Have you noticed a reduction in performance from your car or is it using more fuel than usual?
Is there a red light that's lit on your dashboard?
This could be your Diesel Particulate Filter.
Modern diesel engines although efficient still produce an amount of particulate matter (soot) All diesels produced since 2009 will have been fitted with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) located in the exhaust that helps to stop this soot passing from the engine to the atmosphere. A DPF can be upto 80% efficient at removing soot from the exhaust gasses but like all filters a DPF should be cleaned regularly to ensure the best performance of not only the filter but also your engine.
When the temperature of the exhaust system gets hot enough the DPF goes through a process called Active Regeneration which mostly occurs during prolonged driving on motorways or fast A-roads. At these driving speeds the soot is burnt away leaving a small amount of ash residue.
Active regeneration for many cars doesn't occur as passively as a matter of day to day driving as modern driving trends have become more focused on short journeys around town, commuting to work and school drop offs. If this is the type of driving you do then the chances are Active Regeneration isn't able to clear the soot in the normal way.
A blocked DPF can be cleaned in a couple of ways, first is the most obvoius and that's to drive on a motorway or fast A road at a continuous speed of around 50 mph for at least 15 minutes or more on a regular basis, this will give the exhaust system time to reach the required temperature to start burning away the particles in the DPF. If this is the type of driving you do there's a good chance all is well, however there's no real way to know when and if the process has started or been completed.
Another option is to instigate removal of the particles manually with the use of a DPF flushing liquid that contains catalysts which work to lower the temperature at which the particles burn and therefore increase the likelyhood of the particles being cleared even during shorter lower speed journeys.
Engine DPF flushing can also be instigated through a professional process by your vehicle service and repair centre, this can be added on to your service to minimise disruption that may be caused by needing another trip to the garage and possibly another day without your vehicle.
Always keep this in mind when your car goes in for an MOT or service, especially if you have noticed a drop off in performance or an increase in fuel use.
As a long standing Car Repair and Service Centre we have seen many vehicles come in to our workshops with problems that with regular maintenance could well have been avoided. It's never a pleasant experience for us or you as the customer to given bad news about a costly repair, especially when it might have been avoided.
Top 5 Regular Car Maintenance Tips
We would always recommend that you stick to the manufacturers guidlines on servicing, which is what we do when you bring your car to us for service, MOT or repair, however there are a few things you can do on a regular basis to reduce the chances of a breakdown. Some are visual checks whilst others involve opening the car bonnet to get access to the engine, for safety always stop the engine before opening the bonnet and be aware that the engine and other parts stay hot for a long time after the engine is turned off.
All of these checks are quite straightforward and shouldn't worry even the less technically minded of drivers, the oil and coolant types required for your car can be found in your car's handbook.
We recommend that you check your car at least once a month and before any long journey.
1. Inspect Your Tyres
This is one of the easiest checks to do and is mostly visual. Have a walk around the car and look for cuts in the tread and the sidewalls, though modern tyres are very strong road debris and poor road surfaces can damage them. Also it is very important to be aware of the tread depth which should be at least 2mm, as the depth of the tread starts to get close to the lower limit the effectiveness of the grip can drastically reduce, especially in the wet. Also look to see that the tyres are waring equally across the width. Your tyres are the only contact points to the road so if you think they are getting close to the limit please don't delay in consulting a Garage or Service Centre who can advise you. Check the tyre pressure, this can be done quickly and easily at most petrol stations when you pull in to fill up, the tyre pressures for your car can usually be found just inside the drivers door pillar when the door is open next to where the seatbelt hangs.
2. Check Your Engine Oil
This is one of the checks that requires you to open the bonnet, most modern cars have a bonnet release under the dashboard near or in one of the footwells. The dipstick will be clearly marked with an Oil Can symbol and is usually clearly visible and easy to reach. In this image you can see the dipstick and oil filler cap clearly marked and although your vehicle may have a different layout there should be similar symbols.
It is important to have the correct level of oil in an engine as too much can be as bad as not enough. When you pull out the dipstick generally you will see 2 marks that the level should be between. If the car has been standing for a while the level should be clear but if the engine has been running use a clean rag to wipe the oil off the dipstick then push back in all the way and remove again to see the level. Different cars use different oils so please consult a local Garage or Service Centre if you're unsure which type is required.
4. Engine Coolant
When the engine is cold open the bonnet and check the coolant level. The temperature of your engine has a direct affect on the life, performance and fuel economy of your engine.
The coolant tank will have clear markings on the outside to indicate the required levels and usually contains a coloured liquid which is a water and coolant mix. Once upon a long time ago we used to add anti-freeze to the water to protect the engine from freezing but modern coolants also help prevent overheating so the concentration needs to be in the correct range. You can top up with water if required however this will dilute the the coolant so please consult a local Garage or Service Centre to ensure your coolant is at the correct concentration. If you are having to top this up regularly then there might be a problem that needs looking in to.
Though this may not appear to be a cost saving tip at first, not being able to see clearly whilst driving can cause all sorts of problems and is of course quite dangerous, so whilst the engine bay is open it's a good idea to check the screenwash. On a long journey or in mucky conditions it's amazing how quickly dirt builds up on the windscreen and can impair your vision. Look for a windscreen wiper symbol on a bottle cap, often in blue and near the front of the engine bay. You can top this up with water and a screenwash detergent, available from all Motorist Centres and Petrol Stations, which will not only clean your windscreen but also protect against freezing so you can use the wash wipe in cold conditions.
5. Windscreen Wipers
Windscreen Wipers that work are a requirement by law and really easy to check. If they are leaving wet streaks on your windscreen that impair your vision then it's probably time to change them. Have a quick look to see if there are any holes or tears in the rubber, also run your finger along them to check for anything that might be stuck to them causing them to not sit flat against the glass. Rules on windscreens are very strict so a cheap pair of new wiper blades is a far better choice than a scratched or damaged screen where the blades have failed and the metal arms have marked the screen.
General Car Maintenance
These are just a few of the most common maintenance tasks that can prevent costly repairs to your car, however all vehicles are slightly different so consult your car's handbook for your manufacturer's list of maintenance requirements. If you're unsure please contact your Dealer or better still an independent Garage or Service Centre near you and no doubt they will be happy to help.
Helpful tips for driving in winter
We are very lucky in the UK it's not often that we experience prolonged extreme winter weather, however in recent years we have had waves of ice and snow that have caused havoc on the roads. We have included a short list of simple things you can do to prepare yourself for winter driving.
- The most important thing to consider first is whether your journey is absolutely necessary. The best way to stay out of trouble on icy roads is to not drive.
- Get your battery checked. Batteries have got much better in recent years, however they don't like the cold are more likely to fail when the temperature falls.
- Make sure you have the correct mixture of anti-freeze in the engine cooling system. Modern anti-freeze protects your engine in all conditions, hot and cold, so should be kept at the correct levels all year.
- Your windscreen washer fluid should be kept topped up as winter driving can get messy. Use the correct mixture of screenwash and water as this acts as anti-freeze. Don't use washing up liquid, it will freeze solid.
- Have your air-con system checked as performance can drop off over time. Your air-con is vital in bad weather as it demists the windows far more efficiently when it's working properly giving you better visibility.
- It's a good idea to carry a small bag of essentials in your car, just in case you get stuck in snow. Consider including food, water, warm clothes and a blanket.
- Keep your phone battery charged and have an in-car charger so you can contact the rescue services should you run in to trouble.
- Try and avoid minor roads that may not be gritted. Carrying a shovel in the car can be very useful so you can dig the car out of snow, especially if you need to drive on minor roads.
- Winter driving requires extra tread in your tyres, the tread should be at least 3mm deep. If you live in a location susceptable to snow and ice consider fitting winter tyres*.
- Keep your fuel tank topped up, just in case you get caught out on icy roads. This will mean you have plenty of fuel to keep the engine running when you need heat and light.
If you must drive in bad conditions, adjust your driving style. Driving in the rain, snow and ice not only makes the car harder to control, it can also create poor visibility which cuts down on reaction time. Think ahead and give yourself extra time to make your journey.
If you have your car serviced on regular basis it should be ready for winter conditions. If you're unsure please call us on 01202 528 667 and we will check your car for winter driving. For most makes and models these checks are usually free of charge.
* Some insurers consider fitting winter tyres as a vehicle modification. Please check how this might affect your policy with your insurer before fitting winter tyres.
Servicing Your VW Golf
Great reliability and low running and repair costs make the VW Golf a very easy car to live with, hence the popularity of this long time favourite. Being such a popular car most reputable service centres will be able to service your car to VW specifications as well as easily source the parts needed for regular maintenance and repairs.
The VW Golf has proven such a reliable car that hopefully you wont have too much trouble and it will only visit a garage for a regular service, however no car is perfect throughout your time owning it and any problems should be sorted quickly and easily by a reputable service centre like ourselves to help minimise any expensive repairs which can be caused by poor maintenance.
Most reputable service centres may also offer free safety checks for components such as brakes, tyres and fluids which will help identify parts that might be wearing out before they become a problem and create a large repair bill. Another check to consider on older models is the Air Con efficiency as the AC system may need recharging to bring it back up to full capability.
About the VW Golf
The VW Golf is now in its 40th year and 7th generation with no sign of losing it's popularity. The great thing about the Golf is that even throughout the years its managed to keep its timeless and understated look. The golf has won many awards including Yahoo Car of the year 2015 for the latest mark 7 version, and is a great car designed for all types of drivers.
If you're looking for a practical car then the Golf is just that, offering a comfortable drive across the range. Whether you go for the Bluemotion petrol or the TDi diesel engines they are still deemed as a better drive than many rivals and even more expensive cars in the classes above.
One of the Golf's biggest strengths is the reliability of the car with few complaints about the Golf its the perfect vehicle for keeping running costs to a minimum.
VW Golf Running Costs
A lot like it's main rival the ford focus, running cost for a VW Golf are very reasonable and with a wide range to choose from there is a VW Golf to suit most budgets. The wide variety of models in the Golf range means thats road tax varies across many tax bands, and insurance is often cheaper than smaller cheaper cars since the introduction of the crash avoidance systems that have been added to the latest models.
Overall the Golf is a timeless car that still remains a great value for money.