Top 10 breakdown causes!

breakdownHundreds of thousands of cars break down every year. Here are the top ten causes of breakdowns, and what you can do to avoid them!

Battery
A flat battery can be due to a poor electrical connection or because you rarely take a long journey which allows your battery to charge. Don’t wait for that battery warning light – get your connections checked or charge the battery yourself overnight every fortnight or so.

Alternator
Persistent battery problems and dim headlights when the car engine is idling could mean a faulty alternator. Get it checked. Please note: If your ignition warning light comes on and your engine temperature suddenly starts to rise then switch your engine off as your car’s drive belt may have broken; this drives the alternator, water pump and power steering pump. Do NOT restart your engine – call your garage immediately.

Starter Motor
If you turn the ignition key and only hear a clicking noise or the dashboard lights come on and the car will not start, check all connections to the battery, alternator and starter motor, including solenoid, are secure. Starter motors are usually very robust and most problems are either due to a faulty battery, faulty HT leads, faulty spark plugs or poor terminal connections.

Spark Plugs
If they are failing you will notice signs of: cylinder misfires, loss of power, hard to start issues, rough idle and increase in fuel consumption. Always get a full new set, do not mix old with new.

HT Leads
HT leads deteriorate with age. If you are having starting problems, check them for physical damage such as cuts and scorch marks. Always get a full new set, do not mix old with new.

Wheel and Tyre damage
Check the tyre tread on all wheels with a depth measuring gauge at least once a month: always bear in mind that less tread equals less effective braking. If you hit a pothole or kerb, or you can see that there is uneven tyre wear, then get it checked out with a specialist as your wheel may be misaligned.

Lost Keys
If you do need car keys in a hurry then you will need to visit an authorised dealer or call out an Auto Locksmith. It is much cheaper to keep a spare at home.

Fuel
Put the wrong fuel in your engine? Do not start it. Call your garage straightaway to drain and flush it out of the system.

Clutch Cable
If you notice any difference to the way the clutch feels when you use it, e.g. the gear pops out when accelerating or the pedal feels hard and difficult to depress, get it checked out straight away. If the pedal suddenly sinks to the floor and breaks when driving, pull over to a safe area and call your garage.

Don’t wait until it is too late! Visit us for face to face expert advice or order your parts online by number plate or vehicle details. Patchway Autoparts offer a wide range of services from key cutting, battery and alternator checking to auto parts at great prices

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Essentials for new drivers!

new driverAll the essentials for new drivers:

As a new driver it’s important to be prepared! Here is a helpful list of everything you need as a new driver, so you and your car are ready for the road ahead!
L and P Plates
If you are just starting out, an L plate is a legal necessity when driving under supervision with a provisional license. These can be bought both as adhesive stickers and magnets for ease of removal at most car and general supply shops. By contrast, P plates are not a legal requirement, but they make other drivers aware that you are less experienced and have just passed your test. You can keep these plates on for as long as you feel comfortable as a new driver.

Phone Holder
The legality of using your mobile device whilst driving is clear: you can’t. However, as many now opt to use their mobiles for navigation, a holder will allow you to secure your phone for GPS usage. This is legal. Try and get an adjustable holder to fit all phone types and is easily applied to your particular car surface. The holder will also keep your phone out of reach so that you don’t pick it up whilst driving and incur penalty points.

USB and Phone Charger
In-car chargers have become a modern necessity, especially so if you are using your mobile device for navigation. To ensure you don’t run out of juice, aim for a USB charger to meet all your charging demands.

Dash Camera
Cams have become an essential for the modern world, particularly when driving abroad where language barriers can exacerbate potential motor problems. Not only can footage ensure who is at fault in the event of an accident, but it also helps to reduce your car insurance when installed because of its reliability as evidence.

First Aid Kit
All drivers should carry an all-in-one first aid kit in their car in the eventuality of an accident. These can be purchased in ready packed form and should be kept replenished.

Tyre Repair Kit
The last thing any driver wants is a flat tyre. A tyre repair kit goes some way in making your journey that much quicker and safer in any such situation. There are a variety of kits around that do not require additional tools or jacks; these emergency kits can be stored in your boot and should be kept restocked and up-to-date. Although it is good to know what to do and how before hand, most canisters have clear and straightforward instructions for first use.

Strong Tape
Tape is a decent temporary solution to car damage. Keep some strong tape just in case you need to fix up a wing mirror or other removable car part before taking it in for repair.

Torch
A break down in the dark can be a depressing experience. Torches are therefore perhaps one the most reassuring pieces of kit you can keep at hand. The advancements in lighting technology now mean that torches last for longer without needing to have their bulbs replaced, are rechargeable and often strong enough to withstand the harshest conditions. Although you don’t need to go overboard, a reliable, well-built torch should be kept in your glove compartment all year round.

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Protecting Your Car this Summer

shutterstock_317193302The great thing about summer is the sun. Lovely days at the beach with family or friends, peaceful drives through the countryside, picnics, barbecues, the list goes on and on. With the hotter days just around the corner the possibilities seem endless. However, to make sure that you can take advantage of them you need to look after your car. That perfect beach trip you may have planned will not be much good if you cannot get there. Fortunately, we have advice on how to make sure your car is summer ready.

Before you Go

Check the Brakes
The last thing anyone wants is to have their brakes fail. If it has been hard winter, and even if it has not, get your brakes checked. Key signs to be on the lookout for include screeching noises or grinding.

Protect the Interior
Getting a sun tan is great. The thing is, those rays that are so good for your summer body are not so nice for your car. The insides can become so hot that they cannot be touched, let alone sat in and driven. In the more extreme cases you could be burned and the interior can crack or fade. The thing to do is lookout for a protective coating that can be applied beforehand. A reflective screen in the windshield is also a good idea.

Get an Oil Change
This is a good idea about ever 3,000 miles. Since things will be hotter in the summer you may want to consider using a synthetic oil designed to help your engine with the heat.

Do a Fluid Check
Make sure the fluids have not run low after winter. Remember to include the brake, transmission, power steering, washer and windshield.

Does your AC Work?
Since it was winter not too long ago you probably did not have much use for the cold AC in your car. The last thing you want is your car trying to make things even warmer on an already hot day. If you suspect it is not working then get it checked.

The Tires
You may have been using winter tires, or maybe you have a set of all-seasons. Either way make sure you check them and that they are appropriate and not too worn.

On the Move

Watch the Temperature
With things heating up your car is more likely to become overheated. Make sure to be extra vigilant and if you have no passengers you can use the heater to vent the air from the engine.

Have a Breakdown Kit
You need to carry the following: water (a gallon and a bottle per person), sunscreen, blanket (for shade not keeping warm), first-aid kit and a flashlight.

Park in the Shade
This will help prevent your car’s interior from overheating before the return trip. It is also worth leaving the windows open about an inch to let the air flow.

Drive when it’s Cooler
If you avoid driving during the hottest part of the day you will make your journey a lot more pleasurable. The early morning and late evening are the best time to drive, and they leave the best part of the day for activities.

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4 Ways to Help Maintain Your Car

car maintenance

Cars are often invaluable to our everyday lives, whether we’re simply getting to and from work or travelling further afield. It’s no surprise, therefore, that their convenience comes at a cost, not least due to expensive maintenance. There are, however, a few cost effective ways to maintain your car at peak performance.

Clean your windscreen wipers

It’s worth cleaning your windscreen wipers frequently as it can cost a lot more to have them changed at your local garage than if you simply keep on top of keeping them clean. Nevertheless, when the time comes, ensure you get professional advice from your garage who can save you time by explaining which ones will best suit your vehicle. They may even be able to fit them for you free of charge.

Maintain the pressure

Regularly checking your tyre pressure can prevent irreversible damage that could lead to you having to splash out on a whole new set of tyres. Pressure gauges can be found cheaply, or you can borrow one from your local petrol station at very little cost. Ideally, you need to check tyre pressure once a month and, while doing so, it’s good practice to check your tyres for other damage such as bumps and lacerations which could ultimately put you at risk on the road. The correct pressure for your tyres will vary depending on their type so, if you are in any doubt, be sure to ask your local garage for advice.

Flush out harmful toxins

Keeping on top of car maintenance can be done inexpensively and is all the more worthwhile when you consider the savings you’ll make on expensive repairs. Over time, a car’s radiator and cooling system will start to clog up with residue. This leads to the car overheating so it’s important to flush out the radiator system every couple of years. Likewise, the fuel filters need to be changed around every 24,000 miles. These filters are responsible for keeping your fuel clean and free from dirt and rust. Neglecting this problem could lead to costly damage to the engine so it’s worth keeping on top of it. Finally, everyone wants to get the best performance out of their car which is why it is important to change your air filters on a regular basis. They also keep dirt from entering the car’s engine, a build up of which can affect acceleration and lead to inefficiency in your vehicle.

Expert Advice

Lastly, don’t be afraid to get help from the experts. Patchway Autoparts has over 45 years experience in the motor industry and supply a number of car parts for a range of vehicle makes and models. We also offer a battery and alternator checking service. If you need any help and advice, or are looking for suitable car parts for your vehicle, don’t hesitate to contact us by emailing info@patchwayautoparts.co.uk, or call us on 0117 9792328.

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Everything You Need To Know About The New Speeding Fine Laws

Speeding fine
Everything You Need to Know About the New Speeding Fine Laws
When you exceed the speed limit, you are always wary of the police coming after you. The government has made life harder for speeding motorists with new penalties that have been implemented since the 24th of April. They include the harsh reality that the top level fine for the offenders will be 175 per cent of their weekly income. Such a penalty will discourage many motorists from speeding.Before the new fine laws, speeding motorists would be required to pay between 25 per cent and 125 per cent of their weekly income, the amount depending on their speed and by how much it had exceeded the limit. The new laws indicate that motorists involved in serious speeding cases will pay fines of up to 175 per cent of their weekly income.There is a system of grading based on how much offenders exceed the prescribed speed limit and determines the seriousness of the case. It is also used to show how much the offender is to pay. The Sentencing Council, responsible for issuing sentences in courts, introduced the new laws after it became clear that some motorists ignored the dangers of excessive speeding. Statistics show that that 24 per cent of all fatal collisions is as a result of speeding.

The harshness of the punishment offenders are to receive under the new speeding laws is a way of informing the motorists that speeding may cause harm, not only to themselves but also to others. When an offender is caught, he/she is taken to court where the magistrate hands out the sentence. In ordinary cases, the fine will be around 50 per cent of the motorist’s weekly income. The magistrate decides the amount one is to pay.

If the offender was caught speeding in a place with many people, say a school, driving a lorry or speeding in bad weather conditions, the penalty will be harsher. These are the cases where the offenses are termed as serious, and the magistrate has to decide whether or not to impose the maximum 175 per cent of the offender’s weekly income.

The New Laws on Disqualification

The laws on disqualification are now different. If the offender is found to have exceeded the prescribed speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour, the magistrate is likely to give an instant disqualification. The disqualification, if handed out, is mostly between seven and 56 days, and could be higher if the offense is a serious one. Magistrates also have the option of giving the offender six penalty points instead of a disqualification.

In the year 2015, many motorists opted to enroll for a speed awareness course to avoid receiving points on their driving licenses. Motorists can still take this course any time and at their own convenience. Exceeding the speed limit is an offense all motorists need to avoid since it will significantly reduce the number of road accents.

As a motorist, it would save you a lot of trouble if you familiarized yourself with the laws.

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Towing Rules and Requirements

towing rulesEvery car has a different allowance for their towing limits and the requirements on what they can and can not tow. Equally the rules differ according to who is driving the car. Knowing these differences will ensure that you are able to legally tow the caravan or the trailer.

Loading

The rules regarding the loading and weights of trailers and caravans are very specific and very technical. They are far too detailed to go into here but in principle:

  • You can not overload a trailer or caravan.
  • When loaded, the caravan or trailer must be within your car’s towing ability.
  • The combined weight of your car and trailer or caravan must be below the maximum train weight of the car.

License and Testing

The rules changed in 1997 and therefore there are two sets of rules

  1. If you passed your test before 1st January 1997.
    • You can drive a vehicle and trailer up to a maximum of 8.25 tonnes.
  2. If you passed your test after 1st January 1997.
    • You can drive a Category B vehicle with up to a maximum of a 750kg caravan.

Drivers who fall into the second category can take ‘The car and trailer (B+E) test’. It is a lot like the normal driving test, apart from you will be towing an unladen trailer with you.

Tow Brackets

In order to tow anything, your car will have to be fitted with a tow bracket. These will meet European standards and European Directive 94/20/EC. This will be shown on the tow bracket itself, either in the form of a plate or a stamp.

There are some vehicles which have not been designed to tow. It is, therefore, illegal to fit a tow bar to these. You can tell if your car is able to tow by checking the VIN plate. If the VIN plate shows a ‘gross train weight’ then you are ok, if this is missing, then you can not use your car to tow.

Un-braked trailers

Most people will start out towing an un-braked trailer. These are the small units you will see heading to the refuse centre with the garden waste inside. If you are using an un-braked trailer, the maximum load you can tow is 750kg.

The maximum weight is dependant on the kerbside weight of your towing vehicle, the most anyone can tow is half of their kerbside weight. So if you have a smaller car, you will not be able to tow a trailer up to the maximum 750kg.

All trailers must be less than 2.55m wide

Whilst the towing rules may seem dark and mystical, they are specific to your car for a reason. You only need to work out your limits and your capabilities once to then know you are complying with the law and even more importantly, you are safely towing your load.

Learn more about our leisure products here 

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6 Easy Ways You Can Save Fuel 

Nowadays, with fluctuating petrol and diesel costs, it is more important than ever to make sure your fuel lasts as long as possible. Luckily, it isn’t difficult to improve the efficiency of your car, and save money with these 6 simple tips:
1. Accelerate Smoothly
Heavy acceleration is very fuel intensive. Make sure that you increase your speed gradually. The most fuel efficient way to travel is at a constant speed and in a high gear. Try to avoid hard acceleration, and if you are in the correct gear, then your foot should never be pressing the accelerator to the floor.

2. Turn Your Air Conditioning Off
It is often forgotten, but air conditioning is a big drain on fuel consumption. Try to limit the amount you use it down to the absolute bare minimum. The more the air conditioning is on, the higher the strain on the engine. If you have your AC turned on then your engine will be using a lot of fuel that should be used in making you go further.

3. Reduce Drag
This seems like an option for a Formula 1 car, but by reducing drag and making sure your road car is as aerodynamic as possible you will increase its fuel efficiency and save you money. Remove your roof rack, keep your windows and sunroof closed. By removing the roof rack you reduced weight, increasing fuel performance, but also by removing the drag you make it easier for your engine to push through the air, saving you some valuable fuel.

4. Check Your Tyre Pressure
Don’t wait until you notice that your tyres are looking flat to check your pressures. A drop of even 4-5 PSI from the manufacturers recommended pressure can greatly increase fuel inefficiency. Four tyres with the correct pressures will reduce drag, making sure your car glides across the road with ease, helping your engine out a great deal.

5. Slow it Down
You might think that by arriving at your destination 10 minutes earlier by travelling above the speed-limit would mean 10 minutes less time spent burning fuel. However, it has been proven that this is false. By travelling at a constant speed at or below the speed limit, with gentle acceleration and braking, you will save far more fuel and therefore money.

6. Maintain Your Car
An easy way to be certain your engine is as efficient as possible is to regularly service your car. If you replace your old intake filters with new ones, then only clean air can get your engine. This means that no dirt or contaminants will reach your engine and wear it prematurely. Replace your engine oil, brake fluid and spark plugs and make sure your engine is running at its very best at all times and you are sure to save money.

If you need any help trying to make your car as fuel efficient as possible, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Patchway Autoparts, we are here to help.

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The Top Must-Have Items in Your Car this Winter 

winter
With the bleak days of winter fast approaching, many of us will be heading out on the open road to visit family, friends and loved ones. Still, it is important to keep in mind that emergencies can and will happen from time to time. What are some items that you should keep in your vehicle at all times to remain safe and secure?

An Emergency Blanket

As opposed to a bulky wool blanket, Mylar is an excellent alternative. It is very lightweight and can easily be folded up and placed within a glove compartment. This material is able to conserve well over 90 per cent of your body heat and as it is reflective, it can also be used to signal other drivers if you require assistance.

De-Icing Fluid

De-icing fluid is critical to make certain that you can see out of your windows. This is particularly relevant if you will be driving during inclement weather. This fluid is cheap and it can even be poured directly onto the windscreen in the event that you cannot open the bonnet.

A Spare and Fully Charged Mobile Phone

Never forget that cold temperatures will decrease the lifespan of common mobile phone batteries. This can be a real problem if you find yourself stranded and you need to call the emergency services. So, be sure to keep a spare mobile phone with you if you plan on taking a longer journey.

A Printed Map and a Compass

Although most of us are accustomed to using our GPS systems when travelling, the fact of the matter that these units can sometimes encounter problems. They might not be accurate in some regions and in the event that your car battery dies, this technology will be absolutely useless. So, be sure to bring along a physical map as well as a compass. These traditional instruments can make all of the difference in the world.

Extra Clothes

If you become stuck on the side of a motorway, you will generally have two options. You can remain with the vehicle until help arrives or you can venture off to a local petrol station or store. In the latter instance, you must remain warm and protected from elements such as wind and rain. Be sure to keep extra clothes in the boot of your car. If possible, choose garments that can be worn in layers such as two or three jumpers.

A Tyre Iron

Changing a tyre is nearly impossible if you do not possess one of these handy tools. However, most tyre irons can also be used to pry open doors or even to chip away ice from certain areas of the vehicle.

These are a handful of items that should always remain close by. Still, your needs may vary depending upon your journey as well as your personal concerns. If you would like even more helpful advice, please speak with a representative at Patchway Auto Parts.

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11 Must-Have Items to Keep Within your Car at all Times   

patWhether you are planning a holiday abroad with the family or a business trip is taking place in the near future, being prepared while on the motorway is the best method to deal with any unexpected situations. Let’s examine eleven essential items that you should never leave home without.

1. A Siphon Kit

A siphon is an absolutely essential item in the event that you run out of petrol on the motorway. Without this tool, it will be impossible to retrieve petrol from the vehicle of a good Samaritan.

2. Bottled Water

A few bottles of water can make the difference between dehydration and remaining healthy if you become stranded. Fresh water is just as important during the winter as it is throughout the summer.

3. Flares and Reflective Triangles

If you become stranded, flares and reflective triangles can help other drivers avoid your vehicle and they are also great at signalling for help.

4. Traction Mats

These high-grip mats are great if you find that your car cannot adhere to the road due to snow, sand or ice. Traction mats can be easily folded up and placed within the boot of your vehicle.

5. Spare Cash

You never know when spare cash will come in handy. Never forget that an electronic cash point could be miles away.

6. Blankets

An emergency blanket is another must-have item to keep in mind. Fabrics such as wool and fabric will provide an extra level of comfort although materials including Mylar are excellent at trapping body heat when the temperatures begin to drop.

7. An LED Torch

An LED torch is useful for two reasons. It can provide you with a means to examine the engine while it is also excellent if you hope to signal other cars in the event of an emergency.

8. Jumper Cables

If your battery suddenly dies, a pair of jumper cables can give you the boost that is necessary to continue on your way. Never assume that another driver will possess these cables.

9. A Mobile Phone Charger

What good is a mobile phone if the battery has died and you are unable to call for help? This is actually a much more common situation than you may imagine. Always keep a plug-in charger within close reach.

10. A First Aid Kit

In the event of an accident, help could be 30 minutes away or more. It is therefore wise to keep a first aid kit within the vehicle; preferably underneath a seat or in the glove compartment. Essential items should include butterfly bandages, gauze windings, a needle and thread, a sling and basic emergency care instructions.

11. Duct Tape

Duct tape is a one-size-fits-all item. It can be used to make quick repairs to your vehicle and if necessary, it can address a medical situation such as a broken limb.

These are eleven must-have items to keep within your car. For more details or to purchase these accessories, please contact Patchway Auto Parts at your convenience.

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How to jump start your Car safely and correctly in an Emergency 

patch
You need to get your car back on the road as soon as possible when your battery dies. Even if you already have a set of good jumper cables in your car, it is important that you know how to safely start your vehicle in an emergency, so that you can be on your way again.
Jumper cables come in different lengths, and while the longer ones are more convenient, they are not as effective as the shorter ones, since the energy has too far to travel from one car to the other.Following are a few tips on how to safely and correctly jump start your car.

Tip # 1. Find another car owner who is willing to help you jump start your car.

Tip # 2. Safety is a priotiry, so when one of the cable clamps is attached to the battery of one car, bear in mind that the cable is used to transmit electricity, and avoid touching the other clamp to anything other than the battery terminal of the other car. It is not uncommon for sparks to fly from a jumper cable when it comes into contact with a battery terminal, so wear some form of protection over your eyes as well. Make sure too, that small children are away from both vehicles when you’re using jumper cables

Tip # 3. Jump starting your battery:

• The functioning car should be parked facing yours, about 18” away. Under no circumstances should the cars touch each other. Automatic cars should be put in the “Park” position, and manual cars in neutral
• The parking brakes should be set on both cars, so that neither can move unexpectedly

• Turn off both cars, and put the jumper cables on the ground, with the clamps away from each other
• Open the hood of both cars, and locate the batteries and their terminals. The terminals will be painted red or black, with a “+” (positive) or “-” (negative) sign on top. Make sure which is the positive and negative terminal on each battery. This is important to the success of your jump, so if the terminals are dirty, clean them off with a rag or wire brush, so that you can see the positive and negative signs clearlyAttaching the cables

• Attach the red positive clamp to the (+) terminal of your battery, moving it around a little, to make sure that it is properly connected
• Attach the red positive clamp on the opposite end of the cable to the (+) battery terminal of the functioning car
• Next, attach the black negative cable clamp to the (-) terminal of the working battery

• Instead of connecting the other black negative cable clamp to the (-) terminal of the dead battery, attach it to a metal part of your car that is unpainted, like a clean nut on the engine block, for instance. Doing this will ensure that your jump is done safelyCharging your dead battery

You’re ready to try the jump start once the cables are properly attached.

• Start the functioning car and wait a minute or two, or longer if necessary, if your battery is old, or has been dead for a while
• Try starting your car. If the engine won’t turn over, let the working car run for a further minute or two before you try again. Revving the engine slightly of the working vehicle also helps in some cases
• When you have succeeded in starting your car, remove the jump cables, negative clamps first, taking care to not let any of the clamps touch each other until they have all been removed
• Take your car for a short drive to allow the alternator on your vehicle to charge your battery, and prevent it from dying again, when you turn your car off

Should your attempts with jumper cables fail, contact your nearest Car Care Centre for assistance, since there could be other reasons as to why your car won’t start.

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