6 articles Tag cars

The Dos And Don’ts Of Buying Used Cars

We all know that buying used cars will work out far cheaper than buying brand-new vehicles. But not many people know exactly how to go about buying second-hand. More often than not, they will end up going to a private seller and paying slightly over the odds for the make and model that they go for.

There’s no reason to end up fleeced if you follow our guide though. These dos and don’ts of buying used cars should help you save some money and come away with a very reliable vehicle that you can use for a good few years.

Pixabay.com

Do Buy From A Reputable Trader

For starters, it’s really important that you buy your car from a reputable dealer. If you don’t, then you risk being conned into buying something that really isn’t worth it. Ideally, go to your nearest second-hand car dealership as these will have to follow some industry standards. This is also a good idea if you want a used 4×4 or something a bit more specialist than just a basic family car. The staff will be able to give you plenty of advice on the vehicle that’s best for your needs.

Don’t Forget To Check How Eco-Friendly The Car Is

It’s really worth looking into how eco-friendly a car will be. Even though this won’t help you save any money on the initial cost of buying it, you should find that it will be cheaper for you to run. For instance, environmentally friendly cars often pay lower road taxes. Plus, you can be happy knowing that you are doing some good for the environment!

Don’t Ignore Your Head

It can be very easy to listen to our hearts when we go shopping for a used car. You might spot a car that looks absolutely fantastic, but are you sure it’s the best option for you? Instead of following your heart in this case, you really should follow your head. This will prevent you from overspending on a vehicle that will be too small and not meet any of your other needs and requirements.

Pixabay.com

Do Take It For A Test Drive

Before you agree to purchasing any vehicle, you should always take it for a test drive. That way, you can get a proper feel for the car and can see how well it drives. If you notice any issues with it or it has very poor driveability, then it could be best for you to move on and look at another one.

Don’t Be Afraid Of Haggling

When you buy second hand prices aren’t always set in stone, so it could be well worth trying to haggle with the dealer. You might be amazed at the discount you can walk away with!

There are plenty of things to try to remember when you buy a used car, but these dos and don’ts are some of the main ones. Hopefully, if you follow these you will be able to find your ideal vehicle when you go car shopping!

Choosing Your Family Car

A car can be essential for families. Between the school run, weekend sports matches and just needing to get around, your car will be an important part of your family.

Choosing the right car for your family, therefore, is a big decision that shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Take note of the following advice to help you make the best decision when choosing your family car.

Image Credit: Unsplash under Creative Commons

How big does it need to be?

Family cars need a lot of space, but you might not have thought about how much in detail before. For smaller kids, you’ll need to consider fitting in prams and pushchairs, making sure there’s adequate storage, etc. Not only will you need enough space in the boot, but making sure you have wide enough doors will also be a benefit further down the line when you’re trying to get the kids in their car seats. Look at the current top family cars to give you an idea of what’s out there and which cars are best sized for your needs.

What about the running costs?

We all know that cars can be expensive, so a family on a tight budget needs to consider the running costs of the car. A car that’s going to guzzle petrol is not a good investment, so you should look at the alternatives. A hybrid or an electric car is a good way to keep ongoing costs down, but the cars can be more expensive to buy in the first place. Look at ways to reduce your car insurance costs as one way to tighten your budget and help you manage the financial aspects that come with car ownership.

Should you buy new or used?

There’s a lot to consider when deciding to buy a new or used car. A new car will be fresh and take longer to need maintenance, but an older car could be a lot more cost effective. If you look at the cars at Drive Pay, you’ll notice that there are some excellent deals on used cars. Cars last much longer these days, so you could get an excellent deal by buying a used car instead of a brand new one.

Consider comfort

Comfort isn’t something to sacrifice when it comes to your family car. From having comfortable seats to a top entertainment system, you need a car that provides comfort for every eventuality. If you’re going to embark on long journeys regularly, consider investing in tablets or other forms of entertainment, otherwise, you could find yourself facing some very long journeys indeed!

Buying a new family car is an exciting experience, but it’s important that you get it right. Make sure that you take the time to test drive cars, read reviews and check that it meets all of your criteria before you make the final decision. You’ll rely on your car much more than you realise, so make sure you do the right thing by you and your family.

Making Life Easier with Mobility Issues

According to figures from disability charity Scope, there are 13.9 million disabled people in the UK who are living with some form of disability. This obviously covers a range of people, from those with mobility issues, right the way up to those who are profoundly disabled; the most commonly reported impairments by disabled people are:

  • Mobility (52%)
  • Stamina, breathing, fatigue (38%)
  • Dexterity (27%).

I have several friends who suffer with a range of mobility-effecting illnesses, so I thought I’d turn to them to give you some tips on how to make your day-to-day life easier if you struggle with mobility issues. My friend Jeni, who suffers with hypermobility and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, offered a HUGE amount of tips:

Pace Yourself

Break tasks into smaller chunks, small enough that you stop before you get tired.

Perching stool in the kitchen

Essential for cooking meals and washing up.

Tassimo/hot water machine

Standing waiting for a kettle to boil is sooooo tiring by when you’re suffering with fatigued muscles from overdoing it. This makes life easier!

Cooking potatoes/pasta in a chip basket inside a saucepan

saves you lifting and moving with a hot pan of water as it drains as you lift the basket and you can leave the water to cool.

Having “green” activities spread through the day

Red activities are heavy duty, amber is tolerable, and green are restful-ish. e.g. Red would be hoovering, Amber would be cooking and green would be watching a film with the kids or knitting. By having green activities every so often in the day, you give yourself a break!

Also, take your time when deciding on a car; consider height, weight of steering, accessibility, as well as fuel consumption. Can you get a wheelchair in the boot?

Borrow a wheelchair

You can hire them from the red cross so you can get out and about if you need to. Mary from Keynko had one for 10 weeks for a donation of £30.

Listen to your body

It’s about learning what you can do accepting that. Rachel from Rachel in Real Life said “So it was my sister’s wedding day on Sunday. I usually work Mondays but obviously it was a bank holiday and I also suspected I wouldn’t be able to work today so I’m making up the hours on Thursday. I slept most of yesterday and today. I’m still in pain and tired now. Remember to take pain relief at the right times, don’t wait to feel the pain. I’d recommend pain management program. It was really quite helpful and enabled me to meet others who struggle with chronic pain and mobility issues.”

My friend Kerry says: “I have a walking stick for general daily use (I try not to use it sometimes so I don’t become completely dependant), I have a four wheeled walker for bad days so I can sit in-between walking to the school, and for very bad days I now have a mobility scooter that I bought myself as there are days my legs are agony and I cannot get round to the school. Hot baths with epsom salts for muscle relaxation. Magnesium spray for muscle cramps. I also take a multivitamin and several additional vitamins on top to try ensure I stay as healthy as possible.”

A New Car for The Family

As I’ve talked about in other posts, we’re in the market for a new family car which means that I’ve been spending a LOT of time online researching cars which would be suitable for the five of us (because Chuck gets a vote too, OBVS!). So far, I’ve come up with a shortlist of cars that we’d like and I thought I’d share them with you in case you’re also in the market for a vehicle and need some inspiration:

Ford Kuga

Motorpoint has some amazing deals on Ford Kuga at the moment which is enough to make me consider them as a really good option. They’re five seaters, but we don’t really need any more than that and Ford are often really economical and run but also to repair if they need it. The Ford Kuga can provide you with fantastic drivability and handling, as well as a spacious and comfortable interior. This makes the Kuga an excellent choice for any young professional or as a safe, reliable family car.

Volvo XC90

We’re huge fans of Volvo in this house and will probably stay loyal to our current make of car. We’d also like something with the option of four wheel drive as it would make the possibility of snow less scary now that we live in the middle of nowhere, so this is also really high on our list.

Kia Sportage

Kia are a relatively new manufacturer in the UK and they’re also really reasonably priced. The Sportage is a good sized car that would probably do a really good job of hauling us all around, plus Chuck, random junk that the girls take everywhere with them, bikes etc!

Volkswagen Touran

My sister-in-law drove a Touran until very recently and her experiences of the car are enough to make us consider one for ourselves. They have flexible seating which means that you can have either 5 seats and decent boot space or 7 seats but less room for luggage. She was also really complimentary about the way the car actually drives and misses it now she’s changed over to a different car.

SsangYong Turismo

Yet another relatively unknown brand in the UK, SsangYong are a Chinese manufacturer which are making strides for offering high quality vehicles for a fraction of the price. The interior of the Turismo is consistently ranked highly in terms of practicality for families and they’re basically the cheapest vehicle available for the size. What’s not to love about that?

What family car do you have? Do you love it and would you recommend it? Leave me a comment below!

Have you heard of these motoring acronyms?

car-482683_1280Do you know your ABS from your AFM? How about EDC and ECU? Many motoring terms can be quite complex, necessitating industry-standard acronyms that are easy for people – mechanics, salespeople and drivers, to remember. Some are now readily familiar as they have become shorthand for common features sold with every car, such as AC, yes; even in Newcastle cars need air conditioning from time to time! Here’s a list of some of common acronyms that it’s good to keep in mind when shopping for a new car…

ABS – Anti-lock Braking System. If you need to slam on the brakes in a hurry, your ABS will kick in with a series of electronic sensors to prevent them from locking up, thereby stopping the car from skidding, or at least cutting the risk of it. Basically it releases and then reapplies the brakes in rapid succession, simultaneously reducing speed, thereby letting the driver steer and maintain control. Note that it is not a substitute for a sensible stopping distance!

PAS – Power Assisted Steering. Larger, heavier cars, the adoption of front wheel drive in many vehicles, and wider tyres all mean that it would be difficult to effectively steer many cars at low speeds without PAS. You can have a hydraulic or electric system depending on the type of car you drive, and if you’ve ever tried steering a car without PAS, you’ll have noticed the difference immediately.

SRS – Supplementary Restraint System. This is your airbags. Using a series of sensors dotted around the car to determine likely impact should you have a crash, the airbags deploy as a further in-car safety measure, working alongside your seatbelt to cushion you from the blow. The algorithms used to deploy the airbags are increasingly complex, and may now take into account not just the speed you’re going, but your weight, whether the seatbelt is being used, and where you’re sitting in the car to judge when and at what speed to trigger the airbag.

EFI – Electronic Fuel Injection. This is now the primary means of getting the fuel into your car’s engine, having replaced carburetors over the last few decades. The fuel is atomised and then injected through a tiny nozzle at high speeds – a more efficient and environmentally-friendly method than the previous suction technique, that will also save you money. Similarly, DDI, for Direct Diesel Injection.

LPG – Liquid Petroleum Gas. A mix of propane and butane that can be used in some vehicles as an alternative to petrol or diesel. While it is considered to be more eco-friendly, burning more cleanly and containing fewer particulates, it is generally thought that LPG-powered vehicles have a higher fuel consumption.

ECU – Electronic Control Unit. These are your car’s brains. Think of your car as like an octopus. Its eight arms each have a mind of their own, able to coordinate and problem-solve, do their own thinking almost, without needing to consult the octopus’ main brain. Modern cars have many ECUs, up to around 80 in some vehicles, each with their own function, such as controlling the powertrain or the suspension. They are all connected to the car’s main computer(s), which collects and collates data from each ECU and passes information to the driver so decisions can be made.

ACC – Automatic Cruise Control. This one is very clever. When your car is in cruise control on the motorway, on-board sensors note the proximity of traffic from vehicles ahead of you and adjust throttle or brakes to keep you a safe distance away. Expect this to advance in the future to use satellites and radar, and even cooperation with a similar system in the car in front to prevent crashes.

Basically, if there are any acronyms listed for the car you want to buy that you don’t understand, ask for them to be explained before making a purchase, as they may be important. Got all that? OK, TTFN.

Pink Jobs/Blue Jobs?

pinks jobs blue jobsOne of the things on which I pride myself is my willingness to give things a go. I come from a family of do-ers, choosing to mend cars, decorate houses and generally fend for themselves, rather than hiring someone in, and Husband’s family is like this even more so than my own. Husband has an aunty of whom I’m constantly in awe, who’s a true role model for my girls. She’s genuinely one of the most knowledgeable people when it comes to cars that I’ve ever met and she’s never fazed by a building project or getting her hands dirty in a multitude of ways.

I know that in a lot of houses, there are jobs which are characterised as ‘pink jobs’ and ‘blue jobs’, with domestic chores such as cleaning and child-rearing falling firmly in the female camp, whilst the men do the heavy lifting, car maintenance and rubbish-taking-out. This isn’t the case in our house. Husband is just as at home changing a nappy as changing a tyre, and I’m certainly not shy when it comes to getting involved in DIY.

A few months ago, I was talking to some friends at Sausage’s school when one of the Grandads who regularly does the school run approached me. He mentioned that he’d noticed that my break light was out and suggested that I “get the Husband to look at it” for me. I had to laugh. Yes, Husband would be more than capable of changing a bulb, but as it happens, I’m the only driver in the house and actually deal with car maintenance myself. When our car needed a new battery, I bought one from BuyCarparts.co.uk and fitted it myself, with no more than a YouTube video to give me confidence that I was doing it correctly and it never even occurred to me to think that I wouldn’t be able to do it myself.

For me, I’ve always tried to be as independent as I can be. Husband and I are a team and pitch in together with everything that needs doing, but I still like to know that I can do things myself. It’s also hugely important to me that the girls see Mummy as a capable human being; I remember, as a kid, seeing my Nan and Grandad living an oddly symbiotic life; he’d NEVER set foot in the kitchen and conversely, she never used a cash point, set the video and rarely even changed the TV channel. It worked for them, as it so often does in marriages from a bygone era, but I also remember worrying about how they’d cope if the other wasn’t around. I had visions of Grandad living on fish and chips every night, or my Nan only ever watching one TV channel!

A few years ago, my Uncle kindly gave us his old Honda Civic as we were without a car at the time and although he didn’t need it anymore, it was far too good to scrap. It really invigorated my thirst for independence and I relished taking care of the car myself, doing the vital maintenance as well as the non-vital things like fitting a new stereo, something I’ve done myself in almost every car I’ve owned.

I’ll definitely be encouraging Sausage and Burrito Baby to learn these kinds of self-sufficiencies, so that they’re both able to take care of things for themselves, as well as having the comfort of knowing they’re capable enough to do so. Having that confidence can be the making of a young woman and I can only hope that by seeing other family members doing things themselves rather than always deferring to someone else, they’ll see that there are so many things that you can do at home, without spending huge amounts on labour.