Tips On Keeping Your Car Safe

Whatever car you drive, whether it is a top of the range Mercedes or perhaps a more modest make and model, all owners want to keep their vehicles as safe as possible. Here are some tips on doing just that brought to you by the MOT Chelmsford blog.

1. Lock your car and close all the windows every time you leave it. Although this may sound obvious, statistics show that an alarming number of drivers do not do this. You should always remove the keys from the ignition. Failure to do so could render your insurance invalid.

2. Do not leave anything on show in your car. Even an old jacket or loose change can attract thieves looking for a smash and grab victim. Take valuables with you or lock them out of view in the boot. Satellite navigation equipment has become particularly sought after so always remove along with the cradle. Remember also to wipe suction pad marks from the windscreen.

3. When driving always keep your car doors locked and if you have an expensive car be aware of your surroundings. Drivers need not have any safety issue with locking themselves in, since if airbags are deployed in a collision the car will unlock automatically anyway.

4. Over 40% of car crime in the UK involves vehicles parked on the street outside their owners’ homes, so it is always advisable to use your garage if you have one. Alternatively, try to park in a well lit, open area. Away from home, look for police-approved public car parks displaying the Park Mark sign.

5. Cars are currently stolen in 6% of domestic burglaries. So it is important not to make it easy for the thieves. Always keep your car and house keys separate and never leave your keys by a door or a window. Put keys away in a drawer and hide your spare set. And finally, always keep your doors locked.
We hope you find one or two of these tips useful and thank you for visiting the MOT Chelmsford blog.

Tips On Dealing With Road Rage

This is one of a series of articles provided by the MOT Chelmsford blog.
The majority of drivers want to get to their destination as safely as possible, without unnecessary delays. Obviously, achieving this is down in a large part as to how we drive and behave on the roads. On the whole, most drivers are civil and take care to make sure that they and their fellow road users have a safe journey. Unfortunately, most people these days will have heard of road rage and the sometimes tragic results it can have.
In a society where many people are in a hurry, the road can become a place that is fraught with problems. Aggressive driving, tailgating, speeding and dangerous overtaking can become par for the course. If you find yourself in a situation where someone close by is driving dangerously, has taken exception to the way you are driving, or is behaving in an aggressive manner towards you, it may well come down to how you respond and the actions you take that make all the difference between a pleasant or unpleasant outcome.
If you are driving and you notice that someone near you is driving irrationally or in an aggressive manner, you should try and stay away from the situation. If the person is behind you, slow down to allow them to overtake. If need be, pull over to let this happen. By simply avoiding a potential situation, you significantly reduce the risk of conflict.
If you find that someone's driving is impeding yours, try not to use your horn unless absolutely necessary as this can be seen as antagonistic.
Try not to create a situation yourself. Always try and give other drivers plenty of space – don't drive too closely to people or make sudden manoeuvres as this can lead to accidents or near-accidents that may provoke another driver. If you do make an error, immediately raise your hand and acknowledge to the other driver that it was your fault – this will hopefully pacify them and can help avoid a problem.
If you do find yourself involved in an incident and another driver is being deliberately aggressive toward you, try to avoid eye contact as this may encourage/enrage them – and don't make obscene gestures, even if you are tempted to do so. If you believe that they are pursuing you or are endangering you, make your way to a police station – if they realise that you are doing this, they will most likely drive away. Never drive home if you think you are being followed or are in danger as it will show the person where you live.
If you find yourself in a situation where a driver has got out of his or her car and is approaching you, remain in your car and make sure your windows are up and your doors are locked. If possible, you should try to drive yourself safely from the situation – perhaps to a police station as indicated above or at least to a crowded area.
However, if this is not possible and you find yourself face to face with the other driver, always try and be polite and courteous – even if the other driver isn't. Do not respond to abuse or threats. If you feel that you are physically in danger then call the police immediately.
Thank you for visiting the MOT Chelmsford blog.

Tips On Renewing Your Car Insurance

This is one of a series of articles provided by the MOT Chelmsford blog.
As a responsible, legal driver it happens to us all. Every year a letter arrives from your car insurer informing you of the renewal date and your car insurance premium for the coming year. In most cases, your insurer will make life really easy for you and you will be required to do absolutely nothing. Your insurer will automatically renew your policy for another year and simply debit your payment card or continue to take monthly instalments from your bank.

Unfortunately, if this scenario sounds familiar and you are one of the many drivers that allows this to happen you are almost certainly going to pay a price this easy option. The simple fact is that if you let your car insurance renewal pass by without looking for a better deal you could be paying far more than you need to.

Broadly speaking, most car insurers do not reward you for being a loyal customer. Instead, they concentrate their efforts on offering discounts to attract new customers. They then increase the premium the following year to make a profit. This is why you are likely to find that your renewal quote is more expensive than your original premium.

In today’s market place there is little excuse to not shop around for a better deal. There are a number of price comparison websites that can be used to search for an improved quote. Consider though, that a cheaper policy may not provide the same cover as your current insurer. For example, there may be a higher excess or your insurance cover may be limited. For this reason, it is essential to compare policies on a like for like basis and ensure that the policy covers you for the things that you consider important. In short, it is not a question of simply going for the cheapest.

Car security is also factor that will affect your insurance premium. Most insurers will offer a discount if you can park your car on a driveway or better still, in a garage, rather than on the road. Fitting an approved alarm, immobiliser or tracking device could also see further savings.

If you can afford to do so you should always try to pay the full amount for your premium upfront. Avoid monthly payments if you possibly can as some insurers are likely to charge between 10%-20% or even more for this service.

Finally, if you do find a new insurer offering a better deal be sure to inform your previous insurer that you wish to cancel your policy as you do not want end up paying for your car insurance twice.
Thank you for visiting the MOT Chelmsford blog.

How To Change A Flat Tyre

The following video provides all the information you need to change a flat tyre with a jack. The video is provided by a car enthusiast in the USA but obviously all the tips and advice are applicable for the UK.

Tips On Preventing Car Vandalism

This is one of a series of articles provided by the MOT Chelmsford blog.
According to recent research into car vandalism around 25% of motorists have had their vehicle vandalised within the last year. Returning to your car to find it has been keyed, the aerial has been snapped off or, that the window or the lights have been smashed can be a very annoying and upsetting experience.
Added to this is the stress and cost of getting the damage repaired. If your car is covered by a comprehensive car insurance policy vandalism cover may be covered. A third party, fire and theft policy will leave you having to meet the cost of the damage.
The research into car vandalism also highlighted the fact that more than half of all motorists who had experienced car vandalism did not report the crime to the police as they felt the authorities would not act.
Even if you have doubts about the Police’s ability to catch the vandals, you will need a crime reference number to make a claim on your car insurance policy, so make sure you report any incidents as soon as possible.
There are, of course, some basic precautions to take to help avoid your car being vandalised. Simple procedures, such as using your garage or driveway, if you have one, and always trying to park in well-lit areas, make a big difference. In addition, you should make sure any car parks you use have good lighting and are well supervised. Look for a car park that is part of the Police approved Safer Parking Scheme and displays the associated Park Mark symbol. Some car parks also have 'Secure Car Park' accreditation, so look for the sign.
Another good thing to do is to tuck in wing mirrors and put the aerial down to avoid attracting opportunistic, mindless vandalism.
As well as these simple precautions, an effective way to reduce vandalism in your area is to join a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.Over 165,000 schemes are now established throughout the UK, covering up to 25% of all households, making it the largest voluntary organisation in the UK.
If there is no Neighbourhood Watch established on your street, then why not set one up? Contact the NNWA who will help you. A Neighbourhood Watch scheme creates a partnership between the local community, the Police and the Local Authority, which can lead to improved anti-vandalism measures being taken, such as installing better street lighting, or increased Police patrols if needed.
A Neighbourhood Watch scheme also encourages people in the area to report crimes if they witness them, leading to higher conviction rates and providing a better deterrent. By taking these precautionary measures, you could reduce the risk of your car being vandalised.
Thank you for visiting the MOT Chelmsford blog.

How To Change The Oil In Your Car

This is a part of a series of articles provided by the MOT Chelmsford blog.

To many motorists changing the oil in their car is best left to the garage when it needs a service but in reality the task is not as difficult as you might think. First though, it is worth describing what the oil in a car actually does. Basically, it has five functions.

1. Lubrication - An oil film helps keep moving parts from coming into direct contact. This also reduces the amount of energy consumed.

2. Cleaning - The oil traps impurities such as dust and combustion residues which are then deposited in the oil filter. This helps keep the engine clean from build-up.

3. Cooling The Engine - The oil helps to cool the engine parts by dispersing the heat caused by friction.

4. Keeping Water Out - The film of oil helps keep water out. The pistons need good water-tightness for optimum compression and to maintain engine power.

5. Protection Against Rust  - The oil protects internal engine surfaces from rust that occurs from water and combustion acids.

Most car manufacturers advise changing your car oil about every 6,000 miles for normal service but you should check your car manual for the requirements of your particular make of vehicle. This ensures that you always have the optimum levels of oil in your car to do the jobs described above. Too little oil and parts can scrape together with potentially dire consequences. Too much oil and it could spill over. Your filter also needs checking to remove any particles that have built up. Your car should have a dashboard light that comes on if your oil levels are low. Pay attention to this as it could mean that oil is leaking.

You can get your car oil changed professionally by a mechanic at a garage but if you want to save money - why not do it yourself. You should first check your manual so you know where the various parts are. You can then change the oil in four basic steps.

1. Draining The Oil - Almost all cars have space beneath to reach under and change the engine oil but first make sure your engine is turned off and is cool enough to handle. Modern engines run at around 150ÂșC and hot oil can give you a severe burn. Search and locate your drain plug, place a container underneath it and remove the plug in an anti-clockwise direction. You may need an oil filter wrench to do this. When the oil has stopped draining, replace the plug clockwise.

2. Replacing The Filter - Move the oil-catching container under the oil filter. Use the wrench to remove the filter. Then put a thin coat of oil over the new filter and refit. Pay close attention to the instructions as you do not want it to be too loose as the oil could leak out or so tight that you can’t remove it.

3. Adding The New Oil - Locate the oil filler cap and use a funnel to gently pour in the oil. Again check your car manual for how much oil you need. Most have a capacity of 4.5 or 5.5 litres. If you don’t know how much to use, add 4.5 litres, check the oil level and add a bit more if it is too low. Replace the oil filler cap.

4. Checking It Works - Start the engine and make sure that the oil warning light goes off. Look under the car to ensure there are no leaks. Turn off the engine and let it rest. This allows oil to drain down to the crankcase. Then check the oil with a dipstick by inserting it all the way into the oil tank. Remove it after a few seconds to see how far up the oil has covered. Most dipsticks have a ‘minimum’ and ‘maximum’ mark to check by.

Thank you for visiting the MOT Chelmsford blog.

Tips On Selling Your Car

This is a part of a series of articles provided by the MOT Chelmsford blog.

When you have decided you want to sell your car, the first thing you will need to know is the value of your car. There are a number of ways you can find out, including magazines, local newspapers and online. There are several website where you can receive an instant free valuation just by providing a few basic details about you car such as its make, model and year. Car advertisements in your local newspaper will also give you a guide as to how much a car like yours  are selling for. 

If you are going to sell your car privately, you are almost certainly going to get a better price than selling it to a dealer. After all, a dealer has to be confident that he will be able to sell it on for a profit, so he is sure to offer you less than your car is really worth. That said, you should bear in mind that selling your car yourself will take more of your own time and be more of a hassle than selling it to a dealer.  Another option, is to sell it at a car auction where you will have to pay a commission on the sale price your car fetches.

Before selling your car get it into the best possible condition both on the outside and the interior. A professional clean might well give you the edge over other similar cars being advertised for sale in your area. Make sure the tyre pressure is correct and check the oil and screen wash. 

When advertising  your car give as much detail as possible. Whether online or in the local newspaper, list the make, year, model and style including how many doors it has. You should also include the mileage, colour and engine size. 

Always mention any extras your car has that will be popular with potential buyers, such as power steering, air conditioning, four-wheel drive, in-car entertainment system, sun roof etc. Why not also put a For Sale notice on the car itself remembering to include your phone number so that anyone who is interested knows how to contact you. 

Be sure to emphasise the best features of the car. If it has a low mileage, say so. Point out if it is particularly reliable or very economical on fuel. Think back to what attracted you to the car when you bought it. The chances are that the same features will make it attractive now. 

When it comes to the actual sale always have an absolute lowest price in mind and keep to it. You may have to negotiate to a degree but never go below what you really want. 

When accepting payment for your car, cash is usually the best option. In addition, a bank or building society draft is a reasonable alternative as it is as good as cash and can only be issued if the buyer has enough money in his account. If you do have to accept a cheque, do not part with your car until the cheque has cleared. Any genuine buyer will accept having to wait a few extra days.

Thank you for visiting the MOT Chelmsford blog.

How To Use Jump Leads Safely

The following video provides all the essential information you need to start a dead battery with jump leads safely. It is produced by a car enthusiast in the USA but obviously all the tips and information are applicable in the UK.

Tips On saving On Your Petrol Bill

This is a part of a series of articles provided by the MOT Chelmsford blog.

Nearly all drivers could make big savings on the cost of fuel by making small changes to their vehicle. In the latest RAC research, they have discovered that someone who averages 35 miles per gallon could increase this to 40 mpg by driving more efficiently. That is a saving of 15%.

Keep You Tyres Inflated
Lower tyre pressure increases the drag on your vehicle meaning you need more fuel to run it so it is important to regularly check your tyre pressures are correct.

Declutter Your Vehicle
The lighter your vehicle is, the less fuel it needs to accelerate. By clearing junk from the boot and generally making your vehicle lighter is going to help you make savings.

Remove The Roof Rack
Even an unused roof rack causes considerable wind resistance to a vehicle, increasing the drag and as a result making the engine work harder. So if you don’t need it – take it off.

Don’t Fill Up
Petrol and diesel are heavy so by filling your tank up you increase the weight of your vehicle.  The less fuel you vehicle has in it, the more efficiently it drives. So why not, just fill the tank half way. This is another way you can save on fuel costs.

Turn Off The Air Con.
Air conditioning uses an awful lot of fuel so unless you really need it why not switch it off. However, if it is very hot you may as well stick with the air conditioning as it will be more cost effective than having all the windows open as this will cause extra drag on the vehicle.

Drive Sensibly
Remember, every time you put your foot on the accelerator, the harder you press, the more fuel you use. So when you want to speed up, do so smoothly and always in the correct gear. i.e the highest gear possible without labouring the engine. A good rule of thumb is to stay below 3000 revs.
When slowing down, do so naturally without excessive use of the brakes. This will take advantage of the vehicles stored momentum and will again add to your efforts to save on fuel.

Thank you for visiting the MOT Chelmsford blog.

Tips On Removing A Scratch From Your Car

It is always very annoying to find scratches on your car. In many instances they are caused by a key or a wayward shopping trolley. Whatever the reason, not all scratches need to cost you the earth to repair.

Whilst the video below is recorded by a car maintenance enthusiast in the USA, the principles are, of course, the same wherever you are in the world. Please take a look at how a scratch can be simply removed by using a quality polishing compound you can buy cheaply in DIY and car related stores everywhere.

Thank you for visiting the MOT Chelmsford blog.

Light Maintenance Tips For Your Car

This is a part of a series of articles provided by the MOT Chelmsford blog.

Did you know that lights are an important part of the MOT of your car and can potentially fail it? Here are some tips how you can prevent this from happening through some quick and simple maintenance.

Lights are a good example of something that can let a car down and even make it fail its MOT. Failing an MOT because of a dodgy light bulb is easily preventable.

The way to make sure that your bulbs are working at all times is quite simply to check them often. Most motoring organisations recommend checking them every week.

Look for bulbs including the brake lights, headlamps, parking lights and fog lamps which are not working or are incorrectly angled. The front headlights should point down and to the left, so that they do not dazzle drivers who are coming towards you. Get this angle wrong and the result is as bad as having a lamp that does not work it will fail the MOT. Check your car manual to find out how to alter these angles.

Exactly how you replace a bulb will depend on the make and model of your car, but you should be able to get spare bulbs easily either online or in a shop. It is a good idea to carry a set in the car just in case something goes wrong that would render your car unroadworthy.

If only one lamp goes wrong, then you simply need to replace the correct bulb. If, though, a number of them go within a short space of time it is almost certainly worth visiting a garage (or the dealer if it is a new car) to see whether there is an underlying electrical problem. If there is, it’s always advisable to get an expert to handle the repair.

Finally, remember that if you’re going to a country where they drive on the right, you’ll need to change the angle of your dipped headlamps so that they shine to the right And, of course, remember to change them back when you return.

Thank you for visiting the MOT Chelmsford blog.

How To Change A Wheel

This is a part of a series of articles provided by the MOT Chelmsford blog.

You never know when you might get a tyre puncture on your travels. Before addressing the mechanics of changing a tyre it is worth mentioning some important points for getting to the side of the road safely should you have the misfortune of getting a puncture whilst driving on the road.

First of all try not to panic. It is important to keep a clear head and stay calm. Slowly take your foot off the accelerator, steering gently, and let the car slow to a stop. Avoid any sudden braking.

Before changing the tyre you should ensure that you are parked on firm, flat ground and ideally away from any traffic. If this is not the case you should attempt to drive to a more suitable spot but only if this is safe to do so. Now turn the engine off and put your hazard warning lights on. Check that the handbrake is on and put the car into first gear (or park mode on an automatic). You are now ready to change the tyre.

1. Find the spare tyre, the jack and the wheel wrench. These are in the boot of most cars. You may find instructions on the jack or somewhere near where you have located it. Read these carefully as they will tell you where to jack the vehicle.

2. Remove the hubcap or wheel cover. Then with the wheel wrench loosen the wheel nuts by turning the wrench to the left or anti-clockwise. It is important not to completely remove the nuts at this stage. As soon as the first wheel nut begins to loosen, go on to the next one and so on. The weight of the car will prevent the wheel from turning so you will be able to apply ample force to the nuts.

3. Ideally you should be able to locate the jacking points on the car by reading the owners manual or the instructions on the jack. Most cars will have a solid, reinforced area where the jack can be placed. Before jacking, it is important to ensure that the jack is on firm, level ground. You are now ready to start jacking. Remember to take it slowly and only raise the car as high as you need to get the wheel completely off the ground.

4. Now that the wheel  is off the ground you can now  remove the wheel nuts. Use the wrench or your fingers to remove the nuts. Slowly take the wheel off and place it to one side.

5. The new wheel is now ready to go on the car. Tighten the wheel nuts as tight as you can without the wheel moving. You can fully tighten the nuts when the wheel is back on the ground and off the jack.

6. Slowly lower the car down off of the jack. Take the wheel wrench and tighten the wheel nuts until they are all tight. Finally replace the wheel cover and return the jack, wheel wrench and punctured tyre to the boot.
Finally, don’t forget to have your puncture fixed as soon as possible so the tyre can act as your new spare.

Thank you for visiting the MOT Chelmsford blog.

Tips On Using Jump Leads Safely

This is a part of a series of articles provided by the MOT Chelmsford blog.

If you are a car owner, there are few worse things than getting into your vehicle when you are planning on going somewhere, only to find that the battery is dead and it will not start. This can be anything from a minor inconvenience to a major issue, especially if you have to be somewhere in a hurry.

Of course, if you have a set of jump leads, then it is possible that you can get yourself on the road pretty quickly. However, according to industry research less than half of motorists know how to use their jump leads safely.

Safety first

Before attempting to start your car going with jump leads, you need to follow some simple, but exceptionally important safety rules:

Check your vehicles handbook. While there are general rules for jump starting engines, some models have very specific procedures  and you should follow those under all circumstances.

While you are getting ready to jump start your vehicle, make sure you keep all metal objects away from the battery as this could create unnecessary sparks and could, in some circumstances, explode the battery. So be careful of watches, rings, tools or stray wires.

Make sure your jump leads are in good working order. If they are in any way damaged, do not use them as they can overheat and possibly cause a fire.

Using jump leads

Once you are ready to start, it is important that you make some final safety checks and then follow the instructions below in the right order:

Make sure the batteries are the same voltage before you connect the leads and make sure that the vehicles are parked with their handbrakes on and ignitions off. Also make sure they are not touching as this can cause sparks.

Connect the positive terminal on the good car to the positive terminal on the car with the flat battery using the live, red lead.

Then attach the black, earth lead to the negative terminal on the good car and then to a suitable earthing point on the bad car, such as the engine block or chassis, rather than the negative battery terminal .

Once you have connected the leads, start the engine of the good car and allow it to run for a minute then, with it still running, start the engine of the other car and leave both running for around ten minutes.

Do not remove the jump leads while the engines are running as this can damage to the electronics on either car. If the jump leads get hot, switch off both engines and allow the leads to cool down. Turn off the ignition on both cars and then disconnect the leads carefully in the reverse order i.e black lead first, then the red lead. Be careful not to touch the clips against each other or against the car bodywork.

As a final check, you should try starting the car that had the flat battery. If it will not start, then it may well have a more serious problem that will need the help of a mechanic or garage.

Thank you for visiting the MOT Chelmsford blog.