5 articles Articles posted in Driving

Things To Consider When Buying a Family Car

Last year, we decided that our old Volvo was probably on it’s last legs and needed replacing. We were on a bit of a budget and managed to find a Ford Focus on a 52 plate which was within our price, but ultimately it’s not been the perfect car for us, so we’re looking for something new. I have certain criteria when looking for used cars and I thought I’d share them with you in case it helps with your own search.

Fuel Economy

Buying a second hand car means you’re probably not buying the most up-to-date vehicle with the best fuel mileage, but it’s still something worth considering. Given the fact that our Focus has a smaller engine than the Volvo and is a smaller car in general, I thought the fuel economy would be better, but it’s actually almost identical to the Volvo – not great when fuel is my biggest expense each month.

Insurance

When we bought the Focus, we knew that the insurance group was high, which is apparently something to do with the sheer amount of them on the road influencing average statistics, but we decided to take the hit because of needing something quite quickly. However, next time, I’ll be aiming to go for a car which is a much lower insurance group than this one.

Comfort

As a driver, I’m largely ambivalent to what I drive and have no major preferences on cars, but comfort is something which my passengers have to have a say on. When we switched from the Volvo to the Focus, Husband lost a lot of leg room in the front seat, and that impacts how far back he has his seat, and in turn how much leg room the seat behind has. Next time we buy a car, I’ll be making sure it’s comfy for everyone.

Safety

This is probably the single most important factor for us; one thing we really miss about our Volvo is knowing that it was an incredibly safe, heavy, well-built car, and unfortunately the Focus doesn;t inspire the same confidence. Husband and I will be checking the safety stats of everything we consider when it’s time to buy something else.

Parts

The one and only thing that we’ve liked about the Focus is the fact that the parts are pretty cheap, which is lucky seeing as we’ve needed to have SO much work done to it in a year. Any car we consider in the future will be checked to see if the parts are ridiculously expensive before we buy!

What To Do in 3 Steps if Your Car Gets a Ding

Car Dings – Three Vital Steps!

We have all been there at some point. We step out from home, work or the supermarket and find that some kind soul has left a scratch, dent or ‘ding’ on our car. A dented door, a cracked bumper or a horrible knock in the boot might seem like the end of the world. It’s certainly true that it’s a major inconvenience, but thankfully, with a few common sense steps, there are some things we can do to mitigate any further headache. All Nations Insurance have a helpful article on what steps to follow, but the below steps are a good starting point.

Step 1 – Take Photos and Find Witnesses!

Most of the time, whether the person who caused the damage was aware or not, they will not leave details. Gone are the days of popping a note under the windscreen with an apology and a phone number. If the person has left their details or is still at the scene, then that’s a great start, as insurance details and agreements on the next steps can be arranged, amicably, on the spot. It’s important, however, to take photos of the accident ‘as is’ so that the circumstances can be confirmed later. Additionally, despite the other side’s possible admission of liability, if there are any witnesses, the best course of action is to canvass them and obtain statements wherever possible. That way, if negotiations go south later on, you have a back up plan. Wrapping your car instead of getting it resprayed when its damaged it a really effective cost effective way of fixing paint work. There are lots of different car styling options available to achieve this.

In all cases, if the accident has taken place in public, it’s worth contacting the business whose premises may have CCTV, or the local public body who may have caught the incident on camera. There are no real considerations to worry about; most of the time, CCTV operators will simply check if they have caught the incident on camera, and if they have, will allow you to retain the relevant footage. Becker Law have helpful information on what type of photos to take, how many, and what any photographs should ideally include.

Contact Your Insurance Provider!

In all cases, if it looks like things are going to have to be repaired professionally, get in touch with your insurance provider, and in all circumstances don’t refuse to hand your insurance details over if asked. Furthermore, always get the other person’s insurance provider details. There is no bigger shock than receiving a call from your provider stating you hadn’t reported the incident; regardless of blame, it can put your claim on the proverbial ‘back foot’ and makes claims more complicated.

Make Repairs Through An Approved Facility

Always ensure repairs are carried out through an accredited and approved insurance repair centre. Outside companies may be cheaper or claim to be affiliated, but claiming the money back later can be difficult to impossible. Furthermore, the repairs are not always to standard, and will nearly always not be covered under any kind of warranty. Whilst it may be a cheaper option, it will cost more in the long run. Superior Auto Institute provide training to their repair operatives to enure PDR training has been completed to the relevant professional standard, and this should be the base line for considering any place of business to repair a ‘ding’.

Is Your Car Ready for Winter? #TestYourTreads

I don’t know if it’s just me, but after a pretty mild Autumn, it feels as though winter has sneaked up on me out of nowhere! Christmas is less than a month away but we’ve only just started wearing proper winter coats and boots and I think this year has been the latest we’ve ever put our heating on too. Living in the countryside means that we have to do certain things to prep for winter; we’re off the grid for gas, so we have to make sure we’ve had a delivery of LPG to last us, and we also use a log burner for heat which means making sure our wood is well seasoned and checking whether we might need to have more delivered.

Obviously, living remotely means that our car is really important to us, too, as we’d be stranded without it, so there are a few things we check there like anti-freeze, low-temperature screen wash and also our tyres. TyrePlus is urging everyone to #TestYourTreads to remind them that tyres which are worn below the legal limit can be even more dangerous in the winter.

Their experts say “Tyres aren’t just those great big rubber things that carry you from A to B. They’re a lot more sensitive than they look which is why we want you to help us spread the message about the importance of giving your tyres the TLC they need. They might look tough (and indeed they are) but deep down, they need a fair bit of looking after. Unfortunately, there are still far too many people who think The 20p Test is something you might find at a fairground amusement arcade.”

“This handy little test actually requires you to pop a 20p coin in the grooves of the tyre and if the outer band of the coin is visible at any point, the treads are below the legal limit. Carrying out simple checks like this one on a regular basis will keep car safety in check, reduce damage to vehicles and help eliminate unnecessary road accidents.”

A lot of people take it for granted that if their MOT is up to date then their tyres MUST be legal but this isn’t always the case, so performing the test above could really help to keep you safe. Also, take a look at any advisories on your last MOT because if your tyres were worn close to the legal limit and noted on your test, there’s a good chance they need replacing.

Obviously, the risks of having unsafe tyres are potentially fatal, so I’m sure I don’t need to reiterate how important it is to check them. What are you waiting for? Check them NOW!

Is Your Vision Good Enough for Driving?

One In Three Brits Risk Driving Ban With Overdue Eye Tests

I’ve been a glasses wearer since I was 11. At primary school, our classes were pretty small, so seeing the blackboard was never an issue, but once I got to senior school, the classes were bigger and suddenly I realised that my vision wasn’t good enough for me to see what was being written on the board. I went for an eye test, and lo and behold, I needed glasses, albeit with a pretty weak prescription. My lenses have got stronger pretty much every year since then, until about 2 years ago when the optician said I’d reached some sort of vision-stasis and that my eyes hadn’t worsened since my last test. However, I still get yearly tests because as a driver, I think it’s massively important.

Vision Express has recently conducted a survey which came up with some, quite frankly, terrifying results. Here’s a video that they’ve made all about it:

New research revealed today by Vision Express has found:

• Almost 30% of UK drivers are overdue an eye test, with 4% admitting to never having had one

• Drivers with uncorrected vision which falls short of legal thresholds face potential insurance invalidation, a heavy fine, penalty license points and even driving disqualification

• On average, Brits will be spending almost three hours in their vehicles en-route to their UK holiday destination and will be travelling with three people, including one child

• There will be increased pressure on UK roads this summer with 50% of Brits families holidaying in the UK, compared with 38% last year

• Brits are more likely to have their cars stocked with drinks and snacks, rather than they are to have had a recent eye test

As drivers, we’re all spot-on when it comes to getting our cars MOT’d to make sure they’re as safe as possible, but that safety-checking should always extend to ourselves – if your eyes aren’t giving you a reliable picture of what you’re seeing, then you’re putting yourself, your family and every other road user in danger. If you cause an accident and other people are injured including any that are in the car with you, you could find yourself facing legal action for whiplash claims and other injuries.

My ability to drive is something which is so essential to us as a family because of where we live; we’re 6 miles from Sausage’s school, 3 miles from the nearest shop and we don’t even really have passable pavements on any of the roads immediately around our house. In an emergency, Husband or I could cycle to get where we needed to go, but transporting ourselves as a family would be very tricky indeed. This means that my eye health is of paramount importance.

Do you make sure you have yearly tests? Are you as shocked as I am about the amount of people driving around with potentially poor vision?! Do leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear from you.

The Cost of Being a Motorist

Living in the middle of nowhere means that we have no choice but to drive everywhere. The school run alone is 7.6 miles each way, and although I’m working on my fitness I don’t think more than 30 miles of walking a day is hugely realistic for me! Having said that, our current car is getting really old and I’m not hugely confident about the MOT, which means needing to save for something new and that’s not all that easy when you factor in what we’re paying in every month to keep THIS car on the road!

New research by affordable car hire company autoeurope.co.uk reveals British motorists will drive over half a million miles in a lifetime – the equivalent to 22 times around the earth. They
will also fork out £168,880, on running costs of vehicle ownership, have 1,935 rows – and 2,709 episodes of road rage in a lifetime. Scary stats! Here’s a few more for you to get your head around:

When you look at the cumulative cost of having a car, it’s quite shocking to think that we’re all spending that much on it! Having said that, I’ve often said that learning to drive is one of the best things I ever did because of the amount of freedom it’s given me over the years. I’ve had my licence for 14 years and I still love driving, to this day. Aside from the obvious issue of being stranded where we live now, I think I’d be totally lost without a car to use on a daily basis. It’s my little space (and is usually full of empty coffee cups and biltong wrappers, if I’m being totally honest!) and I love it.

Are you a driver? Would you ever consider giving up your car? Do you find the cost of owning a car is just to high these days or are you happy to pay for the privilege of being able to get around independently? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear what you think.