Do Your Car Bulbs Keep Blowing? Here’s Why…

There are a million and one different things that can go wrong with a car, and only the most skilled and dedicated can pinpoint them all.

Some issues in your car can be major and require urgent attention – seeing smoke coming out of your engine would be a pretty good indicator of that – while others are more of a nuisance that you keep telling yourself you’ll sort out but you probably never will.

Read more: What do headlight naming conventions mean?

Having car bulbs blowing more often than they should probably sits somewhere in between the two. It can be incredibly annoying if you’ve just bought some new headlight bulbs and then they blow within a few weeks, but it’s also potentially dangerous (and illegal) if you don’t get the problem fixed.

Here are some reasons why you car bulbs might keep blowing…

Water Intrusion

It might not come as much of a surprise that water and electrics don’t mix. Even the smallest crack or gap in your bulb fitting or socket can allow water in, and this can easily cause it to short and the bulb to blow.

Check the blown bulb for any water, as well as the socket itself. You may be able to easily repair this yourself, although depending on the seriousness of the issue, it may need more extensive investigation at a garage.

Touching the glass bulb when you replace it

Surprisingly, this is one of the most common causes of bulbs blowing, as many people simply don’t realise it’s a problem.

If you touch the glass bulb, the natural oil from your fingers will be transferred onto it. When the bulb is turned on and heats up, this oil then forms a hotspot which fatigues the bulb and can easily lead it to blow.

The same can happen if you get dirt on the bulb, so a pair of clean latex gloves is recommended when you change any of the bulbs in your car.

Mechanic changing car bulb

Loose connection

A loose connection between the contacts will not only mean that the bulb might only work intermittently, but it might actually cause it to blow.

If the circuit is not complete, then the electricity may jump or ‘arc’ between the contacts rather than simply flowing through them. This arcing produces more heat and could easily melt whatever it’s transferring into, effectively destroying the contact and more than likely blowing the bulb.

You may be able to tell if arcing has occurred because it causes small indentations called pitting.


If the bulb doesn’t sit nice and snug in the socket then it could rattle around when you drive, particularly on uneven surfaces or over speed bumps, etc. This vibration can damage the filament and cause it to break.

Voltage spike

Simply put, a voltage spike is when too much electricity is forced into the bulb, causing it to blow. This is usually the result of the alternator over-charging the battery, which isn’t usually a problem, as the battery will act as a capacitor to limit such spikes. However, as the battery gets older, or if it becomes corroded or damaged, then its ability to prevent voltage spikes is decreased.

Try checking the battery voltage using a multimeter, with the engine running at around 1200-1500 rpm. You don’t really want it to exceed 14.2 volts.

Read more: Why do LED car lights work so well?

If you don’t have a multimeter, you can check the battery by running the car with the headlights on. If the lights are dimmer than they should be or get brighter as you rev the car then you have an issue that needs looking at.

A bad ground can also cause voltage spikes or low voltage, so this could also be something to investigate.

A voltage spike will usually cause an issue for all bulbs in the car, so if you have only one bulb that keeps blowing, then it could well be a different issue.

Car bulbs

Are you simply wearing your bulbs out?

Have you considered that you might simply be wearing your bulbs out? The typical lifespan of a regular halogen bulb is around 400 hours, so if you do a lot of night driving then you could easily wear them out within a few months. And if you use xenon bulbs, then the lifespan is reduced as they burn brighter.

Obviously if your bulbs are only lasting a couple of weeks, then there’s something else at fault there.

Are you using bad quality car bulbs?

As with most things, you get what you pay for, so if you use cheap, poor quality bulbs then there’s a much higher chance that they’ll blow quickly.

Check out our fantastic range of high quality car bulbs from top manufacturers such as Osram, which will reduce the chances of the bulbs blowing. Of course, if you have any of the other problems listed above then even the best quality bulbs might still blow.

Do you know of any other reasons why car bulbs might keep blowing? If so, let us know!

Vauxhall Astra vs Ford Focus: Which Should You Choose?

The Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus are two of the most iconic cars on the road today. They’re fantastic all-rounders and are ideal as first cars or family motors, great for modding, and just generally very reliable.

But which should you choose? It can be a tough decision, as to the untrained eye, they seem pretty similar, but there are some differences that might tip you towards one or the other.

Check out or Focus/Astra comparison to see which is the right car for you…

Looks & Design

This is all down to personal preference at the end of the day. Both of these cars have gone down the ‘evolution not revolution’ route, which has helped them become so easy to recognise on the road.

While both cars get almost annual facelifts, the Focus received more of a significant redesign in 2015 (although it’s still undeniably a Focus), but arguably the Astra is still the more pleasing on the eye.

Read more: Ford Fiesta vs Vauxhall Corsa – Which Should You Choose?

If we go inside the car, the Astra probably edges it again. Both feature excellent driving positions, but the layout of the console and buttons just feels more intuitive and less cluttered than the Focus.

The Astra is also a bit roomier, particularly in the back, and features a larger 370 litre boot compared to the Focus’ 316 litres.

Of course we’re a big fan of headlights here at Ignitionline, and on looks alone, the Astra wins hands down in this respect. You can check out our ranges of Vauxhall Astra bulbs and Ford Focus bulbs if you’re even in need of replacements, whichever car you pick.


There’s not a huge amount to separate the two in terms of how they drive. The Focus is a steady drive, whilst the Astra feels that little bit sportier and nippier, generally providing that little bit of extra acceleration, which can be handy when overtaking. Whether you go for the 1.0L eco option or anything higher, the Astra gives you that little bit of extra oomph.

However, if you’re not that bothered about the speed, then both cars handle very well, with the Astra finally coming alongside the Focus which has been a consistently good drive over the years.

Ford Focus
Image source: Roman Korotkov /

Economy & Environment

For the more environmentally-friendly drivers out there, both the Astra and the Focus come with ECO specs that reduce the amount of CO2 pumped out and improves fuel efficiency.

Both cars have a spec that comes in at under the 100g/km CO2 emission threshold meaning they’re free to tax. Other models that sit just over that threshold, so even then you’re not paying much in tax.

Read more: What will a car fail its MOT on?

The absolute best stats come from the Focus 103bhp 1.5litre TDCi, which gives out just 88g/km of CO2 and claims to be able to do 83.1mpg. The equivalent Astra has the same level of emissions, but can only do around 85.6mpg.

However, it’s worth pointing out that most vehicles rarely reach these levels of fuel economy, so such small differences are pretty negligible.


For quite a lot of people, the choice between the two cars is going to come down to cost. Obviously, the price you pay depends on a fair few different aspects, such as how much deposit you pay, your payment plan, optional extras, etc, but if we just take the base numbers, the Focus is from £16,245, whilst the Astra is from £15,445.

However, within that price, the Astra comes with a few extra features such as the R4.0 IntelliLink (which has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) and a 7 inch touchscreen, whereas you have to pay for that privilege in the Focus.

The winner

As we said earlier, personal preference can play a big part in which car you choose, but in this case, the Astra just pips the Focus on almost all fronts. The Focus has long been considered the benchmark for hatchbacks but that crown might now sit upon the Astra. Having said that, they’re both excellent cars and you can’t really go wrong with either.

Feature image: Dong liu /

Ford Fiesta vs Vauxhall Corsa: Which Should You Choose?

The choice between the Vauxhall Corsa and the Ford Fiesta is one that many drivers go through at some point, particularly earlier on in their driving lives.

Those higher up the motoring food chain may scoff at that statement, but with the Fiesta consistently sitting pretty at the top of the charts (and the Corsa never far behind), it’s abundantly clear that these two cars have become the go-to choice for many, particularly those looking at the cheaper end of the market.

We take a closer look at the two popular models to see which comes out on top…

Looks & Design

You always know roughly what you’re getting when it comes to the design of both these cars. While both cars have received significant redesigns over the years, their current iterations don’t differ massively from that of recent times.

The Corsa has opted for slimmer headlights that look more similar to that of the Fiesta, but they haven’t quite pulled it off, and they look a little on the cheap side. You can check out our Vauxhall Corsa bulbs or Ford Fiesta bulbs if you want to give those lights a little extra oomph.

Read more: Vauxhall Astra vs Ford Focus – Which Should You Choose?

On the inside, the Corsa has the edge over the Fiesta. The dashboard of the Fiesta looks somewhat cheap and tacky and a bit out of place in 2016. The Corsa, on the other hand, looks much slicker and feels generally of a higher quality.

In terms of boot space, the Fiesta has a 290 litre capacity compared to 285 in the Corsa, but with a lower lip in the Vauxhall, it’s easier to load items in and out.


Obviously the performance of the car will depend largely on the spec you go for, but just taking the base models, the Fiesta is the nippier of the two and handles a little better when cornering too.

That’s not to say that the Corsa is a bad drive, however. There’s nothing wrong with how it drives, but the Fiesta provides a little extra acceleration and torque, which is handy if you’re overtaking or need that little bit extra zip.

Vauxhall Corsa
Image source: Milos Vucicevic /

Economy & Environment

If you’re into the whole eco driving thing then the Fiesta is probably your best bet. If you go for a diesel then both cars’ ECO models will slip under the 100 g/km emission threshold for paying tax.

However, for the petrol model, it’s only the Fiesta, with its 99bhp 1.0-litre EcoBoost, that will get you under that magical limit. The Vauxhall equivalent, the 89bhp 1.0-litre turbo, will cost you about £20 a year in tax, but it’s not as powerful as its rival.

In terms of running costs, both come in at around 65 mpg if you’re super careful with your driving. Both will likely return a bit more than that, but there’s not much to separate them.


The base model of the Corsa comes in at £9,745, while the Fiesta clocks in at the slightly steeper £10,345. As always, these prices go up straight away if you want anything other than the most basic of specs with no add-ons.

However, the Corsa comes slightly better equipped with goodies like cruise control, which you’ll need to pay a few quid more for on the Fiesta.


This is a close one as both cars have their pros and cons, and there’s no real clear winner. If you care more about the drive and the economy of your car then the Fiesta just about shades it, but if you care about the style and design then the Corsa is the better choice.

Feature image: Quality Master /

How To Get Your Car Ready To Sell

Decided it’s time for a new motor? What are you going to do with your old one? You might be keeping old of it or selling it for scrap, but if you’re selling it on, it’s vital you make it as attractive to buyers as possible.

Here are some tips for getting your car ready to sell. Most of the advice is for those selling their vehicle privately, but a lot of it will also be handy for those part exchanging their car for a new one.

Clean your car, inside and out

First impressions are important, so it’s vital you get your car looking as clean as possible in order to wow those potential suitors. If your car is covered in dirt and mud then it just doesn’t paint a very good picture, and if you haven’t looked after the outside then it suggests you haven’t looked after the inside or what’s under the bonnet either.

Speaking of what’s under the bonnet, it’s worth giving that a bit of a clean as well. Even if the person buying your car doesn’t know a thing about how anything works under there, the fact that it looks clean will go a long way.

Check out our full range of car cleaning products to get your vehicle sparkle.

Touch up any chips or scratches

For a similar reason to washing your car, touching up any scratches or chips just improves the overall look of your car. A buyer should expect a few marks here and there when buying a used car, but anything major could really put them off.

Take a look at our guide on how to touch up scratches on your car or browse our range of scratch repair products.

Fix major repairs

As well as touching up small scratches and marks, it’s also important to get any major work done before you sell, particularly anything that makes your car unroadworthy. It’s actually illegal to sell an unroadworthy car, unless the buyer is fully aware and wants to continue with the sale anyway.

If there’s other work that needs doing (but wouldn’t render the car unroadworthy) then you should either get it fixed or fully disclose the issues and prepare to sell at a reduced cost.

Problems you might want to consider fixing include broken headlights, balding tyres, and damaged upholstery.

If you need to replace any bulbs in your car, then we have a huge selection to choose from.


Take plenty of photos

Being able to see the car is incredibly important for buyers, so if you’re selling online, make sure you take plenty of photos. Photograph the car from angle, so potential buyers can see every little detail, including inside the car and even under the bonnet. Even taking photos of things like the tyre tread can make a difference.

This helps buyers to make a more informed decision, proves you’re not trying to hide anything and is less likely to result in anyone getting annoyed that you haven’t disclosed something.

Fill up fluids

It’s worth just topping up the fluids in your car before someone comes to take a look at it. It’s not a major issue, but if the engine management light comes on because you have low brake fluid or windscreen washer fluid then it doesn’t make a great impression.

Read more: How Brake Fluid Works & How To Top It Up

Take a look at our full range of car lubricants and fluids.

Get a third party inspection

If you really want to know how healthy your car is before you sell it then you can also get a third party inspection. Any garage will do this for you and should be able to give you a thorough breakdown of any problems and advise you on the cost to fix them.

Determine the true market value of your car

Don’t just pick a ballpark figure out of the air when putting a price out there. Doing this will more than likely either result in you putting off buyers with a price that’s too high or losing out on money with a price that’s too low.

Do your research beforehand and look at what similar cars are being sold for so you know where to pitch your price. You’ll also need to be prepared to negotiate – most buyers will try and knock you down on the price, so you may need to accept slightly lower than you originally advertise.

Gather together any and all paperwork

Before a potential buyer comes to take a look at your vehicle, have any and all paperwork ready for them to take a look over.

This should include all maintenance records, the V5 document, insurance records, log book, service history and records, and even any receipts of repairs if you have them. Doing this means the new owner is fully informed of the history of the car, and is less likely to come knocking with questions or problems further down the line.

We reached out to online car dealership Carspring for their advice on selling your car, and they said that paperwork was a big deal in getting the most for your vehicle. Max from the company said: “You’d be surprised at the difference in price we’re able to offer cars with all the detailed paperwork and those without. A full-service history, for example, provides us with the evidence and reassurance we need to offer that little bit more, and for that peace of mind, you’ll find that buyers will be prepared to pay extra. It really is in everyone’s best interests to get as much paperwork as you can about your vehicle.”

However, do not let anyone borrow any of the documents or even make copies of them.

Car mechanic


Consider a new MOT

Depending on how long is left on your current MOT, it might be worth getting a new one as this says a lot about the condition of the car.

Read more: What Will A Car Fail Its MOT On?

If the car has less than three months left then you should definitely get a new MOT as otherwise this might suggest you’re trying to get rid of the car because it won’t pass its next MOT.

Deal with outstanding finance

Quite simply, you can’t sell a car that has outstanding finance, which includes hire-purchase or conditional sale agreements. If you do want to sell your car but you have outstanding finance, then you’ll need to speak to the finance company who may or may not grant you permission to transfer the finance over to someone else. They probably won’t allow you to without having full details of the potential new buyer.

The other option is to settle the remaining finance before selling.

Throw in some freebies

If you’re having trouble selling your car, or you just want to appear as attractive as possible for buyers, you could consider throwing in some freebies with your car. This could be in the form of 6 months of tax, a sat nav or organising a professional valet. Anything that could help your car stand out from others in the listings.

Once you’ve sold your car

Well done if you’ve managed to sell your car! But you can’t quite put your feet up just yet, unfortunately.

Once you’ve sold your car, you need to contact the DVLA as soon as possible and inform them that you are no longer responsible for the vehicle. If you don’t then you might find the new owner’s speeding fines or convictions coming through your letterbox.

Along with the new buyer, you’ll need to complete the relevant sections of the V5C and send them off to the DVLA You can find more information about this on the DVLA website.

How To Touch Up A Scratch On Your Car

Over the course of owning a car, it’s inevitable that you’re going to pick up a few scratches here and there. Whether it’s bushes along a country lane, stones flying up off the road or some ne’er-do-well doing it on purpose, scratches are almost unavoidable.

Read more: Car Security – Is Your Car Begging To Be Broken Into?

And it’s important that you get do something about them sooner rather than later. Not only do they not look great, but if left they can lead to rust and other degradation over time. They may also reduce the value of your car if you’re looking to sell it.

So if you’ve noticed a scratch on your car, here’s how to go about fixing it.

Assess the scratch

The first thing you need to do is actually assess how deep the scratch is. The paint on your car has four layers: clear coat, colour and primer. Under the primer is the steel of the bodywork.

If the scratch is just in the clear coat then it shouldn’t be too tricky to deal with. You’ll know if the scratch is deeper than the clear coat because it’ll show a different colour. Here’s how to touch up clear coat scratches…

Clear coat scratches

Step one – Clean the area

The first thing you need to do is clean the scratch and the surrounding area. Any dirt on or around the scratch could end up making it worse when you’re buffing later on.
And don’t just use the sleeve of your jumper. Use a lint free cloth with soap and water and then let it dry completely.

Step two – Apply rubbing compound

Rubbing compound is used for smoothing and blending paint surfaces so is ideal when it comes to scratches. Apply a small amount (about the size of a 5 pence piece) to a lint free or microfibre cloth and polish a small area slowly and firmly.

Once you’ve done about 20 or so strokes, check to see whether the scratch is still visible. If so, then repeat the process.

CarPlan Rubbing Compound

This rubbing compound from CarPlan is a great choice.

Step three – Apply swirl mark remover

When using the rubbing compound, you may find some swirl marks appear where you’ve been rubbing. If this is the case then you can use swirl mark remover to get rid of them. Alternatively, if you use a product like Turtle Wax Color Magic, then this deals with swirl marks in the first instance.

Step four – leave to dry and clean

Once the scratch is no longer visible, leave everything to fully dry. Then give it another wash just to be sure.

Using a scratch touch up pen

Another option for dealing with minor scratches and chips in the paintwork is to use a touch up pen. This essentially ‘colours in’ the offending scratch, also offering protection from oxidation.

If using a touch up pen, clean the area as described above, carefully apply and then leave to dry. These should only be used with minor scratches – if the scratch has gone through to the steel then you’ll need something a bit more comprehensive. But for your everyday scratches, they’re fantastic.

T-Cut Scratch Magic Touch Up Pen

This Scratch Magic touch up pen from T-Cut is a fantastic product that works with all paint colours and finishes.

Using sandpaper

For the slightly more adventurous, it’s possible to use sandpaper to help you get rid of the scratch. As long as you’re careful, obviously.

When sanding, your aim is to go just through the clear coat and no further. If you go too far down then you’re going to have a problem reapplying primer or colour. Here’s a quick guide on how to do it…

  • Wrap 2000-grit wet/dry sandpaper around a sanding block
  • Lightly sand in the direction of the scratch.
  • Regularly brush the area clear so you can see how you’re getting on.
  • Rinse the area making sure it is clear and dry.
  • Use rubbing compound to smooth the area out and polish.
  • Wax the area to seal the paint.
  • Wash the area.

Touching up scratch on car

Colour and Primer Layer Scratches

Unfortunately, if the scratch has gone through the clear coat and then through the colour and/or the primer layers then things get a little more complicated and it’s not quite as simple as just buffing it out. But you can still get it sorted with a bit of work. Here’s how…

Step one – Clean the area

As we mentioned above with clear coat scratches, it’s essential that you thoroughly wash and dry the area around the affected area to prevent further scratches from dirt. Again, use a lint free microfibre cloth. You may also want to give the area a clean with a solvent to rid it of any oil or wax.

Step two – Apply primer or colour

If you’ve gone right down to the metal then you’ll first need to apply primer. Carefully do so and leave to dry before giving the area another clean to ensure it’s free from dirt.
Then carefully apply the colour. Try to stay within the scratch as much as possible. It’s OK to have some overlap onto the rest of the paintwork, but try not to get too much. Leave to dry overnight.

Step three – Sand the area

As described above, you then need to lightly sand the area. This will remove any paint raised above the surface and overlapping onto the rest of paintwork. Sand slowly and delicately, cleaning regularly to see how you’re getting on.

Step four – Use rubbing compound

Again this part is similar to a clear coat scratch. Use rubbing compound to better smooth the area over and blend the new paintwork with the old.

Step five – Add more paint if necessary

If you have any parts of the scratch that aren’t properly filled, repeat steps two, three and four until the scratch is filled and level.

Step six – Use polishing compound / colour restorer

The sanding will likely have cause the paintwork to become slightly dull, but don’t worry. This can easily be restored using polishing compound or colour restorer. Using a small amount of this and rubbing in with a lint free cloth (again making sure the area is clean) will bring up your car’s original shine.

NOTE – please take care when doing this yourself. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, get someone with more experience to help or do it for you.

If you’re going to have a go and repair scratches on your car, check out our full range of scratch repair products.

Why You Need A Breathalyser When Driving In France

When driving in France, things are a little different as you might expect, and there are certain items that you have to carry by law. This includes reflective jackets and a warning triangle, as well as the need for headlight converters if you’re driving your own vehicle.

You can read more about the items you need when driving in France in our dedicated article.

One of the things that jumps out is that French driving legislation dictates that you must carry a breathalyser in your vehicle. This isn’t just the case for Brits driving in France but actually for everyone, including the French.

Read more: The Most Bizarre Driving Laws Around The World

In fact, you should really carry two breathalysers – so that if you have to use one, you still have one in your car.

The legislation stating that all drivers in France need a breathalyser in their car was announced on 1st March 2012, coming into power the following November. This was after lobbying from a driving pressure group called I-Care, which was fronted by a man who, coincidentally, was head of one of the two companies who made the breathalysers – the more cynical of you might deem there to be some ulterior motive there!

Nevertheless, the law was passed, meaning those two companies had to produce enough breathalysers for over 30 million drivers. The proposed fine for not having a breathalyser in your car was set to be €11, but with the manufacturers struggling to meet demand, the introduction of the fine was postponed.

French road signs


Then came the 2012 French general election, and Nicolas Sarkozy, whose government passed the legislation, lost to François Hollande. Then in 2013 Hollande’s new government postponed the introduction of the fine indefinitely, which means that there is actually no official punishment for not having an unused breathalyser in your vehicle.

Do you really need a breathalyser when driving in France?

If there’s no fine for not having a breathalyser in your vehicle, do you really need one? Well, yes is the answer. Whilst you may not be given any specific fine for not having one, you’re still breaking the law if you don’t.

This means that should you be stopped by the French authorities for whatever reason and they decide to check what you do and don’t have, they could make life difficult for you if you don’t have the right kit.

You won’t be fined, but it can take up your time and be a potentially sticky situation, particularly if your French isn’t that good.

They’re not expensive, so it really is best to take one with you just to be safe. The breathalysers you have must be NF approved, like the AlcoProof ones we sell here at Ignitionline…

AlcoProof breathalyser needed for driving in France

Read more about the AlcoProof breathalyser testers.

For your reference, here are the drink drive limits across the Channel.

Drink driving limits in France

Drink drive limits differ from country to country, so it’s important to be aware of the subtle difference depending on where you are.

In France, the drink drive limit is 0.5 grams per litre, lower than the 0.8 in the UK. However, if you’re a new driver (passed within the last three years), then the limit is lowered to 0.2 grams per litre, the same applied to bus and coach drivers. This lower limit means you shouldn’t even risk having one drink, although of course our advice is that if you’re driving, you shouldn’t drink alcohol at all.

The limit for new drivers was lowered a couple of years ago due to the fact that a shocking 25% of young driver deaths were directly related to alcohol over the previous two years.

If you have any questions regarding driving across Europe, check out our comprehensive guide.

How Brake Fluid Works & How To Top It Up

If there’s one part of your car you need to work as well as possible all the time, it’s probably the brakes. Without them you’ve got a bit of a problem.

There are various parts of your brakes that work together, one of the most important being the brake fluid. If your brake fluid is low or has deteriorated in quality then it won’t work as well, which could have safety implications when driving.

So let’s delve a little deeper into what brake fluid does and how you can check it and top it up…

What is brake fluid & how does it work

Brake fluid is used in hydraulic brakes and works by transferring the force applied when pressing the brake pedal to the wheel.

Read more: What Will A Car Fail Its MOT On?

When you press the pedal, brake fluid is forced into a cylinder which pushes a piston. This piston then moves the calipers to push the brake pads onto the brake disc, causing friction which slows the wheel down. Without brake fluid, there’s nothing to push the piston and work the brake pads. This happens simultaneously on all four wheels when you press the brake pedal.

Brake fluid is also used for general lubrication to reduce wear.

How does brake fluid get low?

There are two main reasons your brake fluid levels might be low. The main reason you may have low fluid levels is that you have a leak somewhere. This is a very serious problem, so if you suspect a leak you need to get it checked out as soon as possible.

If you get a low brake fluid warning in your car, it could also be because your brake pads have become worn. When the pads wear out, the piston needs a little extra help to push them onto the brake disc, and so requires more brake fluid to be taken into the cylinder.

If you feel this is the case then you should top up with a small amount of fluid and then check the brake pads, getting them replaced if necessary. Don’t fully top up, however, if your brake pads are worn – when you fit new pads there will then be too much fluid, causing it to overflow. You can top up fully once you have new pads.

Brake fluid reservoir

How does brake fluid deteriorate in quality?

When you apply the brakes and the fluid is forced around the hydraulics, it heats up. If it heats up too much, it can vaporise. However, it needs to remain as a liquid in order to push the pistons.

Brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs water from the atmosphere. This water lowers the boiling point of the fluid, making it more likely to vaporise and affect the effectiveness of the breaks.

Read more: Why & How To Clean Your Diesel Particulate Filter

It’s recommended that you replace your brake fluid every two years at the most, although if you have an annual service, they should do this for you.

There are various types of brake fluid, containing different mixtures of chemicals that affect the boiling point.

What are the different types of brake fluid?

There are four different types of brake fluid – DOT 3, DOT 4, DOT 5 and DOT 5.1 (DOT stands for Department of Transport).

Each of these contains different chemicals which dictate the boiling point:

  Dry boiling point     

     Wet boiling point   

  DOT 3 

205 °C (401 °F)

140 °C (284 °F)


230 °C (446 °F)

155 °C (311 °F)


260 °C (500 °F)

180 °C (356 °F)

DOT 5.1 260 °C (500 °F)

180 °C (356 °F)

The dry boiling point is when using pure brake fluid. The wet boiling point is the temperature when there is 3.7% water in the mixture, showing how important it is to keep it ‘clean’.

DOT 3, DOT 4 and DOT 5.1 are polyethylene glycol-based, whereas DOT 5 is silicone-based. Please check your owner’s manual as to which performance level your car requires as some types are not suitable for all cars – for example, DOT 3 should not be used in mineral oil brake and suspension systems fitted to some Citroen, Jaguar and Rolls Royce models.

You can see just a couple of the types of brake fluid we have available below.

Carlube DOT 3 brake fluid

Buy Carlube DOT 3 brake fluid

Carlube DOT 4 brake fluid

Buy Carlube DOT 4 brake fluid

Some people may tell you that DOT 3 and DOT 4 for are interchangeable, but this isn’t strictly true. You may be able to use DOT 4 instead of DOT 3 but never the other way round.

Check out our full range of brake fluid and cleaner.

How to check & top up your brake fluid

The first thing you need to do is locate what’s known as the brake master cylinder reservoir. Do this when the car is cold so you don’t burn yourself on anything under the bonnet.

Unfortunately there is no specific place the master cylinder and reservoir will be, although most of the time it will be at the back of the engine bay on the driver’s side.

On newer cars, the reservoir will be semi-transparent, allowing you to see the fluid levels, and there will probably be ‘min’ and ‘max’ levels. Obviously, if it’s looking a little low then simply top up with fluid and you’re good to go.

What Do Headlight Bulb Naming Conventions Mean?

Buying the right headlight bulbs for you car can be a bit of a minefield, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Fortunately, our bulb selector tool can help you find the exact bulbs you need – you can find it at the top of our headlight bulbs page as well as on our homepage and various other pages on the site.

Read more: Why Do LED Headlights Work So Well?

When you enter in the specs of your car or your reg number, you’ll be given a list of the bulbs you should use, each of which has their own name comprising of letters and/or number. But what do these headlight bulbs name mean?

Here’s a look at what the names of some of the most common headlight bulbs mean, specifically the ‘H’ bulbs…

What does the ‘H’ mean in headlight bulb names?

Well it doesn’t stand for ‘headlight’. The ‘H’ actually stands for ‘halogen’. These are bulbs in which a halogen, such as bromine or iodine, has been added to the bulb, allowing it to burn at higher temperatures.

What do the numbers mean in headlight bulb names?

The numbers after the H refer to the style and size of the fitting/prongs that attach the bulb to the car. Some cars have different headlight fittings and therefore require different bulbs.

H1 Headlight Bulbs

The H1 lamp was the first halogen bulb approved for use in cars way back in 1962. It has one pin and a single filament.

Under ECE regulations, the H1’s power rating is 55 watts at 12 volts (giving out 1550 lumens) and the bulbs must emit a white or selective yellow light. However, some H1 bulbs do have a slight blueish tint which still sits within the acceptable definition of white light.

They have a round metal base which is 14.5mm, with one 6.35mm male spade terminal in the centre through which power flows. H1 lamps may be modified for longer life (lower luminescence) or higher luminescence (shorter life) due to the way the filament is wound.

Take a look at our range of H1 headlight bulbs

H1 Bulb specs   H1 bulb specs

H3 bulbs

Whilst H3 bulbs can be used for headlights, they are most commonly used as fog light bulbs. Like the H1, they are 55 watts but only give out 1450 lumens.

See all of our H3 bulbs

H3 bulb specs   H3 bulb   H3 bulb specs

H4 bulbs

H4 are probably the most common type of headlight bulbs and have a slight difference over other types – they have two filaments. One is used for high beam and one for low beam, and when you flash your lights, both filaments are used.

The wattages for the two different filaments are 60W/55W, giving out 1650/1000 lumens.

See all of our H4 bulbs

H4 bulb  H4 bulb specs  H4 bulb specs

H7 bulbs

H7 bulbs have two pins and a single filament, used for either dipped or main beams. H7s are 55W and give out 1450 lumens.

See all of our H7 bulbs

H7 bulb  H7 bulb specs  H7 bulb specs

H8-H11 bulbs

From H8 to H11, the bulbs are all very similar, with a specific fitting unlike the aforementioned bulbs. They are primarily used for fog lights, and there is very little difference between them, other than the wattage and a slight difference in the locking tab, so make sure you get the right one for your car.

The wattages and lumens for these bulbs are as follow:

  • H8 – 35W; 712 lumens
  • H9 – 65W; 2100 lumens
  • H11 – 55W; 1250 lumens

We have many more types of headlight bulbs available, but these cover some of the most popular specifications. Check out our headlight bulb page to see the full range and see which bulbs will fit your car.

If you have any questions about any of our bulbs, just get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

Driving In France: What You Need & Why You Need It

Being just a short ferry trip or train journey across the Channel, many holiday-goers decide that driving to France is a better option than flying.

However, before you hop in the car and head to the south coast, there are various things you need to consider about driving in France. Obviously (hopefully) you know that you need to drive on the right rather than the left, but you also need to ensure you have a number of specific items with you in the car.

Read more: European Driving Laws – A Comprehensive Guide

Here’s your guide to what you need with you when driving in France…

Driving documents

Should anyone need proof that it’s legal for you to drive in France, it’s important that you have all of your relevant driving documents and ID with you. You’ll need:

  • UK driving licence
  • V5c document
  • Motor insurance certificate
  • Passport(s)
  • Travel insurance documents

Hopefully you won’t need to present any of that to anyone once you’re in France, but you still need to have it just in case.

Reflective jacket

You must keep a reflective jacket in your vehicle for everyone travelling and they need to be easily accessible. This is so, if you break down or need to get out of your car for any reason at the side of the road, you’re much more visible. Makes sense.

man in high vis jacket next to broken down car

We stock both adult high-visibility jackets and reflective jackets for kids.

Headlight converters

If you’re driving your own car in France (rather than a rental), then it’s imperative you fit some headlight converters onto your lights.

headlight converters


The headlights on our cars are designed for right hand drive cars to be driven on the left. However, when we take them to countries that drive on the right, the headlights can dazzle oncoming drivers, making them potentially unsafe.

Headlight converters work by redirecting the light slightly so that the beams don’t blind drivers coming the other way. You won’t just need these when driving in France, but when in any European country that drives on the right.

Check out our range of headlight converters that are simple to fit and work on any vehicle.


Since 2012, it’s been compulsory for drivers in France to carry a self-test breathalyser. An €11 fine was initially supposed to be enforced for anyone not carrying one, although the French authorities have since postponed the introduction of the fine indefinitely. So although it’s unclear what would happen if you’re caught without a breathalyser in your car, it’s best to have one just in case.

AlcoProof breathalyser for driving in France

Take a look at our AlcoProof breathalyser, approved by the French authorities so you know it meets all the relevant standards.

In France, the drink drive limit is 0.05%, which is slightly lower than the 0.08% in the UK. However, if you’ve been driving for less than three years, then the limit is reduced to 0.02%. As always, if you’re driving, it’s best just not to drink at all.

Warning triangle

It’s compulsory to carry a warning triangle in all vehicles with four or more wheels. You car may have one already, but if not you can pick them up pretty cheap – right here, in fact!

Warning triangle behind a broken down car

As you’d expect, having one of these is to warn other drivers if you’ve crashed or broken down, so it’s for both their safety and your own.

Get your warning triangle today.

GB stickers

While at one time it was compulsory for all UK drivers to put a GB sticker on the back of their car, this isn’t necessarily the case any more. If your vehicle is fitted with Euro plates (seen below with the little EU symbol on the left) then you’re fine to drive anywhere in the EU without the stickers.

GB euro plates


However, if you don’t have Euro plates for whatever reason (or you’re travelling on to a country outside of the EU) then you’ll still need to display GB stickers on your vehicle. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered here as well – check out these GB stickers that are magnetic and reusable.

Other advisable items when driving in France

We’ve covered all of the legally required items for UK drivers in France, but there are a few other bits and pieces we’d recommend you take with you…

First Aid Kit

You never know when someone is going to need medical attention, so it’s always handy to carry a first aid kit with you. It doesn’t need to be an all-singing, all-dancing kit, just a travel first aid kit with some basic supplies will suffice. They are a legal requirement in some countries, so if you’re driving around Europe, it’s best to carry one.

travel first aid kit


Stock up with one of our handy travel first aid kits.

Snow chains/tyres

Head into the French Alps and, as you’d imagine, it gets pretty snowy and icy. As such, if you’re driving in that region, it’s mandatory to equip your car with snow chains or tyres so your vehicle can better cope with the slippery conditions.

Fire extinguisher

Another one of those items where it’s pretty obvious as to why you might carry it. Like first aid kits, you don’t need to carry fire extinguishers when in France, but you do for some other European countries, so if you’re on a tour around the continent, best take one anyway.

Spare bulbs

If a bulb blows in your vehicle when driving in France, you really don’t want the hassle of having to go and buy a replacement. Unless you’re fluent in French, this could well be a pain in the backside – even worse if you have a light out and the police pull you for it.

Therefore, it’s best to carry a spare set of bulbs with you so you can quickly change any that go pop. Again, carrying spare bulbs is the law in some EU countries, so just put a set in the boot to be safe.

Spare bulb set for driving in France

The above set of spare car bulbs should see you through any blown bulbs.

Check out our full range of European driving essentials or read our comprehensive guide to driving laws in Europe.

Car Security – Is Your Car Begging To Be Broken Into?

Having your car broken into or stolen is heartbreaking in so many different ways. It’s not only inconvenient and costly but it can also make you worry about your general safety and security.

And yet many of us make it far too easy for thieves to break into our cars and steal our belongings or the car itself. According to The Crime Survey for England and Wales, there were 874,000 vehicle-related thefts in 2015, up 3% on 2014, showing that it’s a very prevalent issue and one that more people should be protecting themselves against.

Read more: European Driving Laws – A Comprehensive Guide

Here at Ignitionline, we’ve put together some tips for keeping your car secure to hopefully dissuade would-be thieves from targeting your vehicle.

Hide your belongings

This might sound pretty obvious to most, but it’s not uncommon to wander past cars and see all sorts left on the seats, whether it’s handbags, jackets, sunglasses or whatever else. Plenty of people even leave their sat navs attached to the windscreen.

This is an invitation for thieves to come calling so ensure everything is either hidden away or taken with you. And this doesn’t just apply to high-value items – you might leave an old coat on the back seat that isn’t worth much to you, but a thief might just decide to take a chance anyway in the hope of finding something valuable.

Alarms and immobilisers

Most people will now own a car that comes fitted with an alarm and immobiliser as standard – all UK cars have had to have immobilisers since 1998 – but if you own an older car, you might not have them.

An alarm won’t necessarily stop someone breaking in (although if they see a flashing alarm light then it might) but it might make them scarper if they smash a window and it goes off. An immobiliser, however, should stop them from actually stealing the car, so if yours doesn’t have one, it’s well worth getting one fitted.

If you have an older car, then getting an alarm and immobiliser installed could also lower your insurance premiums.

Thief breaking into car at night

Tracking devices

If you’re worried about your car being stolen then getting a tracking device fitted will increase your chances of getting it back.

You will need to have them specially fitted and they can get quite pricey, so you need to weigh up whether it’s worth the cost. You can choose GPS tracking systems which will find your vehicle if it’s parked above ground, but if you want to go even further, you can opt for a VHF system that will find it even if it’s in an underground car park or a storage container.

Steering wheel locks

A big deterrent for burglars looking to steal your car is the use of steering wheel locks. Even if someone does manage to turn the car on, the steering wheel is locked in place so can’t be used.

A seasoned thief could probably get one off given enough time but the vast majority will be put off and go elsewhere.


Stoplock steering wheel lock

Check out the Stoplock steering wheel lock, which is one of the best around.

You can also buy gear stick locks which work in a similar way, and for vans you can buy locks that prevent the rear or side doors being opened, which is very handy if you have expensive gear kept in there.


Stoplock van door lock

Check out the Stoplock van lock.


Installing a CCTV camera on your house can have two distinct advantages. Not only might it deter a thief if they notice it, but it can also be used as evidence if someone does break into or steal your car. Some even install fake cameras to act as a deterrent.

Read more: The Bizarre Driving Laws Around The World

If you don’t want to put up a camera, then even just having a motion-activated security light might be enough to startle someone trying to break in.

There has also been an increase in the number of drivers using on-board dash cams when they’re actually driving. Again, these can be used as evidence in the event of an unsavoury incident, although don’t forget to take it out of the car with you or it could entice thieves.

Where do you keep your car keys?

When in the house, don’t leave your car keys in full view of a window or the letter box. Keep them well away from the letterbox as thieves have even been known to use long wires to hook keys out of the house.

However, some advise not to take your car keys upstairs with you when you go to bed. You’d rather let a burglar get away with your car then confront you for the keys.

Smashed car window

Security etchings

Etching your car’s registration number or VIN in small digits on the windows of your car will make it more traceable if it goes missing. Thieves stealing cars to order will try and change the identity of the car, so if they can see it’s been etched with the VIN or other number, they might think twice about going to the extra effort.

Don’t get complacent

Hopefully you’ll never have your car broken into, but just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean you should get complacent about it. If you’ve remembered that you’ve left something in the car, just go and get it – it doesn’t take much effort and could make the difference in someone breaking into your car or moving on to someone else’s.

Read more: What Will A Car Fail Its MOT On?

According to The Telegraph, here are the most frequently stolen and recovered cars in 2015, so if you have one of these, it might be worth being a little more vigilant.

  1. Range Rover Sport
  2. BMW X5
  3. Range Rover Vogue
  4. Mercedes C-class
  5. BMW 3-series
  6. Mercedes C63 AMG
  7. BMW 5-series
  8. Audi RS4
  9. Audi Q7
  10. Range Rover Autobiography

Don’t take a chance with your car’s security. Check out all of our car security and safety products.