Road Safety Advice Every Driver Should Know

Every 20 minutes, someone is seriously injured or killed on British roads. These accidents are all preventable if simple rules of road safety are followed.

Easy to follow road safety tips

Slow down

Speed is a crucial factor when it comes to road safety. The faster you drive, the greater the risk of accidents. Driving within the speed limit and using suitable speed in bad weather conditions is common sense. At speeds exceeding 50mph, a reduction in speed by 1mph can lower the likelihood of crashes by up to 5%. Test your knowledge with the Road Safety Stopping Distance Game

Never drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol

It is widely known that drugs and alcohol impair drivers’ judgment and perception, even small amounts below the legal driving limit can impact your reactions in traffic. Better be safe than sorry and plan ahead to get home safely.

It might take some courage but if you see someone planning on driving after a few drinks, try to persuade them to leave their car until the next day. Don’t get into the car with someone who has been drinking.

And don’t forget those mornings after a night out. Use this handy calculator to see how long you should wait before you get behind the wheel again. As a final thought: if you are taking any medication, even flu medicine can impair your ability to drive.

Stay focused and calm

Make sure you stay sharp and focused when driving. Planning your journeys and anticipate traffic events ahead can really take the stress out of driving. If you are feeling tired after some time behind the wheel, take a break. It is recommended to break up longer journeys after 2 hours for some fresh air and a stretch of your legs.

Avoid driving if you are under stress or feel angry as your mind might not be fully focused on the task at hand – driving safely. In these situations, it is recommended to wait for a while before driving off to allow yourself to calm down and refocus on safely driving your car.

Not only your mind can have an impact on how focused you are. Your eyes are working overtime while driving, so it is vital to have your eyes checked regularly and wear glasses or lenses if you have been prescribed some. This reduces tiredness and ensures your vision is perfectly clear and unobstructed while on the road.

Keep your passengers safe too

If you are regularly traveling with passengers in your car, it is vital to ensure they are as safe as possible – even on short journeys. Insist that everyone traveling in your car is putting the seat belt on before you take off. When you are traveling with children, always ensure they sit in fitting and appropriate child seats and are buckled up correctly.

Make your car safe to travel

There are a few more things drivers can do to contribute to safer journeys and car maintenance is key here. Have your lights and brakes checked regularly, e.g. during your regular car servicing appointment, ensure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure and remove any unnecessary weight you are driving around in your car. We have written a handy post about the 5 car and road safety checks you should perform before a long-distance journey.

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Happy driving and safe travels!

OEM vs Aftermarket Car Parts – What Is The Difference

OEM vs. Aftermarket Car Part Guide

When it comes to car repair, choosing the right parts can be confusing and in most cases overwhelming with so many options from OEM, OE, aftermarket or refurbished parts out there. To cut through this, here is our overview of the different part categories that are out there:

Genuine (OE) car parts

Genuine parts, often called OE (Original Equipment) parts are the same parts which are used and built into your car when it was first made. They usually come branded with the manufacturers’ logo on the part and/or on the box. Dealerships will typically use these parts when your car needs a repair. They are a safe option if you want to maintain the same quality and performance, however, they come with a high price tag if your car is no longer in warranty.

OEM car parts

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer and is made by a company that supplies car manufacturers with parts. While they are normally identical to genuine parts, they are sold under the manufacturers’ name rather than the carmakers’ brand. OEM parts usually retain the same quality as genuine parts, with the upside of a lower price point than genuine parts. They are ideal to be used on slightly older cars which are around 3-4 years old, or cars where the manufacturer warranty has just expired.

Aftermarket car parts

There is a huge market for parts that are not made by the original supplier. These parts are known as aftermarket parts and they are built using the same pattern as OEM parts. An often acknowledged issue with aftermarket parts is the wide spectrum of quality. Some aftermarket parts are manufactured to a high standard so that they are outperforming their OE/OEM counterparts. For example, products made by Brembo, Mintex or Pagid are known for their outstanding quality, surpassing their OE counterparts. On the other hand, some parts can be made using less durable material which means they can wear out faster. The outstanding benefit of aftermarket parts is the price point being much lower than the original equipment, which makes them perfect for older cars.

Salvage parts

Salvage parts are usually available at a very low price point, typically as they are taken from cars which were sent to the scrapyard, or have been sold on. They are second-hand parts, typically with not much history behind them. They range from anything from OE parts in perfect working condition or used parts with not much life left in them.

Reconditioned or remanufactured parts

Some car parts can be reconditioned by taking them apart and assembling them again, using new parts to replace broken pieces. This is usually true for engines or gearboxes. They can come at a higher price and as its a rebuilt part you should be asking for some kind of warranty.

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Happy driving!

 

Increase your chances to pass the MOT test the first time

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Always wondered what issue is most likely to fail your car when you take it for its MOT test the first time? Well, since the exacts contents of MOT tests were determined by law in 2012, comprehensive records have been kept showing the most likely defects found. Governing body Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has recently disclosed this information to inform you and us in more detail about what you can do to prevent your car from failing on often minor issues, saving you the hassle and saving yourself from forking out for an MOT re-test. Our little guide gives you the key details how your car can pass the MOT test with flying colours.

Lighting and signaling

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A considerable 18% of the reasons cars don’t pass the MOT test are due to general lighting issues, like bulbs that have blown, inadequate reflectors, hazard lights, and other signaling issues.

To give your car a better chance of passing its MOT, and at the very least increase your own safety, it is therefore super important that these items are checked to make sure they are all okay. To increase your chances to pass the MOT test, simply test if the head and rear lights, brake lights, indicator and number plate lights come on and are working as they should. Any blown bulbs can easily be replaced, your car owners manual will tell you how.

Brakes

Brakes are arguably the most important safety feature on your car, hence any MOT test will require these to be in tip-top condition. There is a great chance otherwise you will fail, and indeed the stats show that 10% of MOT failures are due to inadequate braking systems. This does not only concern the condition of your brake pads and discs but also check if your handbrake is in good condition.

If there are any strange noises when you’re braking, or if the car doesn’t stop as it previously did, then chances are there is something wrong with the brakes. Usual suspects will be worn or damaged brake discs or brake pads that have worn beyond the manufacturer’s limit. If you’re unsure just ask a professional for an opinion.

Tyres

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Apart from the fact that 8% of MOT failures in the last year are due to tyre issues, it only makes sense to ensure they are in a good condition in general and have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm (the current legal limit). There is an easy way to test if your tyres meet the legal standard using a 20p coin: insert the coin into one of the groves in the tread. If the outer rim is visible, then it is time to get your tyre replaced.

Remember, tyres are your car’s only contact point with the road surface and give your car the grip and stopping power needed to drive your car safely. Make sure that things like your tyre pressure, overall condition of the tyres and tread depth are checked out prior to the MOT test and have any issues addressed.

Driver’s view of the road

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Already aware that your windscreen wipers do not work properly or wiper blades are not as effective as they should be? Then there’s a good chance your car will not pass the MOT test on these items. Indeed, around 7% of MOTs fails were due to issues related to visibility in the last year and can range from windscreen wiper issues to damaged mirrors and window stickers.

With windshield wiper blades being some of the easiest and cheapest things to replace, make sure you sort out any aspects in the car that might obscure your view and easily increase your chances of passing your MOT test. Also, remember to top up windscreen washer fluid before you drive to the MOT centre.

Suspension

Whilst suspension issues will be more difficult to quickly check it is sometimes not hard to identify whether there is something wrong with the suspension. There may be strange noises when going over bumps or your car may be unstable if you go through corners. If you’re unsure exactly what the problem is then making sure to ask help from a professional, they will be able to find out more during an inspection.

Do you think your car is ready for its MOT? Then consider getting one with free collection and delivery to the test centre, and save yourself lots of hassle. Get a quote for your region now at www.clickmechanic.com/mot

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Happy driving!

12 Top Tips for Drivers This Autumn

The temperature is dropping, leaves are piling and the clocks are going back in less than a week; no doubt autumn is definitely upon us! And whilst most drivers anticipate car troubles in the winter, the autumn is often overlooked and underestimated. During this season, the weather is very temperamental and is quickly subject to change; it can be wet, dark, windy, frosty or bright, making it more hazardous than assumed by drivers. This is why we have listed our top tips for drivers this autumn from driving in the rain to how to deal with winds and frost. Read on for expert advice on how to best prepare for the unpredictable and stay safe this autumn!

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “Many drivers forget what the autumnal elements can do to cars and the roads. Like the weather, the environment can be unpredictable in this season, so take your time when driving and try to anticipate any hazardous conditions. Above all, keep your car in check; there’s no reason you cannot hire a professional from ClickMechanic to confirm the condition of your vehicle.”

Driving In Heavy Rain / Wet Conditions

1. Watch for leaves and large puddles on the road when driving in rain and on wet streets – Once loose leaves are flattened and dampened onto the surface of the road, they become extremely slippery, making it tricky for even the tyres to grip. It’s also difficult to judge the depth of large puddles at times, which can become a hazard if driven at with speed. For this reason, you should try to avoid both if possible or drive slowly over them, taking extra care. You should be particularly aware of leaves if you travel on hilly roads.

2. Prepare your tyres – This goes hand-in-hand with the above tip. The roads will be harder to grip in the rain and so tyres should have at least 3mm of tread for effective traction. This grip will also be essential when it grows frosty over the coming weeks, so it’s best to get them serviced or replaced now. Also, check the pressure of your tyres regularly; under-inflation wears down the tread more quickly and over-inflation means they have less grip on the road!

3. Check the condition of your wiper blades – There’s often twice as much rain in the winter months compared to the summer months in the UK, so you should prepare your wiper blades for the worst. Clean them with a soft cloth and ensure they are in full working condition. If your sight is limited in any way during their use, replace them as soon as possible.

Dark Commutes

4. High beams on standby – Give your headlights and rear lights a clean with a wet cloth, removing all condensation and dirt, and make sure all are in working condition including the high beams. With the hour going back next week, commutes will be much darker and your lights will not only guide you but will make other drivers aware of you. Additionally, try to only use the high beams when you really need them and not when other drivers are approaching; they can easily blind them.

5. Take sunglasses – Not particularly useful in the dark, but with the shorter days comes a lower sun. As such, it can be awkwardly placed during your drive and even the sun visor can’t block it. Having a pair of sunglasses is always handy in the car, particularly in times such as these!

6. Stay alert – The darker mornings and evenings may leave you feeling drowsier behind the wheel than usual, especially if you leave the heating running. To avoid this, make sure you get enough sleep the night before, swap drivers if possible during long trips and drink caffeine if necessary. If you find yourself growing tired, pull over to rest and stretch your legs.

Frost

7. Give yourself extra time in the mornings – All drivers know the pain of trying to heat the windscreen from the inside of the car whilst frantically scraping at it from the outside. If the temperature drops to the frost level, give yourself extra time in the mornings to defrost the car before your commute – it is very dangerous to only scrape a small viewing hole in the windscreen and to rush to work in this state! To avoid the frost altogether, park your car in a garage or cover it overnight.

8. Check antifreeze levels – Antifreeze prevents the water in the engine’s cooling system from freezing. You can contact a professional mechanic to check this for you or buy an antifreeze tester for a small price.

9. Run the battery – In the colder climate, your car will need to run more energy from the battery to power itself, meaning the frost is a killer if your battery is on its last legs. It’s best to inspect it at this time of year to make sure it can survive the autumn and winter and have the battery replaced when necessary.

High Winds

10. Monitor your speed – when driving in high winds, the faster you drive, the more likely you are to be driven off course. Not to mention, high winds can also affect your car’s handling and braking. Therefore, always monitor your speed, take your time and keep your distance between yourself and other cars.

11. Anticipate debris – Prepare yourself for sporadic bits of debris in the road or even fallen trees. This is another reason for keeping your speed low in high winds.

12. Don’t travel unless necessary – Driving in high winds can make even the most confident drivers feel ill at ease. If the conditions on the road are hazardous or you feel uncomfortable driving in such weather, do not attempt to do so unless necessary.

Catalytic converter theft and how to prevent it

Your catalytic converter, the part in your exhaust system which turns toxic emissions into less harmful substances, contains this precious metal palladium. With the rising prices for valuable metals like this one, the numbers for catalytic converter theft are also currently rising. Here are some tips on how to prevent and slow down thieves dismantling your car:

Prevent catalytic converter theft by:

  • Parking closer to walls, other vehicles or close to the kerb, to make climbing under your car more difficult.
  • Marking the catalytic converter with an engraved serial number can allow easier tracing as well making it harder to sell.
  • Welding the bolts if the converter is bolted on. This does not stop thieves but makes it harder to remove the converter using only a spanner. The downside to consider is that it not only makes it harder for thieves but also mechanics when they are working on your exhaust system.
  • Get a protective cover fitted to make it more difficult for thieves to remove the converter.
  • Get a catalytic converter alarm that is set off when the catalytic converter is tempered with.
  • Increased security measures, e.g. if possible park in a lockable garage, fencing, park in well-lit areas or CCTV.

What to do if the catalytic converter has been stolen?

In the case when your catalytic converter has been stolen, additional damage might have been caused to the exhaust system. As the converter is removed by force, the act of removal can have damaged surrounding parts as well. This means that you will need to have a mechanic take a thorough look at the exhaust system to determine the extent if other parts of the system have to be replaced as well.

In these cases, our in-house mechanics can help advise you to get your vehicle fixed.

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Happy driving!

Mobile Mechanic vs. Garage – which repairs can be done mobile?

The world of car mechanics can often be relatively complex, however from a mechanic’s perspective, there are certain jobs that are simple enough to be done at the roadside or on your drive. Alongside this, there are a number of jobs that are complex enough and would be best suited to a garage. We put together a list of major jobs that can be done mobile, and ones that require a garage facility for an optimal outcome:

Repairs done by mobile mechanics

  1. Brake pads replacement – this job is one of the more simple ones for a mechanic to take on, and involves taking the old brake pads off the caliper and replacing them. In this case, mobile mechanics would jack the vehicle up and, provided the vehicle is on a level surface, would be able to get this job done at your location of choice.
  2. Fuel filter replacement – another easy one that can be done at your home or at your place of work. The fuel lines run on the drivers’ side under the bonnet, and your mechanic will remove the fuel pump relay or fuse, and then crank the vehicle to relieve fuel pressure. The mechanic will then simply remove the fuel filter and change it, close the bonnet, and you are on your way!
  3. Suspension springs (coil springs) – your suspension is vital on your vehicle to be able to manage a huge amount of weight and allow you to smoothly go over bumps. This one that can be done mobile as it simply requires a jack to get the vehicle elevated and the springs removed. Again, a flat, clear surface would be required to give your mechanic enough space to get the job done.
  4. Brake Fluid Change – a simple job for mobile mechanics who, in most cases, have brake flushing facilities available to them to bring to your location. The simplicity of this job is such that this is one you can technically do yourself, but to ensure the best possible outcome, get in touch with a trusted professional.
  5. Alternator belt replacement – the alternator belt drives automotive engine devices such as the alternator and power steering pump. It can be located under the bonnet, meaning this job can be done very easily wherever you need.
  6. Car Servicing – servicing your vehicle is something that should be scheduled once a year, and involves work such as changing the oil and filter, inspecting any other fluid levels and ensuring that other aspects of your vehicle are running smoothly. Again, this is all work that can be done at a location convenient to you.

Repairs that more suited to be done by a garage

  1. Steering geometry check – uneven roads and potholes mean that your steering can often be pushed out of line. Unfortunately, the machinery required to do the geometry check is only present in garages due to the size and complexity of it, so any checks and potential alignments will have to be done at a garage, or at a specialist that provides the service.
  2. Clutch replacement – typically cars with smaller engines can be done mobile, but anything with a 1.7 litre engine or above would be best served in a garage. This is due to the weight of the engine and the fact that having more than one person doing the job would be more ideal.
  3. Timing chain replacement – getting your timing chain replaced is a job that sees the engine come out in order for it to be completed – a process best served in the confines of a garage. This is to ensure that mechanics can do the job in the best possible fashion, and do not put themselves at risk when removing the engine.
  4. Cylinder head gasket replacement – this job is particularly complex, and a failure of this nature is one of the bigger jobs that a mechanic or garage will have to repair. In many cases, many parts of the car’s engine needs to be replaced to complete this job, so this is best served with a professional garage.
  5. Wheel alignment – similar to steering alignment, your wheels can take a beating when exposed to bumps and potholes, and driver safety can be compromised. Wheel alignment services are available nationwide, but as with steering alignment, the equipment required can only be located at a specialist garage.
  6. Transfer box replacement – this is the gear system that divides the power between the front and rear axle of a four-wheel drive system. A job like this would need to be up on a ramp due to the size of these vehicles, and are safer done in a garage.

Mobile mechanics offer a convenient way to get your car fixed while you get on with your day. For a lot of work, you do not necessarily have to arrange an appointment with a garage. However, any repair that requires your car being lifted up on a platform, a garage will always the best place to go to.

You can book both, mobile mechanics and garages on ClickMechanic. And if you are unsure, contact our in-house expert team, who will help to book the right repair for your car.

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10 questions to ask a mechanic

questions to ask a mechanic

Finding a good mechanic you can trust can sometimes feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. We have compiled a list of questions you should ask mechanics when you need a repair. These questions will help you build a trusting relationship with the person who is fixing your car, so you know that your vehicle is in good hands.

What parts will be used on the car?

The parts used for a repair will have an impact on the final price you pay. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts will be more expensive, while aftermarket parts and refurbished or used parts will be cheaper.

Can I see the replaced parts?

There is a simple reason for this question: seeing the part which has been replaced gives you additional visual confirmation and confidence that the work has been completed. It also helps you understand your car better and, in some cases, how your car is impacted by your driving style.

How long can I drive my vehicle before my issue becomes a real problem?

This question helps you weigh up whether the proposed repair is a high priority problem that needs immediate attention, or whether it can be delayed. It is important to know what the long term impacts are if certain repairs are left unattended. So while a dirty air filter can be put off for a while, worn brake pads most likely cannot. This question is key if you are on a budget and/or if there are multiple issues with your car.

How was the test drive?

If the repair involves a test drive ask about it. Was the clutch working better? How did the steering improve? Did the vibrations disappear? Don’t forget to enquire about the test route: if a concerning noise occurs mainly on cobbled streets, then a test drive on smooth asphalt won’t tell you if the issue has been rectified.

Can you show me the issue on the car?

Let’s be honest: you wouldn’t let a doctor perform surgery on you without seeing an x-ray or MRI first. The same goes for your car! Ask the mechanic to show you the problem on the vehicle itself before repair. A good mechanic will show and explain the problem in detail to you, including what is needed to get it fixed.

How long does the work take, and when will it be completed?

Agreeing on a time frame helps you plan the time you won’t be able to use your car and to arrange alternative transportation if necessary. As for the mechanic, he now knows when you ideally expect to have your car back and will set a deadline to work towards.

What warranty/guarantee comes with the repair?

Before you hand over the keys to your car, it is vital that you know whether parts and services are covered by the warranty and how long the coverage lasts. Understand your rights when things go wrong – although hopefully, they won’t!

How much will a diagnosis cost & how long does it take?

Over the years, cars have turned into rolling computers, which means some issues are not as easily detectable as others and mechanics will need to run diagnostic checks to track down what is wrong with your car. These checks take time and mechanics understandably will want to get paid for that time, i.e. when they try to find the short in multiple pounds of electrical wiring.

Can I get a written quote and a detailed invoice?

Before you engage a mechanic, ask for a detailed quote outlining the parts, labour time and taxes where they apply. That way you can be sure that there are no hidden fees or expensive extras. It can happen that your mechanic’s work will expand beyond what was agreed first – in these cases ask to get a call to discuss before the work can go ahead.

What repairs do I have coming up?

While a mechanic may only be working on a specific repair, they might detect other defects or worn parts that might cause problems in the future. Knowing what to expect will give you guidance as to what potential costs could be coming up, or may raise the question as to whether investing in a new car would be a more savvy option.

Happy driving!

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Will Your Drive Home Excuse an Easter Egg? Driving from London to Birmingham Would Burn Enough Calories for One Cadbury Creme Egg!

Easter is just around the corner now – a time for family togetherness as well as guilt-free snacking! Indeed, this weekend, countless Brits will be giving and receiving copious quantities of chocolate; so much so that many of us will even surpass the daily allowance of calories in chocolate alone. So it comes to no surprise that the majority of us will eat to the point that we feel ill every year, with little consideration of how many calories we are consuming. The good news is, if you’re driving home this Easter, you are unknowingly burning off some of the calories already, so you could potentially excuse a treat or two in advance! To give UK drivers an idea of what they could earn on the road, ClickMechanic, an online marketplace for car repair, has calculated how far you would have to drive to earn some of the traditional Easter treats.

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “It’s all too easy to over-eat chocolate at Easter, so we need every bit of help we can get when it comes to burning the calories! Driving burns more energy than most are aware due to the natural G-forces and power needed to control the vehicle. As such, those that have a long ride home can potentially excuse some of the below chocolate treats!”

1. Lindt Gold Bunny (200g) – 1100 calories OR driving from Brighton to Edinburgh and back

Lindt’s Gold Bunnies have long been a traditional Easter treat, but at 1,100 calories per 200 gram rabbit, they are not exactly a light treat. That being said, you could burn off one of these bunnies by driving from Brighton to Edinburgh and back. It would take 15 hours and 40 minutes on the road for the average male driver, or just over 19 hours for a woman. It’s a hefty price to pay, so it may be worth eating this rabbit slowly!

2. Cadbury Creme Egg – 177 calories OR driving from London to Birmingham

Small and yet filling, Cadbury’s Creme Eggs are one of the most popular Easter treats. Due to their size, these fondant-filled eggs are much lighter in calories compared to most Easter sweets. At 177 calories per egg, a male driver would need to spend 2 and a half hours on the road (the equivalent of driving from London to Birmingham) to earn one, whereas a woman would need to drive for little over 3 hours. This means if you have a particularly long drive, you could well excuse a couple of these!

3. Cadbury Dairy Milk Extra Large Easter Egg – 2760 calories OR driving from Plymouth to Glasgow more than 5X

While Easter eggs may appear less calorific than most chocolate bars, due to their thin shell and hollow design, it is very easy to keep eating them once you start! Not to mention, some of the latest eggs have grown so big, that they alone equate to more than your daily allowance of calories. For instance, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Extra Large Easter Egg amounts to a staggering 2760 calories if you count the included chocolate bars. To burn this, a male motorist would need to drive from Plymouth to Glasgow more than 5 times and spend almost 40 hours behind the wheel. In comparison, a female driver would need to make the journey 6 and a half times with 48 hours on the road!

4. MaltEaster Bunny – 156 calories OR driving from Oxford to Cambridge

MaltEaster Bunnies are fairly small, light and easy to eat. They are commonly used to decorate Easter treats, as above, but they are also a delicious snack in their own right! Each bunny contains 156 calories, to earn which the average man would need to drive for just over 2 hours, or roughly from Oxford to Cambridge. Whereas, a woman would need to spend closer to 3 hours behind the wheel.

5. Cadbury Mini Eggs – 444 calories OR driving from Aberdeen to Sheffield

Mini Eggs are almost too easy to eat, and while 444 calories seems a pretty steep price to pay, that counts for a whole pack (27 eggs)! To burn this off, a male motorist would need to travel from Aberdeen to Sheffield and spend more than 6 hours on a road. A woman, on the other hand, would need to drive for just under 8 hours. So it may indeed be worth watching how many of these you pinch over the weekend!

The UK’s Top 5 Romantic Road Trips to Drive this Valentine’s Day!

Only one week to go until Valentine’s Day! And if you’re looking to plan the perfect date, why not really impress this year and take your other half on a romantic road trip? For inspiration, we’ve done the research for you to find the UK’s top 5 romantic routes. Read on and see which you would want to visit for a Valentine’s treat!

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “A scenic road trip is the perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day. It’s a chance to explore some amazing new places together from the comfort of your car, which is particularly a bonus given the weather! Just remember to share the choice of music…”

1. The North Coast 500, Scotland

For a truly breath-taking and adventurous drive, Scotland’s North Coast 500 is your ideal choice for this Valentine’s Day. Beginning and ending in the northern city of Inverness, this route skirts around the Scottish coast, covering over 500 miles of unparalleled scenery.

Along the ride, you can visit a number of impressive structures including the famed 1000-year-old ruins of Urquhart Castle on the Loch Ness banks. You can also discover some of the concealed and untouched beaches on route; be sure to visit Moray Firth, home to around 130 bottlenose dolphins! Finally, it goes without saying that the road will also take you through some stunning views of the highlands, which alone are worth the trip! Be sure to save some time for this journey however, 5-7 days of travelling are recommended to take in all of the sights.

2. The New Forest

Offering both beautiful and relaxed surroundings, driving through the New Forest is a brilliant option for couples who are looking to take it easy and soak up the sun (hopefully!). Being less than one minute’s drive from the M27, it is easily accessible with countless activities and sights available for visitors.

Picturesque villages are scattered throughout the area, not to mention thousands of wild ponies and donkeys also roam-free, so take care on the road! For keen animal lovers, the New Forest Wildlife Park at Ashurst offers the chance to get up close and personal with some of the local wildlife. And for those that appreciate cars, The National Motor Museum in Beaulieu features over 250 vehicles and recounts the history of motoring. So there really is something for everyone! If you’re unsure of which route to take, the New Forest Tour offers an open-top safari style tour of the area and covers three key routes to see all of the best sights.

3. The Dark Hedges, Ballymore, Northern Ireland

Any Game of Thrones fan will recognise this road; it is also known as King’s Road during Season two of the famous fantasy series, where Arya Stark travels north. While it is simply an avenue of beech trees folding into one another, the overall effect creates a true sense of fairy-tale wonder as you pass through it.

This inspiring formation, or the Dark Hedges as it is actually known, was planted two centuries ago to decorate the entrance of Gracehill House, a Georgian mansion. Today, it has become a renowned spot for photographs in Northern Ireland and attracts visitors from far and wide. Sadly, due to recent damage, it can no longer be driven directly down by motorists; however there is parking nearby at the Hedges Estate Hotel and it is more than worth the walk for this enchanting experience. It is indeed a beautiful road to visit this Valentine’s Day.

4. The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is renowned for its scenic, picture-postcard villages and for the natural beauty of its countryside; just two reasons for being a perfect drive on February 14th!

But if you’re wondering which route to take to get the best views, why not follow the aptly named Romantic road? Cotswolds.info has mapped out its own circular route from Broadway which passes through Stow on the Wold and Bourton on the Water, taking the driver through a number of impressive sights. You will have the chance to explore the famed beauty of the Cotswold hill villages as well as the quant river valleys and the charmingly idyllic country pubs. Covering 45 miles in total, it’s also more than suitable for a day trip!

5. The Lake District

As England’s largest National Park, the Lake District is filled with breath-taking scenery and a raw, natural beauty. With an incredible mountainous landscape combined with vast lakes and, of course, countless activities available, each valley will not fail to please!

While the sheer size of this National Park means the possible driving routes are essentially endless, if you’re looking for guidance, Lake District Drives lists 15 possible routes to choose from. However, for a truly romantic experience, the Keswick to Borrowdale to Buttermere drive is a great pick. It features some of the most stunning sights of the mountain passes and allows you to stop and explore places such as Lodore Falls waterfall and Honister Slate Mine. The route covers 38 miles in total.

The Top 5 Personalised Gifts for Car Lovers This Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is just over two weeks away, and if you’re a little fed up with the traditional flowers, chocolate and restaurant combination, why not try a more personal approach? Before you jump to conclusions, we’re talking about the perfect, personalised gifts to suit car lovers. Read on to see our top 5 gift ideas for motor-enthused loved ones this Valentine’s Day.

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “Any motoring enthusiast would welcome these creative, personalised gifts. Whether you’re shopping on a budget or looking to splurge, there’s something for everyone!”

1. Hand Drawn Car Illustration

Want to add a bit of culture to this Valentine’s Day – why not request a hand-drawn illustration of your other half’s pride and joy? You can transform a favourite photo into ink and watercolour, giving the car a truly timeless presentation. You can even personalise it further by adding wording and selecting from an array of frames!

Should you be stuck between two photos or, indeed, two cars, there’s also the option to order two illustrations in a double mount.

Personalised Hand Drawn Car Illustrations are available from notonthehighstreet from £67.

2. Milk Chocolate Car

OK, so we said no chocolate, but when is chocolate unwelcome? Thorntons’ Milk Chocolate Car is a sweet and simple gift; the perfect choice for any car-loving chocoholic. To make it more special, you can add a personalised name or message on the car for free. This sweet ride won’t be around for long this Valentine’s Day!

The Milk Chocolate Car is available from Thorntons for £6.

3. Personalised Salt and Pepper Cars

Why not introduce your gift alongside dinner this year? These sleek looking salt and pepper cars come with removable satin-finished ‘drivers’ and can even be rolled across the table to your partner! This is an affordable, yet luxurious gift which is bound to impress any vintage racing fans.

Each can be personalised with your favourite racing numbers or with initials of your choice. No doubt, bringing these to the dinner table will give a whole new meaning to fast food!

The Personalised Salt and Pepper Racing Cars are available from Me and My Car from £30.

4. Personalised License Plate

If your partner has always been keen to personalise their license plate, but struggles to choose, perhaps you could make the decision for them? The options really are limitless and, of course, you have the dangerous responsibility of deciding what it will read!

Using the DVLA, you can register to auction, or buy outright, specific initials and can even see what the plate would look like on the car in question. The classic, rarer plates are obviously much more expensive and can arguably be seen as an investment. However, the simpler initials are more affordable – minimum bids in the auction start from under £100.

Personalised licence plates are available to buy from the DVLA.

5. Supercar Driving for Two

The Supercar Driving for Two experience is perfect for those who are interested in the core fundamentals of cars – namely the driving. What’s more, it’s an ideal gift for this romantic day as you can both take part and select one vehicle each from your favourite supercars. The impressive list of options includes: Ferrari 360, Lamborghini Gallardo, Aston Martin AMV8 and Audi R8.

Available to book in several locations across the UK, you will take to the track for 3 to 4 laps (depending on the location) and see what your chosen supercar can do!

The Supercar Driving for 2 package is available from Experience Days from £149.