How much does break down cover cost?

Breakdown cover is something that many drivers skim on and either neglect to get it at all or find the cheapest quote and go with that, but in doing this you are playing a dangerous game which could end up costly.

Unlike car insurance, break down cover is not compulsory in the UK but even so, it is something that we should all take out for added peace of mind. Even new cars suffer breakdowns so regardless of the age of the vehicle you should get breakdown. Some policies even cover you when you are a passenger in someone else’s car so need not worry about ever get stuck.  If you break down on the motorway, you must get your car recovered as soon as possible and if you cannot provide details of the company that is recovering you then you may have to pay the recovery charges issued by the highways maintenance service. This is often a lot higher than the annual fee you would pay for breakdown assistance and they will often only recover you to a local garage or safe place to leave the vehicle.

The average break down policy costs as little as £9 per month so it really won’t break the bank and in with this you may also be given extras such as a hire car or overnight accommodation. If you want extra peace of mind be sure to opt for a package that recovers you to any UK destination and also home start.

Can you discover the service history for a car you own?

If you have a vehicle and have not been given the service schedule book then you may have no idea what if any services have been done on it. Most cars are usually kept up to date with the services for at least the first three years after which time some people can become a little complacent and miss one or two along the way. A service is important to ensure that the car is working as efficiently as possible and to try and prevent the unnecessary wear of parts.

If you have just bought a car but have no service history for it you can do some investigation work and try to find out yourself information on past services. If the car came with any receipts, then have a good look through them first and see if you can find an invoice for a service. If you know where the car has been taken for repairs you could ring that garage up and ask them if they have any service history for the vehicle. You can sometimes order a duplicate service book online for the make and model of your vehicle but be sure to then try and contact the servicing garages to ask if they would be willing to stamp it for you.

Diagnosing what is wrong with your car

Intermittent faults on a car can be very frustrating. Often you may notice that something is not quite right but then when you take the car to the garage, they cannot replicate the fault. This can result in costly investigation costs and may mean you have to go without your car for a period of time whilst they complete their investigations.

Most cars are built with a type of on board computer that can be linked up to a diagnostic machine that will check the system for faults. This will then create a diagnostic report listing any fault codes it has found. The fault codes will refer to a problem with a specific part or function of the vehicle. Not all garages will be able to do a diagnostic on your car so it is worth checking with them first. Once you have the results of the diagnostic you can then make a decision as to what you want to do with the vehicle. If it is quite old, you may feel that it is not worth repairing and better to cut your losses.

A diagnostic can cost around £20-£40 depending on where you take it and you need to bear in mind that the diagnostic will not pick up everything that is wrong with the car just faults that have been recorded on the on-board computer.  

Hire care fuel economy

When hiring a car you want to make sure that you get the most fuel for your money as you would if you were driving your own car at home. Many hire cars come with a certain amount of fuel in them and when you return them, you usually have to return them with the same amount back in. If you return them with less fuel then you will usually get charged for this.

Be prepared for your next car hire by reading these top tips to help improve your hire car fuel economy. Some you’re probably aware of, some you might have forgot or been unaware of. They’re all handy to know!

Sounds simple, but when the weather is hot try to park in the shade rather than out in the open as this will reduce fuel evaporation. Plan you journeys in advance and look out for traffic. Making sure you take the shortest route may help you save on the fuel you use. Carrying unnecessary weight will increase fuel consumption. It can be easy to leave those bags of unwanted clothes in your hire car for days forgetting to take them to the charity shop but each day this is costing you money.

Cost of replacing brake pads

Brake pads are a common component that needs replacing usually every couple of years, maybe more depending on how much you use your vehicle. The cost of replacing brake pads can vary drastically from car to car and they always need to be replaced in pairs as if you only replace the one, the car will not brake evenly when the brakes are applied and the car may swerve or skid.

If you take your car to a main dealer you may end up paying in excess of £300 to have the brakes replaced. If you take the car to an independent garage it will probably be around £200 for new pads all round.

The job of changing brake pads is fairly straight forward, and if you are feeling confident then you may wish to have a go yourself. Although the job isn’t too difficult, it is vital that you get it right. Be certain that you know what you are doing, and ideally have them checked over by a mechanic once you have completed the change.

You can save quite a bit of money in buying the brakes and fitting them yourself. The parts will probably cost you around £75 – £100 and then it is just a case of your time.

The importance of changing you cam belt

As a car owner it is your responsibility to ensure that your car is maintained and road legal. There are many things that can go wrong with a car from time to time and one of the more costly jobs is often involving the cam belt.

A cam belt is the belt that drives the cam which synchronises the rotation of the crankshaft and the camshaft so that the engine’s valves open and close at the proper times during each cylinder’s intake and exhaust strokes.

Most cars have a rubber belt but some are fitted with a chain belt which means they are much less likely to break. The rubber cam belts will often need replacing at certain intervals and may need tensioning in-between changes. If this is not done you run the risk of the belt snapping or loosening too much and causing internal damage to the engine, which can often be enough damage to make the car a write off and beyond economical repair.

Some cars need the cam belt changing approximately every sixty thousand miles or so where as other may only need it doing every one hundred and twenty thousand.

Always get the cam belt changed as soon as possible on a second hand car unless you can be certain it has been done recently.

Hands free kits and driving

The law is hotting up on drives who use mobile devices whilst driving. It is against the law to drive a car whilst using a mobile phone, unless it is using a hands free device. There is still quite a valid argument though that using a hands free device is still not completely without risk and may not be as safe as you would like to think. You are certainly better off not to use your phone at all, but often this is not possible especially for people like reps etc who need to be able to have the ability to make and take phone calls when on the road all day.

There is a huge selection of hands-free devices out there which range in price and functionality. If you have a stereo that has an aux port on it or a micro usb / Apple connection then you should be able to link your phone directly to the car stereo.  If you are intending using your hands free a lot then it is recommend that you invest in a good quality one that may cost a bit more. Some newer vehicles also have a blue tooth connection to allow you to link your device that way. These systems often will link to your phone book allowing you to ring contacts in your phone.

Adding personality to your car

For some people a car is just something that gets them from A to B and as long as it is reliable, they don’t worry too much about what it looks like let alone stylising it. For others, their car is their pride and joy and they do not mind spending money on make it look better and adding their own personality in to it.

When buying a new car you often have the option of choosing the colour, trim level, interior colours and materials and wheels, allowing you to style it how you wish. With second hand cars, you don’t get the same options so you may look at other ways in which you can make your car fit your personality. There are so many accessories you can buy for your car and many of them you can personalise.

Car mats can change the look of a car interior, and some people are opting for ones with their name or initials on. Steering wheel covers, seat belt covers, car seat covers and even baby seats can all be changed to create a matching look and feel.

If you want to go all out you could even have the vehicle reupholstered although this is often not a very cheap option and not always worth doing on older vehicles.

The minefield that is car insurance

Car insurance is something that we all need if you are driving a car on the roads or even just having it parked up outside your house. Prices for insurance can vary drastically depending on the car you want to insure, the area you live in, the experience you have and points on your license (just to name a few). It can be an expensive annual or monthly fee for a car or van owner and with many of us relying on our cars to get to and from work, owning a car is a must.

When looking to take out a new car insurance policy, it is recommended that you shop around for the best price as different insurance companies can offer vastly different quotes for the exact same policy.

Once you have found the best quote, be sure to check the small print for other fees you may incur during the policy. The excess is something that can vary quite a bit from policy to policy. Most insurance policies have a compulsory excess and then a voluntary. You may find that by increasing the voluntary excess, the annual price for the insurance drops down. Some insurance companies will charge an admin fee for changes, such as changes of address, vehicle or convictions etc. They will also charge a fee to cancel a policy and this can be anything from £20 upwards of £75.

Where is the best place to pick up a used car?

If you are in the market of looking for a new car then you may have to be on the lookout for a second hand one. Although owning a new car is a luxury that many of us would like to do, the hefty price tag attached to new vehicles often puts them out of budget for many people. Buying a second-hand car is always a bit of a risk as you do not know its full history and often you have little or no warranty with it (if it is an older vehicle and not bought from a main dealership).
When looking at any second hand car you should always carry out a HPI check on the vehicle which will check to see if it has outstanding finance on it, has been written off or had plate changed, amongst other things. If buying from a reputable garage, then they should have done this when they bought the vehicle or took it in part exchange, so you can always request to see it. If you are buying from a private buyer then you will probably need to do this yourself. You can do a HPI on any vehicle and it usually costs around £15.
Buying from a garage does often give you a little bit more security than buying a second hand car privately as you should get a three month warranty as minimum from most reputable dealers.

Garage Doors

There are lots of things which will come to affect your driving experience, like with functional changes, such as changing your tyres to suit the driving conditions, and with changes you might not expect, such as changing your garage door to more stylish timber garage doors.