4 Common Reasons For Failing Your MOT

mot test centre york

Cruising through the countryside with the windows down on a hot summer night. The joy of your new car greeting you with that unique fresh-off-the-forecourt smell. When your favourite song comes on the radio after a tough day in the office. Car owners have plenty of moments like these to enjoy, but every journey has a few bumps along the way.


Each year, the compulsory MOT threatens the happy relationship we have with our vehicles. Past experiences of hefty bills and lengthy repairs may contribute to our anxiety, but in fact, most MOT pitfalls are entirely avoidable. To settle those pre-test jitters, here’s our 4 most common reasons for failing your test, and how to dodge them.


  1. Headlights, brake lights and indicators

 car lights mot

Over 2 million MOT fails were issued last year as a result of defective headlights, brake lights or indicators. The majority of these could have been avoided with just a few simple checks.


Before your MOT, inspect each light carefully (not forgetting the bulbs that illuminate your number plates) and replace any that are dim or broken. If a little DIY mechanics fills you with dread, any local garage worth their salt will have the job done in minutes.


  1. Tyre condition and pressures


The next biggest source of MOT migraines, causing 10% of all fails, are faults relating to tyres. In the UK, tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm across ¾ of the tyre to meet test safety standards.


Whilst frequently checking your tyre pressures will minimise wear and maximise fuel economy, a quick inspection before your MOT can alert you to any potential tyre troubles. Using the rim of a 20p coin as a guide, check each tyre’s tread depth and replace if necessary.


  1. Mirrors, windscreen wipers and washers


Problems affecting ‘the Driver’s view of the road’ account for one third of all MOT fails. These include issues with internal and wing mirrors, and inadequate windscreen wipers. If your wipers aren’t clearing water from your windscreen effectively or are leaving smears, then new ones are essential.


Another trivial but all too common cause of failure is an empty washer fluid reservoir, so top up before the big day to ensure the test goes smoothly.


  1. Suspension and brakes


Cars are inevitably prone to wear and tear as they age. Keeping us safe and comfortable is no small task; it’s no wonder that our car’s suspension and brakes often deteriorate quickly. Unfortunately, replacing these parts is beyond the expertise of most owners.

However, being aware of potential problems and acting quickly when they arise can reduce costly repair bills. Knocking or clonking sounds when driving over bumps, or any decrease in braking performance, should be reported to a mechanic immediately.


At York Auto Centre, we love giving a car a clean bill of health and encourage drivers to steer clear of these common reasons for MOT failure. Before booking into our approved MOT test centre in York, be sure to complete a quick DIY inspection of your car, for the best chance of a hassle-free annual check-up and twelve more months of safe driving.












How To Fit A Car Radio

how to fit a car radio

Small tweaks can change your driving experience forever, and car radios are certainly something that a lot of us can’t do without. There’s just a void in long drives with friends, or the commute to work, that are bereft of a pulsing soundtrack. It’s always a joy to tap that steering wheel along to an ebullient tune or two.


But how to replace a faulty radio, or upgrade to a better model? Whilst many of us are tech enthusiasts, your knowledge may not extend to fitting a vehicle radio from scratch. It’s about time we cleared this up for you, so the only thing screaming is your speaker…


Step 1 – Removal


Taking out the current item isn’t much of a chore; radio ‘keys’ are readily available from vehicle equipment retailers, and they should be the right fit for the job.


All you have to do is find the removal slots on the face of the radio. Slide in a pair of suitable keys, and apply gentle pressure in tandem. The device should fall away into your hands.


Step 2 – Unplugging and adapting


The mini-rainbow of wiring staring at you may look complex, but it really isn’t. Disconnect the loom (a harness of cables that link the device to your car’s power supply) and the old radio’s aerial lead, leaving them ready for a new master.


Your new radio should come with an ISO harness connector, so plug it into the loom. Aerial cables might require an adapter if they don’t fit your vehicle automatically, but again, any retailer worth there salt will stock plenty of them. The same goes for the ISO harness.


Step 3 – Connect the radio


It’s probably a good idea to push wiring back into the radio slot, just so you aren’t getting muddled. Now that you’ve ascertained whether components need an adapter or not, you can click everything into place, getting that aerial antennae fixed and the harness hooked up.


Test the radio’s functionality before you finish up. Go through every function to make sure they align with your vehicle’s sound system, including bass effects and inter-device connectivity, such as Bluetooth. Failure at this stage might indicate that a back fuse has blown.


Step 4 – Re-fit and enjoy!


Once you’re ready to place the new radio inside its compartment, there shouldn’t be any trouble securing. The hold position will be affirmed when you hear a slight ‘click’.


All that’s left to do is store away the radio keys and, potentially, your old device for further use. Happy listening!


So there we have it – there’s really nothing to get tied up about when you’re after a radio upgrade. If you’ve followed these steps, however, and are experiencing problems, York Auto Centre is here to diagnose the trouble.


We can repair vehicle audio systems and provide any sort of detective work on how well your car’s functioning. Book an appointment with our team, and rest assured: we’ll play to your tune, however you like…





When Does My Car Need Servicing?


We’re all prone to slip-ups at one time or another. Our cars are no different – although we care for them like children, guarding them against too much strain and pressure, there can be a slew of problems under your nose, gradually trying to tell you something isn’t quite right. Unless, that is, you get a car serviced regularly.


You may have wondered just how often this should be done. Well, fret no more: while there isn’t a template answer for every road user, here are some hints as to when your car is probably due a trip to the service station:


The dashboard’s going haywire

Nothing quite says ‘I’m not feeling very well’ like the blinkered klaxon of a dashboard light refusing to go away. It could be one you’ve never seen before, or relate to a component of your vehicle that seems in rude health. Your owner’s manual will at least give you some indication of what a new, ominous light could mean, and clarify which symbols are the most worrying.


Since the dashboard is your car’s primary communicative medium, don’t ever ignore a flashing light, even if you don’t fully understand it. A service report will ascertain whether it’s a slight fault in the system, or something more troublesome to fix.


Your mileage is over 30,000

A box-fresh car should have its first service after an initial 15,000 miles, depending on manufacturer guidelines. This could be lumped in as a stipulation of your warranty, with any repairs you make yourself – even for such minor things as an oil change – at risk of voiding that agreement.


Servicing requirements are almost always set on an annual basis, 12 months from the date of purchase. However, the 30,000-mile mark is seen as the proper test of how road-worthy a vehicle is.


Car servicing for vehicles over 30,000 miles is a lot more extensive, accounting for coolant levels, steering fluid, lights and brakes, amongst other features, seeing as your vehicle may have degenerated slightly during this time.


Faulty air-con

The majority of modern cars are fitted with air conditioning, which is a lifesaver for muggy, traffic-piled days. Just like any convenience, though, it has a finite window of use before it effectiveness starts to wane.


Your air-con system should be recharged every 2 years or so, preventing refrigerant gas from depleting totally, and to inspect any cracks that may have blossomed since the car came into your hands.


If you sense the airflow has deteriorated, think about sending your vehicle for a service. If you don’t, that’s all the more slack for your engine to pick up, which is rarely good news.


While most of us are genuinely concerned about the health of our cars, a temptation does exist to hope for the best. When slight hiccups in your car’s functionality can balloon into serious issues, the most assured method of saving your own time, cash and peace of mind is to be on-point with your servicing schedule.


York Auto Centre offers a full servicing package, backed by quality spare parts. We’ll identify any faults and get them seen to, preventing anything from puncturing your driving experience. Contact us today and put servicing back on your calendar.





How To Keep Your BMW Running Smoothly



Taking care of your vehicle is a no-brainer for people who genuinely love their ride. Like a typical best friend, no two are ever the same, putting the onus on you to find out what makes your car purr, and how best to keep it in rude health for the road.


If you’re the proud owner of a BMW, it’s crucial to recognise that it has a specific makeup that shouldn’t be attended by generic servicing. Every car is unique, and it’s important to find a mechanic that’s clued up about the model you’re sending for an MOT or car service.


Here are some words of wisdom for keeping that BMW in the best shape of its life:


Everything in its place


When a car’s crying out for replacement parts, it’s a very bad idea to change anything that a manufacturer has specifically designed for great performance. Oil filters, coolant systems and brake cylinders are just some components at risk of failure, and each of them have exact variants tailor-made for a BMW’s internal composition.


An experienced technician should therefore be able to source pieces of kit that match the original equivalent (OE) of whatever they’re taking out. If not, they’ll be working like unqualified doctors, splicing the wrong organs into their patient’s body. Everything might run smoothly for a while, but faults may occur as the car’s circuitry runs into problems with the substitutes. It’s therefore vital to ensure every piece of new equipment has OE status.


Quality testing


If your BMW is three years old or more, you’re legally required to bring it in for an annual MOT inspection. This is the minimum standard you’ll have to pass for the car to remain on the road, and MOT technicians will be able to tell, in a short space of time, whether your vehicle is up to snuff.


It takes years of practised checks on a specific car model to guarantee nothing slips under the radar. Our BMW experts can identify a problem a mile off, and if you need to have us take the microscope to a deeper problem, we’ll perform a full service using vehicle diagnostics.


Again, this process is vastly helped by a prior understanding of what a BMW should or shouldn’t be able to do – whether you’ve got a modest convertible 3 Series, or a shark-like Gran Coupe, knowledge of their capabilities is a must for thorough and accurate service reports.


Dealing with change


So, the one-size-fits-all approach is never ideal for any car; it’ll mar your vehicle’s performance history faster than a nasty pothole if bespoke parts aren’t sourced, verified, and fixed to the right standard. If modifications have been made before the car came into your possession, you should know exactly what they are, and only a trained professional can see what transformations a BMW has endured. Plus, technicians will be able to fill any gaps in its service history, chasing up a dealership for answers.


With this in mind, you should have a local garage that can do all of these things, applying its rigorous BMW expertise whenever possible. York Auto Centre is a one-stop shop for repairs, MOTs and car servicing in York, so call us on 01904 785742 or email info@yorkautocentre.co.uk for more information.




4 Ways To Give Your Car A Makeover

As Tim Westwood was fond of telling us, pimping a ride is a whole lot of fun. This particular joy isn’t exclusive to bouncing suspension or gold-plated grills; anyone on a regular budget can add little touches to their vehicle, hitting the road with a bunch of fresh features guaranteed to turn heads.

At York Auto Centre, we love meeting people who want some more pep to their driving – it challenges us to think of new ways to give a car a makeover, some of which we’d like to tell you about.


  1. Repainting


Even the most sought-after cars can look weather-beaten, especially if yours has crossed more miles than you can count. Touching it up with a new paint job can be just what you need to rejuvenate your travels.

A bright glaze of paint will make even the oldest ride seem brand new. If you really want to push the boat out, consider a patterned effect, or choose a sleeker metallic sheen for a professional, chrome-like appearance.


  1. Speaker systems


Most vehicles come with some form of built-in audio system, yet there’s always room for improvement on this front as far as we’re concerned! It’s not all about that bass, but new subwoofers will give your sing-a-thongs after work the backing they deserve.

There’s a wealth of speakers on the market offering levels of clarity, volume, and even wi-fi capabilities, as high quality kit becomes more affordable and easier to install.


  1. Wheel alloys


Wheel style matters – you’d look strange walking down a high street in a pair of clogs, no? –  and having an eye-catching alloy design could be just what your car needs for an effervescent appearance.

We aren’t talking about ‘bling’ specifically, although flashy choices can look brilliant when fitted to the right vehicle. For a safer bet with plenty of class, explore options like spoke, inverted, or oval models. Our car tyre specialists can advise on a suitable companion for your wheels and taste.


  1. Upholstery


First impressions count, but you should also make sure that when your passengers sink into their seat, they aren’t disappointed. Upholstery really can make all the difference to the overall look and feel of your car interiors. Got a rip in your back seat, or are the front seats starting to fade? It may be time to reupholster.

We hope we’ve revved up your inspiration for a slight overhaul of your vehicle’s style and texture. It’s important to feel good about the car you drive, if only because it’ll keep you stimulated for the remaining years and decades you’ll spend on the road. After all, driving should be a pleasure that doesn’t fester with age.

Want to discuss any repairs, maintenance, or service checks before you make those changes? Our York car garage is here to help – call us on 01904785742 or fill out our contact form, and we’ll give you a speedy quote on anything you require.


Is Your Car Service History Up To Scratch?

Buying and selling a vehicle has its share of complications, particularly if you aren’t sure what maintenance a car has undergone before it’s yours. Just as your GP needs to know what ailments you’ve had in the past, it’s hard to be confident about a car’s general wellbeing if there are gaps in its service history.

Detecting anomalies in service records, and plugging them up, is vital for determining a car’s true value. Let’s explore what servicing means in the long run, and how you can rectify bad record-keeping…


A story of A to B

Vehicles need to be serviced regularly as it’s the surest method of preventing accidents and breakdowns. Any driver knows that a faulty car can warrant massive repair costs if issues aren’t nipped in the bud.

To account for maintenance, service records are stamped over the car’s lifespan, ascribing to the specific work it’s undergone to stay safe and road-ready. The record itself should come with the vehicle, usually stored in the glove compartment, although many dealerships are moving service reports online.

Garages and dealerships should update the book or vehicle status, along with relevant receipts, as soon as they finish car repairs. So make sure your records are up-to-date every time you visit your local auto centre.


How to identify a problem

Thinking of buying a second hand vehicle, and want to ensure the car service history is up to scratch? There are a few ways to spot a poor service history before it’s too late.

Check whether the car has been serviced at least once a year since it was initially purchased. Look at dates and the level of evidence that supports each record – if there are gaps big enough to fall into, then it’s probably been neglected by one or several owners.

Similarly, are there repair receipts that don’t have corresponding stamps in the service book? Some car garages are cavalier about their servicing, and may let levels of detail slip.

As a final piece of detective work, call the vehicle manufacturer and quote your car’s VIN. It’s a motor’s special fingerprint; with this information, you can often track down the full course of its journey from owner to owner.


The perils of ignorance

Refusing to acknowledge the consequences of an incomplete service report can backfire in a number of ways. Firstly, it means you aren’t sure what you’re buying. Someone could be selling you a car on the edge of a breakdown, putting you in the line of fire for imminent risk and repair charges.

On the flipside, sellers lose money on a car that hasn’t met service requirements. Some figures place this between 10-20% of the total value. That’s a hefty price for a problem that shouldn’t exist. Besides, it’ll send buyers the wrong message, even if they still miraculously find the vehicle an attractive prospect.

It really does make sense to chase up the complete picture of what a car’s been through. York Auto Centre is committed to providing a complete service record for all of our customers, taking this hassle out of your hands. By choosing us for car servicing in York, you’ll never be bereft of expert record keeping that’ll follow you, wherever you go. Call us today to book in your car service from our garage in York 01904 785742.




Choosing The Right Tyres For Your Car

car tyres york

Winter Tires stack background. Selective focus.

When keeping your wheels in good condition, you may be unsure whether your tyres are adequately prepared for the season or your driving routine. Since a sturdy, long-lasting tyre can make all the difference to the safety and performance of your car, it’s useful to take a look at what’s out there before you visit your garage, to understand the options available.

To make your decision easy, we’ve prepared a quick guide to various tyre types, so you won’t be overwhelmed when you arrive at our auto centre. Without further ado, here are a few common car tyres york to look out for:


Able to deal with varying road conditions, the all-season tyre is a safe bet for drivers who aren’t sure what they’ll encounter next. They’re designed to shake off heavy rain without much trouble, and don’t need to be replaced as often as their counterparts. Speed won’t be impeded to a vast degree, while their grooved structure provides decent grip in mild bouts of snow and ice.


That said, if the colder months bite ferociously, winter tyres are the go-to solution. Gripping the road like a tiger clutching its prey, they have a block design on the tread, improving your breaking capabilities. They’re also more elastic, adapting to winding country trails as easily as tarmac. Be careful of using them on a motorway, though – they’ll lose their grasp of hard surfaces after prolonged use.


Summer tyres are ideal for stretches of scorching sunshine on the road. They’re reliable in high-to-mid temperatures, made of a less pliable rubber compound that doesn’t reduce your speed. Summer tyres can boost your mileage and steering stability, and even lower your breaking distance. As long as the weather is dry, your car will handle remarkably well, and may even be less noisy when tearing down a carriageway.

Run Flat

Fitted to the majority of new cars coming off the production line, run flat tyres will hold their ground for a couple of miles after sustaining a puncture. That’s good news for drivers who are relatively inexperienced at changing tyres, but it comes with a caveat.

They’re very difficult to repair, and more expensive than regular tyres; in addition, your vehicle needs to be equipped with a Pressure Monitoring System, because you might not know something is wrong otherwise. Although it’s tempting to go for this option, remember that convenience comes at a price.

When choosing new tyres for your car, it’s natural to tread carefully around the various options available. As your trusted local garage, York Auto Centre can help you select the tyres that most suit you, as well as taking care of your servicing and MOT. So whether you’re looking for car servicing in York or your tyres are simply wearing thin, we’re here to help.

To find out more, book an appointment or request a price, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team.

How To Avoid Nasty Surprises At Your Next MOT

MOT in york

The MOT stirs feelings of dread that are usually reserved for a trip to the dentist. Whether your car is hot off the forecourt or is still plodding along after years of faithful service, all must face an annual inspection at an approved MOT test centre. Our fears are justified; forty percent of vehicles fail their MOT first time round.

But the annual MOT doesn’t have to be so torturous. In fact, there is plenty that owners can do themselves to reduce the possibility of a long repair bill. So if your car’s health check is just around the corner, follow our tips for a hassle-free MOT.

1. Service regularly and as advised

Servicing should take place according to the manufacturer’s instructions. However, once a year or every 10,000 miles is a good rule of thumb. If your car seems to be driving well, it’s often tempting to ignore the service light, but regular servicing has many important benefits.

Changing the oil and filter, for example, is one aspect of a service that’s known to extend a car’s life. Servicing also catches small problems, like a dirty air filter, before they become big ones.

2. Pay attention to the little things

Like a loyal pet, our cars need a little tender loving care from time to time. As always prevention is better than cure, so keeping your car in good working order throughout the year can reap rewards come MOT time.

Topping up windscreen washer reservoirs frequently will prevent wiper blades from becoming worn and ineffective, a common cause of MOT failures. Maintaining the correct pressure in your tyres will not only save you pennies on your fuel costs, but will also prevent excessive wear.

Finally, regularly checking the oil in your car is essential. Pay particular attention to the oil’s appearance, a dark murky colour and sediment indicates an oil change is needed.

3. Conduct a pre-MOT inspection

Nobody likes nasty surprises. Understanding the common causes of failures and proactively inspecting your car for them can reduce unexpected MOT woes. A staggering 33% of cars fail due to excessive tyre wear. Do your tyres have at least 1.6mm (the rim of a 20p piece) of tread over ¾ of the tyre?

One particularly trivial cause of many MOT failures is a faulty registration plate light, despite taking seconds to fix for very little money. Check all brake lights, headlights and indicators carefully before your test, as well as inspecting your windscreen for chips and cracks. Those over 10mm within the driver’s field of vision or over 40mm elsewhere will incur a fail.

Regular servicing, careful maintenance and some simple checks can help prevent many costly reasons for MOT failures here at York Auto Centre. So before you book in at our approved MOT test centre in York, follow our proactive tips to give your wheels the best chance and remember, it’ll soon be over for another year.

Time for your MOT or annual service? Give our York car garage a call on 01904 785742 today.


4 Things A Car Diagnostics Test Can Tell You


If a doctor is giving you a medical check-up, they’re unlikely to just take a look at you and say either “Fine” or “There’s an issue here.” No – they will employ a brief series of test that will gauge your health in various ways, all building towards the bigger picture.

That’s exactly what your local garage does when it carries out a diagnostics test on your car during a service. We can detect a ton of faults before maintenance work begins, and it all goes towards fixing your vehicle up to the highest standard. Here are just 4 things a car diagnostics test can tell you:

1. Emission Levels

Car manufacturers know the danger of not complying with UK emission standards, and it’s equally important for you to know your vehicle isn’t coughing out excess pollutants. The responsibility of driving a vehicle extends to being considerate of our environment and potential health risks. We can identify if and why your exhaust is working overtime, which might be due to a blocked air filter or engine damage.

2. PCM Faults

A Powertrain Control Module (PCM) is essentially your car’s frontal cortex, the intelligence behind almost every functional aspect of being on the road. If it encounters a fault, that can spell any number of future problems.

Often, the warning signs are hard to recognise, like a flashing light on your dashboard that refuses to switch off. Our diagnostics test will pinpoint if your PCM isn’t up to snuff, and what resolving the issue may entail.

3. Idle Speed Stress

If your car’s engine is running oddly when you’re idle – either too fast, too slow, or stalling now and then – it may point towards issues with your air control valve. It can overstress your engine and make your driving experience harder than it has to be. By analysing idle motor components, we can find out if this is the case, whether there’s a leak in the engine vacuum or the control solenoid itself isn’t working properly.

4. Transmission Issues

Although it’s usually quite obvious when a car’s gear system is at fault, it’s always good to pinpoint the early stages of deterioration before it starts to affect your road performance.

Perhaps your speed sensor is having trouble, or the overall transmission unit needs some maintenance. Either way, transmission problems can snowball at an astonishing rate, which is why we strongly recommend addressing these issues before they raise attention.

A passionate driver cares as much about their car’s health as its appearance – perhaps more so! Diagnostics tests have come a long distance in the last decade, allowing garages like ours to surgically pick apart what’s ailing your vehicle, and to safeguard against future problems.

As an established choice for car servicing in York, we take great pride in our car diagnostics services. For more information or to book an appointment, get in touch with your local technicians at York Auto Centre.

Keeping Your Vauxhall In Top Condition


Care and maintenance is an important consideration for any vehicle owner, yet the requirements of your car servicing schedule will depend entirely on your make and model. A Toyota, for example, is likely to have different manufacturers’ servicing recommendations to a BMW.

If you own a Vauxhall, it’s important to follow the recommended care and maintenance schedule outlined by your manufacturer, to prevent problems and ensure your car continues to perform at its best.

To help you keep your Vauxhall in top condition, we’ve got some expert tips for maintenance, repairs and servicing:

Vauxhall Repairs and Parts

When something goes wrong with your Vauxhall, you need to ensure that you source parts and accessories that are suitable for your specific vehicle. If you chose the wrong oil for your engine, for example, it could impact the performance and efficiency of your car.

Provided these items are an original equipment (OE) equivalent, they don’t need to be genuine Vauxhall parts. Aesthetic touches such as paint and body parts will look out of place if they are not OE-equivalent replacements, which makes specialist advice from an experienced Vauxhall technician a wise choice.

Car Servicing For Vauxhall

Whereas MOTs follow a basic structure for assessing the road safety of your vehicle, the level and regularity of your car servicing schedule will depend on your individual ride. For this reason, it’s vital to visit a specialist mechanic with experience working on Vauxhall models, to ensure you get the best possible care and maintenance for your needs.

Since 2003, vehicle owners are no longer required to visit a Vauxhall dealership for their servicing. As a result, visiting your local garage for a service won’t affect your warranty, providing you receive car servicing for Vauxhall that slots in with your manufacturer’s recommendations.

Bespoke Requirements

Whilst general guidelines apply for Vauxhall car servicing, the exact requirements of your vehicle will depend on the model you own. A Vauxhall Corsa, for instance, is supposed to be serviced every 20,000 miles, although this will also vary in line with the age, condition and behaviour of your car.

Regular car servicing is important for every vehicle, whether you own a brand new Zafira or an old Astra model. As a trusted choice for Vauxhall services, York Auto Centre can advise on both the regularity and extent of your car servicing requirements, based on our many years of expertise.

It’s clear that car servicing isn’t as straightforward as booking a service for your vehicle every year. To ensure you get the level of support that’s right for your drive, it’s essential to visit a reputable garage in your local area with an in-depth knowledge of both your make and model.

Looking for repairs, maintenance and Vauxhall car servicing in York? For more information or to book an appointment, call York Auto Centre on 01904 785742, or email info@yorkautocentre.co.uk and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.