Exhausts and Keeping Our Spring Air Fresh

We all know by now that cars contribute to air pollution, and certain parts of your car exhaust work to filter out the more damaging particles, but what part of our exhaust? And how can we make sure that it’s doing its job?

There are a variety of dangerous gases produced by your vehicle. Gases such as hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides are filtered out (as much as is currently possible) by your catalytic converter. Cars built since 1993 will all have a catalytic converter fitted. It contains a core of ceramic covered with pores which are coated with powdered catalysts such as palladium, rhodium and platinum. These work to reduce the amount of harmful gases emitted into the environment by converting them into water vapour and other, less damaging gases.

If your exhaust starts getting noticeably noisier, particularly if it starts to emit the odd bang or a rattling noise, it is time to bring it in to your local FastFit Station in Milton Keynes for a free no obligation exhaust check.Our technicians will be able to tell you what the problem is, and what needs to be done to fix it. Exhaust emissions are checked as part of the MOT test, so if that’s coming up, make sure you get it booked in sooner rather than later.

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Car Share Schemes Are Becoming More Popular

In the second half of 2011, the largest national network of car sharers, www.liftshare.com, reported a jump of 13 per cent in the number of new car sharers. Car sharing not only saves you a fortune on fuel, it also postpones the need for car repairs or potentially even car servicing, as the car is used less frequently.

Liftshare.com have almost half a million users, who can register via the site, or via local authority run car share schemes such as wwww.buckscarshare.co.uk which has 1700 members of its own. Car sharing is good for the environment as it means less cars on the road – the liftshare network estimate that approximately 108,246 tonnes of CO2 are saved per year by their car sharers.

On the other hand, it’s just nice to have some company! If you make the same journey regularly, such as your daily commute, you will get to know your fellow car sharers, and having someone there to offload the days hardships with means you get home in a better frame of mind. How many of us have so much pent up frustration at the end of a long working day that the mere mention of “did you have a good day, dear?” initiates a mini-rant about so and so in the office?! Not in our office, obviously…we’re all lovely, but we’ve heard the stories!

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The Conti4x4Trophy – Retailer Challenge

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter (and if you don’t, why not start?!) you are hopefully aware that we are taking part in the retailer challenge run by Continental Tyres as part of the Conti4x4Trophy. Stage one runs from the 1st February to the 30th April 2012, and we have to earn as many miles as possible in the virtual rally race.

Now, on to the bit where you, our valued customers, can help us! If you have bought Continental tyres from FastFit Station in Milton Keynes for your car or 4×4, you can register that purchase at www.conti4x4trophy.co.uk. This will add 100 miles to our total, but don’t worry, you can get something out of it too! If you are entering the Conti4x4Trophy Challenge yourself, you will earn a massive 750 miles for your own virtual rally in Stage 1.

There are a variety of ways that we have to earn miles, starting with adding our team profile, which you can see here. There are also challenges for us to undertake – a weekly quiz, a code breaker with a clue released every week, and a trophy hunt. We’re working hard to get as many miles as possible, so we’d appreciate your help!

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FastFit Do MOTs In Milton Keynes

If you’re a car owner, and your car is over three years old, then I’m sure you are aware that it needs an MOT. Not just at three years old, but yearly from then on. If you live in Milton Keynes, FastFit Station has three MOT centres in Milton Keynes for you to choose from. One in Wolverton, one in Bletchley and one in Kingston, Milton Keynes, all of which have fully trained MOT technicians who can answer any questions you might have about what happens to your car during an MOT.

You can book your MOT in up to 28 days before your vehicle turns 3 years old (according to the V5 Logbook) or the previous MOT certificate expires. When you bring your car in for its MOT test, you simply need to bring the V5 with you…and some way of paying for the test!

Our MOT testers are all registered and licenced with VOSA, and have years of experience at working on vehicles and carrying out MOTs in Milton Keynes.

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Milton Keynes Emergency Crews Are Tested

In February, the emergency services battled a serious fire which caught hold on two different floors of Midsummer Place. A number of people were reported missing, and the emergency services had quite a challenge on their hands. If you’ve visited the shopping centre in the last few weeks, you are probably wondering where all the damage is…well…there is none! It was all part of an exercise to test the readiness and procedures of our emergency teams, to ensure they are fully prepared if a disaster does occur.

Just like your car services, proactive planning (prevention and maintenance for your car, practices for the city’s emergency services) is the best way to ensure everything works how it should. The top secret training exercise, dubbed Operation Shakespeare, began at 8pm, when the (pretend!) 999 call came in. The staff in the shopping centre were completely unaware that the event was planned until the fire alarm went off and staff and shoppers were evacuated from the building. Then the lights went out! Fire crews arrived first with full protective gear and hoses, swiftly followed by the police who cordoned off part of the car park. The missing people were represented by dummies ‘hidden’ throughout the centre.

This test was a true team effort; the Midsummer Place staff, the police, fire and rescue services, ambulance service and Milton Keynes Council all worked together as part of the test is seeing how the different agencies interact with each other during an incident. Greg Smith, the service delivery man­ager for the fire service, said: “I hope the combined efforts of all agencies at the exercise will go a long way towards reassuring the public of Milton Keynes that all agencies are working together to make it a safe place in which to live, work and travel.”

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Red Bull Progressing Well With New RB8

Mark Webber has reported that Red Bull Racing are making good progress with their new RB8. On their first day of testing, Webber completed more than 100 laps to achieve the fourth quickest time of the day which was only 0.6 seconds slower than the pace-setting time set by Romain Grosjean. It looks like it will be a very close season, with only 2.3 seconds covering all the teams during the first day of the final test in Barcelona.

Webber feels the team is effectively using its experience in racing to choose the areas where its efforts are best focused. The winter programme is pretty condensed, so it is crucial that the team work out what their priorities are and work on those as hard as they can. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for any of the teams to test everything they would ideally like to.

As the teams are so close to each other time-wise, it is difficult to make any predictions. More than likely the teams that consistently perform well in the opening stages, will be the ones to watch. One bad race would be very difficult to claw your way back from through such a tight field. I’m sure the pit teams will have been practicing their speed car services and tyre changes to ensure as much time as possible is spent actually on the track.

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Tyres Slashed in Galley Hill, Milton Keynes

Tyres were slashed in the Stony Stratford area of Milton Keynes for the fourth time since August last year, and as local tyre fitters in Milton Keynes, I can tell you that we would much prefer we had happy customers coming back to us to have their well-used tyres replaced, rather than annoyed customers who have been forced by criminals to replace barely worn tyres.

On this occasion, eleven cars were targeted between 11pm on Saturday 25th February and 2am Sunday 26th. Thousands of pounds of damage were caused to those eleven cars. Although the police are following some leads, they do not know who is committing these crimes, so in an attempt to combat the attacks, they are carrying out targeted patrols in the area. They urge anyone who sees someone acting suspiciously to phone 101 or 999 as they cannot be everywhere at once. Similarly, if anyone has any information about the perpetrator, they should contact the police. They intend to deal with the criminal themselves robustly, as well as anyone who has been protecting them.

While tyres can often be repaired, the nature of a tyre that has been slashed means that too much damage will have happened to the structure of the tyre and it will need to be replaced. If you find that one or more of your car tyres have been slashed, you should call the police immediately, and then find yourself a local tyre fitter such as FastFit Station, who can replace it for you quickly.

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Planned Changes To MOT Frequency Scrapped

The government had been planning to change the frequency of MOTs, but those plans have now been scrapped due to breaking news about the number of unroadworthy cars being passed by inept MOT centres.

The intention was to reduce the frequency of MOTs to once every two years (they are currently required on a yearly basis), but with the news that there could be as many as 4.3 million unroadworthy cars on our roads even with yearly MOTs, the government has had to withdraw its plans.

The Vehicle Operator and Standards Agency (VOSA) has released data showing that of the 35 million cars tested between 2010 and 2011, 12.4 per cent were incorrectly assessed. Unbelievably, almost 10 million of those vehicles had at least one defect which was missed by the MOT assessor. Even more worryingly, this data is from prior to last year’s changes to the list of things covered by the MOT test, that mean it now covers the new complex technology such as the electronic stability control and tyre pressure monitoring systems. With a longer list of items to check, so there is greater opportunity for things to be missed.

Instead of reducing the frequency of MOT tests, the government is encouraging greater transparency (hence the release of these figures), and hopes that garages will sign up to industry codes of practice, and undergo mystery shopper style tests to ensure they are performing as required. Mileage information for the last three years will be shown on the MOT certificate to help crack down on clocked cars.

While MOTs may be getting more complex, we feel that sticking to yearly MOTs is definitely the right way to go, and we have every confidence that the cars checked by our FastFit MOT technicians were not part of those scarily high numbers of incorrectly assessed cars. Our assessors are up to date on their training, and as with everything we do, good old fashioned service is always of the utmost importance to us, so we are always as thorough as possible.

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What Will Be Tested In The MOT?

Your car must have an MOT test once it is three years old, and then again on a yearly basis. An MOT test is regulated under VOSA, there is a specific checklist of things that your MOT test technician must check in order to ensure that your car meets the safety standards and can receive its new MOT certificate. Prior to taking your car in to your local garage for its MOT, it is well worthwhile taking some time to check those things that you can, so that you don’t have all the hassle of a return visit for an MOT re-test just because you need a new bulb.

So what are the components that need to be all present, correct and functioning within the proper parameters?

  • Vehicle Identification Number – this must be displayed on your vehicle, and be legible. As it appears on your vehicle in numerous places, they should all match. You shouldn’t need to check this unless you think your car might be a bit dodgy!
  • Registration Plate – obviously this needs to appear on your car! However, it should also be firmly attached, legible (give it a wipe down if it’s covered in mud on the day), and that it is in the standard letter format.
  • Lights – your lights are checked not only to make sure they work, but also to check their security and colour (certain lights must be orange rather than clear, so for example, if you have changed your side indicator lenses to clear ones for aesthetic reasons, make sure you change the bulbs to orange ones). The MOT technician will make sure your headlights are aimed correctly.
  • Steering & Suspension – checked for correct operation and condition.
  • Wipers and washer bottle – checked to ensure they work properly so the driver has a clear view (make sure it has washer fluid in to avoid paying the garage’s prices for a top up).
  • Windscreen – checked for and cracks or chips.
  • Horn – this must make a noise! And it must be the proper horn noise – novelty horns may not pass!
  • Seatbelts – all seatbelts in the front and rear of the car must be fitted correctly, in good condition, and operate within legal parameters.
  • Seats – checked for security.
  • Fuel System – inspected for leaks (including the fuel cap seal).
  • Emissions – these must be within the guidelines, and your exhaust system must be complete, secure, effectively silenced and free from serious leaks.
  • Bodywork – inspected for excessive corrosion or damage in certain key areas. Sharp edges, in particular, are a potential failure.
  • Doors – must open and close correctly (you will probably have noticed if they don’t!), and must be securely latched when closed. Front doors must open from inside and out.
  • Mirrors – inspected for condition and security.
  • Wheels & Tyres – condition, correct tyre size, security, and tread depth are all checked.
  • Brakes – assessed based on performance, condition and operation on a rolling road brake tester.

Checking the operation of many of these items can be cursorily done by yourself prior to your MOT test, so that if necessary, you can book your car in to your local garage for certain parts to be replaced or repaired as necessary before your MOT, making it more likely you will pass first time!

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Milton Keynes MOT now Half Price at FastFit Wolverton

Great news! FastFit Station is saving customers money on their Milton Keynes MOTs. Get an MOT in Milton Keynes for only £27.42. Hurry as this offer is only available until the 31st March 2012.

To take advantage of this amazing offer you will need to take your half price MOT voucher with you and present it to the FastFit team at Wolverton.Click here to download our money saving MOT voucher.

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