There are a variety of different types of driver on our roads today: new drivers; those who passed their test decades ago; those who don’t enjoy it but must get from A to B; those who enjoy driving; and those who drive for a living. Everyone is trying to get to where they need to go, but we’re all going at a different pace according to our confidence and ability. However, no matter what your driving skills are like, there’s always room for improvement in becoming a better driver… Continue reading
Category: Car Tips And Tricks
How to be a greener driver
Global warming is something that affects all of us so it’s something that all of us should be actively trying to combat. Fuel emissions contribute significantly to global warming, and every year there are more and more cars on the roads. However, there are some ways in which you can make your daily commute a greener one… Continue reading
13 essentials to keep in your car
When you’re behind the wheel of a car there are multitude of things that could go wrong; a breakdown, an accident, you could become lost – so it’s important that you’re prepared for any such eventuality. But how do you do that?
It’s simple. Keep your car stocked with the essentials; items that should always be in your car to ensure that when one of those issues does arrive, you’re ready.
We’re going to give you a quick rundown of those essentials here. And no, it isn’t stuff that’s going to take up the backseat of your car. It can all be tucked away into a box and put in your glove compartment or boot.
The owner’s manual – This shouldn’t really leave the glove compartment anyway, but if you have taken it out for whatever reason, make sure you put it back. It’ll offer you a lot of information that can help you get back out on the road. Plus, if you’re backed up in a huge traffic jam, it’s something to read at the very least.
Maps – Sure, you have a Smartphone and a satnav in your car but we all know that those batteries don’t last long. A paper map could end up being an absolute saviour when you’re lost.
An old mobile phone – I’d be t you have plenty of old phones crammed into a drawer at home. Pull one of them out, charge it and then keep it in your car turned off. This way, when you’re lost or stranded and your current phone’s battery has died, you have a backup on hand.
Bottled water – If you’re stranded the last thing you want is to be thirsty for hours on end. Keep a bottle of water in the car with you at all times. You never know when you might need to wet your whistle!
High energy snack – The same goes with food. You don’t want to be stuck for hours without something to eat, so keep some high energy snack bars for emergencies. Oh, and don’t eat them when you’re peckish on the way to work. They’re for emergencies!
First aid kit – If you’re in an accident and you or someone else is injured then you’ll want a first aid kit to hand. Putting it to use until the emergency services arrive could end up making the difference between life and death. Don’t underestimate its importance.
Flashlight – Imagine trying to change a flat in the dead of night. Not easy if you can’t see what you’re doing. Pack a flashlight in your boot.
Towels – Seems odd, but towels can be put to use in a number of different ways; drying off after a thunderstorm, keeping warm at night, and to put under a tyre when you’re jammed in the mud or snow.
A change of clothes –If you have to change a tyre in the rain you’re going to get soaked.What’s worse is that you have to get back in the car and continue to drive to your destination. You’ll be happy to have some dry clothes you can throw on.
A fire extinguisher – Fires can quickly grow from a small flame to a raging inferno. A fire extinguisher in your boot can stop something small from turning into something much worse.
Emergency money – Keep a small amount of cash in your car just in case you ever need to tip a friendly tow truck driver, or pick up something to eat (that’s if you did buckle and eat your emergency snack).
A shovel – British weather can’t be trusted, and when it does turn sour, the roads become mayhem. If you do find yourself caught in a snowstorm it isn’t unlikely that the car will become a little stuck. A shovel can help you dig out of any problem.
Jump cables – These will help you get your car started when you battery dies (providing a friendly driver gives you hand), and it means you can help someone else when they’re in a fix.
Kit your car out with these things and you’ll be ready for any eventuality.
3 vehicle checks to make before a long journey
If you mainly use your car to commute to work and back, and pick up the shopping at the weekend then a long journey might be just what it needs! When your car is running, the alternator charges the battery up. If you only ever make short journeys, your battery will only ever be charged in short bursts. Making a longer journey will give your battery a really good charge, so it’s worth hitting the open road every once in a while!
If you’re one of the thousands Brits who enjoy holidaying in the UK then your annual break gives you the perfect opportunity to run your car on a longer journey. However, if you mainly do short journeys throughout the rest of the year it’s important to prepare your car for its extended road trip…
1 – Check your oil
You should be checking your engine oil regularly throughout the year anyway, but it is especially important to check it before you set off on a long journey. Oil is vital to the function of your vehicle; it keeps everything in the engine properly lubricated, preventing wear on moving parts. It also inhibits corrosion, improves sealing, and carries heat away from moving parts.
Check your oil by removing the dipstick – check your vehicle’s manual if you’re unsure of its location. Wipe the dipstick clean, and reinsert it before drawing it back out. The oil level should be within the minimum and maximum lines. If it falls below you’ll need to top it up with the correct oil for your vehicle; if there’s too much oil you’ll need to get your mechanic to remove some.
2 – Check your tyres
The only contact your car has with the road’s surface are four areas of tyre roughly the size of your hand. If your tyres are worn or bald then they won’t be able to perform their vital job properly. The legal minimum tyre tread depth is 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tyre, although for the best results you should ensure that your tyres have a healthy 3mm tread depth for maximum traction.
Before you set out on your journey, check whether you have a spare tyre in your boot or not. Many new vehicles come with a puncture repair kit as opposed to a space-saver tyre. Check the condition of your tyres before you set off, ensuring there are no slow punctures. Finally, top up the tyre pressure to the correct level for your vehicle and load – see your car’s handbook for more information.
3 – Check your fluids
Embarking on a long drive puts your engine under considerable pressure, so it’s important that your radiator is working effectively and keeping the engine cool to prevent overheating. Coolant fluid is essential for maintaining a healthy engine so check the fluid level regularly and top up where necessary – but only do this when the engine is cold! During the winter months coolant is prone to freezing so be sure to add antifreeze at a 50 – 50 ratio.
When driving for a long distance on the motorway it’s likely that you’ll encounter a few dead bugs, general dust and debris, as well as spray from other vehicles in wet weather. It’s essential that you have plenty of screenwash at your disposal to keep your windscreen clean and clear whilst you’re driving.
Of course, there are other things that you need to check regularly, but these three key things above are particularly important before setting off on a long journey. As well as having your vehicle serviced regularly by a reputable mechanic you should be checking the following things yourself:
- Windscreen – Check for cracks and scratches; not only can they impair your vision they can also weaken the windscreen, making it potentially dangerous.
- Power steering – Ensure there is enough power steering fluid in the reservoir and that your steering is working as it should be.
- Wipers – Check your windscreen wipers; over time they wear down and can smear the windscreen, making it difficult to clean dirt and rain away.
- Lights – Check all of your lights regularly; headlights, fog lights, brake lights, indicators. Replace bulbs as soon as possible after they have broken.
- Bodywork – Regularly check your car’s bodywork for rust and get it treated straight away to prevent the rust setting in and causing irreparable corrosion.
Remember – if you don’t think your car is fit for a long journey why not sell it to us and use the money to buy a new one! We’ll buy any car less than ten years old, regardless of its condition!
How to prepare your car for winter
The winter months are particularly harsh on vehicles. Temperatures drop and road conditions worsen making your daily commute a whole lot more challenging. If you want to ensure the safety of yourself and other road users during winter then it’s vital that you prepare your vehicle at the start of winter, and check it regularly throughout the cold season.
Prevent major engine problems with antifreeze
During a cold snap you might find that the radiator coolant freezes, preventing it from doing its job properly. When you start the engine, listen out for a continuous squealing noise – this is the fan belt slipping on the pulley and is a sign that the water pump is frozen. If this happens, turn off your engine and allow it to thaw out.
If your engine starts up ok without any warning signs you might think you’re out of the woods. However, keep an eye on the temperature gauge as you’re driving. If your car begins to overheat after just a few miles this usually indicates that the coolant has frozen and isn’t circulating around the radiator.
- Antifreeze costs a few pounds and will help to prevent a frozen and cracked engine block that would cost hundreds of pounds to repair.
- Make sure you use the right type of antifreeze for your car; many modern cars use a long-life type, so check your vehicle handbook for information.
- A 50-50 mix of antifreeze and water during the winter will give your vehicle maximum protection down to -34°C.
Protect your vehicle’s life source: the battery
Your car relies on its battery to keep it running, and during the winter extra constraints are placed on the batteries. As the nights start to draw in and the sun rises later, you’ll need to use your headlights for both your morning and evening commute. Not to mention the increased use of your car’s heater when the temperature drops.
Most car batteries have about five years of life in them, so replacing the battery as it nears the end of its life can help to prevent the inconvenience of breakdowns and non-starts. The last thing you want when it’s cold and dark outside is to find yourself stuck on the side of the road with a dead battery.
- Try to avoid running your car’s electrical systems for longer than necessary. For example once it has heated up turn the blowers down low, and remember to switch off the rear window heater once the windows are clear.
- If your car struggles to start on a cold morning, turn the starter over in five second bursts, leaving 30 seconds between attempts in order to give the battery time to recover.
- Make sure you carry jump leads in your boot in case you are caught short with a dead battery and need to jump it back into life.
Look after your car’s tyres
Your four tyres are the only contact your car has with the road, and each one covers an area about the size of your hand. Worn or bald tyres are dangerous at the best of times, but when you throw ice, rain, and snow into the mix they can become deadly.
Unless you live in an isolated area that gets hit with particularly heavy snow then you shouldn’t need snow chains, but at the very least you should ensure that your tyres are in the best possible condition to keep you safe on the roads during poor weather.
- For winter motoring your tyres should have a tread depth of at least 3mm in order to provide maximum traction with potentially slippery road surfaces.
- If you’re concerned about safety during the winter perhaps consider changing to winter or all season tyres – their higher silica content prevents them from hardening in colder temperatures, therefore providing better grip when the roads are cold and wet.
If you don’t think your car will see it safely through winter then why not give us a call for a free quote today – we’ll buy any car less than ten years old, no matter what condition it is in!
In the event of a breakdown – Part 2
In the event of a breakdown – Part 1
Breaking down on the motorway is very dangerous and can be a scary experience, so it’s important that you know prior to it actually happening what the safest way to handle such an event is.
Breaking down on the motorway can be dangerous not only for you, but for other road users too, so it’s your responsibility to make sure that you know how to react safely.
Warn other road users
If you find your vehicle slowing down rapidly then you should try to warn other road users by switching on your hazard lights straight away.
Safely move onto the hard shoulder
You then need to steer your vehicle onto the hard shoulder of the motorway as soon as it is safe to do so. Remember though that the hard shoulder of the motorway should only be used in an absolute emergency.
Park safely and get passengers out
Stop your car as far to the left on the hard shoulder as is possible and turn the steering wheel to the left so that your car’s wheels are turned towards the verge. Any passengers in your vehicle should exit the vehicle using the doors on the left hand side; any animals should be left inside the vehicle. If you have warm, waterproof or reflective clothing in the car then these should be worn and passengers should wait for help behind the motorway barrier if there is one, or up the embankment, as far away from the carriageway as possible.
Call for help
Even if you think you can repair your vehicle yourself you should not attempt to do so on the motorway. Once you’re outside of the vehicle and in a safe location you should use your mobile phone to call the company that you have your breakdown cover with to come and help you.
If you don’t have a mobile phone or if it is out of battery or doesn’t have signal then you will need to walk to the nearest emergency breakdown phone. You will be able to see arrows on posts on the hard shoulder follow these arrows to find your nearest free emergency telephone.
If you can’t get to the hard shoulder
If your car stops moving very suddenly and you find yourself broken down in the middle of the motorway then it’s very important to remember not to get out of your vehicle. With cars moving at such high speeds it is important to stay inside your vehicle and call the emergency services if you have a mobile phone with you. Don’t attempt to cross the motorway or move your vehicle.
In the event of a breakdown – Part 1
If your car is going to break down you can almost guarantee that it will choose a time that is not only unexpected but also extremely inconvenient for you.
So don’t let your vehicle catch you out! Make sure that you are always prepared for an emergency breakdown when you’re out on the road.
What to keep in your car
It doesn’t matter whether your car decides to pack in whilst you’re running your day-to-day errands or during a long and arduous road trip – either way it is still an extremely stressful experience. Make things as easy as possible for yourself by taking a few precautions to ensure that you’re always prepared for the worst when you’re out and about on the road!
Here is a list of items you should ensure you always have to hand in your car in case of an emergency.
- Road map
You may have sat nav on your phone but what if your phone is broken, lost, out of battery or signal? It’s essential that you always keep a road map in your vehicle for these times!
- Coins or phone card
If your mobile phone fails you in your time of need (as they have a habit of doing) then depending on where it is that you break down you may need some coins to call for help from a payphone.
- The details and telephone number for your emergency breakdown company
- Practical, warm, waterproof clothing
You never know when or where you’re going to break down. The last thing you want is to end up stranded on the coldest day of the year in inappropriate clothing. This is why it’s a great idea to keep warm and waterproof clothing/blankets in the car in case of such an emergency.
- A fully charged mobile phone and an in-car charger
- Red warning triangle
If you’re going on a particularly long trip then it is also advisable to pack food and water just in case you break down and are left waiting for assistance.
Keeping all of the above items in your vehicle will not only give you peace of mind, it’ll also soften the blow of falling victim to a broken down vehicle and make a difficult and stressful situation just that little bit easier to bear.