Buying a van – find out what you need to look out for

Posted on November 7, 2019 at 10:15 am

If you want to buy a van rather than a car then there is probably a specific reason for doing this. For example, you may need a van for work purposes to carry tools and materials, and the amount you carry, or the weight will help you decide what sized van you need.

You need to consider the size of the items you will be carrying and the overall weight that will be in the vehicle at one time and many are restricted and if you ignore this then you may risk breaking the law and / or damaging the van.

If you need a van for your hobby, so to transport model aeroplanes or drones or if you are a courier where you will be needing to use your own vehicle to deliver small parcels then you may look to car derived van such as an Astra van. If you need the more height in the back or a side loading door then you may need to go for something like a Ford Transit Connect or even a Ford Transit Van.

If you are going to be driving long distances, then you should consider how old the van is and what the mileage is also what the fuel economical is like. Diesel vans often give you more miles to the gallon on a good run but do usually cost more to buy to start with. It is worth asking a mechanic to look over a vehicle you are considering buying or getting a used van check which is offered by companies such as the AA.

Posted in Cars

How to tell if your starter motor needs replacing?

Posted on September 10, 2019 at 1:23 pm

If you have a car that is fairly old or has high mileage you may start to notice that a number of issues start to arise. Over time many parts on a car become worn out and will need to be replaced. One of these parts is a started motor. As the starter motor is often hidden in the depths of the mechanics of the vehicle, the most common way to detect a sign of starter motor failure is through sound.

There are a number of things that can go wrong with a started motor such as a loose connection or a defective solenoid. Some of these issues can be repaired others will require you to fit a new starter motor.

The sound your car makes when first trying to start it up can often indicate what the problem is. It may make a clicking, whirring or grinding sound for example which all point to different components of the starter motor. If you notice any of these issues it is important to take the vehicle into a garage as soon as possible for them to look at it. If you continue to drive it the motor will likely stop working altogether and you will have to then get the car recovered, which if you don’t have adequate breakdown cover, will be costly.

Posted in Cars

Save money on car costs

Posted on August 11, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Running a car can work out to be very expensive and this is after the initial purchase price. When working out if you can afford to run a car you need to take many things into consideration. There is the daily cost of fuel as well as yearly MOT’s, services and any repairs that may need doing. You may also want to take out breakdown cover and possibly even a warranty. If you buy a car that costs less than a thousand pounds, you can easily spend the same again in repairs in the first year just keeping the car on the road.

Motor insurance is often a huge expense for many people, even if you pay it monthly. Some new drivers can expect to pay in excess of £1500 a year for their insurance. Shopping around to get the best price really does save you money. When it comes to renewing your insurance, again shop around as you can knock hundreds off your renewal price by going with a different company. You may notice that by increasing the excess you would have to pay should you need to make a claim you can sometimes bring the premium down, but you should ensure that you can afford the excess if you need to claim.   

Driving economically will conserve fuel and mean you get more miles to the gallon. Many newer cars have an eco-gauge on them to show you when you are driving efficiently and when you are not.

Posted in Cars

Driving in warm weather

Posted on July 25, 2019 at 10:51 pm

Most drivers are aware that seasonal conditions are responsible for having to adapt their driving styles and most people presume this is merely for wintery conditions however this is not the case.

Driving in the summer months particularly in hot weather, temperatures over about 23 degrees can cause an increase in stopping distance for your car. This is due to issues with adhesion to the road surface in a similar way to if the road has lots of rain on it or ice. As the road surface and tyres heat up the surface becomes softer also giving the road a more spongy quality.

A sign that this is causing issues would be if you see your traction control light coming on or if you feel the car juddering or slipping as you corner particularly.

The most effective way to deal with this like with difficult winter road conditions is to slow down to allow an improvement in stopping distance and ensure that your tyres are in a good condition and suitable for the car, the load and the conditions.

If you are at all unsure always get your tyres checked at a reputable garage or tyre and wheel centre.

Posted in Cars

Do you need the use of a car following an accident?

Posted on June 29, 2019 at 1:19 pm

Having a car accident can be an awful experience and one which no one ever wants to go through. Even if no one was injured during the car accident, the effect it can have can last weeks if not months afterwards and many people struggle logistically with managing without a vehicle in the days and weeks following the accident.  Many people rely on their car to get them to and from work or do the school run or even do the weekly shop.  Finding yourself without a car can cause a lot of problems and mean you have to rely on public transport which can not only be costly but sometimes unreliable.

Some insurance companies will offer you a courtesy car but often this is a group A insurance car which is a small car such as a Nissan Micra or Vauxhall Corsa. If you need a bigger car then you may be able to pay for an upgrade otherwise you will need to look at hiring a vehicle. If your car is deemed to be a write off by the insurance company then usually the courtesy car is needed back the same or the following day leaving you very little time to source a new one.

Posted in Cars

Is a dash cam useful to drivers?

Posted on May 28, 2019 at 3:28 pm

Dash cams have been out for a number of years now, but recently they have grown hugely in popularity with motorists looking to have that extra bit of security and peace of mind should the worse happen. Dash cams allow for easy installation in to the front or rear (or both) of their vehicle to allow them to record footage that may prove vital in an accident or near miss. Dash cam footage can often be used in court to show the person responsible for causing the accident.

It can also help as a deterrent for anyone who is thinking of trying to take your car or the contents within it. Not only can dash cams help in this way but some cams can help to lower your car insurance costs.

There are always scams that come about on the roads and one that has been prevalent over the last few years is “crash for cash”. This is where a driver pulls in front of another vehicle and purposely slams their brakes on causing the other person to crash in to the back of them. As the driver behind, you automatically become the at fault driver. This usually results in your insurance company having to fork out for damage and possibly personal injury claims along with your premium going up. Dash cams can record that all important footage that can not only allow you to prove the accident wasn’t your fault but to be used in court to prosecute the offender.

Posted in Cars

Signs your car needs the suspension checking

Posted on April 30, 2019 at 10:36 pm

Cars can be costly to run and repair and it is important that you stay on top of any repairs in order to ensure the car is safe to drive and to avoid further damage if repairs are not completed.
A common issue with cars is suspension, this is partly due to general wear and tear but can also be due to hitting pot holes etc.
Most people can tell their shocks or struts are wearing out when they begin to feel every bump in the road. If your car feels quite bouncy especially when going over dips and lumps in the road the chances are you may need the shock absorbers looking at.
If your car feels like its drift or pulling when you are turning a corner then you probably have an issue with your suspension. If left, this can be dangerous so it is important to get this looked at as soon as possible.
If you notice bald spots or uneven wearing on your tyres then you may have an issue with the suspension that is causing the car to put uneven amounts of pressure on the different wheels. This should be rectified before fitting new tyres otherwise the new tyres will be damaged as well.

Posted in Cars

Driving a car in wintery conditions

Posted on February 28, 2019 at 10:05 pm

Over the past few days we have had some very welcomed sunny and warmer weather but this is not set to last and many of us may experience snow or ice over the next month. There are times when you may find yourself in a situation where you have to drive in these sorts of conditions and there are a few tips below that may just help you out:

Planning ahead is often the best way to ensure you are prepared. You should always make sure that you have de-icer, scrapper and working heaters in your car before setting out.

Making sure that your phone is always charged and ideally you have a charger or power bank with you when driving in all conditions but especially in the colder months is essential. If you happen to breakdown or have an accident you need to be able to get help quickly.

Check that your tires are not only well within the legal limits (all round) but also have the adequate amount of pressure in and do not have any damage.

Certain makes and models of cars handle better in the wet / ice than others. If you drive a rear wheel car you may find that it does not feel like it is handling as well as you may expect it to.

Posted in Cars

Safety checks on your car

Posted on September 27, 2018 at 11:30 am

If you have just bought a second hand car or if you have had your car for a while but little work done on it then it could be a great time to have a safety check done. Many of the larger garages will do a free safety check but be prepared for them to point out every little thing that may need doing on your vehicle. If you have recently noticed that your car doesn’t seem to be driving right then you should get it booked in to a garage as soon as possible to have a once over.

There are some simple safety checks that you can do on a daily or weekly basis to keep on top of maintenance of your car. Tyres play an integral part of safety. Under or over inflated tyres can cause you to not have proper grip on the roads, damaged or perished tyres are often the cause of blow outs and tyres with little or no tread can easily cause a vehicle to lose control.

Brakes – the brakes are another very important part of the safety of the vehicle. You should test your brakes every time you get in to the car and before you pick up too much speed to check that they are responding. Any issues with brakes should be checked by a mechanic immediately.





Posted in Cars

Alternator issues with your car or van

Posted on August 30, 2018 at 9:37 am

If you are starting to experience issues such as your lights are not as bright as they used to be or you have a battery and stop light illuminate on your vehicle or the car stalls or has difficulty starting then you may be a sign that your alternator is on its way out. If the vehicle has difficulty starting after the battery is fully charged, the problem likely is with the alternator. You may even have an alternator light on your vehicle which will illuminate when there is a problem.

There are some easy tests that can be done to test it the alternator is in fact charging the battery enough. If your alternator dies then your car will not be able to charge the battery enough for it to start or to keep running.

There are risks of fire etc with alternator problems so it is important to get it checked out as soon as you notice any issues.

The cost of replacing an alternator varies from garage to garage and from make and model of vehicle. On average you can expect to pay £250 plus to get the repair done at an independent garage.

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