Finding a used 4 x 4 family car

If you are looking to buy a new family car but want something that is good down little country lanes as well as motorway runs, then why not opt for a 4 x 4 vehicle. There are a number of different types of 4 x 4 vehicles and they can vary a lot in price. 4 x 4’s usually hold their value really well so you may find one that is 10-15 years old is still in excess of £4000. They tend to often be diesel and usually automatic although you can find manual versions.

Some people have a 4 x 4 to use off road on their farm or down tracks others have them to go round town in and rarely take them off road. If you do want to go off road then you need to do plenty of research to find out which ones would be best suited to you.

If you are looking for a 4 x 4 that is within a £5000 budget then you may be a little limited on choice.  Some of the more expensive models such as the newer Range Rovers or Discovery’s will probably be out of that price range or will have extremely high mileage on them. You could opt for the Land Rover Freelander, but these have not always been known for reliability. The Freelander 2 is supposed to be a better model than the first but they are prone to having electrical faults, which can end up being expensive. The BWM X3 is a great choice for a 4 x 4 that is nippy but also economical. You can choose from diesel or petrol and there is a good number of manual versions out there if you don’t want automatic. If you are buying a vehicle that is high mileage, then you may want to stay away from the automatic gears boxes as if they go wrong, they can be very costly to fix.

The BMW X5 is another great choice when it comes to 4 x 4’s. Bigger than the X3 it boosts more leg room and room in the boot but it is not very efficient and you may be lucky to get 25 – 30 miles to the gallon. Pick up trucks are becoming a popular choice for families, especially if you have dogs or bikes etc you want to take out with you.

How to give your car a makeover

If you are getting bored of your car or if you think it looks a bit tired then you may want to give it a bit of a makeover. There are a number of things that you can do to improve the look of your car without spending a fortune.

Interior – you can get vinal stickers to stick over parts of your dashboard to give it a wood or carbon fibre effect. You do need to be careful when sticking these down as it is quite easy to get bubbles or creases in it which can then end up looking messy. Adding some new car mats, steering wheel cover and even a gator cover can add a personal touch to any vehicle. You can often get sets that are matching or colour coded. Hanging something from your front mirror such as dice or a mini football short or air fresher can look great but be sure that it does not distract you or compromise your view at all.

Exterior – sometimes all your car needs is a bit of TLC. Washing it regularly with a good quality soap will keep the grim from setting in. Every so often it may need a good polish to put the shine back in to it. If you notice scratches or chips on the exterior of your car you can try and touch them up yourself, but they often still stand out. The best option is to take it to a professional body shop, but it can be quite costly to start respraying panels.

You may be able to extend your insurance cover

Many people are having to use their cars for work purposes and to help out with collecting groceries for local people etc. These types of journeys may not be covered under your car insurance if you do not have business use listed on your policy.

It may be that you have an accident whilst running one of the errands and then find that your not covered. Most insurers have now come out to say that they are extending cover to these people who need to now use their vehicle for these purposes. It may be that you are volunteering with administering the vaccine or that you are taking elderly people to doctors appointments. It is vital that all of these things continue and it is nice to see that insurers are offering this to many customers without trying to charge them extra. If you are having to do any of these types of additional journeys then it is worth ringing your insurer to check that you are covered. You also need to keep an eye on how many miles you do and inform them if you think you are going to go over as they make need to adjust your policy for you.

Is it more expensive to run a diesel car?

When it comes to buying a new car or van you have to choose whether to go for petrol, diesel or electric. They all have their advantages and disadvantages, but often electrically cars simply just too expensive and as they are not very old, there are not a lot of cheaper second hand ones.

People often think diesels are cheaper to run than petrol and this may be the case in terms of fuel but there are other factors you need to take in to account.  Diesels can be more expensive than the equivalent petrol version but they also retain their value well, meaning that when it comes time to trade in or sell on, you’ll get more money for it. Sometimes the price for fuel is the same for petrol or diesel and often the difference is only very small.

As a diesel will usually do more miles to the gallon so is more economical, this will often contribute to the increase in the price. As well, diesel cars do seem to out live their petrol equivalent.  

When buying a diesel car is the cost of the road tax as often it is much higher than on a petrol so you do need to bear this in mind when factoring in costs.

Help my car won’t start?

There are few things as frustrating as getting into your car, turning the key in the ignition and the car failing to start especially if you are about to go to work or go for an appointment. If you have breakdown cover that covers you from your home address as well as when you are away from home then sometimes the simplest solution is to give them a ring and arrange for a mechanic to come out to you however if you do not have cover or if you have but it does not cover home start it will be necessary to either find a local mobile mechanic to come out to you or get the car towed to a local garage. There are always going to be occasions when your car breaks down unexpectedly but there are measures that you can take to prevent some breakdowns or at least minimise their frequency.

One of the major car parts that fail particularly during the winter months is the battery. As soon as the weather gets colder and the nights draw in meaning that we need to use car lights more frequently our car batteries are put under more pressure and some older batteries then let us down.

It is worthwhile asking your usual car garage to check the battery when your car is in for its service or MOT to see whether it is holding its charge efficiently so avoiding the situation of the car failing to start due to battery failure.