Archive for 26th August 2015

Tyre Blowouts Explained (and what you need to know to avoid them)

Tyre Blowouts


Leaving your tyre under-inflated is the absolute worst thing you can do to it. I’m stating the obvious here, but given that air is the very element that enables a tyre to carry the substantial weight of a vehicle and its contents, leaving it gasping is a sure fire way to ensure the various components get pushed beyond their limits eventually leading to blowouts.

Under-inflated tyres reduces endurance and braking, makes road-holding less precise and increases fuel consumption as well as the risk of aquaplaning.

Check your vehicle’s handbook for the recommended pressure.


Tyre Blowout: Underinflated and overloaded Tyre's.

Tyre Blowout: Under-inflated and overloaded Tyre’s.



Your tyres have a Load Index located on the sidewall. Find, it, check it and, here’s the really important part, ADHERE TO IT! Overloaded tyres build up an excess in heat. Excess heat leads to serious tyre damage, such as blowouts. This rule also applies to the maximum axle load rating on your vehicle.

And remember, the maximum pressure number found on the tyre sidewall only applies to tyres that are fully inflated.



This one is particularly relevant here in Ireland, especially for anyone who has to subject their cars to our country roads. At low speeds hitting a deep pothole will not only damage your tyre, but also the wheel and steering alignment. Hitting those potholes at a higher speed dramatically increases the level of this damage by unravelling / fraying the internal components (aka blowouts)

If you do hit a pothole, stop the car as soon as it’s safe to do so and check for cuts in the rubber or lumps in the sidewall. Check to see if the steering pulls excessively to one side or whether there’s a vibration through the steering. If so, get to a garage / tyre specialist, as driving will only further deteriorate the condition of the tyres.

Be aware that sometimes, these tell-tale signs won’t be immediately apparent. The true extent of the damage incurred only reveals itself after a number of months.


The Long Goodbye

This is really the result of all of the above combined, a gradual accumulation of damage through under-inflated tyres, overloading and occasional happenstances with potholes, all of which are accompanied by a general idleness on the owners part to deal with the issues initially. Don’t let it get to that stage – better to deal with the issues head on rather than risk the tyres failing when driving on the motorway at speed with the entire family on board en-route to a family holiday.


Controlling your car during a blowout:

Now, should you be unfortunate enough to experience a tyre blowout (either through no fault of your own or because you ignored the warning signs), there are a number of actions you can take to avoid turning a minor accident into a potentially fatal one.


Front Tyre

Most importantly, stay calm.

Do NOT slam on the brakes or make any sudden turns.

Keep both hands firmly on the steering wheel and maintain a straight direction.

Check the mirrors on both sides for other traffic and plot the safest route to a gradual stop.

Bring the car to a gradual stop – a sudden deceleration will only place more weight on the damaged front tyre which can cause the car to veer dangerously to that side. If that happens the rim may grip the tarmac which can cause the car to flip.

Lower gears can be more effective than braking to reduce the speed in manual cars.


Back Tyre

Blowout’s on the rear tyres causes’ excessive drag which impacts on the car’s balance.

An imbalanced car will be difficult to steer straight.

To avoid spinning out, take your foot gradually off the accelerator.

Engage the lower gears as opposed to braking and bring to a slow and steady stop.

Tyre-Blowouts - what to do and what not to do

Tyre-Blowouts – what to do and what not to do



How to Jump-Start Your Car

Businessman holding pipe in mouth, smiling, (B&W), portrait

If there’s one car-related skill everyone should know, it’s how to jump-start a car. It’s straight forward and all you need is jumper cables (and a working car of course). You will inevitably need to do this yourself someday, whether it’s on your own vehicle, or someone else’s (your chance to be a Good Samaritan). So, read on…


  1. Park both cars bonnet to bonnet, roughly half a foot apart. Make sure both cars have the parking brake on and their engines switched off.

    How to Jump Start a Car

    How to Jump Start a Car


  1. Next, pop the hood. Before attaching anything it’s worth inspecting the battery in question. If the battery shows clear signs of corrosion then it may require replacing.

    How to Jump Start a Car

    How to Jump Start a Car


  1. If it appears fine superficially, the next step is to find the negative and positive terminals on both batteries. Positive = Red, while Black = Negative. Also, and this is important: DON’T let the metal ends touch each other throughout the process.

    How to Jump Start a Car

    How to Jump Start a Car


  1. Now, attach the positive jumper cable to the dead battery’s positive terminal, and the other end to the positive terminal of the live battery.

    How to Jump Start a Car

    How to Jump Start a Car


  1. The Negative end of the cable is then attached to the negative terminal of the live battery. Its opposite end should be attached to a metal (non-painted) part under the hood of the car with the dead battery (i.e. engine block bolts).

    How to Jump Start a Car

    How to Jump Start a Car


  1. Start the car with the live battery. Give it a few minutes running time, and then lightly rev the engine.

    How to Jump Start a Car

    How to Jump Start a Car


  1. Start up the car with the dead battery. If it turns, let it run for a few minutes. Failing that, let it rest while the other car continues to run for a minute. If it still doesn’t turn after that, turn off everything and check the connections again.


  1. If successful, disconnect the cables in the reverse order that you put them on (negative – dead car > negative – working car > positive – working car > positive – dead car).


  1. Pat yourself on the back.

    Businessman holding pipe in mouth, smiling, (B&W), portrait




Fuel Saving Tips

Fuel Saving Tips

We all know owning and running a car can be a costly business. Apart from unforeseen repairs, there’s also the considerable cost of keeping the car fuelled up.

That’s a particularly significant cost in Ireland which in 2104 was declared the 14th dearest country in the world in terms of petrol prices. Thankfully the price of oil per barrel has fallen considerably in recent times, but it’s still a regular expense we’d all love to save on.

So let’s assume you’re looking to make some savings, and let’s assume those plans doesn’t involve buying a smaller car or a hybrid. Here are some simple ways to save…

Fuel Saving Tips

Fuel Saving Tips


Check Tyre Inflation:

Under-inflated tyres are one of the leading causes of fuel inefficiency. Soft-tyres increase resistance and adds an estimated 2% to your fuel costs. That 2% can be easily saved by simply keeping your tyres at the correct inflation levels. Get into the habit of checking once a week when you’re getting fuel.


Air Conditioning:

Considering this is Ireland the chances are your air conditioner is redundant for nine months of the year.

Here’s how it goes anyway – the A/C uses energy supplied by the alternator, which in turn harnesses energy from the engine, which requires fuel from the tank.

The Society of Automotive Engineers, ran tests on the effects of AC against driving with the windows rolled down and found that the A/C decreased gas mileage by 5 to 10%. The message here – cool it with the A/C (unless you’re on a main road where the drag on speeds over 45 MPH exceeds the efficiency drop).


Engine Service:

Neglected engines will naturally underperform. Regular car service checks keep your motor running smoothly. And a smooth running engine is an efficient engine.


Replace Air Filter Regularly:

Inexpensive to buy and easy to do (see HERE). Clogged air filters congest air flow and cause an excess amount of fuel to be burned for the amount of air. Replacing an ineffective air filter can improve mileage by up to 10%.


Check Spark Plugs:

Dirty spark plugs are often responsible for a vehicle’s ignition system misfiring. As they wear down, their ability to transfer the required spark to ignite the fuel/air mix diminishes. That significantly (and unnecessarily) increases fuel usage.


Check Cap:

Chances are you probably don’t give much thought to the fuel cap on your vehicle, apart from when you remove it. It’s worth checking however that the cap isn’t damaged or loose, as such defects cause fuel to vaporize. Additionally, faulty fuel caps allow for dust and debris to enter the tank, which in turn affect the fuel filters.


Pack Light:

We know that there’s a lot of folks out there who use their car as a second home / mobile storage unit. But there’s the thing – all that unnecessary weight you’re lugging around is reducing your fuel efficiency. An additional 100 pounds cab reduce efficiency by up to 2%. So, remove those unused roof-racks and empty the boot of those golf clubs. Also, it’s worth remembering that driving on a full tank also increases weight thus reducing efficiency.


Driving Technique:

Staying within the speed limits (driving at 85mph uses roughly 25% more fuel than driving at 70mph) and reducing habits such as excessive idling, hard braking and jackrabbit starts actively increases fuel economy. In other words, drive smart!

Getting the most for your second-hand-car!

Getting the most for your second hand car

With sales of new cars in Ireland reaching pre-2008 figures, the second-hand-car market is about to become a whole lot more competitive with an influx of vehicles expected.

If you’re one such person looking to trade up, there are some things you might want to consider before attempting to offload your second-hand-car. There’s a number of things you can do to ensure you get the maximum value on a second hand motor that don’t require mechanical expertise or a lot of money.

Equally, there are a number of jobs that should ALWAYS be left to the professionals.

We’ve outlined below some tips for easy fixes, our recommendations for jobs best left to the professionals as well as some additional pointers for getting the best value for your old motor.




Difficult Fixes

Jobs best left to the professionals and other helpful tips for selling your car!