water. (there are other chemicals used as antifreeze, but we will stick with these two)
With the correct mix of chemical, which is often recommended as 50% water to 50% antifreeze (sometimes referred as 50/50) the water freezing point moves from 0°C to approximately -35°C.
Ok I hear you say, but why antifreeze in the heat of summer? Well, the boiling point of water is also affected by this mixture of chemical and water and increases from 100°C to just over 125°C at a normal engine system pressure of 15lb/in² this is sufficient, in a healthy engine, to stop the coolant from boiling. So, there you are, the same chemical will stop freezing and boiling, by how much will depend on the mixture levels dependant of the mixture levels. 50/50 being the recommended minimum but in some vehicles, it is quite normal to have waterless cooling so ask us if you are not sure.
There is another important characteristic of antifreeze or coolant additives. This is mainly associated with effects of corrosion and sludge creation in your engine waterways, pipes and radiators. Corrosion and sludge will occur if you are using only water as the coolant for your engine. Most modern antifreeze agents include other chemicals to improve heat transmission and reduce corrosion, the chemicals included will depend on the engine’s design and materials. Aluminium engines will require a different antifreeze from iron or steel blocks and engines using a cylinder liner.
That antifreeze doesn't just prevent freezing it is an important component to extend the life of your engine and ensure problem free motoring.
If you are in any doubt about the antifreeze/coolant you need for your car just give our MotorNuts Technicians a call on 01254 778255 or use our free advice link on any page of the motornuts.co.uk web site and ask a MotorNut we will be happy to help selecting the right antifreeze for your car.
It is worth buying an antifreeze tester from about £12 to check the mixture levels.
We at MotorNuts stock an antifreeze to match the needs of all the modern major car, van, truck and motorcycle engines, including Castrol, Comma, Granville and Prestone antifreeze/summer coolants as well as BlueCol specially formulated for classic and vintage vehicles.
Q – I don’t know my paint code but I need a touch up?
A – We access your paint code using our mixing system - simply enter your vehicle reg, which will bring up the make, model and colour, place your order and we will do the rest
Q – Where can I find my paint code?
A – Your paint code will be in your vehicles hand book and can also be found on a sticker or plate on the car; usually located inside the door frame, under the bonnet, in the glove box or wheel well. You can also check out the handy paint code finder from our paint partners at MPEX.
Q – Can you just get paints colour matched for cars?
A – As well as cars we can match paints for bikes, motorcycles, commercial and agricultural vehicles: we have over 77,000 colours including RAL, BS and pantone shades
Q – I have a classic car, can I get colour matched paint?
A- We can still match paint colours for classic and vintage vehicles but not by registration look up. In this instance we would need you to check for your paint code, or know the colour name... any queries you can ask our expert team who will be happy to help.
*if you have a Rover and for some other older vehicles we would need your paint code
Q- Which size paint is best for which type of scratch?
A – For respray’s obviously an aerosol is what you need, for scratches and chips you can choose either a 100ml pot touch up with a fine brush or a 20ml pen with a needle point pen and super fine brush. The pen is ideal for fine detailed scratches, scuffs and stone chips as the needle point allows just the right amount of paint to be applied and sits nicely in the scratch.
Q – Do I need to use a primer and lacquer?
A – A primer is only required if your chip or scratch goes down to the metal and if any rust is present. A lacquer is recommended in most instances – especially with metallic paints. It should be applied 24 hours after the coloured coat and will give a perfect finish.
Q – How do I get the touch up to look its best?
A – The key to applying a successful touch up is smooth, light strokes and building up layers to the original paintwork level - leave to dry for 10-25 minutes between coats or 24 hours before lacquer.
Q – Can you mix pearlescent paints?
A – Most modern paints are metallic and many are pearlescent and we can mix 99% of pearlescent paint codes. There are a few tri-colour mixes that cannot be matched.
There has never been a better time to top up your oils and fluids as we have gone Nuts and have 10% off across the whole range.
· Engine oil
Firstly engine oil - choosing which oil may seem very confusing - is it fully synthetic, semi synthetic, and then there is the numbers (viscosity’s) – where to start?
Don't go Nuts... simply enter your vehicle registration in our look up and that will narrow the search to what is recommended for your vehicle, and this information is also in your manual or handbook.
· Transmission / gearbox oil
Next up - transmission 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.
Antifreeze and coolants are next. These are essential to maintaining the engine temperature so it doesn’t get too hot or too cold and so is especially important to keep on top of in winter.
The final under the bonnet check is brake fluids and power steering fluids, essential for obvious reasons and easily checked and topped up.
The MotorNuts team also recommend treatments and additives as they can fix a variety of engine troubles and help avoid costly repairs.
By simply adding them to your fuel they can work through your engine to clean build ups and maintain performance as well as maximising fuel economy and reducing emissions – we especially recommend running them through before your car goes for its MOT.
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.
A warning triangle needs to be carried and be handily accessible - if you’re driving in Spain or towing a caravan you need two.
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.
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.
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.
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 aerosol, a touch 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.
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.