Dear Start My Car,

I hope you are keeping well and that those around you are healthy. As the numbers continue to climb, there is a greater chance of those near to us contracting COVID-19, which is why now is the time for vigilance.

There are many ways to maintain social distance and caution. One of the ways is to make as many of your purchases online in order to avoid exposure from being around people who might be unknowingly carrying the virus. We know that it takes some time to get used to online shopping, which is why we have tried to make the process as intuitive as possible. Start My Car is built from within the spares industry which means that we understand how this works best in this space.

If there is anything that we could do better, please let us know.

Please have a look at our specials and the article below, which I found useful.

Be well and regards,


Will your insurance pay out if you're in a car accident with an expired vehicle or driver's licence?

• South Africans continue to battle to renew vehicle and driver's licences.

• More licencing centres are closing due to positive Covid-19 cases.
• Expired licences could impact your insurance claim when in a motor vehicle accident.

Expired vehicle and driver licences are causing a bigger problem than we realise, and it's having a knock-on effect on many other aspects.

For one, learner licence holders are being hit the hardest, and many unfortunate citizens are being told to merely restart the process as lockdown expired licences hold priority as organisations try to work through the backlog.

Earlier in July, the Automobile Association has requested that the Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula would consider extending the licence renewal period to the end of January 2021.

One Wheels24 reader has mentioned: "I often go abroad to engage with our stakeholders, and I suspect when international travel is allowed, the likes of Avis et al. will not accept an expired license, so even if the minister allows a blanket exemption until next year December, for us who go abroad a printed date on the card is all that counts."

While we have not yet crossed that bridge of international travel, there is a more pressing issue at hand. What happens when you're involved in a car crash?
Wheels24 reader Lefkia Swart writes: Do you know what is the stand of insurance companies on this? What would happen if you have an accident and your driving licence has expired? Can they repudiate your claim?

Justice Project South Africa's Howard Dembovsky says: "It depends on the policy wording. Some vehicle insurance policies make the specific exclusion: "a vehicle involved in an accident where at the time of the accident, the vehicle does not have a valid motor vehicle licence" (or similar). Some do not.

"As with every kind of agreement, motorists should thoroughly read and understand the policy wording BEFORE entering into an agreement. If this clause is included in your policy wording, your insurer will be entitled to repudiate your claim, regardless of the reasons surrounding your expired licence disc.

"I do not understand why it is that insurers think it is their right or responsibility to enforce road traffic legislation. Except for vehicles where an operator card is required, an expired licence disc does not necessarily mean that the vehicle is unroadworthy. This is because, with light motor vehicles, a roadworthy test is only required when the ownership of the vehicle changes, or where a road traffic official orders it."

Dembovsky also notes: "There are insurers who have forgotten why they exist. If one's policy has a clause referring to a currently valid driving licence CARD, one should be careful to always ensure that one's driving licence card is always valid. I have not seen any policy wording that makes such reference, but there is a first time for everything."

We also reached out to an insurance company and hear what their stance is on the matter.

Bianca de Beer from Dialdirect says: "Each claim is evaluated on its individual merit. We acknowledge that Covid-19 has placed a significant strain on licensing offices' capacity. So, if someone can show that they have taken all necessary steps to renew their driving or vehicle license and that administrative backlog or service unavailability is the only reason that their license expired, it will not influence the decision on the claim."


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This week in ecomm

It’s been an interesting week in South Africa, with yet again another shift in Lockdown restrictions and load shedding rearing its ugly head again.

As lockdown rules boiled our blood, the temperatures have continued to plummet around the country, putting a lot of pressure on our ‘trusty’ mode of transport.

Ecommerce has seen a consistent increase in sales this past week of simple, effective, automotive and DIY products to assist in everyday vehicle maintenance. And with many online sites offering free delivery over a certain value, many shoppers are more than happy to top up their carts with their automotive essentials.

So, don’t get left in the dark so to say, and grab some of this week’s top online sellers:

Stay safe, stay connected

This week's top pics

Pratley Steel Glue
R 75.00
Q20 - 150
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Jerry Can
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Guess The Part

Workshop Wisdom

Diagnosing Your Spark Plugs

Last week we walked you through the process of replacing your spark plugs! In passing I mentioned that its worth inspecting the old plugs as these can reveal a great deal of information about the health of your engine.

In this week’s article, let us elaborate on the different spark plug problem, the symptoms and the remedies.


(Using Unleaded Petrol)


(Using Lead Replacement Petrol)


Typical Symptoms





• Hard starting

• Misfiring

• Black exhaust smoke

• Rich mixture
• Retarded ignition
• Low compression
• Too cold a spark plug

• Check float level

• Check choke

• Check ignition timing

• Check air cleaner

• Check compression

• Replace spark plug with correct heat range


• Hard starting

• Misfiring

• Grey / white exhaust smoke

• Loss of oil

• Worn rings
• Worn piston
• Leaking valve stem seals
• Over-filled oil sump

• Replace worn components

• Replace spark plug with correct heat range


• Misfiring

• Hard starting

• No starting

• Fuel quality
• Oil leakage
• Engine operating period

• Replace spark plug

• Change fuel brand

• Repair engine 

(if need be)




• Misfiring

• Engine noise

• Sudden change in temperature (Thermal shock)
• Oil leakage
• Internal engine stress

• Replace spark plug

• Check engine condition

• Repair engine (if need be)


• "Pinking" under acceleration or

 climbing hills

• Engine run-on after switching off

• Lean mixture 
• Advanced ignition timing
• Too hot a spark plug

• Check jets are not clogged

• Check float level

• Check ignition timing

• Replace spark plug with correct heat range


• Misfiring
• Loss of power
• Hard starting
• Noise in engine
• Foreign particles inside cylinder
• Broken or damaged valve

• Replace spark plugs

• Remove foreign or damaged components


• Hard starting
• Misfiring
• Black exhaust smoke

incorrectly torqued
• Spark plug only hand tightened
• Dirt or carbon in threads of cylinder head

• Replace spark plugs

• Tighten spark plug to correct torque

• Replace damaged components

• Check compression on all cylinders

• Hard starting
• Reduced fuel economy

• Normal electrode wear • ± 0.03mm / 1000km
• Fuel deposits (carbon, lead, additives & salts)

• Replace spark plug with correct heat range

• Hard starting
• Misfiring

• Lean mixture
• Advanced ignition timing
• To hot heat range

• Replace with correct heat range spark plug

• Check air / fuel mixture

• Misfiring
• Loss of power
• Noise in engine

• Under tightening

• Correct tightening torques

• Misfiring
• Hard starting
• Reduced fuel economy

• Excess MMT and Ferrocene
• Incorrect heat range

• Replace spark plugs with correct heat range

• Get to 450°C self cleaning temperature


A worn spark plug not only wastes fuel but also strains the whole ignition system because the expanded gap requires higher voltage. It also reduces the engine's efficiency, resulting in reduced fuel economy and increased exhaust emissions. Moreover, it contributes to pollution generated by exhaust gas.

Head over to for all your replacement spark plug needs!