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Car Ownership: Frequently Asked Questions

By raccars Published

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Car care may come automatically to you or, if you are not mechanically minded or simply inexperienced, can appear a chaotic minefield. Here are some of the most common issues that arise for car owners - they may seem obvious but if no-one has ever taught you car care, a few lessons can be very valuable.

What's an MOT and do I need one?

An MOT is simply a certificate of roadworthiness and is a legal requirement for using a car on a public highway. All cars over three years old need one on an annual basis. You can get a new MOT at any time, such as when you want to sell and the new owner wants a full year certificate.

When should I service my car?

Different manufacturers apply different service intervals to different models. Your owner's manual should specify a service schedule, which can be defined by mileage or time. For example, your owner's manual may recommend a service every 15,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes sooner. Even if your mileage is very low, you should go for a service every year. Some cars display an advisory light on the dashboard when a service is due, which the mechanic will reset as part of the procedure. Servicing is an important part of car maintenance, both for performance and durability. Neglect it at your peril.

Is it a problem if my car squeals on start up?

Squealing is usually caused by a slipping fan belt, also known as the drive belt. Once the engine is warm you will usually notice the squealing diminishes but the problem should still be attended to. It's a quick job for a mechanic to tighten the belt or it may need replacing. Don't leave the belt to break or fall off, as this can cause extensive engine damage.

I've put petrol in a diesel car

This occasionally occurs, as petrol pump nozzles will fit inside a diesel filler cap, whereas the reverse is usually impossible. However, 150,000 people manage to use the wrong fuel every year. Petrol circulating through a diesel engine can cause serious damage, so if you even suspect you have used the wrong fuel, do not start the car. Don't even put the keys in the ignition as this can activate the fuel pump. You will need assistance from breakdown recovery or a mobile mechanic to pump out the wrong fuel and replace it with the right stuff.

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