Running Out Of Fuel Is More Common Than You Would Think

Running out of fuel

We all play fuel gauge roulette at one time or another when on the roads, however running out of fuel is more common than you might expect.

We spend a lot of our time advising our clients how to avoid car problems and breakdowns; however you may be surprised that one of the most common challenges owners is not mechanical.

Nope, one of the biggest challenges motorists face to keeping their cars running, is remembering to top up the fuel.That’s right last year more than 800,000 people ran out of fuel while driving causing an embarrassing breakdown and walk of shame to the nearest garage.

Then there is the danger of where you stop, with motorway hard shoulders or the side of the road creating a hazard for other motorists.

Finally running your car on empty is not going to be ideal for the car and could cause damage, then there is the potential for an awkward conversation with the police.

Why Do People Run Out of Fuel

A study by insurer LV found that forgetting to keep an eye on the fuel gauge and overestimating how far a car can travel in the red zone of the fuel guage are the two main reasons people run out of fuel.

A study found that a quarter of motorists thought they could drive for 40 miles or more once the fuel light comes on, however in half of UK vehicles they would break down before they hit the 40-mile mark.

This belief sees motorists tests the limits of how far they can drive without topping up, particularly if budgets are tight and driving on a motorway.

It is common for people running on fumes to pass expensive service stations in the hope of being able to make it to a cheaper garage.

So the Elite advice is simple always be aware of how much fuel you have left in the car and don’t assume that you can drive for miles once you start running low.

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Stay Safe – The Inconvenience Of Car Breakdowns

A family coping with a car breakdownThe potential of a car breakdown has to be one of the things that people dread about driving, particularly when in a rush or a long way from home.

Between November and January, Green Flag estimates that 900,000 motorist’s experience a breakdown.

Over Christmas we saw evidence of this first hand, we seemed to drive past an endless number of breakdowns (receiving assistance) as we made our annual trip to see the family.

It turns out that Christmas is the most popular time to break down, particularly later in the festive period as cars are restarted after being left standing.

The Cost of Car Breakdowns

The average cost of being towed off the motorway is estimated to be £250, which is a hefty price to pay to see friends or family. The cost of any additional repairs which may be required to keep the car on the road, meaning that the final bill can be much higher.

Inconvenience of Breakdowns

Often the causes of breakdowns could have been prevented with maintenance.
Breakdowns can be costly, but they can also be highly inconvenient and uncomfortable, particularly during the cold winter months. Nobody wants to be sat on the hard shoulder waiting for a tow truck with the temperature below zero, so why take the risk?

Preventing Car Breakdowns

Therefore, we advise our clients that prevention is better than cure, services are more than a warranty requirement they help keep the high wear parts

Therefore we encourage our customers to perform regular basic maintenance and checks on their car (see our guide here). Part of this includes keeping a regular service schedule and being aware of any minor niggles or problems you may have found and getting them fixed straight away.

We hope that we do not see you on the side of the road with your hazard lights flashing over the rest of the winter.

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Stay Safe – Driving In Strong Wind and Rain

Severe storms can be a factor throughout the year and can make driving difficult for even the most experienced driver to drive in strong wind and rain.

Therefore we thought we would share a few tips on how to stay safe if you have to drive in the strong wind and rain.

Driving In Heavy Winds

The wind may not seem like a significant risk, however it can cause serious problems for road users and should be taken into consideration when driving during adverse weather.

Colourful Colourful umbrellas hanging on the street, broken by windBeware of susceptible areas to high winds and driving in cross winds – which may require extra care to ensure that you remain in control of your vehicle during heavy gusts.

Beware of larger vehicles – as their larger size and surface area can make them more susceptible to high winds (last winter we heard reports of lorries overturning on the A1 in Scotland on more than one occasion due to the winds).

Keep your hands on the wheel- in case the wind starts to move your vehicle suddenly.

Driving In Heavy Rain

Rain can be inconvenient, but it can also impact the way your car handles, your visibility and how long it takes to react to certain situations.

Take your time – this is the only way to keep your vehicle from hydroplaning so when there is lots of water on the road slow down to ensure you get to your destination safely.

Turn your lights on – torrential rains can affect visibility even during daylight hours, better to have your lights on and be visible than risking being invisible to other road users.

Give other vehicles more space – rain affects stopping distances so make sure your give the car ahead more space than usual so you have time to react safely to the traffic.

Whether you are driving as part of your job or getting you and the family from A to B make sure you stay safe on the roads.

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Counting The Cost Of Avoiding Minor Car Repairs

Check engine light on - Dashboard warning light

Minor car repairs are easy to put off, but if you get them done sooner rather than later you will likely save money later down the line and keep your car running longer.

The inconvenience and cost of minor car repairs may tempt you to delay any services and repairs until the last minute possible or even avoid them altogether. However you could be storing up serious problems that will hit down the line.

We have all seen the adverts by windscreen repair companies about a small chip becoming a dangerous crack over time and the same principle can apply to the rest of your car.

This is something we see regularly in the Elite Auto Works garage and we really want to help our customers avoid excess costs and work wherever we can.

This escalation increases the cost of the repair dramatically and may even force the car to be written off.

This month we have seen a few issues that have been assessed in the garage and put off by the owners until after Christmas. Unfortunately in the meantime these issues have developed and become serious problems.

A Costly Example

A good example in the Elite garage is when a customer brought in a car with a blocked Diesel Particle Filter (DPF) . These filters are important as they filter out the black smoke you sometimes see on older diesel cars.

Damage to the DPF can seriously damage your engine/turbo if left unchecked; unfortunately the customer wanted to delay the repair as Christmas was coming up. By the time the car returned to the garage the blocked DPF had caused damage to over parts of the car and the Turbo needed to be replaced.

Due to the age of the car the repairs were not economical and it was written off.

We hate seeing stories like this one play out so we strongly recommend that if you have a problem that requires a minor car repair you do not carry on and hope it goes away. Instead get the problem checked out quickly and get any preventative work done as soon as possible.

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5 Winter Car Checks To Keep Your Car Safe

EliteWorks_1It is October and time to start making the annual winter car checks.

The leaves are starting to turn and despite some sunny weather Autumn is here. In a few weeks the clocks will change and we will be back into the chilly darkness for the next 4-6 months.

 

This paints a bleak picture, but with the weather changing we all need to start planning for the change in the season.

At home this means checking the boiler and heating are working and properly serviced, and we should do the same with our vehicles.

Just as the boiler breaking down in the middle of winter can cause major inconvenience, a car that fails in the cold and ice can be deadly.

Therefore, we recommend you make the following winter car checks to make sure your car is going to be ready and road worthy

Lights and Visibility

We always see drivers at night with a light not working, many times they are blissfully unaware of the issue. Past the winter equinox, the nights are longer, so check all of your lights are working as you will be using them more and other road users need to be aware of you.

Anti-Freeze

Anti-freeze is found in radiators and is used to prevent your engine and radiators from freezing in the winter.

You should regularly make sure that your vehicle’s anti-freeze levels are between the maximum and minimum levels. This avoids potential damage that will be expensive to fix compared to the investment in topping up with some anti-freeze.

Potential leaks from your cooling system that may have gone unnoticed in the summer months are more prone to fail in the colder weather.

However, make sure you do not mix the manufacturers anti-freeze with traditional solutions, if you are unsure what to use, give us a call or ask during your service and we’d be happy to show you.

Oil Levels

Always important, but even more so in winter as you do not want to become stranded in the cold. Oil levels can be checked using a dipstick which has two marks indicating both a maximum and minimum level. Some vehicles have an electronic dipstick with information on the display, if you are unsure please pop in and we can show you.

Tyre Tread and Pressures

Winter roads are less forgiving than those in the summer, make sure your tyres have sufficient tread on them and are inflated to the right pressure to help prevent accidents.

Battery

Your car failing to start is a nightmare any morning, so check that your battery is within it’s natural life of around five years. If it is older replace it to avoid inconvenient car trouble. Here at Elite Auto Works we test batteries on site without an appointment.

Not sure what to do?

If you are not sure if your car is fit for winter, then why not book it in for a Winter Health Check with Elite Auto Works, we will make sure everything is ship safe and that you and your passengers will be safe this winter. Book a service or repair in October and we will even include a free Winter Survival Kit*.

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