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How To Safely Support Your Car On Axle Stands

How To Safely Support Your Car On Axle Stands

When we’re working on cars or filming DIY videos for our Youtube Channel we quite often have to use axle stands to support the car. For the sake of watch-ability it’s a process that we just skip over in the videos but it’s such a safety critical thing that we though we’d show you how it’s done.


Why you need axle stands:

If you’re doing any sort of work or inspection on a car that requires you to put part or all of your body underneath it, you need axle stands. Why? because if the car fell on you because your jack failed or the car slipped off it, at best you’d be seriously injured and at worst, it could kill you. We don’t mean to be sensationalist but most modern cars weigh in excess of a tonne and a half and your squishy human body simply can’t support that kind of weight.

Jacks rely on mechanical or hydraulic mechanisms to raise the vehicle off the ground, over time it’s possible for these mechanisms to wear. it doesn’t happen very often but they can fail altogether. More commonly a jack might move on its wheels, causing the car to slip off or with scissor or bottle jacks the movement of the vehicle as it raises can put sufficient lateral load on the jack to cause it to topple over. Axle stands don’t have any hydraulic or mechanical moving parts to wear out. They are designed specifically for supporting a vehicle and have a wide stable footprint. Long story short – they’re a lot less likely to fail or fall over and as a result are a lot safer, so it’s a very good idea to use them!


What you need:

  • Axle stands (obviously)
  • Jack
  • wheel chocks / block of wood / house brick

How to Safely Support Your Car on Axle Stands

Check out the Mick’s Garage video or read on if you prefer!

[kad_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WFir8iOT24″]

First ensure your car is on flat, solid ground. Jacking your car on an incline or on soft grass/earth can put lateral load on your jack/axle stands and cause them to fall over.  Next you need to check how much your car weighs. Look inside the door jambs for a sticker that looks like this:

 How to Safely Support Your Car on Axle Stands load sticker

Check your owners manual for an explanation of what the weights mean for your specific car. On our Golf this is what the weights relate to:

  • 1900kg – total vehicle weight
  • 3300kg – maximum permissible vehicle weight fully laden
  • 1040kg  – weight of the vehicle at the front axle
  • 930kg –  weight of the vehicle at the rear axle

So you need to ensure the equipment you’re using to lift and support the vehicle exceeds the weights on the sticker/handbook for your car.  To be on the safe side we’d recommend using jacks and axle stands that are rated in excess of the total vehicle weight rather than just the weight of the heaviest axle.

How to Safely Support Your Car on Axle Stands

Next put the handbrake on, put the car into gear (or park if it’s an auto) and turn off the engine.  You then need to chock the wheels as an extra precaution to prevent the car from rolling when you start to jack it up. If you’re jacking the rear of the car, chock the front wheels and if you’re jacking the front, chock the rear wheels.

Check your owners manual to find where the jacking points are located on your car. On our car there is also a little arrow on the sill moulding to indicate where the jacking points are.

jack_points How to Safely Support Your Car on Axle Stands

Jack the car to the desired height. If you are able to place the axle stand at the jacking point that would be ideal but quite often there won’t be room for both the jack and the stand. If that’s the case then you need to find another solid point under the car to position the stands. This will vary from car to car but ideally you want to go for the strongest accessible point – either a chassis rail or a subframe or suspension mounting point. Don’t be tempted to use the engine sump or the floor pan as points for axle stands, despite being large flat surfaces they are not strong enough and you could do serious damage to the car or engine if you use these points to support the car.

When you have a suitable place to position the stands, raise it to the desired height (if yours are are adjustable) and insert the locking pin. Lower the jack slowly and carefully until the weight of the car is transferred to the stand. If you’re removing a wheel from the car you can also slide that underneath the sill as an extra safety measure. If you’re jacking the other side of the car or all 4 corners, the process is the same, just proceed with caution, take your time and always work with another person where possible.


This blog was provided to us by our partners over at MicksGarage.com

MicksGarage is one of the UK & Ireland’s largest car parts and accessories online retailers, and pride themselves in being car part experts. With their customer service team collectively having over 100 years of experience in the automotive sector, MicksGarage can cater for all types of motoring consumers. With over 5.6 million car parts and accessories listed online, they’ll be the right part or tool for everyone

Click here to browse their extensive range of motoring product at MicksGarage


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TUMAG – The Ultimate Motoring Acronym Guide

TUMAG - The Ultimate Motoring Acronym Guide

Car forums, classified ads and motoring websites are awash with hundreds of car-related acronyms, so much so that it can be pretty daunting if you’re new on the scene. Do you know the difference between your PAS and your OBO? Do you think you find ABS in the gym and QUADR in the Middle East? Well, we are here to decipher this cryptic car code with TUMAG: The Ultimate Motoring Acronym Guide!

Let us know if you think we’ve missed anything!

  • AAW – Aftermarket Alloy Wheels. A car fitted with non-standard alloys.
  • A/T – Automatic transmission i.e. not a manual car
  • A/C – Air conditioning. Absorbs heat and blows refrigerated air into the cabin of the car, cooling it to below the ambient air temperature. Also AAC (Automatic Air Conditioning)
  • ABS – Antilock Braking System – when this computer controlled braking system detects impending wheel lockup it pulses the brakes to prevent it. By preventing the wheels from locking the driver can maintain control of the steering.
  • ACC – Adaptive Cruise Control – this feature allows you to set a maximum cruising speed, which the vehicle automatically adjusts to keep the vehicle a safe distance from the car in front.
  • AFM – Can mean two different things, either Air Flow Meter (also often referred to as a MAF – Mass Air Flow Meter) or Active Fuel Management. Also known as MDS (Multi Displacement System) or VCM (Variable Cylinder Management). During light operation the car’s engine can shut off cylinders so less fuel is used.
  • AWD – All Wheel Drive – also referred to as four-wheel drive or 4WD
  • BHP – Brake Horse Power – an arbitrary measurement invented by James Watt to measure the power of his steam engines against the horses they were replacing.
  • BOV – Blow off Valve, also known as a dump valve. Part of the turbo system which releases unused boost pressure. Atmospheric blow off valves are what makes that loud Tshhhhh sound you hear on modified cars
  • BSM – Blind Spot Monitoring – a sensor in the vehicle that detects objects to the driver’s side and rear blind spots.
  • CAT – Catalytic Convertor – a device that converts toxic gases in the exhaust to less toxic gases.
  • CRD – Common Rail Diesel
  • Cd – Drag Coefficient – essentially how aerodynamic the vehicle is. A low number indicates less drag; most modern cars have a Cd of 0.30 – 0.35.
  • CVT – Constantly Variable Transmission. A type of automatic transmission that can vary drive ratios seamlessly using an internal belt and cone arrangement. Great in principal but really annoying in reality!
  • DOHC  – Double Over Head Camshafts. A common type of engine design where two camshafts are located at the top of the cylinder head
  • DRL – Daytime Running Lights – these low energy lights switch on when the engine is turned on.
  • DSG – Direct Shift Gearbox – this is a Volkswagen Group name for its dual-clutch automatic gearbox, as found in the Golf GTi, Bugatti Veyron, Skoda Fabia and many other cars.

The Ultimate Motoring Acronym Guide DSG

  • EBD – Electronic Brakeforce Distribution – this braking system varies the force applied to each wheel depending on conditions.
  • ECU – Electronic Control Unit. Basically an electronic ‘brain’ that controls pretty much everything in your car.
  • EGR – Exhaust Gas Recirculation. A proportion of your engine’s exhaust gasses are redirected back into the car’s engine to help burn fuel more efficiently and significantly reduce emissions.
  • ESP – Electronic Stability Programme – this system improves the stability of the vehicle by reducing skidding by applying the brakes to individual wheels to prevent over- or understeer.
  • EV – Electric Vehicle – this uses an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine.
  • FCV – Fuel Cell Vehicle – a hybrid vehicle that uses a battery and fuel cell (chemical reaction) to power its electric motor. The Toyota Mirai is a fuel cell car.
  • FSBO – For Sale By Owner – the person selling the car is the owner of that car.
  • FSH – Full Service History – this can be checked by looking at the stamps in the car manual or checking the receipts.
  • FWD – Front Wheel Drive – the engine drives power to the front wheels.
  • GVW – Gross Vehicle Weight – the maximum weight your vehicle can operate. Your vehicle should not exceed this weight.
  • HAC – Hill Assist Control – what you wish your car had when you were doing your driving test. This holds your car in place on a gradient, much like a handbrake start without using the handbrake.
  • HEV – Hybrid Electric Vehicle – these combine an internal combustion engine and electric motor. The best-selling HEV is the Toyota Prius.
  • HID – High Intensity Discharge – there’s a cream for that, or maybe it’s a special type of headlight…
  • HUD – Head Up Display – no more looking down and taking your eyes off the road. The HUD projects driver information on to the windscreen so you can continue to look straight ahead.
  • i-VTEC – Intelligent Variable Timing Electronic Control – a valve control system developed by Honda to improve the efficiency of its engines.

The Ultimate Motoring Acronym Guide ivtec

  • IWSTI – Impreza WRX STI – a World Rally legend.
  • kW – Kilowatt – how the power of an engine should be measured. No, honestly, it is the real scientific measurement of power – one horsepower is the same as 0.7457 kW.
  • KM/H – Kilometres Per Hour
  • KWT – Kerb Weight – how much a car weighs without people or luggage on board.
  • LED – Light Emitting Diode – long life and efficient bulbs often used for daytime running lights.
  • LHD – Left Hand Drive – the side of the car the wheel is on when you go on holiday.
  • LSD – Not the stuff the Beatles survived on in the 70’s but a Limited Slip Differential. Commonly found on high performance cars, a limited Slip Differential allows two driving wheels to operate in unison when one breaks traction. It provides improved control and traction in slippery conditions and is essential for doing donuts and drifting like a boss!
  • L/KM – litres per kilometre – usually used to measure fuel consumption e.g. 4.5 litres/100km, which means the car uses 4.5 litres of fuel to travel 100km.
  • LWB – Long Wheel Base. stretched versions of standard cars. Commonly found on  4×4’s, commercial vans and some executive saloons
  • M/T – Manual Transmission – not an automatic.
  • MPG – Miles Per Gallon – the old school way of quoting fuel economy.
  • MPH – Miles Per Hour – how fast we used to go in the good old days.
  • Nm – Newton metre – is a measurement of torque, which is the force you feel when you accelerate. It is how much ‘shove’ the engine has.
  • NOx – Nitrogen Oxides – gases comprised of nitrogen and oxygen that are bad for the environment. These are produced by all internal combustion engined vehicles.
  • ODO – Odometer – the instrument that tells you how far the vehicle has travelled in its lifetime. Make sure the odometer hasn’t been tampered with or clocked when buying a used car.
  • OLO – One Lady Owner – of course there was. Usually accompanied by the word ‘careful’.
  • PAS – Power Assisted Steering
  • POA – Price on Application – seeing this on a classified really is a PITA. Just tell us the price already!
  • PS – Pferdestärke – the metric equivalent of BHP and HP. PS roughly equates to 735.5 watts or 98.6% of BHP. Not confusing at all, is it?
  • PWR – Power to Weight Ratio – if you really want to know how fast a car is, forget HP and check its PWR – the higher the number the better.
  • QBYAM – Q By Aston Martin – is Aston’s personalisation service. Want your car to match your shoes or suit? Q can make that dream a reality. Nothing to do with 007.
  • RHD – Right Hand Drive – the side of the car our steering wheels are placed – just in case you had forgotten.
  • RPM – Revolutions Per Minute – how quickly the engine spins. No, not the room after a few scoops.
  • RWD – Rear Wheel Drive – the engine sends power to the rear wheels, which makes it a little bit easier to get the car to go sideways, if you are into that sort of thing.
  • SAT-NAV – Satellite Navigation – prevents you getting lost and arguing with your partner!
  • SUV – Sport Utility Vehicle – the ‘sport’ refers to the game of avoiding the dangerously parked SUVs outside schools and the local shops.
  • TDI – Turbo Diesel Injection – Probably the most common type of engine on the road today. Bonus points for you if you have a red ‘i’!

The Ultimate Motoring Acronym Guide

  • TPMS – Tyre Pressure Monitoring System – this system does exactly as the name suggests.
  • TWD – Two Wheel Drive – two wheels are powered by the engine. Can be FWD or RWD.
  • ULEV – Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle – driven by ultra smug people.
  • USB – Universal Serial Bus – the things that there are never enough of in cars. Seriously!
  • VIN – Vehicle Identification Number – a unique code used to identify vehicles, which can be found in different locations in different makes and model.
  • VRC – Vehicle Registration Certificate – an important document that all cars first registered after 1 January 1993 must have. It is the proof of registration of a vehicle.
  • ZEV – Zero Emission Vehicle – a vehicle that emits no exhaust pollutants. A so-called ‘green car’.

This blog was provided to us by our partners over at MicksGarage.com

MicksGarage is one of the UK & Ireland’s largest car parts and accessories online retailers, and pride themselves in being car part experts. With their customer service team collectively having over 100 years of experience in the automotive sector, MicksGarage can cater for all types of motoring consumers. With over 5.6 million car parts and accessories listed online, they’ll be the right part or tool for everyone

Click here to browse their extensive range of motoring product at MicksGarage


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Top 31 Cars Of 2016

Top 31 Cars Of 2016

With the help of our partners, and new car review experts, CompleteCar we’ve chosen the star cars of the 2nd registration period in 2016 from each of the manufacturers represented in the UK & Ireland. Out shopping for a new car over the next few months? These demand a closer look.


Alfa Romeo Giulia:

Price from: approx. €40,000
Rivals: Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Best engines: 2.2 diesel, 3.0 V6 petrol

Admittedly, the eagerly anticipated Giulia saloon isn’t on sale in Ireland as yet, but it has been promised for Q3 so buyers of executive four-doors that fancy the best-looking car in the class needn’t wait too long. Our first drive suggests it lives up to the appearance too.

Top Cars of 2016

Audi A3:

Price from: £27,810
Rivals: BMW 1 Series, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Volkswagen Golf
Best engines: 1.0 petrol, 1.6 diesel

Audi launched a revised A3 range this year and though you may not spot the changes in isolation, they add up to an even more desirable car than ever before. Spend a little more on options like the Virtual Cockpit to transform it and don’t discount the sweet new 1.0-litre petrol engine.

Top Cars of 2016

BMW M2:

Price from: €78,370
Rivals: Audi TT RS, Mercedes-AMG CLA 45, Porsche Cayman S
Best engines: 3.0-litre petrol

The M2 is, hands down, one of the most exciting cars to be launched in the past few years. Sure it’s expensive, but not in comparison to the cars that it is better than. The best thing about it? It feels as special on bumpy backroads in Ireland as it does on a smooth track in America.

2016-BMW-M2-Coupe-front-three-quarter-04 Top Cars of 2016

Citroen C4 Cactus:

Price from: €17,795
Rivals: Ford Focus, Mazda3, Opel Astra, Volkswagen Golf
Best engines: 1.2 petrol, 1.6 diesel

We realise that the appearance of the C4 Cactus divides opinion like few other cars on the market, but that’s kind of why we love it. The interior is equally cool, if flawed and genius in equal measure, and not as spacious as you’d hope, but it soaks up rubbish Irish roads with aplomb.

Top Cars of 2016 citroen-c4-cactus-1

Dacia Duster:

Price from: €16,690
Rivals: Jeep Renegade, Skoda Yeti, Suzuki Vitara
Best engines: 1.5 diesel

While the Duster isn’t the most refined SUV on the market it is the cheapest to buy. There’s more to like too, as it’s well-equipped for the price, rugged and exceedingly good at traversing poor Irish back roads without jiggling its occupants about too much.

Fiat 500:

Price from: €13,600
Rivals: Citroen C1, Toyota Aygo, Volkswagen up!
Best engines: 0.9 and 1.2 petrol

When Fiat revealed the ‘new’ 500 in 2006 we never expected that its retro looks would have such lasting charm. Ten years on it still looks great, helped a little by last year’s modest refresh. It’s a highly likeable car that drives well, though is at its best in an urban environment.

Top 31 Cars of 2016 2016-fiat-500-european-spec_100517504_h

Honda Jazz:

Price from: €17,640
Rivals: Kia Rio, Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Polo
Best engines: 1.3 petrol

Let’s be very clear: there’s nothing sexy about the Honda Jazz; it’s an awkward looking small hatch with strange design details. However, it is also the most practical and spacious car of this size with a very cleverly designed interior. It’s likely to go forever, too.

Karen Parry - UK

Ford Focus RS:

Price from: €52,600
Rivals: Audi RS 3 Sportback, Honda Civic Type R, Volkswagen Golf R
Best engines: 2.3 petrol

We’d like to label the Focus RS a ‘giant killer’, but with a price of €52,600, it’s a bit of a giant itself. The good news is that it’s worth every cent. The turbocharged 2.3-litre engine has as much performance as it has personality (i.e. ‘a lot’) and the four-wheel drive chassis has something called a ‘Drift Mode’. This will be remembered as an icon of our times.

Hyundai Tucson:

Price from: €25,745
Rivals: Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar
Best engines: 1.6 petrol, 1.7 and 2.0 diesel

This is the car to have this year it seems, as it out-sells the stalwarts to be the best-selling car in Ireland. That signifies a shift from hatchbacks to crossovers, but the Tucson deserves the success as it’s spacious, comfortable, very well equipped and pretty economical.

Jaguar F-Pace:

Price from: €44,100
Rivals: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLC
Best engines: 2.0 and 3.0 diesel, 3.0 petrol

Jaguar’s first-ever SUV has, finally, arrived in Ireland. It’s a cracking looking thing too, so long as you choose the right wheels and colour, that is. It drives with some verve and is also one of the most spacious cars in its class.

Jeep Renegade:

Price from: €22,950
Rivals: Fiat 500X, Kia Soul, Skoda Yeti
Best engines: 1.4 petrol, 1.6 and 2.0 diesel

Compact SUVs don’t come much more distinctive than the Renegade, Jeep’s smallest model to date. Saying that, the Renegade is more spacious inside than most cars in the class, and it feels more seriously off-road ready too. The downside is a bouncy ride on the road, but it performs well overall.

Top 31 Cars of 2016 2016 Jeep® Renegade Trailhawk

Kia Sorento:

Price from: €38,995
Rivals: Ford Edge, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe
Best engines: 2.2 diesel

It’s easy for motoring journalists to forget cars once they’re a few years old, but the fact is that the Kia Sorento SUV is still one of the best large cars of its type money can buy. It’s simply huge inside, with room for seven, plus it’s massively refined and quiet on the road.

2016-Kia-Sorento-PLACEMENT

Land Rover Discovery Sport:

Price from: €41,565
Rivals: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jaguar F-Pace
Best engines: 2.0 diesel

Land Rover’s USP for the ‘junior’ Discovery is that it can be had with seven seats, but there are more spacious cars around the same price so we say buy it for its good looks, good on-road manners and the feel that it will get just about anywhere.

2016-Land-Rover-Discovery-Sport-2

Lexus RX 450h:

Price from: €69,650
Rivals: BMW X5, Volvo XC90
Best engines: 3.5 petrol-electric hybrid

The brand new Lexus RX 450h hybrid SUV really surprised us this year. It’s refined, oh so comfortable and pretty much as economical as any other large SUV. The interior is exceptional and we even love the edgy exterior styling.

2016-Lexus-RX-450h-4

Mazda 3:

Price from: €22,995
Rivals: Ford Focus, Kia cee’d, Opel Astra, Volkswagen Golf
Best engines: 1.5 petrol, 1.5 and 2.2 diesel

We liked the new Mazda3 from the start, with its smart exterior, lovely interior and well-engineered feel all round, but the Japanese manufacturer really made the hatch relevant when it launched a smooth and efficient new 1.5-litre diesel engine. Seriously, this is worth considering alongside the Golf now.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class:

Price from: €54,150
Rivals: Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF, Lexus GS
Best engines: 2.0 and 3.0 diesel

Finally Mercedes-Benz launches an E-Class that doesn’t look like it was designed solely for pensioners… The new one has the best cabin in the class, a brilliant new 2.0-litre diesel engine and a chassis that manages to mix composure in the bends with genuine country-crossing comfort. Top marks.

01-Mercedes-Benz-Vehicles-new-e-class-2016-1180x686

MINI Convertible:

Price from: €26,670
Rivals: Fiat 500c, Mazda MX-5
Best engines: 1.5 and 2.0 petrol, 1.5 diesel

Reflecting low demand from new car buyers, there really aren’t all that many open-topped cars on sale in Ireland and the new MINI Convertible is probably one of the best all-rounders. It mixes a four-seat interior with top quality and a fun-to-drive attitude. It’s economical to run too.

2016-Mini-Convertible-Cooper-S-top-view-04

Mitsubishi Outlander:

Price from: €31,500
Rivals: Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan X-Trail
Best engines: 2.2 diesel, 2.0 petrol-electric hybrid

Following a facelift last year, the Outlander now has the presence it deserves. It’s also more refined than before and the 2.2-litre diesel has loads of grunt. The PHEV hybrid model is well worth a look for those that spend most of their driving time in and around towns.

2016-Mitsubishi-Outlander-01

Nissan Qashqai:

Price from: €25,620
Rivals: Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Volkswagen Amarok
Best engines: 1.2 petrol, 1.5 and 1.6 diesel

Nissan kick-started the crossover class with its original Qashqai and this second generation model is even more impressive. It looks good, is of high quality and has a range of efficient engines to choose from. Still one of the best in the sector.

2016-Nissan-Qashqai-rear

Vauxhall Astra:

Price from: €20,695
Rivals: Ford Focus, Mazda3, Toyota Auris, Volkswagen Golf
Best engines: 1.0 petrol, 1.6 diesel

Vauxhall’s Astra has sold by the thousand, but we’ve never really thought of it as the best car in the class. Until now. This new version beats the Focus and Golf at their own game. Choose between a perky 1.0-litre petrol engine and a smooth and efficient 1.6-litre diesel.

2016-opel-astra-k-5-door-hatchback-11

Peugeot 2008:

Price from: €19,400
Rivals: Ford EcoSport, Nissan Juke, Opel Mokka, Renault Captur
Best engines: 1.2 petrol, 1.6 diesel

A facelifted version of the lovely Peugeot 2008 crossover arrives just in time for the new registration period and it’s more impressive than ever inside and out, looking more like an SUV than a jumped-up hatchback. The GT Line version looks particularly good.

carpixel.net-2016-peugeot-2008-gt-line-39071-wide

Porsche Macan:

Price from: €67,701
Rivals: BMW X4, Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe, Range Rover Evoque
Best engines: 2.0 and 3.0 petrol, 3.0 diesel

Porsche has a modest presence in Ireland, but we reckon it should be selling a lot more of the Macan SUV. It’s the best car of its type to drive, looks fab and, come on people, it’s got a Porsche badge on the front yet can carry all the family. What’s not to love? full review

FX15668

Renault Megane:

Price from: €19,490
Rivals: Citroen C4, Ford Focus, Opel Astra, Toyota Auris
Best engines: 1.5 diesel, 1.6 petrol

Can Renault take the fight to the Opel Astra, Golf and Focus with its brand new Megane hatchback? Our first impressions say no, but its standout design, great interior and high specification may be enough to convince buyers otherwise.

2016-renault-megane-full-specs-released-16l-base-engine-new-7-speed-edc-102365_1

SEAT Ateca:

Price from: €24,750
Rivals: Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Tiguan
Best engines: 1.4 petrol, 1.6 and 2.0 diesel

SEAT has never had an SUV or crossover on its books, so you can bet that the dealers are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of the new Ateca model. Luckily for them it’s a cracking looking car that promises to be good to drive too.

seat_ateca_04

Skoda Fabia:

Price from: €13,995
Rivals: Ford Fiesta, SEAT Ibiza, Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Polo
Best engines: 1.2 petrol

In the Skoda line-up, the Octavia, Yeti and Superb are well known stars, but the Fabia is an unsung hero. Yet we reckon it’s one of the best small hatchbacks money can buy, with high quality, a brilliant 1.2-litre petrol engine and decent space inside and in the boot.

skoda-fabia-ii-2016-80545

SsangYong Tivoli XLV:

Price from: €24,750
Rivals: Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar
Best engines: 1.6 diesel

Although we don’t envy its dealers trying to convince buyers to choose SsangYong over more established brands, the Korean company is starting to make some good cars. The regular Tivoli is quite good and the new XLV version adds a huge boot to give it something quite unique in the marketplace.

ssangyong-tivoli-xlv-2016-02

Subaru Forester:

Price from: €35,995
Rivals: Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan X-Trail
Best engines: 2.0 petrol, 2.0 diesel

Need an unbreakable SUV that’s comfortable off-road, yet up to hundreds of kilometers on the motorway without breaking your back? The Subaru Forester could be just the thing. It’s non-nonsense SUV motoring at its best.

2016-Subaru-Forester-XT_10

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross:

Price from: €20,995
Rivals: Kia Soul, Nissan Qashqai, Skoda Yeti
Best engines: 1.6 petrol, 1.6 diesel

The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is for those that need four-wheel drive and more ground clearance, but don’t really care for the SUV image. It’s a sensible and likeable car, just not one that excites or will have the neighbours’ curtains twitching.

Suzuki-SX-4-S-Cross 

Toyota Prius:

Price from: €31,450
Rivals: BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Golf
Best engines: 1.8 petrol-electric hybrid

The brand new Toyota Prius is a revelation. We’ve never liked the hybrid Toyota hatchback, but the new one is amazing. Sure, it looks a little odd, but it’s spacious and modern inside and, somewhat surprisingly, it’s really quite good to drive. It’s also very economical.

2016-Toyota-Prius-Two-Eco-rear-three-quarter-01

Volkswagen Tiguan:

Price from: €29,720
Rivals: Ford Kuga, SEAT Ateca, Toyota RAV4
Best engines: 1.4 petrol, 2.0 diesel

Forget everything you know about the previous Volkswagen Tiguan, as the new one is completely different. It’s more of a Golf crossover than an SUV, which is a very good thing indeed. It looks particularly great in R-Line specification.

tiguan

Volvo S90:

Price from: €48,400
Rivals: Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF, Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Best engines: 2.0 diesel, 2.0 petrol-electric hybrid

As if buyers of executive class saloons didn’t already have enough choice in the market, Volvo goes and launches one of the most interesting yet, its new S90 saloon. It takes everything we love about the XC90 SUV (cool design inside and out, efficient engines) and packages it in a huge saloon body. One to watch for sure.

Volvo-S90-official-10


This blog was provided to us by our partners over at MicksGarage.com

MicksGarage is one of the UK & Ireland’s largest car parts and accessories online retailers, and pride themselves in being car part experts. With their customer service team collectively having over 100 years of experience in the automotive sector, MicksGarage can cater for all types of motoring consumers. With over 5.6 million car parts and accessories listed online, they’ll be the right part or tool for everyone

Click here to browse their extensive range of motoring product at MicksGarage


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A Guide To Driving In The UK

A Guide To Driving In The UK

Following on from our recent guides to driving in France, and Spain we bring you our guide to driving in the UK

Getting off the beaten track and pit stops at your leisure makes driving a jolly good way to explore the UK’s 400,000km of roads, old chap. From rugged Scotland and Northern Ireland, to picturesque Wales and England, road tripping though the UK allows you to cover a lot of ground without missing any of its charm.Guide to Driving in the UK - morgan

But, before you tallyho, here are a few things to know about driving in the UK:


On your marks:

There are three main types of roads in the UK with the following speed limits:

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National Speed Limit Sign

Type of road – Speed limit

Motorways – 112kmh/70mph
Dual Carriageways – 112kmh/70mph
Single Carriageways – 96kmh/60mph
Built-up Areas – 48kmh/30mph

UK speed limits are in miles per hour and indicate the maximum speed; however, most cars travel at slower safer speeds, except on the motorway, where you’ll find the average British driver exceeds the limit ‘a little’. Furthermore, local councils can set their own speed limits so watch out for the signs.

Using mobile phones whilst driving is illegal but you can use hands-free phones, satnav systems and two-way radios. However, the police can stop and fine you if they think you are distracted and not in control of the car.


Get set:

By law, you must:

  • Be at least 17 and have a full driver’s licence (provisional licences not accepted).
  • Have at least third party insurance.
  • Not have a BAC exceeding 0.8g/l in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and not exceeding 0.5g/l in Scotland.
  • Ensure front and rear passengers wear seat belts at all times, where fitted.
  • Seat all children in EU-approved car seats until they are 12 years old or 135cm tall.
  • From 1st October 2015, it will be illegal in England and Wales to smoke in a car carrying under 18 year olds.

Go:

Driving in the UK is relatively easy and stress free. The UK Highway Code is similar to the Irish one and they drive on the left. Hurrah! The only hassles you may encounter will be working out the myriad of parking restrictions and if you’re heading off the beaten track, getting stuck behind the odd caravan or tractor. Despite a comprehensive motorway network, only 1% of UK roads are actually motorway, so be sure to pack your patience.

Traffic lights run ‘red, red and amber, green, amber’. Red and amber means you must stop but can prepare to go; however, you must not go until the green light shows – not everyone obeys this.

Guide to Driving in the UK - motorways

Lane discipline in the UK is extremely good – The outside lane is only for overtaking!

Most motorists, rather refreshingly, adhere to lane discipline and nearly always only use the right-hand lane for overtaking before moving swiftly back into the left-hand lane when the manoeuvre is complete. In fact, adherence to the rules is, for the most part, better in the UK than it is in Ireland.

There’s less acceptance for bending of the rules, and don’t think that you’ll get away with it just because you’re in a foreign car either. The British Transport Police are very professional and well used to dealing with foreign licences and drivers.

SPECS

Average speed cameras

Going along with denser traffic in most regions is an obviously higher presence of traffic police everywhere you drive. In spite of that, most of them are not looking out for speeders, as the UK is littered with speed cameras, both fixed and mobile. It’s also important to watch out for signs warning of ‘speed averaging’ cameras, as these completely eliminate speeding over a longer stretch of road as they have the ability to track all cars and record their average speed. This prevents people from just slowing down where there are known speed cameras.

Motorway driving in the UK is a breeze, if fast and busy in certain areas, such as the M25 around London and the M6 passing Birmingham. Signage is better than it is in Ireland generally and there aren’t very many toll roads given the extensive motorway network there is. Speaking of which, there are many more service stations than on Irish motorways, though their quality varies significantly.

Some are superb, however some still offer a pretty dismal selection of food and refreshments at extortionate prices, also, expect to pay more for fuel here.Guide to Driving in the UK - services

During busy periods, certain motorway sections are ‘smart motorways’ meaning the hard shoulder becomes a driving lane and there is a variable speed limit. Observe the overhead gantries, which will inform you when these are in operation.


Driving in London:

As far as major capital cities go, London isn’t that terrifying to navigate and driving through the city early morning or late at night is actually quite pleasant. However, the main pain with London is looking for parking and the many charges imposed on drivers.

Parking is limited and restrictions and charges vary from one street to another. London is the most expensive city in the world for parking – an average of £50 a day – so best option is to park in commuter towns and use Park and Ride facilities.Guide to Driving in the UK - london

There is also the congestion charge to consider. Paid in advance or before midnight on the day it’s £11.50/€15.70 or £14/€19 if paid the following day. The congestion charge operates Monday to Friday 7am to 6pm with no charge on weekends, public holidays and between Christmas and New Year’s Day. You are also responsible for paying the congestion charge even if you are in a rental car.

In a hurry? Rush hours in central London don’t exist. Between the hours of 7am and 7pm, the average speed of traffic is just 14km/h.


Places to Visit:

Stonehenge:

Stonehenge is one of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions, so popular in-fact that you need to book in advance to be guaranteed entry. Stonehenge is located just 10 miles north of Salisbury on Salisbury Plain which covers 8 sq miles. The “hanging stones” were placed here from 3000-1500 BC. The Bronze Age stone circles visible today were in use until the Roman era, when they were destroyed to prevent cults like the Druids from influencing the population. There is an excellent Visitor Centre which is home to informative exhibitions, and includes a shop and café.

Guide to Driving in the UK-stonehenge

The Lake District:

Covering  900 sq miles, the Lake District National Park is a breathtaking, must-see destination for travelers to England. With 12 of the country’s largest lakes and over 2,000 miles of footpath waiting to be explored, the Lakes are a walkers paradise. The region is home to Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, numerous lovely little towns and villages such as Grasmere and of course 12 of the countries largest lakes.

Guide to Driving in the UK - lake district

The Cotswolds:

The Cotswolds are old England personified. The area covers almost 800 sq miles and includes some of the country’s prettiest counties such as Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty due to its rare limestone grassland habitats and old growth beech woodlands, the beauty of the Cotswolds has much to do with its quaint villages and towns, such as Castle Combe, Chipping Norton and Tetbury.england-the-cotswolds

Recommended Roads:

The 385km Antrim Coast Road (A2) takes in many tourists spots from Newry to vibrant Belfast then along the rugged coastline all the way up to the Giants Causeway.Giants-causeway-2-1024x664

Take the 299km A470 from south coast Cardiff to north coast Llandudno, through Snowdonia National Park and the Brecon Beacons and see why the British named it their favourite road. To be honest most of the driving in North Wales is pretty spectacular. If you’re taking the ferry to Holyhead then the A5 towards Betws-y-Coed and eventually the Midlands is also mightily impressive.North_snowdonia_panorama

A5_-_Llyn_Ogwen

Head to the Peak District and take the Cat and Fiddle Road that crosses the wild Pennines. This road offers some wonderful vistas, however; it rates as Britain’s most dangerous road, as people like to take it at speed, but take your time and you will be in for a driving treat.A537-Cat-and-Fiddle-Road-CF51-P

Extra Equipment:

If you’re driving in the UK, especially with the whole family on-board, space may well be at a premium. A good set of Roof Bars and a Roof Box may be the ideal solution if extra carrying capacity is needed – especially handy if you have young children in the car and bulky items such as Buggies and travel cots have to be brought along. Why not check out our Roof Rack buying guide or take a look at our Top 10 Do’s & Don’ts When Using a Roof Rack

If you’re planning on making the most of the good weather, you might want to bring bikes or watersport gear with you. If that’s the case, you’ll need a suitable solution for transporting them. We have a huge range of products in our Travel Equipment section which might be worth checking out.


This blog was provided to us by our partners over at MicksGarage.com

MicksGarage is one of the UK & Ireland’s largest car parts and accessories online retailers, and pride themselves in being car part experts. With their customer service team collectively having over 100 years of experience in the automotive sector, MicksGarage can cater for all types of motoring consumers. With over 5.6 million car parts and accessories listed online, they’ll be the right part or tool for everyone

Click here to browse their extensive range of motoring product at MicksGarage


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Beginners Guide To Cycling

Beginners Guide To Cycling

So you want to start cycling? You hop on a bike and start turning the pedals – sounds easy right? and it is, it’s that simple! However there’s a bunch of stuff that’s well worth knowing that will help you get the most out of it, help you stay safe and will help you to stick with it. With that in mind we decided to compile a complete beginners guide to cycling. So whether you’ve aspirations of joining the Tour De France, want a new healthier way of getting to work or a simple pass-time to get fit and spend time with the family this guide should have something useful to help you achieve your goals.


Where to start?

The Bike

To start off you need a bike… obviously! We’re all different shapes and sizes, so just like shoes it’s vitally important to get right size bike for you. Get the wrong size and not only will you be uncomfortable and could even injure yourself, you’ll make pedaling the bike more difficult.

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There are plenty of bike shops with experienced, trained staff there to help get the right bike for you. If you fancy exploring the mountains, and tearing up the dirt trails you’ll want a mountain bike. If you’re solely sticking to the roads, get yourself a road racer. If you want something you can go fast on the road but is durable enough to go over the odd dirt trail you can get a hybrid between the two. Hybrids are great as general purpose bikes  and are very well suited to cycling with the family, they tend to have a more relaxed riding position and can cope with most riding conditions. There really are a lots of options depending on the type of bike and of course your budget.

 

Beginners Guide to Cycling tarmac_elite Beginners Guide to Cycling mountain bike Beginners Guide to Cycling hybrid

You can spend £100 or £10,000 on a bike. But unless you are the next Chris Froome or Lance Armstrong (let’s hope not!) there really is no need to spend a silly amount. If cycling is something you are really going to commit to it is worth spending just that little bit more so you get the most out of it. Upgrades to the bike can always be made in the months or years to come when you figure out what’s best for you. But as they say buy cheap, buy twice!

Joining a local club can be a great idea if you’re serious about getting into cycling. You’ll be able to tap into a wealth of knowledge on all things cycling from technical/equipment advice, cycling routes, diet, riding technique and loads more. The social aspect of joining a cycling club is also a great motivator. The links below will point you in the right direction for your local club:

UK: http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups

Something else worth mentioning is the Cycle-to-Work Scheme that’s in place in the UK and Ireland. This is a tax saving incentive where you can apply for your employer to purchase the bike for you and you pay it back over 12 monthly installments. It’s a nice way to get a really good bike without having to fork out a big lump sum. Ask your employer to see if you can avail of the scheme. I wonder if they did a Drive-to-Work scheme would Mick work out a deal?! 911 Turbo please!

Beginners Guide to Cycling

Helmets

We don’t want to come across all preachy but a good helmet is a must, not a ‘nice-to-have’.  When it comes to buying a bike helmet the same rule applies as with motorbike or motorsport crash helmets: Buy the best helmet you can afford. The question you have to ask yourself is’ How much is your head worth?’

The more expensive helmets are pricier for a reason. They give better impact protection in the event of an accident. When you do get the right helmet it’s worth taking some time to get the straps adjusted perfectly. Far too many people cycle around with helmets on but the straps flapping loosely in the breeze. Unless your lid is on properly you may as well not wear one. They do take a little bit of getting used to but after a while you won’t even notice it.

Beginners Guide to Cycling

Shorts

Lycra… We need to talk about lycra. It’s not for everyone but if you’re serious about cycling then it’s the only way to go. Lycra offers minimal aerodynamic drag pear-lizumi-attack-shorts-160x300and maximum comfort. cycling shorts are more function over form. They are designed to keep the rider cool and comfortable. Some shorts have padding to cushion your bum. Some use gel and some use chamois – the same animal skin often used to dry your car after cleaning it. Its known for its cushioning and absorption capabilities.

If you’re not quite ready to put it all on display in a pair of figure hugging lycra shorts then you can always throw on a regular pair of shorts over the top, you’ll still get most of the benefits.

Tops

Multiple light layers work best. Having 2 or 3 layers so you can take them off as you’re cycling is ideal.  The worst combination is probably one light layer and one heavy, bulky layer. You’ll be either too hot or too cold, and have no-where to store the bulky layer when you take it off. Also light rain repellant jackets (yes it rains a lot so they are needed) are worth having. They can be folded up into small saddle bags and don’t really get in the way.

Hi-viz

cyclists_roadworthy-bicycle_00A must! No matter how good a cyclist you are you really should wear something bright that stands out. It’s other road users that need to see you.  Even if it’s not reflective, wear something bright. Coming into the darker nights of autumn and winter something reflective, be it a full jacket or vest or just a belt, must be worn so vehicle lights will make you visible.

Cycle shoes

They are shoes that click into the pedals for more control on your feet. Not really a necessity if you are going to be commuting to and from work or doing a leisurely cycle.Road-Cycling-Shoe-Anatomy But if you plan on being out on the open road for 2-3 hours with no continuous stop/starts at traffic lights then they are a worthwhile extra. You can buy shoes designed specifically for cycling that don’t have pedal cleats, they tend to have stiffer soles to more effectively transfer power to the pedals, they also tend to be waterproof.

Security

Dublin City Council have produced this great video about bike security – Check it out, it’ll tell you everything you need to know about what type of lock you need, what types to avoid, where to lock your bike up and exactly how you should lock your bike up:

[kad_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn3vUCdxX6o”]

Accessories

Here are our Top 5 cycling accessories.

  1. Water bottle. Make sure it’s not empty! If you plan on being out for more than 30-40 minutes it’s worth having a bottle of water. If you want to add a little flavor, High5 electrolyte tabs are soluble tablets that add flavor to your water while supplying the right stuff needed to keep you going on the journey. If you just want plain water a little tip is to add a pinch of salt to your water. You won’t taste it but it will help with your fluid absorption. If you plan on being out for 3-4 hours, it’s worth having two bottles.
  2. Saddle bag + Repair kit. It’s handy to have a little extra storage underneath your saddle. If you want to carry extra tops or if you want to
    take one off. Saddle bags are handy to store repair kits also. Punctures are fairly commonplace when you’re cycling so it pays to make sure you have all the gear you need to repair a flat……and that you know how to do it! Our emergency repair kit comes with everything you need for any road side mechanics.
  3. Pump/CO2 cartridge. Pumps can be easily mounted to the frame out of the way. Keeping your tyres well helps reduce the rolling resistance and will make you go faster Beginners Guide to Cyclingwith less effort. Make sure you check what pressure your tyres can handle (the max psi will be written on the side wall) CO2 cartridges are a single use cartridge that screws into the tyre valve to inflate it in ‘1 shot’.  A great space saving item.
  4. Ding Ding. A bell isn’t vital but if you are cycling around busy areas it can be very handy. pedestrians often won’t see or hear you coming and can sometimes walk/run in the cycle lanes.
  5. Let there be light! Having front and rear lights on your bike is another safety essential, similar to the Hi-Viz point above. It’s for other road users to see you mainly at night times. But even in the glorious summer days it can be difficult on the eyes while driving in and out of tree shadows and the contrasting light that a cyclist could be missed and cause an accident.

Maintenance

Bikes are a pretty basic mechanical device but to some they can seem very complicated. It’s worth learning a few of the very simple tasks needed to maintain your bike, like testing the brakes, fitting a chain, being able to remove/fit a wheel and change a tyre/tyre tube. Wherever you choose to purchase your bike, any reputable retailer should be able to give you a crash course in the basics specific to your bike.

Here’s our top 3 top tips to keep your bike in tip top shape before heading off on each ride.

  1. Put ’em unda pressure! Make sure the tyres are in good condition and at the correct pressure. The ideal tyre pressure will be indicated on the side wall of the tyre. The typical pressure ranges from 80-100 psi. 3 times higher than a car tyre!
  2. Lube me up! Chains should be well lubricated. Nothing worse than a squeak ringing in your ears with every stroke of the pedals. But apart from the earache a well-oiled chain helps with the performance, making your cycling easier and smoother. Chains should be lubed up every 100-150 miles and more often if you are out in the rain.
  3. Have a brake, have a…. Brakes should also be checked before every trip. There is nothing complicated about it. You need to be able to stop; for a traffic light or in an emergency. Squeaky brakes are a simple indicator that generally mean the pads have dried out or there is a buildup of unwanted material. Rim brakes have a V shape cut into the pad as an indicator. Disc brake pads have a much stronger bite. They generally need replacing when there is only 1mm of pad left. Pads are cheap and worth keeping fresh.

While these 3 tips will keep you flying it’s worth bringing it to a specialist for an annual service. They can fine tune all the ins and outs of the bike keeping it running like clockwork… of the Swiss watch kind.

Beginners Guide to Cycling

Time to get fit

You have the gear sorted, you’ve got your bike and now you just have to use it. With the growing media scare of obesity levels, heart attacks, and general (bad) health it’s no wonder cycling is a growing hobby. Getting into a good regular routine not only just your exercise plan but your general daily plan all contribute to a better/healthier life style. There’s 24 hours in a day. 6-8 of them are in bed (unless you’ve kids). Another 6-8 in work. 2 hours commuting to work (could be more, could be less). And finally you have dinner time.

Beginners Guide to Cycling

I know some people have other commitments with kids and other pass times but by adding up the hours everyone should at least have a spare 1 to 2 hours to do some exercise. It’ll help you feel much better as a whole. You could cycle to and from work. You could head out with the kids and cycle the long route to the playground. It’s very easily done if you really want to get fit and healthy.

Beginners Guide to Cycling five-health-benefits-of-biking

Here are some points on the direct benefits of cycling.

  • General fitness. Getting your heart rate up for 30-60 minutes a day gets more oxygen and blood flowing in your heart and lungs. After a month of committed exercise, you will really start to see the benefits.
  • Weight loss. The extra bit of fat most of us carry will start to burn off. Once you eat the same amounts as before you will see the fat fall off. The volume of food must be less than what is being burnt off when you get your sweat on.
  •  Muscle definition and flexibility. When the fat starts to burn off you will begin to see more muscle definition in your legs and bum. Your arms will lose fat too!
  • Some points on indirect benefits of cycling.
  • Less chance of coronary heart disease and lung cancer
  •  Stress levels will reduce
  • Relieves depression and anxiety
  • General mood and optimism with increase
  • Improved sleep patterns
  • Minimal impact on the joints compared to running/walking, while still keeping flexibility in the joints.

There really is no reason not to get out and do some pedal pushing. As mentioned before, you can commute to work by bicycle, you don’t have to pay for expensive city parking and you get to enjoy more time with the family when you all head out for a cycle


The Rules

There are many people out there that get annoyed at cyclist ‘taking up the road’ especially at the weekends. There are also many cyclists who get annoyed at drivers. Each side has a fair argument but both road users have every right to be there. It’s a matter of respecting one another, having a bit of patience, obeying the rules of the road and basically not being a dick – whether you’re in a car or on a bike!

If you plan on doing a lot of cycling, brushing up on the rules of the road would probably be a good idea

UK Rules of the Roadhttps://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/rules-for-cyclists-59-to-82


This blog was provided to us by our partners over at MicksGarage.com

MicksGarage is one of the UK & Ireland’s largest car parts and accessories online retailers, and pride themselves in being car part experts. With their customer service team collectively having over 100 years of experience in the automotive sector, MicksGarage can cater for all types of motoring consumers. With over 5.6 million car parts and accessories listed online, they’ll be the right part or tool for everyone

Click here to browse their extensive range of motoring product at MicksGarage


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Common Electric Window Problems And Solutions

Common Electric Window Problems And Solutions

Window regulators are the mechanisms that allow the occupants of a vehicle to raise and lower the windows as required. The majority of cars today have electric windows allowing the occupants to raise and lower the glass using a switch. These can become worn and damaged over time. The following guide to common electric window problems & solutions will help in figuring what exactly needs to be fixed or replaced.

car-photo-1999-ford-taurus-lx-passenger-front-door-panel-vibrant-white-clearcoat

Driver Side Windows are checked during the NCT (National Car Test). They can result in an NCT failure for the following reasons:

  1. Insecure.
  2. Opening mechanism of driver’s window not operating.

Signs of a malfunctioning window regulator:

  1. A window does not go up or down when buttons are pressed.
  2. Operating the window makes an unusual or loud sound.
  3. Window drops to one side.

If the window regulator needs to be replaced, enter your registration number on our Window Regulators page and hit Go. Then use the filtering options on the left hand side to filter for the regulator you need i.e left or right, front or rear.

Did You Know?

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When testing the windows, use both the drivers side master control switch and the switch at the malfunctioning window.  If one of these switches operates the window as normal, then you know that there is a problem with one of the switches.Almost all cars with electric windows have a lock button that cuts power to all windows apart from the driver’s side for safety reasons. If your windows aren’t working It’s worth checking if this button has been pressed accidentally!

There are 4 main reasons for a malfunctioning electric window:

  1. Blown Fuse
  2. Faulty window switch
  3. Faulty window motor
  4. Faulty window regulator

If you can hear the motor running (a humming sound) when you press the buttons to operate the window, then you can rule out a faulty window switch and a blown fuse. You should skip to checking the motor and window regulator. If you can’t hear any sound when you press the buttons then it’s time to check the fuse.

Blown Fuse:

If all the windows have stopped working then the most likely cause is a blown fuse. The location of the fuse box will be in the owners manual or Haynes Workshop manual. You may need a flat head screwdriver to pry open the fuse box cover. In most vehicles, there is a diagram on the inside of the cover which illustrates the location and purpose of each fuse.

Testing a Fuse with a Voltmeter:

Testing a Fuse with Multimeter
The safest method for testing a fuse is to use a voltmeter (or a multimeter that is set to volts). Turn your ignition to the on position and clamp the negative (black) lead to a ground. Locate the two exposed square pieces of metal that are on top of the fuse in question, using the positive (red) lead touch the first metal square, then do the same to the other.

The voltage reading should be between 12-14 volts as shown in the image to the left. Correct readings on both sides of the fuse indicate that the fuse is not blown and is working. If only one side of the fuse is giving a reading then the fuse is blown.

If neither side gives a reading, current is not flowing into either side of the fuse and there is an electrical problem upward of that area on the circuit.

Note:Do not use a voltmeter that is set to Ohms to test a live electrical circuit.

Visually Checking a Fuse:

fuse
Use a fuse puller to extract the fuse from the socket. (Some vehicles will have this tool inside the fuse box.) Pull on the fuse gently to remove it, you may need to wriggle it slightly but be careful not to damage it or the socket. If you don’t have a fuse puller, you can use long-nose pliers instead. When the fuse has been removed, check the metal strip inside for any breaks or fractures. If the metal is strip is broken as shown in the image below, then the fuse is blown and needs to replaced.

It’s critically important to replace it with a fuse of the exact same amperage rating. This rating is the number that is written on top of the fuse or stated in the fuse box cover. Using a fuse of lower or greater amperage could result in a fire or damage other components of the car.

Tip #1: Check for loose connections or wires around the fuse box. Tighten them and check to see if the windows work. A little electrical contact spray can also help.

Tip #2: Check the window switches for any dirt or loose/worn cables that could be causing the window to malfunction. If the fuses are not blown then a deeper investigation is needed. The door panel will need to be removed. It’s important to follow manufacturers procedures for removing this panel to avoid any damage. The next step is to remove the moisture barrier liner by slowly peeling it off and placing it in a safe place. Once this is done, visually inspect the plastic guides, connections, wiring and components for any sign of damage or if any of them are not secure.

replace-power-window-regulator-2004-08-chrysler-pacifica.1280x600

Checking Power to the motor


Using a digital volt meter, test the connection that is going to the motor for current. Motors with two wires are analogue systems and are safe to test. However, motors with more than two wires are called digital systems and a professional diagnosis is recommended. Use the back probing method to test if power is flowing through the connector leading to the motor when the window switch is pressed (remember to reconnect the window switch when testing). Back probe testing involves inserting the probes (leads) into the motor side of the connector as shown in the image below.

Tip: Avoid piercing any wires or front probing the connector as this could lead to further problems.

When checking the wires you are looking for a reading of either -12 volts or 12 volts. If the reading shows full current and the motor is not running it means that the motor is at fault. A lower reading means that sufficient current is not reaching the motor and that the problem is further up the circuit.

Using the drop testing voltage method you can test for any differences in volts at either side of the connector i.e. if voltage reads 10 volts at the motor side of the connector and the overall voltage is 12 volts there is resistance in the circuit that could cause the motor to run abnormally.

Tip: It’s recommended to change the motor and window regulator at the same time. If one of them was to break again, you will be back to the same situation.


Tips to Extend the Life of Window Regulators & Motors

  • As soon as the window is fully up or down release the button, keeping it pressed can put tremendous strain on the motor and the regulator components.
  • Using rubber care products such as Einsett Gummi Pflege or silicone spray can keep rubber seals from getting hard and drying out. This will allow the window to go up and down freely.

This blog was provided to us by our partners over at MicksGarage.com

MicksGarage is one of the UK & Ireland’s largest car parts and accessories online retailers, and pride themselves in being car part experts. With their customer service team collectively having over 100 years of experience in the automotive sector, MicksGarage can cater for all types of motoring consumers. With over 5.6 million car parts and accessories listed online, they’ll be the right part or tool for everyone

Click here to browse their extensive range of motoring product at MicksGarage


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A Guide To Driving In Italy

A Guide To Driving In Italy

Yup, you read that right, driving in Italy. Some tourists do dare to drive there and manage to get off the beaten track and see much more of this wondrous country than the usual tourist spots. Driving in Italy is not for the faint-hearted, but it’s not as crazy as you might think. So, rent a car or bring your own, prepare to get lost more than once and treat it like an adventure and experience the true Italian dolce vita!

On your marks:

There are four main types of roads in Italy with the following speed limits:

Type of road                                                                       Speed limit

Motorway (autostrade)                                                   130km/h (80mph)

Main Highway (strade extraurbane principali)         110km/h (68mph)

Secondary Road (strade extraurbane secondarie)  90km/h (56mph)

Built-up Areas (strade urbane)                                      50km/h (31mph)

When raining or snowing the speed limit reduces to 110km/h on motorways and 90km/h on main highways.

Warning: there are many speed cameras throughout the road and motorway systems to keep electronic checks on speed. If caught, you will receive a fine.

Get set:

  •  By law, you must:
  • Have a full driver’s licence, no learners allowed
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have at least third party insurance
  • Wear a seatbelt in the front and rear at all times, if fitted.
  • Not use a mobile phone whilst driving but you may use a hands-free kit.
  • Not seat children less than three years old in the front or rear seats without the proper child seat. Furthermore, children aged between four and 12 cannot be a passenger unless using a suitable safety restraint seat or an adaptor for a seat belt. However, they can use the adult seat belts in the rear if accompanied by a passenger aged at least 16 years.
  • Not have a BAC exceeding 0.5g/l. You can face hefty fines and/or imprisonment if caught driving whilst over the limit.
  • Turn on dipped headlights during the daytime when driving outside built-up areas and during snow, rain and poor visibility.
  • Turn on lights when driving through tunnels.

Go:

In general, Italians are aggressive, confident and fast drivers, but there are some regional variations. It’s more relaxed and leisurely out in the rolling countryside compared to the frenzy of driving in the cities and it is a little more law-abiding north of Rome than it is south, where the rules-of-the-road are seemingly ignored.

Remember to always drive on the right and, if not otherwise indicated, give way to traffic coming from your right.

On the autostrade and dual carriageways, the left hand lane is always for overtaking. Do not linger in this lane.

Italians drive very VERY close to cars in front of them. If there is a space between cars, it usually fills very quickly with a car coming in from either side. Therefore, look out for cars cutting in front of you; however, if you drive as close as the locals do you don’t have to worry about being cut up!

Italian drivers expect the unexpected and are prepared for it and you should be too. Do not wait for a car to stop and let you out; if you see a gap be assertive and pull out, the other drivers will be expecting you to do this (but within reason, don’t be pulling off any silly or dangerous manoeuvres).

Many roads in towns and cities are area pedonale (pedestrian zones), which prohibit cars, or zona traffic limitato (limited traffic zones), which require a special permit if you want to drive through them.

If renting a car be sure to get one with GPS and make sure you bring some road maps too. Italian road signs are notoriously difficult to understand and pretty hard to find within cities.

Speaking of cities, if you do plan to drive through Rome, Venice, Florence, Naples etc., just be prepared.  You’ll need to negotiate extremely narrow streets, find streets with no names, streets that change names half way through, avoid cars parked and stopped on the streets, pedestrians walking in the streets and one way systems. Not to mention cryptic parking restrictions, which mean nothing anyways as there are no empty parking spaces to be found. All of these can lead to a lot of wasted time and getting very lost. If this sounds like your idea of fun, then great, you will love the Italian cities, go forth and conquer. However, if this sounds like being thrown to the lions, leave the car out of town and get a bus or train in and enjoy the ride and sites and you’ll save time and be able to enjoy an ice-cream in a plaza, while the others soldier on looking for a parking space.

A Guide to Driving in Italy

Places to Visit:

Too many to mention, not even possible to narrow it down but some of the more interesting regions are:

Cinque Terre

If you need a break from all the driving head to this UNESCO World Heritage Site and car-free zone and get away from it all. This area consists of five villages that cling to the cliffs of the rugged Italian Riviera coastline, connected via a network of narrow walking routes. Take a stroll along the routes, stopping in each little village to eat the local specialties and marvel at the vineyards cultivated on near vertical slopes.

A Guide to Driving in Italy

Sicily

Stunning beaches, smouldering Mount Etna, ancient Greek and Italian ruins and the sites made famous by the Godfather film. Just remember: “In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns.”

A Guide to Driving in Italy

Venice

Situated in the northeast extending from the Dolomites to the Adriatic Sea and taking in the eastern shore of Lake Garda this region offers high mountain passes, low valleys and sandy beaches, as well as cities made famous by the Bard. Follow the canals from the Merchant of Venice or head to Verona and stand under the balcony where Romeo wooed Juliet. Forget about driving though…

A Guide to Driving in Italy

Recommended Roads:

We have to mention Stelvio Pass, one of the best driving roads ever. At 2,757m, it is the third highest paved pass in the European Alps and whilst the scenery isn’t the most stunning it certainly is a fun road to drive. Is it one of the best driving roads? We will leave that up to you to decide.

A Guide to Driving in Italy Stelvio-Pass

One road that is stunning is the Costiera Amalfitana, or Amalfi Coast, which according to UNESCO is “an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape, with exceptional cultural and natural scenic values”. This road follows the coast from Sorrento south to Salerno. It gets very busy during high season, but this is a route best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, preferably in a convertible Italian motor.

A Guide to Driving in Italy

Drive Lake Como, beginning at Lecco heading to Bellagio and then on to the town of Como and finally to Mennagio. The road here is smooth and even yet narrow and windy and really puts your driving skills to the test, whilst taking in some pretty villages and scenery along the way.

A Guide to Driving in Italy lake como


This blog was provided to us by our partners over at MicksGarage.com

MicksGarage is one of the UK & Ireland’s largest car parts and accessories online retailers, and pride themselves in being car part experts. With their customer service team collectively having over 100 years of experience in the automotive sector, MicksGarage can cater for all types of motoring consumers. With over 5.6 million car parts and accessories listed online, they’ll be the right part or tool for everyone

Click here to browse their extensive range of motoring product at MicksGarage


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29 Things You Should Have In Your Boot

29 Things You Should Have In Your Boot

Your boot is a location that gets used a hell of a lot, from bringing home the shopping to carrying the golf clubs, from those bulky boxes from IKEA to the presents for the family at Christmas, what would we do without it!

So I asked around the office here to find out what should you have in there, the key items that will help you out when you’re stuck or the things your friends will thank you for should something drastic go wrong. I’m going to split them into three categories:

  1. ‘Essentials’ – These are the ‘must haves’ the things that you will be lost without unless you have them.
  2. ‘Very Handy’ – These are the items you’ll proudly tell your mates are ‘very handy’ to have. Not super essential but you’ll find a use for them.
  3. ‘Nice to Have’ – These are for all you who like to have the lot in your boot, the types of things that other people would never expect you to have but will no doubt be perfect when the occasion arises.

 

Essentials – What they are and why you need them!

  1. 1 Litre Oil Top-Up: Keeping your oil topped up to the correct level is crucial to the up-keep of any car. It’s the lube that keeps all parts running smoothly so if it runs low or even runs out, you will have problems. You should check your oil level regularly (only when the car is cold) and adjust if it’s below the recommended mark on your dipstick.
  2. Tyre Inflator: Last thing you want is to be stranded because of a flat tyre. Often it might be slow puncture that a simple inflate will allow you to get to a tyre repair centre. There are two types of tyre inflators you can buy, my personal favourite and the one in my boot is theDraper 12v Mini Analogue Compressor. It’s small and won’t take up space and you’ll be able inflate a fully flat tyre in 10 minutes. Super handy as it works off the cigarette lighter. You can also get a regular foot-pump like this Draper Twin Cylinder one, but of course it will take more effort and time.DRAPER-12V-Mini-Digital-Air-Compressor-100-Psi-Max-1_800_800_130123084606          Draper Tyre Inflator
  3. Extendable Wheel Brace: Dead handy tool to have when changing your wheel. The wheel brace that comes with all cars is generally too short to get the nuts loose easily, especially in the rain. With an extendable brace you’ll have more leverage to get it off, making the job a lot easier. Believe me, your hands will thank you after!
  4. Replacement Jack: The jack is a tool that comes standard in all cars, but often you’ll find that it’s missing, especially if you buy a second hand car. So make sure you have a replacement jack at the ready, you’ll often pick up the exact one for your car from a breakers yard.
  5. First Aid Kit: Another essential kit to have is a mini first aid kit, full with plasters, bandages, tape, alcohol swabs, scissors etc. This is a perfect example of the type that should be tucked away in your boot for any mini mishaps!first-aid-kit
  6. Warning Triangle & Hi-Vis Jacket: I’m mentioning these together because more than likely you will be using them together. They’re a requirement in many countries, and really should be in your boot in case you need to pull in to attend to your car on the side of the road. These two items are for the benefit of other road users as much as yourself, warning them of ‘danger’ ahead and are a real must to keep all parties safe
  7. Lock Nut Wheel Key: Only for use with alloy wheels, but an incredibly important little key that helps you take your alloy wheels off. Typically you will have 5 nuts in total, with one that works in a similar way to a door key works – it’s unique for security reasons and must be opened with a specific lock nut adaptor (or key!) that fits perfectly into it. Again, they usually come with the car, and can be found along with the spare wheel, but if it’s missing and you need to remove your wheel, then you have a problem, usually a costly one where it has to be forcibly removed! Replacement ‘keys’ can be purchased, ensure you have it.02-WheelLockKey
  8. Bottle of Water. It’s simple, costs very little but could literally save your life. If you’re sick, dehydrated, stranded or hungover you’ll be glad you have one stashed away that you can get your mitts on. Also, if your windscreen washer runs out it can be a ‘life saver’ in allowing you to clear your windscreen enough to get to a garage and top-up properly. It can even be used to top up your coolant in an emergency and give you hands a wash after you access the engine bay! The uses go on and on.

‘Very Handy’ Items – Not purely essential, but dead handy to have.

  1. De-Icer / Ice Scraper: Frosty mornings usually mean a little delay to your schedule while you defrost your windows. The quickest, safest method is using some de-icer to quickly melt the ice and frost while the car heats up.
  2. Rags: Cut up that old t-shirt you have into small segments and use them as rags in your boot. Dead handy for checking the level of our oil, cleaning up a mess inside the car, or even giving it a quick polish before you pick herself / himself up on that first date!
  3. Umbrella: Living in The UK and Ireland means that rain can strike at any time. In fact a wise man once said that ‘any fool carries an umbrella on a wet day, but the wise man carries it every day’ Grab a small one, and pop it in the boot, you’ll be using it!
  4. Boot Protector: All boots have a carpet interior, which means it will get dirty, damp, mucky and if you happen to spill a yoghurt on it…smelly! Best way to avoid all that and keep your original carpet sparkling is to buy a boot liner / boot protector. Made of tough rubber, with a lip around the edge, it traps the lot; muck from sports gear, sand from the beach, the mess left after the dags or puke from the young wan! Simple hose down, and it’s back to new again!Boot Liner Protection Mat
  5. Jerry Can: If you haven’t had the misfortune of running out of fuel then you’re lucky, but when it happens, it’s a pain and can leave you in a right mess. Having to purchase yet another jerry can to put the fuel into will make you even more angry, especially when you know you have 5 at home in the shed! Best option in my opinion, to avoid smell and taking up room, is this Collapsible Jerry Can – expands to 10 litres but small enough to fit snuggly in beside the spare wheel.jerry-can
  6. Antifreeze / Coolant: In most cars, water is used to cool the engine, but in extreme temperatures regular water will either boil or freeze and so additives will need to be added to ensure neither happens. This is where your antifreeze / coolant comes in – coming together as the one solution and costing about £5 for a bottle. It’s something that is always in your car as standard, but if you notice that the temperature guage is showing overheating then it’s probably time for a top-up.
  7. Duct Tape, WD-40 & Cable Ties: Yes it’s time to tap into the inner McGyver in you with this trio of ‘fix anything’ essentials. Hold on, tie down or lube up whatever is giving trouble until you can get it properly fixed!
  8. Spare Fuses: If your radio goes dead, your indicators stop working or a light goes out it’s usually as a result of a blown fuse. Changing them is a job you can do yourself, but you have to have them first! Few things to remember – check your user manual first to find where the fuse relating to your problem is, then before taking the fuse out, take a photo of all the fuses so you can replace them in the proper places and if you can help it, check one at a time. You can purchase a mini kit for only £2.
  9. Jump Leads: You left the radio on and the battery’s dead! Tick tick tick is all you get…and you’re in a rush. Then jump leads will get you on the road in 5 minutes. Remember to follow the correct procedure when ‘jumping’ it. Here’s our handy ‘How To’ video on how to do it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlSihfHNMlI&index=23&list=PLD5D35CDB61B2AA76jump-leads
  10. Emergency Mobile Phone Battery Pack: The last thing you want if you get stranded in the middle of ballygobackwards is a dead phone along with a dead car!. This power pack can be your saviour for getting in touch with someone and there are lots of battery packs to choose from, ranging in price and quality.

 

‘Nice to Have’: Won’t be needed in a crisis situation but will be nice to have if the occasion arises.

  1. Windscreen Wash: Water can work just fine to clear your grubby windscreen, but if you want an extra clean windscreen then I’d highly recommend getting some windscreen wash. It will help removing those pesky bugs that get welded on in the summer as well as all the other grime from the road. Usually comes pre-mixed or as concentrate that you add yourself to some water. **Be careful of the quality of water you use – try to avoid hard, limestone water as limescale will build within the washer bottle in your car, clogging it fully over time. Collecting rain water for this use is a great, cost effective solution.
  2. Baby Wipes: Surely they are up there as the invention of the last 20 years!? I could never list all the uses for them, but they are awesome to have in the car. Simple things like cleaning your hands after you put some air in your tyres or even removing the annoying diesel off your hands when you top up on fuel. Need we mention the mess kids can leave in the car…let’s not, we all know how bad it can be! A pack or two in the boot, and you’re laughing.
    baby-wipes-uses
  3. Gloves: Similar to the point above, avoiding a mess is primary for lots of people. A box of disposable gloves can be an easy way to keep your hands clean and hygienic if tinkering with the car.
  4. Blanket: You’re thinking of a romantic, spontaneous picnic in the country sun right? Well it could be handy for that, but it’s more for the other extreme, when you could get caught in that mad snow storm and you need to keep yourself and the kids warm. Even worse if you break down in that weather, then you’ll definitely need it!
  5. Torch: Those of us who have grown up on country roads with no street lights will be able relate to this. You hear a rattle at the back of the car and you need to investigate, you hop out and can see very little, bar the area around the brake lights! This is where a little mini torchcan come in handy. Of course you could also just use your phone….but then the battery goes low, and before you know it you’re going back to point 18 to get you home!torch
  6. Tow-Rope: Tuck it in beside the spare wheel for the emergency of towing or getting towed. Make sure the rope is strong enough when you buy it so that it won’t snap, any hardware shop will be able advise you on the best type.
  7. Shopping Bags: Ever since the law came in where plastic bags were no longer free, people have taken to the ‘bags for life’. You should always have a few in the car in case you need to make the impromptu trip to Aldi to pick up the dishwasher descaler, pint of milk and a 24 piece drill bit set!
  8. Multi-Tool Kit / Penknife: A little pocket tool kit like this MacGyver set has a multitude of uses, and replaces the need to have a bulky tool box as it comes with screwdrivers, pliers, saw and wire cutters. This one even contains a bottle opener, but remember to never ever drink and drive.multitoolkit
  9. Sun-screen: Only applicable on the odd summer day where we get sweltering temperatures, but our North Western European skin can’t handle the burn! So having a bottle of factor 20 in the boot is always welcome to limit the burn and keep your skin healthy.
  10. Tyre Gauge: Similar to point number 2, this can simply tell you the air pressure in your tyres. It’s a handy little gizmo that you can obtain a reading from in seconds. If you have suspicion that it’s low on air pressure this will confirm it for you.
  11. Tyre Weld Puncture Repair: A pretty awesome invention for that dreaded flat tyre. This is a ‘get you home’ solution where no jack or tools are required. Simply screw the connection tube on the can to the valve on the tyre and allow the contents of the can to flow into the tyre. It then gets to work at locating and sealing the puncture while also inflating your wheel enough to get you home! Genius

This blog was provided to us by our partners over at MicksGarage.com

MicksGarage is one of the UK & Ireland’s largest car parts and accessories online retailers, and pride themselves in being car part experts. With their customer service team collectively having over 100 years of experience in the automotive sector, MicksGarage can cater for all types of motoring consumers. With over 5.6 million car parts and accessories listed online, they’ll be the right part or tool for everyone

Click here to browse their extensive range of motoring product at MicksGarage


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Win A FREE Copy Of Series 23 Of Top Gear On DVD

The crew at Traffic Galaxy are excited to announce our very first competition to give one lucky person the chance to win a brand new copy of the latest Top Gear season on DVD. This boxset follows Chris Evans, Matt LeBlanc and the rest of the new Top Gear team as they celebrate the art of driving through extreme stunts and challenges, car reviews, testing newly released super-cars and hosting celebrity interviews.

All you have to do is click the link below to head over to our dedicated competition page, enter your details (so we know where to send the prize) and hit the ‘Enter’ button at the bottom. That’s it! The contest is open to everyone until the end of September 2016, but we’re planning to run more motoring competitions in the future, so stayed tuned for more information in the future.


Click here to enter this month’s competition


DVD Description:

All six episodes from the 23rd series of the BBC motoring show with new presenters Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc. Featuring the usual blend of vehicle reviews, celebrity interviews, motoring challenges and in-studio banter, this series sees the new hosts joined by fellow presenters Eddie Jordan, Chris Harris, Sabine Schmitz and Rory Reid as well as celebrities including Jesse Eisenberg, Jenson Button, Kevin Hart and Bear Grylls for the new ‘Star in the Rallycross Car’ segment. The new team review cars including the McLaren 675LT, Tesla Model X and Ferrari F12 TDF and undertake a number of special motoring challenges across the globe.

Top-Gear-DVD-Comp

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A Guide To Driving In The US

A Guide To Driving In The US

The American love affair with roads and cars is well documented in songs, books and films – cars and the open road represent freedom and the classic American road trip is a rite of passage for many, including some of the 70 million tourists the good ole U S of A receives each year. So, if you are planning an American road trip, here are a few things to know about driving in the US:Highway-1

On your marks:

There are three main types of highway systems in the US, the Interstate Highway, the U.S. Highway and the State Highway system. Within these are the following roads and speed limits:

Type of road                      Speed limit

  • Rural Freeway                   55-80mph (88km/h-128km/h)
  • Urban Freeway                 35-80mph (56km/h-128km/h)
  • Rural Divided                     45-75mph (72km/h-120km/h)
  • Rural Undivided                25-75mph (40km/h-120km/h)
  • Residential                          10-55mph (16km/h-88km/h)

U.S. speed limits are in miles per hour and indicate the maximum speed; however, cars must travel at a reasonable and prudent speed, given road conditions. The speed limits vary greatly because individual states set them, so be sure to check road signs indicating speed limits for each area.

In addition, most states have minimum speed limits in place and prohibit speeds so low that they are dangerous or impede the normal and reasonable traffic flow.

No state bans all mobile phone use for all drivers; however, there are bans in place in 14 states and it is partially illegal in four states. Along with that there is a ban on texting whilst driving in all states bar Arizona and Montana. Know before you go and check the law for the state you intend driving through.

Get set:

By law, you must:

  • Obey the laws of each state, which has its own driving rules and regulations.
  • Have a full driver’s licence (provisional licences not accepted).
  • Meet the minimum motor insurance requirement; however, car insurance isn’t mandatory in some states.
  • Buckle-up as 34 states have primary seat belt laws for front seat occupants, 15 states have secondary laws and 28 states have laws requiring seat belt use for all rear seat passengers.
  • Use child seats where appropriate, as all 50 states require child safety seats for infants and children fitting specific criteria.
  • Not be over the drink drive limit and in all 50 states driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08 per cent is a crime.

Go:

Before travelling, obtain an International Driving Permit; whilst not a requirement, you may need it in order to rent a car.

To rent a car, you must usually be 21 and held a full licence for a minimum of a year. A few companies will rent to 18-year-olds, although others have a minimum age requirement of 25. Many rental companies levy a young driver surcharge on those under 25.

ClassImages_5

When driving a rental car in the States not only are you driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road but also you are driving in the wrong side of the car. Try to familiarise yourself with the dials, indicators, and gear stick before you hit the main road.

Get used to driving an automatic too as this is the transmission type of most rental cars.

There isn’t an overtaking lane on American freeways, as undertaking is legal; therefore cars can overtake in every lane, so prepare yourself for other cars criss-crossing you in all directions.

While traffic signals use the same red, amber and green colours as us, watch out for supplementary signs and that, most of the time, you’re allowed turn right into a T junction on red if safe to do so.

Recommended roads:

Get your kicks on Route 66; it’s clichéd but still the quintessential America road trip. This iconic 2,400-mile (3,862km) road links Chicago with Santa Monica in California and leads into a bygone America. Rent yourself a ’57 Chevy and head to the nearest neon lit diner for a slice of nostalgia pie.

Route One, Big Sur Coast Highway, is a designated All American Road that runs along most of the Pacific coastline of California, which is one of the most beautiful coastlines in the USA.

A little off the beaten track but worth it; the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, Montana, is a spectacular 50-mile (80km), two-lane highway that bisects the park crossing the Continental Divide at the 6,646-foot (2,025m) Logan Pass. It is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, in other words, and awesome.6

Another personal favourite of ours is the relatively unknown Valley of Fire area very close to Las Vegas. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and when you’re finished you approach Vegas from the hills, revealing that it really is a city in the middle of the desert. Watch out though: speeding is severely frowned upon here.


This blog was provided to us by our partners over at MicksGarage.com

MicksGarage is one of the UK & Ireland’s largest car parts and accessories online retailers, and pride themselves in being car part experts. With their customer service team collectively having over 100 years of experience in the automotive sector, MicksGarage can cater for all types of motoring consumers. With over 5.6 million car parts and accessories listed online, they’ll be the right part or tool for everyone

Click here to browse their extensive range of motoring product at MicksGarage


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How To Stay Awake While Driving

How To Stay Awake While Driving

if I asked you how many times you’d driven whilst drunk in the last 12 months, you’d probably be quite offended and hopefully the answer would be never! However, if I were to ask if you have driven whilst extremely tired or whether you have struggled to stay alert at the wheel in the last 12 months there’s a good chance the answer would be veryhow to stay awake when driving resounding yes!

Studies have shown that driving when your body is tired can be just as dangerous as getting behind the wheel while drunk! To a degree, drowsiness is similar to alcohol in the way it compromises driving ability by reducing alertness and attentiveness, delaying reaction times, and hindering decision-making skills, yet more and more of us nowadays have lifestyles that contribute to driving while drowsy.

Studies show that being awake for more than 20 hours results in an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%. What that equates to in terms of number of drinks is difficult to say as it varies hugely from person to person but to give you a rough idea, it’s in the region of 1-2 pints of beer or 2-4 glasses of wine, which is quite significant.

The latest statistics show that one in five driver deaths have driver fatigue as a contributory factor. You might think that fatigue is something that you are more likely to experience during long-distance driving, but it can have just as much of an affect over shorter distances, especially if you aren’t getting enough sleep. The Road Safety Authority have recently launched a new awareness campaign highlighting the dangers of driver fatigue:

The big danger of driver fatigue is that you might not always recognise the symptoms until it is too late. Maybe you’ve just finished a long shift in work or you’ve had some late nights with little sleep because of a new baby in the house; either way there’s an increased chance that your driving is going to be more impaired than you suspect.

Tell-tale signs that you’re becoming too drowsy to drive:

  • Difficulty maintaining a steady speed or a steady distance to the car in-front
  • You can’t remember driving the last few miles.
  • Trouble focusing, keeping your eyes open or your head up
  • Yawning or rubbing your eyes repeatedly
  • Daydreaming and wandering thoughts
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating and missing signs or exits
  • Feeling restless, irritable or aggressive
  • Slower reaction time, poor judgment

If you start to experience any of the above it’s time to pull in for a break and to try and do something about it before something worse happens.

Techniques for staying alert and awake at the wheel can be split into two categories: Pre-journey & during the journey itself

Top 5 Pre-journey methods of combating driver fatigue; 

  • Now, we don’t mean to state the bleedin’ obvious, but making sure you get enough sleep the night before is one of the very best ways to avoid stay awake at the wheel. Many of us don’t get as much sleep each night as we should. Ideally you should be getting between six and eight hours of unbroken sleep each night, especially if you’re going to be undertaking a longer than usual drive the following day.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol the night before.
  • If you are driving over an extended distance perhaps you can share some of the driving with a fellow passenger. The added benefit of conversation will help keep you alert.
  • Don’t try to break your body’s cycle by driving at times that you would normally be asleep. This might not always be feasible if, for example, you have a particularly early flight to catch, but where possible try to drive at regular times. Most drowsy driving crashes happen between midnight and 6:00 a.m., when the body’s need for sleep is greatest, and in the mid-afternoon (during the circadian dip, or as we know it – the 3 o clock slump).
  • If you know you’ll be driving for long enough to get sleepy, drink a cup of coffee and take a 15-minute nap before you go. “That way, when you wake up, the coffee has kicked in, and the boost from the nap will give you an extra level of energy,” says Ralph Downey III, PhD, director of Loma Linda University Sleep Disorders Center in California.

Top 6 Mid-journey methods of combating driver fatigue; 

The important point to bear in mind here is this: If you have to get creative to stay awake and drive, you probably shouldn’t be driving.

  • Again, this is obvious but take a break! Nowadays many of our motorways are well covered by service stations that are easily accessed from the main road and in addition to parking have areas to get out of the car and stretch your legs. Getting out of the car for 10 or 15 minutes in fresh air will give your body a positive boost and can help stave off tiredness. It won’t make a huge impact on your final arrival time and you’ll feel so much better for doing it. it will get the blood and oxygen pumping round the body and can make a positive difference.
  • Take a nap; you will be amazed at how much better even a short 15-minute powernap can make you feel. Ideally park up at a service station or somewhere well out of harm’s way and set an alarm on your mobile phone. As mentioned above you could try having a coffee before you take a nap so that you get a ‘double hit’ when you wake up
  • Refuel yourself. You might not need to fill up your car’s tank but getting a bottle of water or a coffee will help keep you more alert.how to stay awake when drivingAvoid fizzy drinks though; they might give you a quick boost but there’s an increased chance of a ‘sugar crash’ after you’ve had them, so stick to the healthier options. That said, energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster Energy are loaded with caffine which will do a good job of keeping you awake for an hour or 2.
  • If you’re travelling alone keep your brain active by listening to music and singing along or, even better, an audiobook. Just make sure that it is something that won’t overly distract you from the surrounding traffic conditions.
  • Limit the Gangsta Lean and put the seat backrest up! Ensuring that your driving position is comfortable can have a big effect. You should be sitting quite upright with a slight bend in your knees and elbows. Slumping down in your seat can restrict the flow of oxygen to your lungs.how to stay awake when driving
  • Vary your route. Long stretches of monotonous motorway driving can prematurely trigger the effects of tiredness. if you have the option, a more involving, winding country road where you are much more engaged with the car through braking, accelerating, changing gears and really concentrating hard on the road ahead can not only be a welcome change but can have a noticeable effect on your levels of alertness.

More tips & tricks:

Mick’s Garage asked their Facebook fans how they stay awake at the wheel. There are literally hundreds of tips, tricks and techniques people use, none of which we can vouch for! Some sound like they would work, some definitely wont and some are downright crazy. Here are our favorites:

  • Take one shoe off! There’s a lot of nerve endings on the bottoms of your feet which aren’t always stimulated while wearing socks/shoes. when your bare foot starts touching off stuff it seems to help!
  • Have a snack and a drink every 2 hours and have a wonder to the loos at service stations –  kind of like smelling salts but for free. If u know what I mean
  • Chew gum to keep your mouth busy. It stops the yawning, which stops the dozing off. Just make sure you keep chewing, even if your mouth gets tired of chewing. This is gum trick taken from truck drivers and it works really well!
  • Taking off your pants seems to help (be prepared for other consequences if you try this)
  • Crunching on ice cubes or eating sunflower seeds works because the crunching action keeps you engaged but not distracted from the road.
  • Trap a few strands of hair in the sunroof!

how to stay awake when driving

Drowsy Driving – Who’s Most at Risk?

Anyone who drives is at risk of falling asleep at the wheel, but some groups of people are more at risk than others. They include:

  • Young drivers – Combining inexperience with sleepiness and a tendency to drive at night puts young people at risk, especially males aged 16-25 years.
  • Shift workers and people working long hours – People who work night shifts, rotating shifts, double shifts or work more than one job have a six-fold increase in drowsy driving crashes.
  • Commercial drivers – Those who drive a high number of miles and drive at night are at significantly higher risk for fall-asleep crashes. Commercial drivers have also been found to be at a high risk for sleep disorders.
  • People with untreated sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – People with untreated OSA are up to seven times more likely to have a drowsy driving crash. For some people insomnia can increase fatigue.
  • Business travelers – Frequent travelers who may be suffering from jet lag and crossing time zones, spending long hours behind the wheel or getting too little sleep.

This blog was provided to us by our partners over at MicksGarage.com

MicksGarage is one of the UK & Ireland’s largest car parts and accessories online retailers, and pride themselves in being car part experts. With their customer service team collectively having over 100 years of experience in the automotive sector, MicksGarage can cater for all types of motoring consumers. With over 5.6 million car parts and accessories listed online, they’ll be the right part or tool for everyone

Click here to browse their extensive range of motoring product at MicksGarage


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A Guide To Driving In Portugal

A Guide To Driving In Portugal

Portugal may be small but it packs a punch and its relaxed vibe and friendly locals makes travelling this historic country a pleasure. However, the Portuguese have a bad rep when it comes to driving, and statistics indicate that this is highly justified. Nevertheless, things are improving and the relatively empty roads and short distances between stop-offs make Portugal an ideal road trip destination. Just follow our tips to ensure driving in Portugal is a pleasure and not a pain.

On your marks:

There are six types of roads in Portugal with the following speed limits:

Type of road                                                                       Speed limit

  • Motorway (Autoestrada – AE)                                            120km/h (74mph)
  • Main Highway (Itinerários Principais – IP)                     100km/h (62mph)
  • Secondary Road (Itinerários Complementares – IC)     100km/h (62mph)
  • National Road (Estradas Nacionais – EN)                       90km/h (55mph)
  • Local Road (Estradas Municipais)                                    50km/h (31mph)
  • Coexistence Zones                                                                20km/h (12mph)

There are two types of motorway: those with tollbooths and ‘Via Verde’ (Green Lane), and those with only electronic tolls.

Motorways with tollbooths operate the same as Irish toll roads with payment by cash, card or tag. The Via Verde lane is only for those who possess Via Verde identification and you pay the toll via direct debit. You can set this up before you go.

Motorways identified at the beginning with “Electronic toll only” have no tollbooths and you must have an electronic payment system in place. Get all the information here:http://www.portugaltolls.com/en/web/portal-de-portagens/home

Autoestrada

Get set:

By law, you must:

  • Have a full driver’s licence, no learners allowed.
  • Be at least 17 years old, although if renting a car you may encounter problems if under the age of 18.
  • Carry your driver’s licence with you whilst driving.
  • Have at least third party insurance.
  • Wear a seatbelt in the front and rear at all times, if fitted.
  • Not use a mobile phone whilst driving, but you may use a handsfree kit. If you do not have a handsfree kit, you may use a single earphone piece of equipment, but using two earphones is illegal.
  • Ensure children under 1.35 metres (or up to 12 years old if shorter than 1.35 metres) sit in a child safety seat with appropriate restraints.
  • Turn on dipped headlights during the daytime when visibility is poor and when driving through tunnels.
  • Not have a blood alcohol limit (BAC) exceeding 0.5g/l. If you have held your driver’s licence for less than three years, you must not have a BAC exceeding 0.2g/l.
  • Not drive under the influence of psychotropic substances. Police test drivers involved in serious injury crashes for drugs and can administer roadside drug tests if they suspect you are driving whilst under the influence of drugs.

guide to driving in Portugal

Go:

In general, Portuguese drivers are notorious for tailgating. In addition to this, they drive very fast, hence the bad rep and high road accident statistics. However, if you maintain a safe (no, safer than that) driving distance from the car in front of you and keep to a speed you are comfortable with, the tailgater will overtake you soon enough, usually on a blind bend. Just mind your own driving and you should be ok.

Speeding is pretty much the norm on Portuguese roads, and speed traffic lights are in operation to help tackle this. The lights operate on a sensor positioned a few meters in front of the traffic lights. If you see flashing orange lights, you should make sure that you’re doing no more than the speed limit as you pass otherwise the traffic lights will turn red. Be aware that even if you are doing the correct speed they can be triggered by someone else speeding up behind you.

In addition, indicators haven’t really caught on in Portugal, although things are getting a little better, so just be vigilant. Drivers will turn with out indicating and will indicate and continue straight, especially at roundabouts.

Speaking of roundabouts, you must give way to traffic already on the roundabout, whichever lane they are in and only occupy the right-hand (outside) lane if you are taking the first exit – you risk a fine if you drive in the outside lane and do not take the first exit.

Remember to always drive on the right and, if not otherwise indicated, give way to traffic coming from your right.

It is illegal to overtake in the right-hand lane in free-flowing traffic.

guide to driving in Portugal

It is illegal to drive slower than 50km/h (31mph) on the motorway unless there’s a traffic jam of course.

If piling luggage on a roof rack, your baggage must not exceed the vehicle’s length by more than 55cm at the front and 45cm at the rear. Make sure you fit it properly and securely.

If you are bringing over or renting bikes, it is illegal to carry them on the back of a car. So, you’ll need a roof mounted bike rack or will need to fit them inside the car.

Regarding bikes, drivers must keep a minimum distance of 1.5 metres from cyclists and reduce speed when overtaking them.

Driving in the cities isn’t too stressful, but do bear in mind that the streets are very narrow, parking is extremely limited and you have to give way and watch out for people alighting from trams in the streets. Furthermore, coexisting zones are in operation giving cyclists permission to use the full width of the roads, for games to be played in the streets and, actually, that all sounds far too much to deal with on holiday. Ditch the car and take the very cool old style trams to get around – a much better way to see the city sights.

Places to Visit:

Of course, the Algarve, Lisbon and Porto are the top places to visit in Portugal but here are some other worthwhile visits a little off the beaten track:

Aveiro

Aveiro is a bustling coastal city in the central region. Called the ‘Venice of Portugal’ due to the expansive lagoon and canals that weave their way throughout the city, it is dotted with bridges, colourful fishermen’s houses and the famous Portuguese ‘azulejo’ tiles, which make this a picture perfect setting and ideal place to explore.

guide to driving in Portugal - aviero

Evora

Evora is a well-preserved medieval town steeped in history. This UNESCO World Heritage centre is an enchanting place to delve into the past. Evora has more than 4,000 historic structures including the old Roman walls and temples. Sure, it’s such a great place Lotus even named a car after it. Maybe.

guide to driving in Portugal evora

Sintra

Just a short trip from Lisbon and nestled in the beautiful Sintra Mountains and along the coast, Sintra has some wonderful natural and architectural sites including a protected natural park, plenty of palaces and an intriguing Moorish castle. It is a wonderful place to chill out, wander the streets and enjoy the local market.

guide to driving in Portugal

Recommended Roads:

  • Travelling from Castelo Branco in the Central Region to Gois, situated in a deep narrow valley, the EN-112 is a driver’s dream road. It is 90km (56 miles) of no traffic, great road surface, good visibility and roughly 400 bends to negotiate, test and excite you. Get your motor running.
  • The N-222 from Peso de Regua to Pinhao was, just this year, voted the ‘World’s Best Road’ according to a survey done by Avis. The road cuts through the heart of the Douro Valley, a famed wine region, and follows the Douro River. The road stretches for 43km (27 miles), has 93 bends and is a ‘must drive’ for petrol-heads visiting Portugal.
  • The N-267 from São Marcos da Serra to Monchique is just 24km (15 miles) long but is a firm favourite with motorcyclists due to its good visibility, lack of traffic and long wide corners as well as some hairpin bends. As you are in the hills of the Algarve, the views are sweet too.

This blog was provided to us by our partners over at MicksGarage.com

MicksGarage is one of the UK & Ireland’s largest car parts and accessories online retailers, and pride themselves in being car part experts. With their customer service team collectively having over 100 years of experience in the automotive sector, MicksGarage can cater for all types of motoring consumers. With over 5.6 million car parts and accessories listed online, they’ll be the right part or tool for everyone

Click here to browse their extensive range of motoring product at MicksGarage


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Everything You Need To Know About Bike Racks

Everything You Need To Know About Bike Racks

Bike racks are the ideal way for transporting your bike on your vehicle without having the hassle of folding down seats or dismantling your bike. They are the perfect way to get your bikes around whether you are going on a day trip to the park with the kids, a family holiday abroad, commuting to work, or in training to be the next Tour de France winner. With a bike rack you don’t need to worry about losing valuable luggage or passenger space because they are held on the roof or the back of the vehicle. Whether you have a hatchback or estate, saloon or jeep, we have a bike rack to suit your needs.

How much do they cost?

They vary from as low as £30 for a basic roof bar mounted style, right the way up to £350 for the high end tow bar mounted version. The average bike rack is around £80-£100

Everything Need to Know About bike Racks

Why such a difference in price?

The prices can vary for many reasons. The type of mounting position, be it a roof bar or a spare wheel bike rack are cheaper. Whereas a tow bar mounted or a rear door mounted bike rack can be a little bit more expensive. But the main factors that determine price are the brand and the materials they are made from. Thule would be the higher end brand and Peruzzo would be more affordable which is one of the reasons it’s our best seller. Bike racks made with a steel frame as opposed to aluminium tend to cost a bit less.

What Kind of bike rack do I Need?

Will any bike rack fit my car?

Not quite! Roof mounted bike racks are fixed to roof bars so if you haven’t already got roof bars, you’ll need to get a set of those first. Towbar mounted bike racks obviously need a tow bar to mount to and rear spare wheel racks can only be fitted to vehicles that have a spare wheel mounted on the rear door. The most versatile bike rack is the rear door mounted bike rack which sits on the boot door and is strapped down securely.

How do I know what type I need?

As mentioned above, we have 4 different type of bike racks and it really comes down to personal preference and what existing equipment you already have mounted to the car (eg towbar or roof racks) as to the type you choose. Towbar mounted bike racks probably offer the best mix of practicality and security but they come at a premium, not least because you need to have a towbar fitted. Rear door mounted bike racks are most popular for the occasional user but they are the most fiddly to fit.

Spare wheel mounted bike rack

Spare wheel mounted bike racks are specifically designed for vehicles, typically SUV’s and 4×4’s, that have a spare wheel located on the back door or boot of the vehicle. Very easy to install by simply strapping the bike rack around the wheel. Designed for the wheel to take the weight of the bikes. The maximum load these carriers can take is 2 bikes.

What Kind of bike rack do I Need?

Towbar mounted

Towbar mounted bike racks are pretty self-explanatory. They mount to any vehicles already fitted with a tow bar. Using the ball socket of the tow bar the carrier sits on and locks to the tow bar. Depending on your choice of model you can hold up to 4 bikes. We also carry a model which acts as a storage box when you’re not using the bike rack set up. Also, there is no need to worry about not being able to access the inside of your boot as the racks can tilt down, even fully loaded, so your boot door can open.

What Kind of bike rack do I Need?

Roof mounted

Roof mounted bike racks do just that! They are situated on the roof of your vehicle. They require your vehicle to have roof bars fitted. Another worthwhile investment! One roof mounted bike rack can only hold one bike but you can typically fit up to 3 bikes on the roof of your vehicle. They come in various specs depending on what you need. Some have security locks and some have extra support mounts.

What Kind of bike rack do I Need?

Rear door mounted

Rear door mounted bike racks are probably the most versatile. One model can fit many cars. The straps and arms are adjustable so they can move to fit the contours/shape of your vehicle. Typically, most of the rear door mounted bike racks can carry 3 bikes but depending on if your vehicle has a been fitted with a spoiler it can alter the load capacity. By filling in the correct details of your vehicle on our website we’ll navigate you to the perfectly suited bike rack without any confusion.

What Kind of bike rack do I Need?

Can I fit the roof rack myself?

Of course! Fitting a bike racks is simple. Here are our top 8 tips to help everything go smoothly:

  • Bike racks can be fitted by one person but It’s always worthwhile having someone there to help just in case you have to let go of the bike rack. This will limit the chance of scratching or damaging anything, be it your vehicle or the bike rack, during the installation process. We have plenty of fitting videos on our website.
  • Read the instructions – Men, we’re talking to you! All bike rack instructions contain essential information about the right method and fitting positions so it’s vital to read the instructions carefully.
  • Keep it clean. Make sure all the contact points between the rack and the car are clean, especially if fitting a rear door mounted bike rack. Any dirt or light dust trapped between the mounting points and the body of your vehicle could scratch your paintwork so ensure your bodywork is clean before fitting.Everything Need to Know About bike Racks
  • Never enough security. While most of the bike rights we stock have some form of security in place it’s worthwhile having an extra cable lock wrapped around your bikes and rack. The last thing you want to find when returning to your vehicle is your bikes are gone!
  • Don’t forget to wipe! If you’re out for a long cycle, be it on the roads or on the trails, your bike can collect a lot of dirt. It’s worth giving the bike a quick wipe down before setting off. We have special bike specific cleaners available in the bike rack accessory page.Muddy-624x4571
  • Know your limit! You don’t want to exceed the recommended load capacity of the bike rack. Doing so could cause damage to the bike rack, your bikes or your vehicle. Also, specifically for roof mounted bike racks. It’s worth knowing the height of your vehicle plus the bikes mounted as low level bridges, trees and car park security barriers come into play with the extended height.
  • Lube up! A tiny amount of copper grease on the tow bar ball socket will ensure that removing the bike rack after a long period in future will be trouble free.
  • Lastly, with any type of bike rack it’s good practice to double check the mountings periodically. So after say 50km’s of driving pull over and check any straps are secure and mounting bolts are tight and that the there is no unwanted movement on the rack.

Everything Need to Know About bike Racks


This blog was provided to us by our partners over at MicksGarage.com

MicksGarage is one of the UK & Ireland’s largest car parts and accessories online retailers, and pride themselves in being car part experts. With their customer service team collectively having over 100 years of experience in the automotive sector, MicksGarage can cater for all types of motoring consumers. With over 5.6 million car parts and accessories listed online, they’ll be the right part or tool for everyone

Click here to browse their extensive range of motoring product at MicksGarage


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A Guide To Driving In Germany

A Guide To Driving In Germany

Germany, land of beer, brat, Bach and Benz, is home to the legendary autobahn. Roughly 60 per cent of the 12,845km of autobahn has no speed limit and these unrestricted sections attract speed demons the world over who come to push their cars to the max. However, driving in Germany isn’t all about pedal to the metal; get off the autobahn and there are over 80 themed routes for tourists that are every bit as thrilling without the revs. Well, almost.

On your marks:

There are four main types of roads in Germany with the following speed limits:

Type of road                      Speed limit

  • Motorway                          Variable – 80mph (130km/h) suggested
  • Dual Carriageways          Variable – 80mph (130km/h) suggested
  • Single Carriageways        62mph (100km/h)
  • Built-up Areas                   31mph (50km/h)
  • Residential Areas             19mph (30km/h)

Get set:

By law, you must:

  • Have a full drivers licence, no learners allowed
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have at least third party insurance
  • Buckle up and wear a seatbelt in the front and rear at all times
  • Not use a mobile phone whilst operating a motor vehicle
  • Seat children less than 12 years old and shorter than 1.5 metres in a child seat or use a child restraint and ensure deactivation of any airbag if fitting a child seat in the front of the vehicle
  • Not have a BAC exceeding 0.5g/l or, if under 21 years old or holding a licence for less than two years, the BAC is 0g/l. German law deals harshly with driving under the influence – you have been warned.

Go:

Zee Germans are some of the best drivers in the world and have to sit a rigorous test in order to get their driving licence so they take their driving very seriously, which usually means a very pleasant motoring environment, as long as you bear some rules in mind.

Drive on the right and, if not otherwise indicated, give way to traffic coming from your right. Remember this and you should be fine!

It is illegal to undertake on the autobahn. Slow moving vehicles must always move to the right and faster vehicles may pass on the left only. However, there is an exception to this rule: when both lanes are moving under 60km/h (35mph) drivers can pass on the right, but no faster than 20km/h (12mph) than the traffic in the left lane.

The only vehicles permitted on the autobahn are those that can sustain 60km/h (35mph) on the flat.

The Autobahnpolizei can fine you for going too fast on the autobahn, (yes really) if they deem you to be travelling too fast for the driving conditions.

If driving in Germany in the winter you must, by law, have winter or all-season tyres fitted. The polizei will fine you if caught driving on summer tyres.

Many German towns and cities are low emission zones (Umweltzone) and in order to drive through the area without risking a fine, cars are required to display an environmental zone sticker to indicate that the car complies with emissions regulations. You can purchase these stickers in advance from https://www.berlin.de/labo/mobilitaet/kfz-zulassung/feinstaubplakette/shop.86595.en.php

Places to Visit:

Checkpoint Charlie:

checkpoint_charlie_Guide to Driving in Germany Guide to Driving in Germany

With huge historical and emotional resonance, Checkpoint Charlie is one of those ‘must-see’ places in Berlin, one of many. Checkpoint Charlie is the best-known border crossing of the Cold War era and until the fall of the Berlin Wall signified the border between East and West, Communism and Capitalism, restriction and freedom. Today, a manned U.S. guardhouse marks the spot as does the famous sign ‘You are now leaving the American sector’, as well as a museum housing fascinating documentation and artifacts surrounding its history.

Neuschwanstein Castle:

Guide to Driving in Germany

Every year 1.4 million people visit “the castle of the fairy-tale king”, which was Disney’s inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle. King Ludwig II of Bavaria commissioned this stunning building, built into a rugged hillside in Bavaria, and its lavishly decorated interior pays tribute to German composer Richard Wagner.

Oktoberfest:

oktoberfest Guide to Driving in Germany

Billed as the world’s largest funfair, Oktoberfest, held annually in Munich for two weeks in, er, October, is a massive festival that has been going on for over 200 years and it just keeps getting bigger and better with fairground attractions, concerts, parades and, of course, huge beer tents filled with hundreds of people eating, drinking and being merry. Prost!

Recommended Roads:

The Black Forest High Pass: running from Freudenstadt to Baden-Baden it may be short at just 60km long (37 miles), but like the cake, it sure is sweet. Rising 250- to 1,000 metres above sea level this mountain pass affords magnificent views of the Black Forest valleys, but the final stretch of road goes deep through the forest with plenty of tight switchback turns making it feel like you are on a race track. Start your engines!

Bundesautobahn 95: the A95 autobahn route connects Munich with Garmisc and if you are looking to let rip and go fast then the last 20km (12 miles) of this unrestricted road are for you. Traffic here is usually light, visibility good and the road cuts through the countryside with moderate radii, meaning many nice long flat stretches of road for you to get lead-foot happy.

Nürburgring: want to really test your driving skills? Then why not tackle this infamous 21km (13-mile) stretch of public ring road with no enforced speed limit. The road is one way and offers flat out straights, blind bends, huge cambers, twisting turns and steep up- and downhill sections, everything really. You can then wear that bumper sticker with pride and legitimacy.

Guide to Driving in Germany Nürburgring


This blog was provided to us by our partners over at MicksGarage.com

MicksGarage is one of the UK & Ireland’s largest car parts and accessories online retailers, and pride themselves in being car part experts. With their customer service team collectively having over 100 years of experience in the automotive sector, MicksGarage can cater for all types of motoring consumers. With over 5.6 million car parts and accessories listed online, they’ll be the right part or tool for everyone

Click here to browse their extensive range of motoring product at MicksGarage


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A Guide To Driving In Spain

A Guide To Driving In Spain

Spain is the cheapest place in Europe for a driving holiday (for car rental and petrol) and has the tenth biggest road network in the world. More than 683,000km of well-surfaced roads span the country from sultry Seville in the south to the spectacular Pyrénées National Park in the north, so a Spanish road trip is one of epic proportions.

But, before you vamos, here are a few things to know about driving in Spain:driving in spain mercedes-benz__gla__2014__187

On your marks:

There are three main types of roads in Spain with the following speed limits:

Type of road Speed limit
Toll Motorway 120km/h/75mph
Dual Carriageway 120km/h/75mph
Single Carriageway 100km/h/68mph
Other Roads 90km/h/56mph
Built-up Areas 50km/h/31mph

However, to save some cash, but maybe not time, dual-carriageways (autovias), prefixed with an ‘E’, are toll free and have almost the same maximum speed limit as motorways, but traffic can be heavy especially during peak summer months. Outside of Catalunya it is usually possible to get to your destination without using Toll roads at all if you wish. Most of Spain’s motorways around catalunya are toll roads (autopistas de peajes) and tolls, paid with cash or credit cards, are not cheap. Tolls range from €2.20 to nearly €45 with prices increasing in the summer. Ouch!

Except for fully hands-free units, the use of mobile phones, including earpieces and headphones, while driving is illegal; if caught you could face a €200 on-the-spot fine.driving in spain mercedes-benz__gla__2014__159

Get set:

By law, you must:

  • Be at least 18 and have a full driver’s licence (provisional licences are not accepted).
  • Have a minimum of third party, fire and theft insurance.
  • Carry a warning triangle (two are recommended) and a spare tyre or tyre repair kit & a replacement bulb kit – These are checked!
  • Wear a reflective jacket if driver and/or passenger(s) exit a vehicle that is immobilised on a motorway or busy road.
  • Ensure that all occupants wear seat belts, if fitted.
  • Seat children under 12 years of age and under 135cm in height in the back using a child restraint system adapted to their size and weight.
  • Use dipped headlights in tunnels.
  • Overtake only on the left side of the car you want to pass (undertaking is illegal).
  • Not have alcohol levels in the bloodstream exceeding 0.5g/l (about one glass of wine or beer).
  • Have a spare pair of glasses (if required for driving) in the car at all times.
  • Restrain any pets travelling in the car.
  • Not use your horn in towns at night and at any other time unless to prevent an emergency, you can flash your headlights instead, although judging by the noise on Spanish streets, drivers do not obey this law.
  • Observe the priority-to-the-right rule on roads that have equal status or whenever in doubt as to who has the right of way.driving in spain nissan__qashqai__2014__072

Go:

Most road markings and the traffic light sequence is the same as it is in the UK and the rules regarding entering and exiting roundabouts are the same, apart from the obvious difference of driving on the left and going around roundabouts in an anti-clockwise direction.

If parking your car at night on inadequately lit streets you must have the car’s sidelights illuminated. However, there is a high rate of car break-ins so it is best to park in one of the many underground car parks instead.

Blue and red parking signs marked 1-15 indicate permitted parking on that side of the street for the first half of the month and signs marked 16-31 indicate parking on the other roadside for the second half of the month.

Spain is notorious for inadequate or non-existent road signs therefore it is recommended to carry a good road map; for sure you will need it at some stage. Often only road numbers or towns are listed, not both, so make sure your navigator is paying close attention to where you are going.

If you do get lost or miss your exit look out for signs saying cambio de sentido (change direction) as this is an opportunity to reverse your direction by taking an under- or overpass.

In a Spanish petrol station you will find 7 different types of  fuel, all of them are very common.

  • Gasolina sin plomo 95 (Unleaded Petrol 95 Octane)
  • Gasolina sin plomo 98 (Unleaded Petrol 98 Octane)Normal
  • Gasolina premium  (Improved) More expensive
  • Gasóleo A (Diesel) Normal
  • Gasóleo Premium  (Diesel) More expensive
  • Gasóleo B (Diesel) Cheaper but only for tractors and agriculture vehicles
  • Biodiésel

Another point worth noting is that Spanish drivers generally respect the right of way of pedestrians more than we do here in the UK and Ireland so be sure to give way to people crossing the road.

Recommended roads:

Take the 480km Basque Circuit through some stunning places including Bilbao, Pamplona, the Pyrenees and along the beautiful Bay of Biscayne coastline.

Test your nerve and driving skills on the road from Puerto de las Palomas to Zahara de la Sierra, a mountain pass with steep corkscrew turns and no safety barriers in parts! Yikes!

Drive the N110 following the Río Jerte for 70km through the Valle del Jerte, which is one of the most picturesque drives in Spain and is covered in cherry blossoms every spring.

driving in spain Valle-del-Jerte

driving in spain lake

Extra Equipment:

If you’re driving in Spain, especially with the whole family on-board, space may well be at a premium. A good set of Roof Bars and a Roof Box may be the ideal solution if extra carrying capacity is needed – especially handy if you have young children in the car and bulky items such as Buggies and travel cots have to be brought along.


This blog was provided to us by our partners over at MicksGarage.com

MicksGarage is one of the UK & Ireland’s largest car parts and accessories online retailers, and pride themselves in being car part experts. With their customer service team collectively having over 100 years of experience in the automotive sector, MicksGarage can cater for all types of motoring consumers. With over 5.6 million car parts and accessories listed online, they’ll be the right part or tool for everyone

Click here to browse their extensive range of motoring product at MicksGarage