Checking your car on a diagnostic

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Sometimes your car may start to play up or you may have warning lights on your dash board that you are unsure as to why they have appeared. If this is the case you may need to take your car to a garage to be put on a diagnostic machine to read what faults are showing up on the on board computer.

Not all garages will be able to carry this out for you as they have to have the correct software for your make and model of vehicle which is why many people go to a main dealer. Although this is fine, you may find that you get charged a lot more than taking it to a local dealer that has the correct equipment. A quick call to the garage will confirm if they can carry the work out.

Once the car has gone on the diagnostic it will list a fault codes if any are found. These fault codes will then give the garage an indication as to what is the matter with the car so they can advise you.

 

Holding on to your service history

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Having the service history for your vehicle can make a huge difference when it comes to selling the car, especially if it has been serviced regularly and by a main dealer. Service history is not just having the service manual but also keeping any receipts for work you have had done.

If you have lost the service book for your car then you can often buy a replacement but it will then be up to you to track down all the garages that have services the car and ask them to stamp the new book again to prove that it has been done. If the car is a number of years old, the garage that serviced the vehicle may not even still be trading meaning you may have to miss out a stamp.

If you have brought a second hand car, you can also contact a garage that you know serviced it and ask for them to stamp a new book so that when you come to sell it you have the information already completed.

Checking your coolant

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The coolant is vital to keeping your engine cool when driving and to stop it overheating. If your engine over heats it can cause a serious amount of damage and in some cases completely ruin the engine and many of its components.

Coolant can just be water but it is advised that you add antifreeze to it especially during the winter months to ensure the coolant does not freeze, meaning it will not pass through the engine when you start the car up.

Always ensure you check your coolant level prior to going on any long journey and then once every few weeks. If your coolant level is low, then make sure you top it up before you set off and if the coolant seems to be dropping significantly or quickly then you may have a leak. If this happens, be sure to take your car in to the nearest garage as soon as possible and avoid driving it otherwise.

Cam-belt’s: a ticking time bomb?

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The cars cam-belt is a vital part of the engine as it powers the cam-shaft that regulates the timing of the inlet and exhaust valves in the engine. Unfortunately these belts have a finite lifespan and after about 60,000 miles they are at risk of snapping. Depending on the construction of the engine, this could result in damage to the valves, valve stems and the interior of the combustion chamber which will be very costly to repair.

If you buy a second hand car without a service history indicating that a cam-belt change has been done, you would be well advised to get it changed as soon as possible. While the job is often quite expensive it could be much cheaper than repairing a damaged engine. Happily, many cars now use a chain instead of a belt, which should never snap, so check the cars service schedule to see if a belt change is indicated.