How to look after your car?

Everyone wants their car to last for as long as possible and why wouldn’t you? But not many people know how to make this happen. So, we’re here to help. We want you to get the most out of your car with these simple tips….

 

1. Your user manual is your best friend when it comes to your car – it will tell you all you need to know about every aspect of your car.

 

2. Your tyres are easily the most important feature on your car. They keep you on the road, so you need to check them. Having tyre pressures at the right level could save your life. Aim to check your tyres once a week – the recommended pressures for your tyres will be in your user manual or sometimes shown on the door frame.

3. Keeping your car serviced is vital for its health. Your handbook will tell you how often you should do it. Many cars, these days, have warning lights that come up on the dashboard and alert you when a service is needed – don’t ignore them!

 

4. Another way you can help your car is by driving smoothly. Small things such as going over speed bumps gently and avoiding sudden braking can make a difference. And making sure your car has a long motorway run every once in a while, to clear out the carbon deposit build up, can also help.

 

5. It is important to change your car’s filters – both the oil and air filters get clogged over time and can cause damage. Filter changes are usually done at the time of service but if you’re feeling brave, you can change them yourself. Just make sure you get genuine parts and read the owner’s manual thoroughly.

 

6. Many cars now have air conditioning which is obviously great but is another aspect of your car that needs looking after. Air con needs to be in regular use as when it isn’t used for long periods, gas leaks can occur. This means that they need to be ‘re-gassed’. So, although not having your air conditioning on may save you a bit of money in petrol, it could cost you more in the long run.

 

7. A vital part of your car to maintain is the battery. Not using your car for long periods at a time can be detrimental – this causes the battery to degrade and go flat. Even jump-starting your car puts a strain on it. To combat this, consider trickle charging it whilst it’s not in use.

 

8. Spark plugs and high-tension leads are a critical part of your engine. They can have a major effect on the performance of your engine. Whilst these generally get changed during a service, if you notice signs of wear and tear then get them checked sooner.

 

9. It used to be that a vehicle’s oil needed to be replaced every 3000 miles or every three months. Luckily for us, this has now changed to 5000 miles / every six months. However, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t check the oil regularly. This is simply done by removing the dipstick and just making sure the oil level is between the minimum and maximum level and is a light yellow/brown colour.

 

10. And last but not least, keep it clean. Too many people never wash their car, but they don’t know that washing a car is far more than just making it look nice. Washing gets rid of grime and helps avoid corrosion which ultimately leads to a longer life. Read our tips on how to clean your car here.

 

Car theft on the rise, but you can stop it!

It probably feels like cars are safer and more secure than they’ve ever been, but car theft takes many forms and is sadly on the rise. If you’ve had your car stolen then it can be a very stressful experience, but even if you are not a theft victim it can still impact you with increased premiums.

But the good news is there are lots of easy steps you can take to protect yourself against car crime and potentially reduce your premiums, and here at Vavista we have the best ones here for you.

Did you know?

Recent figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show motor theft claims paid by insurers in the first quarter of 2019 were at their highest for any quarter since 2012.

Shockingly a payment was made to a car crime victim every 8 minutes and cost £108 million. This works out at over £1.2 million paid to policyholders every single day and has seen the overall cost of motor theft claims double in the last four years which can ultimately lead to higher premiums.

How can I protect my car?

Do the easy stuff

Simple old fashion methods still have their place, so don’t forget to ensure your car is properly locked, windows are up, and don’t leave valuables in view (if you do need to leave valuables in the car, put them out of sight in the boot)

Secure your keys

Keeping your keys far away and out of sight of doors and windows can minimise the chances of them being stolen. Opportunist thieves have been known to use a coat hanger to hook keys through the letterbox, or if that doesn’t work then breaking in and taking them along with your car.

Go old school

Aftermarket devices such as steering wheel locks, a driveway parking post, or even a wheel clamp still have their place and can be a good theft deterrent. Most high street car accessory stores such as Halfords have a great range which is not only secure but won’t break the bank.

Got a garage? Use it!

A surprising number of people have a garage but still, leave their car on the street. For the sake of a few minutes, you can add an extra level of security for your car by putting it away (if the garage is alarmed even better!). If you only have a driveway and then something simple like a motion activated security light can be a good purchase and can deter car thieves.

Park sensibly

The RAC recommend that when away from home visiting friends or family, either park under a street light, in a secure car park, or even on their driveway if you can. And like anytime, lock up, no valuables in view, use a steering lock or the like if you have one, and secure your keys

Add a tracking device

Tracker state that vehicles fitted with its tech have a 96 percent recovery rate when stolen. Not only is a tracker an excellent deterrent, but if the worst happens there is a far better chance your car can be recovered.

Buy a signal-blocking pouch

If you have keyless entry on your car, a signal blocking or Faraday pouch is made of signal-blocking materials that stop your key transmitting its security code. Keep your key in one of these and it can stop thieves from detecting and amplifying its signal, and driving away with your car. Carbuyer magazine has reviewed the best here.

Is there anything more you can do?

Ensure your car has the latest software updates for the car itself. Carmakers are working on countermeasures to combat keyless theft, with new frequency technologies, software, and keys among the developments taking place. Having the latest software can help protect your car.

Finally, remain vigilant for unusual activity in your area, and keep your neighbours and if necessary the police, informed.

How to clean car at home

With the days becoming warmer and brighter, there’s no excuse to avoid cleaning your car … and the good news is … it’ll help you get beach-ready at the same time!

Did you know?

Keeping your car clean not only makes it look cool and shiny, but can also burn a surprising number of calories. Some studies have estimated a good car wash to be 250 calories, the equivalent of a 20-minute run or a 4 mile walk.

What do you need?

You don’t need much to achieve that showroom shine, but there are a few things you’ll find helpful:

  • A pressure-washer is great, but if you don’t have this then a garden hose with a spray gun attachment will do just fine
  • Two buckets, yes two! You can get these pretty cheaply and it will become clear why two are essential
  • A wash mitt, some car shampoo and a microfibre drying towel. Again, you don’t have to spend a fortune and can pick these up cheaply.

A wash mitt, some car shampoo and a microfibre drying towel.

Washing your car stress-free

Firstly, you need to give yourself enough time if you want really good results. An hour should be sufficient. Avoid rainy days as it marks the finish and if it’s sunny try to work in the shade as car shampoo dries too quickly in the sunshine and can leave streaky marks on your paintwork.

Step One – pre-rinse

Before you wash the car, you want to clear the bits that could get stuck in your wash mitt and scratch the paintwork. Using your pressure washer or hose, start at the top of the car and work down, spraying off all the loose grime and dirt. This will save you time during the actual wash too. While you’re there you can wash the insides of the wheel arches to avoid corrosion.

Pro tip: you can get alloy wheel cleaning sprays, and if you want a real sparkle to your wheels, spray them once you’ve rinsed the car and leave to soak in for a few minutes.

Step Two – the wash

Here is where the two buckets come in! Fill one with car shampoo and water, and the other with clean water. Simply wash the car using the shampoo bucket, but, before dipping the mitt back in the shampoo bucket give it a quick rinse in the clean water to remove any dirt particles.  Again, start at the top, work down and repeat until you’ve done the whole car.

Pro tip: you can go a step further with your clean water bucket and get a gravel guard. This sits in the bottom of the bucket to catches any dirt and gravel so it doesn’t end up in the shampoo bucket.

Step Three – the rinse

Like step one, use your pressure washer or hosepipe to rinse the shampoo from the car; again working top to bottom. Use the microfibre towel to dry the car off – you might need more than one to get the car totally dry.

Pro tip: you can get a post wash wax from most car stores. This is sprayed on the car when still wet then wipes off with the microfibre towel and gives the car a nice shine with minimal effort.

Step Four – the inside

So, that’s the outside done! The inside is a little easier but just as important.

  • Give the glass a clean with a glass cleaner product, but try to avoid furniture polish as this can cause smears and obscure your vision
  • For the interior trim, use a damp microfibre cloth, or there are interior cleaners which remove slightly more dust and dirt. Try to avoid cleaning products on the steering wheel, gear stick, and brake – these can leave them clammy or slippery in your hands.
  • Finally remove any car mats, shake them off, and give them a good vacuum along with the carpet inside your car.

As you can see a really nice clean car can be achieved quite easily. The steps are easy when you break them down, and you can burn a decent number of calories while you do it. So, the only question is, who is going to look better, you or the car?

Taking the stress out of making a claim

Any ice we had has melted, the weather is finally warming up, and the sun is shining a little brighter, which means spring is here!

Many people see the start of spring as a time to celebrate that winter is over but while car accidents can occur at any time, they are especially common during the spring. There are several reasons why this happens, but could be partly due to the increased number of travellers during this season.

Did you know?

There were over 22,000 casualties on UK roads between April and June in 2018. And while this was slightly down on 2017, it’s still way too many.

So, what should you do if you’ve had an incident?

Whether it’s a small bump or a more serious collision, having a car accident can be very upsetting. However, there are a few things you can do to be safe and, also gather the right information to make a claim:

  • It’s very important that you contact us as soon as possible and when it is safe to do so
  • Remain calm and don’t accept liability
  • Exchange details with the other party. Remember to include names, phone numbers and addresses, make, model and registration number of the vehicle, and their insurer details
  • Take down details of any witnesses or police officers that attended the scene
  • Take photos if you can, of all vehicles, damage, the road, and conditions

had an incident?

How do I report a claim quickly and easily?

Well, we have several ways you can report a claim but it’s very important that you contact us as soon as possible. Even if you don’t intend to make a claim it’s best to tell us you’ve been involved in an accident especially if someone else is involved.

Our Claims Team is available to support you 24/7 and you can speak to them by calling 0344 840 9537. If you have your policy details and incident details to hand, this will speed up the process. Don’t worry if you don’t – your address, car registration, etc. will be just as useful.

If easier, you can also report a claim via this link online. Here you can fill in the main details of the incident in a matter of minutes, and one of our claims handlers will call you back ASAP.

Damaged your windscreen and wish to make a claim? That’s also no problem. Just call us on 0800 011 6609 and we can process this with minimal fuss.

So, what happens next?

We understand that making a claim can be stressful so we are committed to providing excellent service, as is our partner company Eldon Insurance where claims are handled. We take all claims seriously and your claim will be handled by one of their experienced claims handlers who will guide you through the process.

Finally, beware of Claims Management Companies (CMCs)!

Be careful when you search for us on the internet. There are companies out there pretending to be us and you could end up giving all your details to a Claims Management Company who may only be interested in arranging expensive hire cars and passing you to a personal injury solicitor. Whilst their service might sound great, you may be left in the lurch if your claim isn’t straightforward. Watch out for misleading ads on your internet search and be sure you’re on the right page, or that you call us on one of the numbers above.

How to deal with road rage

Imagine you’re walking along the street and you accidentally walk in front of someone. What generally happens? Assuming either of you even notices, the chances are you’ll apologise and carry on without giving it a second thought. Now picture the same scene in a car. It’s likely that it ends up with you or the other driver gesturing, shouting, or sounding their horn, right?

So why is there such a change in our attitudes when we get behind the wheel? There are lots of theories but one thing is certain: it’s a very real problem and it’s getting worse.

In line with our commitment to looking after your health as well as your insurance, here at Vavista we have looked at how to handle road rage starting with actions you can take to avoid it, what to do during a road rage incident, and things you can do afterwards, so you can put it behind you and avoid the harmful stress that it generates.

Did you know?

According to a CarWow survey, four out of five UK drivers have been on the receiving end of road rage. Worryingly 15% said they’d been involved in 10 or more road rage incidents. UK motorists are also more likely to face road rage than those driving in France, Germany, Italy, India and the US.

If you suffer from road rage

Plan ahead and allow plenty of time for your journey: Road rage is caused by anxiety, so knowing where you’re going and how you’re going to get there removes uncertainty. This in turn can prevent drivers feeling tense and minimises the chances of them becoming aggressive.

Be forgiving: Cut other drivers a little slack. We are all human and all make mistakes at the wheel. Their behaviour might be irritating, but are you going to change it or make the situation better by getting wound up? Probably not so it’s best to chill out.

It’s nothing personal: That driver who’s doing 20mph in a 40 zone? Maybe looking for an address. The other one who’s driving too close behind you? Maybe they’re late for a life-changing meeting. Again, we have probably been in that situation ourselves and it’s nothing against you personally, so relax.

What to do during a road rage incident

How to drive: If someone’s driving aggressively behind you, just find a safe place to pull over and let them go. Don’t inflame the situation by braking suddenly or stubbornly maintaining your position in your lane.

How to act: If someone does display road rage try apologising, even if it’s not your fault: there’s a very good chance it will pacify the other person and could prevent the situation escalating to a confrontation.

If they get out of their car to remonstrate with you, ignore them. Don’t be tempted to unlock your door or open a window to remonstrate back. Ignore them and don’t make eye contact or react in any way that they can see.

What to do: If the other driver follows you, drive to a well-populated area like a petrol station. They’ll have CCTV cameras which gives you time to call for help and wait for the police from the safety of your car while being observed on camera..

Is it you? If road rage keeps happening to you, it might be down to the way you drive. Maybe you’re overly assertive or have fallen into some bad driving habits that wind others up like not indicating. Road rage does not happen to everyone every day, so if it’s happening often think about how you engage with other road users, or take a refresher driving course.

 

What to do afterwards

Feeling a bit shaken up? pull over somewhere safe as soon as you can and take a quick walk to burn off some of the adrenaline that’s coursing through your system. Maybe call a friend and talk about it if you can.

Distract yourself: listen to the radio so you can move your mind onto something else and not dwell on the incident.

Could someone else be at risk? If you feel the other driver was overly aggressive, consider reporting the matter to the police.

Reflect on the experience: Try to understand how it happened and what you could do differently? Was your driving to blame? Did you inflame the situation at all? Was there anything you could have done differently?

 

Keyless theft is on the rise!

Cars stolen via keyless theft are on the rise, but what exactly is keyless theft? Can you protect yourself against it? Vavista has the answers.

What is keyless theft?

The way criminals steal a car via keyless theft is actually quite simple. First, they buy a relay amplifier and transmitter; these electronic devices are available from the darker corners of the internet.

Next, they look for a house with a nice car outside and can detect if the car has a keyless entry and go system (i.e. you press the key fob to unlock the car, and have a start button instead of an older style key start).

The transmitter is held by the car, while the amplifier is waved near the house. If the car key is close enough the amplifier will detect its signal, amplify it and send it to the transmitter. This transmitter effectively becomes the key, and tricks the car into thinking the real key is nearby.

So the thieves simply open the car, get in, and drive away. The whole thing can take under a minute in near silence, and as the engine won’t cut out when the key is out of range, there is little to stop them.

Did you know?

Recent years have seen a spike in vehicle theft, with the last five years witnessing a 48% increase in the number of cars being stolen. Part of this is due to the rising popularity of keyless entry and go systems.

Research by a German motoring organisation found of 237 keyless systems tested, only three could completely fend off keyless attacks – the latest models of the Discovery, Range Rover, and Jaguar i-Pace. Of the UK’s top-selling cars, only the Vauxhall Corsa was deemed safe – it is not actually available with keyless entry and ignition.

How can I protect my car?

Keyless theft almost sounds like there is nothing you can do to stop it, but there are several steps you can take to minimise the chances of it happening to you;

Do the easy stuff – simple old fashion methods still have their place, so don’t forget to ensure your car is properly locked. Keeping your keys far away from doors and windows can minimise the chances of your key’s signal being scanned, and is generally good practice as it can prevent thieves from breaking in and taking them along with your car.

Go old school – Aftermarket devices such as steering wheel locks; a driveway parking post; or even a wheel clamp still have their place. Scanning your keys is no use if the thieves can’t drive the car away.

Add a tracking deviceTracker states that vehicles fitted with its tech have a 96 percent recovery rate when stolen. Not only is a tracker an excellent deterrent, but if the worst happens there is a far better chance your car can be recovered.

Buy a signal-blocking pouch – a signal blocking or Faraday pouch is made of signal-blocking materials that stop your key transmitting its security code. Keep your key in one of these and is can stop thieves from detecting and amplifying its signal.

Is there anything more you can do?

Ensure your car has the latest software updates. Car manufacturers are working on countermeasures to combat keyless theft, with new frequency technologies, software and keys among the developments taking place. Having the latest software can help protect your car.

Finally, remain vigilant for unusual activity in your area and keep your neighbours, and if necessary the police, informed.

Caravaners alert – top tips for towing

With spring arriving and the weather improving, a lot of caravan owners will be thinking about this year’s first trip away. With sales of caravans on the rise, it’s apparent that more and more people are using them to holiday in the UK so it pays to know the current laws and how to keep on the right side of the law.

Did you know?

There are an estimated 555,000 touring caravans in the UK. That’s a lot of caravans on the road and drivers who can benefit from our handy tips to avoid a £1,000 fine.

camping in uk and away

Our top driving tips

  1. Do you have the right license to tow your caravan? You passed your test so you’re legal, right? Well there is no such thing as a ‘trailer licence’ but dependent on the weight you are towing and when you passed your test, you might need to take an additional driving test;
  • If you passed your driving test before 1 January 1997 you’re generally allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer/caravan combination up to 8,250kg
  • If you passed after 1 January 1997 and have an ordinary category B (car) licence, you can drive a vehicle and trailer/caravan combo up to 3,500kg
  • From 19 January 2013 drivers passing a category B (car and small vehicle) test can tow a small trailer/caravan of up to 750kg. (more info link here?)

 

  1. Does my vehicle have adequate towing capacity? The maximum weight your car can safely tow (i.e. fully loaded car plus fully loaded trailer/caravan) is normally listed in the handbook. The RAC has a great guide here, and you should also remember that you can only tow something that is a maximum of 2.55 meters wide and 7 meters long. Towing something too heavy is not only illegal but can also do serious damage to your car.

 

  1. Safe towing: Make sure your tow bar is ‘type approved’ meeting EU regulations and is the right type for your car. Never carry passengers in the caravan when you’re towing it. And ensure your number plate is BS approved, shows your car’s registration number, and is illuminated at night.

 

  1. Don’t forget you are towing a caravan: Obvious but give yourself more time and space especially taking corners and never exceed 50mph on single carriageways or 60mph on dual carriageways.

 

  1. Pack your caravan sensibly: Try to keep the caravan as light as possible with the heavier items low down and close to the axle.

Safe driving during school holidays

The school holidays should be a time of fun, time off work, and potentially spending relaxing time with family and friends. So why has recent research by Lloyds Bank shown that around 70% of drivers find the thought of getting behind the wheel during school holidays fills them with nerves?

Did you know?

Driving confidence often comes with experience, but surprisingly there are 1.35m licence-holders who have passed their test but not yet hit the roads. For them, and more, the prospect of driving over a busy holiday season may well be daunting. Well, panic no more – Vavista has a few simple tips to make driving during the school holidays less stressful and more fun!

Our top driving tips for safe school holiday driving

  1. Plan your journey before you go on an Easter trip: You might have an Easter lunch invite to somewhere new. If you are nervous about driving somewhere you’ve never been to, plan the journey before you set off. It’s so easy now to look up the route and destination on Google Maps, especially Street View so buildings and other landmarks look familiar when you get nearby. You can even identify your parking options in advance – check out our previous blog for various ways to reduce parking stress. (LINK TO PREVIOUS BLOG) Less uncertainty equals more confidence!

 

  1. Don’t forget some basic maintenance: Before making any long trip it’s a good idea to have an idea of basic car maintenance should the worst happen. Watching car maintenance videos online can help [Haynes have some easy-to-understand basics on co.uk, read motor magazines, or ask friends and family. Knowing what to do when something goes wrong, such as how to repair a flat tyre or top up your oil will make you more confident. And what about roadside recovery – are you covered by the AA, RAC or similar in case of breakdown?

 

  1. Learn to fill up: Amazingly 5% of drivers (that’s 2.2m!) have never filled their car with fuel.IS THIS REALLY TRUE??!! If you have a long journey or anywhere you risk being caught in traffic, make sure you have enough in your tank. You can minimise fuel anxiety by going to the station with a friend who does know how to fill up and let them show you how. It’s easier than you think.

 

  1. Driving is better with music, so create an Easter playlist: A playlist or audio book the whole family can enjoy will help to keep you all in a good mood. So, have some fun creating a playlist together, and get in the mood with a singalong which can help avoid you getting wound up, especially if you become stuck in Easter traffic.

 

 

  1. Don’t be a drowsy-driver: Driving when tired is as dangerous as drink-driving – but whilst most of us wouldn’t dream of driving over the limit, we think nothing of driving after a poor night’s sleep. Caffeine can help a little but a good 7-8 hours the night before is much better. If the journey is long, regular stops for fresh air and a walk around can keep you alert. And, where possible, avoid driving late at night or mid-afternoon when your body is naturally less energetic. What’s more, good sleep reduces stress – let’s avoid Easter road-rage!

 

  1. Fuel yourself as well as your car: Your car needs the correct fuel, but so do you! An empty stomach can be distracting or leave you tired, and while sugar based treats might give you a boost, this will be temporary and soon be followed by a sugar crash, that could leave you in danger of drowsy-driving. So have a proper meal like eggs and wholemeal toast before you set of And don’t forget – stay hydrated, especially if we have sunny weather! Just swap the sugary drinks for good old-fashioned water.

 

  1. Save the Easter eggs until later: it’s probably no surprise that kids can get over-excited if they eat too much chocolate. Save that sugar high for when you arrive at your destination, and avoid the stress-inducing squabbles by letting them nibble on some fresh fruit or healthy nuts instead.

The best driving roads in the UK

When you think of best driving roads you probably think of driving through the coast of Italy, the Pacific Coast Highway in California, or the stunning scenery of the Swiss alps. But you can find some great driving roads much closer to home right here in the UK. Here at Vavista we’ve found you our 10 favourites for (responsibly) putting your foot down….

Did you know?

The Department of Transport has estimated the UK’s road network to be 250,000 miles in length. If you could drive them all at the UK speed limit it would take you almost 150 days of non-stop motoring to cover them all.

 

Our 10 driving roads in the UK

  1. HORNCASTLE TO LOUTH: Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the A153 is a winding 13-mile journey connecting the market towns of Horncastle and Louth in the Lincolnshire Wolds and a true delight to drive.
  2. CAT AND FIDDLE: The Cat and Fiddle is named after the pub at the summit of the A54 – A537 from Buxton to Macclesfield, and must be the most famous road around the Peak District; particularly for bikers.
  3. FORRES TO ALFORD: This is a great driving road with bends almost all the way and vistas in all directions. It runs through the Cairngorms National Park and Strathdon or the alternative route over the Cairnwell into Glenshee. The route stretches either 82 miles, or 110 miles if you take the alternative Forres to Blairgowrie road. A joy no matter which route you take.
  4. BLACK MOUNTAIN PASS: Possibly the best road in Wales, this route wrinkles over the Black Mountain in the Brecon Beacons: the A4069 connects Llandovery with Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen in Wales. Watch out for stray sheep and sudden hairpins!
  5. THE LLANBERIS PASS: The A4086 takes you from the village of Capel Curig, to the Royal Town of Caernarfon, past the Glyderau and one of Britain’s most famous mountains; Mount Snowdon!
  6. GLASGOW TO FORT WILLIAM: If you want to drive the shores of Loch Lomond, Loch Ness and in the shadow of Ben Nevis, you need the A82 in your life! It is probably the most important trunk route serving the West Highlands of Scotland, and the route includes pieces of road first built in the 1750s.
  7. ABERYSTWYTH TO LLANGURIG: Running through some of the most beautiful countryside in Wales, the A44 is a 25 mile stretch running from the seaside town of Aberystwyth to the small village of Llangurig. Spectacular!
  8. THE SNAKE PASS: Often driven in conjunction with the “Cat and Fiddle”, The Snake Pass was listed as one of the best driving roads by Auto Trader magazine in 2009 and is the name of the A57 road where it crosses the Peak District between Manchester and Sheffield. The name usually refers to the section between Glossop and Ladybower reservoir and at its highest point, it is 512 metres (1679 feet) above sea level.
  9. ST IVES TO ST JUST: If 13 miles of sweeping bends, short straights and tight turns is your thing, the B3306 from St Ives to St Just in Cornwall is among the South West’s finest. The views aren’t too bad either!
  10. THE CHEDDAR GORGE: Another great driving road situated in the West Country is a route that incorporates the amazing Cheddar Gorge. This road is just 10 miles south-west of historic city of Bristol, and 8 miles east of the seaside favourite Weston-Super-Mare.