Category Archives: Blog

Happy Easter from Everyone at A1 Clutches

Happy Easter from Everyone at A1 Clutches

The first holiday of the year often coincides with spring-like weather and this Easter Bank Holiday weekend, the Met Office is forecasting dry sunny weather throughout. The AA Roadwatch estimates that 18 million motorists will take to the roads over the Easter weekend. Clearly, it’s not the best time to be on the road with heavy traffic and possible delays, but savvy drivers will know how to ensure that the trip is a pleasant way to start and end their holiday.

Easter Family Pic

Thorough planning is the best way to ensure that your trip is stress-free and here at A1 Clutches we have some tips that you may find useful:

• Know where you are going and plan your route carefully.

• Take snacks and drinks for the journey and keep everyone well-hydrated.

• The AA Patrol estimates that they will attend close to 80,000 breakdowns over the holiday – check that your break-down cover is up to date.

• With kids onboard, make sure that they have plenty to keep them occupied, from games to books and audio recordings and maybe that old-fashioned basic of interacting with a game of, ‘I SPY’ (excluding the driver!)

• Pack carefully and ensure that your bags and cases are secure. Loose items flapping, or rattling are very distracting and can be dangerous.

• Check your tyre pressure – you may be carrying more weight in the vehicle – this also applies to being familiar with load-carrying and towing capabilities.

• A thorough check of your tyres is advisable: check for damage, the depth of the tyre tread and the correct pressure – including the spare tyre of your vehicle or trailer. Remember, over-inflation is as bad as under-inflation.

• Motorists should check that their cooling fans are in good working order before setting out on the first long journey of the year. Corrosion from salt and dirt from surface spray during the winter months can lead to engine overheating.

• Make sure you are alert and have had a good sleep before setting out. Fatigue affects your driving ability and can seriously impair a driver so make sure that you are fully rested and take regular breaks.

• Have your seat in a comfortable position with your back properly supported and the rear-view mirror adjusted accordingly.

• Check the rubber on your windscreen wipers as they may have been damaged during the winter freeze.

• Check oil and water levels before setting out and don’t forget your vehicle’s battery.

With Easter falling late this year, routes heading out of major towns and cities can be expected to be heavier than normal with a marked increase in road usage and with fine weather predicted many coastal towns will see an increase of holidaymakers heading their way.
Easter Family Pict
If you are travelling don’t forget to book your vehicle in with A1 Clutches for a service and check-up, we offer a free courtesy car and the most competitive prices in the Midlands. All our work is guaranteed.

On behalf of the management and staff at A1 Clutches we wish everyone a very enjoyable bank holiday and safe travelling, whether you stay at home or go abroad. Happy Easter!

Happy Motor-Homing from A1 Clutches

Motorhome holidays have suddenly become cool in the UK and in the USA such vacations are experiencing a huge boom in sales following a progressive eight-year growth. It is a tempting opportunity for holidaymakers who want to see a lot in a short space of time, and enjoy the experience in the comfort of a luxury vehicle.

Today’s motorhomes have come a long way from the cramped, split windscreen VW caravanette that many of us will remember from our youth. There is now a massive selection of vehicles for you to choose from, whether renting or buying. In the past, motorhome drivers were mostly retirees but that has changed and now they are just as likely to be young families or anyone looking for a less structured holiday. A motorhome is the perfect way of exploring the countryside for a long holiday or a short break. Whether you head for the seaside or the scenic sights of the Scottish Highlands, you can enjoy the freedom of the open road and the excitement of discovering new places from the convenience of having your own home on wheels.

You may consider motor-homing in the winter months and take advantage of off-season bargain hire rates and reduced rates at campsite pitches where many sites have extended seasons or are open all year round. A motorhome can also provide an ‘extra bedroom’ when travelling to events such as anniversary parties or weddings. In the festive season, hooking up to your friends’ mains and staying the night negates the need for a taxi.

If you are fortunate and own your own motorhome, remember to keep your vehicle in good order. Being roadworthy and safe is the key to a happy holiday. A1 Clutches are the Midlands leading motor home maintenance specialists and we recommend that you follow the owner’s manual. We also recommend the following tips to ensure safe and enjoyable driving:

  • Every six months check your vehicle’s roof seal and seams. Water damage, if not taken care of immediately, is costly.
  • Check your brakes regularly. This is vital for your own safety and other road users.
  • To keep your waste water system in good condition, ensure that you use biodegradable toilet paper.
  • Before every journey, check the tyre pressures and wheel nuts.
  • When storing your vehicle for the winter, remove the battery and keep it in a warm place to prevent any possibility of freezing (which would void your warranty).
  • Check your battery before every journey – well maintained batteries should have a life span of three to four years.
  • Cover all vents with polythene and tape them up so they are secure from weather impact and unwanted insects.
  • Replace your motorhome air, fuel, coolant and hydraulic filters regularly. Expense will be incurred as a result of increased fuel usage or overheating issues with the cooling system and oxidisation in the hydraulic system.
  • Oil and filters need changing at regular intervals. This will ensure that your engine runs correctly. Failure to do this could cause your engine major damage and become very costly. Most manufacturers recommend an oil change every 3,000 to 4,500 miles, but you should check your owner’s manual for advice on your own vehicle.

Today’s motorhomes come complete with central heating and are well insulated. At the end of your day, you can come back to your home on wheels, have a lovely hot shower and relax for the evening. Whatever you are doing and wherever you travel, everyone at A1 Clutches wishes you a safe and enjoyable journey.

Happy motor-homing!

Life doesn’t come with a Manual – it comes with a Mother

Mother’s Day, or Mothering Sunday is a day to show gratitude to all the wonderful mums everywhere and has been celebrated since the 16th century. It began with a religious purpose and was originally a day to honour and give thanks to the Virgin Mary, also known as Mother Mary. In the UK, we celebrate Mother’s Day in March and that special time is just around the corner. A mum, or person who is a mother-figure, is someone who deserves to be spoilt and appreciated on their special day.

So, this year, why not do something different? Mum may be expecting flowers, chocolates or even breakfast in bed, but why not surprise her with a unique car-related gift too? Mum’s vehicle could be last on her list of priorities, but first on her list of needs. You can make her driving life more pleasant with one of these thoughtful gift options:

• Fill her tank with fuel. Mums have busy lives, so save her the chore of visiting a garage and while you are there, get the tyres checked and windscreen washer fluid topped up.

• Mums very often drive in heels, which are not ideal for driving. Consider a pair of loafers, pumps or comfortable shoes for driving. A neat pair, that she can keep in the car, slip into and drive safely.

• Have Mum’s vehicle professionally valeted. Sneak her keys and if you are insured to drive it, whisk her wheels away to the valet shop. Imagine her pleasure to see a gleaming car with an immaculate interior, complete with a lovely new air freshener. If you don’t drive, book a mobile valet service to come to her home. Job done!

• Does your Mum have a habit of getting lost? No GPS? Up to date technology may be low on the priority list in the life of a busy mum. Give her a brand-new GPS device or have one installed in her car. If you want to be cool, buy a celebrity or character voice for her device (check that the system is compatible). Imagine Mum cruising along to the dulcet tones of Sean Connery or being kept on her driving toes by an in-character performance from Arnold Schwarzenegger or having fun with Del Boy, Boycie and Uncle Albert from Only Fools & Horses. You know it makes sense.

• Make sure Mum drives in complete comfort. The gift of a fitted seat cover or cushion that supports and embraces while driving, is a luxury she may not be used to but might be something she comes to love.

• Buy an extended warranty. Save her money with this gift which will keep on protecting her vehicle and give her (and you) peace of mind for future driving years ahead.

• Mums listen to music too, so let her ride with a good vibe. Have you considered purchasing a new sound system for her car, complete with a good quality set of speakers? She’ll love you for it as she cruises the country to her favourite tunes.

Nothing says, ‘Happy Mother’s Day,’ more than spending time with the person who raised you or is the important mother-figure in your life. Home is where your mum is, wherever that may be, so treat the special person in your life and ensure that this year and every year, she has a perfect Mother’s Day.

Feel The love
Feel the love for your car this February with a Valentine’s check-up

February is the month of love and if your car is one of your biggest passions, don’t forget to care for your car. Your car doesn’t ask for much but gives a great deal back, getting you and your loved ones from A to B safely, whenever you need it. Give your car the gift of love with a Valentine’s Day check-up. Don’t let your car break your heart, look after your vehicle and it will look after you. Regular maintenance will prolong your loving relationship with your car and ensure that you don’t get left high and dry with an unexpected breakdown.

Show a little bit of extra tender loving car care during the winter months because at this time of year, especially in February (the month of love!) the weather can be chaotic with freezing temperatures, sleet, snow and icy roads which cause mayhem for motorists. Look after your cherished vehicle by checking the following:

•You don’t want to breakdown with your loved one on-board, but if you are unfortunate and this happens, make sure you’ve packed an emergency kit which will include a thick blanket to snuggle under and keep each other warm. Chocolate will give you energy and water will keep you hydrated.

• Get the oil checked and filter changed regularly – keep your engine clean and running smooth on the inside.

• Road debris, salt and snow can damage your vehicle. Keep it clean and ensure your washer jets are operational and full – a dirty windscreen can seriously endanger your visibility.

• Book a regular service to get the most out of your car’s performance. A well-tuned engine produces the lowest level of emissions and delivers the best balance of power and fuel economy.

• Your car’s tyres affect the handling and traction – make sure you check tyre pressure regulary and don’t forget the spare.

• Pot holes spring up in winter and create havoc on your car’s steering and suspension. A wheel alignment reduces tyre wear and improves fuel economy. It also increases driving pleasure and safety. Make sure you have the correct tyre tread too.

• Like your heart, your battery needs to be in peak condition. Perform a volt test on your battery to make sure that it works correctly. You don’t want to get left stranded.

A1 Clutches have the highest, fully trained, skilled technicians for clutch and gearbox replacement, repair or installation. Feel the love for your car this February by calling us to book your vehicle in for a free inspection at any of our centres in Birmingham, Cannock, Derby and Tipton.


Happy Valentine’s Day

Rally Car - A1 Clutches
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019

All the team at A1 Clutches would like to wish all our customers a very Happy New Year. There is a lot to look forward to in 2019.

The Formula season starts in Australia on the 17th March covering 21 venues including the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on the 14th July with the season’s final race in Abu Dhabi on the 1st December 10 teams are involved in this year’s championship, can anyone challenge the Mercedes Team in 2019 and prevent them winning a sixth successive title.

F1 Car

This year see the introduction of yet more rules which will result in the cars being faster per lap. The new engine regulations, address fuel saving, biometric gloves and the driver’s weight. https://www.formula1.com

If you are a rally enthusiast the 2019 WRC season opens in Monte Carlo 24-27 January covering 14 events with the British event on the 3-6 October and finishes in Australia 14-17 November. 32 drivers are involved in this year’s championship. The roads on this epic motorsport adventure are spread across more than 15 countries, with 13 rallies on everything from snow packed forest tracks to rock-strewn mountain passes.

Rally Car

Each rally features a number (typically between 15 and 25) of timed sections – known as stages – run on closed roads. Drivers battle one at a time to complete these stages as quickly as possible, with timing down to 1/10th second. Along the way, a co-driver reads detailed pace notes that explain what is coming up ahead. Competitors drive to and from each stage on public roads, observing normal traffic regulations. https://www.wrc.com

For Karting enthusiasts, the British Karting Championship (the Super One Series which was founded back in 1983) starts in Cumbria 23-24 March and finishes on the 23-25 August in Shenington. With a pedigree stretching back over 30 years Super One has been the nursery of so many top line professional motor racing drivers, too many to list but including David Coulthard, Jason Plato, Dario Franchitti, Daniel Wheldon, Anthony Davidson and of course the dream team of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton as well as team personnel at the highest level. Super One is the official British and ABkC National Championship and awards the seeded Numbers for the classes. https://superoneseries.com

Chequred Flag

Autosport International is Europe’s largest indoor pre-season motorsport event and will be celebrating its 29th anniversary between 10th-13th January 2019 at the NEC in Birmingham. The show is unique in that it encompasses two trade-only days and also two days for the general public.

Featuring the very latest in motorsport, automotive and performance engineering technology, alongside cars and exhibitors from every level of motor racing, the show provides the perfect platform for members of the industry to meet, network and do business as well as enthusiasts to see the fastest cars, biggest stars and most amazing live action. If you want to visit the show you will find full details at: http://www.autosportinternational.com/about-the-show/ticket-information.

Drink Driving

Christmas is coming and the next few days may pass in a haze of socialising with friends, office parties and festive meals. If you drive, don’t take any chances. Annually, one in six deaths on the road involve drivers who are over the legal alcohol limit and on average, three thousand people are seriously injured or killed in drink-driving collisions.

In the UK, it is illegal to drive when drunk.

The law surrounding drink-driving offences can appear to be complicated. Variables can contribute to the alcohol in your system which may impair your ability to drive safely. Weight, metabolism, age, sex and even what food you’ve eaten that day and your stress levels can all make a difference.

So, what is the Drink-Driving law in the UK? In England and Wales, the law states that a driver can have no more than 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood and 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath. In Scotland, things are different and the limit has been reduced to 50 milligrams of alcohol in every 100 millilitres of blood and 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

The consequences of being over the limit are serious and may be life-changing if you cause a death or injury by careless driving whilst under the influence. You may receive a driving ban, a heavy fine or even find yourself incarcerated in prison. Your insurance will be affected in a negative way and you may struggle to get cover. There are strict penalties if you are caught over the limit and if you are banned by a UK court, you cannot drive anywhere.

Christmas will see the annual series of powerful and often shocking adverts aimed at stopping drivers from having a drink before they get behind the wheel of their vehicle. Despite such campaigns, around a hundred thousand drivers lose their licence each year because they’ve been caught while driving over the legal limit. You may think that just the one won’t make a difference but it is best not to take any chances if you’re driving. It’s just not worth it.

Remember too that you can still be over the limit the morning after the night before. Even if you’ve had a good night’s sleep in between drinking, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the alcohol will have left your system. You may not be safe to drive to work. NHS Choices suggest the following as a guide:

•One hour for the alcohol to be absorbed
•One hour for each unit consumed

What is a unit? Alcohol is measured in units and be careful because they can add up, especially if free-pouring with friends. For example:

A single shot of spirit (e.g. whisky) is one unit
A pint of beer is two units
A 250ml glass of wine is four units
A pint of cider is three units

Even if you feel perfectly sober, just one drink can make you less safe behind the wheel. Alcohol reduces reaction times and increases a false sense of confidence leading to risk taking. Having a drink may make you feel drowsy and reduce your vision and skill in judging speed and distance.

Our police are extra vigilant at Christmas and watch the roads carefully. If you don’t want to get caught drink-driving, stay off the booze and use a taxi or find a designated driver. Don’t let one stupid mistake impact harmfully on your life for years.

Keep safe and let sober drivers do the driving this Christmas.

Wet Weather Driving

It’s the time of year when we face months of precarious driving conditions with wind, rain and often, sleet raging through the darker days. Heavy rain and flooding can cause problems for motorists and it is wise to know how to cope when faced with a journey that encounters these situations.
Wet-Weather-1

Be prepared for wet weather:
Check the weather forecast and road condition updates before you travel and if you must set off, plan your journey.
• Ensure that your breakdown cover is up to date and available.
• Fully charge your mobile phone.
• Allow extra time for potential congestion and travelling at slower speeds.
• Tell your friends and family what route you are taking and your estimated time of arrival.
• Tune your radio and listen to local news detailing weather conditions, road closures and hold-ups.

Having a well-maintained vehicle will help you to be as safe as possible when driving in a wet environment. It is wise to check that the wiper blades work correctly, both front and back. If not, replace them. Do make sure that you have a full tank of fuel as traffic delays will increase fuel consumption. Check that your headlights, tail lights and brake lights are all working correctly.

Wet-Weather-2

When driving in wet weather, remember these useful points:

• Keep your air-con on to stop windows misting. In a car without AC you may need to keep your side windows open slightly to get the air circulating.
• Slow down – driving fast through deep water can cause expensive damage to your vehicle which can’t grip the road as firmly as it can in dry conditions.
• If driving on a motorway, stay towards the middle lanes as water tends to pool on the outside lanes.
• Avoid the use of rear fog lights which can dazzle drivers behind you and mask your brake lights.
• Don’t follow trucks or buses. Try to keep away from fast-moving, large vehicles that create heavy spray and reduce visibility.
• Double your stopping distance. The Highway Code states that in wet weather it is wise to allow for stopping distance that is double what is required on a dry road. If you drive too close to the vehicle in front you may crash if they brake suddenly. Ensure that you can stop in time.
• If your tyres feel light, you may be aquaplaning. Don’t brake, but slow down until you gain full control of the steering again.
• Don’t attempt to restart your vehicle if it cuts out after driving through deep water as this may harm the engine. Turn on the hazard warning lights and call for assistance.
• Dip your headlights so that you can be seen more easily by oncoming cars.
• If you drive through deep water, test your brakes. By driving very slowly and braking lightly you will generate enough heat to dry them out.

Flash floods can occur in minutes. Avoid the area if possible as floodwaters can be fast and contain moving debris. Take great care when driving on a road or bridge that has been recently flooded as it may be damaged or still drying out, especially in rural areas.

If you are unfortunate and breakdown in torrential and severe weather, keep the bonnet of the car closed while waiting for recovery. Damp creates problems with the engine and electrical systems, especially in older vehicles. For advise or to get your vehicle checked over contact A1 Clutches today we have branches in Birmingham, Cannock, Derby and Tipton.

Overcome winter worries when your car won’t start

As winter kicks in, colder mornings make it difficult to rise and get going and the same might apply to your car. Here are a few preventative tips that could enable you to avoid calling for help, should you find yourself in the unfortunate position of not being  able to start your vehicle when the temperature drops.

So, your car won’t start? Don’t panic.

Check the basics? This seems elementary, but we all have dipsy spells.

  • If your car is an automatic, make sure it is in park. If a manual, is the clutch pressed far enough?
  • Have you got fuel?
  • Did you fasten your seat belt? Some newer models won’t start when the seat belt is undone.

Have you turned everything off? Give the car’s battery a chance.

  • Turn the heating off.
  • Keep the doors shut to disable the overhead lighting.
  • Ensure the lights, tech chargers and stereo are all off.
  • Turn off the heated seats if you have them.

Any signs of life? Check the battery.

  • If the dashboard lights are on, there is still life in the battery.
  • Is the engine turning? Don’t force it for longer than 10 seconds as this reduces the chances of starting.
  • If anything shows signs of life, such as the wipers or radio, the battery may not be completely dead and it could be a different problem.
  • If the battery won’t turn the engine over, it is discharged and you will need to jump-start or replace the battery.
  • Batteries fail due to age or wear. Have a look. If the battery appears damaged or corroded or is leaking, it needs to be changed.

Battery working? The problem may be your starter; this is a small motor that draws electrical current from the battery to start the engine.

  • Is there a clicking noise when you turn the key?
  • Is there a loose connection?
  • Try jump-starting the vehicle, worth a try but no guarantee.

Problems with your fuel pump? If your car can’t pump to fuel the engine, it won’t start. Warning signs might be:

  • Has your car jerked at speed?
  • Suffered a sudden loss of power or reduced fuel economy?

The vehicle needs mechanical attention. Also, ensure you never run low on fuel as this can age the fuel pump quickly.

If you have a problem starting your car, especially in the winter months, contact a specialist such as A1 Clutches, who supply and fit batteries for all makes and models of vehicles and will carry out a free inspection of your vehicle.

Bonfire
Enjoy Bonfire Night Safely

Fireworks

The number one aim of A1 Clutches is to ensure our customers are safe on the roads all year round, we are fast approaching bonfire night a time when we must all stay safe while enjoying the celebration of Guy Fawkes with bonfires and fireworks. Guy Fawkes was a member of a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

We should all enjoy watching our fireworks display from a safe distance and always follow the safety rules for using sparklers. Adults only should be responsible for the lighting of fireworks and the safe disposal of fireworks once they have been lit and are dead.

Bonfire

Firework display are a great event for all the family to enjoy as well as the very colourful displays you can enjoy the bonfire food which very often consists of jacket potatoes, soup, burgers and parkin, a sticky cake containing a mix of oatmeal, ginger, treacle and syrup. Sweets include toffee apples, toasted marshmallows and treacle toffee which is a big favourite on bonfire night.

Please read our 8 tips for keeping safe this bonfire night:

  1. If you are building a bonfire make sure the site is well away from any danger, when lighting your bonfire do not use flammable liquids, once lit make sure your bonfire is stable and that everyone stands well back from the open fire and that children are supervised throughout the night.
  2. At the end of your celebrations and when your bonfire is dying down pour water on the embers before leaving the site.
  3. Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114 and only from reputable retailers.
    Fireworks
  4. Fireworks are a thing of beauty but they are also very dangerous and should be kept in a closed metal box at all times and only be lit by a responsible adult, fireworks should be set off one at a time, never allow children to be near fireworks. Before lighting the firework read the instructions carefully use a torch to help you see the instructions never ever try to read the instructions near a naked flame, light your firework at arms length using a taper then stand well back.
  5. Do not go back to a firework once it has been lit.
  6. Point your rockets well away from your group.
  7. Sparklers must be held at arms length and always wear gloves, never allow children under the age of 5 to hold sparklers. Did you know that three sparklers burning together at the same time can generate as much heat as a blowtorch. Once your sparkler has burnt out put it in a bucket of water.
  8. Keep your pets indoors

Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/fireworks-the-law

Save

Autumn can be deadly for drivers and deer

The Deer Initiative warns that autumn is a high-risk time for motorists.It is the mating season known as The Rut, which increases activity and brings deer out and onto our roads. Triggered by shorter day-length sand darker evenings, there is an increased risk of animals running into a line of oncoming traffic.Deer are more mobile during the hours between sunset and midnight and just after sunrise,times which coincide with the morning and evening rush hour, creating danger for both driver and animal.

Deer

Highways, England are working with The Deer Initiative to heighten awareness of collisions between vehicles and animals and both strongly recommend that drivers take more care during rutting season when it is estimated that,in the last year, up to 20 deaths and 400 injuries resulted from 74,000 deer-related accidents across the UK.

Deer On Highways

With around two million deer living wild in the UK, ensure that you stay safe this autumn by considering the following points:

  • Wildlife is unpredictable, try not to suddenly swerve to avoid a deer. The consequences of hitting an obstacle or oncoming traffic may be worse.
  • Stay alert, more deer may follow the first.
  • Slowing down gives you more time to break if an animal darts into the road.
  • In heavily wooded stretches of road, look out for deer warning signs and check your speed.
  • If you must stop, use your hazard warning lights.
  • Don’t approach live deer, they may hurt you or run across traffic causing another accident.

Considerable damage may be done to a vehicle in a collision with a deer and drivers and passengers could be injured. Reduce the risk of a potentially life threatening incident by remembering how to act as the nights draw in and ensure that you stay safe when driving in the dark this autumn.