Wednesday, 2 April 2014
Friday, 31 January 2014
Buying a car is an expensive investment, and one way to save some money is to buy second hand. In general this is a good thing – deprecation means you can buy an equally good second hand car at a much cheaper price than a new one. But unfortunately, you need to be on the lookout for frauds and people who are selling a car that ought to go to the skip.
And that’s why you need to inspect the car carefully before you buy it. While this might sound intimidating, it really is not that bad – I’ve collected most of the key points you need to go through. Most important of all though – check online for standard prices. If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is!
Make sure the owner has all the original documentation – not photocopies. They should also have a sheaf of MOTS, carried out at regular intervals, and will probably have had other car work.
Run a history check on the car. You’ll need its registration number and VIN. You can find websites online that’ll do it (such as the RAC). This should warn you if the car is stolen, or been written off after a crash.
Outside the car
Check the paint is even and the same colour throughout the car – if not, it’s been re-painted after some form of damage. Also, make sure that there is no rust anywhere on the car.
Check the suspension by pushing down on the corner of the car. It should only bounce once.
If it’s a convertible, make sure you can put the hood up and down, and that there are no rips in the material.
Check the tyres are worn evenly. If not, they might need balancing at the local garage, which either the seller can do, or they can give you a discount.
Frayed seatbelts and damage to the dashboard imply the car was in a crash.
Inside the car
Look for the Vehicle Identification Number. This is 16 digits long, and should be in at least three of these locations: windscreen, behind the door, under the driver’s seat carpet, and on the inside of the bonnet. If the numbers don’t match it implies the car was seriously damaged, or stolen.
The miles on the odometer should match that from the advert. See how worn the seats and wheel are – does that seem to match with the amount the car has been driven? Finally, check the log book – it should say how many miles the car was driven at the last MOT, which should be slightly lower (never higher) than the number on the odometer.
Under the bonnet
Check for rust on the battery
Check the fluids: they should all be at the right level, the oil fluid should be golden/brown, the coolant a pink colour and the brake fluid a light brown. Any debris implies something is wrong with the car engine.
The test drive
This should take at least 15 minutes, but ideally longer
Drive on as many different types of roads as possible, including narrow ones and over speed bumps
Go to a quiet road, and do an emergency stop to check the brakes.
Play with the air con and radio whilst driving to check they work, and can be used easily
Bring a friend to check how comfortable the back seats are
Listen to the car – you shouldn’t hear the wind, or any strange noises.
Try parking it.
Of course, the car might have some problems, or minor dents that don’t matter to the driving – but if you notice them, you can at least try and argue the seller down in price, so it is worth checking!
For more car advice or to find a reliable dealer have a look at our website www.mycargossip.com
Mycargossip.com was started to help empower women about driving and using cars. So, in honour of that aim I thought I’d find out more about the women who helped create the modern car – because it wasn’t only made by a bunch of men!
Have you ever been caught in a rainstorm, and had those few seconds of squinting to see anything, before you gave up and put on the windscreen wipers? If so, thank Mary Anderson. Before 1903, drivers would either have carried on driving, despite low visibility, or stopped to manually wipe the windscreen every now and then. But (the story goes), one day Mary Anderson saw a driver with his window wide open, because he needed to see past the snow on his windscreen. She felt there had to be a better way, and so she applied for a patent, and created the first windscreen wiper in 1903. It was operated by a crank from inside the car, but allowed drivers to see out the windscreen, rather than needing to open a window and allow snow or rain inside. Unfortunately, when she tried to sell her idea cars weren’t yet widespread, and the car company didn’t believe it would be a popular option.
Later on, Charlotte Bridgewood improved Mary Anderson’s idea, and created the first automatic windscreen wiper, rather than a hand crank. Unfortunately, neither of these two women got the credit they deserved, especially when you consider how important your vision is to safe driving!
But of course, to drive safely one can’t just look in front. The rear-view mirror is another vital part of the car that helps everyone drives more safely, and it was Dorothy Levitt who can claim credit for its presence in our cars today. She didn’t quite invent the rear view mirror as we know it today, but rather used a standard handbag-sized mirror to do the same job. In 1903, she advised women reading her book should carry a pocket mirror with them, and place it in a convenient location, and then raise it every now and then to check what was behind them. This is the earliest mention of a rear-view mirror – long before manufacturers caught up and introduced a built-in mirror in 1914.
And finally, an invention vitally important to a petrol car, though less visible is the spark plug. This lets of a spark, which causes the explosion which drives all the motion of the car – so quite important! It was invented by Helen Blair Bartlett, who used her knowledge of geology to create an insulator which is essential to the modern spark plug. By 1923, over half of the inventions in the Woman’s Bureau Bulletin under “Transportations” were to do with cars, including a carburettor (which blends air and fuel) and a clutch mechanism.
And as well as that, there are many other women inventors, such as Florence Lawrence, who invented the first left/right indicator for the car or Marion Donovan, who created the ubiquitous cup holder – maybe it doesn’t do as much for car safety as the rear-view mirror or the windscreen wiper but can you imagine your car without at least one?