Everything a girl needs to know about cars
Road Trips
Gemma Masini
November 15, 2017

Driving Abroad

Road Trips – Love them or loathe them they are something that in modern day life we are tackling more and more. What qualifies a road trip? A journey for business or pleasure? An adventure perhaps? I consider any journey over and beyond your usual commute to work, school run or shops is a road trip and I personally like to take them on as often as possible in order to discover new places, visit friends and family, for part of a holiday and sometimes … yes … to go to work!

There are many things to factor into a road trip and I don’t just mean how to keep the kids entertained or which route you will take, maintenance checks are crucial and with modern day electronics on our cars how many of us check oil, water and tyre pressures regularly? It has become so easy to rely on a light to flicker on on the dashboard display to warn us of a potential problem, but waiting for that light to shine could well lead you to unwanted problems, costs and delays.

So what should we be checking on our cars prior to long journeys? and what should we carry in our cars in order to be well prepared for any potential break down or problem? Here is my guide to a safe, well planned and prepared road trip.


This is a simple, mess free job that anyone can do. simply open your bonnet and check for the engine Oil logo (you may need to consult with your cars manual for the exact location). Normally anything you may need to touch under the bonnet is colored – for example a yellow cap with a logo and this should make it easy to find. To check the oil you are looking for the ‘dip stick’. Once you have located it, pull it out and wipe it clean with a rag or piece of kitchen towel. Then put the stick back into the pipe and pull it out again, this time you are checking where the oil film stops and that it is within the maximum and minimum markers. If you are satisfied that the film rests within the markers then simply wipe clean again and pop the dip stick back in the pipe and you are finished. If you have too little you will need to top up your engine oil. Check what you need with your cars manual.

As a guide your oil should be changed every 5,000 – 7,500 miles or so in order to ensure you are running clean and uncontaminated oil through your engine.


Again the guide for pressure will vary per car and you should consult your cars manual for your optimum pressure. Tyre pressures relate directly to the efficiency of your car and your fuel efficiency on a road trip is of utmost importance. Pressure also effects the handling of your car, acceleration, breaking and grip in the wet, not to mention cornering efficiency and ensuring even wear for your tires. Remember that your tires are the sole thing that grip your car to the road, check the pressures using a home pressure gauge or at your local petrol station. Pressures should always be checked when the tires are cold ( travelled less than 5 miles ) and check all four and the spare if you have one.

It is a good idea to check the condition of the tires as you are doing this, ensure the tread is at the legal level and that you cannot see any irregular bulges, lumps or cuts.


It is a legal requirement to have windscreen washer fluid and ensure that you choose one that contains an anti-freeze product for the winter months as well as one that will remove grease from your windows. Again this is located under the bonnet and will be clearly marked usually with a symbol that looks like a windscreen. Top this up regularly and especially before your long road trips.


Here, I am referring to the engine coolant, which is essential in order to cool your cars complicated radiator system so that you don’t suffer an over heat. Coolant is directed around the cylinder heads and valves to absorb their heat before returning to the radiator. In order to check the level, ensure that the engine is NOT hot. It is ideally done when the car is just a little warm. First, park your car on a level surface, the open the bonnet, locate the coolant and simply check that the line rests between the maximum and minimum levels.


Just take a couple of minutes to check that all your lights, including fog lights, brakes, indicators and side lights are working. Ask a friend or family member to give you a hand, my kids love doing this job with me!


Not all cars have a spare tyre but if you do, ensure that it is in good condition and that you have the correct locking wheel nut device and jack in order to change a tyre should you need. If you don’t know how to change your tyre please consult our Cars4Girls guide and video tutorial.


It is not a legal requirement in the UK to carry a warning triangle or fluorescent jacket, however if your road trip takes you across the channel to Europe then it is, and for your safety why not carry these anyway in order to add to your safety in case of emergency. I also suggest carrying a small kit of spare bulbs for your car and the tools required to change them should you need to.

Finally give your car a once over body work check, just make sure nothing is loose or out of place and then you are ready to go … Load up a good playlist and enjoy the open road with piece of mind.

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Childproofing your car
Gemma Masini
November 15, 2017

How often do you drive with children in the car? Wether it is your kids, family you are with or your friends kids, when you do it is imperative to think of safety for you, them and other road users.

Just yesterday, I was driving behind a Renault Clio clearly loaded with people and one clearly an infant as I could see the child seat on the rear left handside of the car. I was driving on a busy dual carriage way and due to roadworks we were rolling at around 20mph, when suddenly the left rear door of the Clio infront of me was opened causing the car alongside them to swerve and the Clio to brake suddenly and swerve as the driver turned to face the child. Fortunately there was no incident, but this could have ended so differently.

You simply do not want this situation to arise when traveling with children and modern cars are equipped so as to avoid such issues. Put the child locks on the rear doors and windows too so that YOU are in full control of EVERYTHING.

The child safety door locks are usually located just on the inside of the door. There will be a simple slide switch or you may need to make a small turn using your car key, consult your cars manual if you are unsure and be sure you do lock both rear doors. For the windows, if your vehicle allows you to control the rear windows this can normally be done from inside the vehicle although it will depend on your make and model and again you will need to check the manual.

Do not ignore the fact that it is law in the UK for all children to be correctly restrained when traveling in the front or back of the car with the appropriate car seat and fastenings. Car seats and the correct seatbelt must be used until the age of 12 or 135cm tall. For further information on car seats and booster seats for your little ones please check out our Cars4Girls guide.

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Motor Ombudsman service launched
November 10, 2016

We’re all used to hearing about the Financial Ombudsman, but Auto Express are reporting that a new, free service has now been launched to help consumers resolve disputes between garages and manufacturers – and it’s the first of its kind in the industry.

According to Auto Express, ‘The Motor Ombudsman becomes the official automotive dispute resolution body, protecting car owners and holding to account businesses signed up to its Codes of Practice.

However, in order to use the service, the garage or dealer must be signed up to the Codes of Practice operated by The Motor Ombudsman’.

Auto Express also sets out how the new Motor Ombudsman can help buyers –

It’s all in one

This is the first time there will be a single independent body for motorists to take any grievances to.

It covers the lot

A huge 99 per cent of new cars sold in the UK will be eligible for referral to The Motor Ombudsman.

It’s quick

Simple cases could be resolved in just five days. Even complicated cases will take just a few weeks to sort.

It’s totally free

The service is completely free, potentially saving motorists thousands in legal fees to resolve cases.

It’s binding

If the consumer accepts an Ombudsman decision, the garage is obliged to stand by the ruling.

The full article can be found here –

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Two thirds of drivers still use their phone at the wheel
November 6, 2016

Be honest – how distracted are you when driving? Do you mentally switch off when you drive? Or maybe you’re guilty of using your mobile phone?

I think we’re all guilty of switching off occasionally when driving home (I’m usually thinking about everything I’ve got to do, or things I’ve forgotten to do at work that I must get around to tomorrow). But I’d guess that most people would be pretty worried at the thought of other motorists using their mobile phones at the wheel. Although we do occasionally see people driving while using their phone, I tend to believe that most motorists simply don’t do it anymore. However, according to a new survey, it seems that motorists using mobile phones at the wheel is far more common than we think.

Worrying research has revealed that almost two thirds of drivers still use their mobile phone when driving. The results of this survey were revealed by the Huffington Post. The research was carried out by Voucher Codes Pro.

Of those who said they used their phone, 36% said that they read or send texts and 27% of participants said that they take selfies when driving.

15% of those surveyed said that they use their phone to take photographs when driving.

Despite a lot of motorists still illegally using their phone when driving, 63% of the people who took part in the survey said that they felt uneasy when being driven by somebody who was using their mobile phone.

2296 people were questioned by this survey, and the full article can be found here –


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Only 7% of us have faith in used car dealers?
September 18, 2016

Have you bought a used car recently? If so, what was your experience of the process? It seems that the majority of us are pretty untrusting when it comes to buying a car from a used car dealer.

Thisismoney.co.uk are reporting that just 7% of people have faith in used car dealers. Contrary to that statistic, the research carried out also found that 68% of participants who had bought a car in the last six months did actually trust the salesman.

The research actually comes from Auto Trader, who asked 5000 people their opinions about thirteen industries, including the car industry. Used car dealers were found in the study to be the least trustworthy of all industries, which also included bankers and estate agents.

The full article from Thisismoney.co.uk can be found here –


Are you thinking about buying a used car? Here are our best tips to help you along the way.

-Do your research
Work out how much your insurance, tax and petrol is going to cost if you were to purchase the car.
Read about any potential faults with the car you’re looking to buy (check out reviews on the internet)
Have a look at similar car advertisements, online and in magazines, to check that you’re not being ripped off.
Follow your instinct -if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is!

-Have a proper look at the car
Inspect the car in the daylight and when it’s not raining so you can get a good look at what you’re potentially buying.
Take your time when you look at the car. Don’t be bullied into having a quick look. Trust your instincts. If alarm bells are ringing about the seller or the car, it’s time to look elsewhere.

-Take it for a spin
Always take the car for a test drive and, if possible, ensure that you drive on different types of roads. Aim to drive the car for about fifteen minutes but don’t forget to sort out relevant insurance beforehand.
Test out reverse, use the handbrake and if it’s safe to do so, perform an emergency stop.
Have a listen for anything that doesn’t sound right with the engine.
If you’re lucky enough to have a friend who’s a Mechanic, now’s the time to call in a favour. Take them along with you so that they can have a look at the car and also listen out for anything unusual.

-Take a look at the mileage
Does it coincide with the general wear and age of the car?
Look out for unusually low mileage as the odometer may have been tampered with.
Check the paperwork.
Ensure there’s a valid MOT (if the car is over three years old).
Check the tax disc.
Check the Log Book (also known as the V5C).
Make sure that all of the paperwork is genuine and view the originals, not photocopies.

-Talk to the owner and get a full service history of the car. Make sure you get your hands on receipts for any work that has been carried out

-Make sure you’re clear about all agreed terms before you hand over any cash and if you’re unsure of anything, ask. If you get a feeling that something isn’t quite right, then walk away. There are plenty of other used cars out there so it really is worth holding out and finding the perfect car for you.

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Research shows motorists are still illegally using mobile phones when driving
September 16, 2016

The BBC is reporting that the number of motorists illegally using their mobile phones while driving is on the rise.

The BBC article was based on a survey carried out by the RAC.

Apparently, 31% of drivers said that they use a handheld mobile phone at the wheel. in 2014, this figure was much lower, at 8%. And with the rise in popularity of social media comes the rise of people updating their statues when driving. 19% of people surveyed admitted to sending a message, or posting on social media. 14% said they’d taken a photograph or video while at the wheel.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “It is alarming to see that some drivers have clearly relaxed their attitudes to the risks associated with this behaviour but more worrying is the increase in the percentage of motorists who actually admit to using a handheld device when driving.

“The fact that drivers have little or no confidence that they will be caught when breaking these laws is a likely contributor to the problem and it is sadly the case that every day most road users see other drivers brazenly using their handheld phones when in control of a vehicle – a sight which should be a thing of the past.”

1714 motorists were questioned for this research, and the full article can be found here –


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Worrying survey shows extent of motorists speeding in 20mph zones
September 7, 2016

Carkeys.co.uk have recently published an article showing some worrying speeding statistics.

Apparently, four in ten motorists admit to breaking the speed limit in 20mph zones by at least 10mph – and these drivers have admitted to doing this on more than one occasion.

Direct Line and Brake, the Road Charity, carried out a survey which revealed the worrying statistics.

40% of those surveyed said that they sometimes drive of speeds of at least 30mph in 20mph zones. And 26% of drivers questioned for this survey said that they did this at least once a month, with 21% of motorists admitting that they regularly speed in 20mph zones.

This is particularly worrying because most 20mph zones tend to be around schools, with lots of children present.

A campaigns advisor for Brake, Alice Bailey, said: “All parents want to know their children are safe while travelling to and from school and playing outdoors. Speed limits are in place to keep all road users safe and if tragedy strikes and a child is hit by a car, the speed it is travelling at could be the difference between life and death.”

The full article, published by carkeys.co.uk, can be found here –


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Car insurance premiums on the increase
August 14, 2016

Recent figures reveal that car insurance premiums are on the increase and it looks as if this trend is set to continue.

It’s unfortunate that the cost is rising for everyone, but if you’re due to renew your car insurance soon, make sure you keep our handy tips in mind to hopefully knock some pounds off that final figure you’ll pay.

-Sounds obvious, but shop around and compare some quotes. I know it’s time consuming, but it’s almost certainly worth it. There are so many comparison websites out there, so use them! Don’t be put off by having to input lengthy details. It only takes five minutes of your time and it could save you hundreds. Also, be sure to search a few comparison sites because they don’t all cover the same insurers. And one final tip, Aviva and Direct Line aren’t on comparison sites, so check them out. Never just renew your policy – always shop around.

-Look at the exclusions carefully. In order to provide competitive rates, often basic essential requirements can be excluded like commuting to work for example -that’s fine it you take public transport and save even more money but useless if you find you claim and are not covered.

-Installing security measures can mean that you receive a discount. Declare anything such as alarms and tracking devices to see if they make a difference to the amount you need to pay. Additionally, where you park your car can affect your car insurance. Obviously, parking your car in a garage is the safest and may save you some cash, but don’t lie about details like this, because it may mean that you might not be able to claim, should you need to, in the future.

-The more miles you drive, the more you’ll have to pay. If you can find any way of reducing journeys, then go for it. Don’t be tempted to lie about your mileage though. Your car insurance will be declared void if you’re found out.

-If you can, pay upfront for the year. You’ll be charged interest if you pay monthly so it works out so much cheaper in the long run if you can pay in one lump sum.

As mentioned, make sure that you tell the truth about all of the details that are requested of you. You won’t be able to claim if you’re found out and while you may have saved hundreds on the good work that you put into finding cheap insurance, it won’t be worth it if it’s declared invalid later on.

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More than a million motorists in the UK are uninsured
July 9, 2016

The Insurer Churchill have recently carried out a survey about insurance and found some pretty shocking results. Apparently, across the UK, it’s estimated that there are more than a million motorists driving around uninsured. And Churchill found that the most uninsured drivers are based in East London, with 1 in 8 vehicles on the road without insurance. North London and South East London also followed closely behind in the uninsured statistics. Scotland apparently has the most insured drivers, with just 1 in 71 drivers without insurance.

Overall, most good, law abiding citizens are insured, but even that sometimes isn’t enough. Would you know what to do if you were hit by an uninsured driver? Being involved in an accident is tough, but it’s even more stressful if you’re unfortunate enough to be hit by someone without insurance. Of course, you probably won’t know if you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver until later down the line. So at the scene of any accident, no matter how small, ensure you gain as much detail as possible.

Take Notes
Take down their registration plate. Also, ask for their name and address. If possible, also take the make and model of the vehicle. Note down any other crucial details, such as damage to the vehicles, time, date, what happened to cause the accident, etc. No detail is too small. Your notes will also jog your memory later on, when you need them. Being involved in an accident is a stressful situation and it’s so easy to forget small details later on, so make sure you note everything down.

Look around for witnesses
Obtain contact details for any witnesses, incase they’re needed to make a statement in the near future. The most important things to note down are their name, contact telephone number and address.

Take pictures
If you have a camera phone, take some pictures of the damage and, if possible, the other driver. Take as many pictures as you can – it’s better to have too many than not to have enough.

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New survey reveals kids prefer being driven by Dad, not Mum
June 4, 2016

Prepare to be very offended, ladies…

A recent survey has revealed that kids would rather be driven by Dad than Mum! 52% of those questioned said that they prefer to be a passenger in Dad’s car over Mum’s.

And it seems that the kids seem to be catching on to their Parents bad habits in the car too. 26% of children said that Dad accelerates too quickly, but only 11% said that Mum did this. 22% said that Dad speeds, but only 10% said that Mum drives too fast.

The research was carried out by Ingenie, who questioned kids aged between 10 and 16.

The study also found that Dad is more likely to swear in the car than Mum. Furthermore, Dad is more likely to get angry behind the wheel than Mum is.

Despite the evidence being stacked against Dad, 34% of kids said that they’d prefer their Dad to teach them to drive.

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