If you have not got break down cover either through your insurance company, through your bank or direct through one of the break down companies, then you are taking a bit of a risk every time you drive your car. With breakdown cover costing as little as £5 – £10 per month, it really won’t break the bank but can save you a fortune in recovery costs.
There are often different packages available when taking out break down such as road side assistance, home start and nation wide recovery. It is important to understand exactly what cover you want and to check that the package offers that before committing. As with all policies you do get 14 days to cancel should you make a mistake.
Many breakdown policies that are offered as free through your bank account etc only offer minimal cover so you may wish to upgrade or take out additional cover anyway.
If you often drive other cars or are a passenger in another vehicle then you may want to take out cover that covers you and not just the one car you are driving for further peace of mind.
When it comes to the time to get a new car, you have a choice as to whether to buy new or used. New cars always come with a manufacturer’s warranty which is often three years but can be as much as seven years or 100,000 miles (currently Kia offer this warranty). This can give you hassle free motoring and although the warranty will not cover everything such as tyres and general wear and tear, it can mean if anything big goes wrong, you don’t have to fork out the thousands of pounds to fix it. Buying a used car always carries more risk than buying a new one as you often will have a short or possibly even no warranty. If you are buying a car off a private buyer you often have little come back as it is a private sale. It is worth remembering though that even for private seller used cars you are still covered by a general sales of goods act so if you can prove that a car was bought and was not fit for purpose you may be able to take them to a small claims court. Some companies offer used car checks and will go out even to a private sale and give the car a once over before you agree the sale. It is also strongly recommended that you carry out a HPI check to see information such as if the car has ever been recorded as stolen, written off, outstanding and finance.
If your car is more than three years old, an annual MOT check is a legal requirement to ensure it’s roadworthy. On average many garages charge between £35 and £45 for an MOT test but legally garages and MOT test centres are allowed to charge a maximum of £54.85 for the test.
Although many of us dread an MOT it can be a lifesaving test by picking up on faults with the vehicle that may be or may become unsafe in the very near future. It is illegal to drive a car with no MOT unless driving it to / from an MOT test station. Driving with no MOT will also invalidate your insurance.
There are ways in which you can try and give your car the best chance of passing.
Check your tyres are not only correctly inflated but also free from damage and have plenty of tread left on them. Check that all tyres have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm right the way around and across the central three-quarters of the pattern. A quick way to check is to insert a 20p piece into one of the tread grooves. If the outer edge of the coin is completely obscured then the tread depth is sufficient.
MOT time can be stressful, often you are not aware of all the work that may be required on your vehicle until it comes to the MOT and make be left with a huge bill in order to get the car road worthy and to pass the MOT.
Although MOT guidelines are very strict and all garages are told to adhere to the same standards, some garages are more lenient and others are stricter. If you worry that a garage is failing items on the MOT that should not of failed then you can take it to another garage to get them to check it for you, or make a complaint through the .gov website stating what the car has failed on and why you believe it is incorrect.
You do need to have a certain amount of trust in a garage to be able to take your car to them for an MOT. If you are worried that the garage may add extra faults so they get more work out of the job then you could take it to a place that does just MOT’s and no repair work as there is no advantage to them failing the car. The only issue with this is you will not have time to be able to shop around for quotes if you need the car back on the road so be sure to do your MOT early.
When you need your vehicle repaired it can be quite a mine field, particularly if you don’t know much about cars.
So how can you get your car fixed without being ripped off?
Firstly always ask for personal recommendations for garages that people you know have used before or failing that look up online reviews before contacting any garages to ensure that they do not have negative feedback.
It’s then a good idea to do a bit of your own research online as to what the issue could be with the car along with a guideline as to how much you can expect to pay for the repair.
Once you have an idea of what may need doing you could then ring around a number of local garages to get a quote. Once you have found one that you are happy with ensure to ask them to take a look at the car and asses what needs doing and then contact you prior to any work being carried out on the car so that you can authorise work only once a price is agreed.
Never allow yourself you be rushed into any decisions or be pushed into going ahead with a garage just because you’ve contacted them for a quote, a good garage will be happy to answer your questions and will be able to give you a comprehensive quote for the work to be done.
If you are looking to get a new or second hand car then you may well be tempted with taking finance out to cover the cost or part of the cost of the vehicle. Finance can be a great way of spreading the cost of a car over a number of years but you need to be sure that you know what you are taking on, the terms an conditions of the finance and how much you will end up paying for the car overall.
Many finance companies will simply take to you about the monthly amount and term of the finance but may not talk about the amount of interest and the APR. The APR is the annual percentage rate and is a percentage that relates to the interest you will be charged annually over the term of the loan. APR’s can range drastically from as little as a few percentage upwards of a thousand percentage. The higher the APR the more you will be paying back overall.
Always check how much you will have paid back in total including interest by the end of the finance agreement and this will allow you to work out how much in interest and charges you will incur. Often once people have this information, they reconsider the finance or will start to shop around to get a lower APR. Bank loans are often lower than taking out car finance but not sometimes the lending restrictions are stricter.
If you have recently had a new car or have noticed a new noise or some odd behaviour then you are likely to panic what it is and we often assume the worse. It is right to be concerned if you notice something different about the way your car sounds or drive or notice that it is using too much fuel for example, but sometimes we may put off taking it to the garage in fear that we may have to fork out a lot of money.
Often these noises etc. may only be something small and it might be easily fixed but even if it isn’t the chances are, if you leave it, it will only get worse. The problem arises when we notice something wrong and do nothing to then find that something has broken, such as the cam belt, which has caused additional damage as a result. This may have been avoided had the initial problem been investigate as and when it should of.
Ensuring that all your fluid levels are topped up, that the car is regularly serviced and generally looking after your vehicle can help avoid some problems and if not avoid them, may be an opportunity for them to be picked up before they get too bad.
When it comes to buying a used car, you may have many concerns about how genuine the seller has been. No one wants to be stung with buying a car that is riddled with faults or to have it break down on you a few weeks later. When buying any used car there is always an element of risk involved but you can only hope that the seller has been honest.
Make sure you do your own research before viewing or bidding on a car. You may be surprised as to how much information you can find out online about a vehicle just from having the registration number and manufacturer details. All current and previous MOT’s are now listed online showing if the car passed or failed the MOT test, and also if there were any advisories. This can help you work out what has been done on the car or what may need to be done in the near future.
If you are buying a new car then you most likely need to switch your insurance over on to it. If you are trading your current car in part exchange or if you are selling it after then you may need to have both cars insured for a period. Most insurance companies will give you 24 hours cover on both to give you plenty of time to collect the new one whilst still being insured on the old one.
When swapping insurance, firstly call your current provider and check what the cost would be to swap. There may be an additional premium to pay and possibly an admin fee too. Once you have a price go online and obtain a quote from a comparison company to see what others may offer you. I often find a price for a few hundred pounds less than your current provider. If you are going to swap insurers check what the cancellation fee is going to be as often this can be in excess of £75 which can make it worth while paying a little extra and staying with your current insurer.
Servicing can be an expensive part of owning a car. Many cars require a service every 12 months or 10,000 miles and then a major service every 30,000 miles or three years. Many new cars now come with long life service schedules meaning that they only need a service every 2 or 3 years for example.
Services can range from £100 upwards to £500 if it is a major main dealer service but is essential to maintaining your vehicle the best you can. Many people do not want to spend this money on old cars and therefore garages are now offering mini services. The mini service often includes oil and filter change, checking and topping up of other fluids and all over check on the brakes, suspension and tyres for example. This can cost as little as £40 so can be a huge saving on the normal dealership service prices.