How to Check Your Van before a Road Trip

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

Ensure Trouble-Free Driving with Proper Car Engine Maintenance

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The engine is, quite literally, the driving force of a car. Although a full engine replacement is possible, in reality when an engine fails it’s usually time to consign the entire vehicle to the scrap heap. Even before things get to that stage, an engine that’s running poorly is not efficient, which not only costs more to drive, it makes for a more frustrating and uncomfortable journey. Bearing this in mind, keeping your car’s engine in good working order as you go with proper maintenance is vital if you want to enjoy years of happy driving.

Oil Issues

Without oil, your engine will soon collapse into a clanking, screeching mess of tortured metal before seizing up completely. Ensure your oil levels are kept high enough by checking them regularly, and don’t rely on your dashboard warning light to remind you to top up – by this time, damage may already have been done.

Over time, the quality and efficiency of your oil will start to degrade, and the oil will start to pick up dirt and debris which it will pass on to your engine parts. Prevent this by changing your oil regularly so that it stays clean and retains its lubricating power.

Finally, if you find you need to top up your oil levels more and more often, take this as a warning sign that there could be a fault somewhere causing leaks – get it checked out urgently, as a serious oil leak can cause fatal engine damage with little warning.

The Cooling System

An overheating engine is still the most common cause of a car breakdown, but it’s not just a nuisance when this happens: if your engine is regularly running too hot, its lifespan will be drastically reduced. It’s vitally important to ensure that the levels of liquid coolant in your engine’s reservoir are kept at the proper level, and that there are no leaks in the system. Also, keep an eye on the various belts, fans, and hoses which are visible within your engine compartment – if they look worn, cracked, or even overly dirty, then either replace them or have them checked out by your mechanic.

Keeping in Tune

Although having your car serviced may seem like an unnecessary expense, skipping it will be a false economy if your poorly-maintained engine suffers a catastrophic failure. Schedule regular major and interim services, during which the engine tuning will be checked and adjusted if necessary to keep it running smoothly, as well as the overall state of the engine being inspected for early signs of wear and tear.

Today’s car engines are highly engineered marvels of power and reliability – help yours to stay that way by looking after it properly!

 

Best Places to Drive in the UK

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England’s roads offer a wealth of opportunities to enjoy the very best of the scenery the country has to offer. Starting with the Garden of England, Kent, a journey along the A258 between Dover and Deal offers stunning views of rolling countryside, fields beneath big skies and sea glimpses; historic buildings (three medieval and Tudor castles) and abundant greenery and trees make this a fine coastal drive with huge variation in elevation. For picturesque villages and towns the county of Suffolk offers a number of opportunities; focussing on the Suffolk Wool Towns will take the driver around Long Melford, Lavenham, Cavendish and Clare. For those who wish to drive through moorland country the A39 between Barnstaple, the oldest borough in the United Kingdom, and the coastal town of Minehead offers rolling, undulating countryside and sea views that combine to offer a wide ranging experience of views. This drive takes one through Exmoore National Park.

Those enjoying the Lake District and its scenery can take the A591 and A592 between Lake Windemere and Kirkstone Pass. The elevation of the pass, the highest in the Lake District, is 1,500 feet. The views are stunning and varied.
Loch Lomand in Scotland is by the A82, and the drive North from Dumbarton offers mountain views capped by heather and clouds. Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and Rowardennan Forest and the Trossachs National Park offer wonderful views during the drive. The A82 also links Loch Lomand and Loch Ness, offering stunning views across the Lochs, countryside and mountains.
For drivers seeking a demanding and challenging journey Cornwall offers the B3306 between St Ives and St Just and the road sits on the edge of the Celtic Sea. The road twists and turns repeatedly, and is often busy with pedestrians, cyclists and tourist buses. Cheddar Gorge in Somerset is the deepest in the country. 27 limestone cliffs climb 500 feet and boast an extensive cave system with two show caves available to visitors. The B3135 twists through the Gorge, offering spectacular views and there are opportunities for those who wish to go rock climbing or caving. The A303 on the way towards Taunton, Somerset, runs past historic Stonehenge, offering a fine view of the Neolithic circle of stones. Finally, Yorkshire boasts the Wensleydale to Swaledale road, described by Jeremy Clarkson as the ‘only truly spectacular’ road in Britain. The road runs through the Yorkshire Dales.

Top Ten Items We Should Always Keep in our Car

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Top Ten Items to Always Keep in Your Car

You never know when you might suffer a breakdown or run into other unexpected problems when you’re driving somewhere. Make sure you always have these items in your car, and you’ll be prepared for any eventuality.

1: Torch
Not only useful in case of night-time breakdowns, but a torch can also be used for signalling passing cars if you need help. Make sure you have working batteries, or get the wind-up kind to make sure you don’t get caught out.

2: Duct Tape
Surprisingly useful for quick fixes, a roll of duct tape is really versatile, lightweight and takes up very little space. A simple item, but one that can solve many problems.

3: First Aid Kit
Always useful to have in case of small injuries. Keep it fully stocked and check expiry dates where relevant.

4: In-Car Mobile Phone Charger
Keep your phone running as long as possible when you’re away from a charging point. Remember, phones are not just for making calls these days, but have many functions that could be useful in an emergency.

5: Bottled Water
Dehydration can set in quickly when you’re stuck somewhere, so ensure you have an emergency supply of water in the boot. Although it lasts a long time, bottled water does eventually expire, so make sure it’s in date.

6: Warm Clothing
A warm and jacket is important to have on hand if the weather catches you by surprise, or if you have to wait for assistance outside of your car at night. Make sure it’s also waterproof.

7: Candle and Matches
In cold weather with no heating, you might be surprised how much warmer a simple candle can make the inside of the car. Place it in a safe, fireproof container such as a tin can.

8: Energy Bars
If you break down and are stuck without food, an energy bar can give you a much-needed boost and keep you going.

9: Reflective Triangle
A vital item to ensure passing drivers can see you if you’re stranded at the side of the road without hazard lights. You can buy folding ones that take up very little space.

10: Multi-Tool
Investing in a good-quality multi-tool can safe space in the car while still giving you a range of useful functions for repairs.