The Village
The lovely village of Upavon
The hillside above Upavon
Some of the beautiful countryside around Upavon
The River Avon
Running through the Village
St Mary's Church
A beautiful church at the heart of the village
Those pesky Geese
Upavon's much loved Geese

Notes from the Garage

James Russell, Managing Director of The Motor Garage Ltd, Lower Road, Netheravon, Wilts, SP4 9RH, Tel: 01980 670348, will contribute a monthly item to the Upavon Website on matters of interest to motorists; e.g. hints and tips and information on the law with regards to tyres etc. We hope you will find this interesting and informative.

“Check it or wreck it”

You will no doubt have seen the above warning on petrol station forecourts selling oil. It is sensible advice. Whereas in the old days checking your oil was often a weekly ritual, we assume with modern cars that they either don’t use oil, or if they do they are clever enough to warn us.

Sadly both these assumptions can be unsound. Many modern cars burn more oil than classic vehicles. Some BMW minis and Peugeots (which share engines) are particularly culpable, and can use as much as a litre every 1000 miles. Furthermore, whilst cars have been capable of reporting oil level, pressure and temperature for decades, most modern cars do not. Worse still, once you have finally located the dipstick it can be almost impossible to read!

When oil levels run low in a car, it is the valve train at the top of the engine which first experiences oil starvation. Modern engines are highly efficient and this valve gear is often very complex and susceptible to lasting damage. Turbochargers, which are now commonplace on smaller engines, can also be badly damaged. This can require the whole of the top end of the engine to be rebuilt. If the level gets very low, the engine may be damaged beyond repair. We probably see a car every quarter of a year which falls into this category.

It is good practice to check your oil every 1000 miles or before a long journey. You can use the trip meter in the car to remind you when to do this. If you are unsure how to check the oil we are always happy to check it for you, free of charge.

It is important if you are topping up your own oil to ensure it is the appropriate grade and viscosity for your engine. Details will be in the owner’s manual and any good garage will be able to look up your car on the system to ensure the correct grade is used. As a rule of thumb, post 2006 vehicles – particularly diesels – have complex emissions control systems which require a “low ash” oil to be used. If the right grade of oil is not used on these engines it can gum up the valves and filters which can impact on the running of the car and whether it would pass an MOT.

Keeping on top of your oil is therefore a small investment which can save you thousands of pounds in the long term.

Happy and safe motoring to all.

James Russell
Managing Director
The Motor Garage Ltd
01980 670348
07811 954431



Not the most exciting of subjects, but I wanted to set down some thoughts about tyres. I would say that at least once a week we see tyres at the garage which are worn to a potentially lethal degree. Often this wear is not visible on the outside edge of the tyre. It is quite common with the state of today’s roads for the bushes on the front lower suspension arms on a car to wear, allowing the wheels to tow outwards (think of a penguin trying to ski). This erodes the inside shoulder of the tyre much as dragging an eraser over a rough surface might do. We see quite a few cars where the tyre appears fine from the kerbside, but the canvas (and sometimes even the steel cords which reinforce the tyre) are exposed on the inside edge. About once a month we have a customer who has suffered a blow-out due to premature tyre wear. If that happens at high speed on the motorway, or even close to the pavement in a residential area, the consequences do not bear thinking about.

In terms of the law, tyres have tread markers set at the legal minimum depth of 1.6 mm. That depth needs to be consistent around the central 3/4s of the tyre. Bear in mind that once you are on the markers you are likely to be the wrong side of the law. This can have consequences for your insurance in the event of an accident, and it is one of the first things that the police will check at the scene.
Research also shows that tyres with a 3mm tread depth perform 25% better in terms of grip than those on the legal limit. Another problem we have in this area is flints from the road and the tank tracks piercing the face and sidewalls of tyres. The law states that if a cut is deep enough to expose the cords of the tyre, the tyre is not roadworthy.

It is good practice to have a glance at your tyres daily, or at least weekly. Pressures should ideally be checked once a month and we are happy to do this free of charge at the garage. With modern tyre technology it is less easy to spot an underinflated tyre, and some modern vehicles can need as much as 50 psi (around 30 psi being more usual). When you park it is worth turning the steering out from time to time on alternate sides so that you can view the whole tyre.

Finally, whilst many of our customers prefer us to fit budget tyres, which are a perfectly acceptable choice, it is our experience that a mid range brand will significantly outlast a budget tyre. On average the cost is about £20 + Vat more a tyre. That is something to bear in mind depending on your use of the vehicle and how long you intend to keep it.

Happy and safe motoring to all.

James Russell
Managing Director
The Motor Garage Ltd
01980 670348
07811 954431

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