Winter Car Essentials

Snow Covered Car

Preparing for bad weather can be as simple as checking your tyres, lights and oil. But those in rural areas or expected especially bad weather, you might need to consider what you would do if, despite your best laid plans, you become stranded. Sheffield is surrounded by plenty of beautiful countryside, from idyllic farmland to the majestic but barren Peak District. But if you become stuck, broken down, or crashed in these places and the winter weather is whipping up, these picturesque surroundings might seem less inviting.

 

Phone battery

Keeping a spare phone charge on a portable battery can really save your skin in a breakdown. A cheap battery from any high street camping or electrical shop can hold enough power to recharge your phone several times. It’s also worth considering keeping an adapter or cable to charge the phone from the cigarette lighter in the car. Most smartphones can now double as effective sat navs if you get really lost.

 

 

Fuel

A can of fuel to get you to the nearest petrol station might be the difference between a night in the cold, and a quick detour on your way home. If you live in a remote area, trekking for fuel could be a serious hazard- prolonged exposure to very bad or cold weather can easily pose a risk to safety. Make sure you use a safe fuel can from a garage, and replace the fuel in it every so often- safe and responsible storage of fuel is vital.

 

 

A road atlas

We’ve already talked about using a phone as a satnav, but it’s always worth having the old fashioned version to back it up. Paper maps fit easily behind your seat and don’t crash or run out of power. Before long journeys it’s worth getting a rough idea of where you’re going anyway, and knowing where you are is vital when calling for roadside assistance.

 

 

Some snacks

Grab some energy bars, a bag of crisps or sweets, some bottled water- something that you can keep in the car for a while. If you face a long wait for a recovery vehicle it could really help- especially if you’ve got kids in the car. While we’re on the topic of sugary snacks, this advice goes double if you suffer from conditions that might be alleviated by topping up blood sugars such as diabetes or panic attacks.

 

Medicine

If you have to take medication regularly, make sure there’s some in the car with a bottle of water, just in case. Inhalers, contact lenses, anything you might regret not having if you’re stuck in the car for a long time, make sure there’s some available. In addition some paracetamol, ibuprofen or similar, along with some wet wipes and plasters, are always worth keeping in the car.

 

Some cash

It’s never a good a good idea to keep a lot of money in the car, but what if you lose your wallet and need some petrol? Or have to get a taxi to the nearest petrol station in the event of a breakdown? £20 cash might be difference between a walk and a taxi. Make sure it isn’t on show- opportunistic thieves may think there’s more cash in the car- and keep it somewhere you won’t be tempted to grab it for some shopping.

 

 

 

Warm clothes & boots

If you don’t fancy digging your car out of a snow drift in your work shoes, or trekking to the nearest petrol station in a suit jacket on a December night, bear in mind breakdowns occur when you least expect. Put a pair of wellies and a warm, waterproof coat in the boot, and some gloves in the glove box- it might be a big help if you find yourself out looking for a phone.

 

 

The best way to prepare for long journeys in bad weather is to get an expert to thoroughly check your car to ensure it’s running smoothly. Don’t ignore the need to keep something in your boot for emergencies, but catching those small problems before they become serious lessens the chance of you needing them.

 

Horsepower: What Does it Mean?

Funnily enough, horse power is quite literally a comparison to a horse. The term was first used by James Watt when he was attempting to prove the effectiveness of his steam engine, compared to the horses he aimed to replace. Watt claimed that 1 horsepower as a measure was equivalent to one horse lifting 33,000 over one foot in one minute, with the force of earth’s gravity… Still following?

When applied to cars, it has to be altered to brake-horsepower (bHP). This is so a vehicle’s energy loss due to friction is taken into account. However standard horse power often takes this into account so they’re mostly the same measurement, it’s just someone trying to doing as though they know what they’re talking about.

Luckily the measurement has been refined somewhat and now 1 horsepower is equivalent to around 550 foot-pounds per second, this is also similar to 750 watts.

The first car in Britain to use its horsepower to exceed 100mph was the Vauxhall 30-93. This particular car developed 90bhp, impressive for its time and weight. Brooklands raceway was the venue for the record and allowed Britain to show the world that they know how to use horsepower.

Smoking Engine Worries?

Is your engine sending smoke signals? Discover your car engine complaints hidden in the smoke.

 

Does your car ignition greet you with an unusual cloud of smoke?  If it does, it could be an indicator of the state of your engine. Below we lay out some of the characteristics of engine smoke- and the action you may need to take if the fumes aren’t what you expect to see.

 

 

Black or Grey

Black smoke may not be the worst news- it means your car is burning too much fuel, or burning it incompletely. While this might hit your fuel economy, it isn’t a huge problem compared to some other ‘smoke signals’ your engine might send. You will want to get it checked out before it starts to cost you too much money. Likely it’s a problem with fuel injection, air filters, return line, or pressure regulation. If your car is a diesel, you may be burning the wrong kind of fuel or your engine may be overheating.

 

White

Generally, a little white smoke is to be expected on starting the engine. This is condensation evaporating, and as the engine heats this should disperse.  On a diesel, this might mean your fuel injection pump is not working properly, that the engine is overheating or that the timings in the engine motion are faulty.

On petrol cars, white smoke can be more serious- indicating that coolant is leaking into the engine and being burned, or that the gasket head or cylinder is cracked.

 

Blue

Blue smoke comes from burning oil- this means valves or piston rings might be worn out, allowing oil into the engine, or that you’re using too much oil.

 

This is isn’t a comprehensive list, but hopefully it can give you some idea of how to react to sudden smoking from your engine. If you have any concerns, doubts or questions about how best to respond to a sudden cloud from the depths of your engine, contact us & speak to a member of our team today.

Risks of Steering Loss

Steering loss is thankfully a rare situation for drivers to find themselves in. However you might find your steering begins to suffer, and regular check-ups with a qualified mechanic can be a great way to keep your car running smoothly. As Rotherham’s top steering repair service centre, Walker Cutting is ready to help diagnose and repair any potential issues in your car steering.

If your steering ever does cut out on you, pull over and safely stop immediately and contact roadside assistance.

What are some of the possible causes of steering loss?

 

Ball joint wear

One of the side effects of bad weather driving can be increased wear to the ball joint & socket. You may be able to hear this as wear continues. Confusingly, this can lead to steering being either too loose or two tight. Uneven tyre wear, caused by damage to the suspension, can also be a sign that the ball joint has been damaged.

 

Steering lock fault

Steering locks can restrict your steering by jamming- this can be due to the weight of the car limited the mechanism’s movement enough to unlock itself. If this happens you’ll need to gently and slowly move the car a few feet, either by pushing or rolling, or otherwise raise the car on a jack, in order to remove the pressure on the steering lock. If you do decide to roll the car, be aware that if the engine is off you may need to exert more pressure on the brakes in order to safely stop.

 

Power steering fluid

Check the power steering fluid- and ensure you’re using a recommended brand for your car. If the fluid reservoir begins to run low, you’ll notice a decline in steering control. You’ll need to check the fluid level and if necessary refill it, as otherwise engine parts could be damaged.

 

Factory fault

In 2009, mini cooper was forced to announce almost a quarter of a million of its cars, made between 2001 and 2007, could potentially have control problems. 223,000 mini owners were warned about potentially dangerous steering control problems caused by the power steering pump.

 

 

If you require car repair in Rotherham, contact Walker Cutting today for ABS brakes repair, diagnostic services, and MOT services.

4×4 Wheel Alignment in Rotherham

Walker Cutting: Best For 4×4 Wheel Alignment Repair Solutions In Rotherham

When you drive a different kind of vehicle, such as a motorhome, van or 4×4, it’s easy to feel let down by garages- most of whom make their living on conventional cars. But the importance of maintenance for these vehicles cannot be understated. As we examine the unique nature of wheel alignment on certain vehicles, we see that the conventional approach taken by drivers of ‘regular cars’ doesn’t always follow. Instead, what might be a simple fix can require the care of a real expert. At Walker Cutting our staff are specially trained to deliver quality wheel alignment for all vehicles, and are trusted by owners of 4x4s, motorhomes, and vans, as well as cars of all makes, to perform wheel alignment, car tracking repair, fuel injector cleaning, and a wide variety of servicing and diagnostic procedures, to a high standard.

We understand that driving a 4×4 can be expensive. The wheel alignment procedure on a four wheel drive becomes more complex and, often, more expensive. As with a lot of work, a 4wd can be trickier than with a 2wd. Therefore you need to know you can rely on your mechanic to deliver top-quality workmanship. Walker Cutting Rotherham can perform checks and diagnostics to measure the exact alignment of your tyres, and restore them to the correct, as-new condition. Our quick and exact tests ensure your 4×4’s wheel alignment is professionally and efficiently repaired, while keeping the costs affordable.

We can also offer new tyres for your 4×4- often tyre misalignment can lead to uneven wear and damage to the sides of your tyres. For more information on our services, prices, and for any queries, please contact us to speak to one of our team.

Our Top Drives in Yorkshire

 

Yorkshire has a lot to offer drivers- make the most of it with a Walker Cutting car service.

We love to explore the finest county in Britain, and although the state of some of our urban roads have drawn complaints from drivers, there’s still some beautiful drives available, if you know where to look. And while we can’t all enjoy the V8 engine and luxury craftsmanship we’d like to be guiding around these routes, as car lovers there’s nothing quite like a scenic summer drive- whether you’re behind the wheel of an enzo or an accord, a 911 or 308! We’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite journeys for when you can take a more… roundabout route.

 

Buttertubs Pass

This one regularly tops people’s lists of Yorkshire’s best drives. The high-altitude Dales Road snakes unassumingly from Simonstone to Thwaite in the heart of the wildly beautiful Yorkshire Dales, passing the ‘Butter Tubs’- deep, mysterious crevasses that give the route its name. It’s been praised as ‘England’s only truly spectacular road’ on Top Gear, used for the Tour de France and delights driving enthusiasts with its challenging bends, climbs and dips, not to mention the stunning, rolling hillside. While it’s only five miles long, the road is so stunning to drive on, you’d be forgiven for doing a U-turn and starting again!

 

Nidderdale

The Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offers some fantastic routes for lovers of country drives, wildlife and scenery. With some great variety the ‘triangle’ route between Pateley Bridge, Grassington and Middleham takes you through picture-postcard villages, open fields and moorland, past the Gouthwaite Reservoir.

 

Whitby

The criss-cross of bridle-path roads across the North Yorkshire Moors en route to Whitby makes this the most stunning fish and chips run in the world! If that’s lost on you- not only is Whitby town the jewel at the heart of the moors, it’s also home to the UK’s best chippy- a suitable ending for this magical tour of the wild and rolling scenery surrounding it. As for the drive itself- there are lots of routes people prefer, but the Dalby forest path from Pickering is particularly popular. Smooth farmland gives way to rolling hills, then to majestic moorland, before you reach picturesque villages and the town itself.

 

Snake Pass

Cross the Peaks in style! Okay this one isn’t strictly speaking in Yorkshire, but with easy access from Sheffield city centre and a famous reputation as the scenic path to Manchester and Liverpool, we thought it had to be included nonetheless. From rolling, forested hillsides offering gorgeous views across the Ladybower Reservoir, to medieval woodland, craggy outcrops and windswept moors, the Snake Pass feels like a journey through the various landscapes of a mythical England, and as an arterial road connecting two major cities, it’s become something of a rite of passage for drivers. You can begin and end your journey surrounded by life in a metropolitan city centre- in between immerse yourself in the overarching wilderness as you cut along this iconic Peak District road.

 

While this list isn’t comprehensive, one of the joys of driving in the most fantastic places the county has to offer is the chance of finding a wonderful new road to experience- so we’re looking forward to being able update with more in the future!  We hope you get the chance to experience these fantastic journeys in your dream car, be it an E-type Jaguar or a Bugatti Veyron, but in the meantime don’t wait to enjoy the UK’s finest roads- and Walker Cutting can give your car the optimum tuning, performance and tyres to make driving a pleasure again. Whether you’re cutting along the Moors or simply popping down to the shops, our expert team offer engine diagnostics, tracking, suspension, engine service & MOTs, fuel injector cleaning and much more so your car will be running smoother, safer, cleaner and on the whole better than before! Perfect for tackling those scenic mountain drives.

 

Walker Cutting is Rotherham’s top service centre and a leading provider of Bosch-accredited diagnostics using the latest, cutting edge technology. We specialise in German cars, so if you drive an Audi, BMW, VW or Mercedes you can rely on us to deliver top-quality service, often at a lower cost that the manufacturer’s garages. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to own a German-engineered car, you can trust the team at Walker Cutting to service your car or van to the highest professional standard, with a friendly, no-pressure approach so you’re in control. We’re here to help- so if you have any questions about our services, please contact us and one of our team will be happy to assist.

 

New Year Car Care Checklist

Start your car’s year right with help from the best auto service in Rotherham.

Want to avoid car trouble in 2016? Here are a few easy car care steps you can take.

 

The top car servicing & MOT centre in Rotherham is ready to help you get your car back into shape with our new year’s to do list.

From potholed road surfaces to corrosive salt, winter can take a toll on your car. Unfortunately, the dark, cold winter months that make driving the preferred option for even short distance travel are also the worst time for your car to be on the road. Salt and grit can damage paint and bodywork, causing rust and surface damage, while potholes and cracks in road surfaces can lead to more serious safety concerns. Engine and fluid problems caused by repeated freezing and thawing, and strain to brakes caused by icy conditions all add to the normal, day-to-day wear & tear on your car.  As winter comes to an end and Spring rolls in is, therefore, an important period in which to set some time aside and give your car some much needed TLC. A properly cared for car should have no trouble lasting for the next 12 months and beyond.

 

Check your car often

Remember to check all brakes, belts, fluids hoses and wipers. It’s important to adhere to the safety standards directed in your owner’s manual, and always let the car’s engine cool before checking. If you have any doubt at all, remember it is far safer to ask a professional- they will not only be able to check correctly, but will be able to make an assessment you can rely on, advise you on how to proceed, and instruct you on the best & safest methods to check in future. Many problems can only be diagnosed effectively by a professional- at Walker Cutting we have years of experience and top-quality equipment to check your car.

 

Check tyre alignment & wear

Always check your tyre alignment after winter- potholes caused by ice building up and cracking road surfaces can tyre misalignment, which in turn can worsen and hamper steering control and cause tyre wear. The state of your tyres is vital to safe driving in all conditions and it is recommended to get them checked regularly- this will also save you money in the long term by prolonging your tyres’ working life. Walker Cutting uses state of the art technology to test alignment and offer a free inspection to determine if your wheels have been knocked out of alignment.

 

The value of keeping your car clean

Finally, be sure to check & clean your car thoroughly in case of water damage or mud build-up. Winter mud can mix with road salt and form a solid, corrosive layer that damages your car. Be sure to remove this with warm water and check beneath your car, as this is where most build up will occur. It is always advisable to consult a specialist if you suspect corrosion damage, especially to the underside of your car, as this can become extremely serious if left. Remember to beware leakage into the inside of the car- very often rust can leave holes almost invisible to the naked eye. You can always trust Walker Cutting to provide professional, highly qualified and balanced advice.

 

Learn more about our range of services, from general repairs to MOTs.

Which Cars Are Most Reliable?

A study of the most reliable cars of 2015 has been produced by car warranty provider Warrantywise. The reputable firm which is owned by celebrity TV presenter and motoring expert Quentin Wilson conducted research throughout 2015 and they have now recently released their findings. Here are the major results from their study.

What is detailed clearly in the data compiled by Warrantywise is that cars produced in the Far East score very highly for reliability. It is Toyota that tops the dependability standings. The Toyota IQ also came top for reliability in a separate study conducted by Auto Express. It is widely considered that Toyota’s are generally a very reliable manufacturer, a view seemingly held by most Toyota owners and car garages alike.

It is quite astonishing that the top seven car manufacturers based on reliability from the Warrantywise study are car brands originating from Asia. As well as Toyota heading the findings it is Honda; Suzuki; Mitsubishi; Mazda; Hyundai and Nissan that also score highly on dependability and that take up positions 2-7 respectively in the list of the most reliable car manufacturers.

Whilst Asian cars dominate the standings for reliability they are not the cheapest cars to repair and European counterparts generally cost less to fix. The study by Warrantywise found that Smart, who are a Mercedes-Benz owned manufacturer, had the cheapest vehicles to fix, with the average car repair costing as little as £390.

MG; Fiat; Peugeot and Ford were the other four manufacturers that the study found had the cheapest average car repair costs. Other major European car brands were also found to be relatively cheap to repair. Renault and SEAT costing less than £500 to repair based on average car repair costs and Citroën repairs cost on average £501 according to Warrantywise.

If you require a Renault, SEAT or Citroen car repair, or a thorough, affordable service or MOT, contact Walker Cutting today to book an appointment or for a free consultation. Great value expert repairs are performed on all car brands at our professional car repair and service centre based in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

In the Warrantywise reliability study luxury car brands somewhat unsurprisingly came out as being among the more expensive manufacturers to fix repairs for. The average repair cost for an Audi is reported by Warrantywise to be £620 whilst the average repair price for a Mercedes or BMW exceeds £700. As a German car specialist, Walker Cutting offer some of the best value German car repairs available anywhere in the UK. If you are looking for a great price from a specialist garage contact us today to book an appointment either via phone or through our online enquiry form.

Do I Need Winter Tyres?

It has long been debated whether it is worth getting winter tyres fitted. Here Walker Cutting gives you the low down on your tyre options.

What are winter tyres?

Winter tyres, often referred to as cold weather tyres, are marked with a snowflake symbol. They differentiate from summer tyres because they are made from a softer compound which means they can perform much better in colder temperatures. They are created with a tread pattern specifically designed to perform well in testing driving conditions such as when it is snowy.

Are winter tyres compulsory in the UK?

In the UK it is not currently compulsory to have winter tyres fitted. It is though often recommended by the government and industry specialists to do so, particularly if we are set to face a harsh winter.

In many European countries winter tyres are a legal requirement. In Germany for example motorists must switch between summer and winter tyres or they can be charged with hefty fines and their car insurance voided. If you plan to take your vehicle anywhere in Europe you should therefore look to have winter tyres fitted.

UK drivers are not bound by law to have winter tyres put on their vehicle but people often choose to have them fitted regardless for their improved safety and performance over regular tyres.

Can I keep my regular tyres over winter?

Instead of fitting winter tyres drivers can continue to use their summer tyres. The problem with doing this is that whilst regular tyres tend to perform well in high temperatures they can often lose grip anywhere below 7 degrees Celsius. Summer tyres tend to struggle to provide grip at temperatures below freezing and as soon as the weather gets bad this can be highly problematic.

There are all season tyres available that are designed to perform well as both a summer and winter tyre. All season tyres are rated for use in the UK because they are a good all rounder. They are a cost-effective solution because they are competent in summer and winter conditions so can be left on throughout the year.

Is it worth getting winter tyres?

From a performance and safety perspective the definitive answer is yes. Winter tyres have been proven to outperform summer and all season tyres in winter driving conditions. They drastically reduce stopping distances on snow, ice and in wet weather at low temperatures. Critically this could potentially be life saving.

If you opt to stay on summer tyres over winter you are far more susceptible to a motoring accident if road conditions become dangerous. Winter tyres will improve the way your vehicle can perform in treacherous cold weather conditions making you safer on the roads.

Keeping all season tyres on throughout the year is an alternative and an all season tyre should be able to cope in both summer and in winter conditions. All season tyres will in theory provide more grip in winter than regular tyres do, but they will not match the performance of having summer and winter tyre sets fitted for their respective weather conditions.

People are often put off having winter tyres fitted by their cost. Winter tyres do tend to cost slightly more than summer tyres, but the price is not as high as it may initially seem. Winter tyres are only used for half the year and as a result this means that a large amount of the cost of winter tyres is offset because you will not be paying for half a year’s worth of summer tyre wear.

Having two specialist tyre sets and switching between summer and winter tyres is undoubtedly the best option if you are looking for optimum safety and performance from your tyres throughout the year. You can keep summer and winter tyres and they can be refitted the following year if they are roadworthy. It is not always the case that you will have to buy a new set of tyres each time that you change them over.

In conclusion, if you are looking to be as safe as possible when driving over winter you should opt for fitting winter tyres. Their downside is a slightly larger cost but if you look after them winter tyres can also prove to be a sound financial investment as well.

Get Winter Tyres Fitted

At Walker Cutting we have a fantastic selection of new car tyres to suit all budgets and requirements. We supply and fit tyres at our specialist Rotherham tyre garage.

If you are looking to get winter tyres fitted this season Walker Cutting is offering great deals on the best winter tyres, fitted for free. We also fit regular and all season tyres at a low cost and we always deliver a highly professional and punctual service.

Contact us today or use our online booking form to make an appointment for your next tyre fitting.

Winter Driving Tips

Winter Road | Winter Check

winter-check-upWith winter looming there is no harm in being prepared and making sure that your car is equipped to deal with harsher weather conditions.

Most of our winter driving tips are checks that you should be performing regularly on your vehicle anyway. They become vital during the winter season as your car is exposed to the elements and you are faced with hazardous driving conditions.

Firstly, be sure to check your windscreen wipers, fluid levels and car bulbs. In snow and fog your wipers become more important than ever, as do your vehicle lights, be sure to check and replace any faulty wipers or blown bulbs in preparation for winter.

Headlights, taillights, indicators and brake lights all need to be working properly in order to keep you and other road users safe. Checking engine coolant levels is also essential as it contains antifreeze which protects pipes from freezing and cracking in the cold which can cause serious engine damage.

During the winter months flat batteries are prevalent. The cold weather can affect car batteries and putting heating fans on the maximum setting can cause car batteries to drain. You can get a free battery check at Walker Cutting so that you can rest assured that your car battery will survive the winter months.

Walker Cutting also have the best selection of tyres Rotherham has to offer so you can make sure you are fully equipped to own the road this coming winter. Our impressive winter tyres are designed to perform better in poor weather conditions. They are a much safer option and they are a legal requirement in some European countries.

If you are not considering changing to winter tyres you must still check your tyres in order to make sure that they have sufficient tread depth to improve stopping distances on cold, icy roads. Once your car is properly prepared for winter, as the driver you need to ensure that you drive sensibly and in a manner that is appropriate for potentially treacherous conditions.

Walker Cutting are happy to check your car over to make sure it is winter ready for free. Alternatively, we are also here to help with all general repairs should you need them, in winter and at any time throughout the year. Contact us whenever you need our professional services and we will be happy to assist.