Your car is an extension of your personality. At least, it should be. Yet, it seems like we’re all driving the exact same cars. There are millions of Ford Fiestas on the road. And the motorways are packed full of carbon copy saloon cars. BMWs, Audis, and Mercedes. They’re all the same. It’s time to inject some personality into your vehicle. Make it yours. A quick disclaimer before you do. Some of the ideas on this list will make it tricky to sell in the future.

Custom paint job – When you buy a new car, you’re typically offered the same dull paint choices. The simple whites, blues, and blacks are the most common colours. But what about something a little more personal? How about a two-tone finish or a mix of your favourite colours? Custom car garages like Auto Art can help turn your boring paint job into something more personal. Whether it’s a simple go-faster stripe along the side or full custom artwork, it will transform the car.

Custom license plate – We love a good custom license plate. They make excellent gifts and presents for the petrol-head in your life. Unfortunately, they’re not always cheap to come by. It’s also tricky to find the perfect lettering and numbering, as they aren’t made to order. But, when you do find the perfect license plate, it makes your car that little bit more special.

Seat covers or upholstery – If the exterior of your car is all about expressing your personality, the interior is about comfort. You want to sit behind the wheel and feel comfortable and stylish. One of the best personalised upgrades you can do is fitting leather upholstery. It instantly feels more stylish and comfortable. You can finish it with a specific trim colour, and make it your own. If you’re running low on cash, you can buy simple seat covers that match your style and personality.
Stereo system – Most sensible car buyers advise against upgrading to a big stereo. It could make it more difficult to sell your car in the future, and it might lose value. On the other hand, you get phenomenal, crystal clear sound while you’re driving. If you’re anything like us, you’ll love turning the stereo up loud and going on a road trip. For that level of joy and excitement, any price is worth it.

Fun technology extras – The essence of driving is all about fun. So forget practicality and sensible choices for a second. What would you love to do in your car? We recently came across a car-lover who had installed a small mini-fridge in the front console. Now, he and his family had quick access to cold drinks on a long journey. Genius! Others have installed TVs in the back seats for their kids. It’s these fun technology extras that turn a practical car into a fun place to be.

Forget those same old cars, and find new ways to put your own stamp on your motor. What would you do to your car?

When was the last time you took a long, hard look at your tyres? They can tell you more about your car’s condition than you think. Your tyres are one of the most important aspects of your vehicle. The wear down quickly and many drivers don’t take the time to care for them. New drivers are particularly oblivious to their tyre condition. Did you know, for example, that there’s an optimum tyre pressure that you must stick to? Did you know there’s a legal limit when it comes to tyre wear and tread depth?

These are the things you should be looking out for on your vehicle. The tyres themselves also reveal some deeper secrets. They can help you diagnose problems in the steering alignment, and even the suspension. The state of your tyres indicates the first signs of trouble within the car. In this post, we’ll show you how to pay more attention.  We’ll teach you to understand exactly what your tyres are trying to tell you.

1. Heavy central wear

When the tyres are heavily worn down in the centre of the tyre, it means just one thing. Your tyres are overinflated. It means that only the central part of the tyre is coming into contact with the road. Overinflation is bad for a number of reasons. First of all, it gives you a distinct lack of control over the car. The less contact there is with the road, the less grip you have on the tarmac. Secondly, it can seriously impact the efficiency and performance of the vehicle. Always stick to the recommended inflation pressure.

2. Heavy outer wear

As you would expect, lots of wear on the outer parts of the tyre suggest the opposite problem. Your tyres are significantly under inflated. You’re running close to flat. All the strain of the car is being forced to the outer part of the tyres, causing excess wear. Running on flat tyres puts a lot of pressure on the engine. Just think about how hard you have to pedal when biking on a flat tyre. Your engine is under the same strain. This is a clear example of how the tyres can indicate a much bigger problem developing under the bonnet.

3. Cracks and bulges

Cracks along the outer wall of the tyre usually occur as a result of under inflation. When the tyres aren’t pumped up, the structure of the tyre collapses, causes cracks to appear at the edges. If there is also heavy outer wear, you’ve got a serious case of under inflation. This makes it much more likely that damage from road bumps, kerbs, and debris will occur. If there is serious impact damage, you’ll see a bump or bulge under the rubber. Unfortunately, there’s only one solution, and that’s a replacement! You can buy tyres from your local garage or online via a type shop such as

or visit a reputable dealer to carry out the change. Type specialists such as National Tyres are the UK’s No.1 fast fit retailer for car tyres so if you have any problems or questions then head to our nearest garage.

4. Feathering and cupping

Lastly, look out for uneven wear, as it spells trouble inside the system. Cupping is when there is ‘mountainous’, up-and-down wear. It means the suspension is in trouble. Feathering is when the edges of the tread are smooth, but the inside is raised. It means your alignment is drifting.

As you can see, your tyres tell you a lot about the condition of your car. Learn to read them, and take action.

Severe wear on just one side? You’ve got trouble! Image Source

Choosing your first car can be a lot of hassle. You don’t have the experience to ensure you get a good deal, and you probably don’t know much about engines. The advice on this page should help to make sure you spend your cash wisely. At the end of the day, there are lots of fantastic models out there. You just need to work out which is the most suitable for you. Make sure you follow each of the steps on this page to guarantee you don’t overlook anything important. You will struggle to get a refund if you purchase from the private market. So, you need to be certain you are making the right decision.

Research suitable models online

There are lots of car websites that provide reviews on the most popular models. You should check some of them out before moving on. You shouldn’t have to look far to find recommendations for new drivers. The insurance costs you have to pay are going to be high. So, it makes sense to go for something with a small engine. Anything larger than 1.4 litres is going to break the bank. It could cost you more than £2,000 to keep it on the roads each year. That is not an expense you should pay for your first car. When all’s said and done, you are 50% more likely to be involved in an accident during your first couple of years with a licence.

Visit lots of different dealers

The manager of CooperMini recently said that fewer drivers are making impulse purchases these days. In the modern world, people want to make sure they are getting the best deal. So, they always shop around when looking to buy a new car. You should follow suit. There is no reason to opt for the first vehicle you view. In fact, it makes sense to check out lots of cars before settling on your final choice.

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So long as you use that advice wisely, you should get a good outcome. The only other thing you need to think about relates to your negotiation skills. It’s a good idea to brush up and learn some savvy techniques before talking money with the seller. When all’s said and done, people who use the right strategies tend to save a significant amount of cash. That is money you should put towards paying for your insurance costs.

Take a trained mechanic

Presuming you know little about engines, you should employ the services of a local mechanic. Just call the garages in your area and ask if they can spare someone. You will usually have to pay a fee for their help. However, that is much less than the amount you might lose on a bad deal. If the mechanic tells you the car has issues, you should look elsewhere. They are the ones best placed to offer advice. Always let the professional sit behind the wheel during your test drive. Experts can tell a lot from the way a car feels to drive.

We all dream of parking a brand new luxury car on the driveway. We’d love to show off the new Mercedes badge or show up to the golf course in a new Jaguar. Unfortunately, these cars are usually well out reach for the average buyer. Their price tags race into the hundreds of thousands, and even the most generous finance plan won’t cover it. When this is the case, many buyers start to glance towards the used market. A brand new model may be out of your price range, but what about the second-hand version?

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For many buyers, this is the only way to get your hands on your dream car. We wholeheartedly recommend browsing the used market. We’ve picked up some fantastic bargains ourselves, including a stunning Mercedes at However, it’s not all plain sailing on the used market. Buyers are easily overcome by the luxury badge, and forget to check the condition. It might have a low price tag, but luxury cars are seriously expensive to maintain and repair. By all means, buy a used luxury car, but avoid the following pitfalls at all costs.

Failing to research

Gathering knowledge is the single most important thing you can do when buying a car. We can’t stress this enough. It’s even more important when it comes to luxury cars. Why? Because, every year or era has a different value when it comes to luxury and classic motors. As a buyer, you need to know why a 1961 Jaguar E-Type is worth more than a 1974 Jaguar E-Type. When buying luxury cars, knowledge is power. Make sure you know how to spot a bargain, and understand what you’re paying for.

Buying for the badge

We often see luxury car owners blinded by the status symbol and badge associated with a car. Yes, the car of your dreams may have the coveted Mercedes badge. But, that doesn’t make it exempt from breakdown, repair, or faults. A super cheap Merc is not necessarily a bargain; it could simply mean it’s a death-trap! Don’t trust the badge. Use your instincts, and check the car thoroughly. We’ll show you a little more about that in the next section. Just remember, you’re looking for more than just a badge. There’s no point buying a Jaguar if it spends half the year in the mechanic’s shop.

Failing to test drive

As a member of multiple classic car clubs and organisations, we hear a lot of horror stories. The most common story on the grapevine involves blind-buying on the internet. Buyers find a bargain classic or luxury car online, and they make an impulse purchase. We’ve seen this happen at car auctions too. They’ve been searching for a specific car for years, and they finally find it at a bargain price. Of course, it arrives in a mess, costing the buyer a fortune to restore to road-legal status. Don’t make this mistake. Always test drive the prospective car before buying.

Follow this advice, and you’ll make a sensible investment. Follow your heart, but listen to your head too!

Ever since the Golf GTi first made its appearance back in the 1970s, car makers have spawned a lot of hot hatches. These days, VW’s hot hatch is now in its seventh generation. But, if you’re a fan of the “Blue Oval”, you might be wondering which Ford models are the best.

My first encounter with a hot hatch from Ford was the iconic mk2 Fiesta XR2. A friend of mine bought one and let me take it for a test drive. As you can imagine, this was some time ago but I can still remember thinking how brilliant that car was when I drove it! They are a rare sight these days, given that most of them are now scrapped or in a museum somewhere.

Today, one of the most popular hot hatches sold by the Ford Motor Company is the Fiesta ST. Here’s why I think you will fall in love with this car:

It has a powerful yet eco-friendly engine under the bonnet

Engine technology has come a long way since the days of the XR2. All modern engines feature fuel injection and get controlled by an ECU. In case you wondered, it’s a car’s electronic “brain.”
The Fiesta ST features a 1.6-litre engine, just like the old XR2. But the only similarity between the two engines is the displacement. That’s because the ST engine is a 16-valve turbocharged EcoBoost unit. As standard, it boasts 180 brake horsepower.

When you fit such an engine into a lightweight Fiesta shell, it gives you phenomenal power. From a standing start, you can reach 60 mph in just 6.8 seconds! You also have a top speed of 137 mph.


The 1.6 EcoBoost isn’t just popular for its power. As you may have guessed, it sports green credentials too. Carbon emissions are just 138 g/km, and combined fuel economy is 47 mpg. The engine works in tandem with a six-speed manual transmission. Having test-drove a Fiesta ST from TC Harrison Ford, I can confirm the it feels positive and smooth to drive.

It’s agile

Some of you might be thinking that such a car might not handle well. After all; a lightweight body and a powerful engine can mean trouble, right? Well, in this case, you would be wrong!

The Fiesta ST offers excellent handling, even at high-speed driving. And if you happen to make a bad move, the car’s electronics will put things right again for you.

It’s a technology geek’s dream come true

The Ford Fiesta ST features all manner of modern equipment that you’ll need in today’s motoring. As standard, you get air conditioning, DAB digital radio and Bluetooth. The Ford SYNC technology is brilliant, and can handle most tasks via voice control.


If you opt for the ST2 trim, you also get things like keyless entry and LED daytime running lights.

If you’re after a reliable hot hatch, and you don’t want a German car, stick with Ford and get yourself a Fiesta ST! The price point is also fair, making it in reach within most people’s budgets.

I’ve always found that buying a second-hand car, as opposed to a new car is generally a better deal – as long as you’re prepared to shop around to find a vehicle that’s in good condition for its age.

The main advantage to purchasing a used car is that it’s much cheaper than driving a shiny new model off the forecourt.

However, there are some risks involved with going down the second-hand route, so here are a few things to bear in mind when you begin searching for your next motor.

Know what you want 
As there are so many cars on the market, it helps to know what you want before you start looking. Carefully consider what you’ll use your vehicle for. This means thinking about things like whether you need the extra space an estate model affords or if you can manage with a hatchback, how far and how often you’ll drive it and whether it needs to project a professional image for work purposes.

You should also calculate your budget and make sure you stick to your uppermost figure. While it can be tempting to view used cars that are a little bit more expensive than this in the hope that you can negotiate the price down, it can be a slippery slope that sees you overspending.

Always view the car 
I can’t stress how important it is to thoroughly inspect any used car you’re considering purchasing. You should look at the condition of the car – both in terms of its outward appearance and its mechanics – to decide whether the price being asked for it is fair.

If you want extra peace of mind, ask the vendor if you can drive the car to a mechanic you trust who can give it a once-over and let you know whether there are any serious faults that need to be fixed. This will mean you can make an informed decision about whether to walk away from the purchase, or to negotiate with the seller on how much you’ll pay for the vehicle.

Another reason to view the car you’re considering buying is to check that both it and the vendor match the description given in your local newspaper or online. For example, you should always compare the mileage advertised with that in the vehicle, as well as looking through its service history and list of previous owners.

Research the seller 
When you’re buying a used car, it isn’t only the vehicle you should be checking out, but also the person selling it. This is especially the case if it’s a private sale, as you’ll need to know that the auto in question has not been in any accidents, is not stolen and is legally owned by the vendor.

If you are buying your car through a dealer, do some reading to be certain the company is reputable. Choosing to purchase a vehicle from this kind of firm can be beneficial in many ways, as they typically have a wide range of motors, the cars tend to be reasonably new and have usually had a full service and MOT before being put on the market.

Used car dealerships can also help you arrange a finance package to make your purchase possible if you need to. For example, at CarShop you’ll find a range of second-hand vehicle financing options to help you get the motor you need at a good price.

MINI is a distinctive and cool car brand that’s instantly recognisable, whether you see one of the old models on the streets or a modern interpretation of the small, quirky car. Although you might think there’s not much else MINI can do, you’d be wrong, as they’ve just introduced another new addition to the line up.
Stand aside for the MINI Paceman – a coupe-style version of the MINI Countryman, according to the manufacturer. So, this means a new sporty, sleek design will be hitting the roads in the UK in March next year. Here’s a bit of information about the new arrival starting with a review from Auto Express:

Although the Paceman is based on the Countryman, there are some notable differences in its appearance – one of the most obvious being its low, sloped roof. Coupled with the long doors and large front grille, this gives it a very sporty look. Here’s some pics of the Paceman:

Another difference to the Countryman is that there are only two doors – although the rear seating is spacious and comfortable as there are two individual seats fitted in the back, rather than a three-person bench seat.
Inside the car you’ll find styling that fits in with the rest of the MINI range but that has its own, subtle differences, such as the controls for the windows being moved to the door armrests from the central console (although this is now also a feature in the updated Countryman models).

On the road 
As you’d expect, the Paceman is designed to be nippy – both the petrol and diesel versions can go from zero to 62 mph in under 11 seconds and if you go for the MINI Cooper S Paceman with a twin scroll turbo charger you can accelerate to this speed in 7.5 seconds.

There’s also the option of adding all-wheel drive transmission to your MINI, which only serves to enhance the handling of the car.
Even though it’s a sporty car, you can still get good fuel economy depending on the model you choose. The MINI Cooper D version, for instance, boasts 64.2 mpg and CO2 emissions of 115 g/km.

There are also a host of driver aids included as standard on the Paceman, including dynamic stability control and dynamic traction control. A range of features designed to improve the environmental credentials of this MINI are also noticeable, including auto start-stop functionality, brake energy regeneration and a shift point display.

Other MINI news 
While the introduction of the Paceman may be the biggest news from the MINI camp, there was also the announcement that a new version of the Countryman will be rolled out from November this year. Most of the changes are largely cosmetic, with new interior features like a redesigned central speedometer and air vents on the dashboard, as well as the decision to move the electric window controls to the armrest in the door, rather than leaving them in the central console.

If all this talk of updated features and new vehicles has got you yearning for a new set of cool wheels, but your finances won’t allow you to splash out on a car, consider leasing a motor instead. You can get some great deals on MINI leasing contracts if you shop around, especially if it’s for business use.
Some companies include a host of extras like breakdown cover, annual MOTs and regular services in their contract hire deals, which could save you money and will certainly save you time.

If, like me, you have a passion for adventure, you may want to think about getting an offroad motorbike. By doing so, you’ll have the freedom to explore a vast range of terrain and won’t be restricted to only wherever paved roads lead you.

This, I feel, offers the chance for you to really experience the destinations you are riding through, and I often find that sticking to streets isn’t always the best way to get an appreciation of a place’s natural beauty. Of course, an offroad motorbike is also a great choice if you fancy taking part in amateur motocross events during your free time. No matter what intentions you may have in mind when riding such vehicle, it’s important to get the model that’s right for you.
Although it should be pretty obvious that taking the time to thoroughly research what motorbike you are going to buy is something you ought to be doing at all times anyway, it is especially important to do this if you’re not going to be riding on well-maintained roads for some, if not all, of the time.

Perhaps one of the most important things to look at when buying an offroad bike – be it a Honda, KTM or a Kawasaki motorcycle – is the position of the footrests. The fact these vehicles are designed to be ridden across a variety of terrain means you should expect to spend a significant amount of time standing on top of the pegs to help you take on challenging inclines and tight turns.

Ideally, the footrests of the bike you buy ought to be situated as close to the centre line as possible, in order to assist you in navigating tricky conditions. You should also look for models that have adjustable inverted front forks, as these can be altered to suit your riding style and the conditions you are riding in wherever possible.

Certain offroad bikes also enable you to set the level of rear suspension provided and, as a general rule, you will find this tends to be significantly higher than that offer on standard sport models. Fairly often, you’ll find offroad vehicles have around 25 cm of rear suspension, roughly twice the level of their counterparts that are designed to be ridden on the road.

If you’ve never owned this kind of bike before, you’re best off buying a second-hand model. Not only does this tend to be cheaper in comparison to purchasing a brand new vehicle, but it also means they shouldn’t cost as much to repair. This is likely to be particularly beneficial as the fact you’ll be driving across more uneven terrain means you’re at greater risk of falling off your bike and damaging it.
No matter what kind of model you wish to buy or your level of experience when it comes to offroad biking, it’s always important to have a good standard of motorcycle insurance. You are, of course, required by law to have cover, but you should always ensure that the particular policy you get will financially protect you and your bike at all times.

Another vital thing all offroad bikers will need to think about is the kind of safety equipment to buy. While the law requires you to wear a helmet, I recommend you invest in a wide range of other gear, including an armoured jacket and chest protector, to help minimise the chances of sustaining a serious injury while riding.
If you’re thinking of getting an offroad motorbike, what features are most important to you? Post your thoughts below and let us know.

It’s a common question asked especially in the second-hand car market and we now have the answer – the Mazda MX-5 has been voted the most reliable sports cars according to 2012 feedback from 52,563 people in The Which? 2012 Car Survey. People voted the Mazda MX5 the most reliable sports cars both new and second-hand with a 90% reliability score.

The Mazda MX-5 is the world’s best-selling two-seater sports car and it’s easy to see why – affordable, reliable, great looks and such fun to drive, the Mazda MX-5 is the modern-day MG Midget but with the added benefit of being an extremely reliable sports car.

Early MX-5 models have excellent records of reliability so those looking to buy a reliable second hand sports car would find it hard to find anything more suitable than an MX5 mk1 or mk2. In The 2012 Which? survey these models scored five star ratings for not breaking down.

Modified Mazda MX5’s

There’s so many different types of Mazda MX5 out there with many owners choosing to customise their MX5 from chrome bars to full on paint jobs and here we showcase some of our favourites:

Top Gear Mazda MX-5 Videos

If Top Gear think the Mazda MX5 is good, it’s good enough for us…


The Mercedes-Benz CLC Coupé was voted second most reliable car and the Audi TT came in third place in The Which? voting.

However reliable the Mazda MX5 is, you should always purchase breakdown cover from Greenflag or similar just to cover you should the worst happen.

Cool Car

Owning the latest model of your favourite car manufacturer or the newest sports car is an important part of life for some. Taking to the open the road in your prized possession is an exhilarating experience, though it is also important to consider the legal and financial implications of owning a cool desirable car.

No one likes to dwell on the possibility of road accidents, though all car owners should be equipped with sufficient knowledge in the event of an occurrence. Even for smaller incidents like whiplash claims legal advice will often have to be sought, so finding a trusted and professional legal firm is essential.

Many owners of desirable and luxury cars will have invested a substantial amount of their earnings into the purchase, so receiving the right kind of insurance cover is important. Vehicle insurance is a requirement for all cars on the road, and third party insurance is the legal minimum, which covers you in case of an accident causing damage or injury to any other person, vehicle, animal or property.

However, this level of insurance is not enough to cover any other costs like repair to your own vehicle.
Many companies do not offer insurance packages for cars over a certain value, so owners of luxury vehicles are advised to use a specialist insurance firm.

Cool Classic Car

Classic cars are also a specialist area and as such, owners of vintage models often require a specially tailored insurance package. As the cost of premium car insurance can be hefty, you may wish to seek the advice of an insurance broker who will work to find the most cost effective insurance protection as well as offering advice on how to make a claim in the case of an accident.

If you are involved in a road traffic accident you will have to provide your name and address as well as vehicle registration number to your insurance company at the time of the incident. If not, and in more serious incidents, the police must be contacted within 24 hours. Your insurance company will then be able to provide you with further advice and steps you need to take.

If you are involved in an incident with an uninsured driver, you should inform the police immediately. Although this can sometimes complicate the situation, it is still possible to receive compensation in some cases. This will involve contacting the Motor Insurers’ Bureau and you should remember that if you decide to start legal proceedings against an uninsured driver you must give MIB notice in writing within 14 days after those proceedings are issued by the court.

Compensation after any kind of road accident may be possible by seeking the assistance of personal injury solicitors. The amount you can claim will depend on a number of factors: the pain suffered as a result of injuries, how this has affected your day to day life, and any loss of earnings as a result. You may also have incurred extra expenses, like travel or medical costs, which you may be able to claim back.

Owning a luxury car can be a source of great pleasure, though your vehicle’s high worth means that extra steps have to be taken to ensure you receive suitable insurance and legal support in the case of an accident.