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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The importance of cleaning your car

Why is it important to clean your car? 

When I first started driving, cleaning my car was not high on my priority list, in fact, for the first 3 years of driving I didn't spend much time or money in actually looking after my car properly.
You may not realise it, but cleaning your car both inside and out is so important. As important as getting a routine oil change and your yearly MOT & Service. Keeping your car clean preserves and maintains the exterior of the car from every day usage.

In the summer time I notice that my car gets covered in bird poo, dead bugs and other dirt from driving. I didn't realise that the acid in bird's poo and from dead bugs actually ruins the car's paintwork and takes a lot of washing and cleaning to get it all removed. After having to go through a drive through car wash 5 times and get my car hand cleaned I realised that next time my car gets pooed on I need to sort it out straight away, rather than leaving it for a few weeks.

Cleaning your car when it is raining? 

It isn't only in the summer time that it is important to get your car cleaned, but also in the rainy weather. Whenever it rains, I always think to myself, "oh that's good, my car needed a clean" but actually the acid rain and water kicked up by other cars can also damage the cars paint work and it isn't cleaning the car at all!

It isn't just the exterior of the car that needs to be cleaned, but the interior is just as important. The inside of the car can get dirty really quickly from dirty shoes, food crumbs and spilt drinks. I always notice that my car gets really dusty as well. You should be cleaning the inside of your car at least once a month to stop all the dirt from settling into the materials.

I've been reading a few articles online about this topic and a few surveys have been done which ask how often people get their car cleaned or clean it themselves. Every article showed in their statistics that men are more likely to keep their cars clean than women are. A survey which was created by a women's car insurance specialist "Diamond" showed that men are 34% more likely than women to keep their cars clean. 61% of men clean their car at least once a month, compared to 46% of women. Apparently one in eight women said that they were embarrassed by the state of the inside of their cars.
So next time your boyfriend/husband/father says that they don't want to clean up after dinner because they don't like cleaning, ask them how often they clean their cars. If they say they clean their cars regularly, on their own, then they have no excuse to not clean up after dinner!

One article did a survey that showed women care more about looking after themselves and their appearances rather than their cars, compared to men who spend more time making sure their car stays looking the same as when they bought it. I would have been one of those people who said that I care more about the way I look rather than the way my car looks, however, I now know that it is just as important to keep my car as clean and tidy as I am.

To help me clean my car I bought myself a pink feather duster and a coover (car hoover) I also have a car-bin for all my rubbish. I find that having these items in my car makes me clean it more regularly.

Parking in a disabled parking bay - have you done it?

Would you park in a disabled parking bay?

Last week I was at my local gym.  It was early evening and as I drove into the car park I noticed that it was quite busy, I carried on driving down and eventually found myself a space. Even though it was really busy there were still quite a few free spaces at the back of the car park with a short walk to the gym’s entrance.

As I was walking into the entrance of the gym, I saw a young man drive straight into one of the disabled parking bays, he parked his car and then jumped out and ran into the gym.  I had a look at his car and I couldn't see a blue badge anywhere. I was completely shocked to see someone who was obviously fit and healthy park in a disabled bay because they were late for their gym class. This person could have prevented a person with a genuine disability from parking outside the main entrance.

I went inside the gym and reported the incident to the receptionist, she said that it happens a lot and they regularly have to check the bays and call out driver’s number plates to tell them to move their cars when they don’t have a blue badge. 

When I visited the gym on Saturday morning which is the busiest time of the week I was even more shocked to see that every disabled bay was full and only 1 of the cars had a blue badge.
Then the other day, I was driving to the post office and all of the spaces apart from the disabled space were full. The woman driving in front of me drove straight into the disabled bay, got out of her car and ran into a shop. I walked past her car on my way into the post office and couldn’t see a blue badge anywhere. There was only one disabled parking bay and this woman was incredibly selfish to use it.

What is the fine for parking in a disabled parking bay?

It is an offence to park a vehicle in a Blue Badge parking bay without displaying a Blue Badge and you could actually get a maximum fine of £1,000.
I did some research into Blue Badges and it turns out that many people use fake blue badges or borrow their friends/families blue badges so that they can park in disabled parking bays.  A new company has been created called BBFI and they are dedicated to investigating fraud against the government. They are now working on taking people to court if they are using a lost/stolen/borrowed or fake blue badge.

How to pass your MOT

MOT Test and how to pass it:

You need to check the following parts of your car and make sure there is no damage or fault:

  1. Windscreen wipers: - Check there are no cracks/chips or damage.

  1. Indicators and headlights:- Make sure your headlights, rear lights, hazard lights, side lights and indicators are all working. 

  1. Fuel and Engine oil:- You must have enough fuel and oil before your test. The mechanics need fuel and oil so they can test the emissions on the car. 

  1. Seat belts and Seats:- You can test the seat belts by tugging on all of them to make sure they are working properly. 

  1. Screen wash:- If your screen wash is empty- you will fail your MOT

  1. Brake Lights:- You will need to get someone to stand behind your car to check that your brake lights are working before you take your car in for it's MOT.

  1. Windscreen wipers:- Any damage to your windscreen wipers can result in an MOT test fail. Make sure they are clean and damage free. 

  1. Number plate:- Your number plates must be clear and visible. If you have a personalised number plate make sure it meets the legal requirements. 

  1. Horn: You will need to get your horn fixed if it isn't working properly as this can result in a MOT test fail. 

  1. Tyres and Wheels:- The legal minimum tread depth for your tyres is 1.6mm, if they are less than that then you will fail your MOT test. 

Friday, 31 January 2014

Car Advice- Tips to help you when you are buying a car

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 

Women who have helped create the modern car 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?