How to make car travel COVID-safe

covid-safe car travel header image

Car travel right now looks a lot different than before. We all miss the weekend getaways and family trips, but until it is safe to do, we need to ensure we’re being responsible and staying safe.

With the whole of the UK in lockdown, according to the government guidelines, only travel for work and other exemptions are still allowed. Rules vary for different parts of the UK so make sure to check them before travelling.

If you do have to travel for essential trips we put together some tips to help you stay safer while travelling in a car.

Top tips to make travelling by car safer during COVID

  • Sanitize and clean:
    If you’re travelling in your own car, remember to regularly clean ‘high-touch’ surfaces that include the steering wheel, door handles, stereo controls, etc. Use a cleaner approved for the surface you’re cleaning, on a microfibre cloth to disinfect these surfaces. Sanitiser sprayed on a cloth can also be used to wipe down and sterilise the interior of your vehicle.Always remember to wash your hands for 20 seconds before and after your journey to reduce the risk of catching the virus. Pro tip: the chorus of Jolene by Dolly Parton is the perfect 20-second hand washing reference!
  • Space out and mask up:
    A car is a small space so we might forget to keep distance when travelling in a car. When travelling in a taxi, avoid sitting on the front seat and opt for the seat diagonal to the driver’s seat instead. And of course, when you’re not in your own car, always use a face covering.

  • Check if your car is safe to drive:
    If you haven’t been using your car as often due to the lockdown, it is important to ensure your vehicle is safe and roadworthy before you drive. Most car breakdowns can be prevented with basic vehicle checks.  Here are five essential car checks you can do.

Keeping in mind government guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we offer contact-free car repair services to keep you (and mechanics) safe at this time.

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Have you checked up on your battery?

We’re in the fourth week of national lockdown which means most of us are keeping safe by staying home more. That will likely mean you are not using your car as often, or only making short journeys. This can in turn mean that your car battery is not being charged regularly and fully, increasing the potential for damage to your battery. Batteries do not like being left discharged as it damages them and reduces the storage capacity.

SIGNS YOUR CAR BATTERY MIGHT NEED REPLACING

  • Engine is beginning to turn over more slowly on startup
    When a battery becomes weak, the actual power it has to turn the engine (known as cold crank performance (Amps) or CCA for short) drops down and that will manifest itself in the engine turning over slower than before when the start is initiated.
  • Rapid clicking sound on startup and the engine not turning
    This is a sure-fire sign of battery deterioration. The battery has enough power to fire the starter motor solenoid, but not enough to actually turn the engine.

BATTERY TESTING

Whilst a battery may show 12v+ if tested with a multimeter, it’s the actual power that is important. Battery power is measured in Ah, which is why the label will clearly state the Ah figure and in most cases another figure as just ###A. This is the figure of the CCA and indicates how the battery will perform in cold start conditions. A higher figure indicates the battery will turn the engine quicker and for longer until the engine starts.

A battery with dead cells or poor power capacity will often charge quickly, however that is because only a small percentage of the storage is actually being recharged. So it will show 12v as mentioned, but the actual power is diminished and the battery requires replacing.

battery top

For further information on batteries, please visit https://www.clickmechanic.com/help/articles/285/battery-replacement

If you’re not sure if your battery needs replacing or not, then our in-house mechanic team can help. Submit our technical assistance form with a brief description of the problem and your details.

We’re also offering priority bookings for key workers at this time.

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4 easy steps to defrost your car windscreen

A recent TikTok video went viral showing a person using boiling water in a bag to defrost a windscreen. While this may seem like a quick hack, it can prove to be dangerous and may lead to cracking of the windscreen.

So before you make that essential trip to stock up on some groceries, here are some helpful tips to safely defrost your windscreen:

  1. Before starting your vehicle make sure your wipers are turned off, as they may be stuck to the windscreen
  2. Start up the engine and use the interior heater blower to warm up the windscreen from inside, it will help to slowly but safely defrost the windscreen. If you have them, also turn on the rear window heater and heated mirrors to help defrost the rear window and mirrors.
  3. Clear any snow off your car with a soft brush, then use an ice scraper and de-icer to remove the frost from the windscreen and windows on the outside as the heater warms up the windows from the inside.
  4. Wait until all the frost and mist has cleared before setting off.

And remember:

  • Avoid using any sharp objects such as credit cards to remove the frost which could cause damage to the glass. Always keep a dedicated car ice scraper to de-ice! Do NOT use hot or boiling water to defrost your windscreen or windows, it could crack the glass!
  • If you know you’re going to use the car the next day on a cold night, cover the windscreen with a dedicated windscreen frost protector.
  • Do not leave your car running unattended to keep your car safe from thieves.

If you have any concern that there may be something wrong with your car, then our in-house mechanic team can help. Submit our technical assistance form with a brief description of the problem and your details.

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Do you have these winter essentials in your car?

You’ve probably brought out your favourite pair of gloves and your best winter hat but what about your car? With a drop in temperature, you and your car need a bit of extra care during winters too. Here are a few winter essentials you should consider keeping in your car during winter:

  • Ice scraper:
    This one’s a must-have! Even in temperatures above freezing, the surface of your car can develop frost. With an ice scraper, it’s important to clear the windscreen thoroughly before driving to aid visibility. Also, it should help ensure your wipers don’t wear out quickly. Keeping a snow brush handy is a good idea, too.
  • Screenwash:
    It’s worthwhile checking and replacing your screenwash if needed – this acts as an antifreeze agent for the wash wipe system. If there are frosty conditions then de-icing the windows is the first thing to do before setting off. Keeping your windows clean whilst driving is the second step. To do that it is worth ensuring your screenwash is topped up.
  • Power bank charger:
    You don’t want to be left stranded without a working phone! Ideally, you’ll always have a car charger handy, but having a power bank in your car is beneficial in case you can’t use the USB or charging port.
  • Water and non-perishable snacks:
    It’s always a good idea to keep some snacks in your car. Especially during unpredictable weather conditions that might cause a delay.
  • Warm blanket:
    Temperatures this time of year can drop below freezing so it’s smart to store a blanket in the boot, especially if you’re planning long trips. In the event your car breaks down, you have something to keep you warm until help arrives.

If you’re unsure your car is ready for winter conditions then get a Vehicle Health Check or a Service to get your car ready for the weather coming up. Checking the battery, fluids, wipers and tyres is critical during these colder months of the year.

If you want to book a serviceit’s super simple; select your car, fill in your postcode and we’ll provide you with an instant price.

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Should you panic if your engine warning light is on?

Header image for blogYou’ve probably seen the engine warning light, commonly known as ‘check engine light’, light up on your dashboard on at least one occasion. So what next? More often than not, you don’t need to panic, but it is definitely a sign to get your car checked.

 

What is the Engine Management Light (EML) and why is it there?

Think of your car as a computer on wheels – running complex technology to ensure you have a smooth and safe driving experience. The EML light is connected to the Engine Control Unit (ECU) to alert you if there are any issues with the engine efficiency of your car.

Is it safe to continue driving your car if the warning light is on?

If the light comes on while you are driving, the best thing to do is pull over when it is safe to do so. Whilst the majority of engine management warning lights will not mean an immediate repair is required, should you decide to continue on with your journey, you need to exercise caution in doing so. You may find that your car has limited performance, generally referred to as “limp home mode” which allows you enough power to get to a safe location. Make sure to get any issues checked by a professional as soon as possible as it could lead to more serious and expensive damage to your car.

What happens during an EML diagnostic?

The mechanic will go through the diagnostic error codes and read live data to pinpoint the cause(s) of the warning light. If it is an intermittent fault they may be able to extinguish the light, clear the error code and it will not return. If the cause of the issue requires additional work and parts, the mechanic will provide you with a quotation and a detailed description of the fault(s).

If you are not sure what is wrong with your car, then our in-house mechanic team can help. Submit our technical assistance form with a brief description of the problem and your details.

If you want to book a diagnostic inspection, it’s super simple; just tell us about your car and fill in your postcode and we’ll provide you with an instant price.

 

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Top Tips For Travelling By Car This Summer

How to get ready for summer travel

2020 has been a rollercoaster year so far. But the summer isn’t over yet and most of us are still trying to make the most of it. With many international travel restrictions still in effect, summer travel this year will be very different for many of us. Domestic travel by road this summer is looking like a great option to consider.

Before you head off for a road trip, here are some top tips to keep in mind:

Pre-Travel

  • Packing up all your summer road trip essentials
    Besides your favourite summer hat, make sure you pack things that will come in handy. Some essentials include a roadside emergency kit and first aid kit, reusable bottles of water and snacks, sunscreen and most importantly a playlist that includes all your favourite road trip sing-alongs.
  • Is your car ready for a summer road trip? 
    If your vehicle hasn’t been used to any great extent recently, it is recommended to do a thorough checkup of your vehicle in advance and get any issues fixed prior to traveling. Check our 6 car checks you can do yourself here.
  • COVID-19 precautions you can take
    Once you decide your destination, do your research about local guidelines and policies. Some beaches and tourist locations have rules in place to ensure the safety of both the locals as well as tourists.Along with the mandated face mask, it’s advisable to carry sufficient hand sanitiser, disinfectant wipes and sprays.

During Your Travel

  • Social Distancing
    With COVID-19 still being a significant threat to our health, it’s important to maintain social distancing especially at high touchpoint areas such as petrol stations, garages or even convenience stores.
  • Sanitising
    Use that hand sanitiser you carried if you come in contact with any public space. When you re-enter or exit your vehicle, it is advisable to sanitise or wash your hands for 20 seconds whenever possible.
  • Eating out
    If you are to dining out, make sure you double down on the preventative measures and take all the precautions needed to protect yourself and the people you interact with. The government has provided more guidance for your journey here.

Once You’re back home

  • Clean Up
    Or even better, do a deep clean! Make sure you separate your clothes for laundry and hop into the shower. Disinfect your car and any other surfaces such as luggage, picnic baskets, coolers, etc.

At ClickMechanic, we offer contact-free car servicing & repairs to help keep customers and mechanics safe. If you are concerned that your vehicle may not be ready to drive or if you are not sure what is wrong with your car then place a booking online for our 28-point Vehicle Health Check.

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Contact-Free Car Care: Everything We Offer at ClickMechanic

At Clickmechanic one thing most of our customers have in common is that they normally have an amazing experience leading to our excellent 4.7 out of 5 ratings on Trustpilot. Right from the start, with every booking, we’ve improved the booking experience and continue to add more services to cater to a wide variety of car care needs.

Any booking placed through ClickMechanic remains “contact-free”, to aid with the government recommended social distancing. Here’s what ClickMechanic can do for you to keep you on the road and moving:

Repairs

Whether you need a new clutch, cambelt, battery or brake pads, our quoting engine will give you an instant upfront price based on industry standard data. Simply place your booking online and opt for a vetted mechanic to come to you to do the work at your home or collect & deliver the car for free.

Diagnose and fix

Car won’t start? Unusual noises from your car? As we understand that sometimes it’s difficult to determine what is wrong with your vehicle we’d recommend booking a FREE phone consultation with one of our experienced in-house mechanics. 70% of issues can be diagnosed over the phone, so you can get booked in for the required repair. Alternatively, you can book a diagnostic inspection on our site.

Servicing & MOT

MOTs due on or after 1 August will once again be mandatory in England, Wales and Scotland, when the government’s 6-month MOT extension scheme comes to an end. Book your MOT with collection and delivery for only £25 when you book a service at the same time.

Tyre Fitting

Checking tyre tread depth periodically and ensuring the legal minimum depth has not been exceeded can help you stay safe and avoid hefty fines (up to £2500 per tyre!). If your tyres do need replacing, we can help with a tyre fitting service at home to get your car’s tyres replaced right on your driveway!

Pre-purchase inspections

As 1 in 6 used cars needs over £500 in repairs, getting a car checked over by a mechanic prior to buying can give the all-important peace of mind that you are not buying a dud. We can help you buy a used car with confidence, book a vetted mechanic to carry out a mechanical inspection at the seller’s location, starting from only £49.74. Three inspection levels are available to suit your needs:

  • Basic – 72-point inspection
  • Standard – 105-point inspection
  • Premium – 143-point inspection

If you are concerned that your vehicle may have become unsafe, unreliable or something has happened to it, book a FREE phone consultation with one of our experienced in-house mechanics or place a booking online for our contact-free mobile mechanic service.

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2/3 of UK Drivers Have Never Attempted a Self-Repair on Their Car!

Our latest research has revealed that two thirds of UK drivers have never attempted a self-repair on their car. In fact, 64% of motorists in total have not tried their hand at car repairs. Of those which have, 12% have regretted at least one experience, whereas 23% are happy with their handiwork. As such, just looking at those who have attempted a repair, one third of the work is regretted with the driver wishing they had hired a mechanic instead. This apparent lack of confidence in car repairs emphasises the increasing demand for mechanics, and the low success rate of those which attempt a repair stresses the need to hire a professional, should the motorist feel uncertain of the process.

Comparing genders, women are much more likely to avoid repairing the car themselves; 82% admit to never dealing with a fault, as opposed to 48% of men. However, while a smaller percentage of women have attempted a repair, they are slightly more likely to be pleased with the results as the 5% which regret their actions makes up for a lower proportion of those which have made repairs (28%) compared to the 18% (35%) of men.

In terms of age, the older generation are less likely to try their hand at car repairs; 70% of those aged over 55 have avoided the task, compared to 63% of those aged between 35-54 and 58% of those aged 18-34. That being said, younger drivers are more than twice as likely to regret a repair when compared to their elders. Looking only at those who attempted a repair, the 24% which are aged between 18-34 and regret the work is much higher proportionally speaking (57%), than the 8% of the alternative age groups (equates to 22% for 35-54-year-olds and 27% for those over 55).

Location-wise, Birmingham has the highest percentage of regretful mechanics as, with 20%, 1 in 5 drivers regret a self-repair and wish they had hired a professional instead. In contrast, Liverpool drivers appear to be the most competent when it comes to repairs as 41% of all motorists have attempted a repair with pleasing results. Looking at the capital, the survey results are fairly reflective of the overall total; only a third of drivers have tried their hand at repairs with 15% of all motorists (or 44% in terms of those which have only made repairs) regretting the outcome on at least one occasion.

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “Due to the complexity of modern car design, more and more motorists are less confident when it comes to the mechanics. While one third of UK motorists have attempted a repair, a third of those admit to regretting the results, which emphasises the advanced skill set and knowledge now needed – even for everyday jobs. Car mechanics can still be learned, yet the engineering is not as simple as it used to be; if you feel unsure of a repair, use ClickMechanic to find a professional for you rather than facing a more expensive bill down the line.”

ClickMechanic Introduces Machine Learning to Offer Precision in Car Repair Costs

We’re pleased to announce the introduction of machine learning in ClickMechanic’s quote engine. This addition advances the capabilities of the booking system, making it the first of its kind in the industry. It allows it to generate a previously untapped depth of quotes with distinct accuracy.

ClickMechanic’s quote engine provides instant, industry-standard fixed price quotes for car repairs. It combines car repair times with industry standard labour prices and industry parts prices to produce an accurate figure of cost for any repair. Previously, deficiencies in the data sets, such as miscellaneous missing pieces of information, limited the engine from performing at its best in some instances. However, with the introduction of machine learning algorithms, ClickMechanic can now ensure that these gaps are filled with highly accurate estimates based on the existing data. This allows the booking system to produce quotes for a much wider variety of jobs with even greater accuracy, meaning mechanics no longer need to resort to guesswork if the data is unavailable to them.

This solution offers a newfound level of precision and capability in car repair costs and enables customers to get the utmost out of their car repairs. It is shaping how drivers find and book the best mechanic for the best price. Being acknowledged as a development which has the potential to transform the industry itself, ClickMechanic was awarded the highly competitive Open Competition grant from the UK’s innovation agency recently to support the project. The introduction of machine learning has also been a major influence in the 5 awards we received over the last quarter in 2017 including: Young Company of the Year at the Amazon Growing Business Awards, Product of the Year at the V3 Technology Awards and the Product Innovation Award at the Workshop Power Awards.

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “Here at ClickMechanic, we pride ourselves on offering car owners the most reliable and best-value prices possible for car repairs. We are naturally very excited to implement machine learning algorithms, as it brings our product forward by leaps and bounds; reinforcing its position as a market leader. This advanced accuracy and precise quoting will support us immensely in our objective of bringing trust, transparency and convenience to the car repair marketplace.”