Category Archives: Advice

Title: Car Maintenance You Can Do Yourself

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Summary: No one likes to pay for maintenance of their car but here are some jobs you can do yourself to limit the costs of keeping your vehicle running as smooth as a nut!

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Meta Description: Some easy car maintenance you can carry out yourself

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In order to keep down maintenance costs, we have put together a few different jobs you can do to make sure your car is running properly. You may not know your spark plugs from your alternators, but this guide should give you an idea of what to do!

 

TYRES
Tyres are essentially your vehicle’s shoes and we all know what it’s like wearing an uncomfortable pair of shoes! When inspecting your tyres, you want to be looking for any cracks or gouges around the tread and sides of the tyres. If you spot a nail or screw, don’t remove them because the tyre may deflate. Instead, drive carefully to your nearest dealership where the tyre can be repaired or replaced!

To visit our Tyre Shop, click here 

 

WINDSCREEN WASHER FLUID
This is super easy so don’t worry if your mechanical skills are limited! Usually under the bonnet, you’ll find the windscreen washer bottle cap, which will have a washer jet symbol printed on it. The lid usually unclips but if you aren’t sure, check your manual before you start pouring!
Screen wash fluid is better than water alone as it contains a detergent to remove stubborn dirt. Check to see if it needs to be diluted then fill the bottle. Job done!

CHECKING/TOPPING UP YOUR OIL
Another pretty easy job although this has potential to get a little bit messy! Your engine needs to be cool and your car should be parked on an even surface for the most accurate results. You need to be looking out for the dipstick,  which is near the engine, usually yellow or orange. If you can’t find it your car manual, or Google, is your friend here.
Once you find it, carefully remove it and wipe with a piece of kitchen roll. Pop it back in fully then remove it again. At the end of the dipstick, there are minimum and maximum marks, where the level of oil should be sitting.
If it’s below the minimum, you will need to top up your oil. Making sure to get the correct oil for your vehicle to avoid any engine catastrophes.
Remove the cap, pour in the oil, then check the depth again using the dipstick. Be sure not to overfill!

WINDSCREEN WIPERS
There isn’t a standard size or type for windscreen wipers so make sure you find out which ones you need for your vehicle.
Turn off your windscreen wipers if they’re on (unless you feel like challenging yourself) Lift the wipers away from the windscreen gently as they are quite delicate. They will have retaining clips but they very from vehicle to vehicle so pay close attention to how they fit. Once you’ve worked out how your existing blades detach, do the process in reverse to fit your shiny new wiper blades. Give them a cheeky test and away you go!

WASHING YOUR CAR
Although it may not seem quite like maintenance, removing grime, bird droppings  and road salt, in winter, will preserve your paint and protect against potential rust. Plus who doesn’t love a gleaming car?
If you aren’t hands on when it comes to washing, you can get it washed at an automatic/hand car wash, which you have to pay for. Alternatively, you can get your sponge and bucket out to give your car some TLC. Use a soft microfiber cloth to avoiding scratching your paintwork and finish with a wax and polish. Ideal!

 

Those are just a few things you can do yourself. For a more comprehensive service carried out by the professionals, click here and book today! Marvellous!

Author: Bristol Street Motors

Title: How to be a friendly driver

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Summary: Sometimes driving can be the most stressful thing you do all day, but it doesn't have to be. Read on for ways to stay focused and relaxed on the road!

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Meta Description: How to stay friendly and relaxed on the road!

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Assume they’re having a worse day than you
You may have spilt your coffee down your new shirt this morning, or maybe you left those really important papers on your kitchen side. Maybe you even forgot that tomorrow is your anniversary and you still have nothing for your significant other. Whatever might have happened and however stressed you may feel, take a moment to think about what other people might be going through. She may be in a rush to get to the hospital. He may be slightly distracted coming back from a funeral. This doesn’t mean that your problems aren’t real but don’t take them out on strangers around you.

 

Respect the personal space of those around you
It might not be their own rear end but getting a bit too close to the car in front of you is, nevertheless, unnecessary and unpleasant for its occupants. It’s putting yourself and them in danger and accomplishes nothing. Most likely the’ll stay exactly the same speed or potentially even slow down. If a car is tailing you, never feel pressure to speed up! If anything, you need to bring your speed down to give you, and them, more time to react if you were to break suddenly.

 

Do to others as you would want done to you
A wave of thanks takes nothing but can put the recipient in a better mood for the rest of their journey. Even if they were only following the rules of the road by letting you through, there are far too many people who ignore said rules! Make it worth their while with an acknowledgement of gratitude and they’re likely to pay it forward – make the roads a happier place one wave at a time.

 

Accept that we all make mistakes sometimes
The first thing you need to accept is we all occasionally end up in the wrong lane on a roundabout or misjudge the speed of an oncoming car when pulling out of a junction. Moments like these aren’t done on purpose to spite you so don’t get defensive. Stay calm, react to their movements safely and carry on with your day. Aggressively beeping at someone who’s in the wrong accomplishes nothing but distracts them from their own driving. If you’re worried, beep once to remind them of your presence, but there’s no need to deafen them.

 

If you are worried about someone’s driving, you can always take note of their number plate, and any possible details about the individual, and anonymously ring the DVLA on 0844 453 0118 (reports with the police will be passed onto the DVLA).

Author: Bristol Street Motors

Title: How to stay calm before your driving test

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Summary: You may be nervous when it comes to taking your practical driving test but taking some simple steps can help alleviate any anxiety!

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Meta Description: 10 ways to keep your nerves in check before you take your driving test!

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Driving in windy weather (13)

 

Your driving test feels like a big deal when the time comes to it and there is often a lot of pressure on passing first time. While it doesn’t really matter how many times it takes you to pass, there is nothing stopping you from passing first time with a little preparation!

Below we have listed our top 10 tips for reducing stress and staying calm before and during your test; have a read through, take a deep breath and know that you’ve got this!

You don’t have to be perfect
This is the most important point to remember – even if you make a mistake on the test, there is a high likelihood that it’s only a minor error and you can have up to 15 minors! Forget about it and move on; don’t let worrying about your last mistake distract you into making another one.

Keep it a secret
It’s hard enough dealing with your own emotions without adding worrying about other peoples to the pile. Tell people you need to tell or want to tell but keeping it quiet takes some of the pressure off! If things don’t go quite to plan then people never need to know.

Arrive 15 minutes early
Plan your trip to the test centre in good time, you don’t want to be rushing to the test centre as it will make you even more stressed before you start. At the same time, if you arrive too early there’s nothing to do but overthink things which you want to avoid.

Ask your instructor for a mock test
The driving test seems daunting but in actual fact there are only a limited number of things that you’ll be asked to do and all can be practised beforehand. Get your instructor to take you on a practice run in the area that you’ll actually be taking your test in. Take note of any special speed limit zones and try out your manoeuvres along the roads that may come up in the real thing.

Take time to prepare yourself on the day
Make sure you’ve had a good sleep the night before (although if the stress is keeping you awake, don’t then panic further!) and have some proper food in your system. Food might be the last thing on your mind but having a good meal the night before and a decent breakfast will give you more energy on the day. Stick to healthy foods that you might eat most days, your body will be used to these and you won’t be worried about upsetting your stomach.

Have a think about what to wear
This might sound silly but wearing something you feel good in will give you a little boost of confidence which can help during your test. Aim for something smart but comfortable, as wearing something that isn’t your everyday outfit will help you stay a bit more alert but make sure it won’t get in the way of your driving. If you want to wear certain shoes to your test be sure to have worn them to some lessons beforehand to know how they feel.

Go to the loo at the test centre
Not only is it something to keep you busy at the test centre and will stop you overthinking but it also is one less thing to worry about during the test!

Plan the time of your test to suit you
If you’re the kind of person who will be stressing about the test all morning if it’s later in the day then book one of the earlier slots. On the other hand, if you normally only drag yourself out of bed at midday then book one in the afternoon when you know you’ll be more alert. Follow your normal routine where possible to make sure you feel as in control as possible.

Get into good habits
Make sure you get used to checking your mirrors and seat position when you get into a car each time. This is one of the first things the examiner will mark you for so make sure you know where you need everything to be. Get your instructor to take you along new routes with new challenges even if they’re not in the test area; practice staying calm behind the wheel and know how to deal with any mistakes safely.

Don’t overthink it
If your test is in the afternoon, don’t let yourself just sit around thinking about it for the whole day. Keep yourself busy, try to follow your normal routine if it will calm you or meet up with a friend to keep yourself distracted and positive, even watching some YouTube videos of your favourite channel can work! If you’ve have a good day up to your test, you’ll feel better about it when the time does come.

Good Luck!

Author: Bristol Street Motors

Title: Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and what it means for you

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Summary: Personal Independence Payment, or PIP, is being introduced as Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is being phased out. This means anyone in receipt of DLA will have to apply to claim PIP. But don't worry, we are here to help!

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Driving in windy weather (11)

You may or may not be aware, but the current Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is being replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and this mean there are a few things you need to do in order to claim!

Firstly, if you  were or were over 65 years of age on 8th April 2013, you will continue to receive DLA as normal. This also applies to children under 16 years of age, who are already in receipt of DLA.

Everyone else, between the ages of 16 and 64,  will need to submit a new application for PIP, even if you have a ‘lifetime’ or ‘indefinite’ award for DLA. Don’t worry, it’s pretty straight forward!

If you want to get the ball rolling yourself, you can ring 0800 917 2222 (telephone) or 0800 917 7777 (textphone) Monday to Friday between 8am to 6pm. Within 2 weeks, you will receive an information pack with an application form and you will then have 4 weeks from then to complete and send back your application.

Otherwise, you will be sent a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) inviting you to make a claim for PIP. You will then have 4 weeks from receipt of the letter to complete and send back your application.

During this time, its a good idea to go and see your doctor to get the most up to date evidence on your health. However if you can’t get an appointment in that time, don’t delay your application. Use whatever evidence you have to hand. If you are unsure what to include, you can locate and contact your local Citizen’s Advice, who will be more than happy to help you.

To continue as part of the Motability scheme, you must be awarded the ‘enhanced rate’ for mobility component of PIP. Although this is not guaranteed, even if you are in receipt of the higher ratwe mobility component of DLA currently, making sure you have included as much evidence as possible will help to increase your chances.

In the event you do not qualify, you will have to return your Motability vehicle within 8 weeks of your payments stopping, or 26 weeks if you joined the Motability scheme before 2014. However you won’t be left high and dry without support from us and from the Motability scheme, who will offer transitional support packages, so don’t worry.

If your circumstances change as part of the transition, there are of course other options. Not only do Bristol Street Versa supply vehicles on the Motability scheme,  but we also have lots of new, nearly new and used Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) available to buy so we can help to keep you going.

This may seem like an unsettling time but be assured that you won’t be left without the help you need should your circumstances change. Just follow the steps above to ensure your evidence and application are sent off in good time!

If you’re still unsure on your next steps,. you can either contact your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau or contact Motability Customer Service on: 0300 456 4566

Author: Bristol Street Versa

Title: How do I SORN my vehicle?

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Summary: If you have a car that you don't plan on driving for a good while, save yourself some money and declare it off the road!

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Driving in windy weather (9)

Whether your car is undergoing restoration, isn’t roadworthy or you just aren’t going to drive it for a while, you can declare it off road with a Statutory Off Road Notice which means you don’t have to tax the vehicle.

Driving without taxing your vehicle could end up costing you a pretty penny, somewhere in the region of £2500! The only exception being you are driving to a pre-booked MOT test, that you can prove.

Applying for a SORN is pretty simple. You need either the 11-digit reference number from your V5C (the logbook) or the 16-digit reference code on your road tax renewal reminder. Either of these, along with the registration, make and model of the car plus the date you would like to declare the vehicle off road from and you are good to go!

You can either contact the DVLA on 0300 123 4321, send a V890 application form to: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR

Or you can go online to register your vehicle as off road here

Once you have successfully declared your vehicle off road, you must make sure it stays that way until you tax it or sell it, which means it must be stored on a private drive, in a garage or in storage. You cannot leave it parked on the street as that does not constitute as off road and you could be liable!

A SORN will last indefinitely, only expiring if you tax the vehicle or sell or scrap it. You cannot transfer a SORN from one vehicle owner to another so if the car is sold, tax will be due unless the new registered keeper applied for a SORN.

Author: Bristol Street Motors

Title: The Lowdown on the Best and Worst Motorway Service Stations in the UK

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Summary: The results are in from Transport Focus and we can now reveal the best and worst motorway service stations in the UK! Rather handy if you are planning a road trip!

Meta Title: The Lowdown on the Best and Worst Motorway Service Stations

Meta Description: A commentary on the best and worst service stations as reported by Transport Focus

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Driving in windy weather (5)

Whether taking a short trip or heading out on the road for a longer stint, business or leisure, many of us will have had the experience of a motorway service station.

However, gone are the days of Wimpy and Little Chef! Now you can expect super modern service stations, boasting the likes of M&S, Costa, Nandos and Waitrose. Nice!

In fact 53% of people surveyed felt that introducing well known brands made service stations better, with only 2% thinking it made them worse.

Satisfaction levels overall were very high, with 92% of visitors satisfied, of which 62% were very satisfied. With that being said, the main improvement was value for money.

In terms of accessibility, 90% of visitors with a disability were satisfied with their experience and 70% felt they were well catered for, which was a decrease from 82% the previous year.

In terms of reasons for visiting the motorway service area (MSA), the main reasons were to use the toilet, get food and drink and take a break from driving. One in four drivers arrived feeling stressed, tired and/or frustrated yet significantly, one in 20 visitors reported feeling stressed, tired and/or frustrated when leaving the MSA. Taking breaks is so important!

In fact, visiting an MSA saw 84% of visitors leaving in a positive mood compared to 59% on arrival. Amazing what a nice cuppa and stretching your legs can do!

So let’s get to what we are all here for…the best…

Norton Canes (M6 Toll) – 100%
Stafford Soutbound (M6) – 99%
Wetherby (A1(M)) – 99%
Hilton Park Southbound (M6) – 99%
Corley Southbound (M6) – 99%

And the worst!

Thurrock* (M25) – 68%
Toddington Southbound* (M1) – 72%
Southwaite Northbound (M6) – 80%
Newport Pagnell South (M1) – 81%
Bridgwater (M5) – 81%

(*It is worth noting that these stations were undergoing refurbishment at the time the survey was carried out!)

Author: Bristol Street Motors

Title: Summer Staycation and Driving Around the UK

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Summary: More and more people are embracing the 'staycation' so we decided to put together a little blog around things to consider when you are driving around the UK! Happy holidays!

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Meta Description: A quick guide to driving around the UK this summer!

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Driving in windy weather (2)

Summer is here and for many of us, the British Isles is the destination of choice this year. Marvellous! We’ve pulled together a few points to remember before you try and squeeze the other half, the kids, the dog and a load of stuff you probably don’t need into the car.

Make sure your documents are up to date!
It might seem silly but you don’t want to get caught out with invalid insurance or an expired license so check your MOT, insurance, tax and license are all in date!

Double check the basics
Oil, air in the tyres, tread, water and so on. These are the things that seem small but could cause a headache if they aren’t all good to go. If you are planning a longer journey, it may be worth investing in a service.

Book a service here

 

Navigation
If you are using a nifty navigation system or app, make sure it’s fixed into a sturdy cradle that won’t fall off the windscreen as you are coming up to your turn off! Alternatively pick a co-pilot, but make sure they are actually good at following directions!

Little Ones!
If you have children and you decide to take them on holiday with you, make sure you stock up on things to keep them occupied, and have lots of snacks and drinks! And be prepared that you will need to stop just after you’ve left even though you asked at least 10 times if anyone needed the toilet before you set off.

Adults
Particularly the one behind the wheel, make sure you take plenty of breaks on long journeys to avoid fatigue and stay hydrated, especially in warmer weather! If you are the co-pilot, make sure to keep an eye on your driver and insist on stopping if they look tired.

Plan your route
Whether you like to have a full itinerary laminated and ready to go, or you like to be a bit more spontaneous, it’s always a good idea to plan your route to your next destination at the very least.

Weather
Whether the weather is hot or cold (and it could change rapidly in the UK!), temperature can affect your vehicle. In hotter months, check the car’s fluids, tyre pressure and battery. Make sure your interior cooling system is working properly and invest in some sun shades for the kids in the back!

Read our blog on common air-con mistakes here

 

Pets
Taking your furry family member on holiday can be fun but you need to make sure that your pet is fed and watered, and be prepared to make comfort stops to avoid any accidents!

Read our blog on rescuing dogs in hot cars here

 

Entertainment
Good music is going to be the soundtrack to your holiday so get a catalogue of tunes that has something for everyone to enjoy!

We may have put a super catchy summer playlist together that you can have a listen to here

 

Have fun!
The UK has some of the most beautiful places to visit, come rain or shine so take lots of photos and relax!

If you are thinking about upgrading your car before your road trip, take a look at our range of new and used cars! Treat yourself!

Author: Bristol Street Motors

Title: DVLA urges UK drivers to test their eyes and here is how

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Summary: In light of staggering figures from the DVLA that suggest 50% of UK drivers aren't aware of minimum standards for eyesight while driving, here is all you need to know!

Meta Title: DVLA highlights driver's legal requirement to test their eyes

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Driving in windy weather (4)

 

According to BBC News, the DVLA carried out a survey which highlighted that only half of the drivers asked knew about the eye test and did it regularly to maintain legal driving standards.

So what do you need to do to make sure you are meeting the legal requirements?

You must be able to read a number plate from 20m (65ft) away.

If you can’t, you must visit an opticians for an eye test.  If you need glasses, you must wear them, or contact lenses, every time you drive to ensure safe driving.

For more information or a more in depth run down of the requirements, visit the DVLA website

Author: Bristol Street Motors

Title: 5 In-Car Air Conditioning Mistakes That Will Make You Sweat

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Summary: With temperatures set to rise again, make sure you aren't making any of these mistakes when trying to keep cool behind the wheel!

Meta Title: 5 common mistakes made with air con systems

Meta Description: 5 common mistakes which may mean you are not as cool as you think you are!

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Driving in windy weather

We have all experienced the feeling of getting into a hot car and blasting the A/C in an attempt to stop melting into a puddle in the foot well! (FYI, hot cars are no place to leave your pets – you should read our blog on how to rescue a dog in a hot car!)

Here are some common mistakes which mean you might not be getting the very best from your A/C system!

Blasting the Air Con
As tempting as it is, putting the air con on the maximum as soon as you get in the car will only lead to hot air being circulated around the car – make sure you leave the doors open and roll down the windows before you set off!

Hogging the Air Jets
This seems like common sense, but pointing the air jets towards the roof allows for a more even distribution of that lovely, cool air!

Regular Check-Ups
Like everything,  your air con system needs TLC to ensure it’s working properly. Cabin air filters need to be changed every 10,000 to 15,000 miles approximately.

Rise and Shine!
While it might not seem too warm first thing, it doesn’t take long for the sun to heat up a car so pop your air con on first thing to avoid the dreaded windscreen fog when the outside temperature starts to rise!

Air Re-circulation
Using the air re-circulation option means your windscreen is more likely to fog and reduce visibility. Most cars have an ‘auto’ option which regulates the temperature to avoid fog and make your journey easy-breezy!

It is reported that a cabin temperature of 35°C can decrease reaction time by 20%, compared to a cabin temperature of 25°C.  It’s important to remain alert when driving so make sure you have adequate ventilation and some water!

 

Author: Bristol Street Motors

Title: How to Check Your Car History Online

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Summary: Thinking of buying a used car? There are some checks you can carry out online that will help you avoid potential problems later down the line! Read on, fine people!

Meta Title: How to Check A Used Car's History Online | Bristol Street Motors

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So you’ve got a used car in your sights but you’ve read loads of horror stories online about people driving away in a used car and the engine fell out, right?

I hear you but don’t worry, there are different ways to check that you are getting a used car that is above board. Have a read below at what you can do online to save yourself any hassle!

Hooray for the DVLA! Those guys have built up a database worth its weight in gold – all you need to do is click here then type in the vehicle’s registration and it will give you;

When the current tax  and MOT expires
The date the car was registered
SORN status (if applicable)
Colour
Engine size
Year of Manufacture
CO2 emissions
Current vehicle tax rate (You will need
the V5C certificate to get this information)

And if that isn’t juicy enough, you can also get more specific information about the vehicle’s MOT history by entering the registration number on this page here. Get crackin’ Sherlock!

If you are a little unsure how to go about buying a used car, check out our Driver’s Guide to Buying A Used Car – you’ll be an expert in no time!

And don’t forget to have a look at our huge range of used cars!

 

 

Author: Bristol Street Motors