Flat Battery

The recent lockdown means that most of us have spent the last few monthS or so at home, with our cars idling on our driveways. While you might think that the odd trip the local shop is enough to keep your engine turning over, the truth is that a lack of regular use can easily result in a flat battery.

As research shows that 1 in 4 batteries would fail a test – and 42% of motorists don’t know what to do if they’re faced with a flat battery – we thought it would be a good time to look at how you can avoid this situation during Covid-19.

Why do car batteries go flat?

Simply put, a component called an alternator draws power from a running engine to automatically recharge a car battery. So, if you haven’t driven your car for a while then the alternator hasn’t had chance to charge up your battery and your engine may not start.

You might be wondering why a battery would go flat in the first place, particularly if it’s not being used. Surely it just maintains its charge? Well, batteries naturally lose a small amount of charge whether they’re in use or not and higher outside temperatures can make this process worse. In addition, things like your car alarm and any immobilisers also drain the battery, and the more you have of this type of equipment, the quicker it will drain. The age of your car is another factor, with older batteries more vulnerable to lack of use.

How can I look after my battery?

Running your engine for five minutes a day isn’t enough to charge your battery and might make the situation worse, because it takes a large amount of battery power to start your engine. It can actually take at least 30 minutes of driving to charge the battery, depending on the vehicle and battery age, but the current restrictions advise against this type of non-essential travel.

We’d therefore recommend that you use a battery charger every two weeks to keep the charge topped up. If you’re concerned about the condition of your car battery, you can also buy a car battery tester to monitor its health. And if your car travel is essential during lockdown, we offer a free battery health check to help keep your car running.

What if my battery is already flat?

The first option is to try to revive it by using a set of jump leads. You’ll need a second car to do this and remember that you need to have minimum contact with others, so ideally you’d use another car within your household. If that’s not possible and you need to ask someone else, then make sure you always keep a safe distance and only go to these lengths if it’s absolutely essential.

Your second option is to use a dedicated jump starter, to provide the essential spark. Batteries can be dangerous bits of kit, so take care and make sure that you read our guide on how to jump-start a car before you get started. This guide shows you how to use jump leads safely, protecting you and your vehicle from the dangers of a short circuit and a potential electric shock. It’s crucial because incorrectly jump-starting modern cars with complex electrical systems can cause irreparable damage to your electronic control unit.

Your third option is a car battery charger that will slowly and safely bring your battery back to life.

What if my battery needs replacing?

Our car battery buyer’s guide is a great place to start if you find that you need a new battery. It’s packed full of useful information and advice that will help you select the right replacement.

We also have our online battery finder. Simply enter your car registration number and our unique database will tell you the right product for your vehicle. You can then select the product you want, enter your postcode to find the nearest fitting store and book a fitting from £15.

Another option is our Halfords Mobile Expert team, who can come directly to your home and fit your new battery while maintaining a safe distance. Appointments can be booked online, where you can also find full details of about services, coverage and safety procedures.

Whatever you choose, rest assured that we will take your old battery away and recycle it for free with an approved waste disposal company.

5 Tips for First-Time Car Buyers

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of heading out to look for your first car. Before this, you probably will have only experienced driving in three different cars: your instructor’s, your examiner’s, and your parent’s. Now, you get to hunt for a vehicle that’s truly yours – but before you dive in, we have some tips to make sure you’re not caught out.

1. Work out what you need

When it comes to buying your first car, you’ll be spoilt for choice. It can be tempting to go for the first thing you see, but it’s worth taking the time to consider what type of vehicle most suits your personal needs. For example, you might not want a smaller car, but if you’re living in the city, this will probably be more practical than something larger. If you ever do need a larger vehicle (for example, if you’re moving house or going on holiday) you can rent one, keeping your costs down in the long run.

2. Work out what you can afford

Speaking of costs, they’re obviously a key factor in what car you’ll choose. You can widen your options significantly by preparing early; save up for your first motor as soon as possible, and when the time comes for you to actually go searching for it, you’ll have more to play around with. In terms of how you can use your money wisely, try and limit yourself to used cars. This used to mean resigning yourself to a rusted old banger, nowadays the standard for used cars is so high that sometimes it’s difficult to tell them apart from the newer ones. Even a car that’s more than five years old will probably have all the tech you need (remembering to not buy what you’ll never use).

This also includes your insurance – which is where you’ll likely incur the most cost. There are lots of policies specifically for new drivers out there, but we recommend our partners at Marmalade, who offer insurance with no penalties for night-time driving, no complex point schemes and no price hikes when you pass!

3. Find a local dealership

Another stubborn stereotype about buying a car is that all the car salespeople you’ll meet will be slimy, manipulative and only concerned with their bottom line. Thankfully for all of us, this is nowhere near being true.

The vast majority of people you’ll meet at dealerships are normal people who’ll help you buy a car, rather than trying to sell you one. If you go in with a clear idea of what you’re looking for, you’ll be better prepared to weigh up the differences and similarities between the same car at two dealerships. The whole environment can be overwhelming – but nobody expects you to know everything about cars straight away! If you need more clarification on anything, just let them know and they’ll be happy to help you.

4. Take a test drive

…and we don’t just mean a ride around the block. Many dealers now allow you to book a test drive in advance, or let you keep the car for a few days.  Sure, there’s more ways to research your chosen motor now than ever – but the only real way to get a feel for it is to take it out yourself. Not only can this help you see how the car might fit into your everyday life, but you can pick up on things that you just wouldn’t see in a simple viewing. Can you adjust the seat height? Is changing gears smooth? Do you have good visibility? These are all questions you should be asking yourself when you test drive a car, and knowing the answers will make you more informed as to whether it’s one that will really suit you.

5. Don’t be afraid to bring backup

As we’ve said, nobody expects you to know everything about cars as a first-time buyer. With that in mind, it can be good to take along someone who’s been through the process before – whether that’s a friend who already has a car, or your parents (who will no doubt keep you grounded regarding the financial side of things!) You might groan at having to factor in a second opinion, but their input can be extremely valuable, especially when it comes to the tricky clauses in some contracts.  As this could be the first big financial decision you make as a young person, it’s best to go into it as prepared as you can be.

This may seem like a lot to take in, but remember – aside from all the practical tips, one of the best bits of advice we can give to first-time car buyers is to enjoy the process. There have never been so many options available, so go and explore – you never know what you might find!

Millennials Risking Thousands in Car Repairs

A new independent study conducted by Select Car Leasing reveals many young motorists are lacking critical car maintenance understanding and legal motoring knowledge, leading to huge potential repair costs.

Coupled with this, recent Office of National Statistics data exposes that a startling 53% of young people in the UK aged 22 to 29 have no savings. This has increased from 41% just 10 years ago, highlighting many younger motorists will simply not be able to afford large car repair bills.

While household bills take priority, a car can quickly become a ‘ticking timebomb’ of major expenses if the correct pre-emptive maintenance isn’t carried out. Unaware, underprepared and without the correct skills or spare money to readily fix these issues, younger drivers are becoming trapped in a downward financial spiral.

As such, avoiding being slapped with unexpected repair costs is of major importance for young motorists in 2019. Let’s take a look at some of the key findings from the survey, and  what this could mean for the rest of us…

Key Research Insights

Brake pad blindness

Only 27% of young motorists know how to check their brake pads. Failing to do so can allow the brakes to thin and become worn, and continued can result in overheating and brake failure, endangering the safety of the driver and other motorists.

Tyre tread ignorance

Almost half of young motorists are unaware of how to check tread depth – opening themselves up to almost £3000 in fines, which the older generation largely manage to avoid.

Tyre pressure pickle

Nearly a third of 18-24 year old motorists don’t know how to check their tyre pressure.

Furthermore, only one in ten of them know that the recommended schedule for checking this is once per month. Checking your tyre pressure is essential, as it can greatly affect the performance and grip of the car on the road. Failure to correctly check this can result in fines and, even worse, nasty accidents.

Relying on rust

With only 3% of UK young adults buying  a brand-new car model in the last three years, the majority are driving cars that are older – and potentially unsafe. The research reveals a worrying correlation for younger drivers, as driving an older or second-hand car greatly increases the chance of faults, breakdowns and needing ongoing repairs.

Maintenance meltdown

The survey also asked how often motorists carry out maintenance on 6 different areas of their car; their response was then compared to the recommended maintenance times offered by Michelin and other automotive authorities.

The results are staggering: less than 1-in-10 18–24-year olds maintain their car according to the correct schedule, the lowest score of all the age ranges. This again shows a crippling lack of motoring knowledge compared to their older counterparts – which may lead to substantial future repair bills.

Furthermore, the majority are unaware of how to carry out the most basic car maintenance checks.

For example, only 49% of motorists between the ages of 18–24 know how to properly maintain their windscreen wipers. Improperly looked after wipers could cause a scratched windscreen and worse, a repair bill of up to £100.

Overall, 18-24 year olds’ lack of maintenance knowledge could end up costing them an eye-watering £7,200.

(Don’t) phone a friend

After an accident an overwhelming proportion of younger drivers are more likely to  call a family member rather than the relevant authorities to properly report the incident.

Official recommendations from consumer watchdog ‘Which?’ advise that if you happen to be in an accident, look around – if anyone has been injured call 999, but if an emergency response isn’t necessary, motorists should call 101 instead.

The study also uncovered a strong gender split on the most common first response after a minor accident. More than a third of women would call their partners first, as opposed to just 16% of males. Men showed a more practical, but still incorrect approach, with 32% stating they would call their insurance company.

This has many risks, including disrupting traffic, complicating insurance claims and endangering their own safety.

Blasé about breakdown cover

A staggering 4 in 10 cash strapped youngsters either don’t have breakdown cover or are unaware if they do – compared to 9 in 10 of 45+ year old respondents who said they were covered.

This raises important questions about why many of the UK’s newest motorists are failing to properly safeguard themselves in the event of a breakdown. Many breakdown policies are cheaper than a Netflix subscription, with the RAC providing coverage from as little as £4.50 a month. This suggests many young motorists are taking a laissez-faire attitude and are simply not worried about breaking down or are unaware of the consequences if they do. It also indicates that the correct support and advice from parents, dealerships and online guides could be lacking or not as readily available .

Not having breakdown cover presents young motorists with a series of issues: they could be left stranded, and even if they can locate assistance, they face a minimum towaway charge of £250 and possibly more money for repairs.

Legal loopholes

The research finds a hefty 7 in 10 young motorists could be accidentally admitting guilt by apologising after a car accident or collision.

Conclusions

The survey results force us to think about how we can better inform young drivers about simple car maintenance checks.  With over half staring at an empty piggy bank, they are in dire need of easily-available education about this. Whether from from transport authorities or the older generation, it’ll provide self-sufficiency that will help them to avoid racking up huge car repair bills.

The reliance of young motorists on older vehicles increases the risk of breakdowns, and other issues these drivers may not know how to fix.

What’s more, with no major immediate changes expected to the UK driving test or any significant legislation which will educate younger drivers about car maintenance, the study highlights they just aren’t fully prepared for driving on the UK’s roads.

While younger motorists will suffer the immediate consequences, the impact is likely to be felt far and wide. Breakdowns and major faults invariably lead to accidents and disruption, which can affect all motorists.

With millennials unable to fall back on savings and the impact of Brexit still an unknown. the research shows it’s increasingly important for young motorists to brush up on their own car maintenance skills, or for a programme of education be implemented by the government. Both these tactics will help the UK’s millennials navigate their way through their first few cars without hassle – helping us all in the long run.

The New MOT Test

‪From Sunday 20 May 2018, the MOT will be changing. ‬

This includes 3 new defect categories –  dangerous, major and minor. A dangerous or major fault will result in an MOT fail.
‪There will also be tighter limits on smoke for diesel vehicles to help improve air quality.‬
‪Vehicles more than 40 years old without substantial improvements will be exempt from having an MOT.‬

The changes will affect cars, vans, motorcycles and other light passenger vehicles. There are 5 main changes you need to know.

1. Defects will be categorised differently

Defects found during the MOT will be categorised as either:
* dangerous
* major
* minor
The category the MOT tester gives each item will depend on the type of problem and how serious it is.
MOT testers will still give advice about items you need to monitor. These are known as ‘advisories’.

2. Stricter rules for diesel car emissions

There will be stricter limits for emissions from diesel cars with a diesel particulate filter (DPF).
A DPF captures and stores exhaust soot to reduce emissions from diesel cars.
Check your car’s handbook if you don’t know if your car has a DPF.
Your vehicle will get a major fault if the MOT tester:
* can see smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust
* finds evidence that the DPF has been tampered with

3. Some new things will be included in the MOT

Daytime running lights will be checked on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018. Some new items will be tested during the MOT.

They include checking:
* if tyres are obviously underinflated
* if the brake fluid has been contaminated
* for fluid leaks posing an environmental risk
* brake pad warning lights and if brake pads or discs are missing
* reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009
* headlight washers on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 (if they have them)
* daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018 (most of these vehicles will have their first MOT in 2021 when they’re 3 years old)
There will be other smaller changes to how some items are checked. Your MOT centre will be able to tell you about these.

4. The MOT certificate will change

The current MOT test certificate (left) will change to a new style (right) to list the new types of defects.
The design of the MOT certificate will change.
It will list any defects under the new categories, so they’re clear and easy to understand.
The service to check the MOT history of a vehicle will be updated to reflect the changes.

5. Some vehicles over 40 years old won’t need an MOT

Cars, vans, motorcycles and other light passenger vehicles won’t need to have an MOT if they’re over 40 years old and have not been substantially changed (PDF, 62.8KB).
At the moment, only vehicles first built before 1960 are exempt from needing an MOT.
When the rules change on 20 May 2018, vehicles won’t need an MOT from the 40th anniversary of when they were registered. You can check the date the vehicle was registered online.

Example
If a car was first registered on 31 May 1978, it won’t need an MOT from 31 May 2018.
You won’t have to apply to stop getting an MOT for your vehicle.
However, each time you tax your historic vehicle (even if you don’t pay a fee), you’ll have to declare it meets the rules for not needing an MOT.

More information

The maximum fees MOT centres can charge won’t change.
In January 2018, the government decided to keep the age a vehicle needs its first MOT at 3 years, rather than extend it to 4 years.
You can get a free MOT reminder by text message or email a month before your MOT is due.
You can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT.

Fuel Cards

A fuel card, or fleet card as they are otherwise known, are used as a payment for petrol, diesel and other fuel types at petrol stations. Implementing these cards within your business fleet brings about many advantages with the most significant being impressive fuel savings.

There is no shortage of options due to the wide array of fuel card suppliers that exist. In other words, competitors offer solutions that can be tailored to the size of your organisation and the type of fuel used by your fleet.

BP Fuel Card

Offering two levels of fuel card services, BP boasts a card that can be used at over 1200 sites in the UK, including a third of all motorway service stations. BP are one of the most ubiquitous fuel providers in the UK. In fact it is estimated that 90% of Britain’s population live within 5 miles of a BP forecourt.

With a terrific security back up system and interest free credit, BP are thought to offer one of the best fuel cards in the UK. To add to this, a minimum spend level of just £300 makes it a popular one.

Allstar Fuel Card

Allstar offer several fuel cards with varying degrees of benefits. You can find out more about these by reading the review. With over 1700 stations in the UK and a mammoth 7600 in total, Allstar offers access to over 90% of the nation’s fuel stations. This includes supermarket chains.

With a 24/7 support service, and one of the most secure networks on the market, it is not surprising that Allstar are thought to be one of the best fuel cards in the industry.

ESSO Fuel Card

As one of the giants of the fuel industry, ESSO offer a network of over 1000 fuel stations to their customers. In itself, this may not seem so impressive, but when you factor in the over 1000 Shell forecourts that also accept the ESSO fuel card, the accessibility of the ESSO fuel card is impressive.

The minimum spend of £300 is fairly standard in the industry. However, ESSO set prices at their own level and not at national prices. This means they often have the edge over their competitors and the right to be considered as one of the best fuel cards.

UK Fuels Fuel Cards

UK Fuels is one of the largest suppliers of fuel cards in the industry. They offer fuel cards from all the major players as well as their own branded set of cards. They have over 25 years of expertise at their fingertips and are renowned for providing impartial advice to drivers looking to improve their fleet efficiency.

UK Fuels excel have the largest selection of fuel cards. This, tied with 25 years of expertise and the ability to help you choose the best option for your business needs put UK Fuels firmly in the running amongst the best fuel cards. It also has no startup fees and some of its fuel card offerings do not require a minimum spend.

Texaco Fuel Card

Another of the major international fuel companies, Texaco are a must for anyone wishing to conduct a thorough fuel cards comparison. With a combined network of over 1900 fuel stations that include Texaco’s own, Morrisons supermarkets and a whole range of independent fuel suppliers, Texaco are highly thought of by their large base of customers.

The £300 minimum spend is manageable for all but the smallest of ventures and the Velocity based security system is one of the most secure on the market.

Next Steps

Finding the best fuel card for you business is not an easy undertaking, especially when you consider the importance of selecting the right one. This applies even to those who consider themselves an expert on the subject. Use a comparison fuel card site that can be found online and see how much you could save.

At WrightStart we actually use 2 fuel cards, Shell and FuelGenie. Due to pupil location and the driving areas we use, Shell fuel stations along with Morrison’s are our 2 most prominent fuel forecourts. With this in mind and good rates we have one of each depending on where we are each time we run out of juice.

How to change a tyre

These days there’s a good chance you’ll have a puncture repair kit or instant tyre filler rather than a spare wheel. If this is the case then familiarise yourself with your kit, so you’ll know what to do if you do get a puncture.

For those that don’t carry tyre filler or are lucky enough to carry a spare tyre, here are our basic tips for changing the wheel…

Please bare in mind for your own safety:
* Don’t change your wheel on the hard shoulder of a motorway or at the side of a road. Turn off or pull over well away from the traffic and call for help.
* Don’t change your wheel on soft, loose or uneven ground
* Don’t change your wheel with passengers inside the vehicle. Move everyone to a safe place that’s well away from the vehicle and road
* Don’t work under your vehicle while it’s raised on a jack
* Don’t use the jack anywhere other than at the correct jacking points. You’ll find these listed in your handbook. Attaching the jack in the wrong place can cause damage to your vehicle and could result in it collapsing on you

Before you start changing or repairing your tyre, make sure you’ve read your vehicle’s handbook. If our advice is different to what’s in it, always follow your handbook.

What you’ll need:
* Your vehicle handbook, which shows you where to attach the jack
* Your spare wheel – make sure it’s got enough tread and is properly inflated
* Your vehicle jack, usually found in the boot
* A wheel wrench with extension bar and locking wheel-nut adaptor (if fitted)
* At least one wheel chock – something to stop your car from rolling when it’s up on the jack, I.e. A brick
* Gloves – there’s a good chance your wheel/tyre will be dirty
* Something to kneel on, like an old towel – the ground will be dirty too
* A sharp knife or cutters to remove any cable ties used to hold your wheel trims in place if you have any
* A torch
* A reflective jacket and strong, sensible shoes for your own safety
Before you lift your vehicle:
* Plan ahead – you don’t want your vehicle to be raised for longer than it has to be
* Switch off your engine and turn on your hazard lights
* Apply the handbrake and engage first gear (or ‘P’ if you’re driving an automatic) this is a belt and braces approach
* Put your chock under the wheel diagonally opposite the one you’re replacing
* Remove your spare wheel from the boot well/carrier. If the carrier is under your vehicle, it might be a bit rusty and difficult to move
* Lay your spare on the ground. Choose a spot that will be convenient for fitting
* Remove your wheel trim (if fitted) – you may have to cut cable ties and/or lever the trim off
* Place the jack in the lifting point closest to the wheel you’re changing
* Make sure the jack head engages properly (as shown in your handbook) and extend the jack until it just starts to lift the vehicle on its springs. Don’t lift your vehicle any further yet
* Loosen the wheel nuts (most need to be twisted anticlockwise) using the vehicle’s wheel wrench and locking wheel-nut adapter if needed. There might be protective covers over the locking wheel nuts
* Keep your back straight and body weight evenly distributed on both feet. Apply effort downwards in a controlled way, so that when the nut finally ‘gives’ you won’t lose your balance
Lifting the vehicle:
* Raise the jack until the wheel is just off the ground
* Remove the loose wheel nuts while keeping the wheel in position with your knee or foot
* Leave the top one until last, so you can use both hands to lift the wheel away from the hub
When fitting the spare:
* You’re basically following the removal method in reverse
* Secure the wheel by loosely refitting the top wheel nut first
* Tighten the remaining wheel nuts by hand, firstly in stages and in a diagonal sequence
* Don’t oil the wheel nuts before refitting them, since this will make them more likely to work loose
* Lower the jack carefully until the wheel just touches the ground and won’t turn
* Now tighten the wheel nuts fully with the wheel wrench, again in a diagonal sequence
* Put the damaged wheel in the boot well or carrier

Don’t forget:
If your spare wheel is a temporary-use ‘skinny’ spare, make sure you check if there are any restrictions on using it. Usually, you can only travel up to 50mph on a skinny spare, and you’ll need to replace it with a normal tyre as soon as you can.
You might see some of your dashboard lights come on as systems like ABS, traction control and some automatic gearboxes don’t like odd tyre sizes.

As soon as you can get to a dealer or a garage, make sure you:
* Have the pressure in the spare tyre checked
* Get your wheel nuts tightened properly
* Replace or repair the damaged tyre

We help these simple instructions will inevitably help you out of a tricky situation but if you don’t fancy giving it a go or don’t have the required tools then check out breakdown recovery plans here.

Modified Cars

Modified cars – what you need to know

Cars can be modified to improve performance or style. If you’re considering modifying your car or you have purchased a modified car, you can find information below on modifications including in-car entertainment, lights or reflectors, suspension and brakes.

What is a car modification?
A car modification is a change made to a vehicle so that it differs from the manufacturer’s original factory specification. The changes can be made to improve performance, aesthetics, or be purely functional.

Safety first
Staying safe and legal is extremely important when modifying your car. It is essential to remember that too many modifications can affect the road handling of your car. It could also put you on the wrong side of the law and perhaps your insurance company.

In-car entertainment
Over the last few years there has been a huge increase in the amount of in-car entertainment devices that have become available for the motorist.
However, it’s important to remember that as technology improves, the driver of the car still has the most important job to do – and that means they must not get distracted by in-car entertainment, such as watching a TV screen in the rear-view mirror, or rummaging around with an MP3 player. Moving images within view of the driver are illegal whilst driving.

Lights or reflectors
Headlamps must show a substantially white or yellow light. Rear position lamps must show a steady red light to the rear only. Tinting of rear reflectors which will reduce efficiency in darkness is not permitted

Wheels and tyres
Changes to wheels and tyres can significantly alter your car’s behaviour on the road. Important points to consider when fitting bigger wheels and tyres is to:
* ensure they are approved by the vehicle manufacturer
* provide adequate clearance between tyre and bodywork

Suspension
Modifications to the suspension which is the fitment of stiffer springs and lowering kits, should be only be done where the car’s road handling will not be compromised. This work must be carried out by a competent engineer.

Brakes
Modifications to your car’s brakes must at all times be carried out by a competent engineer. Before parting with your money, seek advice from independent suppliers and the vehicle manufacturer to ensure that the brakes you intend fitting are approved and will not involve any major modification of existing mounting points.

Number plates
Number plates must:
* comply with current legislation
* be displayed in a prominent position
* not be misleading

Exhaust system
All exhaust silencers must be maintained in a good and efficient working order. You will be breaking the law if you remove a silencer or make any modification that would make that vehicle emit a noise louder than the original exhaust before it was modified.
To read more about the above car modifications you can download a copy of the ‘Modified Cars – what you need to know’ leaflet or you can contact Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) directly.

A modification can be a great way to personalise your car, and even improve its performance – there is a downside though, it can quickly bump up the cost of your car insurance.

While many of us don’t go as far as ‘Pimp Your Ride’ in the changes we make to our vehicles, it’s still important to consider a potential downside – namely, that vehicle modifications can increase the cost of your car insurance.

Even if you’re not looking to ‘pimp’ your ride, you may find just a slight modification is enough to push up the price of cover.

How do modifications change the price you pay for car insurance?
Insurance is based upon risk, and when quoting for cover insurers use a number of factors before arriving at a price.
Car modifications can seriously affect how insurers assess your car insurance policy in two key areas:

* Risk of Accident – Modifications that change the look and performance of your vehicle are assessed by insurers to be a higher accident risk. These include engine changes, sports seats, body-kits, spoilers, etc.

* Risk of Theft – Some modifications, such as phone kits or performance modifications, also increase the chance that your vehicle is broken into or stolen.

In general, many of the performance and aesthetic changes made to vehicles will increase the cost of cover.  Interestingly, insurers even rate specialist paint and decals as a higher risk, and ‘go faster stripes’ and rally numbers are cause for concern when considering the cost of cover.

On the other hand, performance and aesthetic changes such as tinted windows and alloy wheels are both more commonplace and considered low risk.

There are some functional car modifications, such as aftermarket fitted satnavs and phone kits, can also increase insurance costs because they are considered a high theft risk, whereas others can reduce premiums. For example, parking sensors mean you are less likely to have a prang when reversing, while having a tow bar means that when hooked-up you are spending more time driving at a moderate pace.

Advice on insuring a modified car
So you’ve modified your car and you’re looking to insure it, here are some practical tips on what to consider:

* Always tell insurers about modifications made to your car, as not declaring could invalidate your policy. When you run quotes with MoneySuperMarekt you’ll be asked about modifications on the application screen – make sure you don’t leave anything out.

* If you’re changing your car from the factory specification, always tell your insurer at the time you make a change. Different insurers have a different view on what constitutes a modification, so it is always best to check whether your insurance policy is impacted.

* When renewing insurance for a modified car, always run a number of quotes as this could be an easy way to save money. Each insurer has a different view on risk, so comparison is a good way to find the cheapest.

Alloy Wheel Protection

Just brought a new car or recently added a new set of shiny wheels to your motor? Well how do you maintain the unscratched look to those shiny alloys? AlloyGators of course…

Independently owned, AlloyGator® Ltd, which was incorporated in 2007, is headed up by a team of automotive professionals with a combined industry background of almost five decades. Working closely with strategic partners, AlloyGator® has developed a tried and tested, cost effective and durable alloy wheel protection system which vastly reduces the risk of wheel damage. AlloyGator® is manufactured to an internationally recognised Quality Management System specification for the automotive industry.

What material are the rim protectors made of?

The AlloyGator product is made of a “Super Tough Nylon” which is flexible and wont damage your alloy wheels during fitting, but tough enough to give superior protection.

How Permanent is the Colour?

Consistant colour is maintained thoughout the product, which means that the colour is fully maintained after damage has been rectified. We recommend you regularly clean your wheels and AlloyGators with normal car shampoo or universal wheel cleaners suitable for delicate finishes like chrome. Avoid the harsh cleaners and thick, brush-on tyre shines used by some hand car-washes.

How do I remove my alloygators?

To remove the profile simply jack up the car, fully deflate the tyre, remove the plastic joining clip and carefully prise the profile up around the joint area. Firmly tap the face of the AlloyGator using a rubber mallet on the side which has the hole in it. This will then release the glue and open up the joint. Once the joint is open carefully prise the profile out of its seated position from the tyre side of the wheel, starting with the end without the hole and using a tyre lever or flat bladed screwdriver along the side and under the profile, prising in an upward motion. Once the end of the profile is free from the wheel and tyre then carefully pull it out from its position across the tyre wall in an outward motion in order to prevent any damage to the wheel from the stainless steel clips

What is the fitting method?

The AlloyGator is locked to the wheel over 360° using highly robust patented technology. Please view our fitting video on our home page for further advice.

Have they been tested at speed?

They have been tested under normal driving conditions and within the legal speed limit.

Can they be used on run-flat tyres?

Yes they can be used on run-flat tyres, view our gallery to see cars already fitted with AlloyGators on run-flats.

Are some wheel/tyre combinations better suited than others?

Yes some Wheel tyre combinations do work better than others. View the gallery close up photos to see what wheel/tyre combination work best.

Can they be re-used if you have new tyres?

Yes they can be re-fitted to the same wheels if you have new tyres.

Do they affect the inflation of the tyre?

If fitted correctly they will not affect the inflation of the tyre. We recommend checking your tyre pressures 1 hour after fitting to ensure correct fitting and at regular intervals as recommended in your operating manual.

Can AlloyGator be used on Machine Polished/Diamond Cut Alloy Wheels?

The “AlloyGator” alloy wheel rim protectors are not recommended for machine polished or diamond cut alloy wheels. Although fitting the product will provide superior protection against kerb damage, due to existing imperfections in the lacquered wheel surface our product may increase the risk of moisture retention and accelerate wheel degradation. Providing there is no minute damage to the wheel surface, fitting the “AlloyGator” wheel rim protectors will not cause damage on its own, however AlloyGator Limited accepts no liability if the product when fitted causes such damage. Taking the above into account, there are still many customers with machine polished wheels, that choose to use alloygators to protect their wheels.

For further information or to take a look check out AlloyGators here.

Understanding your MOT

An MOT Test (or to be precise Ministry of Transport Test) is compulsory in the UK for any road going vehicle every year as a condition of the DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency). Its main purpose is to make sure a car is safe, meets environmental standards and not at risk to the owner or other road users.

What is an MOT?

The MOT is an annual check-up for your car to make sure it’s safe and sound for the road. The main things that are tested during an MOT inspection are:-

An MOT does not cover the engine, clutch or gearbox – these are things that are inspected and repaired (if necessary) during a service.

How much does an MOT cost?

The cost of an MOT depends on your vehicle but companies are only allowed to charge up to a maximum amount.

What happens if my vehicle doesn’t pass its MOT?

The above inspections must be carried out by a garage or mechanic permitted to perform MOT tests and a certificate must be provided in order for a vehicle to pass. If it doesn’t pass the MOT, this will be recorded on the MOT database and the test centre will provide you with what’s known as a VT30 (Refusal of MOT) certificate stating the reasons as to why the vehicle failed. It is the responsibility of the owner to get these failure points fixed within 10 days of the initial MOT test.

Driving without a valid MOT certificate can invalidate your insurance and either see you banned from driving, or leave you facing a £2,500 penalty and 3 points on your licence. The only occasion where it is ok to drive without an MOT is if you’ve already pre-booked a re-test or booked your vehicle in to have the defects fixed.

Appealing an MOT test

It’s worth discussing your results and any concerns with the test centre before you have any repairs carried out, but if you think your car should or shouldn’t have passed its MOT – there is an appeals procedure where you can log an official complaint with the DVSA within 14 days of the initial test.

Once this is received they will:

Unless the appeal is settled, you shouldn’t have any repairs carried out until then.

Vehicles exempt from the MOT test

Not all vehicles need to have to have an MOT. Cars that are less than 3 years old are exempt from the test, along with any goods vehicles powered by electricity, vehicles built before 1960 and tractors. Large vehicles like buses, trailers and lorries all require something slightly different known as an “annual vehicle test” which is similar to an MOT but designed for more heavy duty vehicles.

How can I make sure my vehicle passes its MOT?

Unfortunately there’s no real way of ensuring your car will pass its MOT, but how you maintain it will certainly help! The most common reason vehicles fail an MOT are due to issues with tyres, windscreen wash/wipers, brakes and lights – so checking and rectifying these on a regular basis will mean you are much more likely to pass.

For more information on MOTs, how they work, when you should get one and all the other ins and outs – visit the GOV website here.

A comprehensive guide to tyres

Comprehensive tyre guide

Car Protection

If you’ve just brought a nice new car you will obviously want to keep it looking shiny and clean. To help with maintaining a healthy looking exterior we have listed a number of various ways in which you can do this…

Paint Protection:

Paint Protection Film (PPF) is a thermoplastic urethane film applied to painted surfaces of a new or used car in order to protect the paint from stone chips, bug splatters, and minor abrasions. This film is also used on airplanes, RVs, cell phones, electronics, screens, motorcycles and many other areas.
Paint protection film is frequently installed by manufacturers on various pieces of cars at the factory (e.g. the rear arches of Porsches). The film is generally installed by certified trained professionals who receive supplies from outside distributors and dealers. Some tinting and detail shops also offer this service. Today’s automotive PPF is highly-conformable and optically clear and is available in a variety of thicknesses and colours.
In addition to installations performed in situ at the factory or by certified shops and dealerships, there are also a select number of vendors who sell pre-cut and vehicle specific paint protection kits, as well as individuals who sell these kits on online auction sites or other markets.

Wrapping:

Wrap advertising or a vehicle wrap describe the marketing practice of completely or partially covering (wrapping a vehicle in an advertisement or livery. The result of this process is essentially a mobile billboard. Wrap advertising can be achieved by painting a vehicle’s outer surface, but an increasingly ubiquitous practice in the 21st century involves the use of large vinyl sheets as “decals”. The vinyl sheets can later be removed with relative ease, drastically reducing the costs associated with changing advertisements. While vehicles with large, flat surfaces (such as buses and light-rail carriages) are often used, automobiles can also serve as hosts for wrap advertising, despite consisting of more curved surfaces.

Advancements in plastics have led to new types of vinyl designed specifically for wrap advertising, including vinyl sheets that feature bubble-preventing air channels. The vinyl is heated with a heat gun or torch for the purpose of molding the material around objects.
Decals can be made to cover side and rear windows on a vehicle, but for safety reasons, the front windows used by the driver are not covered. The decals on side windows are typically perforated, so that it is still possible for passengers to look outside.

Wrapping is also sometimes used instead of paint as a less-permanent way of applying its operator’s standard livery. This has become particularly common in the UK where, since the privatisation of British Rail, it has become quite frequent for trains to be transferred from one company to another, requiring many changes of livery. Wrapping can also be used for vehicle customisation, and race cars often get vehicle wraps as they are lighter than paint.
Bonnet cover:

A front-end bra (car bra, bonnet bra, front-end cover) is a stretchy type of vinyl (usually black) that attaches to the front of a car or other vehicle to protect the bumper, hood, and sides of the fender from scratches, although not everyone agrees: it is argued that car bras can cause damage by retaining moisture, catch air (reducing aerodynamics and causing the fabric to vibrate), and cause scratches in paintwork, paint chipping, and other minor damage from rocks, gravel, and other road debris.

The inside of the bra is lined with a feltlike material. Car bras are considered a ‘fashion accessory’ to vehicles as their utility is debated and some owners consider that they improve the look of their cars. Others use a car bra as a way to cover-up light front-end scrapes and damage to their vehicle.

There are several types of car bras, including full, sport, and T-style. The ‘sport’ car bra covers less of the front of the vehicle (displaying more of the car’s original looks) than the ‘full’.

These ideas above are the most common for,s of bodywork protection but there are many others out there that you may want to explore, we hope this has helped.

The difference between wheel balancing & alignment

We’ve found another awesome post by the guys at Kwik Fit, if you have any confusion on wheel balancing and alignment then take a read…

One of the more common questions that we get asked in our centres is if wheel balancing and wheel alignment are two terms used to describe the same thing. After all, they sound very similar and both aid the long term health of your tyres.

Balancing and alignment are in fact two very different practices and whereas balancing addresses the distribution of weight around the wheel, alignment looks at the position of the wheels in relation to the road and each other. It’s easy to confuse the two, so here’s a closer look at each one and the benefits this can bring to you and your car.

Wheel Balancing

Wheel balancing ensures that weight is distributed equally around the wheel and that the tyre rotates evenly. This involves adding small balancing weights to the rim which counter weight inconsistencies. If you imagine a set of balancing scales, when you add a heavy weight to one side the scales will tip. If you then add a number of smaller, less heavy items to the other side, the scales will gradually begin to tilt the more you add until finally, when you have added enough smaller weights, the scales will once again level out. Add too many weights and the scales will tip the other way. Although this is a simpler example, wheel balancing works in the same way and if an imbalance towards one side of the wheel is identified, wheel weights are added to the opposite side to even out the distribution of weight.
It’s important to address wheels that are not correctly balanced to ensure you receive the best ride comfort. Incorrectly balanced wheels produce a vibration that is felt through the steering wheel when travelling above a certain speed that can cause considerable discomfort over time. What’s more, balance issues can cause premature wearing of your tyres, suspension and steering components. You can see the negative impact that out-of-balance wheels can have on your tyres in this video.
Wheel Balancing – How It Works

Wheels can be balanced on a wheel balancing machine available at all Kwik Fit centres. The tyre and wheel assembly are mounted on the machine which then spins the wheel to calculate even the slightest variance in weight across the wheel. The balancing machine then highlights the exact position where a counter weight should be applied and which size of weights to use to correctly balance the wheel.

Wheel Alignment

Wheel alignment involves checking the direction and angle of the wheels to ensure they remain parallel to one another. Adjustments can then be made to the tie rods and control arms to correct alignment. This has several benefits but the easiest to remember is that a-lign-ment helps you to drive in a straight “line” since vehicles with misaligned wheels can pull or drift to one side.
Wheels should be aligned to the optimum position as per the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation which involves adjusting the “toe”, the “camber” and sometimes the “caster” angle. “Toe” refers to whether the front of the tyres are closer or further apart than the rear of the tyres whereas “Camber” describes the inward or outward tilt of the tyre. “Caster” refers to the angle between vertical and the steering pivot axis and can be adjusted by moving the suspension struts. This video will give you a better understanding of each.

Wheel Alignment – How It Works

Wheels will generally become misaligned over time due largely to road conditions. Hitting a pothole, a curb or even a speed bump are all common causes of alignment problems which can lead to uneven tyre wear, the car pulling to the left or right, and uneven braking, so it’s recommended that you have your alignment checked every year. Doing so could save you money in the long run as you’ll be changing your tyres less frequently and spending less on fuel due to the reduced rolling resistance of the correctly aligned tyres.

Wheels can be adjusted using specialist alignment equipment which measures either just the front wheels (2-wheel alignment, also known as tracking), or all four in relation to one another (4-wheel alignment).  4-wheel alignment has added benefits including resetting the steering wheel to a straight position and ensuring optimum performance and drive comfort. Hunter Hawkeye 4-wheel alignment machines have been installed in the majority of our centres which use a series of high-definition imaging sensors to measure 14 primary alignment angles on your wheels. The position and orientation of your wheels are compared against our vehicle manufacturer data, ensuring your vehicle is set up perfectly for you to drive.

Wheel balancing and wheel alignment is available at all Kwik Fit centres. Contact your local centre for more information or to book.

The difference between servicing & MOT’s

We found this great blog on servicing and MOT’s from our friends at Kwik Fit, it has some great advice and some interesting tips throughout…

When you think about vehicle maintenance and measures you can take to keep your car in roadworthy condition, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? We’d hazard a guess that you answered either a regular service or an annual MOT. Both are good answers but many drivers confess that they don’t know the difference between the two or what goes on when they bring their car into the garage for these essential check ups. In fact, our latest research shows that as many as 59% of Britons are confused by what’s included in their MOT and service, so we thought we’d take a moment to explain the differences and also dispel a few common myths.

What is an MOT test and what does MOT stand for?

In a recent survey we found that 85% of drivers didn’t know what the acronym MOT stood for, so what better place to start than this. Despite being defunct since 1970, MOT stands for Ministry Of Transport. But while the Government department responsible for our transport network has gone through several identity changes in the four decades since and has been known as the Department for Transport since 2002, the name has stuck as far as the MOT test is concerned. The test is an annual inspection of your vehicle that is required by law which follows a strict checklist of criteria set out by the DVSA that determines if your vehicle is fit for purpose and in roadworthy condition. Your vehicle may require additional work in order to pass your MOT but the test itself does not include any repairs or replacement parts. Here’s a full list of what’s included in your MOT test.
The test ensures the vehicle is safe to drive but doesn’t mean the car is running as well as it could be. That’s where a service will help…

So what is a Vehicle Service?

A service is a vehicle inspection based on guidelines set out by your vehicle manufacturer rather than the DVSA that keeps your car in a reliable, safe and fully-functioning condition. In some ways an MOT test and service are quite similar and both include checks such tyres, brakes and seatbelts. However, a service is more thorough and includes the replacement of some parts, primarily the engine oil, to maintain the smooth running of your car. A full service can also include replacement spark plugs, fuel filter and air filter (where applicable) to further improve vehicle performance. Here’s a full list of what’s included in a service and how our service packages differ.

To put it another way…

To help explain how an MOT test differs from a service, let’s imagine a mountain climber preparing to climb Mount Everest. Before setting off, you need to make sure that your body is up to the task. You visit a doctor who checks your general health to make sure you meet the minimum requirements for such a demanding expedition and have no health conditions that could put you in danger. This is like your MOT, the test ensures your vehicle is roadworthy and meets minimum safety requirements set out by the DVSA. With a bill of clean health, you could at this stage attempt the expedition but that might not be such a good idea. Instead you visit a fitness trainer who gets you into peak physical shape to take on the climb. Without this training you may find you are exhausted and have to give up, or even seriously injure yourself in some way. The fitness trainer is like your vehicle service which prolongs the life of your car. By not servicing your vehicle, you may end up breaking down and, in a worst case scenario, doing irreparable damage to the engine.

Some common myths surrounding MOT and Servicing

As well as confusing an MOT for a service and vice versa, there are also a lot of misconceptions about what it means to have an MOT or a service carried out on your car. Here’s just a few.

FALSE: “An MOT guarantees the general mechanical condition of your vehicle”
An MOT pass certificate means the vehicle meets the minimum road safety and environmental standards set out by the DVSA. The MOT tester is not permitted to dismantle any components on the vehicle therefore the MOT test does not give any indication of its mechanical condition.

FALSE: “Servicing your vehicle is a legal requirement”

While regular servicing is highly recommended to keep your vehicle in good shape, unlike an MOT test, an annual service is not a legal requirement, nor is it a pre-requisite to insuring your vehicle. But if you think you’ll be saving a few notes by putting off your service, you could end up forking out a lot more down the road if your car requires expensive remedial work that could have been avoided if flagged early during your service. Skipping a service really is a false economy.

FALSE: “Your vehicle is deemed roadworthy for the length of the MOT test certificate”

While the MOT test certificate lasts for 12 months, the MOT tester can only make judgments on the condition of the vehicle on the day it was tested. A lot can happen to the condition of your car in a year so you can’t rely on the MOT certificate to reassure yourself that the vehicle is safe. Regular checks and maintenance such as tyre condition and pressure, topping up oil and fluid levels, and replacing blown bulbs are essential to make sure you stay safe on the roads.

Why should you have an MOT and Service?

The reason why you should have an MOT is very simple, if your car is 3 or more years old, it is a legal requirement to have an in-date MOT certificate for your vehicle. Not only is it against the law to drive a car without an MOT but your insurance will also become invalidated. Need we say more?
Having your vehicle serviced is up to the driver but here are 4 reasons why we think regular servicing is essential:

* Improved safety: wear and tear builds up over time and just because your car feels ok, that doesn’t mean all is well. Regular servicing can highlight out-of-sight issues and provide peace of mind that the vehicle is safe and roadworthy
* Vehicle lifespan: the better you look after your car, the longer it is likely to last. Regular servicing is crucial if you intend to keep your vehicle for a longtime and want to enjoy many years of trouble-free driving.
* Save money: the upfront cost of a service may be off-putting but avoiding your service can be much more costly in the long run. Regular servicing can help to identify issues early on that could later become costly and expensive to rectify. In addition new oil and filters replaced during your service can make your car more fuel efficient.
* Increased resale value: when it comes to selling your beloved car, evidence of regular servicing or better still a full service history is likely to attract more buyers who will be willing to pay a higher price for such a well-maintained vehicle.

MOT and Service from Kwik Fit

Kwik Fit offers MOT testing and servicing at over 500 centres across the UK. If your MOT and car service dates are close together, why not book your MOT and service at the same time at your local Kwik Fit centre? In doing so not only will you save time but also money as we offer a discount when you book online for combined services.

Book your Service & MOT

Our Partners & Affiliates

At WrightStart we like to think that along with great customer care we provide an excellent value for money service. Those of you learning to drive with us have had use of an online portal allowing you to learn, practice and revise driving away from lessons all at no extra cost.

However, have you ever noticed the driving resources page? This section of our website is all about linking you with our approved partners for all of your driving needs. We showcase only the very best in automotive care and have secured great deals with many of them just for you. Let’s take a look…

Marmalade:
Marmalade is one of our best affiliates, they provide special learner and newly qualified driver insurance. They have great rates for the new starter wanting to drive on short term policies and if you mention our names, Lewis or Andy then further discounts may be applied. Get your quote here.

Driveme:
As the name suggests this is a driving experience company, super cars to be precise. They provide awesome super cars days in Stafford and Anglesey, allowing you to get behind the wheel of some of the best and most beautiful exquisite cars around. Buy from us here or check out their website.

Learner Driver Insurance:
Another insurance company here, these guys are also competitive on price but also allow you to have your own insurance policy and top of a current policy that exists on the vehicle, therefore should you have any mishaps they won’t affect the current policy holders no claims, winner! Get a quote now.

Shires Motorcycle Training:
Shires is one of our most trusted suppliers, why? Because the whole WrightStart family has learnt to ride with these guys. Excellent customer service, well maintained bikes and great pass rates is exactly what you need and is exactly what you get. To book in and begin your 2 wheel adventure click here and don’t forget to mention WrightStart.

Car Camera Shop:
This little company is big on in-car tech and safety. Our top end in-car cameras with front and rear display along with wifi playback were purchased from here. They have a wide range of cameras in stock for every budget and if you enter ‘WrightStart’ in the discount box upon checkout you’ll get an extra price reduction too! To browse in car cameras click here.

Hardy Signs:
Hardy Signs is one of our longest partners and definitely a name you can trust. They make all our vehicles look amazing and keep the branding in check. Not only do they do vehicle livery but also any other signage you could think of, should you need it of course. Mention Andy when booking and they’ll see you right.

MDR Paint Technics:
Our fleet of minis are kept in good shape and condition with these guys, they run a very slick ship and can pretty much fix any vehicle damage you may have. If your unfortunate enough to need these guys be sure to mention Andy and you’ll be well looked after, check them out here.

Tax Disc Reminder:
This small start up company to the use of extinct tax disc holders and up cycled them into bespoke tax disc reminders. Their story is great and we’re proud to support them, grab your unique tax disc reminder here.

Kwik Fit:
If you need tyres quick then Kwik Fit is the name. We are in and out in no time at all, maybe not as quick as an F1 pit stop but you get the idea. They have a wide range of tyres in stock and all fitters are very knowledgable in the job, search stores now.

Travelling Car Valetor:
These mobile valetors do just the job, should it be a small hatchback or a large 4×4 they’ll have you covered and your motor back to showroom condition no problem. As the name suggests they can come to you at home, work or any other convince not location, bonus! Book your wash now.

Derby Remapping Services:
DRS is the tuning company of choice across the Midlands whether you want us to tune your car, van or motorbike. They use the latest in ECU tuning technology to carefully modify your existing ECU data to give your vehicle that bespoke remap it deserves. Get a quote today.

Indespension Trailers:
Indespension are industry leaders in towbar fitting. They fit more towbars in the UK per year than any other company. Why? Because their experienced team will assess all possible towbar options for your vehicle to offer you a professional recommendation of the best product to suit your needs. If you need towbar accessories we have those too! Search tow bars & trailers now.

If your unsure on who to use for your needs, have feedback on any of our affiliates or maybe have other suggestions on who we could work with then please let us know.

Breakdown Cover

When buying a car not many of us want to think about it breaking, of course it’s the last thing you want to consider when purchasing a new motor but it should be worth a thought or two.

Let me pose you this question. What happens if you are driving to a meeting on the motorway and your engine management light comes on, the car goes into limp mode. You pull over to the hard shoulder and now it won’t restart. How do you get to your destination? Or maybe your off on your jollies, you have caravan or trailer in tow but you have a blowout and no spare. What do you do?

For those of you with new cars this isn’t usually much of an issue, they rarely breakdown and if they do or it’s a fault out of your control such as a puncture, most newly purchased vehicles come with free/included breakdown recovery.

For those of you with slightly older cars, lapsed cover, no breakdown cover altogether or even if you want to be thoroughly covered then this might be of interest to you.

Let’s look at the basics of breakdown cover…

What is breakdown cover?

Most standard breakdown insurance policies will offer roadside recovery and roadside rescue as an entry-level standard of service.

Such cover will provide assistance to motorists who have broken down and are unable to continue their journey.

Who is breakdown cover suitable for?

Breakdown cover could be a sound investment for anyone who regularly travels by car, or another motorised vehicle. It may prove particularly suitable for people who own older vehicles, for those who regularly drive at night or in remote areas, for families, and for business travellers or commuters.

How does breakdown cover work?

There are two broad types of breakdown cover categories available to consider before you think about your cover levels:

Standard breakdown cover

Standard breakdown cover is offered by the majority of breakdown companies and is the most convenient option for most customers.

You choose the level of cover that best suits your needs and pay an annual fee up front. Any call outs you make during the period of cover are then free of charge.

You’ll have the choice between personal breakdown cover or vehicle-based cover. The former covers you as the passenger in any car you are travelling in, providing it falls within the breakdown company’s conditions. The latter covers the nominated vehicle only.

Some breakdown companies, such as the AA and RAC, have their own patrols while others, such as Green Flag, will contract out to local recovery service.

For further information or to get a quote follow the link here.

Visual guide to buying a second hand car

This blog edition was actually sent to us recently and we thought it was so good we’d post it for you. It’s all about buying second hand cars which most of you learners will be doing soon, credit to Bryony Pearce. We hope your enjoy…

1 in 5 second-hand car owners hit by problems within a year of buying the vehicle

Key highlights from our research include:

 

Renowned for its spike in new car sales, March is consequently a popular time of the year for second-hand car purchases.

While on the hunt for a set of wheels it’s important to have your wits about you though, as research conducted on behalf of Ocean Finance has uncovered that one in five second-hand car buyers in the UK have experienced a problem within 12 months of buying a pre-owned vehicle.

More than one third (35%) of 18-24-year-olds said they had experienced a problem within one year of its purchase date, compared to just 1 in 10 (12%) 55+-year-olds.

For the unlucky car buyers who faced problems with their vehicle, one in five (19%) were forced to fork out between £101 and £200 to fix the problem. Around one in six (14%) paid out between £201 and £300 and more than one in 10 (12%) were out of pocket by between £301 and £400.

With the equivalent of 10 million Brits carrying out no checks before purchasing a pre-owned car, it’s perhaps unsurprising so many of us have experienced glitches.

Despite incurring the least number of post-purchase problems, 55+-year-olds were most likely to not bother with any pre-purchase checks.

Regionally, those residing in the North East (43%) and Northern Ireland (43%) were most likely to risk going without any checks, compared to Londoner’s (24%) who were the least likely.

For those that err on the side of caution, more than a third (37%) would take a friend or family member to check the car with them. The second most popular choice was to pay a mechanic to check the car (14%), followed by paying for an AA/RAC vehicle inspection (13%) or a HPI check (10%).

The biggest worries for Brits who have bought a pre-owned car were:

Biggest worry % of Brits
The car might have an undetected mechanical fault 42%
Paying more than the car is really worth 13%
It might have been in an accident/ written-off 7%
The car might have been stolen 5%
The mileage might have been changed 3%
There is still outstanding finance against the car 2%

 

Ian Williams, Ocean’s spokesperson, says: “A car, whether it’s brand new or pre-owned, is a big financial purchase that shouldn’t be rushed. As well as making sure that the car is mechanically sound it is really important to check that there isn’t any outstanding finance on the car – if there is this could mean you lose both the car and the money you’ve paid for it.  It is also important to verify that the car hasn’t been written off by an insurance company.  Taking the time to do a few simple checks can save both time and money for second hand car buyers.”

Take a look at the simple graphic below that explains things clearly…

Second-hand-car-buying-guide

 

Winter Vehicle Maintenance

Well it’s getting to that time of year again, frosty mornings and those cold, dark nights. Winter is well and truly on its way and with it comes bad roads and harsh driving conditions.

With that in mind it is vital this time of year to keep on top of your car maintenance and to also keep it looking clean.

So what do you need to know…

Check your vital fluids at least once a week in order to prevent any vehicle damage and most importantly ensure your washer fluid is topped up with anti-freeze. After a short blast on the dual carriageways or motorways the windscreen quickly becomes dirty.

Ensure that you clean your windscreen, lights and number plates regularly. You need to be able to see clearly out of all windows so that you can see all road users and by having clean lights you have better visibility on those dark and twisty country lanes.

Also, washing your vehicle on a weekly/two-weekly basis helps you maintain a nice looking car and keeps the road salt at bay. We know it’s cold out there but it’s worth looking after your pride and joy.

How to Wax Your Car in 3 Easy Steps

The winter is almost here. And that means lots of grit and ice on the roads to stop them freezing over. Now while this is good for preventing road accidents it isn’t so good for the bodywork of your car!

As you may be aware, salt attacks metal, causing it to rust over time and this includes your car too. It is always a good idea to give your car a good wax before the winter sets in to help protect it from the salt and grit on the roads. If you don’t want to do this yourself get a professional car valeting company to do it for you. If you choose to go down the DIY route though, read on and we’ll tell you how to do it.

 

Is it a Good Day for Waxing?

Just before we get started though it is worth mentioning the weather. Yes you heard me right! You need the right environmental conditions to properly wax your car. First of all you can’t do it in the rain. It needs to be dry, otherwise when you try to polish the wax off it will leave a smeary mess on your car…not a good look! On the other hand you don’t want to do it in bright sunshine either. The heat will dry the wax out too quickly baking it onto your bodywork before you have had chance to polish it off. Ideally, pick a day that is overcast but not looking like rain. Or even better, if you have a garage that isn’t full of junk or a car port, do it in there instead, then you can wax your car come rain or shine.

 

3 Steps to Protect Your Car

Washing your car

Before you can wax your car you need to give it a good old wash.

1. Wash (You’ll need: bucket, sponge, car shampoo, hosepipe or pressure washer.)

First of all you need to remove any dirt from the bodywork of your car by giving it a good wash. To wash your car follow the proceeding steps.

1a. Pre-Wash – Before you touch your car with a sponge you need to make sure any big bits of muck, dirt or grit are washed off first. Narrow the nozzle on your hosepipe to a powerful stream and wet the whole of the outside of your car, making sure to blast away at any build up of dirt you notice. If you have a pressure washer this step is even easier. If you don’t do a pre-wash it will take longer to wash down with your sponge and if there are any pieces of grit resting on your bodywork they can be dragged across it by the sponge, scratching your paintwork in the process.

1b. Shampoo – Pour a capful of car shampoo into your bucket and then fill it half way with warm water, making sure there are plenty of bubbles. If not just add a little more shampoo and blast it with the hosepipe. Work your way around your car washing all of the bodywork and windows. Use a circular motion and apply firm but gentle pressure. If you come across any areas where there is a build-up of mud or dirt you may have to rub a little harder to remove it. Last of all give your wheels and wheel arches a wash.

1c.Rinse – Your motor should be suitably lathered up now and all the dirt should be washed away. Grab your hose or pressure washer and give it a good old rinse to get rid of all the suds. Have a quick glance over to check you haven’t missed any bits and if you have use your sponge again to remove them.

 

2. Dry (You’ll need: Chamois leather or microfibre cloth.)

Now your car is squeeky clean but dripping wet. We need it dry, so grab your chamois or microfibre cloth and dry off all of the water on your bodywork and glass, ringing the cloth out when it gets too wet. Top tip; if you have a small squeegee you can use this first to remove the majority of the surplus water before drying with your cloth. You can buy soft silicone squeegee blades made specifically for cars. Run them over the bodywork gently without applying much pressure and wipe the blade between your fingers after every few strokes to check there is no grit or dirt on it.

 

Waxing your car for the winter.

Putting a good wax on your car before the winter sets in will help to protect it.

3. Wax (You’ll need: Wax, applicator pad or terry towel cloth, microfibre cloth.)

Finally, now your car is clean and dry you are ready to wax your car. There are different types of waxes available and I’ll run you through these in a moment but the application of them is generally the same. Follow the next steps and your car will be gleaming in no time.

3a. Apply Wax – First of all moisten your applicator pad or terry towel cloth slightly. This stops it absorbing too much wax and helps to spread it more evenly. Apply a small amount of wax to your pad and work it across the bodywork of your car, using small circular motions. You don’t need to apply much pressure and work on an area about 2′ square at a time. A blob of wax roughly the size of a 50p coin should cover this area but it will vary depending on the individual wax you are using so adjust accordingly. You are aiming to apply a thin layer to the surface of your bodywork. Avoid using too much wax as this can stop it from drying properly and you get left with a gunky build up that is hard to remove.

Work your way around your car in this manner, focusing on one panel at a time. Be very careful not to apply the wax to any plastic trim. The wax will get ingrained into the plastic leaving a messy white residue that is a pain in the backside to remove.

3b. Polish – After a few minutes the wax will dry out and will have formed a hazy layer on your car. Once this has happened grab your microfibre cloth and and give it a good buffing up. Again, use small circular motions and work over the dried wax, using a little more pressure this time. You will find that the panels of the car you waxed first will dry out before you have finished waxing the rest of the car. It is important to polish the wax off before it dries too hard so keep checking back every 2-3 minutes to see if it is ready to be polished.

Once you have removed the haze you should be left with a bright shiny car that you can see your reflection in. The hard clear layer of wax that now sits on top of your paintwork will help to protect it against the elements. When it rains you will notice that the water beads up into blobs and runs off of your car easily. Most importantly, during the winter months, it stops the salt getting into the pores of your paintwork and causing rust to appear.

 

Types of Wax

image of hard car wax.Hard Wax – These waxes are sold in a small pot or tin. Hard waxes generally give the most durable finish (they last longer) and the best shine but they aren’t quite as easy to work with and take a little more time to apply.

 

 

 

Cream car waxCream and Paste Wax – Sometimes in a pot but usually in a bottle. These waxes go on much quicker and easier. They give a good finish and protection but they won’t last as long as a hard wax.

 

 

 

 

Liquid car waxLiquid Wax – You will find these in a bottle with a spray attachment. They are a little different in their application in that you normally spray them directly onto the car and then use your applicator pad or cloth to distribute it evenly. Rapid to apply but you wont get the same level of protection. They are best used as a top up in-between your main waxes.