Top 3 UK Road Trips To Enjoy The Colours Of Autumn

Autumn is here! In spite of the relaxed travel rules outside of the UK mainland in the last few weeks, most of us probably haven’t fully adjusted to the idea of overseas travel plans. The upside is that it will allow us to explore and appreciate the beauty in our own backyard further!

In addition to the beauty of nature in the autumn season, autumn makes for a great time to explore the country as you can generally avoid the traffic jams during summer and the harsh driving conditions of the winter.

You can take in some of the UK’s most gorgeous scenery from the comfort of your car on a well-planned road trip.

Here’s a list of the best road trips in the UK you can take this autumn:

Lake district – Kendal to Keswick

Lake district - Kendal to KeswickThe changing colours of autumn completely transform Lake District into a breathtaking spectacle. The Kendal to Keswick route along the A591 is one of the most popular driving routes in the UK – and for good reason! The route stretches for 30 miles with views of Lakeland fells and the banks of Windermere. The Lake District National Park website has helpful information that can help you with planning your road trip.

The North Coast 500
NC500The NC500 is Scotland’s ultimate driving route of over 500 miles that starts and ends at Inverness. There is loads to explore on this road trip including historic towns and villages all while discovering the best of Scottish food and drink on the way. Understandably, 500 miles is a long distance and can take months of planning so if you choose not to do the full 500-mile trip any time soon, there are shorter routes within the NC500 that offer equally stunning views during autumn. Here’s the official website of the NC500 with tips and tricks to help you plan your trip.

Cornwall – St Ives to Sennen Cove

Cornwall - St Ives to Sennen Cove

This 20ish mile-long route from St Ives to Sennen Cove is a road trip worth doing if you want the best of both worlds – the spectacular cliff-top landscapes on one side and autumn’s dramatic colours on the moorlands. Along with the changing landscapes, you also have an opportunity to explore castles and famous lighthouses on your road trip on the B3306.

From the charming seaside town of St Ives to the stunning views at the final stop in Sennen Cove, it’s surely worth giving the local food and drink a try – including Cornish pasties and Cornish ice cream. This helpful website can inspire some ideas for the route.

Going on a long road trip also means it’s critical to ensure your vehicle is in good shape to take on the challenges of the road, especially as temperatures start to drop further. Getting a Vehicle Health Check by a professional technician can help check if a vehicle is safe to drive.

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Top 5 Easy Car Cleaning Hacks You Need To Know

Owning a car is an investment and besides the money spent on fuel and maintenance, we often forget to give our vehicles the love and attention it deserves. Regular upkeep of your car is key to maintaining its value. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend a fortune.

We’ve tested simple household items that can double up as brilliant cleaning hacks for your car:

Baby Wipes

Baby Wipes

Baby wipes can be used in multiple ways to keep your car clean. They are gentle and are great for cleaning the dashboard and the glovebox. Baby wipes are great to clean bugs off the car windows and windscreen too. They’re super cheap too – you can get a pack for about 50p each. However, avoid using this on sensitive surfaces such as infotainment and display screens.

Slime

Slime

It can be really hard to clean nooks and crannies just by vacuuming. One way to clean those hard-to-reach places is using the hugely popular kids toy product called ‘slime’ – the weird gooey substance that kids are so fascinated with. You can roll the slime through crevices of the interior where dust and dirt accumulate. If you don’t have this at home, there are loads of different options available online and in stores, including dedicated cleaning gel versions.

Cotton Buds

Cotton buds

Cotton buds are a handy tool for cleaning and picking up built-up dirt and dust in crevices. For example, you can use cotton buds to clean out crevices around the dashboard or gear stick. They’re also great to clean the dashboard air vents – you’ll be surprised at how much dust and dirt can accumulate!

Vinegar

Vinegar

If your car has cloth seats, a DIY vinegar and water solution can be a life-saver! Mixing equal parts vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle can help to get rid of stains and dirt.

Car Trash Can

Car trash can

This is more of a preventative measure, but we thought this product deserved a special mention. There are small car trash cans on the market, designed to fit perfectly in your cup holder. It’s super handy and makes keeping your car clean of random food wrappers, receipts, and other small pieces of trash a lot easier! A wide variety of options are available on places like Amazon or eBay.

Do you have any cleaning hacks that you use to clean your car? Let us know @ClickMechanic and maybe we can do a part 2 on car cleaning hacks!

If you ever need help with your car, ClickMechanic provides repairs and servicing with a 1-year warranty on parts and repairs. All you need to do is tell us about your car and a vetted mechanic can carry out the work at a location convenient to you and at a date and time of your choice.

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UK’s Best Service Stations

With the warm weather (sometimes!) and school holidays in full swing, the UK is witnessing a staycation boom with people taking to the roads to explore Britain in the summer. This also means that for those travelling by car or coach, stopping at service stations will be an inevitable part of the journey.

Following a survey by consumer publication Which? of the best and worst motorway service stations, we checked out what the top three service stations in the UK have to offer in more detail to help you on your way. Here’s what we found:

  • Gloucester Services: M5, Brookthorpe, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, GL4 0DN

    Google maps
    Gloucester Services is almost too good to be called a service station. A second-generation family business, the food is home-cooked and made with ingredients that are locally sourced. If you’re heading to and from Cornwall and Devon, or even visiting the Cotswolds, Gloucester Services seems like a great place to stop by to get a feel of the local community.

  • Tebay Services: Westmorland Place, Orton, Penrith, Cumbria CA10 3SB

    If you’re travelling north on the M6, Tebay Services is a service stop (which is also a gorgeous farm) located in the Cumbrian hills. In addition to a farm shop that sells local produce, the website menu outlines an array of hearty meals and fresh salads that is sure to make one appreciate home-cooked meals over fast food joints.

  • Cairn Lodge Services: Douglas, Lanarkshire, ML11 0RJGoogle maps

    Further up north in Scotland, Cairn Lodge Services is located on M74 between Junctions 11 and 12. Voted as the 3rd best service station in the UK, the family-run filling station is currently open 24 hours for toilets, showers, hot drinks, food and snacks. The service station also houses a farm shop with locally grown produce and homemade cakes.

Do you have a favourite service station? Or have you come across a service station you were particularly impressed with? We’d love to hear about it! Tweet to us @ClickMechanic

If you’re going to hit the road for a long road trip, a Vehicle Health Check is a great way to ensure your vehicle is in good condition. With ClickMechanic a vetted mechanic can carry out a service at a date and time of your choice at a location that suits you.

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Con-fused? What To Do When Your Car Blows A Fuse

Header imageAt some point, you’ve probably heard someone mention that their car has ‘blown a fuse’, the reasons why can often be mystifying. This week we’ll break down what fuses do in a car and how you can best deal with a blown fuse.

Fuses are an integral part of a car’s electrical system, and help protect the various electrical components fitted to your car. With cars becoming ever more complex electrically, however, the number of fuses used has also increased. With this has come more confusion over which fuse could have blown and why.

Fuses – What Do They Do And What To Do If They Fail

  • How does a fuse work?
    The main part of a fuse is a thin wire or metal strip designed to melt at an electrical current draw slightly over the standard draw of the electrical component(s) and wiring it is protecting. When this metal strip or wire melts, it does so very quickly, which is why you can see them flash and pop, hence the term ‘blown’.
  • How do I know a fuse has blown?
    The first obvious sign is that the equipment you were trying to use, no longer works. You may also find that a few other items may not work either and that is a very clear indication of a fuse being blown. Many circuits use the same fuse to protect them, so for instance, if your radio, interior light and electric mirrors no longer work, it could be the fuse that covers them.
  • How do I find out which fuse has blown?
    The best place to start is your vehicle’s handbook, if you still have it. There will be a section on the fuses and what they cover. It will also tell you the location of the fuse box and also, more importantly, which fuse it is! Most fuses will be colour coded. The most common ones are 5A orange, 10A red, 20A yellow and 30A green. When you pull out the fuse, you should be able to see if it has blown by the broken strip or even a blackened burn mark where it has burnt.
  • Do’s and Don’ts
    • Only replace a fuse when the equipment, and ideally the ignition, is switched off.
    • If there are a number of items that are protected by one fuse, only switch them on one by one. Otherwise, if it blows a second time, you will not know what item is causing it.
    • Never replace a fuse with a higher rating than the one you are replacing. Equipment may be damaged, or in the worst-case scenario, the wiring loom can melt instead which can cause a fire!

If you are unsure what is wrong with your car’s electrics or need help finding out why a fuse keeps blowing, then book a FREE phone consultation with one of our experienced in-house mechanics or place a booking online for a diagnostic inspection.

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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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The UK’s Top 5 Romantic Road Trips to Drive this Valentine’s Day!

Road trip

Only a few days to go until Valentine’s Day! And if you’re looking to plan the perfect date, why not really impress this year and take your other half on a romantic road trip? For inspiration, we’ve done the research for you to find the UK’s top 5 romantic routes. Read on and see which you would want to visit for a Valentine’s treat!

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “A scenic road trip is a perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day. It’s a chance to explore some amazing new places together from the comfort of your car, which is particularly a bonus given the weather! Just remember to share the choice of music…”

1. The North Coast 500, Scotland

Valley

For a truly breath-taking and adventurous drive, Scotland’s North Coast 500 is your ideal choice for this Valentine’s Day. Beginning and ending in the northern city of Inverness, this route skirts around the Scottish coast, covering over 500 miles of unparalleled scenery.

Along the ride, you can visit a number of impressive structures including the famed 1000-year-old ruins of Urquhart Castle on the Loch Ness banks. You can also discover some of the concealed and untouched beaches on the route; be sure to visit Moray Firth, home to around 130 bottlenose dolphins! Finally, it goes without saying that the road will also take you through some stunning views of the highlands, which alone are worth the trip! Be sure to save some time for this journey however, 5-7 days of traveling are recommended to take in all of the sights.

2. The New Forest

Forest

Offering both beautiful and relaxed surroundings, driving through the New Forest is a brilliant option for couples who are looking to take it easy and soak up the sun (hopefully!). Being less than one minute’s drive from the M27, it is easily accessible with countless activities and sights available for visitors.

Picturesque villages are scattered throughout the area, not to mention thousands of wild ponies and donkeys also roam-free, so take care on the road! For keen animal lovers, the New Forest Wildlife Park at Ashurst offers the chance to get up close and personal with some of the local wildlife. And for those that appreciate cars, The National Motor Museum in Beaulieu features over 250 vehicles and recounts the history of motoring. So there really is something for everyone! If you’re unsure of which route to take, the New Forest Tour offers an open-top safari-style tour of the area and covers three key routes to see all of the best sights.

3. The Dark Hedges, Ballymore, Northern Ireland

Road between trees

Any Game of Thrones fan will recognise this road; it is also known as King’s Road during Season two of the famous fantasy series, where Arya Stark travels north. While it is simply an avenue of beech trees folding into one another, the overall effect creates a true sense of fairy-tale wonder as you pass through it.

This inspiring formation, or the Dark Hedges as it is actually known, was planted two centuries ago to decorate the entrance of Gracehill House, a Georgian mansion. Today, it has become a renowned spot for photographs in Northern Ireland and attracts visitors from far and wide. Sadly, due to recent damage, it can no longer be driven directly down by motorists; however, there is parking nearby at the Hedges Estate Hotel and it is more than worth the walk for this enchanting experience. It is indeed a beautiful road to visit this Valentine’s Day.

4. The Cotswolds

Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is renowned for its scenic, picture-postcard villages and for the natural beauty of its countryside; just two reasons for being a perfect drive on February 14th!

But if you’re wondering which route to take to get the best views, why not follow the aptly named Romantic road? Cotswolds.info has mapped out its own circular route from Broadway which passes through Stow on the Wold and Bourton on the Water, taking the driver through a number of impressive sights. You will have the chance to explore the famed beauty of the Cotswold hill villages as well as the quaint river valleys and the charmingly idyllic country pubs. Covering 45 miles in total, it’s also more than suitable for a day trip!

5. The Lake District

Lake district

As England’s largest National Park, the Lake District is filled with breath-taking scenery and raw, natural beauty. With an incredible mountainous landscape combined with vast lakes and, of course, countless activities available, each valley will not fail to please!

While the sheer size of this National Park means the possible driving routes are essentially endless, if you’re looking for guidance, Lake District Drives lists 15 possible routes to choose from. However, for a truly romantic experience, the Keswick to Borrowdale to Buttermere drive is a great pick. It features some of the most stunning sights of the mountain passes and allows you to stop and explore places such as Lodore Falls waterfall and Honister Slate Mine. The route covers 38 miles in total.

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

London city during christmas

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

Car being repaired

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

The Top 5 Car Repairs to Expect This Christmas and How Likely You Are to Face Them!

car broken down

Christmas is only a few weeks away and it’s already looking to be a rather wet one! Yet, whilst many dream of a White Christmas filled with snowball fights and picturesque scenery, it is worth remembering that the colder or even freezing temperatures can be a killer for your car. Each winter, countless motorists face a variety of car issues and fear the potential cost to repair. This is why we have analysed our own data to find the most likely repairs which UK motorists will encounter over the winter. Read on to find out how you can prolong the most popular repairs and save money in the long-term.

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “Many motorists forget to take care of their vehicle at this time of year. Cold conditions can cause an array of expensive problems for your car and, with a little TLC, potential repair bills can be reduced and the repairs themselves may last longer.”

1. Wing Mirror Glass Replacement

broken wing mirror

Increased odds of its breaking at Christmas: 4.3x

Signs you need a wing mirror replacement:

– Glass is broken/scratched
– Casing is broken/scratched

Why is it breaking and how do I extend its lifespan:

On the icy roads, many motorists will struggle to control their vehicle at times and as such, they are far more likely to clip their wing mirrors or even slide into things. In fact, drivers are actually more than 4x as likely to damage their wing mirror glass in the winter compared to the rest of the year, so it’s a very common problem.

The only remedy for this would be to take more care on the road and reduce speed when necessary. Damaged wing mirror glass should be replaced as soon as possible, particularly if it restricts your vision.

2. Battery Replacement

car battery

Increased odds of its breaking at Christmas: 1.8x

Signs that a battery replacement is imminent:

– The car’s engine will turn over slowly prior to starting or will not turn over at all
– None of the electrical equipment works
– The battery’s terminals and connectors show signs of erosion
– A pale blue or white powder has appeared on parts of the battery

Why is it breaking and how do I extend its lifespan:

Despite lasting longer in the colder climate, winter’s freezing temperatures actually causes the battery to lose power. The colder environment means the engine will require more power to start up and continue to run. This is why the winter will usually finish off an old (5 years plus) or struggling battery.

You can prolong your battery’s charge by switching off electrical items such as the heater blower, the headlights and the rear screen demisters for a few minutes prior to switching the engine off. Short journeys during winter will also place additional strain on the battery, so bear that in mind when popping down to the shops! If you’re unsure of its current condition, have the battery checked professionally.

3. Coil Spring Replacement

coil spring

Increased odds of its breaking at Christmas: 1.7x

Signs your car needs a coil spring replacement:

– The car will bounce excessively after driving over a bump
– The car leans to one side or one corner is lower than the others
– You may feel a difference in the car’s handling
– You may hear odd noises, such as a banging or even a ‘twang’ when turning the steering

Why is it breaking and how do I extend its lifespan:

The coil springs act as support for the shock absorbers. They smooth out any bumps or irregularities you encounter on the road’s surface and, as such, they will eventually wear over time. They are also made of ferrous metal, meaning they will suffer from corrosion. Most coil springs are coated in a plastic sleeve, however, this sleeve will suffer from nicks and scratches from road debris, which allows water to seep in and erode the metal.

During winter, the metal becomes brittle and will be more likely to break under shock, such as from speed bumps and potholes. This can lead to expensive damage if a worn spring reaches this stage, so it should be seen to as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms. Regularly washing debris off of the springs with a hose can help to prolong them.

4. Alternator / Alternator Belt Replacement

Alternator

Increased odds of its breaking at Christmas: 1.6x/1.3x

Signs the alternator belt or alternator needs replacing:

– A battery warning light has appeared on the dashboard
– The dashboard/interior lights are not as bright as usual
– The battery does not charge or has run flat
– A squealing or screeching sound comes from the engine

Why is it breaking and how do I extend its lifespan:

The alternator charges the car’s battery, which in turn powers all electricals. As such, it too takes additional strain in the colder months when more power is needed to run the vehicle. The first and major indication that something is wrong will be the sight of a small red battery sign on your dashboard. This warning light should illuminate when you switch the ignition on and then go out when the engine is running. Should this light become slow to extinguish, that could be a sure sign that the alternator is on its way out.

In essence, there is little that the general car owner can do to prolong the lifespan of an alternator. However, it is important to give it the best chance of working efficiently by avoiding deep water and ensuring that the belt which drives it is in good condition. Should you start to hear a “squeal” on start-up or when driving, the belt may require adjusting or even replacing.

5. Starter Motor Replacement

start motor

Increased odds of its breaking at Christmas: 1.3x

Signs the starter motor needs replacing:

– The engine does not start or you have issues making it start
– The starter motor makes more noise than usual when you start the engine
– You can hear a clicking noise when you turn the key

Why is it breaking and how do I extend its lifespan:

As the name suggests, the starter motor starts the car – which is known to be a common issue during the wintertime. This is because, in a colder climate, more energy is needed to turn the starter motor and power the engine, putting additional stress on both it and the battery.

The starter motor will, once again, wear with time, and as it is for all repairs in this list, it should be replaced as and when necessary in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. Like the alternator, there is little you can do to generally prolong the life of a starter motor. However, if your vehicle is reluctant to start, avoid continually trying to run the starter motor without giving it a chance to cool down. For guidance, you should only use the starter motor for 30 seconds and then let it cool for 30 seconds before re-trying it. You should also, once again, avoid deep water, ensure that your undertray is secure and check that your battery is in good condition to give it the best possible power source to use.

If you are unsure whether something is wrong with your car, speak to one of our experienced inhouse mechanics by using our free phone consultation service.

Happy driving!

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Road Safety Advice Every Driver Should Know

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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!