The Ultimate Guide To Buying A Used Car

If you’re looking to buy a used car, it’s important to make sure you are fully informed about the condition of the vehicle.

When Is The Right Time To Buy A Used Car?

If you’re looking at a car with a private seller rather than with a dealer there will always be less scope for a good deal. A private seller, after all, is only looking to sell his car and not to meet sales targets as dealers do. With a dealer, it may be easier to drive a hard bargain, especially in some particular parts of the year.

Car dealers have sales targets to meet, usually, these targets are based on a quarterly time frame. Dealers will often make an extra push for sales at the end of each quarter to hit the target or even break it. That means you can normally get the best deals towards the end of each quarter in March, June, September, and December. Make sure not to leave it too late, though, as dealers may have already hit their targets by then and will be less inclined to do a deal.

Also, use to your advantage times that are traditionally slow in terms of sales. Generally, dealers are more inclined to negotiate during summer holidays or around Christmas. During those times there will be less potential buyers around.

Also, bear in mind that there is an ideal time to buy certain cars. Whilst it is an appealing idea to jump on the bandwagon common knowledge is that autumn or winter is normally the time to get the best deal on a convertible. At this time sellers will find it much hard to sell these cars than in summer.

Discussing Other Benefits

If you’re buying from a dealer it’s worth pushing the salesman a bit further than the deals offered. For example, ask for any warranty and financing options available. It may just be that you could walk away with a much better deal than you thought! Just remember, dealers have sales targets to meet, and options will be available to them to help them sell more cars.

Walking Away

If you’re not happy with the deal offered, it might be good to retreat and simply walk away. If the deal just isn’t right it’s worth just leaving it and looking for another car. Just remember, if you can’t find another car you like, you can always return to the initial car. A seller may have changed their mind by then.

Of course, if the seller just fails to address any concerns raised about the condition of the car then chances are the seller wants to hide something on his car. In those cases, it’s good to just walk away, keep in mind that there are always other cars around.

Our 4 top tips to keep in mind before buying a used car:

  1. Keep your options open

    The first step is to research the resale prices for the car model you have in mind. Make sure you shop around and find a couple of cars of the same model for sale and arrange to view them. That way you can compare the condition of each of the cars and get a feel on whether they are worth the money. It’s a good idea to check a few cars, instead of going for the first car you see.

  2. Checking vehicle details

    The DVLA has a free online vehicle information checker. You’ll need the registration number of the vehicle to access this. The information provided should match the seller’s information. The checker will also provide past results of MOTs done in England, Scotland or Wales since 2005 where applicable.

  3. Take it for a test drive 

    Driving the car can help highlight problems that you would simply just not notice when the car is stationary. Strange noises like squeaks or clunks can indicate that there is something wrong with the car which usually warrants further inspection. Check our guide on test driving a used car for more tips on how to make the most of a test drive.

  4. Get a pre-purchase inspection

    Before you commit to buying the car, it is recommended that you have a pre-purchase inspection carried out by a professional. After all, it is a significant investment and you’d want to ensure you’re aware of any potential issues the vehicle might have. The technician will conduct a thorough, unbiased review of the vehicle’s condition and will help you understand if you’re getting good value for money.

ClickMechanic can help with a Pre-Purchase Inspection, with three different levels of inspection to suit your needs. A pre-purchase inspection report will be sent to you which thoroughly outlines the condition of the car so you can be confident you’re making the right purchase.

Once you’ve bought the car, what’s the best way to minimise the effects of depreciation?

Did you know that new cars can lose around 20% of their value in the first year after it was bought, and will lose around 50% of their initial value in the first three years of ownership? In fact, cars lose value the moment they’re driven off the dealer forecourt.

While there’s not much you can do to fully prevent depreciation as a car owner, however, there are a few ways you can maximise the resale value of your vehicle.

5 ways to minimise the effects of car depreciation

  1. Pay Attention to the Mileage

    One way to limit depreciation is to keep the mileage under the average miles per annum. The more miles you have on your odometer, the more likely it will be that it will depreciate in value.

  2. Clean Up

    Make it a part of your routine to keep your car clean which will prevent building up of grime and unpleasant odours inside the car. Keeping your car clean and tidy and in great condition will help limit depreciation.

  3. Avoid Non-Standard Modifications

    As exciting as an aftermarket body kit or a new set of aftermarket alloy wheels may sound, it can tend to narrow down the pool of potential buyers for your car in the future, making it harder to sell and most likely driving down its value.

  4. Maintain Your Car

    A full-service history gives potential buyers peace of mind. Remember to keep all your car documents including service records and receipts. The recommendation is that drivers should service their car every 12 months or every 12,000 miles. However, you should check your owner’s handbook for the vehicle and follow the advice it gives on servicing. At ClickMechanic, we provide three levels of servicing – an interim, full or major service.

  5. Research Before Selling

    If you’re looking to get the best price for your car, consider doing a bit of research to see what’s the best time to sell your car. For example, convertibles tend to be in higher demand during the summer months.

Book Your Pre-Purchase Inspection Now

Catalytic converter theft and how to prevent it

person under car

Did you know that catalytic converter thefts now account for 3-in-10 thefts from private vehicles in the UK? You might have noticed the spike in these thefts in recent local news updates. The thefts are generally due to the steep rise in prices of metals such as rhodium and palladium used in the production of catalytic converters.

ClickMechanic’s Mechanic in Residence team answers some of the most Googled questions by car owners about catalytic converter thefts:

Most Googled questions about catalytic converter thefts

  • What should I do if my catalytic converter has been stolen?

    • The first thing you should do is register the crime with the police, either via calling 101 or the online service. It’s also worth informing your insurance provider about the theft as it may be covered depending on the insurance policy. After that, if possible, take photos of the underside of the vehicle and the damage that has been caused during the theft.
    • Secondly, it can be that one or two exhaust sensors (known as Lambda sensors) have been stolen with the catalytic converter. These are screwed into the unit and these will need to be replaced as well. Make a note of any wires that are hanging down and relay this information to whoever you request a quote from.
    • In most cases, the repairs can be carried out by mobile mechanics, who, due to the volume of these thefts, are adept at carrying the work out “in situ”. Alternatively, you may need to arrange and pay for the recovery of the vehicle to a garage if you do not have cover for this in place so this cost needs to be taken into account.

  • Can you drive if the catalytic converter is stolen?

    The simple answer is no, you cannot. The catalytic converter is in front of the exhaust silencer, so the noise inside the car is not only deafening but also a major distraction to the driver. The other consideration is that the driver is knowingly using a vehicle on a public highway that would fail the emissions test (and the police can stop you, test this and fine you) and you may even get penalty points for driving a vehicle that emits a noise over 74db.

  • What cars are most targeted for catalytic converter theft?

    Any vehicle that has an underbody catalytic converter is at risk of theft. Cars such as the Honda Jazz, CR-V and Accord are particularly vulnerable along with some older BMW models and Toyota’s Prius and Auris.

  • Can you protect cars from catalytic converter theft?

    Whilst there are theft deterrent parts that can be applied to the vehicle, the majority of these only slow the thieves down by a short period of time, they can often lead to further damage repair work required on the vehicle. There is advice about parking in well-lit areas, areas with CCTV etc, however, the thieves expect this and are not put off by it. One thing that deters thieves is parking the car on a slope! This might sound a bit left field, but thieves do not like jacking a car up that is on an incline as it can easily move and come off the jack, trapping them underneath.

Some ways to prevent catalytic converter theft by (but not guaranteed!):

  • Parking closer to walls, other vehicles or close to the kerb, 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 tampered with.
  • Increased security measures, e.g. if possible park in a lockable garage, fencing, park in well-lit areas or CCTV.

If you’re looking to book a repair, ClickMechanic can help. To place a booking, head to our website and a trusted mechanic can carry out any work at a date and time of your choice.

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Happy driving!

Is Your Car’s Air Conditioning Ready For Summer?

Car air conditioning

With summer 2021 truly here chances are you’re going to reach out to turn on the air conditioning more often while driving. Whether you’re planning a weekend trip or even a routine grocery haul, we recommend checking your car’s air conditioning so you don’t get caught out struggling behind the wheel on a hot summer day.

To help keep you cool while driving during the summer months, we have launched a range of new air conditioning jobs. If you haven’t had your air conditioning checked this year, then now is probably the time.

Remember, most car manufacturers recommend that the air-con system is regassed (also known as a recharge) every 2 years. A regas can help ensure the system can perform optimally and can even help improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

  • Why carry out an air conditioning anti-bacterial clean & health check?

    Factors such as moisture, dust and other impurities in air-conditioning systems can encourage bacteria. Foul smells and poor air quality can aggravate allergies and infections. Doing an anti-bacterial clean of the air-conditioning system regularly not only reduces bad odours but also protects the health of your vehicle.

  • Do I need an air conditioning regas / recharge

    A tell-tale sign your car needs an air-con regas is if the air from the vents is blowing warm air or is not as cool as it used to be. Even if you don’t use it as often, air-con systems need regular servicing and maintenance. Most manufacturers recommend an aircon regas is carried out every two years, so if you can’t remember the last time you did it, it’s worth getting it regassed. Ultimately this can help improve the performance of the air-con system and can contribute to improving your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

  • How much does an air conditioning regas / recharge cost?

    ClickMechanic offers air conditioning regassing across the UK at a fixed price, which depends on whether your vehicle takes R134a refrigerant gas or the R1234yf refrigerant gas found on newer vehicles:

    • R134a regas: £69.99
    • R1234yf regas: £134.99

It’s super easy to book with ClickMechanic. Just tell us about your car, input your postcode and pick a time, date and location. You’ll get an instant fair price to book an air conditioning regas service by a vetted mechanic.

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7 Ways To Reduce Your Car’s Carbon Footprint

5 ways to reduce your car's carbon footprintWe can’t ignore the fact that all vehicles have an impact on the environment, big or small, petrol or diesel or even electric. Whilst we may not be able to immediately change the way we get around and switch to a greener alternative, there are a number of ways to limit your vehicle’s environmental impact.

We look at 10 things that can help reduce a vehicle’s impact on the environment.

  • Smoother driving

    Driving aggressively with sudden braking and rapid acceleration can decrease fuel economy, shorten replacement intervals for a number of parts and could cost you an extra £600 annually. Smoother driving is not only better for the environment but is also lighter on your pocket.

    Your driving style will have a massive influence on your car’s impact on the environment. It is common knowledge that the faster you drive, the more fuel you burn, however, many are unaware of how much of a difference slowing down can make. In fact, driving at 50 mph rather than 70 mph can improve fuel economy by 25%.

  • Don’t overload the vehicle

    Avoid overloading your vehicle when not needed. The heavier the car, the more fuel it will use.

  • Check your tyre pressure

    Research suggests that motorists in the UK are wasting £246 million a year on fuel by driving on dangerously under-inflated tyres! Under-inflated tyres can increase the vehicle’s rolling resistance and with it, fuel consumption as the engine (or electric motor) will need to work harder to maintain the car’s movement at a consistent speed. Having the correct tyre pressure is key to optimise rolling resistance and ensure less energy is wasted. Details of the required tyre pressures will be in your vehicle’s handbook, but can often be found on a sticker on the driver’s door or inside the fuel cap.

  • Switch off your air-con

    It may seem difficult to break this habit, particularly as we start to heat up for summer, but using the air con will force the engine to work harder and lead to higher fuel consumption.

    Try opening the windows as an alternative when driving at slow speeds; whilst this does cause drag, it will be more efficient than using your air-con. When you’re travelling on the motorway or above 60mph, use the air con and keep the windows closed to streamline the car more effectively.

  • Carpooling

    Carpooling is a great way to save money while also being a greener alternative. In addition to car-sharing services such as BlaBlaCar, carpooling with friends and neighbours can help reduce our carbon footprint. Government guidelines on car sharing during COVID can be found here.

  • Take the car for a service

    Maintaining your vehicle regularly is not only good practice for the safety of you and your family but can also be safer for the environment. Depending on the type of service, technicians will check and replace the fuel filter, spark plugs, air filter and fluids such as the engine oil that will significantly improve the performance of a car, overall fuel economy and lower the vehicle’s emissions.

With increased awareness about emissions and their impact on the environment, many car manufacturers are now advancing in green technology. Hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles are much more efficient and claim to produce lower carbon emissions. If you have an electric vehicle or are thinking about investing in one, it’s also important to consider the source of the power, i.e. if it is renewable and sustainable for the environment.

If you’re looking to book a service, ClickMechanic can help. We provide three levels of car service – interim, full and major service. To place a booking, head to our website and a trusted mechanic can carry out a service at your choice of time and date.

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How to make your tyres last longer

Tyre-Pressure

Tyres will wear out eventually – that’s a fact. But is there anything you can do to prolong the life of your car tyres?

Aside from being an important part of regular vehicle maintenance, it’s important to pay attention to your vehicle’s tyres for safety reasons, too. After all, they are what keep your vehicle moving and are the only point of contact between your vehicle and the road.

Here are our top tips that can help reduce tyre wear:

Top tips to make your tyres last longer

  • Tyre Pressure

    Regular checks on your tyre pressures will ensure that your vehicle’s tyres wear evenly as well as improve your fuel economy. Details of the required tyre pressures will be in your vehicle’s handbook, but can often be found on a sticker on the driver’s door or inside the fuel cap. Make sure you adjust the pressures if you are loading the car more than usual too (which will also be indicated in the tyre pressure information).

  • Wheel Alignment

    Front wheels that are incorrectly aligned can cause the tyres to scrub on the road surface and cause uneven wear across the tyre. It is advisable to get the alignment checked every time you have the front tyres changed. It’s also recommended to check wheel alignment after you have had any kind of suspension or steering work carried out or even after you have hit a large pothole.

  • Clutch Control

    Good control of the clutch is paramount to reducing tyre wear. Wheelspin will cause the tyres to literally grate the rubber off onto the road surface. It is also futile if you are looking to move off quickly as wheelspin will mean it will take longer to get up to speed than it would do with good clutch control.

  • Late Braking

    Good road anticipation goes a long way in reducing your tyre wear. Leaving braking to the last minute increases the chances of the wheels locking up and this, similar to wheelspin, will cause the tyre to grate against the road. Even if your vehicle is equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) it will still momentarily scrub the tyre against the road.

  • Cheap Tyres & Treadwear Rating

    Every tyre will have a Treadwear rating on the sidewall. This is often overlooked by people when buying tyres but it’s important to know that it could save you money long term. This rating will be between 60 and 620 – the higher the number, the longer it will last against the benchmark of 100. For example, a tyre with a rating of 400 will last 4 times longer than a tyre with a 100 rating. Cheaper tyres will generally have a lower rating so they will wear out quicker than a more expensive tyre with a higher rating.

And lastly, remember to check your tyre tread depth. It needs to be 1.6mm, which you can check using a 20p coin whose edge should be below the tread line. Driving a car with a defective tyre could land you with a £100 fine and three penalty points – per tyre! 

To place a booking for a tyre fitting head to our website and a vetted mechanic can carry out a repair at your choice of time and date.

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