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How to spring clean your car

OK, so cleaning your car may not be rocket science, but you’d be surprised at the amount of damage than can be inflicted to a car by improper cleaning. Now that winter is over, taking with it the salt and grime on the roads that has been caking our cars for the past few months, it’s the perfect time to give your car a spring clean…

The first step is to pre-wash your car, hosing it down to get rid of the worst of the dirt – it’ll make your job a lot easier later on. Plus, wiping the grit and dirt over the surface of your car is the most likely way to scratch it. A hose is ideal for this, and at a push even a few buckets of water can work, but if you’ve got a pressure washer – even better! When you’re hosing it down, make sure not to focus the water stream on areas of rust, or peeling paintwork, as you’ll be risking stripping the paint off.

Now, it’s time to give your car a proper wash. If you’ve been relying on washing up liquid in the past to clean it, you should consider investing in a proper car shampoo – washing up liquids are abrasive and full of salt, which works fine for crockery but is much too harsh for paintwork. Just as there are different shampoos available for different hair types, there’s a whole range of car shampoos out there, all to target different problems. Starting from the top of your car, thoroughly clean your car with a large sponge, rinsing it off as you go. Make sure that you have a spare sponge, as if you drop the first one you could end up picking up grit that will damage your bodywork.

Cleaning the wheels and trims is slightly fiddlier. A small, soft-bristled brush like a toothbrush will do the trick to make sure you’re cleaning the dirt out of all the nooks. A colour-changing cleaner that changes when it reacts with the dirt on your car is a great way to make sure you’re doing a thorough job.

Drying your car is probably the most laborious task, but it’s a necessary step if you want a streak-free finish. A chamois leather is unbeatable for drying your car, but a synthetic chamois cloth will work, too, as will a standard microfibre cloth. To make your car shine, follow it up with a polish, wax or both – polish is slightly abrasive, so it shouldn’t be used more than twice a year. Taking it one panel at a time, apply the polish with one cloth and wipe it off with another, following it with a wax sealant to lock in the shine. Make sure not to do this in direct sunlight, though, as it will make your job a lot harder!

When it comes to cleaning your windows, using a specialist window spray and microfibre cloth on both the inside and outside is the way to go for a streak-free shine. Now that your car is sparkling, get rid of any litter inside your car, clean the car mats with soapy water, and hoover down the interior. You’re all done! It’s time to stand back and admire your handiwork. If you’ve done your spring clean but your car is still looking a little worse for wear, it might be time to look for a new one – thankfully, our helpful team are here to help you secure the car of your dreams.

car tax

How to renew your car tax

Recently, the DVLA released the UK’s car tax dodging hotspots – and London topped the list, followed by Northern Ireland, Birmingham and Manchester. According to its research, 27,605 vehicles were clamped last year, and 94,550 fines and penalties were issued to drivers who failed to pay their tax.

As a result, the DVLA has launched a new campaign to clamp down (excuse the pun) on tax avoiders, emphasising the penalties associated with failing to keep up with car tax. In addition to the fines, motorists risk court action, or even their vehicle being seized.

Paying car tax – much to the annoyance of some drivers – is non-negotiable. Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) was implemented in 1920 to specifically apply to motor vehicles, and has been compulsory ever since. Despite what many people believe, car tax doesn’t actually go towards the maintenance of roads, which is covered by our council tax. VED is split up in the same way as other taxes are, contributing to infrastructure, hospitals, education and local projects to name but a few.

Although there are some exceptions – for example, vehicles used by people with disabilities – generally speaking, anyone who has a car on the road in the UK must pay vehicle tax. Finding out if your car’s tax is due is simple: the DVLA has an easy-to-use tool on its website. Simply enter your registration number and you can find out when your car tax is due – it even lets you know when your next MOT is due!

The quickest way to pay your car tax is directly on the DVLA’s website. You’ll need a reference number, which can be found in your vehicle log book (V5C), the green ‘new keeper’s details’ slip (V5C/2), or on a reminder letter from the DVLA. You’ll simply need to type in your registration and reference number, and select if you’d prefer to pay for six or 12 months’ tax. Remember that the paper tax discs aren’t issued any more, so your payment confirmation will mean your car is taxed.

If you prefer, you can also pay your car tax by phone, or at the post office – you’ll just need your V5C or V5C/2 and registration number, although you should note that you can’t set up a direct debit over the phone. The DVLA’s new slogan is ‘Tax it or lose it’ – so it’s not something you can afford to ignore! However, you should note that if you sell your car, you can get a refund on any unused car tax that you have paid up front. You can’t transfer tax from one car to another, so if you’re getting a new car, remember to claim your car tax back – and make sure to get in touch with our helpful team, who make getting a new car as easy as possible.

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