Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get my vehicle serviced or repaired at a specialist garage without it affecting my warranty?
We recommend that all routine servicing is done at the main dealership until the warranty period is over so as not to affect any warranty claims, should they arise. However, if anything else needs to be done unrelated to servicing – for example, replacing a worn clutch or worn brakes, fixing accident damage, or anything that would fall under ‘wear and tear’ – then a specialist will be cheaper than the main agent and will probably offer a quicker turnaround. In some instances, certain manufacturers will allow servicing away from their dealership as long as genuine parts are used, but you should check this first.
How often should I service my car?
Our recommendation is that, irrespective of a low mileage, a vehicle should be looked at once a year; servicing frequency should increase if the mileage exceeds 20k per annum. Recent service schedules from most manufacturers recommend intervals of 15k or more. However, when servicing, we have many cars come to us out of warranty with small annual mileages but with fluid levels which are virtually empty and need topping up. Oil is a common culprit as the car’s level system may only flag the low amount when the engine is about to seize up!
How long should brakes last on a family car/van?
This is always a difficult question to answer but, on average, a set of front pads will last up to 15k miles if driven under normal conditions. A lot more can be achieved in favourable circumstances – for example, if the vehicle only does long distances on motorways – and a lot less if the driver is not smooth, often brakes hard and late, or does a lot of short journeys. Rear brakes usually last 2.5 times longer than front ones, unless they are on a vehicle that is loaded with extra weight. Modern friction materials are very efficient and offer a high level of resistance but tend to wear the discs or drums a lot quicker. As a result, we often see the need to replace these for every other brake pad or shoe replacement.
How accurate are mpg figures quoted by the manufacturers?
This is a tricky one to answer as the accuracy can vary between different manufacturers. Even though recent events, which most notably affected Audi and Volkswagen, have forced manufacturers to give more realistic figures based on true driving scenarios, we still feel that the testing environment in which these mpg trials are carried out results in optimistic figures. It is our opinion that, on the whole, you can expect your achievable mpg to be a bit lower than most quoted figures.
I have put the wrong fuel in my car – what do I do?
First of all, if you notice the mistake before you get back in the car, you shouldn’t even switch the ignition on, if possible! Turning the ignition on will circulate the wrong fuel through the low pressure system and make things worse.
If you happen to own a car which is still under warranty, you do not have to contact the manufacturer as there are alternatives out there which will often be notably cheaper but just as effective. We would recommend contacting the RAC or the AA who have a specific service for this occurrence. Alternatively, get your recovery service to tow you as soon as possible to your nearest understanding, friendly garage who should correct your problem – including approximately £10 worth of correct fuel – for around £200.
When should I replace my cambelt?
Age and mileage are very important factors in answering that question – if in doubt, contact a reputable garage who will be able to give you advice specific to your car. Mileage and age are equally important so if, for example, your vehicle has only covered 30k miles in an eight year period and the lifespan of the belt is 80k and seven years, then you are still overdue a replacement and should have this changed immediately. The opposite applies too, and so if the mileage limit is achieved before age limit is reached – which is often the case – you should also organise a replacement. A quick phone call to a friendly garage will answer any queries you may have.
What is a FAP filter?
FAP is a French acronym for filtre à particules – in English, a particulate filter. Simply put, it is there to capture the soot left behind from the combustion of diesel fuel in your engine. This filter is a fantastic piece of kit responsible for keeping the atmosphere clear of sooty particles which are detrimental to your health. The only downside of an FAP filter is that it can be relatively high maintenance; if it is neglected and abused, it can cause problems for your car, most of which are performance related.
Is air conditioning important in the winter?
Yes it is! Next time you are in a car with working air conditioning in winter time, try demisting your windows with the air con turned off. You will find that even though you are using the hot setting, the fact that the air blown through is not conditioned, i.e. dried, means the process of eliminating condensation from your windows is almost impossible. Turn on the air con and – abracadabra – the windows demist in seconds.
Do I need a fuel filter?
Yes, the fuel filter is very important. We have noticed that some other garages advertise cheap service prices which don’t include fuel filter replacements as these will increase the cost. On a diesel vehicle, it is vital to replace the fuel filter on at least every other service. A blocked fuel filter can result in a car breaking down for no apparent reason, even if it has just come out of a full service! You should, therefore, check whether a fuel filter replacement is included in your service.
Car failed MOT, can I still drive it?
You can still drive your car from an insurer’s perspective, providing the current MOT certificate is still valid and no ‘Dangerous’ faults have been reported. However, you could still be prosecuted by the police if you are pulled over for driving your car with known fault(s). For this reason, it is important to get your vehicle fixed as soon as possible if you fail an MOT.