Motorcycle Maintenance You Can Do Yourself

Saving money on maintenance if you own a motorcycle is always a good idea. Fortunately, there are some tasks you can carry out quite easily yourself rather than finding a mechanic to do it for you.

These will prevent your bike from niggles and other problems over time and ensure you spend less at the garage in future.
Here are some of our favourite DIY tips for motorcycle owners of all ages.

1. Warm-Up First

Most experienced motorcyclists know this tip and practice it properly. When your bike has been sat for a while and cooled down, the engine oil sinks to the bottom of the sump.

You should never start your bike and immediately begin revving the engine. Instead, let the engine idle for about 30 seconds to a minute so that the oil can heat up and begin to flow, lubricating the various motor parts.

2. Tyres

As with cars, tyre pressure and tread are important on a motorcycle and it’s a good idea to check things out every so often.

You should have a manual that tells you what the right pressure is but you also need to check for general damage such as wear and tear. Two tyres are more hazardous than four so even minor problems can cause safety issues for bikers. Here’s how to check your tyre tread:

3. Check the Chain

The bike chain is an integral part of your motorcycles machinery and it needs to be just right – neither too loose nor too tight.

The simplest way to check is to find the lowest part of the chain and lift it with your fingers. Any give of about 1.5 inches is about right. At the same time, check that the chain is lubricated properly.

How to adjust your motorbike chain.

4. Liquids and Lubrication

Motorcycles have all sorts of liquids to lubricate the engine parts, wheels and chains. There are reservoirs in different places so check your motorbike manual to find out where these are so you can keep levels topped up.

5. Light Checks

It’s illegal to ride your bike if the lights aren’t working properly. You can easily check these before you head out onto the road, including your brake and front beam as well as indicators.

If a police car stops you for not having working lights, you can get an on the spot fine. Lights are fairly simple to replace on most models and they don’t cost very much.

6. Motorcycle Brakes

Again, similar to cars, brake pads can wear down and make your bike less safe on the road. You should check the brake fluid as well as the pads to ensure everything is working efficiently.

7. Changing Air Filters

Air filters maintain a steady flow around your engine and improve efficiency. When they become dirty and clogged, it’s time to replace or clean them.

This might seem complicated but it’s relatively easy even for a novice. Filters themselves are not too expensive and it’s less costly than getting a garage to do it for you.

8. Check the Nuts and Bolts

Finally, most motorcycles have several nuts and bolts and these can sometimes come loose. This maintenance routine is essential but also very easy – all you need to do is put your bike up on it’s stand and test the wheel nuts, the side panels and anywhere else you see a nut, tightening those that are a little loose.

Does Your Classic Car Need an MOT?

There was good news in 2018 when the MOT rules were rehashed and it turned out that classic cars older than 40 years didn’t need an annual certificate.

As with many things to do with rules and regulations on the road, however, it’s a little more complicated with several caveats than many classic car owners were slow to realise.

There was also some doubt among classic car enthusiasts and groups themselves that changing the regulations in this way could lead to less safe cars on the road.

Here at White’s Bodyworks, it’s one of the questions we get asked quite a lot by our customers who own classic cars or are thinking of buying one.

To help, here’s our quick guide on the MOT rule changes and who is and isn’t included.

What is the New Regulation?

If you have a vintage vehicle that was registered more than 40 years ago, you do not need to have an annual MOT undertaken. Taking today’s date, that means any car first registered before 4th January 1981 should be exempt.

Sounds simple? Well, not entirely. Once you dig into the legislation there is a lot more to this rule than many people think.

What Are the Exceptions?

The first major exception concerns body and engine modifications. In short, if your classic car has been substantially changed within the last 30 years, then you still need to get an annual MOT. Changes related to the chassis, monocoque bodyshells, axles and running gear, and the engine.

The government issued more detailed guidelines which can be found here.

There are also a lot of different subclauses within the exceptions. For example, if substantial changes were made to preserve the car where original parts weren’t available, then you don’t need an annual MOT.

Vehicles that are used commercially and which are over 40 years old (such as trucks and buses), will not be exempt from regular MOT testing.

If you have a car with a Q registration or a kit car, they will still need to be tested. If you are taxed as a historic vehicle, however, this exemption doesn’t apply.

If this sounds pretty confusing, you’re not alone.

It’s why we get so many queries from classic car owners. Also, some cars that were previously exempt from having an MOT may now need one. If you have a car that was registered before 1960, you wouldn’t previously have had to take an MOT.

Now, if that car has had substantial changes undertaken in the last 30 years, you will.

The long and short of it is that, if you are planning to exempt yourself from an MOT, make sure you fully check the rules to make sure you are on the right side of the law.

Registering as a VHI

You can’t just say that you are exempt from having an MOT (assuming you’ve figured out if the rule applies to your car or not). You will need to register as a Vehicle of Historic Interest or VHI. For this, you will need to obtain a V112 declaration form.

What Else?

You are still responsible for maintaining your classic car and ensuring that it is safe to hit the road. If you get stopped by the police and your car has a major defect that makes it unroadworthy, you are liable and you could be fined and have points deducted from your licence.

You can still opt to undertake an MOT at your local garage and this is always the safest way to ensure safety on the road. It’s also a good idea if you are not completely sure that you meet the eligibility criteria under the new rules.

If you are a classic car owner, it makes sense to work with a garage you can trust. At White’s Bodyworks, we have several decades of experience delivering high-quality repairs, servicing and MOTs as well as restoration services for customers across the Home Counties.

Based in West Sussex, our garage is fully equipped and our trained mechanics are specialists in classic cars. Contact us today to find out more.

How Can I Improve the Fuel Efficiency of my Classic Car?

While modern cars have all sorts of technology and systems that help improve fuel efficiency, classic cars generally don’t. The truth is that some older vehicles can be real gas guzzlers and that can add a huge premium on your running costs.

So what can you do? Well, there are quite a few things that boost fuel performance which are low cost and easy to achieve. Here, are some of the tips our team at White’s Bodyworks in East Sussex managed to come up with:

Drive More Often

Classic cars are sometimes left for special occasions which means that they don’t get driven very often. This can mean parts get seized up and the engine works less efficiently.

Get into the habit of taking your much-loved vehicle out regularly and turning the engine over and you should see a slight but perceptible improvement in fuel efficiency.

Regular Servicing

As with any car, good maintenance is key to better fuel efficiency. For classic cars, regular servicing is key to not only spotting potential problems but for keeping everything running smoothly.

Cleaning or replacing the spark plugs, replacing oil and air filters and checking the suspension are just a few things you can do to help keep your car in tip-top condition. A wheel alignment check can also make a difference.

Getting Your Car Engine Tuned

Particularly for classic cars, an engine tune-up is vital for efficient operation and extending the lifespan of your vehicle. This goes a little deeper than your average service and includes things like tuning and balancing that carburettor, converting your car to electronic ignition and replacing worn parts.

Classic car engine tuning needs to be carried out by qualified mechanics such as the team at White’s Bodyworks in West Sussex.

Car Modifications

For many, this can defeat the object of buying a classic car but modifying the engine and updating components to more modern ones can certainly improve fuel efficiency.

Unless you are a qualified mechanic, however, you should do this working with your local garage to ensure that what you are doing is both possible and safe to do.

Check the Tyres

There are also some simple things you can do yourself without visiting your local garage. The first of these is ensuring that your tyres are inflated properly, something which reduces rolling resistance on the road and means your engine doesn’t have to work so hard.

Properly inflated wheels also increases the lifespan of your tyre tread, saving you a little extra money.

Drive Smooth

How we drive also affects fuel efficiency. Simply put, going too fast or accelerating too quickly burns more fuel. Getting into the habit of accelerating gradually works better and avoiding sudden braking can make a small but significant difference to fuel economy.

Fuel Treatments

Adding a fuel treatment to your petrol tank can also improve efficiency but is worthwhile talking this through with your garage before you do it with your classic car. Deposits can build up in the fuel tank over time and additives such as BG44K are specially designed to break these down.

Have Less Load

Finally, one simple way to improve fuel efficiency is to have a lighter vehicle. Our simple tip is don’t overload the boot if you want more miles per gallon.

If you want to improve the fuel efficiency of your classic car, why not contact our specialist team at White’s Bodyworks in East Sussex for some specialist advice?

4 Things You May Not Know About Your Car Tyres

Considering the amount of pounding they take on the road, our tyres are amazing inventions. They’re also one of the most ignored parts of the car when it comes to health and safety on the road.

Under-inflation and worn treads are just a couple of the problems found when the police stop cars around the UK.

At White’s Bodyworks in West Sussex, we carry out 100s of services and MOTs every month. One of the biggest causes of MOT failure is that one or two tyres are not fit for purpose.

A car with a worn tread is less easy to control on wet or icy roads. It can certainly lead to more accidents and even fatalities.

1. Poor Tyres Can Cost You Money

If you are not concerned about your safety when driving around a car with worn treads then you might like to consider the financial cost.

If you are stopped by the police you can end up with 3 points automatically added to your licence. You can also be fined anywhere up to £2,500. That’s not for the whole car, that’s PER tyre.

If you happen to have 4 worn tyres, you could end up losing your licence and paying £10,000.

2. And Even More Money!

Your tyres must be properly inflated. It’s not only a safety issue but an efficiency one. Tyres that are just 6 PSI below the recommended can mean you use up to 3% more fuel to get to your destination.

According to some sources, over half of the cars on the road have a tyre pressure that is 4% below the right inflation level.

There’s a simple way to address this and that’s to check your tyre pressure regularly and get into the habit of topping it up. You can buy small units that plug into the cigarette lighter to check your pressure and reinflate or you could simply visit your local petrol station.

Particularly if you are always on the road, poorly inflated tyres add up. If you use a full tank every day for work, for example, that can waste around upwards of £50 a month.

3. Causing Injury and Death

According to Tyre Safe, defective tyres cause around 1,200 road casualties each year. When you realise how easy it is to check your tyres and ensure they are safe, these are all largely avoidable accidents.

It literally takes just a few minutes to check your tyre tread with a 20 pence piece. Don’t know what this is? Check out the video below:

If you find that your car tyres need changing, do so immediately. Standard tyres can be fitted for as little as £50 and doing so may well change more lives. A tyre change can be done while you wait.

4. Most Common Cause of MOT Failure

We can attest to this fact. More than 2 million cars each year fail their MOT because of defects to the tyres.

Again, there’s an easy way to address this problem – before your MOT, you can check your tyres, make sure the tread is legal and add some air if needed. It will take you 15 minutes top and will prevent, at least in part, you failing your test.

It’s time we all paid more attention to our tyres. If you’ve ever aquaplaned during wet weather or found your car sliding on an icy surface, you’ll know how challenging retaining control can be. Simple, regular checks are all that it takes.

If you are looking for a local garage in West Sussex that you can rely on, White’s Bodyworks provides a comprehensive service, including servicing and MOT. If you would like to book your car in for an MOT, contact our expert, friendly team today.

How Often Should My Classic Car Be Serviced?

Every car needs a yearly service to check that it’s running okay, topping up things like the oil, replacing wipers and brake pads as well as spotting any potential problems. In many cases, this is done once a year when you have your MOT.

If your classic car is over 40 years, you are now exempt from needing an MOT if there have been no major changes (for example, to the engine or chassis) in the last 30 years. You do need to by law, however, ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy.

For classic car owners, the age of the vehicle often means that there are more niggles and minor stuff that can go wrong. Car manufacturers recommend that a normal car should be serviced every 12,000 miles. For a classic, you may want to consider having a service every 3,000 miles.

The Benefits of Servicing Your Classic Car

There are generally two types of classic car owner. They either love classics and it’s a hobby that they just want to indulge in or they have bought their car because they want to sell it for a profit later.

At White’s bodyworks in West Sussex, we see both kinds of owners but the benefits of more regular servicing are the same:

1. Protect Your Investment

Whatever your reason for owning a classic car, that last thing you want is for it to depreciate. Having a more regular service than with a normal car ensures that your vehicle remains in tip-top condition, should you wish to sell it at a later date.

2. It Saves You Money in the Long Run

Fixing a classic car if something goes wrong often works out more expensive than with a newish one. It’s not just about sourcing the right parts but getting hold of a garage that has the right expertise. Leaving major problems and doing nothing about them can lead eventually to a big price tag.

The good thing about a regular service is that it will help spot issues before they become too expensive so you have the option to do something about them quickly.

Check out the most common problems that classic cars suffer from.

3. It Improves Car Performance

Some classics can be unreliable for a variety of reasons. Others need to be fine-tuned. Regular servicing means that your car operates to its optimum, giving you a smoother and more enjoyable ride.

4. It Gets Your Car in Front of the Experts

Getting a service through a classic car expert garage like White’s Bodyworks means you have complete peace of mind that the team you have chosen people who know what they are doing. Classic car owners are quite rightly precious about their vehicles. The rarer your car is, the more important it is.

5. You Stay Safe on the Road

Finally, your car must be roadworthy. Servicing more often means that you can be confident that you’re not likely to cause a hazard on the road or get fined when are stopped by the police because something is seriously wrong.

What Happens During a Service?

When we talk about having a regular service for your classic car every 3,000 miles, owners need to take into account the different types of service available. Essentially, there are basic, full and major service levels.

In a basic service, the mechanic will do an oil and filter change, undertake a visual inspection and check 35 key components such as brakes and wipers. In the full service, there are a few more key components checked. A major service will really get under the bonnet and examine your car from top to bottom, including components like spark plugs and brake fluid.

You may, for example, want a full service once a year, a basic service in between and perhaps leave a major service if you think there is an issue with your vehicle.

Where to Service Your Classic Car in West Sussex

When you are organising a garage to handle the servicing of your classic car, it can be challenging to find the right team. Most garages don’t have deep expertise in this area. They may understand car parts and older vehicles, but won’t have a whole lot of experience.

At White’s Bodyworks in West Sussex, we have a talented team and nearly 30 years’ classic car success behind us. We’ve handled a large range of vintage vehicles over the years, from Austin Healeys and Sunbeam Alpines to Morris Minors and even the odd Bentley.

We’ve grown our reputation over the years and have classic car owners from all around the UK coming to us for advice and high-quality repairs, restorations and servicing and MOTs.

Check out our portfolio of classic cars here.

Our fully equipped garage in West Sussex is perfect for classic car owners, whatever they need. We carry out regular servicing for a range of vintage vehicles and are always on hand to give sound and sensible advice based on our experience.

If you would like to find out more, visit our main website today.

What Is Checked During an MOT?

There’s not a car owner in the UK who, at some point, hasn’t dreaded gong for their MOT. Especially if you have an older vehicle, the chances of something go wrong increase with age and mileage. Some of the faults cause you to fail your MOT are minor and easily rectified, others can be more serious.

Here we look at what happens with an MOT and how to make sure you pass.

What Does the MOT Test For?

The MOT was introduced in 1960 as more cars began to hit the road and the government wanted to have a standard for safety. The purpose of this test is not to repair faults but to find out if your vehicle is roadworthy.

The MOT was upgraded in 2018 and made a bit tougher. The test looks at various things including:

  • Your seats and seatbelts are working properly.
  • Your lights all operate, including beams, stop lights, indicators and fog.
  • Your steering and suspension are fit for driving.
  • Your wipers are in good condition and the washer bottle if full.
  • Your windscreen is clear and isn’t damaged.
  • Your emergency horn works.
  • Your fuel system is operating properly.
  • Emissions are within EU standards
  • The bodywork is in suitable condition (for example, not rusting away).
  • The doors open, close and lock properly.
  • Your mirrors are clean and work.
  • Your wheels are in good condition and the tyres have deep enough tread.
  • Your brakes work.

Around 1.5 million cars fail their MOT each year and it’s usually for minor things. Defects are classed as either dangerous, major or minor. If you have a minor fault you can put this right yourself and you do not fail.

If you have a dangerous or major fault, however, you must repair this or put it right before you can take your test, pass and drive again. As long as you get your car fixed within 5 days, you can usually have the retest for free.

What Are the Most Common MOT Failures?

By far the most common reasons that cars fail their MOT are lights that are not working, issues with the suspension and brakes and tyres with not enough tread.

You can either choose to put the faults right yourself and retest for your MOT certificate or you can get your mechanic to do it for you. People often combine a service with their MOT to save time and put small issues right.

Technically, you can drive your car if you have failed your MOT and the date has not expired. If you have a dangerous or severe fault, however, if stopped you can be fined and prosecuted.

Are Classic Cars Exempt From an MOT?

One question we often get asked at White’s Bodyworks in Sussex is whether classic cars are exempt or not. The rules changed on this not so long ago. If your vehicle is over 40 years old and has not had major parts replaced such as the chassis or engine in the last 30 years, then you are exempt from the MOT.

Even if you are exempt, however, you have a legal duty of care to maintain your car and ensure you are roadworthy. If you don’t, and you are stopped by the police, you could be fined and prosecuted.

Find out more here.

How to Make Sure Your Car Passes its MOT

The first step to passing your MOT is maintaining your car properly. Carrying out regular checks of areas such as the tyres and your lights are relatively easy to do. A yearly service is also a good option as it can help identify any problems and put them right before they get worse.

Before you go for your MOT, check oil and coolant levels, make sure your windscreen wipers are in good condition and check your tyre pressure and tread as a bare minimum.

Where Can I Get My MOT in West Sussex?

There are plenty of garages around the West Sussex area and many of them provide MOT and services. At White’s Bodyworks, we have nearly a 30-year history of providing high-quality repairs, restorations, resprays and MOTs and servicing.

Our trained mechanics and our state of the art facilities, mean we can handle any make or any age of car, van or motorcycle. We realise you want to get your MOT over and done with the minimum of fuss. The good news is we can handle all possible repairs onsite. We’re also passionate about classic and older cars and have a great reputation for restoration and repairs in the local area.

If you are planning to book your car in for an MOT and service, contact our expert team today.

How Do I Make Sure My Car is Ready for Winter?

There’s no doubt that the winter can take a toll on cars and vans of all makes and models. Particularly if you have an older vehicle, however, preparing well for the colder months and doing regular checks can save a lot of hassle.

The team at White’s Bodyworks in West Sussex have been getting together their list of ways to make sure your car gets through the winter with little or no problem. Most of these tips here are simple things you can do yourself and should make a big difference.

Check Your Tyres

One of the big issues that we see with cars during the winter is the state of the tyres. When the roads get icy and perhaps we have a bit of snowfall, you naturally expect your grip on the road to be a little reduced. It can be dangerous if your tread isn’t deep enough and may even cause an accident.

There’s a simple way to check the tread of your tyres. Take a 20 pence piece and place it in the grooves. The edge of the coin is roughly 2mm so if you can’t see this your tyre is fine. If you can, it’s worth getting down to the garage to have the tyre swapped for a new one.

The other thing you should also check on regularly is that you have enough tyre pressure. You can do this at your local petrol station or, better still, invest in a portable tyre pressure kit.

Top Up the Oil

Another issue we see with cars of all ages is oil levels that are too low. This is something of a blind spot for modern motorists, though we’re not sure why.
The oil is there to help your car engine work properly and lubricate the parts. Lack of oil means those parts start grating against each other, causing wearing which may then lead to a breakdown. If your oil has fallen below the minimum level, top it up to avoid the potential for problems over the winter.

Fill Up the Screen Wash and Check the Wipers

Travelling during the winter can cause all sorts of issues, not least making the windscreen dirty. There are two things you need to take a look at here. The first is whether your screen wash, which is located under the bonnet, needs replenishing. The last thing you want to be is in a storm and unable to clear the dirt from your windscreen.

The other thing to look at is the state of your windscreen wipers. Put them on and see if they are doing their job properly or check the rubber to make sure it is not torn or worn down. If your wipers are leaving smears, it’s relatively cheap and easy to swap them over.

Check the Lights

Most people don’t realise they can be fined if their lights aren’t working properly. With the nights drawing in and some poor visibility conditions around, making sure your lights operate not only keeps you safe but other road users too.

This is another simple job you should undertake regularly. Simply get someone one to check the outside of your car as you turn on the various lights (don’t forget the fog lights). Bulbs are fairly cheap and most are easy to replace if you check in your manual.

Prepare for a Breakdown

Unfortunately, we can’t predict when we’re going to have a car breakdown. It’s always important to be prepared, especially during the winter, however.
First, make sure you always have your mobile phone with you so you can contact emergency services. You should have a warning triangle in the boot of your car which you can use to warn other road users if you have broken down in an awkward place.

During the winter, it’s a good idea to have water, some food, warm blankets and clothing in case you are stuck waiting for the breakdown service to arrive.

Should I Get a Service Done Before Winter?

Most people have a service when they get their MOT. If this is close to autumn or winter, you don’t need to worry. If you have an older car or even a classic, you may want to think about having an extra service before the colder months set in, however, just to be sure.

If you notice any changes in your engine or the handling of your car leading up to winter, however, you should always have it checked out by a mechanic, especially if an engine warning light comes on.

If you are worried that your car isn’t quite ready for winter and want to have it checked over, contact White’s Bodyworks in West Sussex to book an appointment with our specialist team.


01273 933633 / repairs@whitesbodyworks.co.uk
Unit 23, Firsland Park Estate, Henfield Road, Albourne, Hassocks, West Sussex BN6 9JJ