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Interested in learning more about car servicing? YMF Car Parts’ complete guide looks at what’s involved in a full car service, as well as other elements that make up this essential car-care process. 

What Types of Car Service Are There?

There are three types of car service: 

  • Interim — Designed for vehicles with high usage. They are conducted every six months and look to make sure a vehicle is capable of running properly up to its full service. Checks are not as extensive as a full service, and only very basic maintenance will be involved. 
  • Full Service — This is the most common type of service, often run annually. A much wider range of checks and replacements is completed as compared to an interim service. 
  • Major Service — A major service is run after long-term use or when breaks between servicing have stretched out. It is effectively a full service with a few added extras, which is typically additional filter replacements and fluid flushes. The same checks will be complete as a full service. 

What Does a Full Service Include?

Depending on who carries out your full car service, your vehicle could be checked against anywhere between 60 to 80 different criteria. These are often broken down into separate and distinct categories:

General and Internal Checks — A sweep of the interior looks for a variety of often non-mechanical checks. The service will assess the condition of door locks, seatbelts and electricals like headlights, brake lights and indicators. An advisory will also be made on the condition of the cabin filter. Finally, analysis software will be plugged into the car’s computer system to check for faults. At this time, the mechanic will check the dashboard display for any highlighted reports. If the issues are resolved, they will remove the instrument warnings from the dashboard. 

Engine Bay — The beating heart of your vehicle, the engine is where the most significant checks and changes take place. Full services will always involve the replacement of engine oil and the engine oil filter. Mechanics will also replace the air filter. Other direct changes include checking and topping up coolant and advising on the potential replacement of spark plugs. Replacement of spark plugs is likely to be suggested but will not be done without permission as it incurs additional costs. There will be checks for general wear-and-tear alongside oil leaks, checks to the radiator and coolant hoses, as well as advice given on antifreeze strength levels. Your belts will be checked, including the drive belt and timing belt, with recommendations given as to whether they need replacing. Final checks of the engine include monitoring the battery for problems and cleaning off any residue. 

Brakes — A complete assessment of brake condition and performance will be carried out. Brake discs and callipers will be examined, as will the brake pedal, brake lines and wheel cylinders. Mechanics will be looking out for safety problems, like weakness, damage or corrosion. The handbrake, and all its associated mechanical elements, will also be covered under these checks. The brake checks are some of the most comprehensive as part of the service, and they may also include fluid top-ups, replacements or hydraulic fluid boiling point tests.

Steering System and Suspension — Power steering systems, hydraulic fluid and pressure, the condition of road springs, rack gaiters, hoses, pipes, lines and ball bearings — all of these will be checked over during a full service. Mechanics will be looking out for issues such as corrosion, leakers or worsening conditions. Top-ups to power steering fluid will likely be made if needed. 

Wheels and Tyres Wheel conditions will be checked, including removal of the wheel to evaluate the condition behind the hub plates. Wheel balancing will also be reviewed, as well as tyre quality, tread depth and any signs of damage. 

Exhaust and Emissions — The exhaust system will be checked for signs of damage, leaks or any smoke. Diagnostic tests may also be run to examine emissions.

Fuel — Mechanics will check the condition of the external fuel system, including the filler cap and fuel lines. They’ll look for any potential wear or spots where leakage has occurred or could occur in the future. They’ll also report on whether or not a new fuel filter would be necessary. 

Drive System — A full car service will test the clutch system and gearbox, including any required fluid top-ups. There will also be checks to the driveshaft and prop shaft, as well as the transfer box and limited-slip differential. 

Vision — Full services cover checks to driver vision equipment, looking for damage or problems. The condition of the front and rear windscreen is checked, looking for cracks, chips or other visual barriers like marks or warping. Mirrors will also be looked at, as will wipers, both for their ability to function and the levels of wiper fluid available (topped up if necessary). The condition and visibility of the number plate are also checked, ensuring legal compliance. 

Why Should I Get My Car Serviced?

Cars do need to be serviced to operate properly. Cars are not designed to work out of the factory for the rest of their lives. They are designed to last only when proper care is taken of them. 

Servicing not only checks for problems but replaces old and worn-down elements with lifespans much shorter than the vehicle’s own. Servicing is used to:

  • Keep your vehicle running smoothly.
  • Make sure your car is efficient and safe.
  • Stop faults from causing breakdowns.

What Are the Advantages of Regular Car Servicing? 

By regularly servicing your vehicle, you can save money by avoiding breakdowns and surprise repairs bills. Proactive maintenance is often cheaper than reactive repairs. Your car will also last longer as servicing replaces faulty parts and reduces wear-and-tear.

One of the most valuable benefits of servicing, though, is the literal value it gives to the vehicle. Regular servicing can increase the value of resale by up to 10%. A good service history increases buyer trust in both seller and vehicle. 

How Long Should a Full Car Service Take?

A full service is a comprehensive look at a vehicle. It is expected to take longer than an MOT, at around three hours. However, some can be longer, particularly if the vehicle is old or in bad shape. 

How Often Should I Have My Car Serviced?

How long is a piece of string?

There are no set rules for how often a car should be serviced. Generally speaking, you should service a car after

  • one year has elapsed since the previous service; or
  • the car has been driven for 12 thousand miles.

These are often advisories and not set rules. Some manufacturers will advise six months between services, while others up to two years. The length of time between services all depends on usage, age and terrain. 

A 10-year-old car used 12 hours a day on rugged terrain has a different life expectancy to a brand new vehicle used on weekends for trips to the shops. 

What’s the best thing to do? Ask a professional! 

Find an honest and trustworthy mechanic and ask them at your next service how long they would recommend until your next service. They’ll be able to give you a more accurate estimate based on all the variables. 

Is Servicing Your Car a Legal Requirement?

Unlike an MOT, which is a legal requirement for any vehicle used or parked on a public road, a service is not a legal obligation. Car services are only advisory. MOTs ensure the vehicle is road legal and safe, servicing is more about improving performance and longevity. 

This means you do not need to service a car in order to insure it. 

Can I Service My Own Car?

No. This is for two reasons:

  • Car servicing requires expert knowledge of mechanics. Failure to carry out a service properly can be dangerous as you might not notice major issues. Servicing should only ever be carried out by a professional car mechanic. Servicing is not a DIY job.
  • Many modern cars have been built with or enhanced by complicated electrical systems and software. To service a car, you need compatible diagnostic tools to identify faults, assess car performance and perform any required tune-ups. This is not software private individuals have access to.

We highly recommend you do not attempt to service your own car. Take it to a professional instead. 

Professional car mechanics looking to procure parts for car servicing jobs can find all they need on the YMF Car Parts online store. Input the registration number of the vehicle you are servicing and browse our range of parts to find exactly what you need.

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Found yourself tackling tough or unsightly stains across car seats? Need to get dirt, watermarks, coffee stains, oily patches or other nasty stains out of upholstery? This quick and easy guide from our expert team of industry professionals explains all you need to know about how to remove stains from car seats. 

An Introduction to Removing Stains from Car Seats

As locations of heavy traffic — pun not intended — cars and vehicles are highly susceptible to interior upholstery stains. People are in and out of their cars all day, doing a variety of activities that can lead to stains, like taking dogs for a walk, driving to work with a coffee in the cup holder, grabbing food, picking kids up from school, etc. 

While it’s true that stains don’t impact the performance of a vehicle, they aren't particularly nice to look at and can even reduce the value of a car. The result is that car owners and professional cleaners spend a lot of time working on removing stains from car seats. 

If you’re looking to do the same, here’s how it’s done.

What Equipment Do I Need to Remove Stains from Car Seats?

As with any car-related task, the right tools for the job are essential. When removing stains from car seats, you’ll need a small selection of items. Each is as important as the last, so make sure you have everything before you start the job of removing stains.

You’ll need:

  • A vacuum
  • Microfibre cloths
  • Car upholstery cleaner.

You can buy car fabric cleaners and microfibre cloths on the YMF Car Parts online store.   

What Is the Technique for Removing Stains from Car Seats?

Step one to successfully removing stains from car seats is gathering the right equipment, the next (and final) step is simply following the perfect technique. 

Begin by vacuuming the upholstery. You’re doing this for two reasons:

  • You’re attempting to remove any potential residue within the stain that hasn’t been absorbed into the car seat fibres.
  • You’re removing any loose particles that are around the stain, such as dust, strands of hair, bits of food and so on. 

If you don’t follow this pre-treatment phase, you may end up rubbing dirt into the stain. Imagine there is a thin layer of loose dirt and residue that has settled on top of the stain. If you start spraying the area before removing this with the vacuum, you’re just spraying dirt. 

Now it’s time to spray with your upholstery cleaner. Always follow the direction of use closely:

  • Apply the spray liberally to the stained area, making sure to cover all stains and marks thoroughly. 
  • “Agitate” the area using your clean microfibre cloth. Agitation means to lightly massage the area to work the spray into the fibres and to start loosening up the stains.
  • Leave the solution to settle in. This can vary by product. Usually, the time range is anywhere between three to 20 minutes. Check the instructions of your car fabric cleaner.

Finally, you need to scrub and blot your stain. 

Should You Scrub or Blot a Car Seat Stain?

Scrubbing and blotting have two very different motions and mechanics. Scrubbing serves to drag away stains while blotting lifts them up from the fibres. You generally want to use a technique that involves both. 

First, you blot. Blotting draws out moisture and stains gently. You blot until the area is relatively dry. If you remove the stain through blotting, there is no need to scrub. If the stain is more stubborn, you can now scrub at it to dislodge any dry particles still left from the cleaning process. 

Scrubbing a wet stain can actually help it bind to the fibres of your seat more effectively, making matters worse. 

Repeat Car Seat Cleaning If Necessary 

If you’re done with blotting and scrubbing and the stain persists, repeat the entire process. Some tough stains will require multiple rounds of cleaning to remove, so do not be disheartened if the first go doesn’t provide the desired results. 

How Do I Stop Car Seats Getting Stained?

The best defence is a good offence. Don’t make it easy for stains to get into car seat fabrics. Fabric stain repellents, like our EZ Car Care Hydro Guard Fabric Protector, form a barrier on car seats that makes it much harder for dirt, oils, liquids, foods and other stain-creating substances to absorb into the fibres of the upholstery. 

All you have to do is liberally spray the upholstery and leave the fluoropolymer-based protection system to seal in for 24 hours. If there are concerns of more severe stains, you can even add additional layers, but these can only be applied after the first layer has dried at least 24 hours later. 

Why Are There White Stains on Car Seats?

White stains are an unsightly addition to interior upholstery, becoming particularly noticeable if car seats are dark in colour. Oftentimes, these white patches can appear in circular formations at seemingly random points on car seats. 

But what is causing these mystery white stains on car seats, and how do you remove them?

The white patterns come from salt, which can be deposited through sweat. If somebody is sitting in the car on a hot day, with skin-to-seat contact, the combination of moisture from sweat and salt in the sweat can settle on the car seat. The salt is absorbed into the fibres of the upholstery, resulting in white circular stains. A trip to the gym can have a similar effect. White marks on car seats may also be experienced after a trip to the beach — towels, clothes, shoes, skin, etc that are wet from salt water can also deposit salt onto car seats. 

The good news is that salt is water-soluble, so removing it from car seats isn’t going to be too difficult.

How Do You Remove Saltwater Stains from Car Seats?

Removing saltwater stains from car seats requires:

  • Some water
  • A vacuum
  • A bit of white vinegar
  • A spray bottle
  • A microfibre cloth.

The first thing to do is vacuum the stain. If it’s a long-term addition to the upholstery, this won’t do much, but if it’s new, it might just get up some of the loose salt particulates before you start. 

Next, you want to re-saturate the area with water. 

Not too wet, but damp enough to be noticeably wet to the touch. This binds the salt to the water molecules and gets it out of the fabric fibres. 

Dry off the area with a microfibre towel, repeating the previous step if you can still see any white marks. (White marks show that salt is still attached to the fibres.) Once the stain looks like a slightly damp patch without white marks, it’s time to deploy the vinegar. 

Note, don’t use the vinegar until the area is nearly dry. If the stained area is still too damp, the vinegar will be too heavily diluted to work effectively. 

Mix a solution of 1:1 water and vinegar into a spray bottle and spray the damp area. The vinegar will dissolve the salt through its acidic qualities, leaving the fibres untouched. Wait about 20 minutes before blotting up the solution with a damp cloth. 

We recommend you air out the car while the vinegar solution works its magic and a spray of upholstery cleaner to help remove the vinegar residue and get rid of the powerful odour it leaves behind. 

YMF Car Parts stocks a range of premium car seat upholstery cleaners and protection sprays. Browse our impressive, hand-picked stock collection, suitable for both at-home car care and professional car cleaning services.

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What Is Power Steering Fluid?

Power steering fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid that helps build pressure in your drive system. 

In older vehicles, turning the car wheel could be quite a physical challenge — particularly while stationary — as the driver had to heave the large mechanisms that allowed for turning using their own strength. Power steering was developed to take away the strain of turning. 

As you turn the wheel, the force you exert on it builds pressure in the hydraulic fluid system, which transfers more energy with less effort, making it much easier to control your vehicle with a light touch. Hydraulic systems are often used in other mechanical objects, like aeroplanes, making it easy for pilots to manoeuvre huge machines.  

Topping up Power Steering Fluid

There are a number of telltale signs that your power steering fluid needs topping up. Your steering may be firmer and more difficult to handle than usual. There may be a squeaking or squealing noise when you turn, or you may feel some unusual vibrations in your wheel as you drive. 

You can check the current levels of power steering fluid by accessing the reservoir under the bonnet. If low, it’s time to top up! You can easily do this yourself — this guide will go into further detail as to how. 

It’s important to note that a power steering top up is very different from replacing power steering fluid, otherwise known as “flushing”. Flushing requires the power steering fluid to be drained from the vehicle. The entire system washed out, then the new fluid is added. For those with mechanical knowledge and experience, it is possible to flush a system at home. However, it’s not an easy task and should not be carried out unless the individual performing the power steering flush knows exactly what they are doing. 

Some manufacturers will recommend you have your power steering flushed replaced (not topped up) every 60,000 miles or so. If you’ve come up to this milestone, make sure you follow the correct procedure and do not simply adding more fluid to the old. If you’re not comfortable flushing your power steering, get it done as part of your next service. 

How Much Power Steering Fluid Does My Car Need?

There is no set volume of fluid for power steering systems; each car model will have its own unique requirements. However, the identification of fluid volume can be a little tricker than you might expect. 

Many cars will have either a transparent fluid container or a dipstick. Either way, you can see your min and max volume. The difficulty here is that cold fluid has a lesser volume than warm fluid. So, once the engine has been running, the liquid will expand. 

If you were to fill your car to near max with cold fluid, it would likely spill over when warm. The best option for min/max power steering tanks is to fill above the min mark, turn the engine on (after closing the cap) and monitor how far the fluid rises after the car has warmed up. You can then add more fluid incrementally until reaching an acceptable level between min and max. 

On some vehicles, there will be a hot/cold marking, which is incredibly helpful. You simply need to fill up to the cold marking. 

Another important detail when adding and changing power steering fluid is that you should always idle your car, then turn your steering wheel full lock to both the left and right. This will ensure that all the new fluid is pumped the entire way around the power steering system. If you don’t follow this step, you may find you haven’t put in enough fluid. This step is particularly important if you are changing your power steering fluid, rather than simply topping up. 

As for how much you’ll need to buy, a one-litre bottle will be sufficient for topping up, while you’ll want about two litres for a flush. 

Where Is the Power Steering Fluid Reservoir? 

The power steering reservoir is identifiable by its filler cap, marked with the symbol of a steering wheel. This symbol may be an obvious steering wheel or a circle with two curved lines on either side. Typically, the symbol will be found on a black screw cap, with the symbol itself printed in yellow.

What If I Don’t Put in Enough Power Steering Fluid?

An insufficient amount of power steering fluid in your vehicle can lead to damage to the power steering pump. Without enough liquid, there will be an increase in friction, which increases heat damage and wear and tear. Over time, this can destroy your power steering unit, requiring expensive repairs. The cost of a power steering pump alone can be around £150-£500. Add on the extras for any damage to seals and hydraulic pipes — and the cost of labour — and you can be looking at a final bill of well over £1000.

What Happens If I Overfill My Power Steering? 

Overfilling your power steering system will not cause any direct damage to the steering system, but it can have other consequences for your car. As the power steering fluid heats up with use, it will expand. Excess fluid in the system will simply rise and leak out of the filler cap. 

This means it will get into your engine bay.

The best-case scenario here is that it creates an almighty mess. Worse scenarios include the fluid getting into your belts, which can result in them slipping and getting damaged; even destroyed. The worst thing that can happen is the fluid gets into hot elements of the engine like the exhaust manifold, causing a fire. 

How Do I Know Which Power Steering Fluid to Buy?

There are two ways to find out which kind of power steering fluid your car will need: 

  1. The easiest and quickest way is through your owner’s manual, which will contain information about the exact type of power steering fluid you need. If you cannot find this information or cannot find your owner’s manual, there is another way. 
  2. You can check under the hood for the power steering filler cap. This will also have the information about which power steering fluid you’ll need.

Another option for finding the kind of power steering fluid you need is to use the YMF Car Parts online parts checker. Enter your registration and you’ll be able to filter through all the different parts and supplies that are a match for your vehicle. 

Where to Buy Power Steering Fluid

YMF Car Parts supplies a range of steering fluids for all kinds of vehicles. Simply enter your registration and we’ll let you know if we have what you need in stock! Order quickly and easily from trusted automotive retailers — we’re industry-leading suppliers for car owners and commercial garages and mechanics. We offer free delivery on all orders over £30, or you can click and collect from one of our six local pick-up centres! 

Important Information about Your Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid is an essential element of many modern cars. Incorrect management of power steering fluid can lead to serious consequences. It can damage your vehicle, including the power steering pump and brakes, resulting in the need for major repairs ranging into the hundreds, even low thousands of pounds.  

If you are not confident you’re doing the job properly, then it’s recommended that you leave it to a professional. It may be more expensive than buying the power steering fluid yourself, but if this isn’t a job you’re comfortable in performing, it’s not worth the risk. 

Another critical consideration is thinking about why your power steering fluid is low. Over time, small amounts can leak through general wear and tear, but if it's a repeated issue, this is likely a sign of serious failure of seals and bonds inside the power steering unit that need to be replaced. 

Whatever car repairs and maintenance you’re carrying out  — from topping up or replacing power steering fluid to a bit of car detailing — YMF Car Parts stocks everything you need. With over 50 years experience, excellent customer service, free deliveries over £30, and our live chat feature (available from 8 am to 5 pm), there’s nowhere better to shop for your car products.

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Issues with a starter motor can be the result of several mechanical problems. Use our guide below to help you examine the car safely and pinpoint the issue.

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A car service can take anywhere from one to four hours to complete, depending on the type of service being conducted. Here’s everything you need to know about the three main types of services, what’s included in each, jobs you can do yourself to save some money and much more.

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