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      How to Prepare Your Car For The Winter

      How to Prepare Your Car For The Winter

      Just as you prepare yourself in the morning according to the weather, so too must your car be prepared in a similar fashion; now I’m not saying you need to put underwear on your car to keep it warm but a little due care goes a long way towards ensuring your cars longevity and safe working state.

      Below is a list of helpful things to do to your car before winter sets in.

      1. Antifreeze – If we liken it to the body then we could say that having no antifreeze in your car in the winter is like not wearing a hat in the winter. It might be ok or if it gets really cold, your ears might fall off. This leads to all sorts of complications. If you just have water in your radiator then you are at risk of damaging the radiator and possibly the engine, leading to a potentially hefty mechanics bill. Without antifreeze the water in a radiator expands and cracks the filaments leading to leakages and if this is not spotted can lead to overheating of the engine and further complications. Ensure that you get the correct mix of water and antifreeze  – consult the manual or the back of the antifreeze bottle.

      2. Wiper blades and fluid – Poor visibility through smearing on the windscreen is often caused by salt on the roads. Check your wiper blades and fluid levels to ensure you don’t get caught out with the dreaded white smear across your windscreen on a trip out. To check the wiper blades – simply pull the wiper away from the windscreen and check the rubber for tears or pitting. If the rubber has a rough feel down the blade then they will need replacing which is cheap and easily done.

      3. Bulbs – With the days getting shorter in winter we find ourselves driving more often whilst it’s dark. It’s important to check our light bulbs as often as possible. Be diligent. Check them every time if possible.

      4. Oil Levels – Low oil levels, especially in winter, can lead to a lot of wear and tear on your engine. You can often hear the engine labouring a little and sounding rough when you start in the mornings when it’s cold. It pays to take it easy until the engine has warmed up. Don’t be tempted to put your foot down before then engine and oil has warmed up as this is when most wear and tear happens. This issue is only exacerbated when there is too little oil so ensure that the engines is topped up to the top notch on the bottom of a dipstick. You can typically find the dipstick by looking for a brightly coloured end of a stick. If you’re unsure then consult the owners manual.

      5. Battery – With the increased load on the battery with the heaters, lights, de-misters and windscreen wipers, it is very important to ensure your battery is up to the job. The battery is charged as the engine runs but with the increased work it has to do in the winter months it leaves it that little bit more worn out each year. If you haven’t replaced your battery in 6 years then doing it at this point certainly wouldn’t be premature.

      6. Tyres – Check your tyres for bald patches, excessive wearing on any one side of the tyre, and bulges. Any of these characteristics can lead to accidents so get them replaced if they’re showing signs of wear and tear.

      7. Servicing – winter takes its toll on your car so mitigate this risk by getting your car regularly and thoroughly serviced. Doing a service before winter ensures everything is working as it should be and is in tip top condition for the harsh weather conditions ahead.

      8. Winter Safety Kit – a few simple provisions can make all the difference if you break down. Pack a winter bag and keep it stored in the boot:

      • Waterproof jacket
      • High vis jacket
      • Torch
      • Screen wash
      • Engine Oil
      • Food (long use by date)
      • Scraper
      • De-icer
      • Fully charged phone or in -car charger
      • Jump leads

      Drive with extra care and attention, slow down and stay in control to prevent accidents. Watch out for puddles on the motorway.

      9. Prepare for longer journeys – leave ahead of time and avoid rushing. Ensure you’ve plenty of sleep the night before and if you feel tired then take a break and get a coffee.

      10. Correct cover – Running the risk with third party only or third party fire and theft leaves you at risk of potentially large expense should the worse happen. Contact Acorn if you wish to discuss the comprehensive car insurance we offer.

       

      5 Things You Need To Know About Car Maintenance

      5 Things You Need To Know About Car Maintenance

      Fact… the main reason for car breakdowns in the UK is due to battery failure accounting for 20% of faults.  So what can you do? If you maintain your car on a regular basis you can extend its lifespan, reduce repair work and improve your safety behind the wheel.

      To help keep your car in tip top shape, we’ve put together some useful tips on how to check and maintain your car.

      1. CHECKING YOUR CAR BATTERY

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      Your car battery is particularly vulnerable to failure in the winter time. However, there are other reasons your battery can fail including:

      • A faulty battery
      • Issues with the cars charging system
      • Faulty components
      • A light being left on
      • Leaving your car unused for a while
      • Making lots of short journeys
      • Corrosion
      • High levels of heat

      Begin by inspecting the battery’s terminals and cables, ensure they are attached securely and check for any corrosion. If your battery has removable caps, make sure you check the fluid level every few months.

      You can test if your battery needs replacing by starting your car of a night time with your headlights switched on. If they are overly dim, put your car in neutral and rev the engine. Should your headlights get brighter as you press your accelerator that’s an indication that your battery is failing. Don’t delay replacing your battery if you experience any of these issues, as you’ll only increase the likelihood of your car not starting and having to call a breakdown provider.

       2. ENGINE OIL

      Your engine oil is vital in helping to keep your car running well. It works as a lubricant which both coats and cleans the moving parts in your engine. Failing to have the correct level of oil in your car can cause:

      • Increased friction
      • Engine overheating
      • Dirt build up

      Inspect your engine oil every month using your oil dipstick. If the oil is below the minimum level you’ll need to top it up. To find out the correct oil type, refer to your car handbook. If you have to top up more frequently than usual then you might have a leak and will need to take it to a garage to be looked at. For further information on checking your oil levels take a look at the video below.

      3. TYRE TREAD

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      Did you know? The minimum legal tyre tread depth for cars in the UK is 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tyre. If your tyre tread exceeds the legal limit you’re at risk of:

      • Reduced road grip
      • An increase in stopping distance
      • Aquaplaning in wet conditions
      • Nails and other sharp items causing a puncture

      It’s vital to make monthly checks on all of your tyres tread depth. You can measure this using a tyre tread gauge so you’ll know when it’s time to have any replaced. Also this’ll reduce the chances of having to call a breakdown service.

      4. ENGINE COOLANT

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      Car engines create a great deal of energy by burning diesel or petrol. If your car runs out of engine coolant it can overheat extremely quickly, leading to mechanical breakdown and engine failure. Let’s take a look at the tell tale signs:

      • Your heater will stop working
      • The heat gauge increases into a hot setting
      • The engine light may come on at which time the head/gaskets may already be damaged

      You can prevent overheating by ensuring your car has the right level of coolant (a mixture of water and antifreeze). As a warning never undo your coolant filler cap whilst your engine is hot as you’ll be at risk of scalding yourself. When it’s cool, unscrew the cap using an old rag and check the minimum and maximum level marks. With a cold engine your coolant level should be between the two marks. If you find the level is low, top it up using a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze. Make sure you don’t overfill and then refit the cap securely afterwards. Make this one of your monthly checks just to be on the safe side.

      5. LIGHTS

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      Did you know that 18.4% of all cars experienced problems with the lighting and signalling during an MOT test? This can be down to simple things like blown bulbs. You can prevent this from happening by asking a friend or family member to walk around your car whilst you check the following:

      • Indicators
      • Headlights
      • Reverse lights
      • Taillights
      • Brake lights

      If you’re driving your car and you’ve an indicator that isn’t working, this can mislead other road users or pedestrians as they won’t know your road intentions which could cause an accident. Should you find any blown bulbs then these will need replacing immediately. They are fairly cheap to buy and you’ll be able to find out how to change them in your car handbook.

      Do you have any further tips on car maintenance? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter.

      Britain’s Cheapest Car

      Britain’s Cheapest Car

      What is Britain’s cheapest car and how much is it?

      For nearly the same price as a pair of racing stripes on a Ferrari, or gleaming white paint on a Maserati, the all new Dacia Sandero is ‘Britain’s cheapest car’ and could be all yours for just £6,995. With credentials such as the ‘What Car Car of the Year 2018 – Best Small Car Less Than £12000’, the Dacia is not to be ignored.

      Standard Dacia Access Specification:

      • Hill Start Assist
      • LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
      • 15″ Tarkine wheel rims
      • Front electric windows

      The more expensive model, the Dacia Laureate

      The top of the range model of the new Sandero is called the Laureate and is available for £8,795. The Laureate ad is packed full of modern equipment including:

      • Body coloured bumpers
      • Manual air conditioning
      • DAB/FM/AM Radio
      • 15″ Lassen wheel trims
      • Touchscreen multimedia system (Sat Nav, Traffic Info, smartphone voice recognition)
      • Rear parking sensors

      What makes Dacia different?

      Dacia suggested that they always manage to sell such “temptingly” priced cars and still they manage to make a massive profit on them.bWhat is their secret? And how do they make such cost effective cars?

      Well according to Dacia they use the simplest ideas to keep the cost down, even down to using the same windows for every single car in their fleet. However, Dacia suggested that even though their prices are effective, they are known around the world for their unique quality and outstanding reliability and ensure their cars are “strong” to cope with adverse weather conditions from Brazil to Russia.

      A Dacia spokesman stated “From humble beginnings, the Romanian brand has gone from strength to strength since Renault bought it in 1999 and transformed its fortunes. For the last eight years in a row it has been the fastest-growing automotive brand in Europe, rising from under 5,000 sales in 2004 to shifting a mighty 350,000 last year. And the final piece of the jigsaw is the UK.”