Telephone 01273 698010

1st Class Garage,
25 Montague Place,



AA Inspected and Certified Garage


Retail Motor Industry Federation


Credit Cards Welcome at 1st Class Garage



Your vehicle repair and servicing questions answered

At 1st Class Garage we understand that a lot of problems drivers have with their cars can be solved by a simple explanation. You may also have questions about the services we provide that are not answered elsewhere on our web site. That is why we have taken some of the questions we are asked most frequently and put them here on our site, along with our answers of course!

If you have a query that is not answered here, or would like further information or advice, do not hesitate to call or contact us. We are always happy to give advice and will try to diagnose faults over the phone whenever possible.

When do I need to change my cam belt?

If you have bought a second-hand car and don't know the history of the cam belt, we would advise you to get it changed at your earliest convenience. You can then be certain of how long the belt should last.

Most cam belts should be changed after 40-60,000 miles. Manufacturers of some models advise 100,000 miles for those cars. But the length of time you have had the cam belt should also be taken into consideration, as rubber deteriorates with age. If you only journey a few thousand miles each year, it is best to change your cam belt every five years to avoid it perishing.

If you are unsure how long your cam belt should last, give us a call. We can check the data manual for your model of car and advise you how often the manufacturer recommends you have the belt changed.

The engines of newer cars come with a cam belt kit, to avoid failures on bearings. The entire kit, which means the idler pulleys and adjuster pulleys as well as the belt itself, must be changed at the intervals advised by the manufacturer.

If you are hearing a high-pitched squeal upon starting your engine, this is most likely due to a problem with the fan belt, rather than the cam belt. This can normally be solved by a small adjustment, or by replacing the fan belt altogether. These problems can also occur with alternator belts and power steering belts, and are more likely to be with these belts than the actual cam belt.

How often do I need to service my car?

1st Class Garage recommend an oil and filter change after every 5-6,000 miles travelled, and a full service after 10-12,000 miles.

Most people travel 10-12,000 miles in their car every year, which obviously means you should get a full service once a year. We would recommend having an interim service, or an oil and filter change, once every six months.

On some models of car, the manufacturer advises a longer period between services, sometimes up to 20,000 miles. We would still recommend a full service after 10-12,000 miles, as if left longer the engine can become dirty and its performance will be affected.

What do the different warning lights mean?

Modern cars have a large number of electrically operated systems, from airbags, to ABS brakes, to traction control systems. These systems usually connect to a light on the dashboard which gives you advance warning of a fault with the particular unit. If a warning light does come on it is a good idea to visit a garage as soon as possible.

In some cases, when a warning light comes on, it is better not to drive the vehicle until it has been checked. If you are not sure, either check your handbook for a breakdown of what each light indicates or give us a call and we can advise you on the best course of action.

Where does your recovery service operate?

There is no limit to the distance 1st Class Garage will travel to recover a vehicle, although long-distance recoveries will obviously be more expensive. In the past we have travelled as far as Plymouth, Bristol, and Birmingham to recover vehicles.

For local breakdowns we base our recovery charge purely on our normal hourly rate, plus fuel. However, due to the increased expense of long-distance travel, recoveries outside the local area will be subject to mileage charges.