'How To' Guides

Our main priority is and always will be keeping our customers safe on the roads. We've put together a number of 'How To' video guides to help with general car problems.

From jump starting your car to baby proofing for your little one, we've covered the basics in our videos below. However if there's ever anything you're unsure of in regards to your car's health, then please do let us know. We'll talk you through it.

​How to Connect Your Smartphone to Your Car

When the moment finally comes to collect your new car, one of the first things we all want to do is connect our Smartphones. There are a few ways you can do this:

1. Use your USB Cable

If it’s a new car you’ve bought you may find there’s a built-in USB port in the stereo system. This port should fit most phones & tablets and will allow you to access the audio on your device through the stereo interface.This way, you’ll be able to choose your favourite playlist, and set off with both eyes safely on the road ahead.

2. Use your Auxiliary cable

Like the USB, this will allow you to play your music through the car stereo system, but unlike the USB option you won’t be able to control it through the car itself. You can connect to the Auxiliary port using an auxiliary cable that you can buy for a few pounds. It’s quick and easy, all you have to do it plug it in, so you can be on the road within seconds.

3. Using Bluetooth

This is the most commonly used way to connect to your car. Most new cars come with Bluetooth as standard. Make sure your phone’s Bluetooth is switched on, then select the ‘Telephone’ view on your car, press ‘Add Phone’ and then make the car discoverable. Activate tethering on your phone and then select ‘Available Bluetooth Devices’.

Select the name of your car on your phone screen, you’ll then be asked to enter a PIN code, you can enter anything you like – just make sure you can remember it!

If your phone is compatible, you’ll be asked to accept the pairing. With this option your phone will also make a sound through your car's stereo system when you receive a text or phone call. After that you’re good to go with hands-free music and calls.

What To Do If You’ve Lost Your Keys

When it comes to keeping your car keys safe and in a place you can always find them, it’s safe to say we can all be forgetful at times. Whether you’re setting off for work, or taking the kids to a sleepover, losing your keys is never convenient. So what do you do?

Your breakdown company will be able to recover your car and take it to your nearest franchised dealer. There you’ll be able to purchase a set of brand-new keys. The cost may vary by brand, but we would always recommend getting a new key and a spare at the same time. In doing this all of your previous keys will be deactivated, so you won’t have to worry about someone finding them and driving your car.

At Swansway, all of our dealerships offer a 12 month warranty with any parts purchased, so if anything were to happen, you’re always fully covered. Our trained advisors will examine the problem and come back to you with a solution. Yours and your vehicle's safety are our top priority so if you have any questions at all, please give us a call and we’ll talk you through it.

What To Do If You Break Down

Your driving can take you anywhere, whether that is a main road, motorway or country lane. Wherever you are, it’s really important to know what to do in-case your vehicle ever breaks down.

Where possible, try to gently manoeuvre your car to the side of the road or pavement.

Put your hazard lights on as well as your side lights if it’s dark or foggy.

Make sure all of your passengers are out of the vehicle, to avoid any injuries by traffic collisions, and then stand as far away from the vehicle as you can.

If you have one, put on your reflective jacket and lay out your warning triangle at least 50 yards behind your car.

Never stand in-between moving traffic and your vehicle.

Next, call your breakdown recovery service; they’ll advise you of how long it will be before they reach you.

At Swansway, all of our vehicles come with a free vehicle health check, where we will check your car and let you know of any potential problems with your car as well as how to address them.

If you have any questions at all, give your nearest dealership a call and we’ll talk you through it.

What To Do If Your Tyre Warning Light Comes On

Understanding your tyre warning light could not only help to prevent a vehicle failure, but could also potentially save you from an expensive repair bill or recovery cost.

Your tyres are a crucial component to your car, so it’s important to know what to look out for.

If your tyre warning light comes on whilst driving, pull over in a safe place, switch off your engine and check the exterior of the tyre.

Touch and feel the tyre to check how firm they are and if there are any noticeable bulges or punctures

You can find your car’s specific tyre pressures either in the handbook or inside the fuel cap.

When it comes to checking the tyre itself, run your fingers along the tread-depth bars and check that they’re at least 1.6mm deep (the legal minimum tread depth). If your tyre tread depth is less than the minimum, or you can see an underline white beading, then it’s unsafe to drive.

Driving with unsafe tyres not only puts you and your passengers at risk, but you could face a hefty fine if they’re under the legal tread depth limit.

If you notice any of the above we’d always recommend contacting your nearest dealership to have the tyres replaced.

What To Do If Your Engine Overheats

Although newer vehicles are much less likely to overheat, given the wrong set of circumstances, they still could. A lack of coolant, broken cooling fan, fan belt or even a split radiator hose can all cause your temperature gauge to skyrocket.

If your interior heater starts to blow out cool air, you see your temperature gauge rising, your warning light comes on, or you see steam rising from underneath your bonnet the chances are that your engine is getting very, very warm and you need to act quickly to minimise any lasting damage.

In this situation we would always recommend calling your breakdown service to have your car recovered.

While you wait for your breakdown service to arrive, there are a few things you can do to help your engine cool down.

  • Turn off the air con (This will decrease the load on your engine)
  • Open all of your windows
  • Turn the heater to its highest temperature and put the fans on full blast – this will help transfer the heat from the engine to the passenger compartment
  • Open your bonnet to let out all of the heat that’s trapped underneath – take great care not to touch anything and do not try to open up the radiator cap, if you do you’ll release a high-pressure mixture of steam and radiator fluid, which will cause serious burns and damage to your car.
  • What you can do, and only if you feel confident enough, is find the coolant reservoir and check to see if the coolant level is low. If it is low you can add coolant, if you don’t have any coolant then water will do. If your vehicle is completely out of coolant then it shouldn’t be driven, you could cause a lot of expensive damage if you do.

How To Jump Start Your Car

Getting into your car to find that it won’t start is never a good start to the day. But, if your car battery does ever go flat on you, it may be a lot easier to fix it than you think. 

Using jump cables, you can re-start your car with a high-voltage shock, which will get it going just enough to start re-charging the battery.

For this, you’re going to need an extra pair of hands, and an extra four wheels. The power from the other car will work to charge yours. Be sure to double check that neither vehicle is equipped with an electronic cut-off system or is an alternatively fuelled vehicle as the use of jump cables could potentially cause further damage.

Ensure that both vehicles are parked up in neutral with the hand brakes on and the engines off. Attach one of the red clips to the positive terminal of your battery – it will have either a POS, have a plus symbol on it or be much bigger than the negative terminal.

Attach the other red clip to the positive terminal of the other car. Then attach one of the black clips to the negative terminal on the other car battery. Attach the last clip to the negative terminal of your car battery.

Turn on the engine for the working vehicle and let the engine run for a couple of minutes. After that, try to start your car.

If after a few tries the jump eventually works and your car starts to run, then be sure not to switch off your engine. Drive around for at least 15 minutes to ensure that sufficient power is generated.

Although this process is designed to get your car back up and running, it’s worth noting that we wouldn’t recommend this very often and that if the problem persists you should take your vehicle to your nearest garage to be checked.

What Is Actually Under Your Bonnet?

When it comes to your car it’s important to know exactly what’s going on under your bonnet. There are a number of different tanks and containers hidden away, so having full knowledge of what’s-what could always come in handy when you need to top one up.

Firstly, let’s pop the bonnet open.

Once lifted secure in place with the rod or bonnet struts.

The screen wash has a Blue lid with a screen washing icon on. You can top this up easily with a mixture of water and screen wash.

You can use your dipstick to check the oil level of your engine. The dipstick is yellow with a loop on the end that you can put your finger through for extra grip.

Pull out the dipstick and give it a wipe and then dip it back in again. When you pull it out again you’ll see oil up to a certain point on the stick. This should be between the minimum and maximum markers, which are usually marked with little holes in the stick.

The engine cooler sits in a white circular container, a similar shape to a ball, it will have minimum and maximum markers on the side to show you how full it should be.

Finally, your brake fluid is in a white container with a warning triangle and brake disc icon on the top. Again, this will have markers on the side to show you how full it should be.

Before closing the lid on the bonnet, always make sure that all the tanks and their lids are fastened tightly, to avoid spillage, and then you are good to go.

How to Check all your exterior lights

When it comes to basic car maintenance, making sure that all your exterior lights are working should be a top priority.

Checking your exterior lights is very simple to do and you’ll just need one extra person to help you.

Have your friend stand in front of the vehicle whilst you sit in the driver’s seat.

One by one turn each of your lights on and off asking your friend to signal that they’re all working correctly.

Lights to check at the front of your car:

  • Daylight running
  • Side lights
  • Dip beams
  • Fog lights
  • Main beam
  • Left hand indicator
  • Right hand indicator
  • Hazard lights

Then do the same at the rear of the car.

Lights to check at the rear of your car:

  • Side lights
  • Fog lights
  • Left-hand indicator
  • Right-hand indicator
  • Brake light
  • Reverse light
  • Hazard warning lights

If all looks great, then you’re good-to-go, but if you notice a bulb that looks dull or blown then don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local dealership

How to baby proof your car

When it comes to baby proofing your car for your little one, things may seem a bit daunting at first.

​First things to deciding what is the right car seat for you and deciding where to place it. It is a legal requirement for cars to be fitted with something called isofix, this is a sturdy rack connected to the chassis of the car, something that many drivers may not be aware of this that the safest place to position your child seat would actually be behind the driver. If a the driver were to notice a sudden diversion or obstruction they would instinctively drive away from the danger, therefore angling the drivers side furthest away from the collision. 

Next step is to enable the child locks, a simple step but can easily be forgotten. Setting the child locks will ensure our baby does accidently wind down a window or open the door, avoiding any unwanted accidents.

Finally, make sure to keep your child entertained. Long journeys can be fine when your bundle of joy is fast asleep but you want to ensure your child is kept as happy and content as possible to avoid distracting you whilst driving. Keeping a soft teddy or toy in the boot will mean that you can keep your baby distracted until you reach the end of the journey and can pay them more attention. 

If you have any questions at all regarding baby proofing no matter which stage you're at then please do give us a call, we'll be happy to talk you through all of the best options for you.

How To Tell If Your Clutch Is Worn Or Slipping

When it comes to taking care of your car's clutch you could spend weeks learning how to diagnose each and every issue. To make things quicker, and easier, we've put together 3 simple checks you can do to make sure your clutch is working as it should.

When driving a manual car, the clutch is arguably one of the most important components, and keeping it in tip top condition should be a high priority.

Check 1: Move your foot up and down on the clutch pedal - is it engaging and disengaging properly? You should be able to feel it through your foot.

Check 2: Turn the engine on, push the clutch down, and put the car into gear. As you pull away pay attention to how smoothly your car starts to move. The transmission should be easy and efficient. If you change gear and the engine begins to shake, stick or hesitate then your clutch could be slipping. Driving in a quiet place, such as empty grounds or a clear car park, is the perfect way to test your clutch’s response.

Check 3: As you usually would, begin to drive off from first gear, paying extra-close attention to any abnormal behaviour. Carefully monitor your cars response and take your time setting off.

From a start bring your clutch up very slowly and give your car some throttle to prevent your car from stalling. When you release the clutch the car should set off very slowly. If, when you’re driving, you notice any grinding, squeaking or burning smells then it’s likely that your clutch is worn and needs to be replaced. At this point we’d recommend calling your local garage.

How To Check a Car's Battery

A car battery may be a small piece of the puzzle under the bonnet, but it’s up there with the most crucial components.

Without a properly functioning battery, the car will struggle, or even fail, to start. While they can stay in good health for a long time, they will eventually deteriorate — meaning it’s vital to keep an eye on the unit and knowing when to replace it.

How does a car battery work?

A car battery functions in a pretty similar way to any conventional cell — it’s wired up to provide power to electronic components.

In this case, the electronic component is the starter motor, which gets the car’s engine running. The engine then turns the alternator, which takes the load off the battery by powering most of the vehicle’s internal components — while also recharging the battery itself.

Why do they go flat?

Just like any battery, the one found in your car has a limited energy capacity — which will eventually run out.

If the battery is left to provide power to the car for too long without any energy return from the engine’s alternator, it will eventually go flat. Its ability to hold charge also diminishes over time — meaning it could be time for a new one if it goes flat often.

How can I check my car’s battery?

Unlike say your fuel levels and fluid temperatures, which are easy to see on a car’s instrument cluster, not many machines show a reading of the battery’s condition — so you’ll have to invest in a bit of extra equipment.

A multimeter will be able to tell you the DC voltage of the battery. As a general rule, a car battery should read no lower than 12.6V to be considered in good health — anything lower and it might be time to switch it out.

Which battery should I put in my car?

Batteries vary between cars, so don’t expect a one-rule-for-all here.

The easiest solution would be to head to an online retailer, with many offering tools to find the right battery for your car by simply entering the registration of your car.

Alternatively, you could look for an identical battery to the existing unit by its serial number.

Can I change a car battery myself?

Although we’d always recommend seeking specialist help before undertaking any mechanical task yourself, changing a battery is a fairly simple task.

Park the car on a level surface and secure it with the handbrake first, before opening the bonnet. Once the battery has been located, disconnect the negative terminal first before then unclipping the positive. The battery should then be fairly easy to lift out, ready for a new unit to be placed in.

How should I dispose of an old battery?

By law, car batteries must not be disposed alongside regular household waste.

Fortunately, many recycling centres have dedicated facilities for car batteries. Take the old unit to your nearest centre, where it can be safely and legally disposed.

We hope our How To Video Guides are helpful but if you have any further questions and would like to double check any maintenance queries with our team, just give us a call.

We'll be happy to talk you through it.

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