Custom Pipework For This Old Classic Ford Edsel

Classic car exhaust systems come in all shapes and sizes. Many classic cars still have thriving industry of support services, with companies able to supply all manner of parts. Sometimes though, the parts can be hard to come by or are very expensive. This classic American Ford Edsel was with us recently for some classic car exhaust system fabrication work.

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The owner wanted to keep his exhaust in top condition without spending a vast amount of money. We inspected the old system and found that in fact, the exhaust silencers were in pretty good shape, but it was the associated pipework and brackets that were letting the side down. This is a surprisingly common characteristic that we've written about before on other cars such as Lexus.

Our workshop head and fabrication specialist Martin created a completely new system of pipework, while still retaining the existing silencer parts. He was able to re-use the silencers and then using our Pearson pipe bender, specialist plasma cutting equipment and his talented welding skills, he was able to transform the old exhaust into a system that will keep the Edsel on the road for some time to come.

Many people worry about the cost of exhaust repairs for classic car exhaust systems, but we find we're often able to help keep these old classics going in a post effective way.

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BMW 850i exhaust systems

BMW 850i Stainless Steel Exhaust for the Big V12

The BMW 850i is a rare sight in the UK. Even back in the early 1990's, they were sold in quite small numbers. With a price tag of over £100,000 even then, they were pretty expensive and also rather complex machines.BMW 850i exhaust systems like this can be hard to come by and pretty expensive, so the owner of this car asked us to create a complete stainless steel exhaust system for his V12.

BMW 850i exhaust systems

Martin created the system using the old exhaust as a rough guide, then spent pretty much a full day creating the complex curves of the twin exhaust for the BMW 850i. The owner chose new tail pipes from our range of stainless steel tailpipe styles and we fabricated the entire system for him.

While a system like this wasn't cheap, in fact is was significantly cheaper than some mild steel exhausts he'd found, plus it cost less than the original BMW 850i exhaust system. The final element was to create a fruity exhaust tone for the big V12, Martin selected some stainless steel exhaust boxes that we knew would create the sound the owner wanted, but without becoming intrusive on long motorway journeys.

We love to see these unusual and rare cars in our workshop, with it's new exhaust system in place and under the care of it's owner, this modern classic will be good for many years yet.

Custom made bmw 850i exhaust systems


Our Top Five Tyre Fails

We’ve written previously about budgeting for tyres and the differences between budget tyres and premium tyres. But many tyres we see in our Darlington workshops need replacing due to the fact that sadly, haven’t been looked after. Many drivers don’t realise that neglecting your tyres can result in them needing replacement many thousands of miles earlier than if they’d had some simple checks undertaken. Looking after your tyres isn’t a time consuming thing. A few simple checks each month can help you keep them in optimum condition and help you spot when something may be going wrong before it becomes too late to rectify.

Here are our top five reasons for premature tyre failure and how to avoid them.

Under Inflation. Probably the single biggest reason for tyres wearing out too soon. It’s easy to forget to check your tyre pressures. Often you don’t have spare change to use the filling station air machines, or it’s simply raining and you want to get home! The best time to check your tyre pressures is at home when you’re washing your car. Tyre pressure gauges are small and inexpensive and you can let it live in your glovebox. It only takes a minute or two and can add months onto the life of your tyres.

Under inflated tyre wear out at the edges. Plenty of tread left in the centre, but the tyre is illegal
Under inflated tyre wear out at the edges. Plenty of tread left in the centre, but the tyre is illegal

Abuse and Neglect This tyre below failed as a result of chronic neglect. It’s a top quality Michelin tyre, will have been a significant cost, yet the owner never checked the tyre pressures. For whatever reason, perhaps a slight valve leak, the tyre pressure fell. Instead of checking it, the owner just kept driving and the tyre failed due to overheating. It need not have happened, there were many thousands of miles left on the tread.

This tyre failed from the inside as the owner just kept on driving even though it was almost flat
This tyre failed from the inside as the owner just kept on driving even though it was almost flat

Over inflation Often, this is due to the owner not understanding the car’s manual. Tyre pressure settings in car owner’s manuals can sometimes be confusing and it can be easy to put too much air in. Over inflated tyres wear out down the centre line as the contact patch is smaller

Driving up kerbs. This one makes us wince when we see it. An average car weighs around one tonne. Can you imagine the stress placed upon a tyre when you drive it at a kerb to park in a narrow street? All of the weight is momentarily hitting just a single point of contact on the tyre, pinching and squeezing it. this causes damage to the sidewall. Sometimes this is visible as a ‘blab’ or bulge in the tyre sidewall, but all too often the damage is invisible until the day it fails. Additionally, you are almost certainly affecting the alignment of your suspension, which brings us to our next favourite.

This tyre wore away on the edge because the car's suspension was out of alignment
This tyre wore away on the edge because the car's suspension was out of alignment

Badly aligned suspension. Over time, even the best cared for car can have suspension become mis-aligned. But very often, bouncing the car up and down kerbs can cause significant suspension alignment issues. When this happens, the tyres are no longer running at the optimum parallel setting and instead are scrubbing along slightly sideways. This will result in the edge of the tyre wearing out way before the rest of the tread. You can detect the start of this by looking regularly at your tyres. Also, try driving along a flat, straight road and relaxing your grip on the steering wheel. Does your car drift significantly aware from dead ahead? A gentle drift towards the kerb on a cambered road is OK, but if you notice a significant drift, or your steering wheel is slightly off centre, then you have a problem. If so, your tyres will be wearing due to this issue.

Take some time, just one a month and check your tyres and tyre pressures. It’s not a difficult or dirty job and it could save you significant amounts of money.


winter tyres darlington area

The Death of The Spare Tyre - Should We Fight To Keep Our Spare Tyres?

Chatting to our customers who call into our workshop in Darlington for tyres, we are often asked about spare tyres, why car manufacturers are phasing them out and whether it’s a legal requirement to carry a spare tyre in the UK. So here are some answers to our most frequently asked puncture repair and spare tyre questions that we thought others might find useful.

winter tyres darlington area
Do we still need spare tyres?

Is it true that spare tyres are being phased out? It certainly appears so. Fewer than 30% of new cars are now delivered with a spare wheel according to The Telegraph and Which magazine.

But surely it’s a legal requirement to carry a spare wheel? Many people don’t realise that it isn’t actually a legal requirement to carry a spare tyre or a jack.

My spare tyre is worn, will I fail my MoT test? Your spare tyre isn’t part of your MoT test. Though the examiner may draw your attention to it’s condition if it’s unservicable, after all there’s no point in carrying a spare if using it will make your car illegal. If fitted to your car, your spare tyre instantly becomes part of the legal requirements.

What about space saver wheels and tyres? Space saver tyres were and continue to be very popular in some sports models in particular. They save space and weight in cars where those things are at a premium. But they have several important practical limitations to them. Most people are aware that space saver wheels have speed limits applied to them, but what many people don’t consider is, ‘Where am I going to put the dirty, punctured tyre I’ve just taken off?' Passing it to your passenger to sit on their lap will make you less than popular.

So will I get in my new car instead of a spare tyre? In all probability what you will get instead is a repair kit – a bottle of sealant and an electric compressor. The problem with the sealant is that it won't work for larger leaks, and the glue sometimes leaves the tyre beyond repair. The RAC attributes 20,000 call-outs a year to new cars without spares.

Why are car manufacturers doing this? Some manufacturers claim that consumers have demanded extra boot space, which had to come from somewhere. Others insist it is done to cut down on weight, and carbon dioxide emissions. Car manufacturers maintain the repair kits are cleaner to use, and that fewer drivers these days know how to change a tyre anyway. That's right: it’s all our fault. The manufacturers' main consideration is, of course, the bottom line. Even those little space saver wheels cost up to £150. A repair kit, on the other hand, costs about £20.

What should I do without a spare tyre if I get a puncture? This is something you need to study if you’ve just changed cars and your new car has a space saver or no spare at all. If you have a temporary repair kit and a compressor, generally the sealant is injected into the tyre through the valve, then the compressor is used to re-inflate the tyre. Follow the instructions in your manual about when to start driving once more. You should be sure that the tyre is remaining inflated.

If I use tyre repair sealant to fix my puncture, what happens next? Firstly, don’t just leave it and keep driving for long periods afterwards. The sealant is not a permanent fix and you need to have the problem looked at. Sometimes, sealant can stop a tyre being repaired, but often the tyre can be repaired in the conventional methods. Finally, don’t forget to buy another can of sealant to replace the one you used in your puncture.

What if my tyre is beyond repair? If a tyre workshop removes a tyre to inspect it, they're not actually allowed to refit a tyre to a car, knowing that it is unsafe. That poses a problem for someone calling in hoping to get a puncture repaired only to find out that it’s worse than it looked from the outside. Indeed in those instances, tyre foam isn’t going to help.

So should I insist on a spare wheel in my next car? Many car manufacturers still have the space assigned for a spare wheel and still offer one as an option. It’s up to each driver to decide wether they can live without a spare tyre or whether.


winter tyres darlington area

Do We Really Need Winter Tyres in Darlington? Top Winter Tyre Facts

An interesting survey on winter tyres by Falken revealed a lot about UK driver’s attitude towards winter tyres. We’re based in the centre of town, so tyres in Darlington area tend not to be winter tyres. However, several of our customers in outlying areas, such as Barnard Castle, Upper Teesdale and County Durham have purchased winter tyres from us, as they see a distinct benefit in having them fitted.

However, for may others, the cost of having a second set of wheels and tyres is prohibitive, especially when coupled to the unpredictable variety of British winter weather. An all-season tyre such as the Falken Euroall AS200 could well be the answer to customers asking about winter in our Darlington tyre workshops.

Here are some interesting facts about the Falken Euroall AS200, plus some of the facts that Falken learned from their survey

25% claim cost is too high
20% believe the weather is too mild in the UK to need them
19% say it is too much hassle to change

“The results surprised us, particularly the belief that the UK climate was sufficiently mild enough not to need cold weather tyres,” says Falken’s UK director Matt Smith. “Exacta weather is predicting a very cold winter and consumers seem to have forgotten the conditions that caused travel disruption from just three or four years ago.”

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Falken Euroall all season tyre could be a good choice for tyres in Darlington

So for Darlington and drivers in North East England, perhaps an all-season tyre such as the Euroall AS200 could be the ideal, sensible cost-saving solution for drivers not ready to commit to winter tyres. Specifically designed to be used all year round, the Euroall AS200 tyre provides excellent balance and control, grip and longevity in all road conditions. Thanks to its hybrid construction and bespoke compound, the AS200 is capable of shorter braking distances and precise steering response even in the snow, whilst still offering grip when temperatures are over 7°C. Clever technology keeps the tyre fresh throughout the year too; the AS200 has a built-in anti-ageing mechanism in which an anti-ageing agent permeates continuously from the lower reservoir tread to the outer tread, thus protecting the running surface from ageing and aggressive environmental influences.

If you’d like advice on choosing your new tyres, feel free to call or drop by our workshops in Darlington or you can check your tyre prices online simply by entering your vehicle registration into the price checker on our website for a range of tyre prices.

You might also find this infographic from Falken very useful, it gives lots of facts about winter tyres, whether you're a town centre Darlington driver or you live in the outlying areas.

winter tyres darlington area infographic


Toyota Hi Ace Twin Outlet Exhaust

We were contacted last week by our friends at G Force Wheels in Middlesbrough to sort out their cool Toyota Hi Ace van. It's an old-school 1980's Toyota HiAce that's been restored by them for general deliveries and running about. It's in great shape, especially considering it's age and the fact that most Toyota commercial vehicles suffer an awful lot of wear and tear. This one seems to have escaped being used by a builder or roofer and is pretty rust free. However, the same couldn't be said for the Toyota HiAce exhaust system.

At some point, someone had decided it would be quite cool to have a twin outlet exhaust system on the van. No problem there, except that their attempts were pretty dreadful. G Force inherited the previous owner's efforts, so brought the HiAce across for the exhaust to be completely overhauled.

Pretty grim previous HiAce exhaust attempt
Pretty grim previous HiAce exhaust attempt

Martin got busy with the plasma cutters and removed the corroded attempts. Quite how this HiAce managed to breathe out at all was a mystery. It took a few hours of work, but Martin used our Mig welders and Pearson pipe bending tools to create a brand new system that should help the classic HiAce for many years yet.

Toyota HiAce exhaust with twin outlets
Martin's new twin outlet Toyota HiAce exhaust

Martin's favourite thing on the Hi Ace? The column change gearshift, something that Toyota dropped from their commercial vehicles a good few years ago now. Have you got an old or unusual vehicle you need an exhaust system for? Drop us a line, we love working out solutions to unusual exhaust problems!

The G Force HiAce van, pretty cool 1980's Toyota
The G Force HiAce van, pretty cool 1980's Toyota
New twing outlet tail pipes
New twing outlet tail pipes

Darlington tyres by Exhaust A Fix

Part Worn Tyres - Seven Facts On Dangers and False Economy of Part Worn Tyres

Many drivers are unaware of the market in ‘part worn’ tyres. However, for drivers struggling to keep a car roadworthy on a budget, part worn tyres are often seen as a way to save money. It's worth considering the full cost of part worn tyres and how very often, brand new budget tyres are a better option. Here are some facts on part worn tyres that we hope our customers will find useful when choosing new tyres.

1. Part worn tyres are used tyres, previously fitted to another car and mainly come from continental Europe, where the legal tread depth minimum is higher than the UK’s 1.6mm. In Germany for example, the minimum is 3mm.

2. Many drivers buying part worn tyres do so in the belief that they offer better value for money when compared with new tyres. However, this isn't necessarily so and buyers should consider the cost per mm of useable tyre, rather than just the initial purchase price.

3. New tyres are normally sold with around 8mm of tread depth, whereas part worn tyres may have as little of 2mm of tread. With a legal minimum tread depth of 1.6mm in the UK, the cost per mm of useable tread of part worn tyres can be considerably more than that of a new tyre. Equally, part worn tyres will need to be replaced again much sooner than a new tyre meaning further expenditure will be required.


4. Price is the single biggest reason why people on a budget buy part worn tyres. It’s inevitable of course, that drivers will naturally think that a part worn tyre must be better value than new. It’s a logical assumption to make, but in fact, this just doesn’t make sense when you scrutinise the true cost of part worn tyres. Use our pricing calculator to check the cost of budget new tyres for your car

5. If you choose the part worn route, you have the inconvenience of tracking them down. Secondly, you’ll still need to pay a fitting charge to have your part worn tyre correctly mounted and balanced. Thirdly and most importantly, the life of your part worn tyre will be measured in just a few months, or even weeks. Typically, part worn tyres have around 4mm of useable tread remaining, though we’ve seen examples of tyres for sale with less than that. Compare that with the 8mm of a brand new budget tyre typically costing around £55 and the economics don’t really make sense.

6. You have no way of knowing how old the tyre is, where it’s been stored, or how well it’s been cared for by the previous driver. Sidewall damage due to bouncing up kerbs often remains hidden from view. More importantly, all cars have slightly different suspension settings. Fitting a part worn tyre can result in some very strange handling characteristics until the tyre ‘beds in’ to your car’s chassis.

7. To make them legal for sale in the UK, part worn tyres should have the words ‘PART WORN’ in upper case lettering stamped upon the sidewall together with an EC approval stamp, but all to often this is absent.

Of course, when money is tight any way of avoiding expense is very attractive and we don’t blame anyone for considering part worn tyres. However, before you do, try using our online tyre pricing calculator to check the price of some budget tyres with us. Simply enter your registration number to see a range of prices.

Part worn tyres Darlington specialists Exhaust A Fix sell new tyres, a more economical saving

Some useful facts and figures on tyres can be found at the TyreSafe website.


Exhaust Repair Putty

Exhaust Repair Putty - Why You're Wasting Your Time Underneath Your Car

Exhaust Repair PuttyWe often see exhaust repair putty on old exhausts in our workshop. As we repair and remove rusty exhaust components, we come across the remains of failed attempts to prevent the inevitable blown exhaust. So why does exhaust repair putty not work and why would you be wasting your time trying it?

The main reason why is quite simple. Exhausts nearly always fail from the inside out. That is, they start collecting condensation and corrosion from the inside. By the time you see the outside signs, your exhaust system is actually quite bad on the inside. So trying to push exhaust repair putty into the small blowing hole is quite literally like papering over the cracks. The root cause of your problem is still there, you're just hiding it from sight for a short while. All too often, within a few days you'll begin to hear it once more. And the next pay day is still a few weeks away....

If you have this problem, take a look at our Exhaust Repair page. We often find that it's only a small part of the exhaust that is actually failing. Many times, more than 90% of it is still perfectly fine. For our customers on a budget who need to keep costs to a minimum, we are able to use our skills and advanced cutting technology to remove just the failed part, then graft in a fresh replacement.

Exhaust repair putty can be false economy, have your exhaust repaired properly

Our state of the art Plamsa Cutters make a clean cut around the corroded exhaust, leaving us with clean metal. Then we use advanced cutting, shaping and welding equipment to craft a replacement part, leaving your exhaust quiet and strong. While we can't give the several years guarantee to such repairs, we can generally help keep away that bill for a new exhaust for a few months and give you time to save up and be prepared for it when the time comes for a new system.

If you're worried that your exhaust may be about to fail, give us a call on 01325 362271 and ask for some help with a free exhaust inspection. We'll tell you right away what we can do to help.


Renault Clio exhaust in stainless steel

Renault Clio 2.0 16v Stainless Steel Exhaust

We've created several of these Renault Clio Sport 2.0 stainless steel exhaust systems just recently, so we thought you might like to see what the old and new systems look like. The most surprising thing is just how large the original Renault silencers are. It's pretty remarkable that Renault manage to install such a big system under the floor of such a relatively small hatchback. The old Renault Clio exhaust you see in these pictures are the original two back boxes.

Renault Clio Exhaust

They're actually pretty good quality, but nothing lasts for ever and the owner of this car needed a replacement stainless steel system. We removed the old rusted silencers then custom made this twin outlet system to fit the original bumper outlets. Towards the front, everything was still in good shape, so we mated the new stainless steel components to the existing exhaust.

The new system is slightly sportier in tone, but not particularly loud and as it's stainless steel, we guarantee it for as long as the owner drives that car.

Renault Clio exhaust in stainless steel


Example of catalytic converter failure

Removing DPF - Changes to MoT Legislation and DPF Cleaning Tips

We're sometimes asked by customers to remove Diesel Particulate Filters, or DPF for short. Your DPF is designed to make diesel cars run as cleanly as possible with current technology, though cars often used for short journeys can become blocked, due to the way the system regenerates and cleans itself. Until recently, it was perfectly legal to remove a blocked DPF. The car would run adequately without it, though with an increase in soot particle emissions. However, many people are unaware that a change to MOT regulations in February 2014 now includes a physical check for the presence of the filter. If the car was fitted with one when new, it must be present. While your diesel car may perform fine without it, you will not be able to pass an MOT test without it in place. DPF cleaning is a better way to stay driving.

Example of catalytic converter failure

So what is the best way to ensure your Diesel Particulate Filter continues to perform well and not become blocked? Understanding how the system works is a start, as many drivers are unaware of them. The filter works by trapping soot particles that occur during normal diesel operation, trapping the most harmful elements. Eventually if course, the filter will become full and need emptying. This normally occurs during a session of high temperature running and for most people this isn't a problem. However, if you use your car for a lot of city driving, this doesn't occur and crs used for stop-start driving are vulnerable to the DPF filter becoming blocked. Often the first you know of it is reduced performance and a red warning light.

To avoid this, head for the open road on a regular basis and give your diesel car some good exercise. Many large leasing and fleet operators are now including this advice in information sent to fleet drivers, as any remedial work is often not covered under a manufacturers warranty.

In fact, there's a case for suggesting that city drivers are often better off with a good petrol engine or hybrid, especially when you factor in the reduced cost of petrol at the pumps compared to diesel.