Is your garage storage utilised efficiently?

Most homeowners tend to use their garage for purposes other than housing their vehicle even though money can be saved on insurance premiums by stating that the vehicle is kept in a garage.

Many people use the garage as a storage space for the home and store a mixture of garden furniture, boxes, tools and other items without any organisation in there. If the storage space is organised effectively it will appear as if the garage is much larger than it is in reality and access to items stored there will be simpler.

One thing that can be done is to put up shelving so that items can be stored on shelves rather than on the floor. The shelving can be made from any oddments of wood or worktop so expensive ready-made shelving is not necessary. Clear plastic boxes are useful to store decorating materials and tools so that the contents can be seen without lifting the boxes down.

Another way of organising storage is to look at the possibility of hanging some items up on hooks attached to the walls. Garden tools often have handles that enable them to be hung up easily and hose pipes, which are notoriously difficult to store can also be hung up in this way.

Should you let the garage replace or try to repair a damaged exhaust system?

The exhaust on your vehicle is a common component to get damaged or worn. If you often drive over rough road surfaces or uneven land then you will likely catch your exhaust which over time can cause a hole or part of it to come loose.

If you suddenly find that your car sounds particularly loud when you accelerate or even just when idling and the noise is coming from the back end of the car then you most probably have a hole in your exhaust pipe. A damaged exhaust pipe will usually fail an MOT and if the car sounds very loud you may attract unwanted attention from the police. It is important to get it repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

So what options do you have? Depending on where about the hole is in the exhaust and how big it is, you could try repairing it. You can buy exhaust bandage or ask a garage to weld it for you. This may solve the problem but may only be a temporary fix.

The best way to ensure that the issue is properly fixed in to replace that section of the exhaust. This may be a relatively small job, so always get a quote first before rushing out to repair it to try and save a bit of money.

Using your garage as a workshop

Having a garage can be a huge help when it comes to storage but most of us just fill them with junk that we don’t really need any more. This can mean that any spare room you do have cannot be used for anything useful.

There are many different uses for a garage such as a place to store your car, a gym area, a place to store your gardening equipment such as strimmer’s and lawn mowers or even a workshop. If you are considering turning your garage in to a workshop then there are some things you need to thnk carefully about.

Firstly you need to decide if you are going to turn the whole garage in to a workshop or only part of it. IF you are going to only be using part of it, you may want to put up some petitions or section off a corner. You will need to have space for a work bench and some tools and organisation is key to get the most out of the space. Shelving and hanging racks will allow you ensure that everything has its own place so you can keep it tidy and organised. You need to check that you have power to the garage. If your garage is attached to your house, there are likely outlets in your garage already. If it is a separate garage, however, you’ll want to double-check that you have access to power.

Will a garage add value to your home?

If you are considering building a garage on to your home then you may wonder if it will add value. A lot of this depends on how the garage is built and whether it adds space or removes it from your home. If for example you only have a very small garden then adding a garage which uses up a lot of this space may reduce the amount your house is worth. In most cases, though adding a garage to your home will add value. If you have the garage built with deep enough foundations then you may even be able to build on top of it and add another room if needed. This again will add value on to your home and make it easier to sell.

Garages used to be built to store vehicles in but often now, people do not always use the garage for that purpose and instead use it to store items such as lawnmowers, camping equipment or set it up as an indoor gym. You want your garage to be waterproof and if you are going to want electrical sockets in there, you will need to ensure that it is all wired correctly. You may even deice to use your garage as a laundry room, in which case ventilation is important.

How often do homeowners use their garages to house their cars?

The majority of new build houses are designed and built with a garage or a parking space on the property if this is an option, but how often do we actually use our garages to house our cars and if not then why is that?

Garages are a particularly useful addition to any home in terms of general storage space. They are often used to store garden furniture during the winter months and gardening equipment such as lawnmowers and gardening tools throughout the year. Whilst some people build a garden shed to house this equipment it is more common for it to be kept in the garage.

Some homeowners use the garage as an additional room either as a laundry room with a washing machine and tumble dryer or possibly a games room for the family to use. With the increased interest in health and fitness some garages are utilised as a gym with treadmills, rowing machines and weightlifting equipment.

The difficulty for some when thinking of using the garage to accommodate their car is that often the garage is not wide enough to be able to park the car and get out without damaging the doors on the garage wall. Older properties often have larger garages, so this is not usually an issue for these homeowners.

Buying a cheap but reliable car

Should you be unable to afford a new or relatively new car you will be looking at the used car market to find your next vehicle.

Your first consideration is whether to buy from a private seller perhaps from an online auction site or as advertised in the local paper or whether to visit a local car dealership to see whether there are any cars that may be suitable and in your price bracket.

The cost of the car will usually be more expensive from a dealership, but you are usually given a short warranty which is good for your peace of mind. If you are buying from a private seller it is worthwhile checking online to see past MOTs and any advisories that have been issued so that you can ask the seller if these have been dealt with. If you can take a mechanic with you to view and test drive the car before you buy it may give you an indication of the car’s worth and any issues it may have.

Although reliability cannot ever be guaranteed when buying a used car, if checks are made before purchasing the chances of getting a car that can be relied upon will be greater.

What should I do if I breakdown?

It is something that most drivers dread, and many drivers try to prepare for, but it is still very worrying when your car breaks down by the roadside. If you do have the misfortune to break down do you know what to do?

Hopefully you will have previously organised breakdown cover with a reputable organisation and have the details of your cover and the relevant telephone numbers on hand. A phone call to the operator with details of your car and location will be the first thing to do and help should be on its way often within the hour.

If you are carrying an emergency triangle it is a good idea to place this a few metres from your car to warn other motorists of the hazard along with switching on your hazard lights. It is essential, especially if you breakdown on a motorway that you do not stay inside the vehicle but stand some metres away in case your car is hit by another vehicle.

Should you not have breakdown cover you will need to either phone a family member or friend to tow you to garage not to be attempted by the fainthearted or ideally phone a local garage to recover your vehicle.

Buying a used car for your grown-up child

When your child first passes their driving test, they will no doubt be eager to own their own car. It may be that, as parents, you are in a financial position that enables you to buy the first car for them but usually this will have to be a used car. The physical size of the car, engine size and fuel type will all need to be taken into consideration.

It is important firstly to think about what the car will be used for. If it is only used on short local journeys a smaller car will probably be sufficient but if the car is going to be used for longer motorway journeys a more reliable, fuel efficient model will be more suitable.

The cost of insuring a young persons’ car is a significant outlay and so a car with a smaller engine may mean that savings can be made. A tracker can be fitted to the car by a representative from the insurance company which measures the mileage covered, speed the car is driven at and the time of day journeys are undertaken. This feature can result in a reduced insurance premium for the driver and peace of mind for the parent too.

Smart motorways, are they safe?

Smart motorways have been about for a number of years now and in the last five years there has been 38 deaths which surely says there is a need to rethink them. A section of the M25 that has been turned in to a smart motorway has seen a 20 fold increase in near misses since the hard shoulder was removed. The idea of these smart motorways is to open up the hard shoulder to be used by motorists as another lane. It someone breaks down in a lane then a sign on a gantry will illuminate a red x to show drivers that the line is closed, and they need to move in to another lane. This was first piloted on the M42 where the Emergency Refuge Areas were every 500m, without consultation this was changed to only have them every 2500m instead which may have contributed to the number of deaths that have occurred.

It can take up to 17 minutes for the control room to spot a broken down vehicle and hit the button to display a red X, it can then take another 17 minutes for the car to be rescued and bought to safety which means you have well over half an hour of time where you are in a very dangerous position.

Advances in motoring could be the first step to cutting down on breakdowns

Breakdowns are not only an inconvenience but sometimes they can also be very dangerous, If you break down on the motor way for example then you are at high risk of being involved in a another accident. This is why it is very important to try and find ways to cut down on unexpected breakdowns.

Over the last few decades there have been a number of huge advances in the motoring industry such as improved safety features and environmental features such as electric cars.

Many of the new cars that are on the market have colour coded speedometers not only displaying your speed on a digital display but also showing you if you are driving economically or not.

Another handy little device that may be worth purchasing is one of the portable real time diagnostic boxes that many of the breakdown companies are offering. Companies such as the AA and Green Flag have created these boxes that plug directly into the diagnostic port on your vehicle. They are set up to read any error codes that come up on the ECU of your vehicle and report them to you in real time. This may be by sending you a text message or a phone call. They can read data such as battery issues, engine management fault codes and even driving styles