Dear Start My Car, 

It is probably not a good week to talk about electric vehicles. If Eskom is not able to keep the lights on, it is hard to imagine what it would be like if we were dependant on them to charge our transport. But electric vehicles are important for the future and although adaptation is some way away, it is worth thinking about. 

Below is a fascinating and fun article out of the British Car Magazine. It contemplates the dangers of silent vehicles. I enjoyed it and I hope that you will too.On a more mundane note, summer is here. That means more time out doors and more mess in our vehicles. Have a look at some of our great specials and take advantage of them. 

As always, let me know if there is something that you couldn’t find or if there is anyway to make your Start My Car experience more positive. 

Drive Safe, 



Should Electric Cars be Forced to Make a Noise? 

A few years ago I was crossing a quiet road in London. My ears told me the coast was clear, so I glanced to my left and stupidly stepped off the pavement as I simultaneously looked right – only to find an electric G-Wiz bearing down on me like a silent assassin. Imagine being killed by a G-Wiz. Like having ‘Death by gerbil’ on your coroner’s report. 

I remembered my close shave recently as a new European law on electric car sounds came into force. As of 1 July, all new electric and hybrid cars and motorbikes must have an external sound generator so they can be heard by blind people and stupid pedestrians like me. 

The Acoustic Vehicle Alert System, or AVAS, has to emit a constant sound at speeds up to 20km/h (just over 12mph) and while reversing. Transport for London (TfL) was in the news recently when it demonstrated a number of experimental AVAS sounds for a new generation of electric buses, due to arrive in the autumn. It invited experts and campaigners to preview the noises, and none of them were impressed. 

‘Spaceshippy’ was the damning assessment of John Welsman from Guide Dogs UK. Another sounded like ‘someone blowing bubbles through a pipe’ while a third was ‘an intermittent bleeping sound like an email alert that would increase or decrease in rapidity depending on the speed of the vehicle. It was very irritating.’ 

In conclusion, Welsman suggested TfL should just synthesise the sound of a bus: ‘ Great. You realise what this means? If Apple finally gets around to launching its revolutionary autonomous car, a mysterious aluminium sphere with gullwing doors and an electric hyperdrive, it’s going to drone up the street like an old AEC diesel.  

This is terrible. Things are supposed to move on, technology is supposed to change. When cars first came along 125 years ago, no one said they had to clip-clop like a horse, in order that pedestrians could recognise them. 

 The first pedestrian killed by a car in the UK was Bridget Driscoll in 1896, knocked over by an early Benz that was being demonstrated in the grounds of Crystal Palace in London. It wasn’t that she failed to recognise its sound. Rather, she was knocked over because the car was being driven, according to one witness, ‘like a fire engine’ – ‘as fast as a good horse could gallop’. The unlicensed driver had only been driving for three weeks, and there were no rules about which side of the road he should have been on. Apparently he zig-zagged before hitting poor Mrs Driscoll, ringing his bell and shouting ‘stand back’. I think we’ve all seen that kind of driving before. The novelty of the machine – and its noise – wasn’t the issue. 

So let’s not stand in the way of new noises now. I say bring on the novelty of some spaceship sounds: silence is the real danger. If that electric G-Wiz had been making any noise at all – pinging like an email or flushing like a toilet – the noise would have stopped me stepping out in front of it. If petrol engines have to die, then fine, but I want to march towards a bold new sci-fi future, not stay trapped in a soundscape of the 1990s. One full of 50cc delivery bikes going ‘mwhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’.



No Winner


Idler Jet


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Workshop Wisdom

The old car under the tree

How to start that old ‘stander’
We’ve all seen them before and maybe, we’ve even got one in our own yard – an old ‘skorokoro’ that’s been sitting unused for years under a tree or a tarp, waiting for its engine to be reignited while its rubber rots. 

It goes without saying that allowing a car to stand and degenerate due to poor maintenance is sheer waste. That being said, there are methods, not complicated or expensive, to resuscitate a tired and neglected old engine. Once the motor is running again, the car can be driven to a workshop where it can be restored to full roadworthy condition. 

Here’s a formula to follow to get the old jalopy moving again... 
 • Hose the car down to give yourself a ‘clean slate’ to work on. Check for any leaves or animal nests in the engine bay and the in the radiator fins. 
   Clear any natural debris from the engine components. 
• Spray Q20 oil on the ignition key to overcome any stickiness in the ignition. 
• Check the engine oil level and the condition of the oil. If it’s low or degraded, drain the oil and refill with the recommended volume and oil grade. 
• Replace the oil filter. 
• Remove the spark plugs. Check for deterioration and corrosion. Replace if necessary with the correct gap setting. 
• Before replacing the spark plugs, spray fogging oil into the cylinders through the spark plug hole to lubricate the cylinders and rings. 
• Syphon any old fuel out of the fuel tank and replace with fresh fuel. 
• Check the coolant level. Top up with filtered water if necessary. 
• Bring the necessary voltage in the form of a fully charged battery and jumper cables or an emergency car jumpstart unit. 
• Remove the air filter and spray engine Quickstart into the air intake line. Replace air filter. 
• Start the car. If the engine turns over happily, give it time to warm up and give you confidence that it will run the distance to the workshop. 
• Check the tyres and inflate with a portable compressor. 
• Drive the car to your workshop where you can give it a full inspection. 
• Order the necessary tools and consumables from 

Bottom line – being able to evaluate the condition of an old car in a remote location will save the customer expensive towing costs and also provide useful diagnostic information that will enable you to quote accurately on repair and servicing costs. Think of it this way – you’re an auto doctor making a house call!