Ask the Car Doctor!
Got a problem with your car?
Below you'll find a list of common general questions we're asked.
We've also published pages all about problems with specific makes of vehicle that we have encountered including:
Common Peugeot problems
Common Citroen problems
Common Renault problems
Common Alfa and Fiat problems
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Car Maintenance Questions
What engine oil should I use level in between servicing if needed?
All engine oil has an API rating which can always be found on the back of the bottle. Ask your service provider to give you this rating so that you may purchase your oil according to API rating rather than brand to save yourself money and ensure you maintain quality.
When will my cambelt need renewing?
A cambelt, often referred to as timing belt, is a rubber-toothed belt used to synchronise the valve to piston movements. If the belt should snap, the result of these two components becoming un-synchronised will, in most instances, result in catastrophic damage. The manufacturers often quote the lifespan of the belt in either mileage or time intervals. It is often worth considering replacement of the tensioner and guide bearings, which the belt runs round, at the same time as they are generally relatively inexpensive items and entail little or no extra labour when renewing the belt. Indeed, in some cases the manufacturers stipulate that the tensioners and guides must be renewed at the same time as the cambelt. We are happy to advise.
How often should anti-freeze be renewed?
Every 2-3 years but although its' anti-freezing properties are very important, its' anti-corrosive value is often overlooked, resulting in coolant system faults such as corrosion of the radiator, heater matrix, head gasket, thermostat and numerous sensors. The importance of regular anti-freeze changes cannot be overstated and is vital in reducing long term costs. Refer to our "Service Special" discounted anti-freeze renewal price when used in conjunction with any service.
How often should Automatic Transmission Fluid be renewed?
It is vital that it is renewed at the manufacturer's specified time intervals, although this varies greatly between manufacturers. In some cases a "sealed for life" autobox is fitted, supposedly eliminating the need for ATF changes. However, how long is life? Some manufacturers state 50,000 miles as life, others 100,000 miles and it seems to be a grey area. However all lubricants are readily available and we are happy to advise you.
Do I need to renew the EGR valve?
No. In more than 70% of cases it can be cleaned and re-fitted. After all, it does get very sooty due to the nature of its job.
Loud high pitch noise from wheel area when on and off brakes?
Common causes are a wheel bearing, seized wheel cylinders or rear suspension arm bearings. The most likely cause is the wheel bearing, one way of testing for this is when driving it will get noticeably noisier between 30mph and 40mph and then again between 60mph and 70mph. These are the harmonic points and generally between these speeds the bearing will be noisier.
Dos and Don'ts
Can I boost start my car without damaging it?
No. Never allow anybody to boost or jump start your car using leads or other equipment without first ensuring that they are using surge protection. You would be surprised who doesn't! The network of computers on modern vehicles are easily damaged in this way.
Spanner light illuminated on dash. What's that?
The light could either be up if the vehicle is due a service or if it has recorded a fault on the diagnostic network.
Dash warning for brakes?
Inadvertently resting your foot on the pedal can cause light to come on.
Air Bag Light on?
Do not stow items under the front seats as this can disturb the wires. If you think this may have happened, try turning the vehicle off and re-starting it to clear the fault. If the light is still on thereafter, then you need to consult us.
Questions about our services
What does an air-conditioning service consist of?
The service is fully automated and firstly extracts and weighs whatever gas is in the system, if any. It then cleanses the system and checks for leaks etc before re-filling with gas.
Will my service indicator be reset?
Yes. This is carried out as a matter of course after servicing.
Will I invalidate my warranty if I don't have my car serviced by the dealer?
No. Since EEC Block Exemption came into force, you will not invalidate the manufacturer's warranty provided that you have the car serviced at the correct interval. We can advise you on this if you are unsure.
Do you use the same diagnostic equipment as the dealer?
Yes. We have manufacturer's diagnostic software which we subscribe to in order to receive regular updates.
My MOT ran out yesterday, I have a test booked, can I still drive my car?
NO! The only time you can drive without an MOT is when you are traveliing to a pre-booked MOT test. But don't worry, we normally have some MOT slots free so drop us a line and get one booked ASAP!Do not stow items under the front seats as this can disturb the wires. If you think this may have happened, try turning the vehicle off and re-starting it to clear the fault. If the light is still on thereafter, then you need to consult us.