Oct 082018
 

MOTEarlier this year, major changes to the MOT test regarding the way faults and problems are classified were made. Now, all vehicle faults will be recorded as either Minor, Major or Dangerous.

The main difference is a failed component will now be classified as major or dangerous depending on its condition. The new measures are intended to highlight to drivers the most urgent problems and the safety risks they pose.

Warranty Direct explains some of the unexpected reasons for MOT fails and how these could be prevented by regular, simple maintenance tasks.

Light it up

Our research revealed nearly 40% of class three and four vehicles (including cars and vans) failed MOTs in 2016.

Lighting and signalling defects were the most common reasons for MOT failures, causing 19% of all failures. Electrical faults (which incorporate lighting and signalling issues) also made up nearly 20% of all Warranty Direct’s authorised claims.

Many smaller electrical faults can be avoided by owners carrying out consistent maintenance tasks more regularly between MOTs. For example, indicator, tail and brake lights can be fitted for as little as £5.00 each.

To pass an MOT, front, rear, brake, fog, indicator and registration plate lights and rear reflectors must be correctly positioned and secured, in a good condition, show the correct colour and not be obscured.

Checking your lightbulbs is easy to do. Give them a light tap to see if they are loose or damaged and check pairs of lights emit the same colour, size and shape.

Brakes and suspension

According to our data, the second-most common cause for MOT failures were suspension faults, which accounted for 13% of tests where defects were found.

Braking systems were the third biggest reason for cars not passing MOTs across the UK, making up 10% of all failure rates. Despite the expense of such issues, avoiding paying out for repairs on brakes is one of the most dangerous decisions a car owner can make.

Experiencing a drift or pull when turning, or your car jerking when the road surface is uneven could mean the suspension shocks have worn out. One tyre wearing more or starting to bald on the same axis as the other is another indication of suspension issues.

If your car pulls to one side when you brake, this may suggest a problem that requires further attention before you take your MOT. Signs of excessive wear of brake pads or pitted brake discs could also mean your brakes need replacing.

Under pressure

According to Kwik Fit, 10% of all faults relate to tyre condition and pressure, so it’s important to keep these maintained.

The UK legal minimum tread depth for a car is 1.6mm, so keep an eye on tyres and ensure they’re all the same level. If your tyres are inflated at the correct level, they will wear evenly and be safer and more fuel efficient.

Watch out for tears, bulges or other signs of damage to your tyres’ structure. Not only would this be classed as an immediate MOT fail, but it could increase your risk of a high-speed blowout or serious accident.

Keep it clean

Believe it or not, nearly 2500 people were ‘refused’ an MOT because their vehicles were too dirty and non-accessible to allow one to take place. So make sure you keep both the physical and cosmetic upkeep of your car in good health.

According to gov.uk, 8.5% of all faults are related to a ‘driver’s’ view of the road’, including issues with mirrors, wipers and washers. You can avoid this with simple checks like making sure the windscreen wipers and washers work at all times.

Your rear-view mirror must be adjustable and in good condition and windscreen wiper blades should be replaced immediately if they show signs of damage.

 

Apr 272018
 

Reliable and well-maintained tyres are one of the most important factors for a safe and comfortable drive, so it’s essential to keep them in good condition.

However, UK motorists were fined £27 million last year because their tyres were below the legal repair level. To help ensure your tyres are up to scratch, Warranty Direct has put together its top tips on tyre maintenance.

Why it’s important

 Illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres are the most common vehicle defect contributing to fatal crashes, yet they’re some of the simplest to detect and rectify. As well as being dangerous, motorists could be fined up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each defective tyre.

The grooves in tyres help your car brake, steer and accelerate properly. They also remove water from the contact patch between tyres and the road surface, when driving in wet conditions.

Poor tyre quality has a significant impact on vehicle stopping distances. For example; research found a car travelling at 50mph fitted with tyres with a tread depth of 4.1mm stopped in 24.3m on a wet road.

However, with a tread depth of 1.6mm, the braking distance increased to 32.7m, so tyre quality is essential for keeping stopping distances at a safe range.

 Check your tread

The legal minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6 mm across the central three-quarters of the tread width and around its entire circumference. Check the depth of the main tread grooves in several places across and around the tyre to ensure the entire surface area is legal.

Tyres also have tread wear indicators moulded into the base of the main grooves. When the tread surface is worn to the same level as these indicators, the tyre is at the minimum legal limit and should be replaced.

If you are unsure, place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when inserted, your tread is legal. If the outer band of the coin is visible, your tread may be too worn, so head to a garage as soon as you can.

Don’t forget the pressure

Tyre pressure monitoring systems are a legal requirement for all new vehicles, alerting drivers to any changes, which need seeing to. However, they shouldn’t replace physically checking your tyres for faults.

If a tyre is under-inflated by 5 PSI (pounds per square inch) it can reduce its life by around 25%, as it puts more pressure on the edges of the tread, causing deterioration of the casing and faster wear.

Under-inflated tyres can also increase fuel consumption by around 6%, so you’ll be paying for more fuel and harming the environment.

Over-inflated tyres can lead to increased impact damage and concentrate road contact in the centre of the tyre, accelerating wear.

Consider driving style

 Your driving style has a big impact on how quickly tyres deteriorate. Hard braking, fast acceleration and aggressive cornering can reduce tread depth more quickly, so you’ll need to replace tyres more frequently.

Driving at high speeds causes tyres to become hotter, which can lead to increased damage and the risk of tyres burning out while on the road.

The added pressure of a fully loaded car can result in the tread wearing out quicker. Your car’s manual should come with a tyre pressure guide for when carrying a heavy load, so ensure you prepare correctly for these types of journeys.


Warranty Direct is a trading style of BNP Paribas Cardif Limited. BNP Paribas Cardif Limited is a company, registered in England and Wales No. 3233010 at Pinnacle House, A1 Barnet Way, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 2XX and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Register No.309075.

 

Apr 132018
 

New research suggests 48 percent of motorists don’t understand what each dashboard warning light means. While the light may signal a minor issue, it could also be something dangerous or cause expensive damage to your vehicle.

Warranty Direct has put together a complete guide to help any car warning light novice to recognise what your car is trying to tell you…

Engine warning light

The engine light could come on for a host of different reasons, from a loose fuel cap to something more serious like a broken catalytic converter, so it can be hard and frustrating for drivers to pin-point the problem.

Head to a garage if the light appears and they will be able to run a diagnostic check to see what’s going on under the hood.

Coolant warning light

The car’s computer constantly monitors the coolant temperature and overall fluid level to ensure correct temperature is maintained. A warning light on the dashboard means the coolant temperature is too hot, so your engine may be overheating.

Pull over safely as soon as possible and turn your car off and let the engine cool down for at least 30 minutes. Using a thick rag, remove the radiator cap to check coolant level. If it’s low, temporarily add water, then get the car checked by a mechanic.

Airbag warning light

If you ignore your Airbag light and you have an accident, but your airbags don’t deploy, it could have devastating consequences. The airbag warning light can also mean there is a seatbelt fault. Without a seatbelt, you’re twice as likely to die in a car crash so don’t ignore the warning!

Brake warning light

Faulty brakes are the second most common cause of an accident and one of the most important car safety features. The brake light could signal many minor or major issues, such as; broken brake lights, ABS sensor malfunction, worn brake pads, low brake fluid or your handbrake is simply left on.

If the light comes on, it’s essential to go to a mechanic straight away to fix any potential problems.

Oil warning light

The oil light may come on for a few different reasons, such as low oil pressure or a low oil level. If your oil light comes on while you are driving, the first thing you should do is safely pull over and turn the vehicle off. Without oil, your engine is not lubricated and may stop at any point. It can also result in expensive engine damage,) so if it lights up, stop and call out a professional.

Tyre pressure monitor warning light

If the tyre pressure monitoring light is illuminated, your tyre pressure is either too high or too low. This could be because your tyres are underinflated, or you could have a puncture. Firstly, manually check tyre pressures with a gauge and add air until it reaches the vehicle manufacturer specification and resets the light. If the pressure drops again, you probably have a puncture and will need to repair or replace the tyre.

Power steering warning light

The power steering warning light will let you know when a fault has been detected with the steering system. With hydraulic power steering systems, you may be low on power steering fluid. If you see this sign light up, pull over and check the fluid level. Top it off with the correct fluid type and the light should turn off.

For electrical power steering systems, try pulling over and restart the engine to ‘reset’ the computer. If the warning light doesn’t turn off after restarting, the issue needs further inspection.

Without power steering, the car will be very hard to manoeuvre so be cautious, avoid motorways, and take it to a garage as soon as possible.

Battery charge warning light

If your battery charge light stays on after turning your engine on, you could have an electrical fault. This could be a damaged alternator, cable, or battery in the engine. If the battery light comes on while driving, this indicates a problem with the alternator. Turn off everything that uses power in the car (except headlights in the dark) and go to a mechanic.

 

Warranty Direct is a trading style of BNP Paribas Cardif Limited. BNP Paribas Cardif Limited is a company, registered in England and Wales No. 3233010 at Pinnacle House, A1 Barnet Way, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 2XX and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Register No.309075.

Sep 242015
 

Pump up your Tyres Photo Motorists in the UK are wasting £246 million a year on fuel  and putting lives at risk by driving on dangerously  underinflated tyres, according to Michelin. The tyre  manufacturer analysed results from more than 23,000 cars  in the UK and found that 37 per cent had at least one tyre  classed as either “dangerously underinflated” or “very  dangerously” underinflated.

In all, 62 per cent of vehicles were found to have underinflated tyres, while five per cent of vehicles had a tyre with a puncture and one per cent had tread depths below the legal minimum of 1.6mm.

The figures come from eight years of Michelin-run events and they suggest attitudes to tyre safety are not improving.

Jamie McWhir, car, van and 4×4 technical manager for Michelin in the UK, said: “The proportion of cars with dangerously underinflated tyres has pretty much stayed the same over the eight years we have been running our Fill Up With Air events.

“That’s pretty depressing when you consider the volume of vehicles and the implications. Seriously underinflated tyres are dangerous, they use more fuel, they wear out quicker and they cause the car to produce more pollutants and greenhouse gases.”

Michelin classifies tyres that are between 7psi and 14psi below the manufacturer’s recommendation as “dangerously underinflated”, while 14 psi or more underinflation is deemed to be “very dangerous.”

Running a car with tyres underinflated by 7psi decreases fuel efficiency by about one mile per gallon. If average fuel consumption is assumed to be 45 miles per gallon on correctly inflated tyres, and average distance driven is 7,900 miles a year, motorists on 7psi underinflated tyres are using on average 18.2 litres of fuel a year unnecessarily.

At an average fuel cost across diesel and unleaded of £1.18 per litre, that means 11.84 million of the UK’s 32 million cars are wasting a total of more than £254 million a year.

In addition, more than 538,000 tonnes of excess CO2 are being emitted by those cars.

Mr McWhir added: “It’s crucial that motorists understand the importance of driving on tyres with the correct pressure, especially as they’re the only point of contact with the road and are therefore critical to the safety of the vehicle, its passengers, other road users and pedestrians.

“Last year the Department for Transport found that dangerous tyres were responsible for more than 40 per cent of vehicle defect related deaths. It is so important to fit tyres of a sufficient quality and then look after them properly.”

Underinflated tyres hamper road-holding, braking, steering and resistance to aquaplaning. Underinflation also reduces tyre life.

Michelin recommends checking tyre pressures – including the spare tyre – at least every month and before every long journey.

Last month industry campaign group TyreSafe and Highways England found that more than 10 million tyres in use on roads in England, Scotland and Wales could be illegal.

Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman, said: “It’s a question of educating motorists to take responsibility for their safety and that of others on the road.

“As vehicles have become increasingly reliable, owners have become less used to performing what were once considered basic precautionary checks before setting off on a journey. Tyres too are much more technologically advanced but they do wear and can get damaged so it is down to the driver to regularly check they’re safe

“Awareness among Britain’s motorists of the importance of tyre safety urgently needs to improve.”

Michelin inspected 23,741 cars over the past eight years as part of its Fill Up With Air roadshow which tours the UK offering free pressure and tyre checks for motorists, as well as tyre maintenance and road safety advice.

Top tips from Michelin for looking after your tyres and staying safe on the road:

 1. Check your tyre pressure every month and before a long journey. Driving a car with the correct tyre pressure increases safety and saves fuel.

  • The recommended tyre pressure levels for front and rear tyres are often different so refer to the vehicle handbook to get these right. Pressures could also be listed on the ledge inside the driver’s door or inside the fuel cap.
  • Don’t forget to check the pressure of the spare tyre if there is one.
  • Buy a pressure gauge so you can take accurate readings.

2. Regularly check the tread depth of your tyres and replace them when they are worn.

  • Change your tyres before the tread depth is worn to the legal minimum of 1.6mm. The more tread you have on your tyres, the more water they can disperse.
  • A simple way of checking the tread is to perform the ‘20p test’
  • Take a 20p piece and place it between the main grooves of the tyre
  • If the outer strip of the coin can be seen then it’s likely your tyre doesn’t have the legal minimum tread depth.
  • Perform the test on at least three locations on each tyre.
  • Drivers whose tyres fail to comply with the minimum tread depth risk a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.

3. Inspect the appearance and condition of your tyres on a regular basis for cracks, lumps, bumps, tears and bulges as this could show damage. If you spot any of these, make sure you get them checked by a qualified tyre expert so that it can be repaired or replaced where appropriate.

Jul 032008
 

Tyre PressureBritish motorists are collectively wasting more than £1 billion a year despite petrol prices breaking through the £5 a gallon mark and diesel hitting £1.29 a litre, by failing to keep an eye on their tyre pressure.

Research by Cooper Tire Europe found that, at any one time, a staggering 95 percent of vehicles on the road have at least one tyre under inflated by 10 percent. This not only increases fuel consumption and reduces the life of the tyre, but also increases the risk of accidents.

Under inflated tyres are harder to get moving, and can result in an increase of 2.5 percent in fuel consumption – an unwanted extra expense considering UK motorists spent £34 billion on fuel last year.

With around 30 million passenger vehicles on the roads, and an average cost of 14.74 pence per mile for petrol cars and 12.81 pence per mile for diesel cars, drivers of affected vehicles are unwittingly shelling out an extra £44.22 per year each (£38.43 for diesel drivers) – a collective total of £1.26 billion*.

Alarmingly, under inflated tyres also increase stopping distances and are therefore a contributory factor to road accidents.  Department for Transport data reveals that defective and under inflated tyres cause 1,000 serious injuries or fatalities every year.

“Checking your tyre pressures is a mundane, but very simple, task,” says Cooper Tire product manager, Malcolm Jones. “As the ‘credit crunch’ grips the country, it’s amazing that drivers aren’t bothering to do it, as it could save them money and, more importantly, keep them safe on the road.”

Cooper Tire recommends that motorists check their tyre pressures at least once a month, or whenever they fill up at a petrol station.