If you are a parent with a child under the age of 16, you may be feeling a little stressed right now. This time of year is difficult and expensive for parents preparing their children for the start of the new school term. There’s such a lot to think about; uniforms, equipment, textbooks, bags, new shoes – and that’s just for starters. The last thing you are going to need is for your car to breakdown on you during the infamous school run!
About one in five cars is driving a child or children to school in rush hour traffic and with the five million primary school children in the UK living on average of one and a half miles from their place of learning, it means there are a lot of cars on the road doing short journeys, five days a week. These driving conditions can cause much more wear and tear on your vehicle than you would imagine and no busy parent wants the stress or expense of a breakdown at this time of year.
Being aware of what causes damage to a vehicle can help reduce the risk of a breakdown or failure during the school run. Here are our top tips to shield you from unexpected repair costs as the kids go back to school.
Make sure your engine is properly lubricated.
Most school runs are quite short journeys, which means that the engine on your vehicle does not have enough time to warm up properly. Engine oil has to reach its full operating temperature in order to lubricate properly This is more likely to be achieved over faster, longer journeys.
What’s the solution?
Let your car ‘idle’ for a few minutes before you begin your journey and this will help your engine warm up ahead of your drive. It will also help to warm, your car up once the cold nights start to draw in. Remember though, don’t go back inside your house while your car warms up – it only takes a few seconds for a thief to take advantage of an empty vehicle.
Concentrate on reading the road.
Hurried braking causes greater wear on the brake pads, which will lead to more frequent trips to the garage.
What’s the solution?
Rather than stopping and starting in traffic, slow down and concentrate on reading the road. By driving more slowly and anticipating when you need to stop, especially around the school environment where young people are likely to be crossing the road, you will apply less pressure to your brakes and gears. This will also help you to save fuel.
Keep an eye on your engine warning and DPF lights
If you drive a diesel vehicle, your are more likely to find your vehicle suffering from engine management problems if you frequently go on short journeys in your car. This is because of the diesel particulate filter (DPF).
The DPF, which traps larger soot particles within the filter and allows smaller particles and gases to escape, can only operate efficiently once your vehicle is driven at 45mph for more than five minutes.
Stop/start driving and motoring at slow speeds means that the soot accumulates and the DPF cannot create sufficient heat to regenerate. Once the soot concentration reaches about 75%, it will need to be looked at by a professional to be regenerated. Don’t ignore the engine warning light if your diesel car is used mainly for short journeys!
What’s the solution?
Make sure you get your car to the nearest Trusted garage if your engine warning or DPF lights start flashing on your dashboard. This is an indication that there is something that needs attention and if ignored, could incur costly repair expenses. In fact, any warning light illuminated on your dashboard is a signal that your vehicle needs some expert attention. If it’s orange you need to contact your local Trust My Garage member as soon as possible – if it’s red, stop the car and call them IMMEDIATELY
You can find your nearest Trust My Garage member by entering your postcode on the Trust My Garage website, here.
Independent garages have access to the same technical information and training as main dealers and are fully equipped to service any type of vehicle to the highest standard, providing you with outstanding value for money.