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Tuesday
Mar312015

Basic Car Maintenance: How to repair a broken wing mirror

Busy streets, tight bends and inexperienced drivers can all contribute to broken wing mirrors.  Fortunately, if you haven’t got a load of money spare to pay to have it repaired, it’s one of those tasks that definitely suits DIY if you’ve got the right tools ready to go.

What you’ll need:

  • A panel remover lever
  • A hooked pick
  • Retainer clips (these should be included with your mirror, but may not be otherwise)
  • Trim pad remover

Here’s our step-by-step guide to getting that wing mirror fixed:

  1. Buy the right mirror.  Getting a replacement mirror is rarely too expensive, and unless you have a really rare car you’ll find that getting the right part isn’t too tricky.  An online shop like ASM Auto Recycling’s own will have a range of mirrors at good prices.  Obviously check that the model is compatible, and remember that you’ll need to paint the mirror if it’s a different colour to your car (this isn’t actually that hard – mask off the glass and use a can of spray paint).
  2. Remove the mirror cover and (if necessary) the door panels.  Panel removal is more likely to be necessary in the case of power mirrors.  The hardest part is actually finding the hidden fasteners which are usually hidden beneath decorative vanity caps and in recesses.  Check out the finger pull area, the armrest, behind speaker grills and in other obscure areas.  Once you’ve found all of the screws, you can use the panel remover lever to pop the panel out. 
  3. Remove the three retaining screws that attach the mirror to the door, and the cable containing the mirror’s electrical connector in the case of a power mirror.  From there, you should be able to remove the old mirror and replace it with the new one.
  4. Reverse the entire procedure to reassemble the door trim panel.
  5. You can then re-insert the Christmas tree shaped panel fasteners, the screws and any decorative vanity caps.

PLEASE NOTE.  Some cars have power mirrors and manual windows.  If that’s the case then you’ll need to remove the window crank before you can remove the trim panel.  You’ll only be able to do this if you have a special door handle removal tool – so ensure you’ve got one BEFORE you start the replacement!

Thursday
Mar262015

Basic Car Maintenance: How to change your engine oil

Learning to change your oil is an incredibly valuable skill to learn.  As well as extending the life of your car by thousands of miles, it’s also something that can save you a sizeable chunk of money over time.

Here’s our DIY guide on how to change your engine oil.

Make sure you buy the right filter and oil!

First things first; it’s extremely important that you follow your car-maker’s recommendations in terms of oil viscosity.  All engine oil is no longer created equal, and getting the wrong type can result in poor performance, potential engine damage and even the dreaded ‘check engine’ light.

The same also goes for the oil filter.  At one point filters were all the same, but now different filters suit different oil change intervals.  A car with an oil change recommendation of 3,000 miles will need a different filter to one with a recommendation of 6,000.

There is a big difference between an economy filter and a good one, and it’s one of those expenses where budgeting is a false economy, especially given that the price gap isn’t huge.   

Here’s our step-by-step guide. This should take around 20 minutes as long as you’ve got everything ready to go.

  1. Set out plastic sheeting on the ground and drive your car onto it.  This is just the same principle as putting newspaper down before you start painting; it’ll stop oil getting onto your floor.
  2. Jack up your car and set the jack stands in place before lowering the car back down.
  3. Put all of your tools within a tray or box so they’ll be within easy reach.  You’ll need a box-end wrench for the drain plug, a rubber mallet, a filter wrench, a drain pan as well as your new filter.   Before you get started, open a new bottle of oil and smear clean oil on the new filter’s gasket.
  4. Remove the drain plug in order to get the old oil flowing.
  5. Remove the oil filter and then install the new one.
  6. Once the old oil has reached a trickle, install a new gasket on the plug (where necessary) and then tighten it through tapping the box-end wrench with the rubber mallet.
  7. Wipe any remaining drips down with a rag, and you’re done.

Other things to bear in mind:

  • If your engine is too cold, start it and let it run for five minutes; this will help to warm the oil. Needless to say, give it time to cool down if it gets too hot; you don’t want to get burned!
  • Don’t use adjustable wrenches or socket on your drain plugs – instead, use a properly sized box-end wrench.
  • Use proper jack stands.  It’s simply not safe to work under a car that’s only supported by a jack.
  • Use new oil to coat the oil filter gasket before spinning it on.
  • Never use a filter wrench; instead, always hand-tighten the filter itself.
  • Make sure you line up all the oil bottles before you get started; you don’t want to lose count along the way.

Remember, ASM Auto Recycling’s online store sells a wide range of different second hand parts that are perfect if you need to replace any part of your car.  Visit the store here.

Image: Joeri van Veen

Friday
Mar202015

Budget 2015: What do motorists need to know?

Yesterday’s Budget covered a number of different bases, and there were a number of issues covered that are likely to affect Britain’s motorists.  We’re going to take a look at the major announcements made by George Osborne, and what the reactions have been.

What were the major budget points made relating to motorists?

  • Drivers of plug-in vehicles are likely to be targeted with large year-on-year tax increases.
  • Fuel duty has been frozen again.  Originally fuel duty was going to be escalated by 0.54p in September, but this has been cancelled.  The Chancellor said that he wanted to ensure the falling cost of oil was ‘passed on’ to consumers. 
  • Petrol is to be made cheaper in remote areas.  The chancellor acknowledged that certain UK areas pay more at the pump, and has obtained approval to extend the rural fuel rebate scheme to 17 new regions.
  • Lower oil costs will still be passed on to consumers.  The Chancellor claimed that the cost of filling up a tank has fallen by £11 since last year’s budget, and that if oil prices continue to fall the saving will be passed along to motorists.
  • Vehicle tax will rise in keeping with inflation, from 1st April this year.
  • Taxes for Ultra low emission vehicles are to be increased more slowly than was previously announced, starting in 2019-20.  This is to help to support company car fleets looking to make the move towards fuel efficiency.
  • Investment in autonomous cars.  The Chancellor announced a new £100 million investment in autonomous cars within the UK, with the plan being to make Britain a centre of excellence for driverless vehicles.
  • Further support for electric vehicles.  The Government announced the launch of a brand new £10 million ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) battery prize, with the winner to be announced in the summer.  The prize will see UK-based collaborators of manufacturers and researchers develop a commercially viable battery pack for ULEVs.

How have people in the UK reacted?

Andrew Hogsden, senior manager for Lex Autolease fleet consultancy, said:

”The announcement that BIK rates will rise by 3% in 2019 makes it even more important for businesses to identify vehicles with low CO2 emissions that are both fit for purpose and attractive to drivers.”

Ian Gallagher, head of policy for the FTA in South West and Wales, said:

“The Chancellor’s announcement today is the first confirmation from UK Government that charging will continue after 2018 when the bridge comes into public ownership.

“Whilst the change to the tolls is seen as good news for van and minibus operators, the Freight Transport Association considers it is a kick in the teeth for the logistics industry as a whole.

“There are three years of toll increases still to come.  By 2018 we anticipate that the toll will be in excess of £20 for HGVs.”

Speaking on behalf of the AA, president Edmund King said:

“With petrol and diesel prices surging and falling by more than 35p a litre since 2010, the continued four-year fuel duty freeze allows the Coalition to dodge the fuel-protest bullet.”

Friday
Mar132015

Basic Car Maintenance: How to change your spark plugs

Spark plugs are another excellent candidate for DIY replacement, with the metal inevitably burning out over time. Eventually the gap between the electrodes becomes too vast for the spark to actually travel, leading to things like misfires, weak acceleration and poor mileage.

Replacing your spark plugs regularly can help your vehicle run at peak performance, and it can also save you at least £100 in labour costs.

Here’s our DIY guide on how to change your spark plugs.

NOTE.  If you have a standard engine, the process is relatively simple.  However, some more advanced V-6 and above engines have more difficult spark-plug replacing procedures, so consult a pro if you’re unsure.

  1. Clear the area.  You don’t want crud falling into the cylinders, so use compressed air to ensure there’s no loose dirt around.  Remove the ‘vanity’ cover and the air cleaner assembly (label any hoses to ensure you put them back correctly) and ensure the area is clear.
  2. Remove the ignition coil.  First you’ll need to disconnect the electrical connector by either depressing or pulling up the locking tab.  You should then be able to rock the connector off the coil before pulling out the entire coil and boot assembly.  Some COP systems have a detachable rubber boot and spring; if that’s the case, use some needle-nose pliers to retrieve them. They can then be replaced with new parts.
  3. Unscrew the main plug.  Blow away any additional dirt or crud that’s settled around the plug since installation, and then slide the proper size spark plug socket over the plug (a swivel headed plug socket will make this easier!) before rotating the plug counter-clockwise in order to loosen it.  It’s possible that you’ll need an extension to reach the plug, depending on where it is within the engine.
  4. Measure the gap.  A wire-style gap gauge will be enough to make sure you’ve got the size right: you can then slide the correct wire gauge between the electrodes.  (The wire should drag slightly between them).  If you find the gap is too small, you can use the gap gauge to open it up or tap the side electrode lightly to close it down if it’s too big.
  5. Secure the new plug.  The critical thing with spark plugs is getting the right torque, especially in today’s engines.  Ensure that you always use a torque wrench and religiously stick to the torque instructions from the manufacturer.  Not reaching sufficient levels mean that the plug can blow right out of the cylinder heads and pull the threads out with it.  Using too much, on the other hand, can distort the plug. 
  6. Remember to lube up the spark plug boot.  You’ll need to apply a thin coating of dielectric grease around the inside of the spark plug before you re-install the coil.  This grease helps to cut down misfires, and it’ll also make it easier to remove the boot in the future.
  7. Finish up.  Re-install the ignition coil, hold-down the bolt and then the coil electrical connector.  From there, you’ll be able to re-install the air clear and vanity cover, and fire the car up.

All done!

Remember, ASM Auto Recycling sells a wide variety of used car parts at great prices.

Friday
Mar062015

Drug driving; what you need to know about the new law

As of 2nd March, new laws have come into effect designed to stop people driving whilst taking illegal or specified prescription drugs.  Here, we’re going to go through everything you need to know about the legislation.

What is the new law?

Drivers now face prosecution if excessive amounts of any one of eight illegal or eight specified prescription drugs are found in their bloodstream.  Police will use a new 'drugalyser’ device to test any drivers they suspect.

A new THINK! Campaign from the government’s road safety department has been launched to coincide with the legislation.

Different penalties can be applied to those breaking the new law, including a one-year driving ban, a £5,000 fine or up to 12 months in prison.

Chief Constable, Suzette Davenport said:

“Every person who gets behind the wheel of a car under the influence of drugs is a danger to themselves and others. Improving the tools that officers can use to better detect those who drive whilst impaired by drugs will immeasurably enhance our ability to keep the roads safe.”

Which prescription drugs are included in the ban?

The following prescription drugs are included as part of the legislation (we’ve included the legal limits).

  • Amphetamine - 250µg/L
  • Clonazepam (prescribed to treat seizures or panic disorders) - 250µg/L
  • Diazepam (anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal symptoms and muscle spasms) - 550µg/L
  • Flunitrazepam/Rohypnol (a sedative originally used for deep sedation in the 1970s) - 300µg/L
  • Lorazepam (convulsions or seizures caused by epilepsy) - 100µg/L
  • Oxazepam (anxiety and anxiety caused by alcohol withdrawal) - 300µg/L
  • Temazepam (insomnia) - 1,000µg/L
  • Methadone (treatment for heroin addiction and pain relief) - 500µg/L

Those using any of the above drugs within the legal limits will not be penalised.

What has the reception to the new regulations been?

A number of people have been quick to praise the new legislation.  Natasha Groves, mother of Lillian Groves -a 14 year old girl who died after being struck by a cannabis-smoking speeding driver in 2010 – was very welcoming of the change, intimating that leniency under previous laws was a major cause of low drug driving awareness.

Road Safety Minister, Robert Goodwill said:

"This new law will save lives.

"The government's message is clear - if you take drugs and drive, you are endangering yourself and others and you risk losing your licence and a conviction."

Sarah Sillars, chief executive for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, called the law a ‘real step in the right direction.’

Any criticisms?

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) – one of the biggest forces in the UK – has delayed enforcing the new legislation. 

GMP Chief Inspector, Mark Dexley said:

“We have taken the decision, in GMP, not to make use of the legislation while we satisfy ourselves that the legal and procedural issues involved in prosecuting these cases can properly withstand legal scrutiny.

“This will be a temporary delay whilst we ensure our equipment has the right certification and our officers have the right training and understand the required procedures. We are mindful that if we get this wrong then a significant amount of court time and public money could be wasted.”

The only outright criticism of the law has come from motoring lawyers, who have raised concerns that drivers routinely prescribed genuinely therapeutic medication such as morphine or temazepam, could be caught out by the laws despite not doing anything wrong.

Alison Ashworth, head of motoring at Forster Dean solicitors, spoke to The Guardian:

“Provided a person has been personally prescribed medication which they have taken, and have taken it in accordance with prescribing instructions and guidance, a defence will be available to them should they need to rely on it.”