Finding Second-Hand Car Parts

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When things start going south on your vehicle, one excellent way of saving money on car parts is by buying them second-hand. You can typically find the exact part that you need on a budget, even for older vehicles. To do this, you will need to have the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the car needing the part. Often the manufacturer of the vehicle will have data tables that will help you identify the right part.

In some instances, the part itself will have a code on it, which will make a replacement much easier to find. Once you know what you are looking for, you can then try to find the replacement part at local scrap yards, ebay, local garages, dealers, forums or swap meets. If you are planning to replace the part yourself, having the knowledge or skills, you will save quite a bit of money in not buying new and paying for labour. However, if you are not much of a mechanic, you can then take the replacement part and vehicle to a garage for the repair.

How Often Should You Be Checking Your Oil?

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With older vehicles it has always been recommended to check the oil levels every week, but with modern-day sensors installed in all newer vehicles, things are just a bit different. Oil sensors in newer car models notify you when the oil level is low, however it is still recommended to check the oil once every few weeks or after every 1,000 miles driven and also before departing on a long journey. Even newer vehicles need topping up now and again.

Checking the oil level is not usually difficult, but here are a few tips to keep in mind:

• If you have just been running the car, allow it to cool before checking the oil level.

• Always pull the dip stick out, wipe it clean, then reinsert and pull out again to get an accurate reading.

• If low, top it up with a high-quality engine oil that is compatible with your vehicle.

• If you are having to fill your oil up often, this could indicate a leak and the vehicle should be inspected by a professional mechanic.

• Ensure that you get your oil changed every 3,000-5,000 miles or every six months.

Hybrids: Do the Benefits Outweigh the Cost?

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Hybrids entered the UK market around 20 years ago, however they are still relatively uncommon. With changing legislation and the shift towards eco-friendly thinking, many people are wondering about the cost/benefit side of owning a hybrid. Several trials and experiments have been done to try and establish a clear answer as to whether it saves you money in the long run, but still no easy answer has been reached. What is clear, is that the biggest factors involved are the way and environment in which the vehicle is use.

There have been tests and comparisons done on the Golf GTE and the Toyota Camry, for just two examples. The quick and easy answer is, if you live in the city and drive short-ish distances and mostly at lower speeds, hybrids will pay back those extra costs over time, estimated five to seven years, in some cases. This could take longer or shorter depending on how the vehicle is used. Fuel is not the only thing you will be saving on but congestion charges, taxes, sometimes on insurance and additional future savings as governments crack down more on pollution.

So, in short, hybrids could definitely be beneficial for some people, but for others they may not be a viable option, at this time. However, the more ‘green’-conscious legislation becomes and with future hybrid improvements, one day most people will probably have a hybrid or electric car.

Why a Tiny Crack in your Windscreen is a Big Deal

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Windscreens are far more important than we give them credit for. An undamaged windscreen is an essential part of your vehicles structure and “provides up to 30% of the vehicle’s structural strength, and the passenger airbag relies on the windscreen to provide support if the airbag deploys”, says Autoglass. That is why you should always take chips and cracks very seriously.

A small chip can quickly turn into a large crack which could obstruct your view of the road and also make glare from the sun worse. Additionally, if allowed to remain, a small chip or crack can enlarge to a point where it is unrepairable and you will be forced to get a whole new windscreen which is more expensive. Some windscreen damage could also result in a MOT failure.

A chip can quickly turn into a crack an any time, usually whilst you are driving. As soon as you notice any damage, have it seen to immediately. Typically, a small chip fix runs around £30 but windscreen replacement costs start around £150 or more.

Dealer Services – are they worth the money?

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It’s certainly true that vehicles with a full service-history will retain more value than those without, and rightly so, but it’s a commonly-held belief that more value can be added by ensuring that those services are only carried out by recognised dealers.

Here, we explore whether that is actually the case. Dealer services are more expensive; depending on the manufacturer, it’s easily possible to pay at least 50% more for a service from a main dealer. Whilst they will use only genuine parts, is it really worth that premium?

In a word, no. Whilst using genuine parts could have a slight benefit in terms of resale value, there’s no reason you can’t specify this to another service centre, particularly if they’re a specialist in that manufacturer. Besides, in many cases no parts will be replaced at services as they amount to little more than an oil change, and a check & diagnostic. Even where parts are replaced, does it really matter if your wiper blades and bulbs are generic?

As well as being cheaper, independent service agents often offer better quality; dealers often employ junior staff and train them up, with the best then setting out on their own – so chances are your independent is much more experienced and knowledgeable than even the best dealer man.