Gear Shift: Garages With Collection & Delivery Now Joining ClickMechanic

launching garages

Since ClickMechanic launched in 2012 our goal has been very clear: We want to make the auto repair industry more transparent and trusted and less of a hassle for car owners. In order to do this we’ve created a state of the art pricing engine to give you up front quotes, we’ve made online bookings as simple and easy as possible and we only work with the high quality technicians who adhere to our strict code of conduct to ensure you’ll get a faultless experience.

And until now we’ve worked exclusively with mobile mechanics. Mobile mechanics are fantastic as they’re able to come to you, which means you don’t have to spend your Saturday getting to and from a garage miles away. Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough mobile mechanics in the UK to meet customer demand. Recently, we gave out our millionth quote, and realised we need to find a new source of high quality technicians as more and more car owners discover ClickMechanic!

Fortunately, there are a huge number of garages, which off free collection and delivery. Like a mobile mechanic, you can get your car repaired without leaving your home or office, the only difference is they will recover the vehicle to their workshop to work on it there.

How does this affect you? Not a lot. ClickMechanic prices will stay the same, the ClickMechanic Service will stay the same and ClickMechanic quality will stay the same. There are even a few jobs which garages are able to do which mobile mechanics can’t, so our range of services will increase.

Still don’t fancy garages, not to worry. When booking, you’ll be asked if you’re happy for your vehicle to be recovered – just select no and we’ll make sure to match you with a mobile mechanic.

DIY: How to change your car’s engine air filter

how-to-changeYour car’s engine air filter is a crucial defence against harmful junk that would otherwise enter your vehicle’s engine. This relatively inexpensive part protects the more valuable parts of your engine from bugs, debris and other nasties. Your engine also needs air in order to operate properly, and if you don’t replace your air filter often enough it will become blocked, and you might end up starving it of oxygen. When this happens your car wont have enough oxygen, and you might notice a dip in your car’s performance.

ClickMechanic is a UK wide car repair marketplace that gives you upfront instant prices. You can get your vehicle repaired, serviced, diagnosed, or have an MOT done by tomorrow morning. Get an instant quote for your air filter issue now.

There are varying schools of thought as to how often you should change your air filter. We recommend that you consult your owners manual for a rough guide, however you may need to change it more or less frequently depending on driving conditions. It’s also not a bad idea to proactively check your air filter more often than your owners manual suggests, as it could save you a lot of money down the line.

If you fancy us taking care of this for you, engine air filter changes are included in our major services!

5 Steps To Changing Your Air Filter

1. Buy a new air filter – the first thing you need to do is buy a replacement air filter. You can either find a local parts shop or buy it online from specialists such as Euro Car Parts or GSF.

2. Locate the air box – the air filter lives in the air box. The air box will be located under the car’s bonnet, and can be located easily with the help of your vehicle’s owner manual.

3. Open up the air box – the lid of the air box on newer vehicles is usually held in place with clasps, whereas slightly older models may be held in place with screws. Depending on your model, either unscrew or unclasp the lid (make sure you keep any fasteners in a safe place so you don’t loose them!)

4. Replace the old air filter – if it’s been less than a year you might want to make sure that your engine air filter does in fact need to be changed. A good rule of thumb is  if very little light passes through the air filter, you’ll want to replace it. Simply take old air filter out of the air box, and replace it with the new one making sure the fit is nice and tight.

5. Close the air box – once you’ve fitted the new air filter, secure the lid back onto the air box and close the bonnet. You’ll need to throw away or recycle your old air filter and voila – your vehicle has a shiny new air filter installed!

DIY: How to check your Engine Oil Level

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Did you know that most experts reckon you should check your engine oil at least once per month, when was the last time you checked yours? Engine oil is super important as it acts as a lubricant which prevents the different parts of the car damaging each other as they move around the engine.

How to check your engine oil level in 4 simple steps

  1. Turn off the engine – you’ll need to make sure that the engine is cool so you don’t burn yourself. Ensure that it has been off for at least 10 minutes and is cool before you check the oil. You’ll also need to make sure that your car is parked on a level surface.
  2. Locate the dipstick – pop open the bonnet, and look for the dipstick. The dipstick is a long rod which goes deep into your engine to check the oil level, and usually has a brightly coloured handle.
  3. Clean the dipstick – you’ll need to wipe any oil off the dipstick with a clean cloth or rag.
  4. Check the oil level – to do this put the dipstick back into the tube, and ensure the end reaches the bottom, then pull the dipstick back out again. There will be an upper and lower mark on the dipstick, the oil level should be between these two marks. If it’s below or on the lower mark, you’ll want to top up your oil.

Want us to take care of this for you? We’d be happy to help – you can book a minor service which ensures that your engine oil level is okay amongst many other checks

Car Care Tips From The Experts

Want to keep your car in the best possible shape? Well who better to ask than a mechanic? We’ve called up some of the mechanics on our network to find tricks that they use to keep their own vehicles in the best condition possible.

“Check your tyre tread depth regularly” – Matthew from Epsom with 10+ Years Experience

As a vehicle’s tyres get older, they tend to wear, which will result in your tyres having less tread depth. Vehicles with less tread depth will have limited grip and control on the road, especially in wet weather. The legal minimum tread depth for cars in the UK is 1.6mm. If you’re worried that your tyres are too worn, there is a very simple way to test, and all you need is a 20p coin.

“Make sure you check your tyre pressure regularly” – Ahmet from London with 15+ Years Experience

Whilst we’re speaking about tyres, it’s also really important to make sure that your tyres are properly inflated. Checking your tyre pressure is often overlooked, however ensuring the correct tyre pressure actually makes your car run more efficiently, as well as more safe. It’s recommended that you check your car tyre pressure at least once per month – if you’re not sure how, or it’s been a while since you last did so – check out this guide

“Check your oil levels at least once per fortnight and before really long journeys” – Russell from Birmingham with 25+ Years Experience

Engine oil is an essential part of your vehicle’s engine. It acts as a lubricant, allowing the metal parts in your engine to slide past each other without too much friction building up, as this would damage these parts. It also helps to act as a coolant. You can check your oil level very easily, simply by checking the dipstick. Check out how do do so.

“If dirt has built up, make sure to clean your lights” – Andrew from Scotland with 15+ Years Experience

Over time, wear to the plastic covering your headlamps will lead to marks and scratches and the intensity of your head lamps will fade. Dirt and grim can also build up leading to a weaker beam. Ensuring that you keep these clean and occasionally polish your headlamps with a fine polishing wax should help ensure your headlamps are shining bright.

“Keep checking your coolant” – Gary from Newcastle with 25+ Years Experience

Coolant serves a vital role in you vehicle, ensuring that your engine overheats. If the cooling system fails, this can severely damage parts of your engine, which can result in some very costly repairs. As such, it is important to check your vehicle’s coolant levels as often as possible, ideally once per week. Your coolant levels shouldn’t change by much week on week, however if there is a big drop in coolant levels then it is likely that your vehicle has a leak. In this case we strongly recommend you have a professional come and check your vehicle. You can find out how to check your coolant levels in the video below.

If you are having trouble with any of these checks or would like a more in-depth look into the state of your vehicle, then you can book in a service with Clickmechanic from around £100. Book a service here.

5 Ways To Keep Your Car Looking Cleaner For Longer

We all intend to keep our cars looking their best, but maintaining a shiny motor is hard work! With winter round the corner, this task is going to get even more difficult with rain and snow doing their best to make our vehicles looking less scrubbed and more snubbed. But what if I told you there were a couple of quick tips that could make keeping your car looking its best a lot easier? Well, it’s your lucky day as we’ve come up with 5 simple hacks which will make your car the envy of your neighbours (for minimal effort)!

 

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1. Avoid parking under trees

Trees are great right? They look nice, are fun to climb and turn carbon dioxide into oxygen which is quite handy for us humans. But be warned, these seemingly friendly giants are your worst nightmare if you park your vehicle under one. I know I’ve felt my heart sink after coming back to find my car covered in sap (or a gift from a friendly pigeon) – so if possible try and park your car away from these, to avoid gradual build-up of sap and other nasties that come from our leafy friends.

 

2. Get a car cover

If you haven’t got a garage, then your car will be a purely outdoor animal (at least we assume so). And in this case it means it’s going to be up against the elements such as snow, rain and dust – which get a whole lot worse as the seasons change. The best defence against these is a car cover, and will probably save you time in the long run.

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3. Keep your cleaning products in your car

Part of the hassle of washing your car is getting everything ready. Finding a cloth and getting your cleaning supplies off that top shelf is half the battle. I’d recommend keeping a microfibre cleaning cloth and a spay-can car wash in handy so you can attend to those little bits of dirt as they arrive.

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4. Keep your wiper blades clean

Washing your clothes with dirty water seems sort of counter-productive right? Well the same is true of your wiper blades. Once you’ve washed your windows, make sure you don’t forget to give your wiper blade a quick clean. Simply give them a clean with some washer fluid, then give them a quick rinse with some clear water and this should get rid of most of the gunk that builds up over time.

 

5. Wax

Waxing is like suncream for your car. Without wax your car’s paint is left exposed to the element, and although paint is a little more durable than int eh 60’s and 70’s, it takes your car’s sheen to the next level, and will leave you the envy of the street. Regular waxing (every 3 months) will help keep your paint job in good nick and on top of this will significantly reduce unsightly strips after wet weather.

 

Now you’ve got the outside looking top-notch, why not tackle the inside next! Our friends at Hassle have written a great blog post which with some expert tips – check it out here!

A Mini Guide To Buying Your First Car

Whether you begin taking driving lessons at 17 or you get behind the wheel later in life, passing your driving test is a learner driver’s greatest achievement. After hours spent trying to master the art of manoeuvres, it’s time to say goodbye to the L plates and start searching for your very own set of wheels.

While buying your first car can be exciting, it can also be complicated. From choosing your make and model to getting to grips with finance deals, there are any number of things to consider – and without the necessary knowledge, it can be costly, too.

If you’re looking for some handy hints to help you on your way to owning your first run-around, our mini guide to buying your first car will get you on the road as quickly and safely as possible.

 

1. Should I buy a new car or a used car?

new-vs-new-car

Buying a new car brings with it several benefits – from reducing the risk of wear and tear to exploring your colour options, new cars can be custom-built to suit the driver. Whether storage options and seating adjustments are high on your agenda or wheel trims and in-car tech take priority, buying new means you can choose the best spec for you.

While new cars come with bags of appeal, second hand motors still hold a prominent place on the UK’s roads – proving to be an easy and efficient car-buying option. Older cars come with one or more previous owner, meaning they have more character than a brand new model and are far cheaper than used cars meaning you can get a lot more motor for your money – so choosing between a new or used car really comes down to personal preference.

Top tip: if you decide to buy a used car, make sure you book a Pre-Purchase Inspection from ClickMechanic to have an independent mechanic check the vehicle over before you seal the deal.

 

2. Should I buy a car outright or through car finance?

finance

As a first time buyer, you’ll have already shelled out a small fortune on driving lessons – so funds are likely to be a factor when considering your buying options. Buying a car outright means no monthly fees, but can be expensive – while finance allows you to spread out your payments, but can cost more in the long run.

Car finance means you could potentially opt for a newer, more expensive model, but many drivers avoid applying for car finance because they have a poor credit history and assume they will be automatically refused – however, this isn’t always the case. Finance companies will often offer flexible bad credit car finance deals – meaning you don’t have to part with a large amount of cash to secure your perfect car.

Whether you opted for an attractive finance deal or you’ve saved enough cash for the car of your dreams, the first step towards your new set of wheels is setting a realistic budget – so make sure you settle on a limit before you begin shopping around.

Top tip: don’t be swayed by attractive monthly instalment figures. Think of the cost of the car overall – taking into consideration its value and the amount you can realistically pay back.

 

3. What paperwork do I need to do?

paper-work

Once you’ve signed and paid for the car, you become responsible for tax, insurance and MOT certificates. From printing out your insurance documents to checking the address on your driving licence, failing to keep your documents up-to-date could result in a hefty fine or even legal action – so organisation is key.

If you’re buying from a dealership, short-term insurance is often offered to allow you to drive your vehicle home – where you can set up your own insurance policy – and this should be a priority. Although you no longer have to display a tax disc, your vehicle still needs to be covered – so whether you do this online or at your local post office, be timely in getting your vehicle taxed.

Top tip: keep all of your car-related documents in one place – this way, you know where everything is when it comes to renewing your insurance or arranging your next MOT.

Whether you’re a newly qualified driver or thinking about taking your driving test, following these actionable tips will help you on your way to buying your first car – meaning you’ll be ready to hit the road as soon as possible.

 

The Female Premium: Women Charged Up To 30% More For Car Repair Than Men

In a shocking new study we found that women are being charged up to a third more than their male counterparts for car repair. ClickMechanic tested independent car garages around the country and found that, on average, women are quoted £45 more than men despite requesting identical jobs on identical cars.

The investigation took place across garages in 10 of the UK’s biggest cities. We asked male and female mystery shoppers to get quotes for a clutch replacement of a 2011 Ford Focus. After getting quotes from over 182 garages we discovered a female premium was present in eight out of 10 of the British cities.

The starkest different was found in Birmingham where the average quote for male car owners was £445 whereas for female car owners it was £582, a difference of 31%. In Manchester where there was a 28% female premium and Glasgow followed this with a 20% premium. Edinburgh bucked the trend, with female participants being charged 18% less.

Women In Birmingham & Manchester Charged Over £130 More Than Their Male Counterparts

How Much More Women Were Charged Than Men For A Clutch Replacement In Different Areas Of The Country

For most female car-owner in the UK this report will come as an unwelcome surprise. While the vast majority of mechanics strive to provide honest and reliable quotes, these results show that there is a worrying minority of garages failing to do so. There is a desperate need across the industry for transparency and consistency in price in order to establish trust with consumer of both sexes.

We also uncovered some price-hiking across the country, irrespective of gender in that both men and women were quoted £80 more than the recommended industry standard guidelines provided by car manufactures, parts providers and trade bodies.

 

How to protect yourself from rogue traders

If you’re one of the 45% of car owners who don’t know how much car repair should cost, we’re here to help. We have a 100% free, price estimator tool, which will allow you to protect yourself from the minority of cowboy mechanics out there. Alternatively, why not book your next car repair through ClickMechanic, ensuring you get a transparent upfront quote and one of our trusted mechanics will come to you and repair your car.

 

6 Problems Facing Driverless Cars

A staple of science fiction, autonomous cars are often the most visible technology of imagined futures. But unlike lightsabers and teleportation, the autonomous vehicles is close to becoming a reality. With tech giants Google already having made great strides in developing prototype cars – which are currently being tested on roads across the USA – car manufacturers have also begun pushing for an autonomous revolution.
But before that can happen, there’s a number of major hurdles that developers and governments will need to overcome before driverless cars make it to your local dealership. This infographic, brought to you by ClickMechanic, explains what these roadblocks are.

 

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Transcript

6 Problems Driverless Cars Will Need To Overcome

Self Driving cars will make stressful commutes a thing of the past, allowing passengers to relax or even take a nap.

But if the technology exists, then why are they taking so long?

 

The problems facing autonomous vehicle

So what’s keeping self-driving cars off the road, and how close are the solutions

 

1. Human interaction

Autonomous cars struggle to recognise humans alongside the vehicle or walking in front of it.

Pedestrians, cyclists and construction workers in the road could be put at risk of collision.

Example: Lets say an autonomous car was travelling along a road:

1. A police officer is stood by the roadside signalling for traffic to stop

2. The car fails to recognise him

3. It carries on driving and causes an accident

 

When will this be solved?

Unknown: testing human/ robot interaction properly is difficult due to limited interactions. Developers still need to solve the autonomous cars difficulty in recognising pedestrian hazards and small animals

 

2. The Weather

Poor weather leaves most automated vision-systems in the dark and unable to see. Snow and ice are untested hazards for self-driving cars, and vehicle performance is uncertain

It’s unknown how autonomous cars will handle: 

1. Avoiding ice

2. Detecting lanes under snow

3. Driving in wet conditions

The car might well detect snow as an obstruction and refuse to move

 

When will this be solved?

2020: By this time, $20 billion will have been spent on adding sensors to smart cities. Increasing the number of embedded sensors in the environment to guide the car- and including more sensors in the vehicle themselves – could solve the problem.

 

3. Morality and ethics

The law and ethics can conflict with one another in dangerous situations – the right choice might require illegal acts. Legalist safety directives could lead autonomous cars to make poor decisions in emergencies.

Example: It’s unknown how autonomous cars will handle choosing between an emergency stop which would cause a fatal collision to those behind or carrying on and running down a child. What choice would the car make?

 

When will this be solved?

Unknown: Robot ethics is still in its formative stages, and focuses primarily on military drones. As autonomous cars get closer to our roads, the ethical question will also gain more coverage

 

4. The Law

Safety testing must be completed outside the R&D environment in a statistically significant way. Legal theorists will need to account for the new problems raised by autonomous cars.

Suppose the car detects the child a child suddenly appearing in its path, the car performs an emergency stop, the child is still hit but the car had performed exactly what it was programmed to. Who will be held accountable

 

When will this be solved?

2017: The date by which the Department of Transport has promised a review. Until comprehensive feasibility and safety reports have been made, autonomous vehicles could be limited to freight and goods.

 

5. Security and driver safety

Technical errors on the road could have fatal consequences for passengers in self-driving cars. Legal theorists for autonomous cars will need reviewing to ensure that the cars make the best possible judgements.

Example: The car detects an obstruction ahead, and a sudden stop will cause an accident. The has a directive to avoid collisions with objects. It also has a directive to obey the law by keeping lanes. Confused the car decides to sop – an accident ensues.

 

When will this be solved?

Unknown: Tesla has a proven safety record with Internet-connected cars, and eCall technology will become mandatory in all EU cars from 2015. Until statistically significant safety tests have been made, it’s unclear what hidden safety issues autonomous cars might present.

 

6. Cost and affordability

Prohibitive costs could prevent autonomous cars becoming a common fixture on the roads. Competitive pricing will be needed if manufacturers are to gain a market foothold.

£4,500 – £7,000 will be added to a car’s price tag for self-driving technology in 2025 (IHS Automotive). This figure will drop to £3,000 in 2030 and £2,000 in 2035.

 

When will this be solved?

According to IHS automotive this is when most self-driving vehicles will be operated completely independent from a human occupant’s control. Of course, the most decisive factor will be market demand  – and the need to offer affordable autonomous cars.

 

The Future Of Self-Driving Cars

Of course, this doesn’t mean that R&D has stalled – in fact, developers are intent on getting self-driving cars on the road as quickly as possible.

So far 700,000 miles have been racked up by Google’s self-driving cars to date on test runs and $9m has been invested in Project GATEway, which will link transport hubs in Greenwich with autonomous vehicles.

 

UK Timeline: 

2015: Autonomous vehicle pilot projects will begin in the UK and 6-10 US cities

2020: The year which BMW, Nissan, General Motors, Mercedes and Cadillac plan to offer mostly self-driving cars.

2025: The year BMW expects fully-autonomous commercial vehicles to become available.

 

Until manufacturers overcome all of these roadblocks, self driving cars will be stuck on the test tracks.

While developers remain optimistic, the problems go beyond the technical – robot ethics is a new science, and autonomous cars will further the debate on human agency and morality.

 

Sources: 

Davies, A (2014). Avoiding squirrels and other things Google’s robot car can’t do. wired.com

Davies, A (2015). This is big: a robo-car just drove across the country. wired.com

Esnor, J (2015). The 7 kings that need to be worked out before driverless cars go global. telegraph.co.uk

European Commission. (2015). eCall: time saved = lives saved. ec.europa.eu

Ford. (2015). Fusion hybrid SE. ford.com

General Motors. (2013). Emerging technology: driving safety, efficiency and independence. gm.com

Gomes, L. (2014). Hidden obstacles for Google’s self-driving cars. techonologyreview.com

Greater London Authority. (2014) .Smart London plan. london.gov.uk

Hodson, H. (2015). The four main roadblocks holding up self-driving cars. newscientist.com

Lazzaro, S. (2015). Self-driving cars will be in in 30 U.S. cities by the end of next year. observer.com

Sorokanich, R. (2014). 6 Simple things Google’s self driving car still can’t handle. gizmodo.com

Wakefield, J. (2015). Driverless car review launched by UK government. bbc.co.uk

5 Ways To Prolong Your Clutch’s Lifespan

Clutch and clutch pedal overview

 

If your car has a manual gear box, your car will have a clutch. Clutches are infamously susceptible to wear, and getting a mechanic to replace it can cost upwards of £500!  Luckily, by making a few tweaks to your driving style, you can drastically increase the lifespan of you clutch, saving you both time and money in the long run. Lets take a look.

 

1.     Avoid “riding the Clutch”

If the clutch is partially disengaged, when it could be engaged or disengaged they you are known as “riding the clutch”. Essentially it means that you will be adding unnecessary stress is created between the flywheel and the clutch disc, which speeds up the wear of this part. Resting your foot on the clutch pedal is an example of riding the clutch; if you kick this habit, you could save £1000s in the long run

 

2.     Don’t use your Clutch to slow down

You really shouldn’t use your clutch to slow down. That’s what your brake pads are for. And a brake pad replacement on a Ford Focus would cost you around £60. A clutch replacement is closer to £400! You wouldn’t use a laptop as a hammer would you?

 

3.     Don’t just find the biting point, know the biting point 

For learner driver finding the clutch biting point is an easy introduction getting your car moving without an embarrassing stall. But once you’ve thrown away those learner plates (and furry wing mirror dice) it time to step it up a gear. Rather than finding the biting point, slowly release the clutch pedal, hovering over the bite point before lifting. The manoeuvre is a little trickier, but will vastly increase the longevity of your clutch.

 

 4.     Be decisive with your clutch control

As with riding the clutch, sloppy clutch control can add unnecessary wear on you clutch. If you don’t engage or release the clutch confidently, then you can end up hovering in the middle, which creates additional stress on your clutch plate. A little practice can go a long way, so next time try thinking about the movements you want to make on the Clutch pedal before you make them.

 

5.     Make full use of the parking brake

Leaving your car in gear is an easy way to stop your car from rolling down the hill , but using this as the sole technique to prevent a run away vehicle puts a lot of strain to the clutch. Next time, use the parking brake in addition to leaving your car in gear, as the parking brake can help carry the load.

 

The Bottom Line

In the end it comes down moving between engaging and disengaging the clutch only when truly necessary. It will not only extend the lifespan of your clutch, but will also save fuel and brake pads. It requires a little practice, but you’ll be able to reap the rewards in the long term.
Nike Air Max 2013

 

Clutch making a funny noise or doesn’t feel right? Our mechanics are here to help! Start your booking here. 

If you’re not sure what is wrong with the car book a diagnostic inspection – one of our mechanics will come out to work out whats wrong with your vehicle. If you’re sure that you need a Clutch Replacement, select that option from the repairs opting during the booking process.