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Signs Your Car Needs A Service

For most of us, driving a car is a daily necessity but we all experience that annual niggling reminder that our vehicle is due for an MOT. However, what do you do when disaster randomly strikes at other moments? We can often ignore the signs sneaking up on us and carry on as normal. Let’s be honest, we don’t want to be looking or listening out for every little thing - life is stressful enough as it is.

A healthy vehicle is important for your everyday life: commuting for work, completing the school run or general day to day events. So we’ve compiled a short guide to help reduce your worries. Here are the main signs to look out for:

Warning Light

Probably the most obvious of them all, the warning light is the fear of any driver. Usually in the shape of a spanner, most cars have a service light that will pop up when your next service is due. But when a red or yellow check engine symbol flashes, it’s time to get yourself to a garage before problems escalate.

Nasty Noises

New noises from a car are never a good sign and could develop into a world of problems. Any whining from under the bonnet, louder or uneven exhaust noise, squealing, crunching or metal on metal should be looked at as soon as possible.

Smoke and Steam

Where steam from your car isn’t a great sign and you should get it checked as soon as possible, you’re not in immediate danger. Usually, white steam is caused by issues with the radiator and is often because of overheating. Keeping an eye on your car’s temperature gauge will help with this. Blue or grey smoke can be caused by lack of oil, so it begins to burn. Check your oil levels, particularly if you drive an automatic. If grey or black smoke continues, get yourself to a garage or get a tow when you can.

Vibration, Pulling and Grinding

Braking should always be clean and responsive. If you find this isn’t the case and your vehicle experiences vibration or pulling under braking, it’s probably time for a service. This is also relevant if you hear your gears grinding as you shift. Brake pads, discs and the gearbox naturally experience wear and tear on a day to day basis, so getting them checked early on is important. Fortunately, these issues will be obvious very quickly.

Make sure you’re hassle free and book in your car for a service at least once a year. As a leading garage in the beautiful city of St Albans and the county of Hertfordshire, we at St Albans Car Clinic care about your needs and your car.

Running for over eighteen years, our Car Clinic is family run and we work at the highest standard. Get in touch with us today for more information.

How to Look After your Car in Winter

It might feel like winter is over once Christmas is out of the way, but the start of the new year is often when the cold snap truly hits. The first few months of the year can see temperatures plummet and an influx of frost, snow and ice before things start to warm up again. The cold weather can spell disaster for many vehicle owners, who not only have to contend with scraping ice off the windscreen each morning, but a potential host of more serious problems. There are some preventative measures you can take however, so read on to find out how you can keep your car running in tip top condition all winter.

Get your car serviced

A yearly MOT is a legal requirement, but it’s a good idea to have your car serviced on top of this, especially in winter. The cold can cause many problems for cars, but a lot can be prevented by regular servicing to catch problems before they escalate. Signs your car is in need of a service include an active engine warning light, strange noises from the engine or exhaust, and vibrating or pulling under the breaks.

Check the tires

Good tyre grip becomes even more essential during the winter months, when icy roads can make driving conditions much more hazardous. Check your tyres pressure and tread depth; many mechanics and patrolman recommended a minimum tread depth of 3mm in winter (compared to the legal minimum of 1.6mm), for better grip.

Carry a breakdown kit

It’s a good idea to carry a basic ‘breakdown’ kit all year round, but especially during the winter months. It could include items such as a torch, blanket, ice scraper, phone charger, antifreeze and some food and drink supplies. If you live further north or encounter a lot of snow and ice then a shovel and snow grips for your shoes can be invaluable as well.


Fully functioning lights are essential when daylight is in short supply and there’s often a lot more fog and mist about. Check all lights, indicators and rear reflectors for any signs of dirt, cracked lenses or faulty bulbs, and make sure your full beam headlights and fog indicators are up to scratch too.

Check the battery

Making sure the battery is fully functioning isa top priority during the cold snap, as freezing temperatures and an increased use of lights and heating can put it under extra strain. Average battery life is around 5 years, so if you know your battery is around that age, or you’re having problems starting the car, then get the battery checked and replaced as soon as possible.

If you live in St Albans and want to keep your car in great condition during these cold months, give St Albans Car Clinic a call. We provide professional and affordable MOTs, servicing, tyre replacement, fault diagnosis and more. To find out more about our range of services and repairs on offer, give us a call on 01727 867747 or visit the website.

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