Can you trust the mechanics at your garage?

So many people worry about taking a car in to a garage to have an MOT, have repairs done or a service. Unless you understand mechanics and know a lot about your specific make and model of vehicle, you may be a little bit in the dark as to what work may need doing on your vehicle and how much it is likely to cost.

If you have to take your vehicle in for a problem that needs investigating, you may worry that you are going to get ripped off and told you need more work doing to the vehicle than you actually do.

The only way to do this is to try and find a reputable garage. If you can find a garage that you can trust then it is worth sticking with them and also recommending them to others. A garage that values its customer’s opinions and is trustworthy will not want to jeopardise their reputation to make a few extra quid.

If you have not found a good garage yet then why not ask around your family and friends, also take advantage of social media platforms such as Facebook and ask for recommendations on there. You can often also read reviews on the social media sites about a garage before you make the decision to use them.  

Issues with Diesel Particulate Filters

Diesel Particulate Filters or DPF’s for short were introduced in 2009 for Diesel cars only. They are designed to prevent soot, or particulate matter from entering the atmosphere therefore being kinder to the environment. Although they can help to do this and therefor lower emissions, they are often a bit of a nightmare for many diesel owners, especially ones that do not do many long journeys. The way a DPF filter works is that it it collects this very fine soot that is produced by the engine. Every so often the soot is burnt off at extremely high temperatures, which leaves a tiny ash residue. This ash residue will overtime build up and will need specialist cleaning, but often this doesn’t need to be done until around a hundred thousand miles.

In order for the DPF to regenerate (burn the soot to ash) it needs to reach a certain temperature. The best way to do this is to drive the car at high revs for about 20-25 minutes. If you often do very short journeys and at low speeds then your car may struggle to clear the DPF. Often you will get a warning light on the car saying that it needs to regenerate. At this point you should take it on a good run on a motor way or road you can drive at about 50-60 mph for a period of time. If you do not do this it can become blocked and require professional cleaning.

Do you have an oil leak?

An oil leak is a common issue on a car and it can happen at any time. There are a number of place sin which oil can leak out from and it can be hard to diagnose sometimes. Often the only way you know you have an oil leak is when the move the car and find a patch of oil underneath it, or when you check the dip stick and the level is really low.

Ideally the car needs to go up on a ramp for a mechanic to be able to check where the oil is leaking from. Sometimes it is obvious to them and other times it may need more investigation work. It is important not no drive the car too much when you have an oil leak and to ensure that you regularly top it up if you are having to drive it to a garage.

If you have recently had the car serviced then you may find that they have not replaced the sump washer or that they have not fitted it back in correctly. This can cause the new oil to leak out quite rapidly. If this is the case then the garage that did the service should replace the part and the oil free of charge. If your low oil light comes on when you are driving, be sure to stop immediately as driving with no oil will ruin the engine of the car.

Should you sell your second hand car or part exchange it?

If you are looking to buy a new or used car from a garage then they may give you the option to part exchange yours in. Park exchanging is when you hand over your old car to the garage and they use the money they give you as a part payment towards a new car. You can sometimes even part exchange your car when it has outstanding finance on it as they will obtain a settlement fee from the finance company and include this in the price.

There are many advantages to part exchanging your car such as cutting out all the hassle of having to try an sell it privately, not having to spend ages cleaning it and getting ready for sale and not having to worry about letting people test drive it etc. The one downside to part exchanging your vehicle is that you usually do not get as much money for it as you would if you sold it privately. Depending on the make and model and also the age and mileage, this could range from a few hundred pounds to a couple of thousand pounds difference in price. Some people don’t mind getting a little less for it in in part exchange to cut out on all the hassle.

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.