The importance of an oil and filter change

Posted on November 26, 2022 at 9:21 am

If you are a car owner then you may get frustrated with having to fork out money constantly for repairs and services on your vehicle, but a service is actually a very important job that should be completed on time according to the service schedule. If you go a lot of mileage, you may even decide to do a service before it is due to try and keep the engine in tip top condition.

If you are struggling to be able to afford a major service, then you should have an oil and filter change as a bare minimum. The oil is what goes through different parts of the engine, lubricating it and ensuring that it runs smooth. If there it too little oil or the oil has degraded and is of a poor quality, then it is vital that you get it topped up or changed as soon as possible. Often an oil and filter change will costa round £60- £100 depending on the vehicle and the garage that is carrying it out. 

If you have access to a ramp or somewhere that you can jack the car up, then you may be able to do an oil and filter change yourself.

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Can you afford to run your car?

Posted on March 18, 2022 at 10:34 pm

The cost of everything seems to be going up at the moment, and fuel is following suit very quickly. The prices at the pumps for petrol and diesel have surged over the last couple of weeks and this has left many car owners struggling to afford to even get to work. Because fuel price increases have hit at the same time many people have found their energy bills to have gone up, it is causing a lot of distress for many.

It is important to shop around for the best fuel prices, but you don’t want to spend time (and money) driving from one fuel station to the next. Finding one that is a few pence cheaper per litre can help cut your fuel bill massively. There are many apps out there that you can download on to your phone that will tell you the latest price information they have for that particular garage. This can be useful in allowing you to do your research before you set off and therefore not waste fuel driving around.

You should also try and keep an eye on your fuel economy, as the more miles you can get to the gallon, the further you will go on a tank of fuel.

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How to properly defrost your car

Posted on January 10, 2022 at 8:56 am

The winter weather certainly has set in and many of us are waking up to cold frosty mornings. It is vital that you defrost your car properly for two reasons. Firstly it is very dangerous to drive without your windows properly clear. You may think it is ok to drive as long as you have a small area to see out of but this can mean you are not able to see round to the sides and could miss someone stepping out in to the road. IT is also very easy for the screen to become fogged up again whilst you drive if not clear in the first place. The second reason to defrost your screen properly is to ensure that you don’t cause it to crack or shatter. Pouring hot water on to your car may well quickly clear the ice but it can also cause it to break. Although tempting (especially if you are running late) you must never do this as you will only cause yourself a lot more problems. The best way to properly defrost your vehicle is to start the engine with the heaters on the screen, turn on any headed screens / mirrors and then gently remove any excess ice or snow with a car scrapper.

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Maintenance tips for your car going in to the winter months

Posted on October 18, 2021 at 5:49 am

The dark mornings and nights are now upon us and the temperature is starting to drop. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be long before we start to see ice on the grounds and possibly even some snow.

Safety must be the number one priority for your vehicle as we head into winter. You need to take a little extra time to check that everything is in order with your vehicle before you set off on a journey.

One of the most basic things to consider is one that the police regularly highlight, and yet still people do not realise the importance of it. If your car windows are frosted up on a morning, you must not leave it running with the keys in while it thaws. Far too many people have had their cars stolen in this manner and it is one that can leave insurance invalid. This being said it is also very important not to drive off without properly defrosting your screen and other windows as this can be very dangerous. Although tempting, you should not pour hot water over your screen as this can cause it to crack.

In some countries with regular extreme weather, snow chains are an option for the tyres. In the UK these are less likely to be necessary unless you live somewhere isolated and open to the elements, but it is important to make sure you have a decent tread.

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Taking the time to get to know your car

Posted on August 6, 2021 at 1:43 pm

Getting to know your car and learning the basics can help save you a lot of money over the period of time you own the vehicle. Historically most cars used to run the same way. If you could work on one type of vehicle then you could work on another but this is not the case anymore. Every make and even model of vehicle is often built quite differently. This can make it tricky to carry out simple tasks such as changing light bulbs or checking oil levels. If you have a modern diesel car then you will also have to consider the DPF and ensure that you run the vehicle properly to protect it.

When you first buy a new or second hand car you should check to see where all the fluid level markers are. Start to understand what is under the bonnet and what levels need to be for optimal performance. Also check you tyres, see what pressure should be in them and if you have locking wheel nuts fitted then be sure you know where the locking nut is.

Try and get used to how the car sounds and drives as this will allow you to quickly notice if something changes. Picking up on issues early often means they cost a lot less to fix and reduced the risk of them causing further damage to other components.

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Looking after your diesel car

Posted on July 22, 2021 at 9:39 am

If you have a diesel car then there may be a few additional things you need to do to look after it.

All diesel cars have been designed to be used when you do a fair few miles. Diesel vehicles that have been built since 2009 must by law have a diesel particulate filter fitted to them. This filter helps to stop harmful substances from being released into the atmosphere. Instead, the engine has to get hot enough to burn up the soot that the diesel particulate filter has collected up and turn it in to ash.

If you have not done a long journey for a while you need to ensure that you take it on a good run. The regeneration process can only work if the engine is at a certain temperature so this usually requires you to run the car for around 25-30 mins at high revs.

Another thing to look out for with diesels is the injectors. To prolong them you should try and use quality fuel. The worse the quality of the fuel, the more negative impact it will have on the injectors; they are prone to damage and expensive to replace and remember you have four of them so this can very quickly add up.

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How to look after the interior of your car

Posted on June 7, 2021 at 12:18 pm

If you have recently had a new or used car then you may decide that you really want to try and look after it well. Cars that have been not only well maintained in terms of mechanically, but also looked after on the inside, tend to retain their resale value better.

If you have children and allow them to eat in the car, you will probably already be aware of how messy they can be. Crumbs and crisps can very easily become ingrained in the seats and spilt drinks can create stains that can be almost impossible to remove.

Although you may set rules that drinks and food cannot be consumed in the vehicle, there may come a time when this is impractical. Instead, it is often worth while investing in some good quality seat covers. You can get seat covers that just fit around the front seats but you can also get covers that go all the way along the rear seats. You can even get them that have cut outs for the armrest (should your vehicle have one). These really can help protect the seats and can be removed to shake off or clean when needed

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Why is your car leaking oil after a service?

Posted on May 26, 2021 at 1:13 pm

If you have recently had your car serviced you may be surprised to find some oil on your drive afterwards. If you are not sure if the oil was there before then put a piece of paper underneath the front of the car and run the engine for a little bit. Then turn it off and see if there is any oil on the paper. If there is, then you may well have a leak.

When the service is carried out, there is a chance that they could soil some oil on to the heat shield or plate that is fitted under most vehicles. Over the next day or so this lol could start to work it away out and that could be why you are seeing on the door. If there seems to be more oil each time or you notice that it is happening longer than a day or so then you need to investigate. First thing to check is the engine oil level using the dipstick. If this is low and it’s just been serviced it is most likely that you have a leak. The leak could becoming from an ill fitting oil filter or it could be that the sump plug has not been fitted correctly.

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Is going to a motor sport event a good day out for all the family?

Posted on March 23, 2021 at 1:05 pm

When it comes to planning days out for the family, it can be hard to know exactly where to go and what to do. Often it is very hard to please everyone, especially if you have got children of varying ages as they will probably be in to different things. Sometimes events come up such as car racing, monster truck derbies or rally events that you may think you would like to go to. Before booking tickets for everyone it is important to consider if it is something they are going to enjoy too. If you are going as a treat to yourself or for your birthday you may be tempted to just book it, assuming everyone else will just have to put up but this could actually mean you don’t get to enjoy your day as much as you should. You get child especially may find it really quite boring and therefore start to moan or play up. This may mean that you miss some of the event trying to sort them out. Often with car shows, it may be better to try and find likeminded friends or family member to go with so everyone can enjoy.

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Is it safe to carry out repairs to your own vehicle?

Posted on February 5, 2021 at 12:33 pm

Running a car can be expensive. It’s not only the tax, insurance and fuel that you have to find the money for but also services, MOT’s and any repairs that may crop up. Many garages charge quite a high hourly rate for repairs, so often the part is relatively cheap but the labour costs push the price right up.

For this reason, many people choose to do their own repairs where possible to save a bit of money. Some repairs and general maintenance things such as changing bulbs and topping up levels and possibly even changing wiper blades are often fairly straight forward to do and don’t require any experience, but other repairs should only be undertaken if you know what you are doing. Not only can you get hurt whilst carrying out repairs if you do not have the right equipment or do not have the car securely jacked up, but it may also be not fit to drive if you haven’t fitted the part correctly.

You can watch videos online that will show you how to do certain things such as change parts of the suspension or carry out an oil change, but unless you are really confident, it is best to take it to an experience mechanic.

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Drivers to face sever fines over simple number plate mistakes

Posted on January 27, 2021 at 2:59 pm

All cars in the UK have to have a unique number plate. This may have been one that was assigned to it when it was first registered with DVLA or it may be a personalised number plate that someone has bought. No two vehicles should ever have the same plate. It is important that you are aware of and understand the rules and regulations regarding number plates as if you get caught breaking one of these, even if you were not aware of them, you may still be prosecuted.

One of the main points to notice is that the background of the number plate must be the correct colour. The front plate needs to have a white background and the rear plate needs to have a yellow background.  There is also a standard font that should be used on a number plate. Any other font used than the standard one is breaking the rules and can land you with a hefty fine.

You can personalise the font by making them 3D but you cannot use italics since that rules was changed in 2001.

Another easy rule that many people fall foul of is the cleanliness of their number plate. During these winter months it is easy for our cars to get covered in mud and grim from the roads but making sure your plate is clean and can be easily read is essential.  

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Keeping up to date with services on your car

Posted on December 23, 2020 at 8:41 pm

Services for your car can be an expensive outlay and although it is not mandatory like an MOT or insurance, it is something that you should not miss out.

It can be hard to understand the importance of having a service done, especially as there may not be any signs that it needs doing i.e. things going wrong or low fuel economy.  But it is important to understand that a service is vital to maintaining the vehicle and should not be overlooked. When a car is serviced it will often have oil and filter change, brakes checked, suspension checked along with other major components. If it is a petrol car then the spark plugs may be checked/ changed. All coolant levels will be checked and topped up if needed.

Regular services for your car can make the difference and often you can tell once you come to drive it again after a service. The service intervals for a vehicle vary and will depending on the make, model, age and mileage of the vehicle. The schedule can usually be found in your car manual.

You can take the car to any garage to have a service but if still under warranty you my have to take it to a main dealership.

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What to do if you break down on the side of the road

Posted on November 5, 2020 at 2:27 pm

Breaking down in your car can be a nightmare and often one that you may not be able to foresee. There are a number of reasons why a car may breakdown, some are an easy fix, others may require you to be towed away. Two of the most common reasons for a breakdown involve batteries or tyres. With many of the UK roads in desperate need of repair, it is of no wonder why so many people end up with flat tyres of blow outs. IF you have a spare wheel and the necessary tools then you may be able to change the wheel yourself on the side of the road (if it is safe to do so). If not then you should be able to call out your breakdown company to come and change it for you. If you do not have breakdown then you will need to try and find a mobile mechanic that will be able to come out to change it for you.

Batteries are another common reason for your car failing to start. This is especially true as the colder weather starts to hit and batteries that are already struggling often will fail. Often people cannot get their cars started in the morning, so it may be that the car is already on your drive, or it could possibly be that you have driven a short distance and drained the battery using lights, DVD players etc to find that it wont start again when you come to leave. Again, your breakdown company should be able to get you on the move, but often being able to jump start the vehicle off another car will be enough to get you home.

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Replacing brake pads and discs on your vehicle

Posted on August 20, 2020 at 7:39 am

The brakes on your car or van are a very important part of the safety of the vehicle. Brakes are checked during an MOT but they are only tested by being put on to a machine to get a reading which will then tell the mechanic whether it is a pass or fail. The vehicle may well pass the brake test but actually the brakes could well need replacing very soon as the test does not show how much wear is left on them.

Brake pads will need replacing more often than your discs usually and depending on the way in which you drive, brake pads usually last between 25,000 and 60,000 miles, depending on how you drive the vehicle and what make and model your vehicle is. The brake discs will usually last about 60,000- 70,000 miles for most vehicles, so you may only have to change them once or twice during the whole lifetime of the vehicle. The constant friction caused by the pads rubbing on the discs can cause a lot of heat, if you then drive through a big puddle and a lot of water is splashed on them this can cause them to warp over time. If the vehicle is stood without being driven for a long time, especially outside in the wet, the brake discs can seize and become rusty.

When changing your brake pads, always check your discs thoroughly to ensure that they are in good condition. Some garages will allow you to purchase the pads and discs elsewhere for them to then fit them for you, often saving you money.

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In case of a car accident – stay calm

Posted on July 27, 2020 at 10:37 am

Should you find yourself in the unenviable position of having an accident in your vehicle the main thing to remember is to stay calm and make sure that everyone involved is not seriously injured. If this is the case, then the first thing is to call on the emergency services so that they can attend the scene and give any aid that is needed.

For the majority of minor accidents that occur on the roads the emergency services are not required to attend unless there is a danger to life, or the carriageway is blocked or littered with debris causing a danger to other motorists.

After a collision it is a legal requirement to stop your vehicle and to exchange details with the other party. These should include name, address, phone number and insurance company name along with the registration number of the vehicle. If it is possible for both parties to take photographs of any damage sustained to the vehicles this is useful evidence should there be any dispute. Should your vehicle be damaged to such an extent that it is undrivable the breakdown services will need to be contacted to arrange recovery of the vehicle to a garage.

As soon as possible report the accident to your insurance company so that they can begin the claim and organise for the vehicles to be repaired.

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How important is it to have my vehicle regularly serviced?

Posted on June 30, 2020 at 8:15 pm

Most people are aware of the necessity of keeping their vehicles in a safe condition and ensuring that they take their vehicles to a reliable and trustworthy garage for the annual MOT to be carried out but are they as conscientious about having their cars serviced regularly?

Usually this oversight is because of financial restrictions but it is important to keep your vehicle in good condition as the likelihood of a breakdown is less and the cost of recovery and repairs if you do breakdown can be higher than the service charge.

It used to be that some of the routine checks and jobs that are carried out during a service could be attempted by the car owner with some help from online forums or instruction manuals but as vehicles have become more complex in design and performance this is now not the case. For example, changing the air filter is a relatively simple procedure but changing the oil and oil filter will need a mechanic.

Local garages are good places to start when sourcing a garage to carry out servicing and are usually a lot cheaper than car dealership service centres. By looking at reviews from previous customers it is possible to check whether the company is reliable and whether they give a good level of service.

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Changing the brake pads on your vehicle

Posted on May 29, 2020 at 8:09 am

If you have not used your car much during lock down or have missed your MOT you are likely going to need to get it a once over before you start using it again, if it has been stood still for a while. All MOT’s have no been extended but with many garages starting to open again and able to take on more work, it is advisable to get your MOT done as soon as possible.
Car brake pads are often usually need replacing once every – one to two years depending on the mileage you do. When you take your car in to a garage to replace the pads they should also check the brake discs and other pads on the car (front or back). They may offer to clean the other set of pads that you are not having replaced. You may find that when you take your car in t the garage to have the pads replaced they advise you that you will also need to have the pad discs replaced too. This can very quickly add quite a chunk on to the price but it is always worth investing in your brakes and getting them done as soon as possible. Try not to drive your vehicle far if you notice your pads are worn out as not only is this dangerous but will also damage your disc.

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How to check that your shock absorbers are ok

Posted on April 19, 2020 at 8:23 am

Shock absorbers are very important part of a vehicle and often you can tell when they are on their way out or completely ruined. If your car seems to be a bit bouncy or not handling correctly it could be an issue with your shock absorbers. You may have juts had a 12 month MOT done and assume because the vehicle didn’t fail that the shock absorbers are ok, but this is not always the case. Shock absorbers often have to be really worn excessively or leaking  before they fail an MOT.

A simple test to see if your shock absorbers are going is to push down on each corner of the car and see how quickly it stops bouncing. It should only go up and down once or twice, if after this it is still bouncing then the likelihood is it will need new shocks. This test is not definitive though and you may still have an issue with your shocks even if the vehicle passes this test.

A garage will often charge you around £250-£300 to supply and fit a pair of shock absorbers. If you are able to source the parts yourself you may be able to save a huge chunk of money.

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Get little mechanical jobs done on your vehicle at the same time to save money

Posted on March 27, 2020 at 7:10 am

If you have various mechanical jobs that need doing on your vehicle and all of them are quite small, then rather than booking one job in at a time, you should try and get them all done together.

Not only will this save you time as you may find that they only need the car one day to complete them all, but you may find that the labour cost is reduced. This is because part of the time a garage will charge for is getting the vehicle up on ramps, test driving it, removing covers and wheels etc. If the little jobs require this to be done then and you book them in at separate times then you may be paying for this part of the repair over and over again. Often it is easier to complete other jobs at the same time as another as you are already able to access many parts of the vehicle.

If a job needs doing and it is urgent or making the vehicle unsafe to drive then you should not wait for other little jobs to come up until you book it in. In this instance ask the garage to have a look over the car whilst they have it and advise on anything else they may think needs ding, and possible get that done at the same time.

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Always test drive a car before buying it

Posted on February 24, 2020 at 10:14 pm

When it comes to buying a new or used car you need to test drive it. It is very important to test drive a used car as you need to check that it drives ok and you cannot hear any bad noises or bangs. If you are looking to order a brand new car, then you will not be able to test drive it as you have to place your order and purchase it before the order is placed at the factory, but you should be able to test drive the same model but a used version.

Most garages will have insurance that will cover you to drive any vehicle on a test drive.

If you have your eye on a few different cars, then do not be afraid to ask if you can drive all of them.

If you are looking at a second hand car from a private buyer then they may be reluctant to allow you to drive it. If possible, check that your insurance covers you and then ask if they can either let you drive it just a short distance, or if they would take it out with you as a passenger. A car may look and feel great but sometimes it is only when you drive it that you realise it is not what you are looking for.

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Which roadside recovery package is right for you?

Posted on December 11, 2019 at 2:31 pm

Owning and running a car can often be a bit of a worry. You may have been driving the car for months with no issues, suddenly to find you are broken down stranded on the side of the road.

Many of us own a car but not all of us have breakdown cover to help us out in difficult situations. You may have been given breakdown cover as part of your car insurance package or you may evene get it as a perk from your bank account, but you need to check the level of cover it gives you.

Think about how often you use your car and when and where you go. If for example you only drive short distances and could be without your car for a few days then you may decide that you don’t need break down cover or the very basic package will be enough for you. If you sometimes drive longer distances, have children in the car or have little money to be able to fork out hundreds in recovery costs, then breakdown cover with recovery to any UK destination will probably be the best for you. The cheapest breakdown packages usually only offer recovery to a local garage within 10 miles of your location when you break down, if you are a 50 miles away from home, this may mean you have to pay for recovery again to your home or you have no choice but to use the garage that your vehicle was recovered too.

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Buying a van – find out what you need to look out for

Posted on November 7, 2019 at 10:15 am

If you want to buy a van rather than a car then there is probably a specific reason for doing this. For example, you may need a van for work purposes to carry tools and materials, and the amount you carry, or the weight will help you decide what sized van you need.

You need to consider the size of the items you will be carrying and the overall weight that will be in the vehicle at one time and many are restricted and if you ignore this then you may risk breaking the law and / or damaging the van.

If you need a van for your hobby, so to transport model aeroplanes or drones or if you are a courier where you will be needing to use your own vehicle to deliver small parcels then you may look to car derived van such as an Astra van. If you need the more height in the back or a side loading door then you may need to go for something like a Ford Transit Connect or even a Ford Transit Van.

If you are going to be driving long distances, then you should consider how old the van is and what the mileage is also what the fuel economical is like. Diesel vans often give you more miles to the gallon on a good run but do usually cost more to buy to start with. It is worth asking a mechanic to look over a vehicle you are considering buying or getting a used van check which is offered by companies such as the AA.

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How to tell if your starter motor needs replacing?

Posted on September 10, 2019 at 1:23 pm

If you have a car that is fairly old or has high mileage you may start to notice that a number of issues start to arise. Over time many parts on a car become worn out and will need to be replaced. One of these parts is a started motor. As the starter motor is often hidden in the depths of the mechanics of the vehicle, the most common way to detect a sign of starter motor failure is through sound.

There are a number of things that can go wrong with a started motor such as a loose connection or a defective solenoid. Some of these issues can be repaired others will require you to fit a new starter motor.

The sound your car makes when first trying to start it up can often indicate what the problem is. It may make a clicking, whirring or grinding sound for example which all point to different components of the starter motor. If you notice any of these issues it is important to take the vehicle into a garage as soon as possible for them to look at it. If you continue to drive it the motor will likely stop working altogether and you will have to then get the car recovered, which if you don’t have adequate breakdown cover, will be costly.

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Save money on car costs

Posted on August 11, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Running a car can work out to be very expensive and this is after the initial purchase price. When working out if you can afford to run a car you need to take many things into consideration. There is the daily cost of fuel as well as yearly MOT’s, services and any repairs that may need doing. You may also want to take out breakdown cover and possibly even a warranty. If you buy a car that costs less than a thousand pounds, you can easily spend the same again in repairs in the first year just keeping the car on the road.

Motor insurance is often a huge expense for many people, even if you pay it monthly. Some new drivers can expect to pay in excess of £1500 a year for their insurance. Shopping around to get the best price really does save you money. When it comes to renewing your insurance, again shop around as you can knock hundreds off your renewal price by going with a different company. You may notice that by increasing the excess you would have to pay should you need to make a claim you can sometimes bring the premium down, but you should ensure that you can afford the excess if you need to claim.   

Driving economically will conserve fuel and mean you get more miles to the gallon. Many newer cars have an eco-gauge on them to show you when you are driving efficiently and when you are not.

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Driving in warm weather

Posted on July 25, 2019 at 10:51 pm

Most drivers are aware that seasonal conditions are responsible for having to adapt their driving styles and most people presume this is merely for wintery conditions however this is not the case.

Driving in the summer months particularly in hot weather, temperatures over about 23 degrees can cause an increase in stopping distance for your car. This is due to issues with adhesion to the road surface in a similar way to if the road has lots of rain on it or ice. As the road surface and tyres heat up the surface becomes softer also giving the road a more spongy quality.

A sign that this is causing issues would be if you see your traction control light coming on or if you feel the car juddering or slipping as you corner particularly.

The most effective way to deal with this like with difficult winter road conditions is to slow down to allow an improvement in stopping distance and ensure that your tyres are in a good condition and suitable for the car, the load and the conditions.

If you are at all unsure always get your tyres checked at a reputable garage or tyre and wheel centre.

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