Saturday, 2 January 2016

Wet Weather Driving.

Driving in heavy rain and flooding can be hazardous. Here are some useful hints and tips to help you prepare for wet weather.

Breakdown numbers always increase during periods of wet weather, as the damp causes problems with engines and electrical systems, particularly in older vehicles. If you must drive, there are a handful of steps you can take to reduce your chances of an accident or breakdown dramatically.

Many rain-related breakdowns are easily avoidable as they are often caused by people driving through deep standing water. While cars have improved significantly in technical terms in recent years they are still not waterproof and will break down if they are driven through deep water. This can lead to catastrophic engine failure which will be extremely expensive to put right.

A catastrophic flood-related engine damage incident is typically caused by water being sucked into the engine which causes the engine to lock up and can in turn damage important engine components including piston connecting rods and valves.

This inevitably means a new engine will have to be fitted, but what people generally don’t understand is that it is the owner who is likely to have foot the expensive garage bill unless they can demonstrate to their insurer – like any accident – that it was not their actions that caused the damage.

Before setting off:

Consider whether your journey is essential. If not, can it be delayed until after the rain has subsided? Plan your journey in advance, taking care to avoid areas which are prone to flooding, and factoring in extra time to allow for slower speeds and potential congestion Let relatives and friends know your intended route and expected time of arrival and where possible, travel with others. Check that your windscreen wiper blades are fully functional. If both front and back blades are not up to scratch, get them replaced. Make sure you fill up. Using your lights and heaters and being caught in traffic use more fuel than driving in normal conditions. Carry a mobile phone in case you encounter any difficulties during your journey

On the road:

Use dipped headlights so that other drivers can see you more easily. Don’t use rear fog lights. They can mask your brake lights and dazzle drivers behind you Reduce your speed and leave more space between you and the vehicle in front to account for greater stopping distances – remember the two-second rule. Look out for large or fast-moving vehicles creating spray which reduces visibility. Listen out for local news bulletins to keep up-to-date with road closures, flooding and forecastsIf you break down in torrential rain keep the bonnet closed while waiting for help to arrive, to avoid the electrical system getting soaked. Driving too fast through standing water could lead to tyres losing contact with the road.  If your steering suddenly feels light you could be aquaplaning. To regain grip, ease off the accelerator, do not brake and allow your speed to reduce until you gain full control of the steering again. Driving fast through deep water can cause serious and expensive damage. Be considerate to other road users and try not to spray pedestrians and cyclists as you drive through water

Driving In Flooded Areas

The following tips should always be followed for driving in flooded conditions:

Do not attempt to drive through water if you are unsure of the depth – the edge of the kerb is a good indicator. If you do go through water, drive on the highest section of the road. Drive steadily and slowly so as not to create a bow wave in front of the vehicle and allow oncoming traffic to pass first - make sure you have a clear route ahead so you do not have to stop in standing water. Driving at speed may be dangerous to other vehicles or pedestrians and could cause loss of control. Drive a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Never attempt to drive through fast flowing water – you could easily get swept away. Test your brakes after leaving flood water. If your engine cuts out after driving through deep water, do not attempt to restart as engine damage may occur – instead call for assistance and have the vehicle professionally repaired.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Winter driving....the hazards from experience !!

I usually take my annual holiday abroad in the winter and near the end of my well earnt rest I decided to check the weather forecast at home. Although there is no snow forecast for the near future around my area, the recent mornings have been very icy and you never know when the weather will take a turn for the worse.

It made me think of an situations few years ago when my wife went out on a reasonably good day weather wise a few of winters back. Arriving at the destination with my two elderly parents in tow they went in for a two hour meeting. Whilst in there the snow began to fall heavily, settling and getting deeper all the time. Against their better judgement they decided to take a chance and head for home as soon as possible. This is where it all started to go wrong!! The roads became gridlocked and they got stuck in the bad weather for around 6 hours, arriving home on the back of a recovery vehicle well past midnight.

The situation was made worse by the fact they had set out totally unprepared. No blankets or shovels , we hadn't checked the weather forecast. We also had an automatic car and my wife was unfarmilar with the car settings for driving in that kind of weather, so ended up with a burnt out clutch. 

From then on we vowed never to get in that situation again!! We follow these simple steps during the winter months:

1.Before you even get in the car, plan your journey – and where possible try to come up with a route which avoids smaller country lanes/ minor roads, as these are less likely to have been gritted

2.Make time to properly clear your car of snow and ice to ensure full visibility – this includes removing snow from the bonnet and roof, front and rear windscreen, windows and mirrors. You must also make sure your lights and number plate are clear of snow.

3.When pulling away, use 2nd gear and try to avoid high revs as this will just cause the wheels to spin. In automatic vehicles check your handbook for any special settings the car may have for driving in poor weather.

4.The Institute of Advanced Motorists recommend maintaining as constant a speed as possible when driving in snow; don’t drive too fast otherwise you risk losing control, and not so slowly that you might lose momentum for getting up a hill. Also try to steer and corner as smoothly as possible but make sure you’ve braked to the necessary speed before attempting to corner in snowy and icy conditions, otherwise you risk skidding.Whilst driving take extra care and keep your distance between you and the vehicle in front. Stopping distances can increase by up to ten times in snowy and icy conditions, so it is imperative to keep this in mind.If driving on the motorway, keep to the clearer lanes and try to drive within the tracks made by the cars in front. Again, keep your distance.Make sure to use dipped headlights or fog lights when driving in falling snow to ensure you are visible to others.

5. Fitting Winter tyres is a really good idea. At the very least make sure your tyres have a good amount of tread – 1.6mm is the legal limit, but the more the better.

 6.Keep an eye on the weather forecast and listen out for traffic reports, things can vary dramatically within just a few miles and within a small amount of time.In the unfortunate event of a breakdown or getting stuck in the snow, it is handy to keep a few things in the car just in case. These include: food and water, a shovel, blanket, boots, phone charger and a tow rope. If possible, it’s also a good idea to keep some old pieces of carpet in the car to put under the tyres, to help give you some traction for pulling away.And above all, only drive in these conditions if it is absolutely essential.

Hope these tips will help with safe winter driving, if you have any tips of your own or comments please let me know so I can pass them on to my Customers when onsite.


Thanks for reading

Paul


Friday, 5 April 2013

The positive impact the internet has made to my business.

How I interact with my customers



I was thinking the other day how the internet and the social platforms available have changed the way I find and interact with my customers these days. When I started my business around ten years ago the way I advertised to potential customers was through local mags, yellow pages and local papers etc. When the Internet and cloud computing started to take off I was slow to start using these avenues as I liked to stick to what I thought worked best.  Over the last three to four years all that's changed. My main advertising is all done online enabling me to reach customers further much afield which previously would have meant taking adverts in loads of magazines and printed publications costing hundreds if not thousands of pounds per month. As a mobile business it's important that I can receive and deal with enquires whilst on the road. Smartphones now can handle processes that handsets ten years ago wouldn't stand a chance. This means that enquires from my website are forwarded to my smartphone, including a photo of the damage, then using cloud computing I can respond with a written quote immediately. I'm able to interact with my customers in real time using social platforms such as G+, it amazes me that someone can follow a sitelink to my G+ page from my advert on Adwords and see a picture of a repair that I have completed maybe minutes beforehand.
Hopefully my reliance on the Internet will not implode on me, I hope not as it has had such a positive impact on my business and helped my customers interact with me in a far more efficient way.

How has modern technology helped you? I'm interested to hear if anyone else feels the same way as I do or If I've just gone Google mad!!

Thanks for reading

Paul
Scratch n Scuffs away

Thursday, 14 March 2013

"Considering the current financial climate".

That's the comment one of my customers started the conversation with when we were discussing the damage to their vehicle the other day, followed by "I don't want to spend a fortune keeping my vehicle in an acceptable condition". 

It made me think about how the service I offer can help when families are struggling with ever increasing costs to run their household budgets. The fact of the matter is that there is no better way than using a mobile onsite service such as Scratch n Scuffs away, low overheads coupled with keeping the repair area as small as possible can ensure the repair costs don't start getting out of hand. Most repair costs are in an around peoples insurance excess and you won't have all the hassle of dealing with your Insurance company, for what in most cases is a fairly straightforward process, that takes on average around 2-3hrs to complete.

If you or anyone you know in the Milton Keynes, Bedford, Northampton and surrounding areas wants to keep their vehicle in tip top condition without breaking the bank get them to give me a call, I can't always guarantee that a mobile repair is the right way to tackle the damage, but with my online quote system there's nothing to lose by taking a picture of the damage and submitting it for a quote at www.scratchnscuffsaway.co.uk

The customer I mentioned at the beginning of this blog did just that and I managed to lightly sand down the paint scratch and keep the repaired area to the top of the boot area thereby saving a whole panel re-spray. 

If you have any comments on this post or any minor car bodywork repair Issues please feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks for reading

Paul

Monday, 25 February 2013

Is it easy to repair alloy wheel kerbing damage?













I've recently seen an increase in enquires for alloy wheel refurbishment. People know that kerbing damage not only de-values your vehicle...it also looks very unsightly and can ruin the look of any vehicle. Fortunately it can be fairly easily repaired, providing the wheel is not buckled, cracked or a diamond cut finish as the process to repair this type of damage/surface can be quite involved.  (The wheels above are actually a diamond cut finish that I have converted to a painted type finish as the owner didn't want all the hassle of sending the wheels away for repairs).

If you have a small scuff on the edge of your alloy there are repair kits widely available from most motoring outlets which if you follow the manufactures instructions can result in a satisfactory repair that can only be noticed on very close inspection. Damage as shown in my pictures above will require a professional to repair. The wheels will need to be removed from the vehicle and then a set process followed to ensure that the repairs are of a correct standard. Alloy wheels take a fair bit of wear & tear so it's important that the paints & lacquers used are of the highest quality. This will give the repaired surface the best chance of being as durable as possible.

To see some of the results of a few of the repairs I've undertaken over the years have a look at:

http://www.scratchnscuffsaway.co.uk/wp/?page_id=61

You can also download a picture of the damage for a no -obligation quote.

I'm always happy to receive any comments or if you have any questions about the alloy wheel refurbishing process I'll be more than happy to hear from you.

Thanks for reading

Paul












Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Got a car on contract or lease ? Read on if you're near handback time

What to check when handing back a lease or contract hire vehicle.




Anyone who has handed back a lease or contract hire vehicle at the end of an agreement will know that the experience can be a cause for uncertainty and can feel like your signing a "blank cheque" for any repairs that need to be completed to bring the vehicle up to the companies fair wear and tear standards. 
The first and most important thing you should be doing in advance of the handback date is ensuring that you have looked through the lease companies own fair wear and tear guidelines. You will need to have time to assess the vehicle and have any repairs completed before the inspection date.  You will note that the guide allows for certain paintwork and alloy wheel damage depending on the age of the vehicle and the extent of the damage. It may seem obvious, but make sure you do your inspection on a dry day and have the vehicle in a clean state. Damage can easily be hidden on wet or dirty bodywork. Check out the following site for further advice:

http://www.nhsfleet.com/Documents/FWT/lexFWT.pdf

If you have any concerns or need any advice please get in touch I'll be able to help. 

I'm always glad to hear If you have any comments on this or any other minor bodywork repair issues.


Friday, 11 January 2013

Is it easy to repair a car paint scratch ?


The simple answer is Yes, if the paint scratch is not too deep and hasn't penetrated the clearcoat. How do I know ?.. that is the most common response I get to that statement.
You can do a simple check to gauge how deep the paint scratch is by  running your finger over the scratch and seeing if your fingernail catches as it crosses the damage area.
If it does it will be difficult to completely remove the scratch without rubbing the paintwork down and re-spraying the damaged area. If it doesn't that's good news as you will more than likely be able to remove the scratch or reduce so it's barely visible. Be aware that dark colours show up marks and scrapes far more than a lighter colour ie metallic silver and other lighter metallic shades.

Follow these few simple steps and see how you get on (if you ever need to):

1. Clean the area thouroughly using clean water or a light solvent.
2  Using T-Cut or a similar cutting compound (slightly wet the cloth) gently rub around the    scratched area. 
3. Use another clean cloth to buff up the area
4. Check to see if the scratch is still present
5. Repeat all steps until scratch is not visible.

Simple !!  Well it can be, but make sure you read on.

The golden rule is not to go too far too soon, as it is very easy to remove the clearcoat (the stuff that gives the shiny look to your car) and go down to the basecoat (the actual paint). If you do this you will not be able to buff the paintwork back up and will have a permanent dull patch on your car. The only way to rectify that would be to re-apply the clearcoat which is not an easy task if you haven't been trained . Also be extremely careful on any sharp edges such a door edges, swage lines etc as it is very easy to do what I have mentioned above in these particular areas.



If the scratch is deeper and there are more than one you can "touch in" the scratch, but in most cases the paint will not match in very well and will look darker. This is because the paint is put on thicker than if you use a spray gun thus altering the shade. However don't be put off because if the scratch has gone through to the metal doing nothing is not an option, by leaving, corossion can set in that's not a good Idea!! The only way to get a perfect result is to rub down the damaged area and re-spray.

Hopefully this has not sounded like" teaching a granny to suck eggs" but it may save calling out a repair technician for what is a relatively easy job if tackled in the right way
Deeper scratches can be removed, but  it may look simple until it all starts to go wrong. I have been called out to many a DIY job where the customer has bought a paint kit from a motoring outlet only to find the whole thing ending up a right mess. It's best to call a professional technician if in doubt. I've shown an example of how trying to paint in deep scratches with a touch up kit can end up looking...the customer was far happier with the results after I had removed the touch up paint, then repaired and re-sprayed the paint scratches correctly.

If you have any comments or would like to discuss any aspect of this blog please contact me at paul@scratchnscuffsaway.co.uk

Thanks

Paul