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Pre-Holiday Checks

Finally the sunshine is here and as the bank holiday season approaches, not to mention the lengthy Easter break, it is time to make sure you car is fit and ready for those long journeys to holiday cottages, the seaside and theme parks.

Are all your lights working, is your coolant level correct – yes, it doesn’t just stop the car freezing in winter, it helps to stop it overheating in summer – have you enough screenwash, are your tyres and brakes in good condition?

Book your car in for a Health Check before heading off for your much earned spring breaks.


Timing Belt Replacement

Oh the angst and misery caused by a snapped timing belt. That infernal rubber demon that lives by the law of sod, only ever breaking when it can cause maximum amount of internal engine damage and the utmost distress to your bank balance. Why oh why….??

Well lets start with what a timing belt [often referred to as a cam-belt] actually does, which may provide some understanding of why ensuring it’s upkeep is so important, regardless of the make or model you drive.

Simply put, your engine has a ‘top’ [cam] section and ‘bottom’ [crank] section and the job of the timing belt is to ensure those two bits run in perfect harmony with each other. Therefore it is attached to each part via toothed cogs so that [unlike a fan belt for example] it can never slip or move around and cause the two engine parts to become unsynchronised.

Now the problem is that the belt is made of rubber in a majority of cars [some do have a chain, which generally lasts much longer, but is also inherently more noisy and hence disliked] and like anything made from rubber, will suffer age related wear – perishing, hardening, splitting, cracking, etc. Not normally a problem if you follow your manufacturers guidelines for having them replaced [and of course assuming it doesn’t snap as a consequencial damage from something else], but if you don’t…..

….it is not a pretty argument when the pistons have risen in anger and given the valves a good slapping. The heads of the pistons will look like they did several rounds with Mike Tyson, whilst the valves will be very bent and sorry for themselves. That’s a seriously expensive trip to A & E to sort out.

Most Renault’s come with timing belt replacement schedule at 72000 miles, or 5 YEARS, whichever is soonest. ‘I only do low miles’ is no defence unfortunately. Think about those wellingtons you leave in the garden shed, only using twice a year, they have gone all nasty too – difference is, the worst one those failing can do is give you a wet foot. So, Check your service book, see what the replacement schedule is for your car.

If you haven’t got a service book, call us, or your own garage for other makes, and find out what it is. Timing belts are not something that can be done at home, but they are a necessary job that very much fall into the ‘prevention being infinitely less painful than cure’ category, and usually more convenient too, because of course that little blighter will only snap the day before you want to drive your car round Europe.

This doesn’t apply to all cars, but certainly for Renault’s, it also means we can check the condition of your water pump whilst the belt is off – the pump is driven by same belt and therefore it is worth replacing if there are any signs of wear or tear because no one wants to pay for the same job again 2 years down the line if the waterpump then fails.

So, go on, have a look, is your belt due replacement?

Clearing the Leaves

Every week, from about September to March, we clear up more dead foliage than Alan Titchmarsh. Unlike that well known gardener, we clear it from underneath the bonnets of cars.

Go and have a look at your car, look at the bottom of the windscreen. Most modern cars will have a ventilation/air intake gap between the top edge of the bonnet and the base of the windscreen and into that gap will blow oak and ash, chestnut and lime. Not the whole tree of course, just the leaves that have fallen from them and don’t think that your car is ok because you never park under trees, the wind will do a perfectly good job of making it look like you do.

Under there is a ‘scuttle panel’ – usually a plastic ‘grille’ style trim somewhere around where the wipers are mounted, that allows air to flow through but keeps debris out. The grille or mesh style means that it also allows water to enter and whilst this is perfectly normal, in order to stop it accumulating underneath, there are drains on either side which run down inside the bodywork and direct the water safely out of the bottom of the car.

The problems, and the reason for this post, start when all those dead leaves are just left to accumulate on that scuttle panel, never being moved or cleaned out, often for months on end and years on end is not uncommon to see. What happens then is the leaves do as nature intended and rot down, breaking up into an almost dust like nature, which can then fall through the grilles and collect underneath. This debris then gets washed down into the drains and collects there over time, eventually causing a blockage and water to puddle above it. Now it doesn’t take a qualified technician to tell you the sort of damage water can cause to electrical components like wiper motors, which are in that vicinity, or to carpets and wiring when the water finds an alternative escape route.

So, save your self the stress of wet carpets, wobbly computers and wonky wipers – once a week, lift the bonnet and clear away all those leaves that have gathered under there. It will cost you 5 minutes each time but save you considerably more in the long run.

If you can hear any sounds of water sloshing around when turning corners, get the car booked into the workshops to have those inner drains unblocked before the water causes any problems.