How to Deal with Unexpected Car Costs and Make the Most of Your Staycation

motorway in sunset: staycation
Living on a small island has lots of advantages. One of those is the ability to travel around in a short space of time. The UK benefits from an extensive motorway network which, if I’m honest, has its moments, especially during bank holidays. But on the whole, it can be pretty convenient for day trips. That is, of course, if your car is in good condition!

As more of us embrace the concept of a staycation, day trips in our cars are becoming more popular. Rather than sit around the house and garden on our day off, we head out, whatever the weather.

Of course, just like a tradesman is only as good as his tools, so are our car trips only as good as our vehicles allow. A vehicle is much easier to neglect than it is to maintain. We’ve all done it – you know your car needs an oil/water check but you think it can go the extra miles without it.

Exactly the same can happen with tyres or, as I experienced a number of years ago, with a timing belt for our Peugeot. Had we heeded our car servicing facility’s advice, we would have had our service, and therefore our timing belt changed, 2 weeks earlier and we wouldn’t have suffered irreparable engine damage.

Regular Servicing

The main problem that arises from not servicing your car regularly is the often exorbitant cost of unexpected urgent repairs. It’s bad enough that you are left without a vehicle while a major problem is dealt with by your mechanic. But when you add in the fact that the problem could have been easily avoided had you got your car serviced on time, it really makes you feel awful. I’ve got the t-shirt, trust me!

Broken car: staycation

Here are a few of the warning signs you’re car can give you that it needs a service pronto:

1. Strange Noises

Any new noises coming from your car should be looked at before they develop into serious problems.

Here are some of the sounds you may hear from your car and what they could indicate:

Louder-than-usual exhaust noise – This could be a hole or crack in your exhaust. These tend to be easy to fix but must be checked out as there’s a risk your exhaust pipe could simply fall off.

Squealing when you step on the brake – This could be an indication of worn brake pads.

Whining from under the bonnet – Usually caused by a loose belt, which in turn can cause all sorts of issues from overheating to battery problems.

Metal-on-metal – Any scraping sound coming from your car needs to be looked at. This could be a broken part of your car scraping on something else, causing extra damage.

Uneven engine noise – You’ll usually hear this when the car is idling. It could mean the engine is misfiring and needs fixing urgently. It could be an easy fix, such as replacing spark plugs. However, it could also be a more serious problem with your engine and how it handles the air/fuel mixture.

Crunching gears – As the gearbox get a lot of wear and tear, fluids and parts will need replacing. If you hear a crunching noise as you change gear, it’s time to get your car serviced.

Metal-on-metal – Any scraping sound coming from your car needs to be looked at. This could be a broken part of your car scraping on something else, causing extra damage.

2. Vibrating or pulling under braking

This could be down to worn brake discs or pads, a suspension problem, or a problem with your steering.  It’s not safe to drive like this so you must get your car serviced as soon as possible.

It could also be a sign of tyre wear, so check that your tyres have at least the minimum requirement of tyre tread – 1.6mm – and that they’re not wearing unevenly.

3. Reduced Comfort

If you notice that speed bumps are becoming a problem, your car is riding low or you can hear your tyres scraping on the wheel arch of your car, you need to get your car looked at immediately.

Any of these symptoms could signal an issue with your suspension. If not dealt with, the resulting damage can be very costly indeed.

4. Car Fires

It’s just about everyone’s worst nightmare when it comes to their cars. You’re driving along, happy as Larry, and suddenly your engine catches fire for no apparent reason. You have to pull over urgently, even unsafely, and jump out of your seat and get as far away from your car as possible.

Car fires can obviously be caused by accidents, but much more frequently they are due to mechanical failure. An oil or,  even worse, a fuel leak,  causes the liquids to come into contact with areas of the vehicle which are hot enough to ignite them.

Good, regular car servicing will greatly reduce the chances of this happening

The financial benefits of regular servicing

However high the upfront costs of servicing your car may appear, the fact is that cars that have a good service history last longer, perform better, and in the long run cost less to maintain. Nowadays it’s easier than ever to find companies that provide car servicing for various makes and models, be it Peugeot, Fiat, or Suzuki.

And it’s not just the performance of your car that will improve if you service it regularly. Fuel efficiency can be massively improved if your car is in good condition. Why waste money at the pump when you can save it instead?

Car on fire: staycation

Ideas for making the most of your well-kept vehicle

So, now that you’ve sorted out your car what next? Sure, you will have the peace of mind that your car will be in good condition to get you from A to B – work, the school run, etc. But what if you decide to venture further afield? It is summer after all, and with the school holidays in full swing not all of us can go on a glam overseas holiday.

Why not try to take advantage of a staycation and the open road and treat yourself to one of the following destinations:

The North

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

Chatsworth is a sprawling stately home, complete with stunning art and extensive gardens. It even has a maze. You may remember it from the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. It became Pemberley, home to the brooding Mr. Darcy. In reality, it is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, but much of the grounds are open to the public.
Allow yourself several hours or longer to take in the full splendour of the estate. There are shops and places to eat or take a picnic to eat on the grounds.

Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire

If you like shopping, and you like your products handmade, Hebden is the staycation destination for you. Set in the Calder Valley in Yorkshire, Hebden Bridge is a popular market town. The fast flowing streams and canal network made it the ideal location for woollen mills. Nowadays it is renowned for its independent shops and artist community.
There are lots of cafes and restaurants to grab a coffee or eat a meal. Or go to the local chippy and eat your chips along the canal bank.

The South

Hampstead Heath And Village, London

If you’re heading towards London, Hampstead makes a great day out. Go for a walk on the Heath or walk around the cobbled village. On very hot days, cool off with a dip in the Ladies’ Pond. It’s even open in the winter for those hardy enough to try it.

A great way to get to know the area is to take a guided walk. With a professional tour guide, you can learn about residents old and new and visit some of the hidden watering holes.

Highclere Castle, Hampshire (Downton Abbey)

Fans of Downton Abbey will love Highclere. It is, perhaps, best known as the setting for the award-winning Downton Abbey. But in real life, it is home to the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. It has been in the Carnarvon family since 1679.

The house and grounds are open to the public at certain times of the year. As well as immersing yourself in the Downton experience, there are lots to explore. The current castle is Victorian and is set in 1,000 acres of stunning parkland. Go above and below stairs or go for a walk around the beautiful grounds.

There are countless places to visit for a staycation throughout the UK. These are just a few. The next time you have a day to yourself, venture a little further and go exploring. And remember, the better nick you keep that car in, the further it will take you. So book that service in before it’s too late!