The world may be a somewhat more complicated case than what it was a few years ago. But, it is vital that you are in the right place to know how your car works. Yes, cars are now fitted with more mod cons than the average household. But, engineering-wise, they are fairly similar as to what they were a few decades ago.
When it comes to being a car owner, there are some basic tips that you need to know. You don’t have to be an auto mechanic to know how your car works.
Check Your Motor: Under the Bonnet
Open the bonnet of the car. Does it look scary? Probably. But, it isn’t. When it comes to maintaining your car, you need to be aware of some basic and simple things.
You need to make sure that you are regularly checking the oil within your car. Check the level at which is sits. If it’s too low, add some oil. Check the cleanliness of the oil too. If there is a lot of debris and dirt within the oil, it’s time to change it. Checking the fluids is one of the easiest things that you can do via the DIY route. So, check the coolant levels and transmission fluid. Top them up if necessary.
Image Credit Emyr Jones
While you’re under the hood, as it were, you need to make sure that your belts are in an excellent state of repair. Check for cracks in the rubber and visible signs of wear and tear. Cracks are the most common sign of damage within a belt, and they are visible to the human eye with ease. However modern belts don’t show visible signs. Use a “belt wear gauge” to evaluate the belts condition. You can even download an App to assist you – the PIC Gauge by Gates.
Also check for loose electrical wires. This can be problematic for a car owner. So, make sure that you are investigating these problems. Simply reconnect them and away you go.
Imperial Car Supermarket have said that a car’s battery is often a cause for concern. When was the last time you checked your battery? Do you know when it was last replaced? If not, get outside and check your battery. This is imperative. Batteries often suffer from intense wear and tear. A battery lasts about 5 years. Have it load tested. For older cars, this is vital.
Visual Checks on the Exterior
Many of us examine the interior of our car. But, you also need to consider the outside to make sure that it is in a good state of repair. Check for body and bumper damage. Check for rust and signs of damage. You need to take a look at the exhaust and make sure that it is performing as it should be. Endeavor to check your tyres regularly.
While you may not be able to fix the problem, you will be aware of it while it is a minor issue. Get it fixed and make your car last for the long term.
Minor checks don’t require a qualification in mechanics. Simple checks can be done at home and easily rectified. Your car will certainly last the distance by doing this.
Thanks to Daniel Go for the image.
Your car is your prized possession. It takes months or years of saving to purchase it. No matter what you use your car for however, it needs regular maintenance to keep it healthy. Whether you just use it to nip around town or embark on long drives, the parts can wear down. This is particularly true in older cars.
Caring for you car is all about keeping regular checks in order to prevent major problems. Those who care for their vehicle on a monthly basis are much less likely to incur huge costs down the line. The regular checks and care that you’re about to read are simply, easy procedures. They don’t take long and they don’t have to be done too often. However, each of the components we’ll look at serve the larger, more expensive parts like the engine. If the small parts don’t function correctly, the larger parts suffer.
Whether you own your own car or you’ve used car leasing options in the UK, good care is essential. Think of these checks as a health update for your car. Get into a routine and set a calendar for when each of these needs doing. It’s easy to stay on top of. If you get into this habit, your car will run for longer, it will run healthier and it’ll save you money. When it comes to selling the car, it will be worth a lot more as it will remain in good condition.
Check Tyre Pressure
You should check the pressure of your tyres once a month. Tyre pressure fluctuates depending on the season. The temperature can affect them, and that can affect your driving. Over-inflated tyres will lead to poor handling on the road. They are much more likely to burst or rip off on corners. Under-inflated tyres will simply overheat and wear down faster. Tyres are designed to run for longest at their correct pressure. This varies for each car, check the manual and tyre placard in the door to keep them at the advised pressure.
Rotate Your Tyres
Every 3,000 to 7,500 miles or so, simply switch your tyres around. Tyres wear unevenly on most cars. The ones at the front wear down faster on front-wheel drive cars, for example. Rotating the front tyres to the back can significantly extend the life of your tyres. They’ll wear evenly, and when you do need them replaced, you can change all of them at once. This saves money and time in the garage. Follow your owner’s manual on the proper tire rotation patterns. Some tires are directional.
Change the oil regularly
Whenever you rotate your tyres, get into the habit of changing your oil too. Every 3,000 miles or as required by the manufacturer. Oil is the lubricant for all the internal parts of your engine. Without it, the engine parts will begin to grind against each other and wear down. Engine parts are expensive. Simply changing the oil is a much cheaper alternative.
Although you’re changing your oil regularly, you should be checking its level even more often. Check the oil every time you fuel up at the pump. It’s good practice to always know how much oil you have in the car. It only takes a second. Simply open the hood, wipe the dipstick clean and re-insert it. The oil mark should fall between the two lines (or dots). While you’re there, check the transmission fluid, brake fluid, coolant and windscreen wiper fluid. These are the things that keep your car going. When they run out, they cause costly damage. It doesn’t hurt to stay on top of it. Read your owner’s manual for the proper procedure on how to check all your fluids.
Replace air filters
The air filters in your car stops dirt from the road getting into your engine. When dirt enters the mechanics of the engine, there are all sorts of problems to be had. Keep this at bay by simply changing the air filters regularly. They are cheap and easy to replace. Think of it like a shield for your engine. Keep it clean.
Brake pads will last a fairly long time, but try to check them annually. The best practice is to have a quick look every time you rotate the tyres, since they are already removed. When brake pads wear down past their usable life, the metal backing of the brake pads will wear on the rotor…causing irreversible damage. If they’re running thin, it’s time to replace them. New brake pads are much cheaper than replacing rotors.
Practice changing a tyre
You never know when the worst will happen. No matter how many precautions you take, a tyre can burst at any moment. Make sure you can change it quickly and safely. You want to be at the side of the road for as short a time as possible. Practice with a jack once a year on your driveway. Make sure every family member knows how to do it. You might not always be with them when the worst happens. However, if the vehicle is in an unsafe location like the side of a busy highway, call for roadside assistance. Your life is not worth the risk.
Always keep a breakdown kit in the car. This should include a first aid box, a large bottle of water (for you and the car), a flashlight and some cash. It’s also worth keeping a jacket and some blankets in the car in case it’s cold. Hazard lighting and visibility items are a good idea too.
Keep it clean
Finally, make sure you keep your car clean. Keeping your windscreen, mirrors and headlamps clean will help you avoid accidents. They’ll also last longer. All elements of your car can be worn down when left dirty. Keep the paint looking brand new with regular waxing. Don’t treat the car like a dustbin. When it comes to selling your car on, the appearance will make a big difference. Buyers can tell a well-kept car when they see one and will trust the internal parts have been cared for.
The key to caring for you car is ensuring that all the moveable parts are in pristine condition. All the fluids and easily accessible areas are vital to the internal workings. Keep them in good condition and it will help the engine and other internal systems last longer. Good care of your car will save you a fortune and help keep the resale value high.
Written by a Guest Blogger
The brake pads on your vehicle get thinner with time and eventually need replacing. If you don’t inspect your brakes and the pads wear completely out when driving, it may land you in a troubled situation.
Signs that reveal impending brake problems
It is important to keep a check on the condition of the brake pads as there are a few signs that indicate about the forthcoming trouble related to the brakes.
- Hard and sudden brake pedals
- Squealing of the brakes
- Grinding brakes
- When brake pedals get spongy
- Grabbing wheels
- Drawing the car from one corner to another
- Pumping the brakes to stop the vehicle
These are common problems that reveal that the brake system is malfunctioning and that the pads (or other components) are past their usable life.
Other points to consider in examining the condition of the brakes
Brake inspections are necessary to perform a detailed inspection, examination, and evaluation.
First, your safety is of the upmost importance. Secondly, you may need to consider your budget. Some service centers will complete a free brake inspection for you. Or find a technician (mechanic) who is reliable and knowledgeable that fits your budget.
A skilled technician can confirm whether the brake pads need replacing or not.
Inquire about the cost associated with brake pad replacement
Your mechanic will let you know the rough estimate to repair or replace the brake pads. The final cost may shoot up 5-10% higher than the estimated cost figures offered by the mechanic. Also if additional parts are needed, such as brake calipers or rotors, the cost could easily double.
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can surely save a decent amount by eliminating labor costs. Since the effectiveness of braking leads to your safety and the safety of others on the road, please make sure you have the skills to perform the task.
Once the parts needed are identified, purchase them locally or online. Complete research to find a dealer who sells OEM or quality aftermarket parts. This way you can directly contact the dealer by eliminating any middleman and can get the best deal at lower prices.
Compare warranties and return policies. It is also important to find out if the car part you bought can be easily returned or replaced. Beware of the overseas auto parts sellers as it may not be easy to get a replacement for any defective or incorrect product.
About the Blogger
Carpartkings is an online store that deals with the marketing of the various parts of the cars at affordable prices. This New York based company holds a 3 decade old industry expert in auto parts business and believe in offering high quality products to their customers. For detailed information visit their website at http://www.carpartkings.com/
Locking the keys inside the cars can be frustrating and your best and the most tension free way out of such a situation is by hiring the services of a professional locksmith. Locksmiths are skilled with extensive lock picking tools and can open most types of stubborn locks. Car locksmiths use a wide array of tools and lock picking equipment that unlocks the car door without damaging the car window or the locking mechanism. There is a wide range of tools that a locksmith uses, and most people are often curious to know about the various car lock picking equipment. Here’s the list of the most commonly used car lock picking tools used by locksmiths, towing companies, police departments, and private investigators.
These are basically long thin strips of metal, usually made of spring steel, which is usually 60 centimeters long and 2-4 centimeters wide. The thin strips are manufactured specifically for each car make and manufacturer and totally eliminate the trouble of hacking the lock mechanism. The thin strip easily slides between the window and the door to unlock the car manually by lifting the rods that control the locking mechanism. However easy this might sound, it requires skilled lock smiths and tow truck professionals to operate as improper use can damage the rods and render the lock inoperable even with a key.
Wedges are one of the most effective tools that can be easily slipped between the door and the car to make room for inserting another lock picking tool into the gap. Wedges come in various types; the most common of them are the plastic wedges and the inflatable wedges. The inflatable wedges are the most convenient to use tools which can easily slip between small spaces and can be then inflated to create a larger gap without damaging the window or the door.
Also known as try out keys, auto jigglers are a set of various shaped keys which are sometimes able to unlock most types of auto locks. These aren’t master keys which are made specific for each car model or make but are universal and one of the keys in the set might be able to unlock your car door. Try out keys or jigglers are available for various car brands like Ford, Chrysler, General Motors etc. and are also able to unlock most gas and glove box locks. Auto jigglers are used by most lock smiths and would probably be the first equipment that is used in case of a lockout.
Tension wrench is also known as a torsion wrench which is one of the most essential tools of a lock picking professional. A typical torsion wrench is made of metal in an ‘L’ shape which helps the user apply constant tension on the keyway and rotate it when the pins are pressed by the picking needle. While a tension wrench is highlighted in most works of fiction involving lock picking, it is nearly impossible to unlock a door without a tension wrench, even if an electronic lock pick or a lock pick gun is used.
Lock picking tools are the bread and butter of a lock smith and without the knowledge and the proper tools, a lock smith is rendered entirely useless. If you are looking for some knowledge in locksmithing, you can research more about the above tools.
Many people buy classic cars with the intention of restoring them to their former glory. They are then driven on weekends or to special events like classic car shows. But for some people, classic cars get used as daily drivers.
These people prefer to drive their classic cars each day. That’s because they offer a rewarding drive compared to newer, more-modern cars. If you drive a car that’s thirty or more years old, it will be obvious that it won’t have the same luxuries and technology as today’s cars.
The good news is that you can give any classic car the 21st century treatment! In today’s guide, I will show you how you can turn your classic car into a practical daily driver that’s just as good as today’s modern cars!
A note on modifications
If you make any major changes to your classic car, it’s important that your insurance policy covers your mods.
With classic car insurance in the UK, you can choose policies that allow declared modifications.
It’s important to check your insurance includes such provision for modifications. If you have an accident and it becomes clear your modded classic is listed as standard, your insurance might become invalidated. That means you are driving around without valid insurance!
Safety is of paramount concern when you drive any car on a public road, regardless of the car’s age. The thing about classic cars is that some have pretty archaic braking systems.
Things like ABS, electronic stability control and disc brakes were not common in cars made decades ago. As you are planning to use your classic car as a daily driver, it is important you upgrade its braking systems.
The first step is to renew the metal hydraulic brake lines. They go from each wheel to the brake master cylinder into the engine compartment. The thing about these brake lines is that they can corrode (i.e. rust) over time. Replacing them will ensure many years of reliable service. Replace the rubber lines too…they crack over time.
Next, fit disc brakes all round if aftermarket kits exist.
A new dual-circuit (dual reservoir) master cylinder will provide braking power even to either the front or the back if there is a leak on one of the other circuits. Older classic cars only have single-circuit master cylinders. As you can imagine, if there is a leak in a single-circuit system, you’d have no braking power at all!
Most classic cars use a crude cooling system for their engines. As you know, fans ensure that engines get kept cool when the car is stationary or driving at a slow speed. The fans used in many classic cars were viscous.
That means the fans operate using the engine’s speed. They usually have a thermostatic “clutch” that engaged or disengaged at certain vehicle speeds. The problem with such fans is that they didn’t always do a good job at stopping engines from overheating.
Today’s modern cars use electric fans. They connect to the car’s 12-volt electricity system. And they operate by means of a thermostatic controller. They are more reliable than viscous fans, cheaper to buy and easier to install.
As you might get stuck in traffic at some point in your classic car, it’s important to ensure the car doesn’t overheat. If aftermarket kits exist, you may want to fit an electric fan to your car.
Does your classic car use an old distributor-based ignition system? If so, one thing you will know is that such systems need frequent adjustments or replacement.
The cars of today use electronic ignition systems. A “coil pack” replaces the distributor cap and rotor, and the whole conversion can be done. There are plenty of electronic ignition conversion kits that you can buy. And each will increase your car’s reliability!
Older cars can sometimes take a bit of effort to start on a cold winter’s morning. One thing you can do to make the experience better each morning is fit a heavy-duty battery with plenty of cold cranking amps.
The size of the battery that comes with your car as standard might be OK for a standard vehicle. But what if you plan on upgrading or adding accessories that use additional electricity, then you may need a beefier battery.
Let’s face it; you and I both know that the lighting systems in classic cars aren’t as good as the ones used in today’s cars. In the UK because of vehicle testing laws, you won’t be able to fit HID lights in your headlight lenses without getting fined by the police.
What you can do is upgrade the bulbs to better-performing ones, as long as they use the original lens or holder fittings. The good news is the market is awash with lighting upgrades.
Osram Night Breaker headlight bulbs, for example, claim to offer up to 110% extra brightness. And for the back of your car, you can retro-fit LED tail light bulbs. They are brighter than standard bulbs, and yet they use less electricity.
You can even use LED bulbs for your interior lighting too! Some folks might just replace the interior light by the windscreen. Whereas others might also replace dashboard and centre console bulbs with LED ones as well!
Not much has changed over recent decades when it comes to wiper blade technology. Most of today’s cars use flat-blade wipers rather than ones with metal arms.
The benefit of flat-blade wipers is that they work well at high speeds. Whereas conventional wipers tend to judder or smear. They are simple upgrades, and you can get flat-blade wipers for pretty much any car.
One downside to flat-blade wipers is that they cost a bit more than conventional ones. But, in my opinion, the benefits far outweigh that downside!
8-track and cassette tapes are old obsolete technology. Today’s cars feature head units that play CDs. And they offer wireless Bluetooth connectivity to MP3 players and smartphones.
You can even upgrade to a head unit that offers DAB digital radio; a perfect way to bring your car into the 21st century!
Thanks for reading today’s guide. See you soon!
Written by a Guest Blogger
When you get a flat tire, it’s never at a convenient time or location. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared. Here’s what you should do when the air is taken out from under you.
Get A Roadside Assistance Program
Roadside assistance programs are offered by almost every major insurance company out there. You don’t have to buy one from your insurer though. Organizations, like AAA, are more than happy to sell you a service plan.
So, what do these plans cover, exactly? Well, that depends on the level of service you purchase. Some companies only offer one level of service. These “entry level” packages are only meant to be used in the case of extreme emergency and usually only provide towing services.
Other plans may cover small services like a gallon of gas (if you happen to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere) or flat-tire service. If you pick up a roadside assistance program, make sure it covers flat tires.
Also make sure your plan provides towing coverage, like 24 hour towing in Union City, just in case you happen to experience a blow out at 1AM or something.
Make Sure You Have A Good Spare Tire
One in seven vehicles today doesn’t come equipped with a spare tire. Why not? In short, fuel economy regulations imposed by the federal government. Car manufacturers are struggling to figure out how to keep vehicles safe and, at the same time, meet government fuel economy regulations.
The result, many times, is elimination of the classic spare tire hidden away in the trunk. Check under your trunk’s floor panel. If there’s no spare tire or no tire well, you’ll have to go out and buy yourself a spare tire. Spare tires can cost upwards of $100, but check the prices for your vehicle, specifically. You may be able to purchase a spare full-size tire for the same price. The only problem will be finding room to store it in the vehicle.
Practice Changing A Flat Tire
What good is a spare tire if you don’t know how to change it? While many roadside assistance programs will do this for you, not all areas of the country have cell service. If you’re way out in some remote location, for example, you may have only yourself to rely on. Take a couple of weekends, and practice changing your tire using the jack that came with your vehicle and the spare tire you’ll keep in the car. Don’t drive around on the spare though. Just change the tire.
Once you’ve gotten good at it, and can change a tire in about 10 minutes, you’re ready for an emergency.
Don’t forget to practice in the dark though too. You never know when you’ll have to change a tire. Try practicing with a flashlight or a portable light that you can attach in the wheel well while you work.
Practice in the rain. Practice in the sun. Practice in the snow, if it snows where you live. You want to be able to change a tire when you really need it.
About the Blogger
Luke Owens has worked on many cars and tires over his illustrious career as a mechanic. Now retired, he enjoys sharing what he has learned with others on the web. You can read his interesting posts on a variety of websites and blogs.
Written by a Guest Blogger
Losing your car keys is frustrating and stressful, especially when you are just about to go somewhere important or there is a chance that they may have been stolen. However, don’t panic. Stay calm and take a few simple steps to protect your car and get back on the road as soon as possible.
What to Do if Your Keys Are Lost or Stolen
If you have lost your keys, you may want to spend a bit of time looking for them first. There is nothing worse than making arrangements to get a new key only to find your original key under the sofa the next day. Replacement keys can be expensive, so just make sure you have not simply misplaced it.
If you know your keys have been stolen, call the police and report it. They will provide you with a crime reference number, which you may need should you make a claim on your insurance policy.
Whether your keys have been stolen or are just lost, there will be a risk that someone has access to your vehicle, so you should take steps to avoid them getting to your car. These include:
– Fit a clamp or steering wheel lock on your car to prevent anyone from moving it.
– If you have a spare set of keys, move your car somewhere away from your home in case the thief knows where you live.
– You may want to remove a fuse or relay from under the bonnet.
Call a Specialist to Get a New Key
Lost and stolen keys are not usually covered on home insurance, but they may be covered on your car insurance policy. However, this can often mean paying a large excess, so think carefully before deciding to make a claim.
You may assume that you need to go to your car’s manufacturer for the new keys, but this is often the most expensive and time consuming option. Instead, call a specialist lost car key replacement service. They will send out a trained technician with specialist equipment, and they will get access to your vehicle without causing damage. They will then use their equipment to create a new transponder key, and you will be able to drive your car again.
What if You Lock Your Keys in Your Car?
This is another situation that can be very annoying. Rather than attempting to break in yourself, call out a specialist locksmith. A breakdown service can also be used, but this may be a more time consuming and expensive option.
Specialist locksmith services will get access to your car quickly and without causing damage by using state-of-the-art equipment, so you will soon get your key back and you can then drive your car again.
Take Care of Your Keys
The most important thing of all is to prevent these problems arising in the first place. You should therefore look after your keys just as you would your smartphone or any other expensive gadget. Be vigilant and never leave them hanging around, and always keep them somewhere safe in your home, which means away from the door. You may also want to keep them separate from your house keys and anything with your address on them, so that if you do lose them, any potential thieves won’t know where to find your car.
About the Blogger
Taylor Douglas is an auto mechanic with several years under his toolbelt. When he has the time, he likes to sit down and create posts that help people keep their cars secure and safe. You can find his informative articles mostly on car and vehicle websites online.
Written by a Guest Blogger
Is that time of year coming up again? If your vehicle is over three years old it will be required by law to take an annual MOT test to determine its safety and roadworthiness. A number of important points will be checked during this examination, including seatbelts, mirrors, exhaust system, windscreens, brakes, fuel lines and oil levels.
Your MOT can be a big expense every year. Not only will you need to pay for the test, but you will also need to shell out for the repairs if your vehicle fails the examination. So how can you save money when it comes to your MOT? Where can you find MOT and car servicing deals? Here are some ideas:
Give Your Car a DIY MOT First
Most MOT tests fail due to small problems that could have easily been fixed in advance, such as a burnt out light bulb. Make sure that you give your car a quick look over first so that you can avoid any issues such as these. If you spot any obvious and easy to fix issues you can have them repaired before the actual test. This includes looking at your brakes, exhaust, lights, suspension and tires.
If you can eliminate these problems you will save a lot of money on your final bill. You will be able to repair these problems yourself and order the replacement parts online for a lot cheaper than it would be at the mechanic’s.
Use a Price Comparison Website
There are price comparison websites out there for MOTs, such as MyCarNeedsA.com, which will allow you to compare a number of different quotes and find the right price for your MOT. You start by entering the details of what you need on the website and your job will be offered to the network of service providers who will be bidding against each other for your MOT.
You can choose the best deal, whether that is the cheapest price or the best value for the overall service offered. You don’t need to pay for this style of website either – the service providers pay because they want the chance to bid to receive your custom.
Get Your Car Tested by the Council
If you take your vehicle to the garage for an MOT, the mechanic has a vested interest in your vehicle failing because it will mean more repair work for them. If you want your car to be tested by an impartial third party, you can get it at your local council instead. They do not perform repairs so they have no vested interest – which means that you will get an honest report of which repairs are really essential. There are local councils all over the UK that have their own MOT testing stations for vans and buses. Take a look online to find out where your nearest MOT council testing centre is located so you know where to take your vehicle.
Save Money on Your Retest
If your vehicle fails the MOT one the repairs have been completed it will need to be retested – so how can you save on this part of the process. The retests may be free or discounted, depending on where you had the vehicle tested in the first place. If you have your car repaired at a test centre and retested within 10 business days, the retest will be free. If you have the repairs done somewhere else the retest will be free if the car is returned to the test centre by the end of the working day.
If you had your MOT carried at the council centre, the retest will be up to half price if the vehicle is brought back to the original test location for a partial retest within 10 working days. In all other situations the retesting fee will be the full maximum rate, so it makes sense to try to ensure you get a free or discounted retest rate.
Getting your MOT carried out is a necessary part of owning a car in the UK – if you are caught driving without one you will be subjected to a fine. However, it can be a major expense every year to pay for the examination and the resulting repairs to your vehicle.
With these tips in mind you will be able to save money on this yearly vehicle check-up. Money can be tight, so any strategy that means you can save your cash by getting your MOT for cheaper will be a major benefit.
For thousands of Americans, the British Isles prove to be a popular vacation destination. The “motherland” as some people call it is small. But in days gone past, the British had somehow managed to control large swathes of the world!
The United Kingdom is rich with history. Brits also have a lot of weird and wonderful customs; at least to us Americans anyway! Although most of Britain has a good public transport network, traveling by car is the preferred method to get around.
You might think to yourself that driving on the streets of Britain is no sweat. There’s just one thing that you might have forgotten; people in the UK drive on the left! Most of the world drives on the right, just like here in the United States.
But certain parts of the world have stuck with the same side of driving their former colonial masters introduced. Such countries include Australia and India. To be honest, it’s pretty straightforward to learn how to steer a right-hand drive car.
There are plenty of other things that you, as an American, need to know before you get behind the wheel of a car in Blighty! Today’s handy guide will tell you everything you need to know about driving in the United Kingdom.
Do you need a car to get around?
If you plan on sticking around central London, the answer will be no. Central London has an excellent public transport network. It includes the world-famous London Underground “tube train” network.
You can use an Oyster card to pay for your fares so that you don’t have to fumble around for cash and change. In fact, London’s bus network no longer accepts cash as a form of payment.
If you are feeling adventurous, you might want to do a road trip of Britain. While it’s possible to use buses and trains throughout most of the UK, driving to many destinations is more convenient.
Before you travel to the UK, plan a rough itinerary of where you want to go. That way, you can research whether you need to hire a car or not.
Renting a car
Renting or “hiring” a car is essential if you need a car in the UK. Many of the familiar rental car companies like Enterprise and Avis exist in the UK just like they do at home. If you’ve rented a car in the United States before, the process is similar in the UK.
You choose what class of car you want to rent, how long for, and you pay the rental costs when you bring the car back. To save money on your rental car costs, I recommend prepaying for your rental online.
In the UK, all cars that drive on public roads and highways must have valid insurance cover. Comprehensive insurance covers cars in the event of an accident. It will also cover accidental damage, vandalism and theft.
As you might already know, car rental companies will take a deposit on your credit card. That deposit can be anything from £200 ($330) to £700 ($1,140). It all depends on what class of car you hire. Small to medium cars will be at the lower end of the scale. Anything “premium” like a BMW or Mercedes-Benz will be at the higher end.
At the rental counter, they will always ask you if you’d like to buy an extra “waiver” to reduce your car’s insurance excess. That insurance excess is often around £700 ($1,140). Refuse to take it, and buy insurance excess cover from a third-party supplier instead. If you buy it from the rental company, you could double the cost of your rental!
Always give way to your right
In Britain, there are lots of these curious road structures called roundabouts. At home, we are all used to intersections with traffic lights at each end. But someone in the 1960s thought it would be a great idea to use them everywhere in the United Kingdom!
Of course, there are plenty of roads with traffic lights. So when you approach a roundabout, what should you do? The golden rule here is to give way to traffic to your right. You should also determine which lane to be in before you approach it.
For example, if you are driving ahead you should stick to one of the left-hand lanes on your approach. But if you need to turn right, stay on the right-hand lane and merge into the center or left lanes as you approach your exit.
Right turn on red is illegal
Americans take for granted the benefit of right turn on red. In the UK, it would get called a “left turn on red” – if it were legal!
In the UK, it is illegal to turn left at a set of traffic lights if they are on red. The only exception is if there is a “filter” light for the left, and that light turns green. If you forget about this rule, you are likely to get involved in an accident!
Know your roads
Britain has a comprehensive road network, and it can often be confusing to drivers from the United States. Scott from harratts.co.uk was kind enough to write in and offer this information for our readers:
- A lot of standard roads are often prefixed with “A” or “B.” For instance, the A40, B443 and so forth. Smaller roads and streets only have names;
- Major trunk roads connecting some towns and cities together are motorways. They get prefixed with “M.” For instance, the M40 and the M5 are two motorways;
- Dual carriageways are roads with two lanes in each direction. Motorways usually have three lanes in each direction, but some can have two while others have four or even five lanes.
At some point, you will need to stop driving and park your car. Avoid parking your car on a road with yellow or red lines. You are not allowed to park on such roads, and your car could get clamped or towed away.
I hope you enjoy your trip to the UK. Good luck with your driving adventures there!