Tag Archive | "used car"

Motor Blogger Says – Drive For The Season

Well, we – in the UK at least – have been lucky with the weather so far this winter. Certainly it’s been a bit chilly but otherwise – like the man said who fell from a skyscraper every time he passed a window, ‘so far so good’. But, like that man’s ultimate outcome, things can swiftly change for the worse as the fickle finger of Mother Nature gets a bit of a strop on. If your used car is your pride and joy or if you are buying a new car, it’s time to take care.

At any time we could suddenly see the first snow flurry of this dark and dismal season; some northerly parts of the country have already had a first taste of this year’s winter worst feature and temperatures could drop significantly anytime now. With that in mind, now’s the time for Motor Blogger to remind you of the tips for driving on snow and ice.

Keep to the main roads as they’re more likely to be salted. Also bear in mind that after the frost has gone, ice can remain in areas which are shaded by trees and buildings – and it forms there first, so be careful in the evening as the temperature drops.

It may seem obvious yet every year people do forget, so ensure you have de-icer and a scraper. And don’t be one of those people – and despite all the warnings they are still out there – who only scrape a small area and drive looking through a miniscule clear patch that quickly mists over. Clear the whole screen to be able to see properly and don‘t set off until you‘re satisfied.

If the road is slippery when you start off, try it in second gear, releasing the clutch and accelerating gently, absolutely avoiding high revs – this will help prevent wheel spin. Wheel-spin could cause the car to slew around. As you drive, stay in higher gears to help avoid that same wheel-spin. In an automatic be gentle with your feet, and use whatever gearbox features that the car handbook says will help in slippery conditions. There may be a suitable setting.

It seems obvious, but cars go in ditches every winter because drivers haven’t taken icy roads seriously enough. If it’s cold outside treat wet looking patches with great care – they could be ice, not water. Stopping distances are increased by up to 10 times in icy conditions, so leave plenty of distance between your car and the car in front – plan so that you’re not relying on your brakes to stop – on ice they may not do that for you. If it is really slippery slow down early and use the gears to do it.

If the worst happens and your car loses grip and starts to slide sideways, take your foot off the accelerator, and point the front wheels where you want to go. These are just a few pointers to get you thinking and preparing. Being mentally prepared as well as having the right equipment is vital, so think about any past winter problems and what you need to do to avoid them or overcome them if they recur this year. Take a leaf out of the Boy Scout manual – be prepared.

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Are We Nearly There Yet? (Part Two)

When it comes to buying a new car, or a used car come to that, the car that we want is the car that we want, right? Wrong. The car that we really want is the car that that we need. For most of us this is the financial reality in today’s economic situation when just the one motor is your limit. This obviously isn’t so much of a problem if you are single and fancy free but the family man has to have a different set of priorities.

Having children is a strangely anomalous state. It is wonderful, terrifying, frustrating and hugely annoying in pretty much equal measures and has a major and lifelong effect on your existence. Children in cars are often responsible for the hugely annoying bit, as we have seen earlier on Motor Blogger. So what sort of car is it that parents can happily buy in the certain knowledge that your children, at least, will be moderately content?

Clearly, you’ll need to satisfy yourself on the basics – economy, performance, optional extras and the like but then you’ve got to factor in the ankle-biters. The AA, bless them, have supplied a list of downloadable fun and games online to keep children amused at least for some of the duration of a long journey. They’re good too, but we’re also concerned with practical aspects.

The average family would probably favour a hatchback over a saloon for obvious reasons but what about the back seats? Naturally, you would go for a five door and it is useful if the back doors open wide – which implies a larger vehicle, like an SUV or MPV. Loading small ones into difficult to access child seats is not a lot of fun. This is where sliding rear doors come into their own. The 7 seat Ford Grand C-Max (pictured), for example, has sliding doors and a variable rear seat layout for maximum child effectiveness.

Some manufacturers also supply so-called ‘stadium seating’ – the rear seats are higher than the fronts – which gives kids a better forward view and is alleged to reduce travel sickness. And speaking of projectile vomiting, don’t worry about leather seats as they are a lot easier to swab down! It might be a good idea to avoid beige.

A twelve volt socket is a must, for plugging in hand-held games or, if you can afford the option, how about seat-back DVD screens for the more discerning square-eyed child. The average family car also requires more storage space than Cheryl Cole’s (né e Tweedy, for the purists) dressing room. It wasn’t so many years ago that we marvelled at the advent of the cup-holder. How naïve we must have been back then.

Most car makers have suitable offerings so it’s worth doing your homework first. The outcome is unlikely to be the sexiest option but both you and your children will be happier and that’s the important thing.

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