Friday, 16 January 2015

What do you know about the lights on your dashboard?

Dashboard Traffic light Colouring

 I have been writing my blogs from an observational point of view as a woman who works on the customer side within a garage. I am not a technician but I do listen to what comes in and out of the office and have learnt a lot during my time here!

I want to try to pass on some information about cars in a non – technical but simple and informative way as I am sure that there are many people who  like me over the years,  have very little understanding about anything to do with cars and if you are anything like me, might glaze over when ‘technical’ terms are used.
So, following on from that, my latest observation relates to the warning lights that may appear on your dashboard from time to time?
Are you aware that all the lights are colour coded to a ‘traffic light’ system? I certainly wasn’t! If I am honest I would only really have taken notice if a light had come on whilst driving and I did not know that the lights could be coloured differently!
I asked many of my friends  if they knew about the lights on the dashboard as I did not want to write a blog and insult a reader’s intelligence! My responses showed me that it is more likely to be ladies who did not know but not all men knew either.
We all see lights on the dashboard on  a daily basis that we are probably aware of, but choose to ignore as they mostly disappear once the engine is turned on. It is only when a light comes on unexpectedly whilst we are driving that we may take notice.
I wonder how many drivers really register the colour of a light when it comes on or if they are aware that it may be coloured either amber or red if there is an issue, but ‘Green’ for headlights being on  and functioning normally for example.
Just to expand further:
Oil pressure warning light

This light should come on when you turn the ignition on, and usually goes out again once the engine is started.

 If the light does not go out when the engine is running and is coloured ‘Amber’ then you need to stop driving and check the oil level of the engine. Top up if required.

If the warning light stays on and is coloured ‘Red’ even after putting oil in, then you must not drive the car any further as it could cause catastrophic damage to the engine of your vehicle. Call for help and get the vehicle recovered to a garage.

Battery charge warning light

When you start the engine, the battery charge light should always come on and then go off to indicate that the battery is functioning normally.

If the light does not come on at all, or if it comes on whilst you are driving, it will be coloured ‘Red’ and means that your battery is not charging properly. Once again you should stop driving immediately as there could be a number of reasons as to why the light has come on; either the battery has failed or the drive belt has broken, which stops the Alternator working (The Alternator is what charges the battery)

If you are in any doubt as to why the light may be on then my advice would be not to try to restart the engine as potentially you could cause even more damage. In this instance call for a recovery service and get to a garage – preferably ours!

Brake system warning light
 This light will be on and coloured ‘Red’ when the handbrake is in use, but if it comes on once the handbrake is off, it could mean that your vehicle is low on brake fluid.

If this is the case, then you would need to ensure that you add the correct amount of brake fluid, filling it to the Maximum level but do call us if you are in doubt! Brake fluid levels do drop as the car is driven and there are specific intervals for each make and model where a Brake Fluid change is required.
Check your brake fluid level frequently to ensure there is no further rapid loss of fluid.

If the brake warning light stays on even if you have topped up the brake fluid, then we highly recommend that you have the car looked at as the brakes are obviously vital to our safety on the roads!


If the tyre light comes on ‘Red’ whilst you are driving, then it would indicate that the tyre has lost air pressure and it is likely that you would have a puncture. Once again you need to stop and either change the tyre or use a product called ‘Tyre Weld’ to help you get to a garage. If you have run flats you will be able to drive to a garage.

For any more information please call Lakeside Garage on 01784 482158
or have a look at our website

I hope this is helpful to some people and apologies to others who already know!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Is it time to change the Timing Belt on your car??

Do you know if your vehicle has a Timing Chain or a Timing Belt? Technically, a Timing Chain should last for the life of the engine (although this is not always the case!) However, If your vehicle has a Timing Belt, the manufacturer will advise at what intervals it is due to be changed either in time and / or mileage.
 I have noticed that with some vehicles, at times there appears to be a large difference between the amount of miles that can be covered before changing the Timing Belt and the time intervals. For example if the advice is that the belt should be changed every 4 years or  100,000 miles, it can be confusing for  people who only cover a few miles a year and who may struggle to accept that the belt would need changing after 4 years and only a few miles.It is not easy to tell if a Timing Belt needs changing as it does not necessarily look that much different as it wears, however it is advisable to change the Timing Belt as per the schedule, since the timing belt is made of rubber and perishes over time. This is why there is a suggested time as well as mileage interval.  If neglected, the Timing Belt could break at any time without warning which will result in a catastrophic engine failure.

For those cars where the water pump runs off the Timing Belt, you need to consider whether to change the Water Pump at the same time as the timing belt. One of the reasons for this is due to the fact that if the Water Pump needed to be changed at a later date, the Timing Belt would have to be changed again. In addition, whilst the Timing Belt is being changed, 80-90% of the labour required for changing the Water Pump has already been done which rules out having to pay twice for the labour at different times. 

You should be able to speak to a technician who can help you decide whether to change the Water Pump in your particular vehicle. Car engines are not the same and there may be some specific differences that need to be taken into account.You need to be aware that when the Timing Belt is changed, it is not just the belt that needs to be changed; there are also Tensioners and Guide Pulleys (Please check which items are needed specific to your vehicle). When quoting, we at Lakeside Garage always give a price for a Timing Belt kit which includes the extra items required. We also quote for the Water Pump at the same time so that our customers can decide for themselves.
Remember too that even though replacing the Timing Belt is not cheap, the other alternative would be to have to pay for a new engine which does not even bear thinking about!It is good practice when ringing around to get prices, to make sure that the service advisor is completely clear with you about what you are actually being quoted for as it is possible that you will only be given a price just to change the Timing Belt and nothing else. You will also need to ask exactly what parts are being used as these will also impact on the price you pay.

 Remember cheap parts are unlikely to be warrantied and do not pay in the long run!!

I have tried to give an overall idea in this blog, but if you would like any more specific technical information please do contact us on 01784 482158 or via our website at and one of our technicians will be happy to speak to you!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

More Diagnostics explained!

I felt it necessary to write this blog to try to shed a bit more light on Diagnostics and the electrics in our vehicles. From some of the questions we get from our customers about their vehicles, it is apparent that there does seem to be some confusion over how in depth the technology of modern cars has become.
In many circumstances, we can no longer rely on a simple  ‘mechanical fix’ to put the car right, but instead we have to have a good understanding of  the electrical components which are processed by many different electronic  control units (ECU) (basically speaking -  computer systems) that are used to power our modern cars.
There are occasions where the public react to having to pay the price for Diagnostics on their vehicle. It is very possible that this reaction is due to a lack of understanding and of course it is true that garages differ wildly both with  the diagnostic equipment and the experience they offer.
It is really important if you do have an engine management light come on or any kind of electrical fault, that you do a bit of research as to where you take your vehicle. You need to find a garage that does have the equipment to be able to accurately diagnose what is wrong with your car as some garages may only be able to read the codes of the fault and may not then have the ability or knowledge to carry out the appropriate testing to ascertain the exact cause of the fault; The fault code is simply what the System Brain (ECU) thinks is the problem given the information it receives.
It is imperative that technicians are adequately trained to be able to understand and fix the faults. Investing in dealer level equipment is costly as is sending technicians on the appropriate courses to enable them to keep up to date with the ever growing technology found in our modern vehicles nowadays. For this reason, there needs to be a reflection in the price that is charged.
As consumers, we need to consider the value to us in knowing that a garage has the capacity to provide an accurate answer and to be able to rectify the fault (which might cost more initially),  versus the cost. Trying to save money and blindly fit parts in the short term hoping that the fault will be fixed, is always going to be more costly in the long term.

A recent training course run by James Dillon -   Technical Topics revealed some very interesting facts which help to shed a bit more light;

40% of a modern car is now electrical

  •         A Dreamliner aircraft has 18 million lines of software coding in its on-board systems – a modern VW Passat has 10 million.
  •         We expect and pay for the expertise of qualified people to be available to work on the aircraft we travel in. Nowadays modern cars carry a scary amount of software, yet we are happy to put our own safety and that of those dear to us in the hands of garages where there are unqualified people working on our vehicle - Food for thought!

Large companies allocate a vast amount of money to Research and Development; VW last year spent 11.4 billion dollars on research and development which was more than any other company in any other sector. 4 of the top 10 spenders in Research and Development were vehicle manufacturers. This surely tells us that technology within the motor industry is developing faster than any of us can imagine and with this in mind we need to accept that caring for our vehicle is no longer about a simple mechanical test or even a simple fix as I have alluded to at the beginning of the blog.

Another way of trying to understand the workings of cars these days is to consider that in the past, a Mechanical fault would have relatively small diagnosis time with a much larger fix time.

Nowadays, it is often the opposite with Electrical and Software faults meaning that potentially the hours of diagnosis and testing on various types of equipment need to be accounted for.
It is highly possible that the end fix may in itself be quite quick.

 I have tried to show this visually in the images I have uploaded below although the diagrams are not at all to scale and are just an example.

Hopefully this goes some way to helping those who are interested, gain a  better understanding albeit in simplified manner!

For more information please look at our website: or you can give us a call on 01784 482158 and we will be happy to answer any queries you may have.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Would you want to fork out for a new engine in your car?

The Costly Potential Outcome Of Not Having Your Car Serviced Regularly And Properly.

These images show an engine which has had to be removed to be replaced with a new one. A lengthy and costly job!

The owner was experiencing knocking sounds whilst they were driving and correctly brought the car in to be checked. The car went to a dealer who advised that a complete engine change would be needed due to premature wear in the engine. In the opinion of the dealer, the vehicle had not been serviced regularly according to the manufacturer’s schedule and / or the wrong grade of oil had been used.
The oil had turned ‘glittery’ (Just for our lady readers!) which means that within the engine, the internal components had been rubbing  ‘ metal on metal’  as the oil could not get in between the surfaces to lubricate  The result is that  metal begins to rub away and creates filings within the oil and in turn this leads to excess internal engine wear.

For more information on the importance of changing the oil in your vehicle, click on the link below:


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

We have a poet within the Lakeside Team!

This is a post to offer something light hearted to all our customers which has been provide by our multi-talented new Service Advisor Ashley. He has created a little poem about Lakeside Garage.  A man of many talents!
Here it is:

For all those vehicles we love to hate,
Trouble caused when engines break,
Bright warning signs with nothing amiss,
Remember when motoring was easier than this;
Fully trained and equipped for the future,
Top technicians armed with computers,
Who will take the most pride in your carriage,
Come visit us here at Lakeside Garage!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Lakeside Garage Team

A rare opportunity to have a photograph of all the men in our team at Lakeside Garage! Unfortunately I had to be behind the camera so no pics of me available!
We are posting this photo to mark a transition for Lakeside Garage. We say ‘goodbye and thank you’ to Darren our Service Manager, who has worked at the garage for 11 years and is now moving on to try his hand at a completely new venture which will be using his artistic talent.
We offer a very warm welcome to Ashley who is replacing Darren. Ashley has previously worked as both a technician and a Service Advisor, so he has a good knowledge base to be able to help with enquiries. Ashley has also admitted to having a talent for writing poems and musical lyrics as well as playing keyboards so we look forward to learning more about it :-)) 
We would also like to welcome our apprentice Tony to the team. He is very keen to learn and will be in the capable hands of our technicians while he develops his practical knowledge. Good luck Tony!

Here's to a great summer with our fantastic team!

Friday, 28 March 2014

When did you last change your pollen filter?

The clocks are going forward this weekend! – yeeeaaaaah! 

It’s Spring and soon it will be Easter – time to finally be able to get outside more!

The only downside of all this mood lifting news is that there could be an increasing number of people who are dreading the spring and summer due to being  prone to allergies and in particular, hay fever. The Allergy season is pretty much upon us and this can cause all sorts of problems for hayfever sufferers from spring right through to the end of summer.

It may sound as if I am heading off in a direction unrelated to cars, but there is a link!!
Due to the change in season, it is now time to think about when you last changed the ‘pollen filter’ or ‘cabin filter’ in your car. I believe it is just as important to change the pollen filter in the car as it is to have your oil filter changed.
This image shows the difference between a new cabin filter and one that is clogged
The cabin filter cleans the incoming air and therefore is able to halt the pollen, dust and other pollutants that would otherwise be drawn into the car through air conditioning and ventilation systems.  For this reason, the filter really does need to be replaced on a regular basis.

As a parent of an asthma / allergy sufferer, I know how important it is to minimise the exposure to pollen and any other aggravators for the sufferer to be able to breathe as freely as possible and be able to minimise the number of episodes they have.

Unfortunately changing the cabin filter is not covered by every service schedule, meaning that it could be an additional cost which varies for each vehicle, however it is not something that will set you back a fortune by any means and could greatly contribute you and your family’s general wellbeing. Lakeside Garage can check the schedule for your particular vehicle to give you the exact requirements for changing your pollen filter.
It goes without saying of course that having the pollen filter in the car does not provide protection other than inside the car!

Here’s to happy allergy free days out as we enjoy the upcoming holiday season!

For those of us that do continue to suffer with Asthma, hayfever or allergies I am highly recommending Silvia Giunta – a Homeopath based in Windsor who has helped many people with similar issues.

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