A Guide To Spring Cleaning Your Car

two bucket methodimg source:cargroom.co.nz

Why should I clean my car?

A lot happens when you park your car. Birds, trees and even the weather work against you. Even while driving, you are subject to other car exhaust particulates that give you a black soot dusting, not to mention all the muck they kick up as well. This dirt can strip away your wax, paint and then start to rust your car. Additionally, it isn’t that fashionable to have a tree stuck to your roof. This is a great reason to regularly clean your car as paint jobs alone can be extremely costly.

Does cleaning your car improve your MPG?

According to Mythbusters, there is a 10% saving on MPG if you have a clean car. They test a clean car, then muck it up for a second run, both over 65 miles. A dirty car does about 24 MPG while a clean car does 26.4 MPG, which looks like a pretty clean win. What does that 10% mean for you?

A saving of £120 per year (based on UK average mileage, mpg, the average cost of petrol). That’s about 50kg of yorkshire puddings, but who’s counting…

Here’s what Karl from UK Hypermiler had to say:

“These types of tests are very subjective – fuel efficiency figures can can vary wildly depending on all types of environment conditions including wind direction / speed, altitude and ambient temperature. They make great telly but are little use for the “average” motorists who will see guaranteed gains through changing their driving style rather than running a wet cloth over the car. The drag coefficient of the vehicle can be improved through modification but it’s the overall design of the body and under-pan that will have a great effect. This type of experiment is much more suited to a wind tunnel for greater consistency. Very questionable”

So should you clean your car? Yes. While the wins for MPG may be small or even negligible for most of us, it is also important to look good. Remembering your car is also a part of your personal brand; nobody looks good stepping out of a grime covered car.

When should I be cleaning my car?

Keeping off the daily grime is a challenge for the likes of Tim Westwood, not your average driver. There are plenty of reasons to put off a car wash, some people wait until a delightful finger painter has left their work on the car. To avoid that embarrassing display you have to regularly wash your car. The timing of the wash depends on your location and driving habits. A general rule of thumb is once a fortnight, which should keep it pristine. This will prolong the life of your paint job and make your car feel brand new even on its last legs.

How do I clean my car?

Put down the squirty bottle of Fairy Liquid™. Here is a guide right from getting equipment for cleaning your car, to how you dry your car.

The problem with sponge washing a car

People across the country use sponges, what’s so wrong with a cheap sponge? A sponge might be common practice but it isn’t recommended. It all comes down to the flat face of the sponge:

Washing gets rid of grime and grit, but some of this grit may be small and sharp, like stones or chips. Washing with a sponge, the grit becomes trapped between the paint and flat sponge. This embeds the sharp bits into your sponge. Now, wipe with the sponge and you will be creating tiny hairline scratches. These micro-scratches will add up and look horrible under the light but there is a solution.

Why should I use a Wash Mitt?

Wool or synthetic wash mitts are miles better than a typical sponge and will last longer. If you run your fingers through one of these mitts, you can feel the deep soft pile of fabric that is great for your car.

They are important as when heavily compressing the grit, it will not embed into the surface. The grit gets lost in the fabric layers so there is a lower chance to scratch. While not a perfect solution, these mitts will prevent a lot more costly work to your car.

Shampoo for your car got you scratching your head?

There are plenty of different shampoos out there, but only a few that will be good for you and your car. Here are the top two things to keep in mind when buying shampoo:

Lubricant washing solution – You might lose out on bubbles but you’ll get an easy clean. Lubricating the grit will allow it to slide right off. This means less leg work, and also less pressure on the sponge or mitt, so you’ll have fewer swirls too.
No harsh detergents – Using detergents will strip away polish and wax, leaving you a dull car. This is a particular problem with your paint. As anyone who does the dishes with bare hands will know, the soap can dry your skin, with similar effects on the paint. Dry paint will scratch off and leave unprotected metals, which can cause rust damage.

One bucket? Why not two? The two bucket method

As you may have guessed, this involves two buckets. Fill one bucket with your cleaning solution, a mix of shampoo and water, and the other with water.

  • Soak the mitt in the cleaning solution
  • Brush it along
  • Dunk it in the water bucket
  • Slosh it back into the cleaning solution

This will remove dirt off the sponge, so you aren’t wiping muddy water back onto your vehicle. The two bucket method is particularly useful when you are doing the wash with children.

How to wash your car

Start with the Wheels, Rims, Arches and Door Jabs.

Using a more disposable brush and water. These bits are usually clogged with dirt so will splash that muck around if done later. A serious build up of dirt in these areas may lead to faults later. You will want to beware of getting water into the electrical systems, such as the locks. Use some tape to come key components but otherwise, you can hack at it with your brush.

Pre-Rinsing your car

Like any bath or shower, you rinse before applying shampoo. Rinse your car by gently spraying directly at the car, to loosen up any dirt and wet the paint so things slide off. Blasting the vehicle with a hose may cause a lot of damage, or a lot of micro scratches across your cars. A watering can could suffice in place of a hose, provided you can keep the water warm.

Shampooing your car

Now the real work begins, this is the most important part of the wash. This will cleanse your car of any mess on paintwork such as dust, grit, mud, etc… I’d say use warm water, to keep your hands warm and kick off the muck.

Use two buckets and two mitts. One mitt for the top areas of the car, roof, bonnet, upper sides above the wheel arch line. The other mitt for the lower areas, below the wheel arch line, front and rear bumpers. This top down approach means cleaning solution will drip down, instead of dirt later. Remember not to wipe too fast or too hard as you can cause a lot of those dreaded scratches. Practice your karate, Daniel San.

Avoid letting the paint dry in the sun, as you will find there are water spots left by residue. This may mean rinsing your car again, or a light drizzle.

Rinsing your car

This rinse is to wash away all those bubbles from the shampoo, most will glide straight off. The best way to start is a light pressure, to let bubbles run, then increase the pressure as it clears. Make sure to rinse from the top, and leave the car beading water instead of hosting a new lake.

Drying your car off

Drying is a critical part of a wash that most forget. The best tool is usually a microfiber towel which can pick up a lot more water than you think. Proper care when drying will prevent water streaks, which are being stubborn to remove. Their streaks come from particulate residue in the water. All water has it, be it hard, soft, or straight from the heavens. The water evaporates, even if it isn’t too warm out, and leaves behind a residue trail of a droplet. The best way to dry, while intensive, is patting the vehicle dry, as this prevents any stray grit ruining your car.

Alternatively, you could just go to a car wash.

If you’ve got any car problems that a wash won’t fix then we can help.

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Comprehensive Guide to Car Servicing

service pit stop

Regular car servicing keeps your vehicle in prime condition, helping protect against wear and tear. Even a basic interim service can keep your car running smoothly and protect it from repairs. Usually, people will also take on more rigorous servicing to replace commonly worn down elements such as the air filters or spark plugs.

Car servicing at a glance

Interim service Full service Major service
Numer of mechanical and structual checks 25 43 44
When should you get it done? 6 months 12 months 1-2 years
Part Replacements Oil filter Oil filter
Air filter
Oil filter
Air filter
Spark plugs
Pollen filter
Fluid Top-ups Engine Oil
Screen wash & Antifreeze
Brake fluid
Power steering fluid
Battery fluid
Engine Oil
Screen wash & Antifreeze
Brake fluid
Power steering fluid
Battery fluid
Transfer box oil
Manual transmission oil
Engine Oil
Screen wash & Antifreeze
Brake fluid
Power steering fluid
Battery fluid
Transfer box oil
Manual transmission oil

 

What is included in an Interim Service?

Interim services are the least comprehensive type of car servicing. Our interim service is designed to be done every six months or 5000 miles, replenishing the vital fluids and making checks to common areas of fault within your vehicle. Below is the full checklist:

  • Pre-Engine Checks
  • Check timing belt replacement interval.
  • Check for damage to bodywork, lamps, trims and oil leaks.
  • Check the operation of interior and exterior lights.
  • Check operation of ABS and airbag warning lights.
  • Check windscreen washers and wipers.
  • Check horn.
  • Under the Bonnet
  • Check cooling system including fan operation.
  • Check and record antifreeze protection.
  • Check and record brake fluid condition.
  • Check power steering operation and fluid condition.
  • Check and top up all under bonnet fluid levels.
  • Vehicle Raised
  • Change oil, filter and fit new sump plug washer.
  • Check fuel lines and brake pipes.
  • Check the condition and security of the exhaust.
  • Check all steering and suspension joints, mountings and gaiters.
  • Carry out tyre report.
  • Check all wheel bearings for excessive ‘play’ and noise.
  • Check CV gaiters and joints for wear or splits.
  • Check operation and condition of disc brakes.
  • Carry out brake report.
  • Vehicle Lowered
  • Torque wheel nuts/studs / Locking wheel nut key location.
  • Final Checks
  • Road test vehicle and report any findings.
  • Re-check engine oil level.
  • Ensure all upholstery, gear lever, steering wheel, etc. are clean.
  • Stamp service book(s).

What is included in a Major Service?

Our major car service is designed to be done once a year or every 10,000 miles, replenishing nearly all fluids within the vehicle and doing a thorough sweep of checks on your vehicle. A major service is the most comprehensive type of car servicing. Below is the full checklist:

  • Pre-Engine Checks
  • Check the timing belt replacement interval.
  • Check for damage to bodywork, lamps, trims and oil leaks.
  • Check the condition and operation of all seat belts.
  • Check the operation of interior and exterior lights.
  • Check operation of ABS and airbag warning lights.
  • Check windscreen washers and wipers.
  • Check air conditioning operation including bad odour.
  • Check horn.
  • Check the operation of suspension dampers.
  • Lubricate all door hinges, locks, and bonnet catches.
  • Check the fuel cap.
  • Under the Bonnet
  • Check cooling system including fan operation.
  • Check and record antifreeze protection.
  • Check and record brake fluid condition.
  • Check power steering operation and fluid condition.
  • Check and top up all under bonnet fluid levels.
  • Check all auxiliary drive belts (not timing belt).
  • Check engine breather system.
  • Check vacuum pipes.
  • Check throttle body.
  • Check battery level and lubricate terminals.
  • Replace spark plugs (petrol only)
  • Replace air filter.
  • Replace pollen filter.
  • Vehicle Raised
  • Change oil, filter and fit new sump plug washer.
  • Check fuel lines and brake pipes.
  • Check the condition and security of the exhaust.
  • Check all steering and suspension joints, mountings and gaiters.
  • Carry out tyre report.
  • Check all wheel bearings for excessive ‘play’ and noise.
  • Check CV gaiters and joints for wear or splits.
  • Check operation and condition of disc brakes.
  • Carry out brake report.
  • Check and top up the axle and transfer box oil levels.
  • Check and top up the gearbox oil level.
  • Check the clutch cable/cylinder.
  • Grease all greasing points.
  • Check rear drum brakes.
  • Vehicle Lowered
  • Torque wheel nuts/studs / Locking wheel nut key location.
  • Final Checks
  • Road test vehicle and report any findings.
  • Re-check engine oil level.
  • Ensure all upholstery, gear lever, steering wheel, etc. are clean.
  • Stamp service book(s).
  • Reset service interval indicator.

What about a Full Service?

The full service is almost a major service however the spark plugs and cabin/pollen filter are only checked and not replaced. These components don’t have to be changed too often. The full service is designed to be done early into your vehicle’s lifecycle in the place of major car servicing.

What is a Service Schedule?

A service schedule is a recommended service plan, with checks and replacements straight from the manufacturers. These will usually last the lifetime of the vehicle up to 150,000 miles and should happen every 5000 miles or 6 months. Following this service guideline will keep your vehicle in top condition and help to advise on any problems that could arise.

Check out this example for a 2007 Ford Focus

If you think you need a car service then get one with ClickMechanic and have your vehicle serviced at home.

How to finance a new car

A range of finance products for UK motorists

car finance money vehicle

With the widest ever range of finance products on offer, it has never been easier for motorists to buy a new car. And with good reason as dealers usually make more money on the finance products sold than the profit from the vehicle.
Despite this fact, it’s possible to get behind the wheel without it costing a fortune.
Here, I’ll run through some of the best car buying options available in the UK and a trick to borrowing money with little or no interest.
Most of the methods below should include your own car history check. If you’re at all uncertain about purchasing a used car a ClickMechanic car inspection is recommended.

Common ways to a new car:

Hire Purchase – This traditional method to borrowing is still widely used. You’ll need a deposit (10% or something similar) or a part exchange car. You can borrow the rest from a finance company for a set period.
Typical agreement:
Car: £5,000
Deposit or part exchange: £1,000
Loan amount: £4,000
Period: 36 Months
APR: Dependent on finance company and credit score (low is around 5% APR)
Typical monthly repayment: £147.68
Most dealers provide hire purchase via a finance partner like MotoNovo

PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) – A suitable way to a new car if you like to upgrade regularly with lower monthly payments to fit your budget.
You don’t pay off the value of the car with PCP and you don’t own it at the end of the contract (but you’ll have the option to buy at the end via a balloon payment). Lenders usually want around 10% of the car value as a minimum but the more deposit you pay the less your monthly repayments will be.
The amount borrowed is also based on the predicated car value at the end of the term. You pay the depreciation as monthly payments plus some interest – typically 4% to 8%.
You need a decent credit score to obtain PCP.
Check out this article for some detailed information on PCP.

Leasing – Similarly to PCP, a car lease is great if you like to upgrade regularly. Leasing can save money as you sometimes don’t need to pay for road tax or servicing (if the car is brand new) but this will depend on the supplying dealer.
There are a wide range of cars available from a Ford Fiesta to a Range Rover Envogue.
In years past, leasing was only available to those with a solid credit file but there is a huge poor credit market for leasing. Here is one reputable leasing company to look at.

A little secret to borrowing money at 0% interest!
Buying a car with a credit card may seem like a scary prospect but it can be the cheapest if you plan.
You’ll need a superb credit score for this to work.
So, we have all heard of a 0% interest credit card. This type of offer is available for a fixed period of around 18 months. But, some lenders like Virgin credit card now offer 0% for up to 24 months.
Note, these offers are updated regularly so you’ll need to do some research on the best offers.

Making a credit card car purchase work for you:

Let’s say you found a credit card with 0% Interest available for up to £5,000 over 18 months.
You can borrow the 5k to buy your car. At month 15 of your lending period you must apply for another 0% interest credit card and balance transfer over before any interest kicks in.
There may be a balance transfer fee, but this is nominal at around £75. To keep the lend amount interest free you must always make the minimum payment and settle the outstanding.
It’s straight forward provided you think through the process and continually plan ahead.
Finally, you also get another layer of insurance that comes with any credit card purchase. So, if you buy a used car for £5,000 and inherit mechanic issues the credit card company have a legal responsibility to help (subject to the individual terms and conditions of the credit card company).

The Ultimate Guide To Car Fluids

The Ultimate Guide To Car FluidsLike us, cars need to stay hydrated, however, it isn’t just water that they need. Cars have been getting more efficient and reliable, but they still need some maintenance. Fluids play a massive role in keeping your car running smoothly, from the brakes to the engine. Make sure to top them up to keep your vehicle in top shape. There is a number of fluids to check, for example:

  • Engine coolant
  • Engine oil
  • Power steering fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Washer fluid

Popping the bonnet and checking the fluids can help to keep your vehicle running well and at a lower risk of breaking down.

Let’s go through the fluids, how to check them, and how to top them up:

Engine Coolant

Coolant keeps your engine cool, which is important for efficiency, emissions, and most importantly to reduce wear and tear within your engine. Protecting the engine from overheating means you won’t be stuck with a nasty repair bill.

You should only have to check this fluid regularly, preferably every month, although this can be sooner because of a leak. You may also want to check the coolant during the summer, where leaks can be exacerbated by the overworked cooling system.

Warning: Never check your coolant while the engine is hot. You risk personal injury.

Under the bonnet, you should see a clear, or opaque container. It should have a min and max reading on the side, with the level of the liquid visible. If below the min line you will need to fill it to the max line, with a mix of water and coolant. If there is no container then you need to open the radiator cap to see if the coolant reaches the top.

Make sure any coolant you use is approved for your vehicle, and when opening the radiator, leave for a minute to release any trapped air bubbles.

To fill up on coolant, you have to unscrew the reservoir, and for most cars pour in a 50:50 mixture of water and coolant. The mixture does differ across car models so make sure to always check your car’s service manual. If you only have water to hand then this will work for a few miles but you should urgently seek out a nearby garage who will top you up with coolant.

Low levels of coolant may mean there is a leak in the system, which you can find by checking around a cool engine to find wet patches.

Engine oil

The parts in your car’s engine rotate and move up and down several times a second. This requires a lot of pumps, cylinders and other moving parts. All these moving parts rub together. Oil helps protect the system from wear and tear, while also making the parts work better, by lubricating joints and friction points.

You should be checking the system once every month or so, since the check is relatively quick. This helps avoid any issues with leaking oil or dirty oil.

Advisory: Run the car for 5 minutes or around the block so oil flows through the system first.
Check your owner’s manual to find the dipstick. Pull the dipstick out and wipe it down with a towel or rag. Reinsert it, then pull it out to check the level of oil in the tank. The dipstick should display a normal range of oil.

If the oil is below the range, then fill the oil tank with an oil designed to work with your vehicle. Make sure not to overfill the system as this will mean more leaks.

Low levels of oil could indicate a leak in the system, but dirty oil may mean components are starting to wear down. The oil should be yellow, or amber. Brown or dark oil may mean you need an oil filter replacement.

Power steering fluid

Turning an older car was a very heavy and exhausting task, as your arm muscles were responsible for a large part of turning the wheels on the ground. Modern cars have power-assisted steering, to make the steering of the car much easier by making it lighter. Power steering makes turning easy at any speed, using hydraulic fluids to make the wheels turn.

Usually, the power steering fluid doesn’t need to be replaced often, but spotting early signs of a leak could save your life. Since the fluid is crucial to the maneuverability of your car, you may slowly notice that turning becomes more difficult at low speeds, and a 3 point turn is more like a workout.

Just at the base of the windscreen, there is a small tank. If you can’t find it or are unsure about what it looks like then consult your owner’s manual. There should be an indicator on the tank, where you can see the minimum and maximum levels of fluid. If this isn’t the case, then you will need to open the cap.

Warning: Before you add the new fluid, clean the area around the opening to avoid contaminating the fluid.
Use the power steering dipstick to check the level of power steering fluid in the tank. Simply, remove the dipstick, wipe it down, reinsert it and then check the level.

Low fluid levels will need to be topped up, but it is essential that you use hydraulic power steering fluid that is specifically suited to your vehicle.

Having only a little power steering fluid left will have a noticeable impact on how easily your car steers. The low levels may indicate a leak somewhere in the system.

Brake fluid

Brake fluid acts as a pressurised step between your foot on the pedal and the brake rotors. This helps you brake more instantly and with less effort.

You shouldn’t have to check the brake fluid at all, but spotting a leak may just save your life from faulty brakes. Over time, brake fluid can become contaminated. Water, for example, will cause the brake lines to rust resulting in the fluid becoming contaminated. The dark fluid is a serious sign that the system needs a mechanic.

You can find the brake fluid reservoir near the back of the engine compartment. In most cars, the container will be opaque, with clear max-min lines.

Warning: Before you add the new fluid, clean the area around the opening to avoid contaminating the fluid.

Open the reservoir, and check that the fluid almost fills the tank. Top it up with the right fluid, consult your owner’s manual if you need some guidance.

Transmission Fluid

Similar to the engine oil and power steering fluid, the transmission fluid lubricates and cools components in your car. The transmission system contains gears, clutches, and valves that must move seamlessly while driving.

Transmission fluid should last the lifetime of the car but may begin to leak due to a knock or crack.

Your vehicle should have another dipstick to check the transmission fluid level. You should remove it from the system, wipe it down, reinsert it then check the level of fluid. Additional checks should be done on the colour, dark, cloudy or gritty fluid requires a mechanical diagnosis by a mechanic.

Top up the transmission fluid by pouring your vehicle specific transmission fluid into the fill tube. Run through the gears to let the new transmission fluid flow through the system. This can be a tricky job, if it not carried out correctly it can damage your transmission, leading to extra repair costs. It is advisable to get help from a professional mechanic to carry out the work if you’re not sure how to do it.

Low transmission fluid can cause rough shifting, odd noises when switching gears, and uncontrolled surges (in case of an automatic transmission).

Windscreen washer fluid

Windscreen wiper fluid might not be vital but it is important to your windscreen. Dirt builds up, and a little British rain doesn’t quite keep the glass clear. Windscreen washer fluid polishes your window to ensure there is greater clarity to your vision.
You may have to check on the amount of this every few months and even more in the summer.

Luckily, it’s the easiest to top up since the washer tank bottle is easy to find and normally doesn’t require a specific type of fluid.
Under the bonnet, there will be an opaque tank, usually labeled “washer” or “windscreen”. Pop the lid open and check the amount of fluid. If you are low simply pour more washer fluid in. You can use soapy water, but this will slightly damage the system, so only use it in emergencies.

Going without washer fluid will mean your windscreen slowly piles on layers of dirt. Windscreen wipers only cover a certain amount of the glass, so eventually, you build up “dirt goggles”

Fuel is the most important fluid in cars at the moment although, your other fluids are also vital to your car running well. Make a schedule to check the different fluids around your vehicles, and make sure to stick to any recommended service schedule. If you suspect there is an issue with a system, then get a Clickmechanic diagnostic inspection.

Happy driving

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What Is A Rain And Light Sensor?

What is a rain and light sensor?Almost all modern cars have plenty of sensors. The light and rain sensors are important for monitoring the weather and adapting the car to suit. They are usually found together on the windscreen near the top by the rearview mirror. If there is a problem with them, then the warning light will show up.

The sensors explained

The rain sensor is a switch activated by rain. It is responsible for automatic windscreen wipers and protecting the internal systems from the rain. It works by bouncing an LED light off the windscreen, which becomes distorted by water on the surface. The light sensors work in a similar way, detecting the amount of light coming through the windscreen. If it is below a threshold then it automatically activates headlights while the car is on.

The photoelectric ‘light’ sensors activate the headlights during low lights, although they only do this when first switching the car on, as many drivers prefer to manually toggle the headlights while in motion.

There are limitations to both sensors, as different conditions are difficult for a computer to understand. The rain sensors can be thrown off by debris or dirt on the windscreen which alters the amount of light reflected back, the dirt can also affect the light sensors which are blocked off from any light. This can be remedied with a squirt of windscreen wiper fluid and a quick wipe across the windscreen. If the light persists then you may want to have a car wash. The light sensor is also thrown off by fog or intense rainfall since light can still be detected.

What the rain and light sensor warning light means

The light may vary across vehicles, but the image should generally be the same, you can check in your owner’s manual if not. An issue has been detected with either the computer or the system and will be deactivated. A diagnostic testing code will be saved to your computer for a mechanic to more easily identify the issue.

You can still manually use your headlights and wipers. Reasons for the sensors to fail can be due to a crack/chip repair or a replacement non-factory windscreen.

Is it safe to drive with the rain and light sensor warning light on?

Your headlights and wipers should still be working manually, you just have to remember to switch them on and off. Relying on automatic systems can leave you in trouble when they decide to stop working. You must be prepared to take control of the vehicle in all situations.

Happy driving!

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The Best Games for Kids On Car Journeys

kid on car

Long car journeys with kids can be a nightmare. But the endless cries of ‘are we nearly there yet?’ aren’t inevitable. If you want to distract your children or just want to torture the driver then here are some great games to play whilst in the car. Some of these require a little preparation in advance, but it’ll be worth it when you’re on the road.

I Spy…

with my little eye, the grandfather of all car games. We’ve all played it even had fun with it sometimes. Unfortunately there’s only so many times you can choose tree, sky, or shudder… car. If you’re unfamiliar here is how to play:

1. Choose a spy (e.g. oldest, youngest, next birthday).
2. The spy chooses a secret object.
3. The spy sings the rhyme:

“I Spy
With my little Eye
Something beginning with (insert first letter of the object)”

4. The group then has 3 chances to guess the object
5. You should give hints between attempts to help the child.
6. If the spy wins, they choose the next spy. If the group wins, a new spy is chosen.

It’s simple enough, although can be quite a challenge for young children. It’s always a great idea to mix up the rhyme with silly voices and actions, which provide a lot of little giggles.

Travel Bingo

This one requires a little planning ahead.

1. Draw a 3×3 grid, or 4×4 if the kids are a bit older.
2. As you are getting ready to leave, you ask the kids to think about what they might see on the car journey. Will they see a yellow car? A policeman? A tree?
They then fill the boxes with what they think they’ll see.
3. As your journey goes on your little monsters in the back will be crossing off squares all the time or at least be gawking out the window in silence.

Beware of winners, expect a lot of sudden shouting during your ride. To avoid these shrieking contestants get an update from them regularly about what they’re still looking for. This can give you an extra moment to compose yourself the next time they spot a Taxi or sheep.

The Picnic Game

A great opportunity for a family sing-along whilst also letting the kids learn something. This game is a great way to train the brain with it’s challenging memory problem. Here’s how to play:

1. Someone starts with the rhyme:

“I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing a (something beginning with A)

2. Going clockwise, the second person then says:

“I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing an (A word) and a (B word)

3. This pattern continues around the group and can be quite challenging.

You can put time limits on the answers but remember there are only so many words starting with X in a toddler’s dictionary. The game can be mixed up by changing the destination. Instead of a picnic, you could be going to the moon or the actual destination of the journey. You may also find that the children prefer to draw all of the objects out.

The Packing Game

This delightful game can be very useful when packing, reminding you of any clothes you might have forgotten. It can also be very creative by choosing odd locations like the moon. It’s similar to the Picnic game but a little less complicated. Here is how to play the packing game:

1. Pick a destination
2. The first person (the most excited to go there) says an item they’ll need to pack into their suitcase
3. Each person adds another item to pack
4. You lose when an item is repeated

Thanks to Lisa from TravellingFamily for telling us about it.

While You Were Sleeping

This little prank is great for creative kids with sleeping babies or toddlers the unwitting victim.

1. A member of the group falls asleep.
2. When they wake up the rest of the group tells a story of what happened while the person was asleep.
3. Each person then takes a turn to add to the story.

An adult version of the game tries to make the story convincing, to rope in the sleeping beauty to the story. The kids version can’t have this level of complexity as it’s nowhere near as fun. Children will create stories of dragons and pirates, and other kids will believe it.

The Count

No, not the Sesame Street character, but the surprisingly fun counting game. Anyone from 5 up should be able to play. It’s simple, so here are the steps:

1. Without assigning an order, someone says 1.
2. The next person says 2.
3. This carries on until 20
4. If two people say the same number then you reset to 1
5. The goal is to get to 20 as a group, without saying anything except the next number.

I’d suggest you count from 1 to 20 as a group, to make sure everyone is familiar with the numbers involved. Stem any arguments by resetting the game. It’s a game that demands silence, which builds up tension and a lot of laughter after.

The Car Counting Game

This game is all about spotting cars, so it’s best played on a motorway, but can be played just walking through a city. It’s great for kids first learning addition in maths but you might also need to keep a scoreboard handy for younger kids.

Whoever spots the car first gets the points. First person to ten points wins!
White/black/grey 0 points too common
Red 1 point
Blue 1 point
Yellow 2 points
Green 2 points
Pink 5 points
Purple 5 points
Orange 5 points
Thanks to Lynn from MrsMummyPennyfor telling us about this game.

The Alphabet Game

This is a super competitive version of I spy. Here’s how to play:

1. Each person starts at A
2. They must spot objects that start with A
3. This carries on through the alphabet (although you may want to skip some letters)

This game might be a bit more difficult to play with your young toddlers as their vocabulary is limited. It’s quite a good game for inner city driving as there will be a greater variety of things outside the window of the vehicle.

The Cloud Game

This relaxing experience involves a lot of cloud gazing and creative thinking. Make sure to get your sunglasses out!

– Get the children to spot interesting clouds
– Tell you what the cloud looks like
– Have them invent a story for the clouds
– Repeat as you move along

‘Spotting cloud shapes is our favourite car pastime. I love this one, no rules to argue over and it is very soothing. Look at the sky and tell me what shapes you see in the clouds kids!’

Given to us from Penny at Parent Shaped

For those of you electronically inclined, here’s a list of kids apps we recommend!

Animani – Learn about animals!(Free)
AppleAndroid

LEGO® Juniors Create & Cruise(free)
AppleAndroid

Think & Learn Code-a-pillar™ (Free)
AppleAndroid

Disney Crossy Road (Free)
AppleAndroid

Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame (Free)
AppleAndroid

Peek-a-Zoo (Free)
Apple

A Parcel of Courage free interactive book for kids(Free)
Apple

Name the Animals(£0.89)
AppleAndroid

MIXIMAL (£1.99)
Apple

Little Digits (£2.99)
Apple

Artie’s Magic Pencil(£2.99)
AppleAndroid

“We try to limit electronics in the car, only using them as a last resort for bribery. The reason being they are totally addicted and would be on them constantly if we didn’t limit the screen time.”

Nicola from Jet lag and Mayhem warning against the growing trend of cell phone addiction!

If you need other ways to control the little ones then have a look at our other guide.

How to Handle Long Car Journeys With Kids

Camper van loaded for a road trip.

Many of us here at ClickMechanic have youngsters in the back seat. Long drives can be a nightmare as there are very few ways to keep a child contained in their seat for hours. Sure you can leave them with an iPad but kids will quickly become bored of that, especially if all you have is Solitaire. So we put together a quick list of do’s and don’ts to help make your journey peaceful one.

Here’s some things to avoid:

– Tapping the brakes. This puts you at risk of another vehicle rear-ending you, which can lead to serious injury.

– Turning up the radio. This can leave you ignorant of any medical emergencies in the back.

– Shouting at or hitting them. Being aggressive can leave serious mental scars on children.

– Playing audiobooks. These can be a mind-numbing slog for most children, along with classical music that you may love to play whilst driving.

Alternatively, try these methods:

– Silent time earns play time. This may frustrate your children but it can also earn 5 minutes of precious silence you need.

– Inspire creativity. This doesn’t have to mean getting the paints out, there are plenty of apps or games that can have your kids sculpting or painting whilst you drive. You can even offer to print out their creations when you get home.

– Have movies, games or books only for the car. The kids will look forward to being in the car as they have things to do that they can’t do at home. This might require some extra planning as you may have to pick up books from the libraries regularly or prepare specific activities for them.

– Play games with the kids. For suggestions on what to play, check out this article.

– Set your expectations before the trip. Talk to them about how to get your attention the right way and what level of noise is okay.

– Make sure you enforce your rules with punishments. Taking away electrics usually works well.

– Take regular breaks. Plan breaks into your journey and give the kids (and adults!) the chance to get out of the car every few hours.

– Family Radio. Cars are becoming increasingly connected and (depending on your car) you can play songs from your phone or tablet through the in-car radio. You might hear moans when someone decides to play Frozen for the 100th time, but you’ll just have to let it go.

– Turn your children into bloggers. Get them to document your holidays, embellishing photos however they like and creating stories about the journey. Set a challenge for them to create a mini movie about the holiday.

– A deck of cards may be a bit old school but you should learn plenty of different games using them. Snap will last until someone hurts their hand, but there are plenty of simple games for kids and cards.

With all these tips, you should be able to go off on those cross country road trips to visit family or just get to a nice beach. It’s important for everyone’s wellbeing that kids are kept entertained and engaged.

Tow-tally Insane!

Ever seen somebody towing something that made you look twice and go what the &*%$? So have we and that’s why we’ve made this little compilation of some of the wackiest out there!

  1. This makes finding a parking space a bit easier

    RC Car Pulling Manimg src: traxxas.com/small>

  2. When your builder wins the lottery

    Lambourghini Pulling Trailerimg src: lrnc.cc

  3. Touring round the USA? That little guy has got no chance

    Smart Car towing huge caravan-minimg src: rv.net

  4. Ahhh that’s better. He may just manage this one…

    Smart Car pulling tiny boat-minimg src: pinterest.com

  5. The Grand Tour? We think Grandad might have misunderstood

    mobility scooter towingimg src: ukcampsite.co.uk

  6. Your latest budget airline deal

    Car pulling a planeimg src: diariomotor.com

  7. Just the Clickmechanic interview process

    Men pulling trucksimg src: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhPn1x9s3HY

  8. Good luck breaking the speed limit with this many horsepower…

    Horse pulling carimg src: youtube.com/watch?v=U-bsJGMBOLM

  9. Santa’s ‘little’ helper

    dog pulling kartimg src: ranker.com

  10. Phooaaar! Mr Salmond, put a shirt on!

    referendum effigyimg src: bbc.co.uk

Feeling inspired to get a towbar? We got you boo

Changes For Car Owners In 2017

Changes for car owners in 2017As the wheel turns on another year, we are left looking at the changes to come in 2017. We will guide you through the changes taking place for new and current car owners in the UK. By staying ahead of the bills and trials coming in the next year, we can help you manage and save time, stress and money on your car. As the year has progressed so far, we have been seeing more scandals and plans for a Britain outside the EU.

Car Emissions Scandal

While it may sound like old news, there have been grumblings in parliament and in courts across the UK about potential compensation akin to the $19.2 billion VW payed out for customers in the US. While the same amount is not expected for UK, there may be a handsome sum of up to £3000 per owner. It also turns out, VW may not be the only culprit. In a german study, It was revealed that BMW and Mercedes could also be cheating out emissions tests. Fiat Chrysler has also been caught out by the french emissions authority, with about 4,500 cars in the UK being affected. Further, a UK study also showcased the scale of the problem with the top 37 selling cars screeching up to 4 times higher than the emissions regulation. It would be worth seeing how this develops as you might be in for a pot of compensation.

Killer Airbags Scandal

A startling discovery by Takata has uncovered their explosive airbags that could do more harm than a crash. A metal inflation cartridge has been found to expand so rapidly that fragmented shards are shot out into the interior of the vehicle. This deadly airbag has been responsible for almost 200 deaths and injuries in the US. A range of models across brands are affected and are being recalled. Make sure to check if your car is affected. Consult your dealer or visit your manufacturer’s website for more details.

New VED Road Tax 2017

Before you panic, these new taxes are only being introduced for new cars. In the latest government effort to reduce emissions, car owners could be paying up to £2000 extra tax on top of the car’s purchase price in the first year, and then a possible £140 every year after that. Cars costing over £40,000 will also have to pay £310 on top of their standard rates, and there is no sneaking in a leather interior, as the final price of the vehicle is checked off against the new tax. The losers here are obviously the gas guzzling luxury models, while the clean standard electric models will have a whopping £0 during their lifetime on the road.

There are some cars which will lose out, ultra low emission hybrid cars, which previously enjoyed reduced rates, will now have to stump up the £140 standard rate from year two. Most people think this is a step in the right direction, and for most cars their car tax will be cheaper than it has been in previous years. Additionally, it is the push towards emission free that most people welcome. There will be a rush in sales of new cars before this tax comes into effect in April, so ride the wave of dealership discounts or opt for a used model.

Potential Changes To MOT Tests

As cars become more reliable and regulated, they are less likely to fail in their early years. The number of three or four year old vehicles involved in accidents because of faults has dropped substantially from 155 in 2006 to 57 in 2015. This has sparked calls for new cars to be given an extra year of MOT exemption, from 3 to 4 years. This would save UK motorists a whopping £100 million in MOT fees however there are calls against it from garages and road safety authorities. Safety standards are usually maintained by the annual service of the vehicle, however the loss of work to the car repair industry could see their prices rise to cover. Some of our mechanics have said it won’t have much of an impact, but MOT centres may take a hit.

The Impact Of Inflation And Exhange Rates On Cars

Brexit had a lot of impact, a big one being the catastrophic drop of the pound vs the dollar, the pound has lost 20p in value. It is obvious when scaling that up, just how much of a dent that leaves in company finances. While many prepared and have shown a brave face, the pound has not recovered yet and so the bill is passed onto consumers.

Already car prices have inched up, with even UK companies such as Vauxhall having to bump up their prices by up to £500 or 2.5%. The largest increase is seen with Tesla who upped their prices by 5%, with some models seeing price increases of up to £4000. This will probably lead to price decreases in the used car market as dealers try to make up their loses. A mechanic told us he was worried about the price rises, as fuel, parts and living expenses are all set to increase.

The Cost Of Car Insurance Will Go Up

The cost of insurance across the country is stacking up to it’s highest levels since 2012, as prices increase by a whopping 14% year on year. Research done by Confused.com, has shown motorists will be saddled with an extra £95, increasing the average cost of insurance to £767. There is an obvious age disparity with under 25s being charged over £2000 and the over 60s paying less than £500. But there is an interesting gender disparity, against EU regulations, of over £100 in premiums. This can be thought to be driven by the apparent higher fees for young male drivers tipping the scales. Even third party insurance has risen by 15%, so we have a few tips to drive down these costs:

  1. Adding a second responsible driver can push down the prices by thousands.
  2. Setting a slightly higher excess, keep it manageable.
  3. Malleable Job roles give multiple job descriptions to choose, which may save hundreds.

Speeding Fines Racing Up

If you are going over 20mph over the speed limit, a punishment would be in order according to the law. These alarming speeds are getting extra punishments of 150% of the weekly wage. This should discourage drag races around town or extreme driving on the motorways. The other punishments remain the same, disqualifying drivers by up to 56 days or 6 points on a license. Be wary on the roads, and touching the speed limit is fast enough for any area.

Self-Driving Cars In The UK

Nissan has tooled up one of their cars with lidar radars, which will drive a fixed route in London. The Nissan Leaf model is already available but a self driving version is not expected to be on the market until 2020, after there are some serious debates in parliament. They are not the only manufacturer exploring autonomous vehicles, Volvo has said they will test 100 cars this year while Jaguar Land Rover said they will test the same amount by 2020. There is already some automation on our roads today, as some car owners have assisted braking and parking, this technology has been around for almost 17 years with radar systems before. While there have been accidents and a fatality, all are caused by driver error, even the infamous running a red light.

Changes To Driving Tests

Changes to practical driving tests are to be introduced later this year, with a focus on reflecting more real environments. Here is a little run down of what’s in and what’s out:

  • 10 minutes more of independent driving
    That puts the total to 20 minutes of driving around with a set of instructions from the examiner. This is hoped to encourage the decision making skills of being able to think without the examiner.
  • Sat-navs
    While many may dismiss this as ridiculous, it is a vital skill for any driver as all modern cars now have a satnav built in. The voice, guide and prompts may be a distracting force and dealing with that pressure driving is important.
  • Reversing around a corner
    This hardly used turn is being replaced by parking practices, where a similar skill would be necessary. The proper parking methods, particularly in a parking lot, is crucial to avoiding those nasty scratches and bumps.
  • Road signs
    Referencing them while independently driving has been usurped by the use of a sat-nav. The real life application of a sat-nav in most modern cars means signage isn’t required as they guide you through the correct paths.

A Bumpy Road Ahead

The landslide decisions of 2016 will cascade across the world this year, with the UK looking to start Brexit negotiations in March. The scandals of 2016 are also being resolved, with massive payouts for emission cheats and an airbag recall for a wide range of cars. New cars look to take a big hit with import costs rising and new road taxes coming into effect. Car owners will also be looking at the rising costs of insurance coupled with a potential rise in insurance rates. New drivers also have Mr T to worry about as he guides them through a longer independent driving test, meant to enhance the independence of the driver. Hopefully, in 10 years time we may not have to worry about driving at all.