Posts Tagged ‘St Helens’

After some considerable endeavour the refurbishment of our St Helens garage is now in the final stages. The exterior of the building has been repainted in red and the reception area and customer toilets are near completion. There is no doubt that red helps to make the building stand out and certainly helps motorists who might be driving along Merton Bank Road trying to find us.

St Helens Motorcare

St Helens Motorcare – now in red

The reception makeover includes new seating and a freshly tiled floor so our customers have a clean and pleasant place to wait whilst they collect their vehicles.

New seating in reception at St Helens Motorcare

New seating arrives at Motorcare

We are still open for business during the refurbishment so please feel free to call in and pay us a visit. If you are calling for your free winter check there is normally no need for an appointment – just drive in!

If you are interested in learning a bit more about the free winter check then click here .


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This is a special offer for Motorhome owners who want a reliable garage to service their beloved vehicle at a sensible price.

It is a full chassis service from only £169 and includes

Change of Engine Oil, Oil Filter, Fuel filter and Air filter.

And a thorough check of

  • Fluid levels
  • Lights
  • Steering and Suspension
  • Tyres and exhaust
  • Brakes checked and adjusted.

To enquire or to book your service please give us a call on 01744 753333.


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Some customers have asked what happens exactly when we carry out one of our Free Brake Checks. Ever happy to oblige we thought we might explain this special offer using a few photos to help.

Firstly we put the vehicle onto one of our hydraulic ramps and have a good look at the underside. Here we are trying to check for any damage or corrosion to brake pipes and hoses. In the picture below you can see that the Century Autocare mechanic is checking the pipes behind the front offside wheel.

The steering is on full lock so that we can get a good photo, even so it’s not that easy to access and it would be impossible for the average motorist to do this for themselves. Some brake pipes are routed through the car in so that inspection is virtually impossible even for ourselves. Obviously we can only check what we can see.

Checking the brake pipes at our St Helens garage

Checking the brake pipes at our St Helens garage

The next step is to remove all the wheels for a visual inspection of the calipers. The picture below shows the wheel removed and the mechanic holding the caliper. This is inspected to ensure that it has not seized and has free operation.

The brake pads are located in the caliper and these are then visually checked for wear.

A Century Autocare mechanic checks the brake calipers

A Century Autocare mechanic checks the brake calipers

These brakes are called disc brakes as the car is braked by the action of the caliper gripping on the disc. Sometimes the disc itself wears and needs replacing. The mechanic below can be seen visually inspecting the disc for signs of wear which might compromise braking.

Some older cars have drum brakes and the principle of braking is slightly different. With drum brakes the wheel and the drum itself have to be removed for a visual check of the braking components.

Checking the discs for wear

Checking the discs for wear

The next stage is to check the level and performance of the brake fluid. Many motorists think that brake fluid in the system will last forever with periodic top ups. Unfortunately this isn’t the case and brake fluid can absorb water over time which in turn can affect braking performance.

To check that your fluid is in good condition our mechanic will use this nifty little metre in the picture below. The terminals of the metre are put into the fluid in the brake reservoir. A green light tells us that the fluid is fine and has not significantly deteriorated.

Century Autocare free brake check 2011

Brake fluid pass reading

Finally, the mechanic will check the operation of the servo and master cylinder which completes the brake check. If any defects are found we then discuss these with the customer.

Century Autocare is an independent garage based in St Helens Merseyside. Brake checks and inspections are carried out free of charge and any brake repairs are undertaken by fully skilled mechanics using approved parts. A brake check  takes about 15 minutes and can normally be conducted without appointment while you wait.

Telephone 01744 753333

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Open all hours?

At Century AutoCare our official opening hours are 8.30 to 5.30 during the week and 9.30 till 1 on Saturday, but it is rarely that straight forward. Quite often you will find our doors open and lights burning at our St Helens garage well into the weekday evening. It all boils down to customer service.

Sometimes we simply have to finish a vehicle for a customer that day and rather than disappoint we take a little longer to complete the job, which inevitably takes us past our 5.30 closing time. Also many of our customers will only finish work at 5.30 and may want to collect their car at the end of day, in which case we are happy to help them by waiting a while for them to arrive.

Other times people are driving home and hoping that a garage is open to perhaps fix a bulb or top up the antifreeze. If you are one of these motorists in need and find yourself driving along Merton Bank Road one evening then please feel free to call in and see if we can assist.

Open all hours? Not quite – but nearly!

Century Autocare is an independent garage based in St Helens Merseyside

Telephone 01744 753333

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At the St Helens workshop we get many customers calling in at this time of year concerned about the anti-freeze in their vehicles cooling system. Newcomers to our garage usually ask the same three questions.

  • How do I know what the strength of the anti-freeze is and what temperature it will protect down to?
  • What is the difference between red and blue anti-freeze?
  • Can I mix various types of anti-freeze?

We can answer the questions but it is usually a lot easier (and quicker) just to carry out the free Century AutoCare winter check. It only takes about 10 minutes and tells us the strength of the existing anti freeze and what action is needed to prepare your vehicle for winter.  If you feel that you must know about such things (despite our free offer where we do it all for you) then take a look at our lovingly prepared Anti-freeze fact sheet

When we say its quick and easy  – it is. The picture below shows our mechanic using a device called a hydrometer to carry out the check. This tells us how much antifreeze is actually in the coolant and at what temperature it will freeze. It’s that simple.

century autocare mechanic checks antifreeze strength.
Hydrometer shows this antifreeze will protect to about minus 31C

We don’t know what the coming winter has in store for us  but if it is anything like last year it will almost certainly be difficult one for us motorists. Most unusually for St Helens we had some extremely cold weather with temperatures in Merseyside and West Lancashire dropping to an incredible minus 17 degrees centigrade.

It was made worse by the first spell of cold weather coming in early December which is normally a relatively mild time. It caught many motorists out.

Winter in West Lancashire - no fun for motorists
Winter in West Lancashire – no fun for motorists

These sort of temperatures place huge demands on your anti-freeze so its well worth taking a few minutes out of your busy day to call in to our garage on Merton Bank Road for your free winter check. Unfortunately once an engine freezes it can be a very expensive repair, so this is definitely a case of prevention rather than cure.

Century Autocare is an independent garage  based in St Helens Merseyside. The free winter check is carried out without any obligation whatsoever. An appointment is not always necessary.

Telephone 01744 753333

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The weather looked as if it was going to be reasonable so there was no excuse not to have a day out at the Ormskirk Motorfest. It was the first of its kind to be held in this small historic market town so it was well worth the short drive from St Helens to see what it was all about.

One of the joys of these types of event is seeing the cars of yesteryear with the proud owners in attendance. Quite often many hours of painstaking work has gone into restoring and maintaining the cars.

Morris Minor engine at Ormskirk Motorfest

If only all engines were this straightforward

A first spot was a couple of Morris Minors, one with its bonnet open displaying what must look to be a very small engine compared with modern cars. In reality it’s not just the engine size but also the lack of all the other bits of kit to be found under the bonnet of todays automobile. No complex electronics to be found here. Hence he engine compartment is very empty by todays standards and was fairly easy for the average man with a little practical knowledge to service his own vehicle.

Allard at Ormskirk Motorfest

An elderly Allard in great condition.

Another spot was a Rover 2200, not dissimilar to one we had worked on recently at Century Autocare. It was in very good condition. Both the Rover and the Minors were quite prone to rust as they lacked the modern steel coatings which protect the metal. These coatings are applied at the steel mill and make modern cars virtually corrosion free – hence the lifetime body warranties now offered by some manufacturers.

An elderly Allard was displayed in fine condition. When this old car was manufactured there would have been little in the way of corrosion protection and its condition will be purely down to the care it has received from its various owners.

Santa Pod dragster ormskirk motorfest august 2011

Santa Pod dragster - this needs a parachute to stop

At Century Autocare we have done a lot of brake testing and brake repairs over the years and  we have seen many changes. It has to be remembered that some of the cars of yesteryear were quite quick but had quite primitive braking and suspension systems compared with todays cars.

This can’t be said of the Santa Pod Dragster which was on display at the Motorfest and deploys a parachute in order to stop. Just in case you are thinking the dragster doesnt look very streamlined – it’s the bandstand in the background. It’s not part of the car.

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There used to be a steep hill coming into the city of Bath from the North. Not only was the road steep but it seemed to go on for ever.  About half way down the hill was an escape road which was effectively a 100 metre long sandpit. The rationale was of course that if a vehicle’s brakes failed on the steep and protracted descent, that the driver could elect to steer into the escape road and the sand would promptly bring the vehicle to a standstill.

Rather worryingly there were always tyre tracks in the sand suggesting that some unfortunate souls had problems with their brakes.The moral of this short tale is that brakes tend to fail most under heavy braking, In short – brakes annoyingly fail when you most need them to work.

Fortunately complete and instantaneous brake failure is relatively rare. Modern vehicles have dual circuit braking which means that if one circuit fails the other circuit is still able to operate. As the remaining circuit can only provide braking to two wheels, one front and the diagonally opposed rear wheel it isn’t perfect and is clearly only an emergency measure.

The remaining circuit will operate for as long as there is fluid remaining in the braking system, so if there is a serious loss of braking fluid the second circuit may also eventually fail, hopefully only after the car has come to standstill.

The solution to avoiding such problems is relatively straight forward and inexpensive as good garages will carry out a free brake check. This involves putting the car on a ramp and conducting a full visual inspection of the underside of the car. Corroded brake pipes and leaking braking fluid are signs that all is not well and should be addressed immediately.

Some customers are wary of asking for a “free check” as they think the garage will find all sorts of work which needs “attention” – which will be anything but free. Here its important to choose a garage that you trust to give you a honest opinion. The role of a good  mechanic is to ensure that dangerous defects are brought to the vehicle owners attention and to honestly outline what work is necessary to make the car safe.

So next time you are passing your friendly local garage and have 15 minutes to spare, call in and ask for a free brake check.

St Helens Motorcare is an independent garage based in St Helens Merseyside. Brake checks and inspections are carried out free of charge and any brake repairs are undertaken by fully skilled mechanics using approved parts. A brake check  takes about 15 minutes and can normally be conducted without appointment while you wait.

Telephone 01744 753333

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