November Motoring Column

I would like to introduce you to a new monthly motoring column.

My name is Colin Trippas and I have been running my own garage for the last 34 years.

If you want some practical motoring advice that could help you save money on what could well be your second largest asset, your car, then I think I can help

Running my own garage is not just a job to me, I am an enthusiast, in fact I only came into the trade through my interest in motor sport. When I was 18 I saw a rally in Sutton Park and was so amazed that I left Polytechnic and got an apprenticeship with a motorsport company. After a very quick learning curve I soon started competing in tarmac and forest rallies - Without doubt the quickest way I know of setting fire to £20 notes!

But it's great - The older I get the quicker I was - I must get a tea shirt with that printed on it! Oh and the advice I give out when I am watch motorsport on the TV is never ending!

Anyway over the coming months my article will be covering topics my customers ask me about every day. Together with problems we see that can be avoided with a little basic information

To start with, as this month is November, what about tips on getting through the winter


The most common cause of a vehicle breakdown - Especially in winter.

You can check a battery yourself but be careful what you test it with, cheap battery testers aren't that great. A good battery tester works by putting a large electrical load across it and then sees how it performs. If your battery is discharged when it is tested then quite often you have to charge it up first (unless it is completely dead) so be wary of someone checking it quickly and condemning it, it could be that the charging system has a problem or something electrical has been left on and flattened it.

Anti Freeze

If it hasn't been checked and your engine coolant freezes you will be pretty cheesed off. It will leave you stranded on a horrible cold winters day and could well cause expensive damage. Today's antifreeze does not need changing as often as it used to but it still needs checking, it also provides protection against corrosion all year round. You normally require a 40 to 50% mix of anti freeze & water and you can check its concentration with an anti freeze tester. These are very cheap and can be bought from car parts shops or go online & Google "antifreeze tester" You should be looking for protection down to minus 35 degrees

Winter tyres

Let us not forget that earlier this year we had snow in May! I live on a small country lane at the bottom of a dip and got completely stuck 3 separate times last winter. Winter tyres are a legal requirement in many other "cold" European countries because they work. However it's not cheap to have 4 tyres changed over and then you have to have some where to store them till its summer, though some tyre retailers will store them for you free of charge to get your business.

Certainly if you live in a rural location and you need reliable transport it must be a consideration, if you live on or close to a busy road then less so. Winter tyres are a big subject which I hope to cover in more detail at a later date.

Winter Visibility

If your wipers are frozen to your windscreen and you switch them on then something has to give. I just don't know how many motors and broken lineages we replaced last winter and these parts can be very expensive. So do yourself a favour and free them off first.

Also on visibility do you remember driving to work earlier this year and not being able to see through the screen because you couldn't clean it? Just think how pleased you will be with yourself if your washers are working and it's minus 5 outside.

Screen wash comes in two types, a concentrated version and one that is pre mixed with water, which you put in neat. Be careful what you buy because the cheaper you go the more diluted it is and it just won't give you the protection you need when it's minus 15 /20 degrees outside. I am afraid you have to read the label carefully.


That's it for this month if you've got a motoring question and would like some advice you can contact me on my face book page at