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How to Prepare Your Car For The Winter

How to Prepare Your Car For The Winter

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Just as you prepare yourself in the morning according to the weather, so too must your car be prepared in a similar fashion; now I’m not saying you need to put underwear on your car to keep it warm but a little due care goes a long way towards ensuring your cars longevity and safe working state.

Below is a list of helpful things to do to your car before winter sets in.

1. Antifreeze – If we liken it to the body then we could say that having no antifreeze in your car in the winter is like not wearing a hat in the winter. It might be ok or if it gets really cold, your ears might fall off. This leads to all sorts of complications. If you just have water in your radiator then you are at risk of damaging the radiator and possibly the engine, leading to a potentially hefty mechanics bill. Without antifreeze the water in a radiator expands and cracks the filaments leading to leakages and if this is not spotted can lead to overheating of the engine and further complications. Ensure that you get the correct mix of water and antifreeze  – consult the manual or the back of the antifreeze bottle.

2. Wiper blades and fluid – Poor visibility through smearing on the windscreen is often caused by salt on the roads. Check your wiper blades and fluid levels to ensure you don’t get caught out with the dreaded white smear across your windscreen on a trip out. To check the wiper blades – simply pull the wiper away from the windscreen and check the rubber for tears or pitting. If the rubber has a rough feel down the blade then they will need replacing which is cheap and easily done.

3. Bulbs – With the days getting shorter in winter we find ourselves driving more often whilst it’s dark. It’s important to check our light bulbs as often as possible. Be diligent. Check them every time if possible.

4. Oil Levels – Low oil levels, especially in winter, can lead to a lot of wear and tear on your engine. You can often hear the engine labouring a little and sounding rough when you start in the mornings when it’s cold. It pays to take it easy until the engine has warmed up. Don’t be tempted to put your foot down before then engine and oil has warmed up as this is when most wear and tear happens. This issue is only exacerbated when there is too little oil so ensure that the engines is topped up to the top notch on the bottom of a dipstick. You can typically find the dipstick by looking for a brightly coloured end of a stick. If you’re unsure then consult the owners manual.

5. Battery – With the increased load on the battery with the heaters, lights, de-misters and windscreen wipers, it is very important to ensure your battery is up to the job. The battery is charged as the engine runs but with the increased work it has to do in the winter months it leaves it that little bit more worn out each year. If you haven’t replaced your battery in 6 years then doing it at this point certainly wouldn’t be premature.

6. Tyres – Check your tyres for bald patches, excessive wearing on any one side of the tyre, and bulges. Any of these characteristics can lead to accidents so get them replaced if they’re showing signs of wear and tear.

7. Servicing – winter takes its toll on your car so mitigate this risk by getting your car regularly and thoroughly serviced. Doing a service before winter ensures everything is working as it should be and is in tip top condition for the harsh weather conditions ahead.

8. Winter Safety Kit – a few simple provisions can make all the difference if you break down. Pack a winter bag and keep it stored in the boot:

  • Waterproof jacket
  • High vis jacket
  • Torch
  • Screen wash
  • Engine Oil
  • Food (long use by date)
  • Scraper
  • De-icer
  • Fully charged phone or in -car charger
  • Jump leads

Drive with extra care and attention, slow down and stay in control to prevent accidents. Watch out for puddles on the motorway.

9. Prepare for longer journeys – leave ahead of time and avoid rushing. Ensure you’ve plenty of sleep the night before and if you feel tired then take a break and get a coffee.

10. Correct cover – Running the risk with third party only or third party fire and theft leaves you at risk of potentially large expense should the worse happen. Contact Acorn if you wish to discuss the comprehensive car insurance we offer.


How to Import a Car from Overseas?

How to Import a Car from Overseas?

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Importing A Car from Inside or Outside the EU

Nowadays, importing a car from overseas is common-place. With the world a smaller place and people’s increasing propensity to move from place to place, we see many cars crossing our borders every day. In addition to people moving their homes there are also the bargain hunters who look to import their cars from overseas to take advantage of the higher specifications that can be had from places like Japan.

So many people find themselves wanting to import but when it comes down to it, many are not sure of the process so this page is here to give you all the information you need for both importing a car from inside and outside of the EU respectively. We will also look at the protocol for temporarily importing a car into the UK.

We found this very useful DVLA page detailing the steps on How to Import a vehicle into Great Britain.

This summary of these pages are:

  1. Tell the HMRC within 14 days of importing the car
  2. Pay VAT and duty as per HMRC request
  3. Get vehicle approval to show vehicle meets standards required for UK roads
  4. Register and Tax your vehicle
  5. Get insurance for the imported vehicle

Temporarily importing a car

For people visiting the UK with their own car from overseas on a temporary basis, there are certain rules to adhere to. Whether a temporary student, worker or general visitor to the UK, this page gives you everything you need to know.

What is the Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) Scheme?

This is an inspection process that all special goods vehicles that haven’t been ‘type approved’ for UK roads need to go through. Details of the process and fees are included on the government IVA page


Report Touting to the TFL

Report Touting to the TFL

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Touting is when a Private Hire Cab (or Minicab as they are also known), stops to pick up passengers on the street without prior booking. These taxi rides are illegal and dangerous as they are not booked through an operator and they very often do not have the right sort of license, which is required to be attained through TfL.

Over the past few years the issue of touting in the streets of London has become ever more prevalent and although many measures have been taken to stop them, it is still happening in large numbers.

The whole business of touting is unfair and unjustified. To operate a public hire carriage and license fee, one has to invest a lot of money and each year thousands upon thousands of potential jobs are taken away from them because of this illegal practice.

These rides home are unregulated and dangerous so the advice is not to use them under any circumstances.

Not only is the trip illegal, the entire trip is uninsured so in the unlikely event that there is an incident, there will be no taxi cover in place to pay for damages.

If you see a car touting for business on the streets please report it immediately – your actions will make travelling safer for those in London.

London Taxi Safety – Stay Safe On Your Journey Home

London Taxi Safety – Stay Safe On Your Journey Home

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This guide is here to help prevent you getting into an un-licensed (un-insured) taxi in London.

This happens a lot in London as people unwittingly hail down private hire taxis that are un insured to take passengers unless booked through an operator. Aside from it being an illegal drain on the black cab (public hire) drivers income, it means that should the worst happen and you were in an accident, the driver has no insurance cover for any damages that may be incurred.

In addition to this, there are a large number of people cruising the streets under the guise of a private hire / minicab driver, without any license whatsoever. These drivers do not want to pay for their minicab license and as you might expect do not have adequate taxi  insurance so any accidents or injuries arising from these journeys are not insured; neither the driver, nor the passengers!

How do you tell the difference between a private and public hire taxi?

Private hire licensed vehicles are not allowed to display the sign “Taxi” and as such cannot be flagged down for public hire. They are only allowed to carry passengers who have pre-booked through an operator and therefore display a clearly visible sign on the vehicle to the effect of “not insured unless booked through operator”. Anyone found picking up passengers off the streets without a pre-booking is breaking the law and is contravening the terms of the drivers private hire license.

If you are in any doubt whatsoever, ask to see their license(s).

Taxi Licensing

After many years campaigning, Transport For London took over the responsibility of private hire taxi licensing in London in 1998. This is the same organisation responsible for Black cab licensing.

It is imperative for passengers that regularly take minicab rides to know that their journey will not be insured unless the following licenses issued by the TFL are present.

  • The OPERATORS license – this should reside in the minicab office and should be on clear show for any potential passengers in the office or shop to see.
  • Private hire VEHICLE license – this is issued when the minicab has been tested to be fit for purpose. These licenses are date specific and should be clearly displayed in the front and rear window of the minicab. Before this license is issued by the PCO a valid London minicab insurance policy must be presented.
  • Private hire DRIVERS license – drivers will be screened by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) to ensure no previous criminal convictions. They will also be tested for an understanding of the London roads.

Only when the PCO are convinced that the driver, vehicle and operator are right for the job will they offer a license.

If you are in any doubt, do not get in a vehicle as there will almost certainly be another one coming past any second; it’s not worth the risk.


Britain’s Cheapest Car

Britain’s Cheapest Car

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What is Britain’s cheapest car and how much is it?

For nearly the same price as a pair of racing stripes on a Ferrari, or gleaming white paint on a Maserati, the all new Dacia Sandero is ‘Britain’s cheapest car’ and could be all yours for just £6,995. With credentials such as the ‘What Car Car of the Year 2018 – Best Small Car Less Than £12000’, the Dacia is not to be ignored.

Standard Dacia Access Specification:

  • Hill Start Assist
  • LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
  • 15″ Tarkine wheel rims
  • Front electric windows

The more expensive model, the Dacia Laureate

The top of the range model of the new Sandero is called the Laureate and is available for £8,795. The Laureate ad is packed full of modern equipment including:

  • Body coloured bumpers
  • Manual air conditioning
  • DAB/FM/AM Radio
  • 15″ Lassen wheel trims
  • Touchscreen multimedia system (Sat Nav, Traffic Info, smartphone voice recognition)
  • Rear parking sensors

What makes Dacia different?

Dacia suggested that they always manage to sell such “temptingly” priced cars and still they manage to make a massive profit on them. What is their secret? And how do they make such cost effective cars?

Well according to Dacia they use the simplest ideas to keep the cost down, even down to using the same windows for every single car in their fleet. However, Dacia suggested that even though their prices are effective, they are known around the world for their unique quality and outstanding reliability and ensure their cars are “strong” to cope with adverse weather conditions from Brazil to Russia.

A Dacia spokesman stated “From humble beginnings, the Romanian brand has gone from strength to strength since Renault bought it in 1999 and transformed its fortunes. For the last eight years in a row it has been the fastest-growing automotive brand in Europe, rising from under 5,000 sales in 2004 to shifting a mighty 350,000 last year. And the final piece of the jigsaw is the UK.”