Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Time Has Come For Some Last Minute Christmas Shopping...

"Don't Jerk and Drive!"

Yes Yes, you did read it right!

"Don't Jerk and Drive" is the recent campaign run by the South Dakota Department of Highway Safety to try and emphasise the dangers of drivers jerking the steering wheel when driving in icy road conditions.

It appears however, the department found itself in somewhat of a sticky mess having to pull the campaign due to the innuendo associated with it. While the highway safety department believe it is a very important message they don't wish for the innuendo to overshadow the awareness campaign. Secretary of the Department of Public Safety, Trevor Jones said "This is an important safety message and I don't want this innuendo to distract from our goal to save lives on the road."

The department insist that the double entendre was intended as an attention grabber but had not foreseen it totally detracting from the main message and rubbing up the public the wrong way.
I'll leave you to make up your own mind on the marketing material used, but I for one am certainly thinking about the dangers of driving in icy conditions!

Words by Lisa, That's What She Said!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Thinking about buying a new car?

Thinking about buying a new car? For some, resale value is a key part of the decision making process. Our handy infographic illustrates some of the current trends & preferences in colour, body style, make, model & engine size etc that may make a car easier to sell and depreciate less when the time comes.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Petrol Heads Will Understand

Man and Nissan GTR

1. It hurts when you hear someone describe a car as 'something you use to get from point A to B'.

2. It always feels as if something is missing when you’re on holidays, that void or emptiness from being so far away from your car. It's okay to cry.

3. The only other person allowed to drive your car is someone you really trust but you’ll give them that stern warning “just be careful, alright?!”.

4. While others look for a badge to see what make a car is, you can identify the make, model, year and spec just by looking at the rear lights.

5. When you downshift, you get a sudden rush of man-drenaline. I totally just made that word up but you know what I mean.
2 Stroke Lynx Deodourant
6. You occasionally crack the window so you can hear the engine better.

7. You speak words of encouragement to it every now and then like “I know it’s freezing cold, but please start.” or “come on!”.

8. The car is an extension of yourself and it reflects who you are. 

9. When you see someone else driving the car of your dreams you don’t utter “that rich b*****d” like many others, instead you say “you lucky b*****d”. 

10. You’d love if Lynx released a new fragrance called “2 Stroke” but they won't, I've asked them already.

Words by Niall

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Awh it only needs a ball joint!

I think we have all had that conversation with the local mechanic or garage that your car needs a ball joint replacing and simply pay the bill and move on!

But we here at MicksGarage would like to explain to you what they are and put the power in your hands when it comes to your car maintenance as the saying goes “knowledge is power”. 

In simple terms they are what they say on the tin, a Ball in a joint! But if I were to say that ball joint is a key part of every vehicle and correct maintenance may save you money. It might make things a little more interesting!

The basic idea of the ball joint is to join two parts together but allow controlled movement in a multiple of directions, UP, DOWN, LEFT, and RIGHT and any combinations of these at the same time.

Cross Section of ball joint

As I mentioned above that ball joints are key to every vehicle on the road i.e. every vehicle will have them fitted, but where & why?

Our vehicles are designed to cope with bumpy roads, country lanes, the dreaded speed bumps, I think it fair to say the wheels move up and down a lot, now match this movement with the fact that front wheels need turning left and right. You might ask how do you actually fit a wheel to the vehicle and creator for all this movement? The answer is simple a Ball Joint.

Where the ball joint fitted?  99% of vehicles will have more than one but let’s take it slow. Below is a picture of where ball joints would most commonly fitted. Here you can see that this joint is key to ensuring that the wheel stays where it is meant to. 

Front Suspension Ball joint Location 

Any excess wear in the ball joint will result in the wheel moving in an uncontrolled manor. This uncontrolled movement will cause increased wear & strain on suspension components along with a feeling of vague steering or a tendency for the vehicle to wonder while driving in a straight line.

I did say this article could save you money and this is where it starts. We spoke about excess wear to suspension components and I could fill the pages with, what suspension components are,? do? etc...   (I do hope to in future with further articles) but let’s stay on track (excuse the pun).

The front-line in suspension components is actually your tyre! Its filled with air under pressure and perfect for taking the brunt of the road before the mechanical components take over (springs shocks etc...) but the money saving comes with ensuring the ball joints do not have excess play, this excess play will result in increased tyre wear and reduced tyre life. We know how pricey replacing four tyres can be.

Excess tyre ware is actually because the rolling resistance has increased and the tracking (the angle the wheels are pointing in) is out of alignment, this will increase your fuel consumption as your engine has to work harder to push past this resistance.

In the automotive world we tend to say the ball joint is fitted to the lower suspension arm or wishbones but the actually term Ball Joint can be taken as an engineering term of a ball in socket joint! If we take this on board we can see that nearly EVERY part of the suspension on your vehicle will have a Ball Joint fitted or attached to it! Below are a list of suspension components that may have ball joint fitted to them but are referred to differently in the automotive world because of there location or job.

          • Lower Wishbone 
          • Upper Wishbone 
          • Inner tie rod
          • Tie rod end
          • Drop links
          • Suspension mounting 
          • Control Arms
If we take the above list as a reference and have a look at the front suspension of a common vehicle let’s say an 2010 Audi A4.

Front Suspension 2010 Audi - A4

We can count five ball joints per side and a total of ten making up the front suspension, any excess ware on any of the above would hamper and add extra pressure on each of the other components.

All in all I think it is fair to say that ball joints are extremely important when it comes to vehicle maintenance and should not be over looked or put off.

“Awh sure it only needs ball joint” is not something that should be taken lightly. But I do hope you may have an extra incite that will aid you with your next service or future 2nd hand buy!

Chris Driver
Words by Chris Driver, MicksGarage !

8 Tips for Driving in Windy Weather

In the past number of months, we've been hit with extremely high winds and gusts across the country. It's important that we keep safe when out and about and that also means taking extra care with driving in windy weather. Here we list 8 top tips to keep you safe when out in your during stormy conditions.

Top 8 Stormy Driving Tips
1 - Plan your trip: Know the route that you are going to take and the exposure of those roads. Exposed roads are susceptible to gusts and blasts of wind that can take your car off course. Can you take a different route or ask yourself the question is the trip really necessary?

2 - Drive slowly. Gusts and cross winds will get in around the car and can effect the handling and braking significantly. Slowing down will ensure that you can maintain control of the car more easily and react quicker to a sudden gust.

3 - Hold the steering wheel correctly - We're all guilty of driving with one hand on the wheel cruising down the road, but when driving in stormy conditions gripping the steering wheel correctly and having full control of the vehicle is very important. Strong winds are not constant, they come in gusts and can catch you off guard and send the car off course. A grip of '10 to 2' is the ideal grip on the wheel.

4 - Give cyclists, motorcyclists, trucks and buses more room than usual, both when driving alongside and behind them as they get blown around easily by side winds. Motorcyclists especially should avoid travelling in high winds as high cross winds can affect the handling of the motorcycle.

5 - Increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, think about increasing the 2 second rule to 3 seconds.

6 - Be aware of debris from trees, other vehicles and structures that may be blown onto the road during wintry conditions. Slowing down in anticipation of these is advised, regardless of the type of road.

7 - Be very careful when over-taking high sided vehicles as a sudden gust can catch you from the other side as you clear the vehicle. Also be aware of how the winds effect the larger vehicle and that they may blown into your course as you overtake them.

8 - Parking. Take note of your surroundings and where possible do not park beside any trees or poles that may come down in heavy winds and smash up your car, or indeed injure you as you enter or exit the car. When exiting the car, be aware that the wind can come from any direction, either pushing the door back in your face (or legs!) or pushing it back against the hinges, damaging it.

It's key that you take extra care at all times when driving in windy weather. Think about before, during and after the journey and always be aware that gusts can come at any time, even when it seems all has calmed down. Be safe.

Words by John Smyth, MicksGarage Marketing Guru!

Related articles:
 - Top Tops for Driving with Sun Glare
 - Winter Driving: Everything you need to know

Monday, 8 December 2014

New Penalty Points. Dec 8th 2014

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe today announced a raft of changes to the Penalty Points System.  The one that everyone has their knickers in a twist over seems to be the NCT test.  The minister claimed that the average waiting time to get an NCT appointment is just 11 days  but the anecdotal evidence that has spewed forth drastically contradicts that and months rather than days seems to be the norm
Here's what you need to know:
New offences
The new offences that will now draw penalty points include:

  • Failure by learner or novice drivers to display L plates or N plates respectively on their cars;
  • Drivers breaking a ban on U-turns;
  • Breaking rules on the use of mini roundabouts;
  • Offences relating to the size and weight of larger vehicles;
  • Going beyond no-entry to vehicles signs;
  • Disobeying traffic control signs;
  • and driving without a licence plate or with one that has been altered inaccurately.

Offences that will now face a change to the number of penalty points they now carry will include:

  • Driving without a test certificate; 
  • Dangerous parking;
  • Failure to keep to the left-hand side of the road;
  • Dangerous overtaking;
  • Driving across the road’s middle line;
  • Failure to stop for a stop sign;
  • Failure to yield at a yield sign or yield line;
  • Not following traffic signs at junctions;
  • Breaking traffic light rules;
  • and breaking of speed restrictions.

For a full breakdown of the new points and associated fines see the table below