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.  

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.

Cleaning car headlights

 

Over time you will notice that the headlights on your car often become cloudy not only looking unattractive but also making it harder to drive at night with the limited light that is able to get through. This can also be an MOT failure and one that can be easily avoided or corrected with a little money and elbow grease.

Some garages will often to Mop the lights for you which is usually a quick way to fix the problem, but you may be surprised to be left with a rather large bill for doing so. If you are happy to have a go yourself then here is a method you can try using toothpaste.

Because of the abrasive texture of toothpaste, it can be used to clean headlights in a relatively easy way. Smear the light in toothpaste and then using a cloth or hand held polisher carefully rub the paste off the lights in a circular motion. If using a hand help buffer, take care with not to do it too much or not to do it in the same place for too long. This process may have to be repeated a number of times for you to see the lights start to become clearer. Remove the toothpaste from the light using warm water.

 

Should you use a mobile mechanic?

With many of us relying on our cars day to day to get us to and from work or to do the school drop off, being without a vehicle for a few days can be a bit of a nightmare. If you need work doing on your car then you may have the option to use a mobile mechanic. Mobile mechanics will usually come to your home or place of work and carry out repairs there allowing them to work on your vehicle when you have no need for it.

When using a mobile mechanic it is important to check them out first by either getting reviews online or by speaking to people who have dealt with them in the past. Some mechanics may even offer to pick your car up for you and drop it off once they have completed the repair. This again can be a great way of getting work done. You may end up paying a little more for the work than you would if you took it in to a garage, but it is often less disruptive. Always be sure that the person working on your car is capable and that if they are going to be driving your vehicle, they have the right insurance to do so.

Break down cover explained

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.

 

How to not get ripped off with vehicle repairs

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.

 

Worrying too much about your car

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.

 

Finding a trusted mechanic

Finding a garage or mechanic that can work on your car can be easy as there are quite a few choices, but finding one that you can trust is often a different story. Some people choose to only ever take their car to a main dealer for repair or maintenance work. This is often more so with new cars that maybe are still under a manufacturer’s warranty, but main dealer prices for labour and for parts can be quite a bit higher than a local garage or mobile mechanic.

When shopping around for a mechanic, try and use one that has been recommended to you or that has a lot of good independent reviews. If you are ever in doubt about work that you have been quoted for from a mechanic or garage then I would strongly suggest getting a second opinion, as many places will do this for a small charge or even for free.

 

Using a mobile mechanic

If you need work doing on your car and it is not able to be driven to a garage or you cannot have the time off work to take it to one, then you may want to consider using a mobile mechanic. People often assume that a mobile mechanic will charge more to carry out services and repairs that taking it to a workshop but this is often not the case. As a mobile mechanic can save money on the costs of leasing/ owning a workshop and the bills that come with it, they can often significantly reduce their labour charges.

Mobile mechanics may not be able to undertake all jobs if for example it requires the car to be lifted up on to a ramp, but they may have access to a ramp that they use or can take it to a garage that they are affiliated with for you.

Make sure that you always read reviews on mobile mechanics and never just had over your car to someone that you have little information on.

 

Slow puncture in your tyre

A puncture can happen at any time and can not only be inconvenient but can be costly and not to mention dangerous. Often it is caused by driving over debris in the road or even hitting a pot hole too hard and can happen to a brand new tyre. Some punctures can be repaired whilst other will require a new tyre to be fitted. You can expect to pay upwards of fifteen pounds per repair.

If you have a slow puncture then it is tempting to just keep inflating it every couple of days to get you through, but you are running the risk of making the puncture worse and also of the tyre becoming dangerous and causing the car to lose control.

If you notice that you have a flat tyre or under inflated tyre then you need to fill it up with air but check it again the next day to see if it has gone down again. Tyres do lose pressure naturally over time but it should not be happening in the space of a few days or even a few weeks.