ooking for ways to solve your car problems easily? You’re in the right place. At Holts we’ve been doing that for 100 years, and to celebrate we’ve put together a guide of 100 tips and tricks to make driving and car maintenance easier.
You can find Part 1 here if you missed it, and now here’s Part 2 with advice on car buying, insurance, breakdowns and more.
- Car Tax and Insurance
- Tips for Buying a Used Car
- Breakdowns and Emergencies
- Coping with Stress and Road Rage
Car Tax and Insurance
51. Choose the right level of insurance for your car – We’ve all bought car insurance, but do you really know the difference between third party; third party, fire and theft; and fully comprehensive cover? If not, our guide on choosing the right insurance for your car could help you save.
52. Understand what an insurance ‘write-off’ really is – What do we mean by ‘the car was a write-off’ and how does it affect your car insurance in the future? A write-off is when the cost to repair the car is more than what the car is worth, and it could affect how much you pay for insurance. Read our full guide to insurance write-offs here.
53. Keep up-to-date with the latest car tax bands – Whether you’re in the market for a new car or just want to know how much you’ll be expected to pay for car tax in the future, it’s worth knowing what the current car tax bands are and how they’re calculated.
54. Take your car off the road the right way – If you no longer drive your car for whatever reason, you need to register it as ‘off the road’. This is called SORN, and it means the DVLA won’t chase you for car tax. Get clued up on all things SORN with our definitive guide to registering your car off the road.
55. Save money by adding a named driver to your insurance policy – Adding an experienced driver with a ‘pillar of the community’ profession (think policeman, teacher or civil servant) to your insurance policy could shave ££s from your premium. Just make sure you’re still named as the main driver.
56. Choose excess wisely when shopping for car insurance – £50 or £500? Choosing voluntary excess is tricky, but we think it’s better to go with a larger amount. You’ll have to foot the bill if you have a minor accident, but raising the excess by as little as £50 can bring your overall premium down.
57. Switch your car insurance at the right time – Experts reckon the right time is around three weeks before your policy is due for renewal. Always use comparison sites to be sure of the best deal.
58. Find out exactly how much your car is worth when buying insurance – Don’t just guess how much your car is worth; get an accurate valuation, as the price you state will affect your final premium. Our guide can help.
59. Be honest with your insurance provider – It can be tempting to skew the truth slightly when buying car insurance, especially if you’re young and facing a hefty premium. But lying to your insurer is never a good idea, and could land you in hot water if your claim makes it to court.
60. Remember that you don’t need to notify your insurer of a speed awareness course – They only need to know when you’ve received penalty points.
Tips for Buying a Used Car
61. Be wary of common car sale scams – Cloning, clocking and outstanding finance are just some of the scams which can sting buyers, so be wary and use a trusted vehicle checker tool to review a car’s history.
62. Make sure you have the big three documents – Before you fall in love with a car, ask to see its documents. You’re looking for the MOT, service history and logbook. If the current owner can’t provide them, run a mile.
63. Check ALL the electrics – Before you part with any money, spend some time making sure that all the electrics are working as they should. Things like a/c and seat warmers are easy to overlook, and if they’re not working, it could be a sign of a bigger problem.
64. A car’s bodywork can tell you a lot about its history – Look for dents, scratches or odd panels which don’t look quite right. If you think something could be amiss, try running a magnet along the panels; this can tell you if a car has been repaired with a type of filler that the magnet won’t stick to. The service history should state if the car has had any repair work, but some unscrupulous sellers might try to hide it to maintain the resale value.
65. Double-check the car’s VIN code – Every car has a VIN; it’s like a fingerprint, and tells you all kinds of information. Our guide tells you how to read a VIN to help with your used-car search.
66. Stay objective during a test drive – It’s easy to get overexcited when test driving your next car, but try to stay focused. Listen for strange noises, feel for vibrations and put the car through its paces around corners. You should request a test drive of a minimum of 15 minutes to really get a feel for the car.
67. Always arrange to view a car in daylight – Because you don’t want to miss scratches and marks which aren’t visible at night.
68. Remember to ask about the essentials – Handbook? Locking wheel nut key? These are essentials that you need to tick off before signing on the dotted line.
69. Sell your car the right way – If you aren’t part-exchanging your old car, the best route is to sell it privately. Our complete guide to selling your car covers everything you need to get your car sold.
70. Won’t sell? Scrap it instead – You might get more money for your old car by scrapping it, in which case, our guide on how to scrap your car correctly shows you much you could get and what you need to do.
Breakdowns and Emergencies
71. Learn how to tow a car safely – Who knows when you might need to tow someone’s car, or be towed yourself? While it’s not as common as it used to be, knowing how to tow is still a great skill to have – and our in-depth guide can help you get it right in an emergency.
72. Get to know your car’s safety kit – Safety features tend to be at the bottom of our priority list when buying a new car, but modern cars feature all sorts of tech wizardry designed to keep us safe. Learn the clever stuff your car does to make driving safer for you, here.
73. Know what to do in an accident – There are four things you need to do after a car accident: stop, call for help, accept no liability, and exchange details. Sounds simple, but remembering that after the shock of a crash is difficult.
74. Collect as much information as you can after a crash – Read our guide on the essential details to collect after an accident, here.
75. Use the Motor Insurers’ Bureau to claim against an uninsured driver – The MIB provides compensation if you’re unlucky enough to be injured in a crash with an uninsured driver.
76. Get breakdown cover – The average cost of an annual breakdown policy is around £40 a year. That’s around 11p a day for peace of mind on the road – seems like a no-brainer to us.
77. Leave your car via the left-hand door only – Get in the habit of exiting your car through the passenger-side door in an emergency, limiting the risk of being struck by oncoming cars.
78. Carry Holts breakdown products in your glove box – Tyreweld and Bradex Easy Start are your breakdown heroes, and could help you get back on the road in a matter of minutes.
79. Store your breakdown number somewhere other than your phone – What’s worse than not having breakdown cover? Having it, but not being able to call because the number is on your phone, which is flat. Go old school and write it down to make sure you’re never totally stuck.
80. Invest in an emergency kit – Our breakdown guide covers everything you need in a roadside emergency.
Coping with Stress and Road Rage
81. Don’t rely on tech – Following a bossy sat nav doesn’t help a relaxing drive, and could make you more stressed. Have at least a vague idea of where you’re going so you can avoid screaming at your smartphone.
82. Take a break every two hours – Humans struggle to focus for any longer than two hours at a time, which is exactly when you should be taking a break from the road.
83. Plan ahead – So with this in mind, plan your journey. Look at where you’ll be able to make stops, and check route planners to look for places where traffic might be heavy.
84. Be mindful of ‘bad’ drivers – It can be easy to get annoyed about bad drivers, but they’re really not worth the stress. Stay relaxed and keep your distance.
85. Switch off your phone – Unless you’re using it for navigation or to play music, your phone should be switched off when you’re driving. Distractions from everyday life can make driving even more stressful, so zone out and switch off until you reach your destination.
86. Don’t make driving a contest – It might feel like it sometimes, but driving shouldn’t be a competition, and everyone is just trying to get where they’re going. Stay mindful of that, and you’ll be a happy driver.
87. Listen to the right music – Psychologists believe there’s a big link between dangerous driving and music, with jazz emerging as one of the genres most likely to cause speeding, stress and aggression. Try something softer and more level instead, or listen to an audiobook or podcast.
88. Keep your car in good working order – The last thing you need when sat in traffic is a low fuel light or strange smells coming from the engine, causing a spike in stress. Take the time to keep your car in roadworthy order to keep your blood pressure down.
89. Think of the consequences – License, job, freedom; they can all disappear if you let stress get the better of you, so stay mindful of the consequences.
90. Make the car your happy space – A tidy, organised car will help reduce stress, as will avoiding back-seat squabbles with your children or passengers. Pack a few drinks and snacks too to avoid getting “hangry”.
Exhaust Troubleshooting Tips
91. Know the impact of a faulty exhaust system – While it is possible to drive with a hole in the exhaust pipe, it won’t do you any favours, as this guide to the consequences of a broken exhaust demonstrates.
92. Diagnose common exhaust symptoms – When there’s a fault with the exhaust, you might experience different sounds and smells, and these can tell you where the problem lies. Use our handy exhaust troubleshooting guide to track down the problem.
93. Inspect your exhaust for signs of wear – If you can get under your car safely, it’s worth checking the exhaust for wear and tear. Look for rust, degradation and orangey residue which could indicate a leak.
94. Repair heat shielding issues yourself – Heat shielding protects the undercarriage from exhaust heat, but it can become loose over time. Thankfully, it’s easy to repair yourself – and this handy video can show you how.
95. Fix a drooping exhaust – If your exhaust pipe has fallen off its hangers, it’ll drop down under the car and could eventually fall off. If you’re handy at maintaining your car, you should be able to fix a drooping exhaust fairly easily by following this guide.
96. Use Gun Gum to repair the exhaust system – Our innovative paste and range of accessories provides a permanent repair for your exhaust – here’s how it works.
97. Understand which Gun Gum accessory you’ll need to fix the exhaust – There are several Gun Gum bandages available depending on whether the damage is on the straight pipe, curved pipe, box entrance or box main body. Our video helps you pick the best one to get a permanent repair.
98. Clean the exhaust pipe when you can – If you’re washing your car with a hose or pressure washer, try to give the undercarriage a go-over too. This will remove salt and dirt from the exhaust, slowing down the effects of rusting and corrosion.
99. Don’t ignore the check engine light – If you’ve been driving with the check engine light on without experiencing any drop in performance, it could mean there’s a problem with the exhaust, like a failed emissions sensor. Get it checked straight away to resolve the problem.
100. Know when to have your exhaust checked over by a professional mechanic – Gun Gum and Firegum can fix a lot of holes and problems, but if you’re having repeated trouble it can be worth getting it checked out by a mechanic before it gets serious or your fail your MOT.
And there you have it: 100 car care tips, tricks and hacks to celebrate 100 years of Holts’ car care know-how. Be sure to check out the rest of the Holts blog for more maintenance guides and advice, or visit the homepage to find out more about our brilliant DIY car care products.