faqs: frequently asked questions

Citroen related queries

Q My old BX suspension doesn't work as well as it used to - it doesn't absorb Sunderland's poor roads as well as it used to. What could be wrong?

A Your BX is equipped with hydraulic suspension - instead of conventional shock absorbers, there are x4 spheres one on each corner and a 5th one that is the accumulator. Each one contains a diaphragm - on one side is mineral suspension fluid, on the other is nitrogen gas. Over time, gas escapes and this makes the suspension less effective. Overall, spheres are no more expensive than conventional suspension repairs. Call in for a quote!

Q I'm worried about my Citroen C3. The service interval seems very optimistic. Will it really go 15,000 miles between oil changes?

A This is a SERIOUSLY bad idea! Oil tends to break down over time and modern fuels and emission control systems mean engines may be damaged if the oil is not changed regularly. Our advice: you can buy a LOT of oil for the cost of an engine overhaul - don't take the risk. As a minimum, the oil and filter should be changed at least every year or every 6,000 miles.

Q What is HLM fluid and is it true that Rolls-Royce cars have Citroen suspension?

A Hydraulique Liquide Mineral is mineral suspension fluid that is a green grade of oil used in certain Citroen suspension and braking systems. Legend has it that Rolls Royce were so impressed with Citroen suspension systems that they used a version tailored for their cars, used under licence from Citroen.

Q My Citroen AX has rust in the front inner wings, will this fail an MOT?

A The AX can rust commonly in the flat area of the inner wing behind the headlamps. As this is within 18" of a suspension mounting, this will fail an MOT test. We carry out this type of repair on a weekly basis, so we doubt whether your car is ready for the crusher just yet.

Tyre related queries

Q What is the legal minimum tread I need on my tyres?

A The legal minimum is 1.6mm over 75% of the tread width BUT we find that tyre performance (braking distance/road holding in the wet) falls off long before that. Our advice: for true peace of mind, think about changing your tyres when they get down to 3mm

Q I own a Range Rover. Can you supply and fit 4x4 tyres?

A Quite a few of our customers own 4wd vehicles and some are requiring tyres for 18 and 19" wheels. We can sort this for you.

Q Why are some makes of tyre more expensive than others?

A Just look at Formula 1. Tyre companies spend a fortune on R&D so their tyres are better than their competitors. Some tyres are better than others for tyre life because the compound of rubber used is different . As a rule, we find Michelin tyres last well (but aren't cheap) but they are not necessarily the best for roadholding. Other factors come in to play too: conditions of use and road noise. Tread patterns vary from make to make and we find that certain cars (the SAAB 9-5 springs to mind) react very badly to having budget tyres fitted due to extra noise in the cabin. Ask for our FREE advice - it is based on years of experience and at the end of the day you don't have to take it!

General queries

Q I'm confused about oil. Does my car really need synthetic oil ?

A Vehicles like the Land Rover Discovery Diesel MUST be run on synthetic oil, as must every petrol engined SAAB produced since 1999, otherwise serious engine damage may occur. Don't think semi-synthetic oil is as good - it only has to contain 5% synthetic polymer to be called semi-synthetic (which means the other 95% of it isn't...)

Q Why do timing belts need changing? What will happen if I don't get my belt changed?

A If ever there was a good example of the proverb 'a stitch in time saves nine', the timing belt or camshaft toothed drive belt is surely it. The problem is, a belt is under attack from BOTH sides: the toothed side is in contact with metal gears, while the flat side runs against idler pulleys and a tensioner . If the belt becomes contaminated by leaking oil, antifreeze etc, it may fail prematurely. Today's engines have very little running clearance so if a belt snaps in service or a tensioner fails, the valves will tend to strike the crowns of the pistons and become damaged. It's a no brainer really... a 16 valve engine requiring half a dozen valves at up to £70 each plus a head gasket set and 4-8 hours labour (plus a new timing belt). This is one disaster you can avoid .

Q Does my car need servicing - it has just passed an MOT?

A This is an old chestnut. The annual test just checks items for fitness for use on the road and as the certificates say, it only proves the car was safe for road use on the day of the test. Routine servicing is concerned with not only safety and roadworthiness but also reliability and economical running. As a rule, every car should have at least one service annually even if the mileage covered is very small. A stamped service history always makes a car worth more when it is time to sell.