- Your name & membership number
- The phone number the customer is calling from
- The exact location of the breakdown – road name, district and possibly a known landmark
- Turn on the hazard lights
- Display a red triangle
- Stay in the vehicle, lock the doors and remain with your seatbelt still fastened
Buying a used car, is a great way of cutting the cost of driving, as most new cars lose around 40% of their value in the first year. But there are risks in buying a used car. So it is important to take time, rather than rush into a deal, and to buy with the head rather than with the heart.
Clocking is the illegal practice of winding back the speedometer on a high mileage car, and increasing its apparent value, and so, asking price.
CUT ‘N’ SHUT CARS
These cars are the product of two or more cars, usually written off by insurers, welded together, then illegally given the identity of one of the wrecks. The cosmetic work is often outstanding, and therefore usually very difficult to spot from the outside. Lifting the carpets of the car just behind the front passenger seat or driver, will disclose any abnormal welding.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK, DON’T BE LAZY
Check prices and compare similar cars in automotive classified media and publications, so you know as much as you can about the value of related cars and avoid being overcharged.
Websites like Cyprus Used Cars, and model-specific forum sites, can be a useful source of information on common faults and what-to-look-for tips. However, bear in mind that the few who have had a poor experience are likely to be more outspoken than satisfied customers.
Do not view a car in the rain, poor light, or at night. This is essential. You will not be able to check the condition of a car properly, if it is wet (water hides scratches, dents and other problems). Make sure you can see the vehicle dry and clearly and from all angles.
ASK ABOUT THE SERVICE HISTORY
Most cars require some work during the year, so the owners of a car a few years old should have amassed quite a sheaf of garage bills for work or parts as well as previous MOT certificates, and records of regular servicing.
- If there is no history, ask why?
- Does it look like there might be a persistent fault that still may not have been fixed?
- Does the history tell a consistent story?
If the car is three years old or more, make sure there has a current MOT certificate. Recorded mileage should increase steadily with age and be consistent with the service record. If it does not, then you will want to hear a good explanation as to why not.
Make sure the vehicle’s log book is in the car, as they can be expensive to replace if not.
Look to see how the security system works – check that it does – and find out what keys were provided when the car was new.
Modern car keys can cost £100+ to replace. So if you need more than one key and there’s only one available, you’ll need to bear that cost in mind.
Coloured ‘master’ keys provided by some manufacturers to programme new spare keys for the car are even more expensive to replace. There is no legal requirement, but cars are generally sold new with at least one spare key. If there is not a spare now ask why not.
A test drive is your only opportunity to check the car’s general mechanical condition and to find out for sure that it meets all your needs:
- Is the driving position comfortable?
- Can you reach/operate all the controls easily?
- Do your child seats fit?
LOOK CAREFULLY AT THE CAR
Misaligned panels or mismatched colours on doors, the bonnet and tailgate can indicate that the car has been repaired after an accident.
Traces of spray paint on door handles, window seals and mouldings can indicate such repairs too.
If the engine bay looks like it has recently been power-washed clean, the owner could be trying to remove evidence of fluid leaks. A check under the bonnet after a lengthy test drive should reveal any problems.
SEATS & CARPETS
Seats and carpets can always be cleaned, or even replaced, but stains on internal fabric headlinings are impossible to remove completely. If seat covers have been fitted, check underneath them for signs of damage. You can get seats replaced but this can be very expensive, particularly if they contain electric motors or airbags. Do not be pressured into buying. There are always other vehicles out there, so if this one does not feel right in any way, it is probably time to walk away.
Be wary of and do not be swayed by ‘sob stories’ like change of job, break-up of relationship, moving aboard, new baby on the way and so on.
The bottom line is, that you are buying a car to help you and your family, not anyone else.
Follow the following steps:
- Use the hard shoulder to park as far away from the passing traffic as possible.
- A customer must never try to repair the vehicle on the hard shoulder, as it very dangerous, especially on the side of the moving traffic.
- Get passengers out of the vehicle from the side furthest away from the traffic and have everyone behind the barriers, waiting for ODYKY Auto Assistance in a safe place.
- If it’s not possible to wait away from the vehicle, or if a customer feels there is dangerous or threatened, return to the vehicle and wait in the front passenger seat with your seatbelt fastened. Lock all doors.
If the lights dim or you have persistent battery problems, when the engine is running, this indicates a faulty generator/alternator.
A distributor cap should be replaced at the manufacturers recommended intervals. A crack in the cap, which is so small that the eye can’t see, is sufficient enough to reduce the voltage needed for the ignition system to work. Dampness and dust also affects the distributor caps voltage for ignition due to weather bad conditions.
When filling up your vehicle, you must be aware of the fuel type your vehicle uses and the fuel pumps situated at filling stations. It is an expensive process to drain the tank and dispose of contaminated fuel.
Change spark plugs at recommended service intervals, as they build up with a charcoal-like substance, weakening the spark. This will keep a strong spark for the ignition system, especially in the winter time.
Always have a spare set of keys with you (especially with modern cars which have an anti-theft system that locks the doors automatically). If this is the case, recovery to the car dealer is the only answer.
LOCKING WHEEL NUTS
Adaptors for locking wheel nuts have a habit of going missing. If locking wheel nuts are fitted, check to make sure that the special adaptor required is included with the toolkit and that it fits the nuts.
Making sure to buckle up on every car ride, whether it’s a short trip to the store or a long distance trip to grandmas, it is the most important thing a family can do to stay safe. Below are a few tips to make buckling up a part of life.
- Teach children the importance of car seats and using seat belts, whether they’re riding with you or not. If you can instill this important habit at an early age, they will be more likely to buckle up when they are older and every time they are in a car.
- Lead by example! When you wear your seat-belt, your kids will wear their seat-belt. Kids want to be like adults, so be a good example and buckle up for every car ride.
- Inch Test. Once you have installed your car seat, give it a good tug at the base where the seat belt goes through the base. A properly installed car seat should not move more than an inch side-to-side or front-to-back. Make sure to check your car seat manual for additional information.
- Pinch Test. Once you have safely secured your child in their car seat, making sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming through the correct slots of the seat. With the chest clip placed at armpit level of your child, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. You should not be able to pinch any excess webbing, if you can you will need to tighten the strap!
- For both rear-facing and forward-facing car seats, make sure to use the car’s seat belt or LATCH system to lock the car seat in place. Don’t use both at the same time. Vehicles built after 2002 will have a LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) System.
- Kids are precious! They are safest in the back seat, so keep all kids in the back seat until they are 13 years old.
The highways are crowded each holiday season with drivers making their way to holiday feasts, shopping malls and family visits. If you’re planning a trip with children, here are some tips to make the drive safe and enjoyable:
The Cyprus Low and Traffic Safety Manual recommends children sit in the back seat and be buckled-up properly.
- Infants (under 9Kg’s) should ride in rear-facing convertible seats with harness straps at or below shoulder level.
- Toddlers (9-20Kg’s) should ride in forward-facing convertible seats with harness straps at or above shoulders.
- Young children (more than 20Kg’s) should ride in a forward-facing booster seat (car-seat) with the lap belt fitting across the upper thighs and shoulder belt snug across the chest.
This is one of the best ways to keep your family safe. We recommend the following:
- Get a good night’s sleep before your trip – 7-9 hours for adults and 8-9 hours for teens.
- Make sure a passenger is awake to talk to the driver.
- Avoid medications that can impair performance.
- Recognize sings of fatigue: lane drifting, hitting rumble strips, repeated yawning, tailgating, difficulty focusing.
- Schedule stops if your journey is longer than 150km’s.
KEEP THE KIDS BUSY
If you’re planning a long drive, be prepared for frequent bathroom and food stops. You can keep the kids busy by packing toys, books, portable DVD players and video games.
KEEP YOUR SPEED IN MIND
There’s no reason to risk a run-in with the police. Keep in mind that in some jurisdictions even a common speeding ticket can result in a lengthy delay — or worse. Speeding isn’t the only sort of traffic citation cops write, so be doubly cautious. Some practices you might take for granted, like turning left from a one-way street to another one-way on a red light, are in fact illegal according to the law.
GET A FREE VEHICLE INSPECTION
You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. If Car Care Clinic can identify potentially trip-interrupting issues, like loose tie rods or frayed drive belts, you can have them remedied before your departure. Just remember that you’re not obligated to have any service performed. It’s much better to know before you leave town with family in tow.
CHANGE THE OIL – BUY NEW TIRES?
If you’re going on a cross-country trip and you’re 300 miles away from your next scheduled oil change, go ahead and get it done early. You’ll probably get a better deal at home than trying to have the service performed on the road. Either choice is probably better than putting it off until you get return. Similar advice on the tires: If they’re close to the end of their useful tread life, replace them. Nothing messes up a road trip more than getting in an accident, and having good tires improves handling and braking performance more than any other factor.
SET YOUR TIRE PRESSURE
Most people are driving around on under-inflated tires, sacrificing a mile (or in some conditions, more) per gallon in fuel economy. Inflate your tires to the pressure recommended by the manufacturer, and do it when the tires are cold. (Air pressure can increase by several pounds per square inch as the tires heat up.) Use a real tire pressure gauge, not the one built into the air hose. Besides maximizing fuel economy, correctly inflated tires will improve handling and are more resistant to punctures.
PLAN YOUR ROUTE
By whatever means necessary: GPS, Google maps, or good old-fashioned paper road atlas. But after you’ve picked out what appears to be the ideal route, spend a few more minutes researching summer road construction plans. There is a wealth of information available online, starting with each towns municipality department of transportation Web pages. Real-time traffic information can plot out backups and is provided for free by Web-based mapping services like MapQuest. There are also applications of this sort available for mobile devices, including GPS units and smart phones. Regardless of which method you use, the information is there for the taking and can help prevent wasting time in traffic.
CLEAN OUT YOUR VEHICLE
The last thing you need when setting out on a journey drive is a funky-smelling, cluttered car, so go ahead and drop it off at a Car wash – or just clean it yourself. It will get smelly enough with the entire family traveling in close confines soon enough, but you might as well begin the trip on a fresh note. While you’re at it, take the ice scraper, the vintage road atlas, and the worthless socket set that’s missing the drive wrench out of the trunk. Leave those useless items in the garage, along with anything else you don’t really need, like that third row of minivan seats that serves no purpose other than 50 pounds of dead weight.
Not only will it take care of the fourth tip on this page, it’s also the best way to increase fuel economy, yet most drivers are reticent to sacrifice those precious few minutes they “save” by driving at or over the speed limit. I’m not going to turn this into a math-based lecture on lawbreaking, but in some cases slowing your rate of travel by 5-10 miles per hour can improve gas mileage by 5-10 percent. (Not to mention the potential safety implications of your reduced speed.) And if you’re really worried about the effect that slower rate of travel will have on your drive time, try improving your time management skills. Forego a half-hour of sleep or fill up the tank while the rest of the family packs its suitcases. Remember, there’s not a kid on earth who can’t hurry it up a bit at the rest area.
If you need some work done on your car, you need to choose a reliable garage that will provide an honest and fair service without overcharging or doing work that was not required.
Look for garages that are certified, or call us to get advice.
Try to check the oil level with the dipstick every couple of weeks (and before any long journey). If you need to top it up, then you’ll need to make sure you use oil of the right grade and specification.
Four small patches of rubber each about the size of your hand are the only parts of the car in touch with the road so having the right tires in good condition and, correctly inflated, is very important for your safety. Regular checks and maintenance help to make tires last longer, and keep you on the right side of the law.
WHY DON’T YOU GET A FULL WORKSHOP MANUAL?
There are many reasons why it is not practical to supply detailed technical information and manuals with all new cars;
- Most owners are not interested in maintenance beyond fluids checks and tires – bundling full technical manuals would add to cost.
- Modern cars are much more complex with less scope for DIY. There are serious health & safety concerns too.
- Electronic control and multiplexing means that most fault diagnosis and repair requires dedicated offboard diagnostic equipment.
- Information in handbooks is fairly generic, but more and more technical material is vehicle specific – down to particular chassis number – and a lot is just programmed directly into the diagnostic machines.
- Information is available from dealers or from the manufacturer’s website, but individual customers would pay the same rate as a dealer or independent garage. A diagnostic machine would be required to make sense of it though.
- Electronic information in this format allows manufacturers to make improvements and adjustments. Printed workshop manuals wouldn’t allow this.
Dealers don’t have a monopoly on repairing their products though – independent garages get fair access to the same technical information as the franchise dealers and car manufacturers can not insist as a condition of warranty that service and repair is carried out by their own dealers.
WHY ISN’T CLUTCH FAILURE COVERED BY THE WARRANTY?
Clutch life can be seriously affected by poor driving style i.e:
- Resting a foot on the pedal (riding the clutch)
- Breaking with the clutch on hills, rather than using the handbrake, or
- Letting the clutch slip excessively
If the garage has repaired the car, but says the failure has been caused by driver abuse, then ask them for the old components and get a second opinion. The garage is entitled to ask you to pay for the work before allowing you to take your car.
If one of the components has broken and caused the failure, then you may be able to claim under the warranty. Regrettably, if there is no evidence of manufacturing or material defect, you will have to pay for the new clutch and cost of fitting.
CAN YOU DETAIL THE SERVICE SCHEDULE FOR MY CAR?
ODYKY cannot provide detailed extracts from manufacturer’s workshop manuals.
The vehicle handbook will include basic service interval information.
Any reputable independent garage should have access to manufacturer’s technical data, including details of the manufacturer’s service times, schedules and operations.
DO I HAVE TO GET MY CAR SERVICED BY A MAIN DEALER?
As from October 2003, a person is not obligated to get the car serviced by a franchise dealer during the warranty period. They must though get it serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule and criteria using only manufacturer approved parts.
The legislation only applies to the part of the warranty offered by the manufacturer, i.e. insurance-backed extended warranties offered by dealers are not covered and may stipulate different conditions.
If you do get the car serviced outside the dealer networkyou must make sure it’s done to the maker’s recommended schedule and criteria using approved parts. You must also keep records so you can demonstrate to the manufacturer that servicing was undertaken to their requirements.
You should still get warranty work undertaken by the franchised dealer as it is easier for them to deal directly with the manufacturer.
Read about repairs after the warranty expires before deciding to go outside the dealer network for servicing during the warranty.
WHO CAN FIX PROBLEMS WITH AN AUTOMATIC GEARBOX?
Automatic gearboxes are complex pieces of equipment and sometimes need very specialised knowledge. If it’s a problem with the electronics which control the gearbox, it is better to get help from a franchise dealer as they will receive regular software updates from the manufacturer. This may cure the problem. If it’s thought to be a problem with the gearbox itself, then you may achieve more success if you contact a member of the Federation of Automatic Transmission Engineers
Airbag renewal after 10 years.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
When cars were first fitted with airbags there was a lack of knowledge and confidence about the long term reliabiilty of the systems. Car manufacturers and manufacturers of airbag systems agreed to validate (or test) them for a 10 year life span. A sodium azide tablet produces the gas which inflates the airbag, and this tablet and the explosive device are sealed. Although some moisture ingress is possible it should not affect performance. There will also be some natural chemical decay, but again this shouldn’t stop the airbag from working.
There was also some concern in the early days that the airbag cover could become brittle through aging and a flying fragment cause eye damage.
Manufacturers increased the validation period to 15 years on later cars without making major changes to design and we are not aware of any airbag failures atttributed to ageing.
WHERE CAN I BUY A GOOD RE-CONDITIONED ENGINE?
The word ‘reconditioned’ has different meanings to different repairers. Some may do little more than apply a fresh coat of paint, while others will dismantle the engine fully, machine bearing surfaces and rebuild the engine to a good standard using many new parts.
Don’t be tempted by cheap units from back street garages. Previous history and internal condition are often unknown and they can work out to be more expensive in the long run. Resolving problems can be very difficult, too.
Reconditioned engines supplied by members of the Federation of Engine Remanufacturers (FER) will have been rebuilt to a high standard. And if there are any problems, you can seek help/arbitration from the FER.
HOW MUCH IS REASONABLE FOR GARAGE LABOUR?
Vehicles are complex with multiple sensors and electronic control units to keep exhaust emissions to a minimum, improve stability/braking and to operate safety systems.
- Technicians at franchised garages need to be highly trained and must attend many manufacturers’ training courses. Not only are the courses expensive, but the technicians demand salaries to match their skills.
- Garage hourly rates vary by location, the nature of the facilities and whether or not they hold a manufacturer franchise.
- Independent garages are not under the same pressure from vehicle manufacturers to maintain prestigious premises with lots of customer facilities and may be able to charge less than half the labour rate of their franchised counterparts.
Get a quote from several garages in your area and compare their hourly labour rates.
WHEN SHOULD THE CAMBELT BE RENEWED?
There’s not a standard change interval for cambelts.
- Depending on the model and the manufacturer, the recommended interval can be anywhere between 30,000 miles and 100,000 miles. There will often be a time-based interval specified too e.g. 60,000 miles or five years, whichever is the sooner.
- Sometimes the manufacturer will revise the recommended interval during the life of the vehicle so it’s best to check with a franchise dealer as they will have the most up-to-date information. They will need to know the make, model, engine number and model year.
- In most cases cambelt failure results in serious damage to many other components in the engine – a major rebuild or even replacement engine will be required!
It does no harm to renew the belt early. If you buy a used car it’s wise to get the belt renewed if you are in any doubt that it has been renewed at the appropriate time.
CAN I GET THE MANUFACTURER TO PAY?
The manufacturer is under no obligation to help you once the warranty has expired, as it’s generally accepted that faults caused by manufacturing or material defects will show up during the warranty.
Read more about repairs after the warranty expires.
HOW LONG SHOULD A CATALYTIC CONVERTER LAST?
Catalysts often last 10 years, but actual life depends on mileage and engine tune. 50,000 miles is a more reasonable benchmark, and you can generally expect to replace the catalytic converter once during the life of a vehicle.
If failure occurs early, it’s important to find and fix the cause of the problem before fitting a new CAT otherwise the replacement can be expected to fail prematurely too.
There are three main ways they fail:
- Melt down – unburned fuel enters the catalyst and ignites on contact. The extreme heat literally melts the ceramic matrix. Poor ignition timing, a faulty oxygen sensor, worn or defective spark plugs, incorrect fuel mixture and other ignition/fuel injection related faults could lead to this failure.
- Carbon deposits – oil or antifreeze entering the combustion chamber/exhaust system can lead to a build up of carbon on the matrix, which increases back pressure leading to overheating and poor performance.
- Catalyst fracture – the ceramic matrix is fragile and can break-up as a result of excessive vibration or external impact. As the matrix breaks up back-pressure increases and overheating can result.
MUST I GET AIR-CONDITIONING SERVICED?
Regular servicing is important for health and to maintain the system working effectively. Up to 15% of the refrigerant gas will be lost annually.
- Run your air conditioning at least once a week throughout the year.
- Have the refrigerant gas checked regularly and topped up to manufacturers’ recommended levels.
- Help improve hygiene and air quality with a regular cabin filter change, as it can become blocked with pollen.
- A regular air duct clean helps remove the bacteria and fungi that can cause unpleasant odours.
- Service air-conditioning units every 30,000 miles or two years to avoid costly repairs.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF SYNTHETIC OILS?
Synthetics and semi-synthetics give improved performance at high temperatures and support extended standard drain intervals. They are the preferred choice for high perfomance cars or for drivers who value long life/durability.
- Your vehicle handbook will specify the grade/type of oil to be used based on durability/extreme environment testing by the manufacturer.
- If synthetic oils are recommended then that is what you should use.
- Mixing mineral and synthetics is not recommended, nor is switching to synthetic oils unless the vehicle handbook specifies that you may do so.
If the manufacturer has confirmed that synthetic oil is suitable for your vehicle and you intend to switch then you must make sure that the engine is drained fully of mineral oil first.