Monday November 21st, 2011 18:49 Looking a Million Dollars on a Budget

Why Choose a Budget Car when you could be Cruising in a Luxury Motor?

When upgrading our car or even buying our first ever set of wheels, many people choose a brand new budget hatchback.
These small cars are convenient, cost-effective and reliable – but why blend quietly into the rush hour queues when for the same money you could be behind the wheel of a classic piece of luxury?

While owning a luxury car might not be for everyone; the rewards that come with doing so are well worth the extra little care and attention they require. It’s amazing to note that for the price of an entry level brand new car you could get a fully loaded BMW or Audi that although it is a few years old will boast the kind of specification the new car will never have.

You’ll stand out from the crowds

Few of us wish to blend in; we want to be noticed (for good things!). Yet you’ll never stand out in a conventional hatchback; you need something a little different for that.

You’ll be the envy of your street

Many luxury cars are thought of as nothing short of a work of art. Park this beauty on your front drive and watch your neighbours fawn over it in admiration and envy. Watch as they try and work out how you afforded that Mercedes or Jaguar.

You might meet new friends

Owning a classic or luxury car instantly makes you a member of a very exclusive club. As well as the opportunity to join internet forums and chat with like-minded enthusiasts, you might find yourself invited to regular events around the country, either to display your own car or simply to chat over the exquisite lines of a vintage Aston Martin.

It shouldn’t decrease in value

When we buy brand new cars, in most cases, we’re being ripped off. We are paying a premium for ‘new’ and the minute we sign on the dotted line and hit the road, its value will begin to drop.

A used luxury car on the other hand can boast a relatively stable value. Initial depreciation costs can be frightening but this levels off over time. So long as they are cared for properly they should sustain or increase in value.

You can hide the cars cost

If you don’t want people to ascertain how much you paid for your car, hide its age. The difference in value can vary by thousands in a few short years so if you want people to perceive your car as more valuable than it is; change the registration plates.

Dateless registration plates can ensure that very few people will be able to tell the year your car was built.
What’s more, dateless registration plates are usually quite valuable. They may cost a good few hundred pounds initially, but they should retain their value or if you’re lucky, gain more value.

It’s eco-friendly

Although older cars might not be quite so eco-friendly on the petrol front, the fact that you are recycling an old machine should more than make up for this.

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This article was written by Amy Fowler on behalf of The Plate Market who offer registration plates and number plates for sale.

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Tuesday November 15th, 2011 12:49 Car Insurance Tips for Geeks

Geeky girl

Auto insurance is something you must understand before you can effectively cover your insurance needs. Most people can satisfy their needs with a basic full coverage auto insurance policy that has liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage. Car rental, emergency road service and uninsured motorist are worth considering depending on individual circumstances.

  1. Liability Insurance covers the other vehicle and passengers if you have an at fault accident.
  2. Collision covers your vehicle and passengers if you have an at fault accident.
  3. Comprehensive covers your vehicle against most other types of incidents including damage caused by hit and run, weather related damage and theft.
  4. Car rental pays for you a rental car while yours is out of commission because of a claimable accident.
  5. Emergency road service pays for car repairs made on the roadside or for tow charges to the nearest garage or dealer.
  6. Uninsured motorist covers your vehicle and passenger if an uninsured driver causes an accident.

In most cases, the law requires liability insurance coverage and if a financial institution has an outstanding loan on the vehicle, they usually require full coverage. Insurance companies collect statistical data on a daily basis. These statistics are contributing factors to the premium you will pay. This information consists of data that tells the insurance company what areas of the country have the most claims and those that have the largest number of serious accidents.

Geek woman

Data shows the age group and sex that have a higher number of accidents and the areas with the highest number of weather related claims as well as much more collected data. You have no control over these premium-setting circumstances. There are circumstances directly related to the amount of premium you pay that you do have some control over. The following tips will help you get the best discounted insurance rates possible.

  1. Multi-vehicle discount- Insuring all your vehicles with the same company will discount the premium.
  2. Multi-insurance discount- Purchasing all your insurance needs from the same company nets a discount.
  3. Deductibles- The higher the deductibles are the cheaper auto insurance rates will be.
  4. Driving record- The best discount given is for a good driving record with no tickets or chargeable claims.
  5. Vehicle type- Some vehicles are more costly to insure than others because of theft, involvement in accidents, safety features and other factors.
  6. Credit history- Good credit indicates a responsible driver and results in better rates.
  7. Miles driven- The more miles you drive the higher insurance rates will be.
  8. Driver training- Any safety drivers course will result in a discount.
  9. Memberships- Ask about membership in organizations because many will provide a discount for you.

When you understand auto insurance terms and what they mean it is easier to calculate your needs. You can buy insurance direct, through an agent or a broker. Direct is cheaper, but you eliminate the expert that can help with questions and claims at any time. Most people find that having an agent or broker at their disposal is worth the cost. Go online to an insurance comparison site and find companies that fit your needs at an affordable price. Research any company you are interested in doing business with to make sure they are solvent and pay claims fairly and quickly.

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Monday November 14th, 2011 19:21 Keep your Tyres in Top Condition

As any car enthusiast will know, the hardest parts of a car to keep bright and shining are the wheels. This stands to reason as they are continually being coated with road grime and dust from the brakes.

Brake dust can corrode alloy wheels and is difficult to remove. It’s caused by the friction between brake pads and discs. This happens with all cars, whether they are conventional or hybrid cars, it’s not something that can be avoided. As you brake, the brake pad surface gradually wears away, producing the dust that lands on any nearby surface – your wheel rims being first in line.

As the different compounds used to make brake pads contain different amounts of metal content, different brake pads can create varying levels of brake dust. The dust is a mix of metal filings, carbon fibres and adhesive residues. The adhesive helps the dust stick firmly to every surface in comes in contact with, and as the adhesive is acidic, it will cause corrosion, too.

Erosion of the wheel rims doesn’t look pretty, and if left too long it will eventually begin to affect the structure of the wheel.

Fortunately there are ways to combat brake dust. Firstly, you can change your brake pads for low dust-generating brake pads. Choose some that have a high metal content or contain Kevlar-based compounds. Alternatively, or as well, you can fit dust shields. These sit between the rim and the bub, but some people don’t like the way they look. Finally, and perhaps most effectively, you can establish a good wheel care routine.

This isn’t as burdensome as it sounds – at a minimum you can wash the wheels once a week and apply sealant every quarter. This relatively simple procedure will prevent corrosion from taking place. Make sure that you don’t let the weeks slip to months during the winter. Even though it may seem a little pointless as the wheels get dirty again immediately, it’s a better policy than letting salt and brake dust build up.

Whether you’re driving one of the latest eco cars UK showrooms have to offer, or your car has been a faithful part of your household for the last decade or more, all cars will benefit from this kind of regular maintenance.

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Tuesday November 1st, 2011 20:15 Car Leasing – It really is simple!

Now, more than ever, the process of leasing a car is increasingly becoming the most common way of acquiring a vehicle. It’s simple, cheap and comes with a tonne of benefits that make it stand out from simply purchasing a car outright.

One of the most obvious reasons people are drawn to car leasing now is the fact that vehicles you once desired, but didn’t have the necessary funds to purchase, can now be easily acquired. The leasing company retains ownership of the vehicle but it’s yours to drive so long as you make the monthly payments.

If you really grow attached to the car you can opt to make a final payment and take ownership. A lot of people prefer to let the leasing company take it back though, meaning they can move on to a new car. Another advantage to leasing is the fact that you can get a brand new vehicle often.

Car leasing really is an amazing opportunity and that’s why more people are opting to go for it when they need a new vehicle. It’s not hard to see why it’s surpassing outright purchases when you take a look at all the benefits associated with it.

There’s a lot more to car leasing than is outlined here however, it pays to do some extra research and take a look at the large amount of options and research car leasing deals available. Making sure that you get the right contract for you is important, knowing everything about it before making your final decision is vital. Good luck, and ensure you find your dream car!

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Friday October 14th, 2011 11:25 Survival Guide to Successfully Shipping Your Beloved Car!

Whether you’re moving to the other side of the country or abroad. Sometimes you would prefer not having to drive your car all the way to your destination, in cases such as these its wise to use a car transporter. In this article we will discuss the major factors that should be considered when trying to ship a car.

Patience: The most important factor for people to understand about the process of car shipping is that this industry is not like the postal service. Pick-up and delivery dates are estimates at best. Problems such as breakdowns, traffic, and weather all contribute to delays. A lot of patience and forward planning is required.

Finding the right Transporter: Always do your research before committing to car shipping firm. Websites such as uShip allow you to view prospective transporters feedback and reputation, so you can ensure the transporter you pick is safe and highly recommended.

Car Shipping Method: Open or Closed: 
Open trailers are either partially or fully exposed to the elements. There are many different types of open trailers, ranging from small three car carriers to the large 11 car carriers that you frequently see on the motorway. Closed trailers are protected from the elements, and your vehicle is basically shipped in a mobile garage, however, this is more expensive.

Check to see if you are properly insured: 
Your car should be insured against all the usual things by the car transporter. Everything relating to the car shipment should be in writing. It is likely that your personal car insurance policy may cover your vehicle in transit.

Before Pick-up

Steps to prepare your Car for Shipping
: Wash your car thoroughly even if will be shipped on an open trailer. You want to be able to note any chips, dings, nicks or other cosmetic damage accurately.

Don’t top off your gas tank, keep it low, in between 1/8th to 1/4th of a tank as this saves quite a bit of weight which the auto transporters appreciate.

Always transport convertibles with the top up and secured.

Make sure the battery is charged, that the tires have proper inflation and top off all of the fluids on the vehicle.

Do a Thorough Vehicle Inspection: Note its condition in order to ensure any claims of vehicle damage are accurate and can be ensured, make a complete report of any pre-existing damage your vehicle may have. You may want to go as far as taking pictures (and dating them) of the vehicle prior to shipping it.

Vehicle Pick-up

Meeting The Truck: Be On Time
Make sure you are on time to meet the driver and that your meeting spot is set well in advanced and easy to get to.

Releasing Your Car: Do the Paperwork Be sure to receive an original inspection report. This report provides pick-up and delivery information, the car’s current mileage, and most importantly documents the condition of your car at time of pick-up – pre-existing scratches and dents, cracked glass/mirrors, general paint condition, etc. Keep this report and use it when you receive your vehicle.

Vehicle Delivery

Be On Time: 
Make sure you are on time to meet the driver and that your meeting spot is clearly defined and easy to get to for both parties. Remember the size and maneuvering restrictions of the truck.

Accepting The Car: What to Look For On Delivery
When your car arrives, make sure that you do a complete inspection of the vehicle with a copy of the original inspection report in hand. Look for any damage that was not noted in the original report.

These are just a few tips to remember that helped me when I had my car shipped, and I hope they can help you.

Amar Patel

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Thursday October 13th, 2011 11:12 Compare New Cars When Looking To Purchase

The most worrying experiences for people in this day and age usually involve cash. Financial security is something that many people are concerned about and one of the most daunting procedures for those of you worried about money is buying a new car. Over at Oneswoop.com you can carry out comparisons to be sure to find the best value deal at the lowest price possible.

When you decide to buy a new car you should be confident and certain of what you want. More importantly you should know that you’re getting it at the price that suits you! That’s why you should utilize the services provided by Oneswoop.com and make sure that you compare new cars by price.

Before purchasing a car it’s important to also request quotes as this will help you make your final decision, safe in the knowledge that you’ve got a brilliant deal. Doing this is really simple and only requires a few mouse clicks and keystrokes, you’ll have an amazing quote in no time at all.

You can even arrange a test drive in a new car, a very popular option. There’s no fuss or hassle, just another straightforward form for you to fill in online and then you can be driving around in your dream car, straight from a local dealership. This is a great way to assess what cars you’re interested in after comparing new car prices and getting quotes.

Take a look at all the available deals and browse around the site, make sure to take in all of the information that is listed so that you can find the best deals. Make sure to thoroughly compare prices and find the ideal car for you, at the perfect price!

Information provided by www.oneswoop.com – the free car price comparison website that brings you the very best new car prices.

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Wednesday October 12th, 2011 14:02 DIY checks before an MOT

DIY Car Check

If your car’s coming up for its next MOT, there are several DIY checks you can carry out before you take it in for the real test.

The suspension is quite easy to check yourself. Simply put your weight on each corner of the car, then release. If the suspension is ok, it will settle down quickly.

Check the exhaust. Have a look underneath and check if there are any parts of the exhaust missing, and make sure nothing’s hanging loose. Start up the engine and leave the motor running while you listen to make sure the silencer is doing its job and look out for any leaks.

An important part of an MOT is checking the level of exhaust emissions, for low emission cars as much as for diesel trucks. The legal level for exhaust emissions depends on the kind of vehicle you drive, its age and the type of fuel you use. Hybrid cars, for example, produce far fewer carbon dioxide emissions than a regular diesel or petrol car. Although you can’t check your emissions level yourself, take a look. If you see a lot of smoke coming out, then you may have a faulty exhaust.

Make sure that the fuel tank, hoses and pipes don’t have any leaks. Don’t forget to look at the fuel cap – it should seal tightly and not be damaged. Remember to leave the fuel cap key with the MOT tester if you have one – they’ll need to be able to open it as part of the test.

Check the handbrake and footbrake for any visible leaks. If you have ABS, ensure the warning light is working.

Finally, check your tyres to make sure the tread is deep enough – this will be tested with a special gauge during an MOT. Tyres will also fail if they have bulges or serious cuts. Although wheels will not be removed during the MOT, the tester will examine them for damage, distortion or cracks and to see if they are securely fitted.

By carrying out these simple tests, you may be able to fix any obvious problems yourself and avoid having to put your car through a second test to pass its MOT.

Thanks to Mike Cogh for the image!

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Tuesday October 11th, 2011 11:07 Things to Think About When Buying a New Car

When looking for a new car, there are a few things that you need to take into consideration. This will help you find the best car for you and your family. Take these considerations before you start looking around, so you know the dealerships to look at and the questions to ask.

Think About Your Lifestyle

You need the car to fit your current lifestyle and family needs. Think about how many people will use the car at one time and what you require the car for. A sports car is something that most people dream of having but it is not practical for a large family. This is something to consider when you are young and have no children to think about.

However, you will also need to think about your insurance costs. While you may be able to afford the cost of a sports car and you do not have children to think about, it does not mean that you can afford the insurance premiums. Sports cars tend to have a higher premium because the drivers tend to have more collisions. Speak to your current insurance provider to find out how your policy will be affected.

Set a Budget for the Car

You need to determine the maximum price that you are looking at. This is especially important if you want to buy a car outright or you want to put down a deposit for the vehicle. The price will determine the car finance options that you have and the interest rates that you will be paying.

However, the price will also determine the type of car that you are looking for. If you have a budget of £1000, you will not get the flashy car. However, you will be able to buy a small run-around outright or put down a deposit for a second-hand car through the hire purchase.

The Maintenance Costs

This is not the first thought for many but it is something that you should consider when buying a car – especially a used car. You want a car that is reliable and will not cost over the odds to be fixed. Take some time to consider the amount of mileage that the car has already done and the number of owners it has already had.

New cars will not need as much maintenance, which is definitely something worth considering. However, you will have to pay for more upfront and the depreciation will be more the minute that you drive it off the lot. Of course, for the first three years of a car’s life, there is no need to take it for an MOT, which will also help you to cut down on the maintenance costs.

What About the Tax Costs?

Large cars cost more in tax and this is definitely something that you need to think about. Sports cars will also cost more in tax, because they need more fuel and let off more emissions. Take some time to research how much the tax will cost you when it comes to renew it. Hybrid cars cost less on tax and are usually in the lower bracket of around £20 per year.

As well as tax, you need to think about the cost of fuel. The costs of petrol and diesel are constantly rising and you will need to factor this into the type of car for you. If you do a lot of driving around, you need a car that will cost you less in fuel. While diesel costs more, it lasts longer, which is definitely something to consider.

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Tuesday October 4th, 2011 10:32 Alternatives to petrol

Biofuel
Just when you thought petrol prices couldn’t get any higher – they carry on doing so. While those people who considered using an alternative fuel used to be in the minority, many mainstream drivers are now searching for a better alternative to petrol or diesel.

There are a number of viable alternatives already available – here are three of the best.

Plant power

Two of the most popular alternative fuels are sourced partly from plant crops. Bioethanol is a mixture of ethanol and petrol – the blend ratio can vary, but the most commonly used blend is 80% petrol to 20% ethanol. Ethanol is produced from crops. Bioethanol is popular in countries where corn and sugarcane can be grown in vast quantities – hence the number one user is the US, followed by Brazil.

Similarly biodiesel is a blend of normal diesel and biodiesel, which is produced from crops such as rape or animal fats. As with biofuel, any vehicle including 4×4 cars and trucks can be modified to use biodiesel, so the cost to the car owner is low. The environmental downside is that both biodiesel and biofuel production rely heavily on agriculture – so put a squeeze on land use.

Halfway house
Hybrids are cars that have a petrol engine and an electric motor. The motor’s batteries are charged by regenerative braking, and plug-in hybrids can be charged while the vehicle is parked up. As the electric motor assists the engine during acceleration and can power the car alone in slow moving traffic, the fuel economy is marked. Most hybrid cars in the UK have petrol engines, so though petrol prices will still be relevant, they won’t affect you half as much.

Go electric
Electric cars don’t need petrol at all, as they are fully powered by electric motors. Instead, you’ll be more focused on electricity costs. The big disadvantage to electric cars is that they are limited by their range before they need recharging, and often don’t compare in terms of speed to other fuels.

Image copyright Robert Couse Baker

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Wednesday September 21st, 2011 02:57 When to Change Your Oil

As a driver, you need to be especially careful about taking care of your car. One of the most important things you can do is change your oil regularly. How often is that?

When most of us got our first car at 16, our parents probably told us to change our oil every 3,000 miles. That was a great suggestion back then, but things change. Newer synthetic oil has fewer contaminants and is better for your vehicle. You won’t have to change you oil nearly as often if you go the synthetic route.

A New York Times article recently looked into the phenomenon. They interviewed Kristen Huff of Blackstone. Huff says her labs ran tests on people’s cars as they were taking them in. They found that people were changing their oil much too often. Many of these customers were still relying on feedback they got about 60 years ago when their parents were still driving 55’ Chevys.

The best place to start is your owner’s manual. This will give you some basic recommendations on doing oil changes.
As a general rule of thumb, expect to do an oil change about once every 5,000 miles. However, you shouldn’t just rely on your driving manual or the words of a few radio talk hosts. You need to consider how the oil has actually corroded and whether it is still useful.

One technique is to use a maintenance minder. This will let you know when your oil has 15% of its life remaining. This is generally a good time to take it in for a change.

Also, you should check your oil levels every few hundred miles. Add oil when it is running low, but don’t add too much. Adding too much oil can lead to catastrophic engine problems later on.

You must also remember to change the oil filter whenever you change the oil. If you don’t, a lot of the same contaminants will make their way into the new oil. This won’t do you any good.

Finally, don’t be too concerned about alternating between different brands of oil. Many people seem to think that if they use a new oil source they will ruin their car. This is an old wives’ tale. There is no need to be that consistent. The important thing is to make sure that you stick with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Changing your oil regularly is certainly important. If you don’t you can have reduced performance, engine breakdown problems and reduced engine life. However, changing your oil can easily cost over $30. There is no sense changing it more often than necessary. Ignore the rules of thumb you grew up with and understand your engine. Your driver’s manual and your oil levels will give you a rough estimate of how often you need to take your car in for an oil change.

Kalen Smith writes about Mis-Sold PPI claims and bank charges at www.PPIRefundsUK.co.uk a UK based mis sold PPI reclaim website in the financial claims sector. Kalen also writes about personal finances, mis-sold mortgages, unfair loan agreements and credit rating advice.

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