Cars

How important is it to have my vehicle regularly serviced?

Posted on June 30, 2020 at 8:15 pm

Most people are aware of the necessity of keeping their vehicles in a safe condition and ensuring that they take their vehicles to a reliable and trustworthy garage for the annual MOT to be carried out but are they as conscientious about having their cars serviced regularly?

Usually this oversight is because of financial restrictions but it is important to keep your vehicle in good condition as the likelihood of a breakdown is less and the cost of recovery and repairs if you do breakdown can be higher than the service charge.

It used to be that some of the routine checks and jobs that are carried out during a service could be attempted by the car owner with some help from online forums or instruction manuals but as vehicles have become more complex in design and performance this is now not the case. For example, changing the air filter is a relatively simple procedure but changing the oil and oil filter will need a mechanic.

Local garages are good places to start when sourcing a garage to carry out servicing and are usually a lot cheaper than car dealership service centres. By looking at reviews from previous customers it is possible to check whether the company is reliable and whether they give a good level of service.

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Changing the brake pads on your vehicle

Posted on May 29, 2020 at 8:09 am

If you have not used your car much during lock down or have missed your MOT you are likely going to need to get it a once over before you start using it again, if it has been stood still for a while. All MOT’s have no been extended but with many garages starting to open again and able to take on more work, it is advisable to get your MOT done as soon as possible.
Car brake pads are often usually need replacing once every – one to two years depending on the mileage you do. When you take your car in to a garage to replace the pads they should also check the brake discs and other pads on the car (front or back). They may offer to clean the other set of pads that you are not having replaced. You may find that when you take your car in t the garage to have the pads replaced they advise you that you will also need to have the pad discs replaced too. This can very quickly add quite a chunk on to the price but it is always worth investing in your brakes and getting them done as soon as possible. Try not to drive your vehicle far if you notice your pads are worn out as not only is this dangerous but will also damage your disc.

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How to check that your shock absorbers are ok

Posted on April 19, 2020 at 8:23 am

Shock absorbers are very important part of a vehicle and often you can tell when they are on their way out or completely ruined. If your car seems to be a bit bouncy or not handling correctly it could be an issue with your shock absorbers. You may have juts had a 12 month MOT done and assume because the vehicle didn’t fail that the shock absorbers are ok, but this is not always the case. Shock absorbers often have to be really worn excessively or leaking  before they fail an MOT.

A simple test to see if your shock absorbers are going is to push down on each corner of the car and see how quickly it stops bouncing. It should only go up and down once or twice, if after this it is still bouncing then the likelihood is it will need new shocks. This test is not definitive though and you may still have an issue with your shocks even if the vehicle passes this test.

A garage will often charge you around £250-£300 to supply and fit a pair of shock absorbers. If you are able to source the parts yourself you may be able to save a huge chunk of money.

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Get little mechanical jobs done on your vehicle at the same time to save money

Posted on March 27, 2020 at 7:10 am

If you have various mechanical jobs that need doing on your vehicle and all of them are quite small, then rather than booking one job in at a time, you should try and get them all done together.

Not only will this save you time as you may find that they only need the car one day to complete them all, but you may find that the labour cost is reduced. This is because part of the time a garage will charge for is getting the vehicle up on ramps, test driving it, removing covers and wheels etc. If the little jobs require this to be done then and you book them in at separate times then you may be paying for this part of the repair over and over again. Often it is easier to complete other jobs at the same time as another as you are already able to access many parts of the vehicle.

If a job needs doing and it is urgent or making the vehicle unsafe to drive then you should not wait for other little jobs to come up until you book it in. In this instance ask the garage to have a look over the car whilst they have it and advise on anything else they may think needs ding, and possible get that done at the same time.

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Always test drive a car before buying it

Posted on February 24, 2020 at 10:14 pm

When it comes to buying a new or used car you need to test drive it. It is very important to test drive a used car as you need to check that it drives ok and you cannot hear any bad noises or bangs. If you are looking to order a brand new car, then you will not be able to test drive it as you have to place your order and purchase it before the order is placed at the factory, but you should be able to test drive the same model but a used version.

Most garages will have insurance that will cover you to drive any vehicle on a test drive.

If you have your eye on a few different cars, then do not be afraid to ask if you can drive all of them.

If you are looking at a second hand car from a private buyer then they may be reluctant to allow you to drive it. If possible, check that your insurance covers you and then ask if they can either let you drive it just a short distance, or if they would take it out with you as a passenger. A car may look and feel great but sometimes it is only when you drive it that you realise it is not what you are looking for.

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Which roadside recovery package is right for you?

Posted on December 11, 2019 at 2:31 pm

Owning and running a car can often be a bit of a worry. You may have been driving the car for months with no issues, suddenly to find you are broken down stranded on the side of the road.

Many of us own a car but not all of us have breakdown cover to help us out in difficult situations. You may have been given breakdown cover as part of your car insurance package or you may evene get it as a perk from your bank account, but you need to check the level of cover it gives you.

Think about how often you use your car and when and where you go. If for example you only drive short distances and could be without your car for a few days then you may decide that you don’t need break down cover or the very basic package will be enough for you. If you sometimes drive longer distances, have children in the car or have little money to be able to fork out hundreds in recovery costs, then breakdown cover with recovery to any UK destination will probably be the best for you. The cheapest breakdown packages usually only offer recovery to a local garage within 10 miles of your location when you break down, if you are a 50 miles away from home, this may mean you have to pay for recovery again to your home or you have no choice but to use the garage that your vehicle was recovered too.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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