568 London Road, Grays, RM20 3BJ

all your questions answered

TYRE FAQS

1.6mm is the legal minimum tyre tread.

To quickly assess your tyre tread depth, simply insert a 20p coin into the groove; if the rim is visible, your tyre falls below the legal safety threshold.

Tyres typically endure 30,000 to 60,000 miles, equating to about 3 to 5 years of usage.

The correct tyre pressure depends on the car you are driving. 

While it’s advisable not to drive on a flat tyre, you can cautiously travel a few hundred yards to reach a safer location if necessary.

PUNCTURE REPAIR FAQS

When you puncture the tread or sidewall of your tyre, the air escapes and the tire pressure begins to decrease. This issue may be immediately visible, but if it occurs while driving, you may notice:

  • The car pulling unusually to one side.
  • Shuddering, swaying, or wobbling of the vehicle.
  • Steering becoming more difficult to manage.
  • A ticking noise if an object, like a nail, is lodged in the tyre.

These symptoms typically appear quickly. However, if you’ve observed a slow decline in performance, it might be due to a leaky valve or a natural decrease in tyre pressure over time.

If you’ve experienced a puncture, you might be wondering whether your tire can be saved—especially if it’s otherwise in good condition. Many punctures are repairable, but there are some cases where a repair isn’t feasible.

We can repair punctures in car tires if:

  • The puncture is located within the middle three-quarters of the tyre’s width.
  • The tyre hasn’t undergone previous repairs.
  • The puncture is less than 6mm in diameter.
  • There is no damage to the sidewalls or shoulders.
  • The tyre is generally in good condition, with a tread depth exceeding 1.6mm and no significant rubber deterioration.

A tire cannot be repaired if:

  • There is damage to the sidewall or outer tread.
  • The tread is excessively worn or the rubber is aged and cracked.
  • The tyre has been damaged from being driven while flat.

If your tyre falls into the latter category, it will need to be replaced. Our experts can assess the damage and advise you on the best course of action.

Yes, but only if you entrust the job to a skilled and experienced professional. Tyre repair might be quick, but it requires technical expertise. Regulations for tire repairs are governed by the British Standard BS AU 159, which any qualified technician should follow rigorously. Our technicians will carefully inspect the damage and inform you whether a repair is both safe and appropriate.

 

TPMS FAQS

TPMS, short for Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, is a crucial electronic safety feature that keeps track of the pressure in a vehicle’s tyres. Should the tyre pressure drop to 25% below the manufacturer’s recommended level, the TPMS system alerts the driver, enhancing safety and performance.

Many vehicles in the UK sold prior to 2010 are not equipped with TPMS. If your car lacks this system, it’s important to manually inspect your tyres each month, after significant temperature shifts, or whenever a tyre appears underinflated. While aftermarket TPMS options exist, they can be costly and installation may demand technical expertise.

If your TPMS indicator remains constantly illuminated, it signifies that one or more tyres are at least 25% below the suggested pressure level. It’s crucial to immediately cease driving, identify the underinflated tyre, and repair or replace it. Operating a vehicle with a tyre deflated to this extent can lead to tyre failure, compromised vehicle handling, or in extreme cases, a rollover.

A flashing TPMS light indicates an issue with a sensor or the TPMS itself, necessitating professional attention. However, it’s wise to manually verify your tyre pressures in the meantime to ensure they remain within safe limits.

Significant weather fluctuations can impact tire pressure; a sharp drop in temperature may lead to decreased pressure as the air within the tire contracts, while a spike in heat can cause the pressure to increase due to air expansion inside the tire.

The friction from driving heats up the tires, which in turn raises the internal pressure.

Tyres naturally lose pressure gradually through minor seepage, either from the valve, around the rim, or through the tyre’s body. While older tyres may deflate faster than new ones, a rapid loss of pressure usually suggests a leak.

TPMS sensors are powered by batteries with a lifespan ranging from 5 to 10 years, influenced by your driving frequency and the conditions in which you drive.

WHEEL BALANCING FAQS

Addressing imbalanced wheels is crucial for optimal ride comfort. Wheels that are not properly balanced can create vibrations felt through the steering wheel at higher speeds, leading to significant discomfort over time. Moreover, unbalanced wheels can lead to premature wear of your tyres, as well as your vehicle’s suspension and steering components, potentially resulting in costly repairs.

Wheels are balanced using a sophisticated wheel balancing machine at our centre. The tire and wheel assembly is mounted on the machine, which spins the wheel to detect even the smallest imbalances in weight distribution across the wheel. The machine then precisely indicates where and what size counterweight should be attached to achieve proper balance. This ensures your wheel spins smoothly and your ride is stable.

Some causes of wheel imbalances are:

  • Manufacturing – tyres and wheels not made with the same weight all the way around their circumference
  • A rim hitting hard object such as a pavement or pothole
  • Road surface – poor road conditions cause wheels to bend
  • Wear and tear – suspension, shocks, struts, tie rods, and ball joints become worn
  • Leaving a car parked for extended periods where the tyres might develop flat spots 

Tyre balancing addresses weight imbalances in your tyre and wheel assemblies, ensuring smooth rotation. Wheel alignment, on the other hand, adjusts the angles of your tyres to ensure they contact the road optimally for improved handling and tire wear.

 

Uneven tyre wear is a clear indicator of tyre imbalance. To spot signs of wheel imbalance, check for rapid, uneven, or scalloped cup wear, which appears as indents along the edge of the tyre tread.

Many symptoms of imbalance only manifest while driving, including:

  • Vibration in the steering wheel at higher speeds, which often suggests imbalances in the front tyres.
  • Vibration felt in the floorboards or seats, pointing to imbalances in the rear tyres.
  • The vehicle pulling to the left or right.
  • Rapid or uneven tread wear.
  • Squealing tyres.
  • Unusual noises such as humming or buzzing that intensify with speed.
  • Noticeable wobble of the car.

These signs are critical to identify early to ensure safe and comfortable driving conditions.

TYRE HEALTH CHECKS FAQS

It’s recommended to have your tyres checked at least once every six months or before a long journey. Regular checks help ensure your tyres maintain optimal condition for safety and performance.

A tyre health check at Outen Auto Centre includes measuring tread depth, checking tyre pressure, and a thorough visual inspection for any signs of wear, damage, or irregularities like cuts, bulges, and punctures.

No, you do not need an appointment for a tyre health check at Outen Auto Centre. You can simply visit us during our working hours, and we will perform the check while you wait.

If we identify any issues during the tyre health check, such as insufficient tread depth or damage that compromises tyre safety, we will recommend appropriate actions. This might include inflating your tyres, repairing minor damage, or replacing the tyre if necessary. We provide detailed cost estimates and recommendations to ensure your vehicle remains safe and efficient on the road.

CAR SERVICING FAQS

The duration of most services is just a few hours, though the exact time can vary depending on the service package you choose. We do not have specific service slots; instead, you should drop off your vehicle at the Halfords Autocentre at either 8:30 am or 11:30 am on your scheduled service day. We will notify you by phone as soon as your car is ready for collection.

Yes. Our technicians are qualified to service any make and model of a hybrid vehicle. Book a Hybrid service with us today.

Most manufacturers advise a full car service annually or every 12,000 miles, whichever occurs first, although this can vary based on your vehicle and driving habits. To determine when your car last received service, refer to your service book, which should also be updated or stamped by the mechanic upon the completion of any service.

 ​A full service of a vehicle typically includes an oil and filter change, a visual inspection of fluid levels and components, a wheel alignment check, a brake inspection, and an inspection of the air filter and other filters.

Regular servicing keeps your car working at its optimal level. This ensures that breakdowns are less likely. If you’re not having your car serviced, the chances of breaking down will increase.

BRAKES FAQS

If your dashboard’s brake warning light is on, it’s crucial to have your vehicle checked at a service center immediately.

Additional indicators of brake issues include a grinding noise when applying the brakes, suggesting that the pads may be excessively worn. If your car pulls to one side, this could signal that the brakes are sticking or seizing and need attention. Furthermore, if the brake pedal feels spongy or you notice a continuous pulsing, this could be a sign of a brake fluid leak.

Brake discs play a vital role in a car’s braking system, as the brake pads clamp down on them to halt wheel rotation. Like brake pads, the lifespan of brake discs varies based on the vehicle and driving habits, making it hard to predict their durability. Typically, brake discs outlast the brake pads, but as they begin to wear thin, you might notice your car pulling to one side, indicating it’s time for a check or replacement.

 If you’re unsure about the condition of your brake discs why not book an appointment for a free brake test.

Brake fluid is crucial for safe driving, yet it is often overlooked. This fluid tends to absorb moisture over time, which can reduce its effectiveness and diminish the braking power of your vehicle. Different manufacturers have varied recommendations for when to change your brake fluid—ranging from every 20,000 to 50,000 miles, or every 2-3 years. At Outens Auto Centre, we recommend replacing your brake fluid every 2 years to maintain optimal safety on the road.

Regenerative braking, a feature in electric vehicles, captures the energy typically lost during braking and converts it into electricity, which is then stored and used later. Unlike traditional braking systems, where pressing the brake pedal dissipates kinetic energy primarily as heat—thus wasting it—electric cars utilize this new technology to convert the heat energy into electrical energy. This energy is transferred back to the car’s battery, enhancing the vehicle’s range per charge.

Braking distance is the length a vehicle covers from the moment the brakes are applied to when it fully stops. This differs from stopping distance, which also includes the reaction time before the brakes are engaged. The speed of the vehicle greatly affects braking distance; for example, it may range from 12 meters at 20 mph to 75 meters at 70 mph, and can extend even further. Additionally, factors such as tyre grip, brake quality and condition, road surface, and weather conditions all significantly impact the effectiveness of braking.

BATTERIES FAQS

The lifespan of a car battery can vary due to several factors, but under ideal conditions, it typically lasts between 4-5 years. To maximize battery life, it’s important to regularly drive your vehicle for 20-30 minutes to allow sufficient time for the battery to recharge, as frequent short trips can gradually deplete the battery. Additionally, extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can negatively impact battery performance. If you’re uncertain about the condition of your car or van battery, consider visiting your Outens Auto Centre for a complimentary battery test.

Several factors influence the duration a car battery can sit unused, such as the battery’s condition and the ambient temperature. Typically, a car battery can last 1-2 months before it depletes and requires recharging to start the vehicle again. This period may shorten if the battery is older or if the vehicle is stored in colder conditions.

Like all batteries, those in electric vehicles will degrade and require replacement after extensive use. Various factors, including exposure to high temperatures and frequent use of rapid charging, can accelerate this deterioration. However, manufacturers of electric vehicles have made significant advancements in battery technology, ensuring longevity. Most new EVs are now equipped with batteries capable of lasting beyond 100,000 miles. For specific details regarding a particular model, manufacturers can provide precise information.

Every car is equipped with a device to charge the battery while the engine is running, known as an alternator in modern vehicles and a generator in older models. The key difference between them is that an alternator can charge the battery at lower engine RPMs compared to a generator. The rate at which the battery charges increases with the engine’s RPM; therefore, driving at higher speeds on the motorway will charge the battery quicker than navigating through stop-start city traffic.

A healthy car battery should register at least 12.6V when the vehicle is off and the battery is at rest, as measured with a multimeter. This voltage can increase to between 13.8V and 14.4V when the engine is running. A reading below 12.6V on a resting battery indicates partial depletion, and a reading under 12V signifies that the battery is completely discharged. If your battery is depleted or discharged, it should be charged promptly and re-tested; persistent issues may mean it’s time to replace the battery. For peace of mind, or if you suspect your battery might be failing, consider visiting Outens Auto Centre for a complimentary battery health check.

AIR CONDITIONING FAQS

It’s advisable to have your vehicle’s air conditioning system recharged at least once every two years to maintain optimal efficiency.

Contrary to popular belief, air conditioning isn’t just for the summer months; it’s beneficial to run it periodically throughout the year, including winter. The dry, dehumidified air from your air conditioning system can clear your windshield much faster than warm air.

Before recharging an empty air conditioning system, we perform a nitrogen pressure test. Nitrogen, an inert gas that constitutes 78% of our atmosphere, is environmentally friendly and ideal for this purpose. This test helps us detect any leaks, which we then aim to precisely locate and provide a detailed repair estimate.

Even if your vehicle’s A/C system has the correct gas pressure, other faults could impair its functionality. We thoroughly test the system to diagnose the issue and provide a complete breakdown of the necessary repairs and their associated costs.

A flashing TPMS light indicates an issue with a sensor or the TPMS itself, necessitating professional attention. However, it’s wise to manually verify your tyre pressures in the meantime to ensure they remain within safe limits.

Before 2017, vehicles typically used R134a refrigerant. However, starting in 2017, new vehicles are legally required to use HFO-1234yf, a refrigerant that emits 98% fewer climate-damaging pollutants, representing a significant advancement for the automotive industry and environmental protection. At our service center, we are equipped to handle both types of refrigerants. If you’re unsure which type your vehicle uses, we can quickly identify it for you.

The friction from driving heats up the tires, which in turn raises the internal pressure.

Tyres naturally lose pressure gradually through minor seepage, either from the valve, around the rim, or through the tyre’s body. While older tyres may deflate faster than new ones, a rapid loss of pressure usually suggests a leak.

Over time, condensation accumulates on the evaporator, creating an ideal environment for bacteria and fungi to grow. If you notice that your A/C system doesn’t smell as fresh as it used to, this is likely the cause, and we can address it effectively. To prevent this issue, it’s advisable to run your air conditioning for 10 minutes every week, especially if it’s not used regularly.

 
 
 
 
 
 

FAMILY OWNED SINCE 1975

PROVIDING VALUE, CARE & SERVICE LOCALLY FOR OVER 40 YEARS

Since 1975, Outens Auto Centre has been a family-owned gem in the community, upholding a legacy of excellence and personalized care. Starting as a small, passionate garage, we've grown through our commitment to honesty, integrity, and top-notch automotive expertise. We combine age-old values with the latest technology to ensure superior service for your vehicle. At Outens, you're not just a customer; you're family. Join us for trusted, warm, and efficient automotive care.

Lesley Brown
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Excellent service, Excellent experience, very professional, from Dave Shepherd and his team. I always use them, I get the same level of service every time I go there. Highly recommend them.
Andy Glover
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Wouldn't go any where else. Fantastic service and friendly. Have recommended many times and all say the best.
Ross Morbin
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100% worth recommending ! Great customer service. Dave and his team were very welcoming and went above and beyond. Will definitely be returning.
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Opening Hours

Monday:               8am - 5:30pm

Tuesday:               8am - 5:30pm

Wednesday:       8am - 5:30pm

Thursday:             8am - 5:30pm

Friday:                    8am - 5:30pm

Saturday:              8am - 12pm

Sunday:                 Closed

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