Tips on How to Save Fuel when Driving

6 07 2013

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Image via Flickr creative commons from futureatlas.com

A pitfall of living in the 21st century, in a time of credit crunches and triple dip recessions is that prices are rising. They will do for the foreseeable future and that is especially the case when it comes to fuel.

Beyond modern obstacles such as trying to find out how to get car finance with bad credit, there are ways you can cut down on bills by following a few simple driving rules. The average driver in the UK could save themselves up to £350 a year.

Firstly, think about switching your engine off when you are going to be stationary for more than a minute and a half. You may think that starting the engine at regular intervals will push up the fuel consumption, but this is not the case with a lot of modern vehicles. You can also switch gear sooner – a higher gear means you will use less fuel.

Instead of waiting, change gear between 2,000 and 2,500 rpm. Also, even though it may be hot, close your windows when travelling at speeds of higher than 60 mph. It may seem like nothing, but four open windows will add to the car’s drag quite significantly.

If you are serious about keeping your fuel consumption low, think about adapting your driving style and approach. Driving slower uses less petrol or diesel, so think about setting off a little bit earlier. The 15 mph difference between 70 mph and 85 mph accounts for around 25 per cent of your fuel efficiency. Try to adopt a smoother driving technique, less aggressive braking will cut down on fuel consumption.

In terms of approach, make sure you know exactly where you will be driving and make sure you don’t get lost. Similarly, instead of making frequent short trips to shops or relatives, try to combine them into one journey. When push comes to shove, do you really need to get in the car? Hopping on a bicycle or walking can be just as convenient sometimes. It will also be better for your health and the wellbeing of the environment.

You might want to try losing some of the weight in your car – such as bags you don’t need. They may seem insignificant but every little helps when it comes to pleasing your bank manager. Do you really need a roof box? Make sure it has been removed when not in use.

Don’t warm your engine up, either. Most modern cars do not need this and will give you good efficiency and drive regardless of how long ago the keys were turned in the ignition.

Make sure your car is always in good condition. Keeping an eye on the tyre pressure will keep fuel consumption low. Do this before long journeys and at least once a week otherwise as it is also far safer to drive on properly inflated tyres.

Sometimes, keeping cost down is a simple as being frugal. Turn off your air conditioner. If you can handle being a little bit hotter for ten minutes you will see the rewards add up when you have a little bit extra cash saved up at the end of the month.

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How To Clean And Refurbish A Car’s Interior

3 07 2013

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Image via Flickr creative commons from DVS1mn

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve only recently passed your driving test and you’ve bought your first ever car, or you’ve had more than your fair share of vehicles over the years, maintaining your car is really important. As well as ensuring that you keep the outside of your vehicle clean and sparkling, especially during the summer months, you should also pay regular attention to your car’s interior. After all, the appearance of your car inside and out is a reflection on your personality. If your car is full of litter, food crumbs and cat hair, you may think twice before offering somebody a lift, for fear of them judging you as lazy and messy. For those unsure of how to keep their car looking as good as new, here is a guide for cleaning and refurbishing the interior of your car.

Throw rubbish away

The first step to thoroughly cleaning the interior of your car is to ensure that any clutter, litter and unwanted materials are thrown away. Get your hands on a heavy duty bin bag and de-clutter your car completely. Anything that you still want to keep but remove from your car can be placed to one side to take into the house later on. But any rubbish such as old soft drinks bottles and crisp packets can be thrown out immediately.

Get out the vacuum and a duster

Remove interior carpets and suck up any dust, mud and hair with a vacuum before moving on to vacuum the rest of the floor. You can use a duster and some interior polish to clean your dashboard while an old toothbrush will get rid of dirt from awkward nooks and crannies. If your car has leather seats, you can wipe them clean with a few wet wipes to remove the top layer of dirt.

Cleaning leather seats

Over time, the colour of your leather interior car seats may fade. One way to prevent this from happening is to avoid parking your car in direct sunlight. You can keep the leather soft by using a special cleaner but if you notice cracks in your leather seats, it may be a sign that you need to replace them. If that is the case, Halfords – Car Seats offer top quality replacement seat covers.

Cleaning fabric seats

If you notice stains on your fabric seat upholstery, you’ll be happy to know that there is an easy way to remove them. Mix together vinegar and water and spray over the stain. Allow to settle for a couple of minutes and then dab with a damp cloth. The stain should come off easily but if not, spray once more and leave the mixture a little longer.

Easy tricks for interior cleaning

Of course, you may not always have the specialist tools to hand. That does not mean that you can just leave the job for another day however; follow these easy tricks to get your car interior looking as good as new in a moment.

Baby wipes: use everyday baby wipes to clean the grime and greasy fingerprints off the inside of your car window. What’s more, they can easily be stored away in the glove box for future use.

Baking soda: to remove stubborn stains easily, mix a little baking soda with washing up liquid and water. Shake up to ensure the contents are well mixed and then pour the mixture over the stain. Leave to settle and rub off with a damp cloth.

If you find that over time you need to find replacements for your interior, you can head to Halfords.com Car Spares to find a wide range of useful car items.





Checking out a Second Hand Car’s Engine – What you Need to Look For

13 06 2013

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Image via Flickr creative commons from accretion disc

The market for second hand cars is always growing – but along with it, so is the number of people who might be willing to rip you off.

Cars are expensive and when you’re not in a dealership, it is especially important to make sure everything is above board. That includes checking the engine. Not everyone is a petrolhead, but there are certain things you should look out for. These are rules you should abide by whether you’re with a respected dealer – like buying used cars from Renault Retail – or purchasing from a man on the street.

Buying a used car can be a confusing process. This is especially the case when you’re buying a car for the first ever time. Try not to be daunted, it is not a decision that should be rushed into. If you feel you are being hassled by the seller, it most probably means they are not someone you want to do business with.

Once you get under the bonnet the first thing to cast your eye over is the VIN number – make sure it is the same one as in the vehicle’s log book. Then go through all your standard checks such as oil, water and whether there are any fuel leaks anywhere.

For oil, remove the dipstick and wipe it, before replacing. Pull it out again and make sure the oil level is on or around the maximum level. If the oil needs changing it could be an indication the car has not been looked after as well as it should have been. At the same time, check fluids elsewhere. Engine coolant is often in a large round tank with a screw top – the fluid here will be pink. At the rear of the engine in a small bottle is where you will most often find brake fluid.

Next, have a look at the top of the engine. For this, you may need to unclip the plastic cover on the top to do this. If there is a white, gloopy liquid this is a sign of neglect. You should also check under the oil cap for this as it is an indicator of a damaged head gasket.

While you are going through all of the engine’s most obvious points, check every area for signs of rust and neglect. This could show if the previous owner has not looked after the car as well as they should have. All of the pipes and hoses should not have any cracks in them or look worn. The same applies for hoses.

There are a lot of other things you should be checking elsewhere in the car, but perhaps the first one you should look at is the V5C registration document. This will show you if the person selling it is the real owner of the car. If they are not, you may need to ask yourself why. In situations like this it is better to be safe than sorry. Similarly, it will show details of those who have owned that car before – if you have any misgivings there is no harm in contacting them.





Five Tips For Keeping Your Convertible In Great Condition

5 06 2013

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Image via Flickr creative commons from thomasdotorg

As good as convertibles look, they require more care and maintenance than your average, run of the mill car. There is nothing quite like faded fabric and mould to destroy the image of you cruising on some beachside road on a hot summer day.

Like any car, convertibles need regular maintenance. But beyond checking your tyres and having the windscreen replaced by Auto Windscreens, there are a few simple and regular things you need to do to protect your roof – whether it be vinyl or fabric.

Cleaner

First you need to make sure you are buying the correct type of cleaner for your convertible. This will depend on whether you have a vinyl or a fabric roof – there are other types but these are the two most common. The label on the bottle should specify which one you should be buying.

Although it is often best to get the right type of product, vinyl can sometimes be cleaned with regular car shampoo. Fabric, on the other hand, needs special treatment. To check which type of roof you have, drop about one eighth of a teaspoon of water on the material and try to rub it in. If it starts to soak, it is most probably fabric. If it smears but does not soak than you more than likely have a vinyl top.

Method

Once you have the correct type of cleaner, the methods are relatively similar. First, make sure the car is not in direct sunlight and give yourself enough time to do the whole roof in one go. Cleaning in bits will leave rings or spots. Then rinse the car thoroughly, getting rid of any loose dirt, before spraying with your convertible cleaner. After this, scrub lightly all over with a soft-bristled brush.

If you are working with an area that is heavily soiled, leave the cleaner to do its work for 15 minutes before scrubbing. Then rinse thoroughly, making sure none of the foam remains.

When you’ve finished – and if it is not raining day – park the car outside of the garage to help the top dry. Do not put the top down while wet, either.

Protect

As soon as you get your new car home, you should apply a protectant to its roof and reapply this at least once a month. The material is exposed to the same wear and tear as paint but is obviously not as strong. Around 99 per cent of new convertible tops have stitching that is not treated when it leaves the factory. It therefore needs to be protected immediately.

In the same way as cleaner, there are specific types of product that suit different types of roof. It is important you make sure the car is dry before applying protectant or sealant.

Keep inside

Wherever possible, park your convertible inside, especially during winter. If you live in an area prone to snowing it is unlikely you will want to be driving around in a convertible in the bitter cold anyway. At the same time, snow and ice won’t do the fabric any good at all.

If you do not have a garage, cover the car when not in use. A sturdy cover is always best and keeping the top clean and protected is more important in the cold than at any other time. Also, try not to put the top down in cold weather, the back window can become stiff and snap.

No obstruction

It may seem like the most simple of things, but make sure there is nothing blocking your roof when putting it up and down. Especially when you have an automatic, an obstruction can damage the mechanism and leave you with a hefty bill.





How to Stop A Vehicle’s Windscreen Misting in Colder Weather

4 02 2013

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Image from Flickr creative commons via Ctd 2005

It’s a pain of a problem, but one which crops up for at least a few months each year. Every time the mercury in the thermometer dips below the zero degrees centigrade mark, you will find that your car’s windscreen becomes frozen over. And if you happen to have left any of your windows open, even by the slightest amount, or you have a piece of bodywork which happens to be slightly loose, you will find that condensation will find its way into the vehicle’s interior quite easily, causing the inner surfaces of your windscreen and car windows to mist over and become covered with condensation which, if the temperature is low enough, will soon freeze.

Many people spend large sums on products such as car covers, which are designed to keep away the frost, but if you have the problem of moisture getting into your car, and causing misting on the inside of the screen, you will need a longer-lasting solution.

One quick way in which you will minimise the risk of condensation appearing inside your car in cold weather is to ensure that all your air conditioning and heating controls are switched off whenever you park your car for the night. Sadly, as so many of these systems now work so unobtrusively, it can be difficult to remember whether you have a heater of air conditioning unit actually working. And, of course, if you only drive your car for short distances each day, you might not even realise that your heating or air conditioning is switched on.

Lower winter temperatures mean that the glass on the inside of a windscreen heats up far more quickly when someone gets into a vehicle than the glass on the outside, and therefore that the effects of the condensation this creates are exacerbated.

One thing not to do, therefore, is to turn your car’s heater on full blast, as this will merely stabilise, or already increase, the temperature difference which has caused the condensation in the first place. At its most extreme, this could cause the glass to crack, and so necessitate a windscreen replacement.

Firstly, you should always keep a lint-free cloth inside your car to clear the screen of the excessive condensation which causes misting, but among the ‘trade secrets’ which will help clear a screen quickly are the following:

–          Use a proprietary anti-glass misting product. These cover the screen in a protective film designed to equalise the temperatures between both sides of the glass

–          A budget version of this is to smear a layer of shampoo or soap on the inside of your windscreen, which will provide that important layer of protection to insulate the inside your screen

–          Switch on your rear screen heater some time before you need to set out, as this will get to work quickly in clearing the condensation and frozen liquid which has accumulated on the outside

–          Make sure your air conditioning is kept in good working order, but also that you use it regularly, even in winter. This will help keep moisture from gathering inside your car.

Surprisingly, one which many motorists seem to swear by is to squeeze a small quantity of washing-up liquid onto a dry cloth, and then wipe this over the windscreen. A forum poster on the highly-respected Money Saving Expert website commented that this “works a treat, I promise”.

Finally, any misting or condensation can be exacerbated if a car’s glass is damaged. So getting a glass repair as quickly as possible will avoid storing up problems for the future.

SOURCES:

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=2761002

http://www.ehow.co.uk/how_7432485_stop-car-windows-misting.html





Make Sure You’re Driving Safely This Winter

7 01 2013

As winter approaches, it’s time to start preparing for a dramatic drop in temperature. Ice, snow and sleet can cause hazardous driving conditions. Take the time to ensure you have taken all necessary precautions to help you complete your journeys safely during the long winter months. You can find below our handy guide for top tips on safe driving in winter.

Before you commence your journey, make sure you check the traffic and weather reports. If the forecast is for inclement weather, ask yourself, is it really necessary to make this journey? It’s much safer to stay at home in the warmth, than to risk driving in such awful conditions. You could also check out the local public transport; it would be far easier, not to mention less dangerous, to take a train, rather than drive. However, if driving is your only option, it’s important to ensure you’re fully prepared.

Ensure you’re fit to drive by getting a good night’s sleep beforehand. Avoid driving if you’re taking any medication that causes drowsiness. Always make sure you have regular stops to give yourself a break from concentrating so hard.

Check the following on your vehicle to ensure it’s in the correct condition for winter weather:

  • Petrol (or diesel). Ensure you have enough to complete your journey and make yourself aware of where the petrol stations are on your route
  • Oil – check the oil level once a month
  • Water – regularly check the radiator and screen-wash levels
  • Damage – look for signs of damage to wipers and lights and clear any snow from windscreens, windows and lights to ensure clear visibility
  • Electrics – check lights, indicators and dashboard controls are fully functioning
  • Rubber Tyres – need to be well inflated with good tread and free from damage

You may also want to invest in some snow socks or snow chains for your tyres. Snow socks are a relatively new concept; they pull over your tyres in much the same way as normal socks. They have a strong textile surface giving increased grip on the roads. Unlike snow chains, they don’t have any metal parts, and are much easier to pull on and off.

It’s a good idea to stock up your vehicle with an emergency kit; this will help to get you out of any scrapes you may encounter along the way.

– First Aid Kit, stocked with plasters, antiseptic wipes, antiseptic cream, any medication you need, safety pins, dressing, bandages
– Mobile Phone Charger – avoid the inevitable loss of battery
– Torch and spare batteries
– Boots, gloves, warm clothes (because it can turn cold very suddenly)
– Water, snacks and thermos (in case you’re stranded for a while)
– Music and games (to keep you and passengers occupied on long journeys)
– Jump leads – you never know when you’re going to need them
– Ice scraper and de-icing spray

If you’re travelling with young children and babies, it’s essential that you have a child car seat; the Law states that until a child reaches 135cm in height, or the age of 12, they must use a car seat. There are different types of child car seats available depending on the weight of your child. It’s important to choose the correct type of seat in order to prevent injury to your child.

– Babies up to 13kg = rear-facing baby seats
– Children from 9-18kg = forward or rear-facing baby seats
– Children from 15-25kg = forward-facing child car seats (also known as booster seats)
– Children over 22kg = booster cushions

It is safe to put the car seat in the front passenger seat of all vehicles, providing it fits correctly.

Ice and snow cause roads to become slippery; as such, it is important that all drivers reduce their speed in such conditions and avoid breaking harshly, as this could cause the vehicle to skid and spin. Remember also to increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front of you. Winter weather can cause stopping distance to increase 10 fold, no matter how fast your reactions are. Main roads are likely to have been gritted, so wherever possible use these and avoid some of the more treacherous narrow lanes.

It’s important to always take your time, not to rush anything and to be well prepared. Driving faster won’t get you to your destination any quicker; you’re more likely to crash. Think of the story of the tortoise and the hare – slow and steady wins the race.