Are your van tyres safe, legal, and efficient?

When you drive a van, there are a set of questions you always need to know the answer to. Where are you going? What are you transporting? Will the customer be in? Is your cargo safely secured in the back for the van?

These are the day-to-day questions you’ll ask, but you need to add another to that list. How are the tyres?

With all the miles you will put into a van, the tyres really should be your chief concern. They are the only thing connecting you to the road. They influence your stopping distance, your ability to steer and even your fuel efficiency.

Here’s what you need to know about checking your tyres:

Tyre tread

The law is the same for van tyres as it is for car tyres. They must have a tread depth of 1.6mm. It is obviously not ideal to be running a van at the limit and it will impact your ability to brake and steer. It will be especially noticeable in wet conditions.
It is regarded as good practice to change your tyres when they have 3mm of tread left. It’s really important to remember to check your tread regularly. When you are moving a heavy load with a lot of stop-start braking, the last thing you want to be concerned about is if your tyres are up to the job.

Pressure

Checking your tyres is more than just checking for tread and damage, it’s about maintaining the right pressure in them. Running under-pressurised tyres will greatly increase your fuel usage, your stopping distance and wear out your tyres quicker. In the same way that over-pressurised tyres will affect your steering and driving style. Running the tyres at the pressures they were designed for is the best way to get maximum life from them, increase your fuel efficiency and improve your driving experience.

Buy Efficient Tyres

All tyres are rated on their fuel efficiency. The rating runs from A, as the most efficient, to G for the least efficient. Buying as high up the scale as your budget will afford will save you fuel costs later on.

Driving a van should not be a stressful experience, making sure you have safe, legal and efficient tyres will help to make your journey as smooth as possible. Making a tyre check a part of your pre-driving routine will help you in the long run.

The World’s Best Driving Roads

Autumn Drive

If you love driving and are not fortunate enough to live on the doorstep of the world’s best roads to drive on, what follows may inspire some driving destinations full of spectacular scenery, challenging twists and turns, and outstanding challenges.

The Big Sur, California
America has produced some of the most fabulous cars in automotive history, and it also boasts some of the best and most legendary driving experiences. Also known by its formal name of Highway 1 this road runs by the central Californian coast through Big Sur itself. This famous stretch from Carmel to San Simeon has the Pacific Ocean to its west and the Santa Lucia mountains to its east. The narrow road is only two lanes with winding turns and views of the spectacular coastline which is often shrouded in mist.

Norway’s Atlantic Road
This spectacular road is more of a bridge, spanning the 5.2 miles between the towns of Kristiansund and Molde. Part of Country Road 64, this remarkable roadway is built upon several islands, using no fewer than eight bridges and a number of viaducts and causeways.

Tianmen Mountain Road of China
For sheer drama of landscape and engineering, this road takes some beating. In the Tianmen Mountain National Park this 11 km road boasts no fewer than 99 bends. Built into the sides of the mountain, with spire-like peaks, the road ribbons against the green mountainside, giving views like no other.

Florida Keys Seven Mile Bridge
Actually it’s 6.765 miles, but that doesn’t make this two lane bridge in Monroe County, Florida any less impressive and unique. Around the centre the bridge rises to 65 feet to allow shipping to pass underneath, but the rest of it is much closer to the water, making it an exhilarating drive.

Australia’s Great Ocean Road
It stretches for 151 miles along the south-eastern Australian coast between Torquay and Warrnambool. The road was built between 1919 and 1932 by soldiers returned from the Great War and is the world’s largest war memorial, being dedicated to casualties of World War I. The road winds through varied terrain beside the coast giving a wide range of views.

Sani Pass, South Africa
Driving this road requires above average experience and skill, making it a true challenge. The 9km long Pass forms part of the road joining Underberg and Mokhotlong in Lesotho. Vehicles deemed unsuitable for the journey will be turned away by South African immigration at the bottom of the Pass. Lesotho border agents at the other end will usually, however, allow most to attempt to descend. Drivers can therefore make a choice between the type of vehicle they wish to use and from which end of the Pass to make an attempt.

 

Four-year MOT exemption for new cars proposed

The UK Government have proposed to change the law regarding MOT checks for cars and motorbikes.

Currently in the UK, vehicles undergo an MOT test on the third anniversary of their registration and every year after this period. This is a safety check, concerned with all aspects of the vehicle, including exhaust emissions, seat belts, lights, suspension, tyres and the condition of the bodywork. Anyone caught driving a vehicle without a valid MOT certificate could be fined up to £1000. However, the duration of time that you can drive a new car without getting an MOT could be changing, with the first test being necessary after four years instead of three.

MOTs were first introduced in 1960 for vehicles more than ten years old, before the exemption period was reduced to three years in 1967. There are, however, currently a few exceptions to the law: classic cars and motorcycles made before 1960 do not require an MOT certificate, nor do tractors or electric goods vehicles.

This is hardly a controversial proposal – many of the UK’s close neighbours throughout the European Union, and even Northern Ireland, already operate similar legislation. The reasoning behind the proposed move is simply to make the law consistent with the fact that the roads four decades ago were very different from what they are like now: vehicles stay roadworthy for longer due to the implementation of safer technology and better manufacturing. Referring to a vast body of statistics, those who advocate this change argue that the number of accidents which have been caused by vehicular defects have dropped drastically over the last decade.

With the cost of motoring rising every day because of insurance premiums, road tax and fuel prices, this will be largely welcomed by drivers who can pay up to £54.85 for an MOT test before any repairs are even carried out.

 

How to Check Your Van before a Road Trip

caro

If you’re heading off on a long road trip, you need to check your van before you go. While you’re at home it’s fairly easy to fix problems and your local garage probably isn’t far away; on the road, you may be miles from anywhere when it breaks down.

First check that you have all your paperwork

If you have problems with the vehicle, you’ll need your service log and registration papers. Remember to take insurance and breakdown companies’ phone numbers with you.

What’s the last time you had a full check-up? Is one due shortly? It might be a good idea to bring it forward and get it done before the trip.

Check your levels

All the different fluids in your engine need checking.

  • Check your oil with the dipstick; if it’s running low, top it up. (If you’ve been putting off an oil change, get it done now.)
  • Check the windscreen washer fluid, and top it up if you need to. While you’re about it, check your wipers – are they doing a good job? If not, replacing them is an easy job.
  • Check the levels of antifreeze and coolant.
  • Check your brake fluid. If it’s a little bit low, top it up; if it is very low, or fills and then disappears, you may want to get your brakes checked professionally, as there could be a problem.

Check your tyres

First of all, inspect visually to make sure your tread hasn’t worn bare. Then measure the air pressure; you’ll find the recommended PSI figure on the side of the tyre. Check the spare tyre too!

Check your brakes

If they squeal, groan or grate, get them professionally checked.

Check your lights

Make sure they’re all working. If you park with the back of the van facing a wall or window you’ll be able to see the rear indicators, reversing and brake lights.

Make sure your battery’s charged and the terminals aren’t corroded.

Finally, even though you’ve checked everything’s working, pack an emergency kit with a strong torch, jump leads, a first aid kid, and basic tool kit. And include a packet of baby wipes, as there’s nothing worse than having oily hands after you’ve fixed your engine!

 

Tips on Keeping Your Van clean

Van drive

From bricklayers to gardeners, vans provide a mode of transport for people working in many types of industries. However, filling the van up with tools and equipment can often cause a built up of dust and dirt. If the van is not thoroughly cleaned then it can cause damage to the interiors, so it is essential that it is properly cleaned and maintained. Cleaning a van needn’t be a stressful or lengthy chore providing that you follow a few simple rules. Read on to find out how to clean your van in four simple steps.

Before you start, it’s a wise idea to grab all of the essential items you will need to clean your van. You’ll need a bowl, car cleaning solution, microfiber cloth, hoover, an old toothbrush, a hose and a sponge.

Start with the interior of the van; remove all of the mats and shake them outside of the car. Place them outside of the vehicle until you have finished cleaning the interiors.

Prepare a solution of detergent soap and warm water, or if you prefer, you can use a cleaning product wich is designed for use in vans and cars. Dip the microfiber cloth into the mixture, and use it to wipe down all of the dashboards, the door panels, gear stick and the steering wheel. If there are any hard to budge stains, you can use an old toothbrush to scrub them away. When you are done, rinse out the cloth and wipe down the same surfaces with clear water and then dry. Ensure that you have remove all traces of cleaning product, as it can corrode or stain the dashboard if it is not properly cleaned up.

Next, use the vacuum to hoover the interior of the car and the mats that you removed. When clean, place the mats back into the van.

Now you’re ready to move onto the exterior of the van. Always use cleaning products which have been designed for use on vehicles as liquid dish soap can erode the paintwork. Pour some of the cleaning product into a bucket of warm water, then use sponge to wash the entire vehicle. When you are done, use a hose to wash the car and make sure that all of the cleaning product is removed. You can use the microfiber cloth to clean lights and more harder to clean areas.

Follow the above tips and you will be well on your way to having a squeaky clean van.

Are your tires safe for driving this Winter?

pine row path

As winter draws closer and the daylight hours become shorter, it’s time for motorists to take the necessary steps to ensure their safety on the roads.

Without thinking twice, most of us will have bought the can of de-icer, and topped up the antifreeze, but how often do we contemplate the suitability of our tyres for the harsh winter months? Let’s take a brief look at some important considerations concerning tyre safety as we head towards the end of the year.

Snow tyres are a great investment for any motorist. Living in the UK, it’s quite easy to be caught out by an unexpected snow flurry, so do consider being prepared by having a set of these specialised tyres installed. With a greater tread, and the ability to withstand the plummeting temperatures, a vehicle’s traction is greatly enhanced when driving on snow tyres.

Checking the tread on your current tyres is also of vital importance. The legal limit for tyre tread is 1.6mm, however, 3mm is the recommended minimum. The difference between these two measurements is a stopping distance of two car lengths on a wet road. Perhaps, the difference between a safe stop and a crash? Also check the tread on both sides of the tyre, as an uneven measurement may point to an alignment problem.

Tyre pressure is an equally important factor to consider at this time of year. For every drop of 10-degrees in temperature, a tyre will lose a single PSI of pressure. Those of us who had adequately inflated tyres during the warmer months, may now have dangerously soft tyres. Traction and handling are greatly affected by tyre pressure, so be sure to bear this in mind when heading out onto those hazardous roads. It’s also useful to point out that properly inflated tyres will lead to greater vehicle performance, allowing you to save money on fuel!

Taking steps to ensure your safety while driving in winter should be every motorist’s priority. Do ensure your tyres are ready to handle the changing environment as the colder months start to bite. After all, you never know when you might need to head out and deliver that missed Christmas present!

Tips for buying a used van

When you buy a new van that has just come off the production line, there is an argument that because you are the first owner, you are not buying other people’s problems. You can feel secure that it is in pristine condition, and you can use the extensive warranty that you have been given for any problem.

There is, however, a lot to be said for buying second hand. For a start, it is cheaper, and you could pick up a bargain. To ensure that you don’t purchase a vehicle that will cause you problems, certain essential checks are useful to know.

The body

Examine the bodywork for is rust. This may be easy to see if it is on the wings and sills, but also check underneath the wheel arches and don’t forget door frames. By pressing on a rusty spot, a sure sign of corrosion is if you hear a crunching sound. If not, it is just superficial.

The suspension

A van’s suspension should allow the vehicle to bounce once, before returning to a stationary position. If it doesn’t do this, you may have problems with a shock absorber. Always take a test drive before committing yourself to a sale.

Lights

If these are not working or are flickering, it is an indication that the electrical system isn’t healthy.

The air conditioning system

If this is not functioning correctly, then it could cost a lot of money to fix. Check this and the van’s heating system.

Braking

On your test drive, find a piece of straight road and see how the vehicle stops. Listen particularly for any grinding or squealing noises. The van should also stop in a straight line and not pull to the left or right.

Tyres

If there is wear on the tyres, this should be even. If not, then it a sign that maybe the tracking needs adjusting or there is a problem with the suspension. Check that there is a ‘proper’ spare tyre.

The engine

Look for smoke and listen for any strange sounds.

Steering

This should be responsive with no free play.

The cabin

Make sure that there are no warning lights on the dash that are lit up, and also try out the seat belts.

After doing all of the above checks, take a long look at the service history.

Finally, make sure you buy your second-hand van through a reputable dealer.

Top 10 classic Citroen Designs

cit
The French automobile company name of Citroën has always been associated with imposing style and automotive innovation. But what are the 10 cars that stand out above others from the make as past and future classics?

1. The Citroën Traction Avant was produced between 1934 and 1957 and was the first production car with four wheel drive. The classic looks and technical innovation, which also included independent suspension on all four wheels and a unitary body without a frame make it an obvious choice as a classic.

2. Although not the most beautiful of Citroën vehicles the 2CV or “deux chevaux” meaning Two Horses, a reference to the two horsepower engine, must rank as a classic piece of design. The car was produced from 1948 until 1990.

3. One of the most striking of motor cars and perhaps the most impressive of all Citroëns must be the DS or ‘Deesse’ meaning Goddess. As well as hydropneumatic suspension this car featured innovative directional headlights which turned as the front wheels did so.

4. Almost as impressive as the DS the SM, produced from 1970-75. A large car it was a sport coupe based upon the DS and in one version featuring a Maserati engine reflecting the fact that Maserati were during that time owned by Citroën.

5. After the SM the GS was born. Somewhat squarer in shape than its predecessors but still striking the car bore a number of innovations including suspension that would famously hold it up with only three wheels.

6. Next came the CX, another new design that was reminiscent of the DS and its successors.

7. The BX, produced between 1982-94 was an innovative new design that moved away from the smooth curving forms of previous models, and was a popular hatchback of the 80s and early 90s. The diesel-powered version became extremely popular due to the high performance and good fuel economy.

8. The XM of 1994 was a perfect example of old meets new. The sleek angular lines retained Citroën style and was a worthy successor to the DS estate.

How to Make Your Old Car Feel New Again

xj

Few things feel better than driving around in a brand new car. With accumulated years and miles, our vehicle loses some of that exciting new lustre. Rather than trading in a reliable ride and taking on the enormous expense of a new car, why not employ a few simple tricks to make your old car feel new again?

Firstly, give everything a thorough scrubbing. This will need to be much deeper than your regular cleaning. Get into every nook and cranny, give the carpet a good shampooing, scrub the boot, and clean the engine.

Once your vehicle is as clean as it can be, inspect the cockpit, as it may need a bit of a makeover. A new steering wheel or dashboard cover may be in order. Any broken or missing knobs and buttons need to be replaced. New or used pieces can be ordered, or located in a scrapyard.

Consider updating your current sound system. If your vehicle is more than a few years old, it’s likely your system is in need of an upgrade. Pop into your local electronics shop to have a look at new units and ask about installation costs.

Have a good look at your car’s headlamp covers. These often become dull with time due to natural wear and tear. A headlamp restoration kit will solve this easily, and are reasonably priced.

Air conditioning units are prone to mould and mildew build up. Changing the filters, or replacing them completely will go a long way in improving the smell and air quality of your car’s interior. Your nose will thank you!

Rubber tends to crack and break down as the years go by. This is normal. When this happens to the rubber stripping around the windows, it can lead to annoying sounds due to air leaking in, even more annoying when water drips inside on a rainy day. This rubber sealing can be easily replaced. Once this is done, you may notice a quieter ride.

Give your car’s braking system a once-over. Worn pads can not only have a detrimental effect on your vehicle’s performance, but is an important safety issue, as well.

In addition to the brake shoes and pads, the condition of the tyres is crucial. A new set of wheels and tyres can go a long way in improving the appearance and performance of any vehicle.

Top Tips to Help Maintain Your Van’s Tyres

Citroen Berlingo Multispace

Choosing the correct type of tyres for your van is very important, as is regular maintenance. Below we share some tips on how to look after your van’s tyres.

The importance of choosing the correct tyres

The correct tyre is essential in helping the van cope with heavy loads, rigorous journeys and varying road conditions. Ultimately, van tyres need to be hard wearing and tough.

There are many things you should look for when choosing van tyres.

Tread

Tyre tread is very important. The tyre tread needs to be 1.6mm or more, as stipulated by UK law. Having the correct tyre tread for your van improves handling, responsiveness and overall safety when driving.

Pressure

When your van tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, then this greatly improves the safety of your vehicle. If tyres are inflated incorrectly, then this will result in more wear and tear of your tyres and ultimately cost you more money, as they will need to be changed more regularly. Your fuel consumption will also increase, resulting in yet more expense. Check your model of van to find out what the correct tyre pressure should be. The pressure of your tyres will also change depending on how heavy the load is, so always check tyre pressure once the van has been loaded. One great tip here is to check the tyres when they are cold, as you get an accurate result.

Condition of your van tyres

Your van’s tyres should be inspected at least every 4 weeks, or before embarking upon long journeys. Van tyres are subjected to a lot of use and can easily accumulate debris in the treads. You also need to be vigilant for any cracks or bulges in the sidewall of the tyre, as these can prove fatal.

Alignment of wheels

Vans have to navigate multiple road surfaces, busy streets and are on the road more often than cars. For this reason it is very easy for them to drive into pot holes on the road and to hit kerbs, both of which can misalign the wheels and damage tyres. If you find that you are having to correct your driving, due to the van veering off to one side; or if one side of the tyre is more worn, then you need to get your wheels checked to make sure that they are aligned correctly.