The basic dos and don’t of washing your car at home

buckets over carWith car washes and valeting businesses closed due to the virus outbreak, many of us are washing our cars at home.  Some of us are making it a family affair.  Whilst both my car businesses are shut, I’m still available to offer car care advice and guidance. I love talking about cars and helping where I can. This guide is for a very basic car wash, for people with little or no experience, but it also might act as a reminder, to check that you haven’t picked up any bad habits.  If you want a longer more ‘detailed’ read on how to care for your car’s body work, head over to the guidance on Vintage Valets.

As this is a money-saving motoring website, my main advice is to beware of talking short-cuts that could turn out to be costly in the longer term.  

Remember – DON’T work on your car if it is likely to bring you within two metres of anyone outside of your household. And DON’T work on your car if you are feeling unwell.

waterless eco wash daisy

If you are space and water limited, and want a greener option – consider a water-less wash.  There are a few products available, but I favour (and stock) Water-less Eco Wash by Bristol Detailing Supplies.  It is simple to use – instructions on the bottle.  It’s not best for heavily soiled cars – but it has been keeping my cars beautifully clean during self-isolation.

For a basic wet wash (that will take about an hour) you will need: 

  • a hose with a spray attachment, or a pressure washer.  If you have neither or no outside tap, you could improvise with a pump action pressure sprayer (available from about £5).  If none of this is possible and you absolutely insist on washing your car – you could throw buckets of water over it (I’ll get hate mail for this).  If you have a snow foam lance – you probably know all about car washing – you might want to read here for further advice.
  • two buckets of warm water.  If you can’t get hold of a second bucket – use the biggest saucepan or reciprocal you have!
  • A wash mitt.  DON’T use a sponge – they attract grit which can then be rubbed back into bodywork causing tiny scratches and swirls
  • Car shampoo (lubricating shampoo is the best kind)
  • A microfibre drying towel. You don’t have to dry your car if you don’t mind water marks – but don’t cut a corner and use a normal towel – this may scratch or swirl your paintwork.

Basic car wash method: wet, wash, rinse

  • Start from the top of the car, pointing the hose (or alternative) downwards – rinse your car with water to loosen dirt.  If you have to use buckets – then throw from as high as possible – and don’t let go!
  • Include your wheels, inside the wheel arches and in between panel gaps.
  • Add shampoo to one of your buckets of warm water
  • Soak your mitt in the shampoo mix and start at the top using gentle sideways motion. Rinse your mitt in the bucket with just water, before re-soaking it in the shampoo bucket. Go around the top of your car first.  Then the middle. Leave the sills, lower bumpers and wheels till last. 
  • Keep your car wet at all times.  Use the hose if it starts to dry off.
  • Rinse off the shampoo with the hose (or alternative).  If you can still see dirt, repeat the shampoo stage using clean water.
  • Once rinsed, pat dry with the microfibre drying towel.  If you are using a professional drying towel, it helps to make it damp first.  


  • DON’T use just water – shampoos have a lubricant that prevents scratching
  • DON’T try to save money by using washing up liquid – It contains salt, which aids corrosion
  • DON’T use a sponge or anything else abrasive (so important I had to say it twice)
  • DON’T use a blade to dry your car – we have seen damage to paintwork caused by these.
  • DON’T get too close with a pressure washer – I talk to at least three customers a week who have blown holes in their paintwork or alloys by doing this.


  • Check the weather. Avoid Washing your car in the rain or in bright sunshine – it can leave water marks as it will dry before you have a chance to towel it.
  • Use a grit guard in the bottom of your bucket, if possible
  • Try out waxes and polishes on your clean car.  It will help to protect your car and can be very rewarding.
  • Send me a message or comment if you have any questions! 

Remember to have fun!  I love cleaning cars so much, I made it my business. (picture below not me – but you get the idea).

Stay safe and well.


rede dress car wash


What do I do if my car gets keyed?

keyedWe like to keep a tally in our workshop, on the causes of minor car body damage. Supermarket carparks score pretty high up on the list, as does reversing into your own gatepost! But we’ve seen a concerning increase in key damage in recent months – that is damage caused by a deliberate act on vandalism or revenge. This increase reflects the national jump in car vandalism by 10% – with approximately 200,000 vehicles suffering every year.

“Keying” is not always done with a key – sometimes a knife or screwdriver is used. It often leaves a car with long single scratches across several panels of bodywork, often the doors, wings and quarter panels that are closest to the pavement as the perpetrator walks past. Key damage generally fits into three categories:

  1. Stranger vandalism.  The perpetrator was not known to the victim or vice versa. Often several cars can be damaged in one attack. Perpetrators are often under the influence or alcohol or loners with mental or social issues. Some have been known to vandalise their own vehicles at the same time.
  2. In response to you as a driver. Did you park across someone’s driveway? Cut across someone when overtaking? Or park in a disabled space when you didn’t need it? Minor mistakes can lead to costly repairs if you ruffle the feathers of someone with a taste for criminal damage.
  3. In response to you as a person.  You may suspect ex-partners or people close to you that you may have upset. Your car might be something you are seen to value – and the perpetrator may be attempting to cause distress or inconvenience or both. The keyer may also be jealous or angry about your car ownership.


Unless you are afraid for your safety and/or witnessing the crime taking place, don’t call 999. You can report most crimes like this online. If you suspect stranger vandalism and the police are made aware, they might spot a pattern. Last year we received a high number of key repair enquiries from three neighbouring streets in Stroud. We encouraged everyone to contact the police, and they eventually got involved and the vandalism appears to have stopped in this area.


Some insurance companies have specific vandalism clauses, which means making a claim does not lose you a no-claims-bonus. Keying damage across several panels rarely comes in under your insurance excess, so insurance might be a good route to explore. Some insurance companies, however, do not cover vandalism at all. Try and find out first whether making a claim is worth it, before filing the claim itself.


In most cases this kind of vandalism is carried out by strangers. But if you feel you are being targeted personally for any reason – don’t suffer in silence – try and get support from local community groups. Talk to friends and family about it. The police may also be able to offer advice. Taking revenge rarely leads to the problem going away – in fact it can escalate the matter.


See my article on Is It REALLY worth have the scratch on my car fixed? This will help you to assess whether it is worth getting the vehicle repaired. There are a few considerations – if it is a lease car, or if you are about to sell the car, and what the car is worth will help you to decide. My article should help. With key damage, it is very unlikely that the scratch will be “polished” out or disguised with coloured wax (despite claims by some companies). But if you decide to go ahead with a full repair, you might not need to go to a body shop. “Smart” repairers, like ChipsAway can often fix the damage at a fraction of the cost. When you are comparing quotes, make sure you check if the repairs are guaranteed, how long the repair will take and whether there are other factors, such as if a courtesy car is on offer.

As spring arrives and our spirits rise, we are hoping to see a decline in stranger vandalism – but we remain vigilant to spot patterns and will continue to support and advise our customers when needed. If you would like any advice about your damaged car, please feel free to drop me a line here on LinkedIn on our Facebook group.

Is it REALLY worth having that scratch on my car fixed?


woman with carI wrote the article below early in the year and it has received a great response, so I thought that it would be a good idea to share it here again!

Is it REALLY worth having that scratch on my car fixed?

The answer depends on your circumstances. I always like to give an honest answer when customers pose this question, so here are a few scenarios to help you decide.

You should get the scratch fixed if you use your car for business. Many commercial fleet managers take great care in ensuring staff vehicles look their best. Although I don’t, people WILL judge your professional (and sometimes personal) standards by the state of your vehicle. It’s part of your brand. A well known courier company uses ChipsAway – they understand that delivering parcels in a scraped van gives the impression they are careless.

You should prioritise broken paintwork on metal – which is generally anywhere except your front and rear bumpers (which are usually plastic). Left untouched, the weather and salty roads can cause rust to set in to damaged steel panels. Once corrosion has taken hold, it is costly and specialist to repair. I don’t work on corroded damage – as although the repair might look perfect at first, within months the rust comes back. It generally needs to be cut or ground out. In worst case scenarios it can lead to MOT failures.

If you are returning a car at the end of it’s lease, it is worth getting estimates for any body work repairs – including alloy wheels scratches. At the same time, you might ask your lease company for a “Schedule of Charges” to check whether their charges are more than the cost of a repair. They often are (although alloy wheels vary the most) – so it is worth booking in a repair if the lease company would charge you more not to.

You should definitely think carefully about getting any damage fixed if you are selling your car. You might not get the value of the repair back in the asking price, but if someone has a choice between buying a car without damage and one with, I know which one I’d chose. A scuffed car might also give the impression that it has been mechanically neglected too – even if that’s not true. However, bear in mind that a simple bumper scratch repair from us starts at £165 + VAT. If you are selling your car for less than £1000, it probably won’t make a difference.

If the damage is ruining your enjoyment you might want to consider a repair. Many of our customers love their cars, and even the smallest dent causes them distress. It’s amazing how many people reverse into their own gateposts in their brand new pride and joy car. Having spent thousands on their cherished asset, many of our customers feel a few hundred more to put right a small mistake usually worth it.

If someone else has caused the damage, and offers to pay, you should accept. Some people chose not to, as they mistakenly think it involves a lot of hassle. We can collect the car from your house, leaving a courtesy car with you, and in most instances, return it to you the same day, fixed. The inconvenience is minimal. Nearly all of our work comes in under most people’s insurance thresholds – so there is no need for lengthy negotiation with an insurance company. Furthermore, you can also usually get other damage fixed at the same time, at a discount.

When not to get the work done? 

  • Don’t book in a repair if you car is about to go for an MOT and you suspect it has problems. There is no point in a great looking car, if you can’t drive it anywhere!
  • Don’t book a repair if you can’t afford it – unless it will cost you more not to (e.g. a lease return). If money is tight, make sure you are getting value for money from your repairer – ask if there is a life-time guarantee with the work (like we offer). Our prices are pretty set, but you can always ask if there are any special offers or for payment terms.
  • Most people wouldn’t fix damage if the repair costs more than the car is worth, but that said, we have a few customers who love their mechanically sound cars so much, and have grown attached to them, so they feel it is worth it.

Hopefully I have covered most scenarios – but if I haven’t feel free to get in touch. Both me and my husband, Jim offer free guidance and estimates – we are always happy to advise you. Call us on 07535521198.


Marketing a ‘Greener Product’ – Engine Mapping

co2 car cartoonIn June this year our team at Miles Better Motoring Ltd established a basic survey looking at vehicle usage and awareness of how engine mapping can help motorists be ‘greener’.  So far we have had 60 responses. If you haven’t already completed the questionnaire a link is here: Once we reach 250 replies, if you have left your details with us, you might be in with a chance of winning £100 in the draw.

In the meantime, I wanted to share with you some initial findings and interim conclusions from the research – which has been quite an eye opener.

Of the 60 who answered the questions, half were interviewed in person and were attending ‘green’ events, or had expressed concern over climate change and/or taking climate action.

The other half responded digitally online, distributed via social media and local networks, so we are unsure whether they had any interest in environmental issues at all, but it is assumed that at least some of them would have been.  The survey showed:

  • Over half of those questioned drove a diesel vehicle
  • Only 3 of the 60 drove electric or hybrid vehicles
  • Over half didn’t know what engine mapping was, however, one third said they did know that engine mapping can help lower carbon emissions.  
  • Despite this knowledge close to 90% of people who answered said they had never considered having their engines mapped.

As an organisation established to help motorists and businesses save money and be better for the environment, this poses a real challenge for us. Every 3,500 miles driven in a medium-sized diesel car creates a tonne of C02.  If those people who a) share a concern that diesel vehicles contribute to emissions and b) know that engine mapping can help, yet still aren’t considering reducing the damage their own vehicles are doing, it makes being able to market engine mapping on an environmental basis problematic.

Currently, our conclusion is that the financial benefits of diesel engine mapping might be a better avenue to explore in our marketing – we already have a thread of our strategy which focuses on this, especially for businesses.  Any environmental ambitions we have as an organisation, can therefore still be fulfilled as an ‘additional motivator’ for customers seeking to reduce fuel costs, but not as a leading incentive. Furthermore, as engine mapping is so rarely understood, we first need to build relationships with individual customers to help them understand the process involved, and using our other services (such as eco-valeting).  As such the landing page of our website at has been amended to reflect this, and a leaflet producing explaining exactly what engine mapping is. (See

Once we have reached 250 responses to the questionnaire we will revisit the conclusions and share them again more widely.  In the meantime would welcome any feedback for further encouraging ‘green’ customers to understand and consider engine mapping as a way to reduce diesel emissions.

Company drivers could be costing you more than your reputation


Drive Tech have recently published a useful report on how driver behaviours impacts running costs.  

Download full report here  

If you don’t have time to read it all, I have done that for you, and listed the main points here.  It’s great to see a proper study on the subject – often improving your employees driving style is based on factors other than financial – how your company is perceived on branded vehicles for example.

The report studies over two thousand AA fleet vehicles over a period of two years. The results show a number of direct links between driver behaviour and operating costs. It shows that nearly half of the costs of running a vehicle are impacted by how it is driven.  The main things impacted are: insurance; fuel; and service, maintenance & repair.

Telematics (tracking) has meant that driving styles can now be recorded and analysed. (Also see my post on the benefits of tracking).  The main points are:  

  • The more maximum throttle events (IE heavy accelerating) that occurs, the more insurance claims (over twice as many)
  • Harsh braking or cornering resulted in a 73% increase in tyre costs
  • The more heavy acceleration events, the higher the fuel bill – up to 166%


The simple answer is tracking and training. I have never heard of a fleet manager who hasn’t saved money in the long term by educating their drivers. Drive Tech is one of the outfits offering driving training (NB: I am in no way affiliated with them). 

Here is how Drive Tech helped the AA: By focusing on the ‘worst performing’ drivers and transforming them into ‘average’ drivers, the company has calculated it can save £360 per annum per vehicle over the next three years. Interestingly, the anticipated biggest savings are in crash costs, closely followed by fuel savings

Happy Money-Saving Motoring!

Top Tips on Selling Your Car For More


For many, getting the most cash possible for a car is not the most important thing.  There are other factors to consider – such as your time, the hassle involved and whether or not you want to deal directly with the car buying public.  But if you really want to get as much money as you possibly can from the sale of your vehicle (which, as you are reading this, I guess that you do), a private sale may get you 20% more than the least lucrative alternative.



The price you can get for your car varies greatly depending on how and where you sell it.  Some businesses understand that you want a speedy transaction, with little hassle, but will offer you less money than your car. Make sure you research cars similar to yours that are for sale. It is important to compare yours with the same make, model, specification, mileage and age.  The AA has a useful site for valuing your car – but it tends to give you the dealer price, which can be lower.

Once you have a good idea of what the market value of your car is, you need to decide how you want to sell it.  This can be determined by how quickly you want the car sold. If you aren’t in a hurry, you will make more money from the sale.

cropped-msm-starHOW TO SELL

1. Online car buying sites such as We Buy Any Car will help you out if you are in a hurry.  Bear in mind that the price they offer you will allow them to sell the car on at an auction and still make a profit.  Car auctions sell cars a little lower than market value. Which? says: 

You’re almost certain to get a better price selling the car, or even sending it straight to auction, yourself. In our undercover research, we found that five out of six of our mystery shoppers would have been better off selling to a dealer – in one case, by over £2,000.

2. If the car you are selling is just a few years old, and/or if you are replacing it with the same make you might consider part-exchanging through a franchised dealer.  Which? Recommends that if you choose to part exchange, you should focus on the ‘price to change’ – this is the difference between the part-exchange offer on your old car and the price of the new one, rather than the individual price of either. A dealer may offset a discount on your new car against a poor valuation on your old one, for example, or offer a very good price on your old one to tempt you into buying the new car at close to list price (the price shown in the brochure). Bear in mind that most dealers will be looking to make a margin on any second-hand car they take on, so the part-ex price is unlikely to be as high as the price you’d get from selling privately. However, it’s undoubtedly much more convenient.

3. Another option is to sell directly to a relevant dealer: Some dealers look out for well looked after popular models, but it is still  unlikely you will get the best price this way as they will still want to make their mark up by selling your car.

4. If you sell privately you stand to make more money from the sale the Money Advice Service say If you sell privately you might get 10% to 15% more for your car than you would from a dealer. That said, it can be more time consuming.  You can list your car for sale online and deal with enquiries yourself. Very few people buy motors via the local newspaper these days, but it’s not a bad thing to tell your friends and family your car is for sale and make use of Facebook to do this.  Apart from your house, your car is probably the most expensive thing people will buy, so understandably, people prefer to buy cars from trusted people or personal recommendations You could also try putting a for sale sign up in the window of your car.

cropped-msm-starPREPARING FOR THE SALE

There may be other cars for sale that are the same make, age and mileage as yours, so you need to make yours stand out.  Online sales sites are full of cars with poorly taken photos, little information and incomplete data.  They won’t sell as quickly or for as much.  Some things to make sure you pay attention to:

  • Checks that you have no outstanding finance on your car.
  • Buyers like a car with a long MOT, if you have less than 3 months consider getting it done.  Check out any mechanical faults or issues with the car.
  • Check oil, screen wash and coolant levels.  Check tyre pressures and tyre tread.
  • Make sure you have everything ready.  You will need any spare keys, wheel locking nuts and accessories from the car that you might have removed, like parcel shelves.  Remove any personal items from your car.
  • Think about whether any minor bodywork damage needs fixing.  Check it against the price of your car. Companies like ChipsAway can offer you a free quote for repairs and will be honest with you about whether the work is worth doing or not [other minor car repair businesses are available]. Here is what WhatCar recommends: 

Small dents and scratches are worth removing from nearly new cars, but they’re to be expected on older vehicles so you’re unlikely to recover the cost of getting professionals to put them right.

  • Give your car a good clean inside and out and consider using a dash polish to restore shine to the interior.  Think about steam cleaning any stubborn stains, or pay for a professional valet service (price between £50-£100).
  • Take good photographs inside and out.  Some people don’t like to feature their own house in the background – it is a good idea to use an attractive, neutral background.  Use a digital camera rather than your phone.   
  • As a security measure, make sure you delete any personal data from your car.  Built in Sat Nav’s might remember where you live, and some cars download whole address books from your phone.  It’s important to clear this before you sell. 
  • If you are listing your car yourself for sale there are a number of websites that offer a free listing service, and some paid.  Gum Tree and Facebook Marketplace / groups are generally free, and is advertising its services as free. eBay may charge you for or listing, or when you make the sale. Autotrader and other specialist car websites will usually have a charge for listing. 
  • Describe the technical specification of your car – include mileage, engine size, how many owners and how you have used it for.  Also describe the overall condition, including any scratches or dents and any past problems. It is always better to tell a potential buyer if the car has any bad points – you will appear as more trustworthy if you are honest. 

cropped-msm-starMAKING THE SALE

If you are selling privately be wary of aggressive hagglers and make sure you take full payment before handing over the keys.  Do not leave your keys or paperwork alone with people coming to look at your car. The AA advises that if you change seats part way through, take the keys with you and hand them over when you get back in the car.  

Write out two receipts that have the full details of the car, name and address and contact details for you and the buyer, as well as the amount paid.  Both you and the buyer should sign the agreement. The AA has a downloadable receipt that you can simply print off

cropped-msm-starAlthough it might seem like a bit of work, selling a car yourself can save you a lot of money.  Find out what a dealer might offer you for your car, add 15% on top of that and ask yourself whether the couple of hours you might invest in selling your car is worth that 15%.  If it’s not, let the dealer take the hassle away from you!

Happy selling!


Answer three questions and potentially win £100

Dog-Money1_2634143bCan you help me with some market research and be in with a chance of winning £100 for answering three questions? If so, read on.

This is not a test, there are no right or wrong answers. Answer three simple questions (without researching) and be in with a chance of winning £100. Once we have 250 responses, I will draw a name from a hat and pay the winner. You have a one in 250 chance of winning. So please share this post too, so we reach 250 quicker! Please email answering the following:

1. WHAT TYPE OF VEHICLE DO YOU DRIVE? (say all that apply) – Diesel, Hybrid, Petrol, Electric, Van, Car, Camper, Motorbike, Motorhome, No vehicle, Truck, Lease vehicle, Bicycle, Company vehicle, Other (please say)


  • I don’t know what engine mapping is
  • I have no idea how it might help business
  • It could help lower carbon emissions
  • It could help businesses save money
  • It wouldn’t help businesses



Please include your name in the email. You will be notified if you win. We will also announce winners on this web and on social media @MilesBetterMotoring

Thank you!


Fuel-Saving Motoring – Nine Point Plan


There are many ways to save money as a motorist – by buying and selling wisely, with good maintenance and management – but one of the most effective ways to save money is my saving fuel.  Below is my nine point plan to cutting down the amount of fuel you use.

  1. BUY A VEHICLE BASED ON FUEL ECONOMY.  But be careful – not all manufacturers use realistic driving conditions as a measure.  Study the Which? guide to understanding genuine miles per gallon.
  2. REMAPPING DIESEL ENGINES. Please see my recent post about saving up to 15% on fuel for diesel vehicles with a simple vehicle remap.
  3. BE AERODYNAMIC. When vehicles are tested for their fuel consumption in the factory, every gap and bump is taped up to give good results.  To improve the fuel economy on your vehicle remove roof bars and keep your windows closed.  A roof box can add up to 20% spent on fuel, and many are left on vehicles for months when they are not in use.
  4. LOOSE WEIGHT. Resist the urge to use your vehicle as storage.  Driving around with a full heavy boot or a van full of equipment not regularly used will cost you more in fuel.
  5. MANAGE YOUR TANK.  Each litre of fuel weighs around 720gms, meaning the average UK tank (65L) if filled, makes the vehicle weigh an extra 46.8kg.  If you half that, your car will handle better and be cheaper to run.  I do not advocate running the vehicle regularly close to empty – as you could get debris stuck in your fuel pump – costing you more in repairs.
  6. GOOD TYRES.  Well maintained tyres are essential for safe driving and the RAC says that inflated tyres can improve fuel consumption by up to 2%.  Check tyre pressures regularly, especially before a motorway journey.
  7. DRIVE A MANUAL.  Automatics use 10% to 15% more fuel than manuals (source: the AA).  However on motorway driving, there is little difference. Read the AA guide to pros and cons of Manual vs Automatic vehicles.
  8. SLOW DOWN.  Many businesses put a limiter on their vehicles – not just to slow staff down, but to save money.  Companies that install limiters claim a 25% saving on fuel, but if you are managing your own driving, try not to exceed 3000 revs and avoid heavy acceleration and braking where possible.
  9. AIR CONDITIONING.  Your fuel consumption will increase as soon as you switch it on.  If you can live with the fan, or just being a bit warmer, you will save money.


Money-Saving Motoring – Remapping

190308-camb-010WELCOME to my new blog.  On this site, I plan to explore the wealth of ways that motorists can cut down the cost of driving.  It is hoped that each Money-Saving Motoring blog posts, and the planned same-titled book, will be a useful tool for individuals, but also for those responsible for managing business fleets and for accountants and Financial Directors who’s job it is to advise their clients on good cost-savings.

WHAT WILL BE COVERED. I plan to explore a wide range of financial issues facing motoring, including buying vs leasing, selling and sharing vehicles, simple vehicle health checks, and clever hints and tips.  I won’t shy away from picking apart the diesel/petrol/electric/hybrid arguments and will also look at bio diesel and hydrogen options.  I am very open to ideas and feedback – so please feel free to comment or drop me a line.

First, I am going to start with what I know best: the diesel eco-remap.

190308-camb-014REMAPPING offers a quick and easy way for those that run diesel vehicles to gain up to 15% savings on fuel.  I recently spoke to a business who spends £1000 per month on fuel, per vehicle.  They had a modest fleet of five diesel cars – diesel vehicles are still preferred by companies doing a high amount of business mileage: they last longer, and are cheaper to run despite the ever increasing taxes.  If all five cars were remapped, it would provide a saving of £750 per month, meaning the cost of the remap would be recovered in a matter of weeks.  As an added bonus, emissions would be lowered too.

There are a handful of tuning companies offering remaps for cars, but ours – Miles Better – is one of the few to focus on lowering costs and emissions.  The technology we use (VIEZU) has been tried and tested on 24,000 BT vehicles, so we know it works.  If you want to know more have a look at the website or drop me a line.

SAY HELLO. If you have any ideas for future blog posts, I would love to hear from you.  Comment on this post or drop me a line.  I have been invited to speak at London Motor Show this week (on Friday 17th May) – if you are reading this in time, come and say hello.  I’ll be on the Live Stage around 3pm.