Driving Home For Christmas – Tips For A Save And Festive Journey

It is the most wonderful time of the year – but for everyone who is driving home for Christmas first comes the most dreaded time of the year: sharing the road with thousands of other drivers how also want to get home to spend the festive season with loved ones.

The team at the ClickMechanic HQ thought long and hard about ways to make your Christmas journey more pleasant, save and most of all: festive.

Preparing for the drive home

As with all long-distance drives, we recommend checking your car before you set off. The key things to tick off the list are:

  • Engine oil levels incl. top up if needed
  • Tyre pressure
  • Wiper blades
  • Coolant levels
  • Lights

Recommended song to feel festive: Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree

While you are stuck in the annual Christmas traffic

We have all been there – sat in a long queue of cars on the motorway on weekends and Bank Holidays, or stuck in slow-moving, rush-hour traffic. To get through it smoothly, here are 4 Do’s and Don’ts for heavy traffic jams:

  • Put your car in neutral: When you are stuck in slow-moving, stop-and-go traffic, it’s tempting to keep the car in gear and the clutch engaged, in case you start moving again. This puts unnecessary strain on your clutch, decreasing its longevity.
  • Switch your engine off: Research shows that even idling for short time burns more fuel and emits more nasty emissions than restarting your car, so switching your engine off in idle traffic would offset this.
  • Drive smoothly in slow-moving traffic: It can be tempting to slam the accelerator down when a gap opens up in traffic. However, if all this means is that you will brake again within a short distance, you will wear out your brakes quicker than if you drive in a slow and steady fashion.
  • Don’t tailgate: As we can all agree, tailgating is one of the worst things you can do whilst driving. Not only will you put yourself and other drivers in a dangerous situation, but your brakes will also wear out faster if you constantly need to hit them hard when traffic slows down.

Recommended song to remind you of the merry season: It’s the most wonderful time of the year

When the road clears after a traffic jam

Finally, you are really driving home for Christmas. The free road ahead brings you closer to your final destination. While it is tempting to put the foot down a bit further to speed up to make up for some time lost, remember to stick to speed limits. Take extra care in wintery and adverse weather conditions which make driving more tricky with slippery road surfaces, rain, and darkening skies.

Recommended song to cheerily celebrate: Candy Cane Lane

When it starts snowing

While snow is rare in the UK and the predictions for a white Christmas are low, there still can be a Christmas wonder. Seeing the first snow is something special and wonderful. On the other side, it makes your journey more challenging. We have written a post about driving on wintery roads so you can get safely to your destination.

The obvious song to mark this moment: Sleigh Ride

When you tuck into your Christmas sandwich

As a prepared driver, you brought a sandwich for the trip. It is recommended to pack snacks and drinks when you embark on a long journey – especially when you can expect it to take longer than usual due to heavy traffic. And as it is Christmas, it should be a festive snack or sandwich.

Recommended song while you are munching through our treat: All I Want For Christmas Is You

When you wish for a new car for Christmas

Spending a long time in your car might make you realise it’s small niggles and aches even more. Even more so, you might come to the conclusion that you will be looking for a new car next year. We have just the right tips on what to look out for when buying a new car.

But in the meantime, listen to this song instead: Santa Baby

When you finally reach your Christmas destination

Give a cheer for you are here. Your mood lightens after a long Christmas journey. Welcome home!

Recommended song to share the joy: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Happy driving home for Christmas and a wonderful festive season!

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Photo by Jamie Davies on Unsplash

How to get the best car repair experience possible

We recently asked our customers about their experiences with mechanics and garages. A large proportion told us that they find engaging with a mechanic or garage a daunting experience.

Engaging with a mechanic or garage can be scary for a couple of reasons. Old school garages can be intimidating places with all the noise, smells, tools and machinery, especially if you don’t know a great deal about cars. To help cut through all of this, here are our top tips on how to overcome any car care anxieties, create a trusting relationship with a mechanic and get the best car repair experience possible:

Be nice 

It sounds simple but people often forget that mechanics are also human beings and want to deal with nice people. Don’t worry that you do not possess any technical understanding – that is what the mechanics are here for.

Ask questions around the repair and the mechanic’s experience

When you’re handing over your car to a mechanic, you want to know if it is in good hands. The best way to find out is to ask him or her some questions around the problem and way of working. Here is a list of questions we prepared for exactly this case.

Get familiar with your car

This sounds silly but this tactic helps to tackle car repair-related anxieties. You don’t have to become an expert but it helps reading the car owner’s manual, perform regular oil checks or simply have a look under the bonnet. How does the engine look like, where are fluids located? This basic knowledge helps you understand things better when you speak to a mechanic about a repair.

Plan and budget for car maintenance

Costs for car maintenance are a necessary life cost you should budget for like you do with your rent, mortgage or bills. The downside is, if it is not an MOT or service, you can’t plan for a repair so it often comes at the most inconvenient times. A high unplanned expense understandably can add to the daunting feeling which can overcome you when you step into a workshop. If it is possible, set a fixed amount of money aside on a regular basis, dedicated to cover the surprise repair costs.

Happy driving!

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Photo by Glenn Hansen on Unsplash

Road Safety Advice Every Driver Should Know

Every 20 minutes, someone is seriously injured or killed on British roads. These accidents are all preventable if simple rules of road safety are followed.

Easy to follow road safety tips

Slow down

Speed is a crucial factor when it comes to road safety. The faster you drive, the greater the risk of accidents. Driving within the speed limit and using suitable speed in bad weather conditions is common sense. At speeds exceeding 50mph, a reduction in speed by 1mph can lower the likelihood of crashes by up to 5%. Test your knowledge with the Road Safety Stopping Distance Game

Never drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol

It is widely known that drugs and alcohol impair drivers’ judgment and perception, even small amounts below the legal driving limit can impact your reactions in traffic. Better be safe than sorry and plan ahead to get home safely.

It might take some courage but if you see someone planning on driving after a few drinks, try to persuade them to leave their car until the next day. Don’t get into the car with someone who has been drinking.

And don’t forget those mornings after a night out. Use this handy calculator to see how long you should wait before you get behind the wheel again. As a final thought: if you are taking any medication, even flu medicine can impair your ability to drive.

Stay focused and calm

Make sure you stay sharp and focused when driving. Planning your journeys and anticipate traffic events ahead can really take the stress out of driving. If you are feeling tired after some time behind the wheel, take a break. It is recommended to break up longer journeys after 2 hours for some fresh air and a stretch of your legs.

Avoid driving if you are under stress or feel angry as your mind might not be fully focused on the task at hand – driving safely. In these situations, it is recommended to wait for a while before driving off to allow yourself to calm down and refocus on safely driving your car.

Not only your mind can have an impact on how focused you are. Your eyes are working overtime while driving, so it is vital to have your eyes checked regularly and wear glasses or lenses if you have been prescribed some. This reduces tiredness and ensures your vision is perfectly clear and unobstructed while on the road.

Keep your passengers safe too

If you are regularly traveling with passengers in your car, it is vital to ensure they are as safe as possible – even on short journeys. Insist that everyone traveling in your car is putting the seat belt on before you take off. When you are traveling with children, always ensure they sit in fitting and appropriate child seats and are buckled up correctly.

Make your car safe to travel

There are a few more things drivers can do to contribute to safer journeys and car maintenance is key here. Have your lights and brakes checked regularly, e.g. during your regular car servicing appointment, ensure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure and remove any unnecessary weight you are driving around in your car. We have written a handy post about the 5 car and road safety checks you should perform before a long-distance journey.

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Happy driving and safe travels!

OEM vs Aftermarket Car Parts – What Is The Difference

OEM vs. Aftermarket Car Part Guide

When it comes to car repair, choosing the right parts can be confusing and in most cases overwhelming with so many options from OEM, OE, aftermarket or refurbished parts out there. To cut through this, here is our overview of the different part categories that are out there:

Genuine (OE) car parts

Genuine parts, often called OE (Original Equipment) parts are the same parts which are used and built into your car when it was first made. They usually come branded with the manufacturers’ logo on the part and/or on the box. Dealerships will typically use these parts when your car needs a repair. They are a safe option if you want to maintain the same quality and performance, however, they come with a high price tag if your car is no longer in warranty.

OEM car parts

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer and is made by a company that supplies car manufacturers with parts. While they are normally identical to genuine parts, they are sold under the manufacturers’ name rather than the carmakers’ brand. OEM parts usually retain the same quality as genuine parts, with the upside of a lower price point than genuine parts. They are ideal to be used on slightly older cars which are around 3-4 years old, or cars where the manufacturer warranty has just expired.

Aftermarket car parts

There is a huge market for parts that are not made by the original supplier. These parts are known as aftermarket parts and they are built using the same pattern as OEM parts. An often acknowledged issue with aftermarket parts is the wide spectrum of quality. Some aftermarket parts are manufactured to a high standard so that they are outperforming their OE/OEM counterparts. For example, products made by Brembo, Mintex or Pagid are known for their outstanding quality, surpassing their OE counterparts. On the other hand, some parts can be made using less durable material which means they can wear out faster. The outstanding benefit of aftermarket parts is the price point being much lower than the original equipment, which makes them perfect for older cars.

Salvage parts

Salvage parts are usually available at a very low price point, typically as they are taken from cars which were sent to the scrapyard, or have been sold on. They are second-hand parts, typically with not much history behind them. They range from anything from OE parts in perfect working condition or used parts with not much life left in them.

Reconditioned or remanufactured parts

Some car parts can be reconditioned by taking them apart and assembling them again, using new parts to replace broken pieces. This is usually true for engines or gearboxes. They can come at a higher price and as its a rebuilt part you should be asking for some kind of warranty.

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Happy driving!

 

ClickMechanic Car Care Survey October 2019 – Terms and Conditions

Terms and conditions 

ClickMechanic Car Care survey October 2019 and competition.

Competition and survey details

After completing the survey you will have the chance to enter a competition to win one of three £25 Amazon vouchers. The competition starts Wednesday 9th October and closes Wednesday 16th October 2019 at 23:59. Entries received after this date and time will be excluded from the competition. The prize draw will happen by Tuesday 22nd October 2019 and the winners will be contacted latest by Friday 25th October.

There is no obligation to enter the competition and the prize draw after completing the survey. No personal information will be collected during the survey, however you will be asked to enter your name and email address if you wish to enter the competition.

Competition terms

  1. The competition is held by ClickMechanic Ltd, 56 Wood Lane, W12 7SB, London, UK (Promoter). The competition is to win the prize described in the competition details. By entering your name and email address to take part in this competition, you agree to these terms and conditions.
  2. All entrants must be UK residents and over 18 years of age. Employees of the promoter, associated companies and agents and their families and friends are excluded from entering this competition.
  3. Entry to this competition is through entering your email address at the end of the survey. Only one entry will be accepted per person. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified.
  4. The closing date for this competition is the 16th October 2019 23:59. Entries received after this date and time will be excluded from the competition.
  5. The winners for the prize will be selected at random and notified as set out in the details.
  6. The winners will be notified by email. We will send the name of the winners to anyone who writes within one month after the closing date of the competition requesting details of the winners and who encloses a self-addressed envelope to the address detailed in 1.
  7. If the winner cannot be contacted or do not claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
  8. The prize is as follows: three Amazon.co.uk vouchers, with a value of £25 each. The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered.The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.
  9. There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.
  10. If there is any reason to believe that there has been a breach of these terms and conditions, we may, at our discretion, exclude you from participating in the competition. We reserve the right to withdraw or amend this competition, or these terms and conditions, at any time.
  11. The competition and these terms and conditions are governed by English law and any claims or proceedings arising out of or in connection with these terms (including non-contractual disputes or claims) will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.
  12. We will not accept responsibility for competition entries that are lost for any reason; or proof of posting as proof of receipt of entry to the Competition.
  13. All competition entries and any accompanying material submitted to us will become our property upon receipt and will not be returned. By entering, the competition you assign to us all your intellectual property rights, and you agree to waive any moral rights in your competition entry.
  14. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Network. You are providing your information to ClickMechanic Ltd and not to any other party. The information provided will be used in conjunction with the following Privacy Policy found at https://www.clickmechanic.com/terms/privacy-notice.

 

Catalytic converter theft and how to prevent it

Your catalytic converter, the part in your exhaust system which turns toxic emissions into less harmful substances, contains this precious metal palladium. With the rising prices for valuable metals like this one, the numbers for catalytic converter theft are also currently rising. Here are some tips on how to prevent and slow down thieves dismantling your car:

Prevent catalytic converter theft by:

  • Parking closer to walls, other vehicles or close to the kerb, to make climbing under your car more difficult.
  • Marking the catalytic converter with an engraved serial number can allow easier tracing as well making it harder to sell.
  • Welding the bolts if the converter is bolted on. This does not stop thieves but makes it harder to remove the converter using only a spanner. The downside to consider is that it not only makes it harder for thieves but also mechanics when they are working on your exhaust system.
  • Get a protective cover fitted to make it more difficult for thieves to remove the converter.
  • Get a catalytic converter alarm that is set off when the catalytic converter is tempered with.
  • Increased security measures, e.g. if possible park in a lockable garage, fencing, park in well-lit areas or CCTV.

What to do if the catalytic converter has been stolen?

In the case when your catalytic converter has been stolen, additional damage might have been caused to the exhaust system. As the converter is removed by force, the act of removal can have damaged surrounding parts as well. This means that you will need to have a mechanic take a thorough look at the exhaust system to determine the extent if other parts of the system have to be replaced as well.

In these cases, our in-house mechanics can help advise you to get your vehicle fixed.

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Happy driving!

Mobile Mechanic vs. Garage – which repairs can be done mobile?

The world of car mechanics can often be relatively complex, however from a mechanic’s perspective, there are certain jobs that are simple enough to be done at the roadside or on your drive. Alongside this, there are a number of jobs that are complex and therefore would be best suited to a garage. We put together a list of major car repairs that can be done by a mobile mechanic and ones that require a garage facility for an optimal outcome:

Repairs for mobile mechanics

  1. Brake pads replacement – this job is one of the more simple ones for a mechanic to take on, and involves taking the old brake pads off the caliper and replacing them. In this case, mobile mechanics would jack the vehicle up and, provided the vehicle is on a level surface, would be able to get this job done at your location of choice.
  2. Fuel filter replacement – another easy one that can be done at your home or at your place of work. The fuel lines run on the drivers’ side under the bonnet, and your mechanic will remove the fuel pump relay or fuse, and then crank the vehicle to relieve fuel pressure. The mechanic will then simply remove the fuel filter and change it, close the bonnet, and you are on your way!
  3. Suspension springs (coil springs) – your suspension is vital on your vehicle to be able to manage a huge amount of weight and allow you to smoothly go over bumps. This one that can be done mobile as it simply requires a jack to get the vehicle elevated and the springs removed. Again, a flat, clear surface would be required to give your mechanic enough space to get the job done.
  4. Brake Fluid Change – a simple job for mobile mechanics who, in most cases, have brake flushing facilities available to them to bring to your location. The simplicity of this job is such that this is one you can technically do yourself, but to ensure the best possible outcome, get in touch with a trusted professional.
  5. Alternator belt replacement – the alternator belt drives automotive engine devices such as the alternator and power steering pump. It can be located under the bonnet, meaning this job can be done very easily wherever you need.
  6. Car Servicing – servicing your vehicle is something that should be scheduled once a year, and involves work such as changing the oil and filter, inspecting any other fluid levels and ensuring that other aspects of your vehicle are running smoothly. Again, this is all work that can be done at a location convenient to you.

Repairs that more suited to be done by a garage

  1. Steering geometry check – uneven roads and potholes mean that your steering can often be pushed out of line. Unfortunately, the machinery required to do the geometry check is only present in garages due to the size and complexity of it, so any checks and potential alignments will have to be done at a garage, or at a specialist that provides the service.
  2. Clutch replacement – typically cars with smaller engines can be done mobile, but anything with a 1.7-litre engine or above would be best served in a garage. This is due to the weight of the engine and the fact that having more than one person doing the job would be more ideal.
  3. Timing chain replacement – getting your timing chain replaced is a job that sees the engine come out in order for it to be completed – a process best served in the confines of a garage. This is to ensure that mechanics can do the job in the best possible fashion, and do not put themselves at risk when removing the engine.
  4. Cylinder head gasket replacement – this job is particularly complex, and a failure of this nature is one of the bigger jobs that a mechanic or garage will have to repair. In many cases, many parts of the car’s engine need to be replaced to complete this job, so this is best served with a professional garage.
  5. Wheel alignment – similar to steering alignment, your wheels can take a beating when exposed to bumps and potholes, and driver safety can be compromised. Wheel alignment services are available nationwide, but as with steering alignment, the equipment required can only be located at a specialist garage.
  6. Transfer box replacement – this is the gear system that divides the power between the front and rear axle of a four-wheel-drive system. A job like this would need to be up on a ramp due to the size of these vehicles, and are safer done in a garage.

Mobile mechanics offer a convenient way to get your car fixed while you get on with your day. For a lot of work, you do not necessarily have to arrange an appointment with a garage. However, any repair that requires your car being lifted up on a platform, a garage will always the best place to go to.

You can book both, mobile mechanics and garages on ClickMechanic. And if you are unsure, contact our in-house expert team, who will help to book the right repair for your car.

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10 questions to ask a mechanic

questions to ask a mechanic

Finding a good mechanic you can trust can sometimes feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. We have compiled a list of questions you should ask mechanics when you need a repair. These questions will help you build a trusting relationship with the person who is fixing your car, so you know that your vehicle is in good hands.

What parts will be used on the car?

The parts used for a repair will have an impact on the final price you pay. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts will be more expensive, while aftermarket parts and refurbished or used parts will be cheaper.

Can I see the replaced parts?

There is a simple reason for this question: seeing the part which has been replaced gives you additional visual confirmation and confidence that the work has been completed. It also helps you understand your car better and, in some cases, how your car is impacted by your driving style.

How long can I drive my vehicle before my issue becomes a real problem?

This question helps you weigh up whether the proposed repair is a high priority problem that needs immediate attention, or whether it can be delayed. It is important to know what the long term impacts are if certain repairs are left unattended. So while a dirty air filter can be put off for a while, worn brake pads most likely cannot. This question is key if you are on a budget and/or if there are multiple issues with your car.

How was the test drive?

If the repair involves a test drive ask about it. Was the clutch working better? How did the steering improve? Did the vibrations disappear? Don’t forget to enquire about the test route: if a concerning noise occurs mainly on cobbled streets, then a test drive on smooth asphalt won’t tell you if the issue has been rectified.

Can you show me the issue on the car?

Let’s be honest: you wouldn’t let a doctor perform surgery on you without seeing an x-ray or MRI first. The same goes for your car! Ask the mechanic to show you the problem on the vehicle itself before repair. A good mechanic will show and explain the problem in detail to you, including what is needed to get it fixed.

How long does the work take, and when will it be completed?

Agreeing on a time frame helps you plan the time you won’t be able to use your car and to arrange alternative transportation if necessary. As for the mechanic, he now knows when you ideally expect to have your car back and will set a deadline to work towards.

What warranty/guarantee comes with the repair?

Before you hand over the keys to your car, it is vital that you know whether parts and services are covered by the warranty and how long the coverage lasts. Understand your rights when things go wrong – although hopefully, they won’t!

How much will a diagnosis cost & how long does it take?

Over the years, cars have turned into rolling computers, which means some issues are not as easily detectable as others and mechanics will need to run diagnostic checks to track down what is wrong with your car. These checks take time and mechanics understandably will want to get paid for that time, i.e. when they try to find the short in multiple pounds of electrical wiring.

Can I get a written quote and a detailed invoice?

Before you engage a mechanic, ask for a detailed quote outlining the parts, labour time and taxes where they apply. That way you can be sure that there are no hidden fees or expensive extras. It can happen that your mechanic’s work will expand beyond what was agreed first – in these cases ask to get a call to discuss before the work can go ahead.

What repairs do I have coming up?

While a mechanic may only be working on a specific repair, they might detect other defects or worn parts that might cause problems in the future. Knowing what to expect will give you guidance as to what potential costs could be coming up, or may raise the question as to whether investing in a new car would be a more savvy option.

Happy driving!

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