Posts Tagged ‘motoring’

Squirrels eat man’s Toyota

January 29th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

squirrel 300x248 Squirrels eat mans ToyotaA man who owns a Toyota Aygo reckons it’s being munched away by squirrels. Yes, you hear – squirrels!

Tony Steeles from Croydon said his car kept being targeted by hungry squirrel gangs, hell bent on feasting on the eco-friendly bits of the vehicle.

Mr Steeles first noticed teeth marks on his rubber areas, and suspected those varmints because only the roof was affected. Tony said: “I got a new car from Toyota. I’d not had it very long and I noticed that some of the rubber parts of the car, like the aerial, were being damaged.”

“So I had to call out the AA because the car had lights coming on the dashboard. He looked at it and said it’s rodent or squirrel damage.”

“So I took it back and got it repaired. This happened a few times and eventually I got it replaced. Since then I keep the car in the garage. I could see the teeth marks. It was definitely some sort of wildlife, and I thought it was a squirrel not a rat because the area affected was on the roof.”

Speaking to Auto Express, Mr Steele said: “The aerial’s been chewed off twice, the oxygen sensor’s been damaged and various rubber-like trim parts have been chewed.”

Handy tip, from someone who has been there: wasabi paste. Smear your aerial with that. Foxes don’t like wasabi paste. Even the fancy inner London ones.

A spokesman for Toyota told Auto Express: “We have had very few complaints of this occurring in the UK.” But said they would “investigate if any improvements can be made to the design of our products to deter rodents”. Mr Steeles added: “To be honest, Toyota have been quite good about it.”

Which is quite good really.

Wheelie bin given ticket by traffic warden

January 21st, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

We wouldn’t like to say that traffic wardens are pointless, dimwitted individuals, but you might after you hear about this.

In Carmarthen, a traffic warden is under investigation after they gave a parking ticket to a bin. That’s right. One of those big bins that are on wheels.

bin ticket 500x281 Wheelie bin given ticket by traffic warden

The bin was on some double-yellow lines and passers-by noticed the strange behaviour as the warden stuck a penalty charge notice to the rubbish receptacle.

Mercifully, Carmarthenshire council said that there was no ticket was inside the wrapper, so you have to assume that it was a joke by the warden. However, this being a council, they will still be looking into the traffic warden’s conduct.

Salesman Mike Jones told the BBC: ”It was bizarre – I realised I had just watched a warden give a ticket to a wheelie bin for bad parking. It appeared the warden slapped the plastic ticket envelope on the bin in a moment of high jinks after a member of public pointed out it was parked on double yellow lines.”

Carmarthenshire council traffic and safety manager John McEvoy said: “There was no ticket issued, it is not possible to book a wheelie bin or anything that is not motorised.”

“Although this was meant as a humorous incident, we take this kind of thing very seriously and have launched a formal investigation into the conduct of this officer.”

flooded cars 300x128 Oh no! Your cars insurance tracker could kill you! Honest!In tinfoil hat news, an expert has been shrieking about the devices that are given to drivers by insurance companies which track your driving habits and price your premiums. They could mean you car could get ‘hacked’, including your brakes and steering, which means bad people will make you drive into the sea or something.

Corey Thuen – a security expert – has investigated the SnapShot device which Progressive Insurance has issued to American drivers, and in the UK, similar devices have been handed out.

Thuen reverse engineered some software and found that he was able to access some functions of the car’s CAN bus (the CAN bus is a thing that allows some components and computers to communicate inside the car) and, when he got in there, he deduced that hackers could do the same and affect steering or braking… theoretically.

“The firmware running on the dongle is minimal and insecure,” Thuen said. ”It does no validation or signing of firmware updates, no secure boot, no cellular authentication, no secure communications or encryption, no data execution prevention or attack mitigation technologies… basically it uses no security technologies whatsoever.”

“I suspected that these dongles were built insecurely, and I was correct. The technology being used in them is outdated and vulnerable to attack which is highly troubling considering it is being used to remotely access insecure by design vehicle computers. A skilled attacker could almost certainly compromise such dongles to gain remote control of a vehicle, or even an entire fleet of vehicles. Once compromised, the consequences range from privacy data loss to life and limb.”

Imagine! Hackers taking over an entire fleet of vehicles, making them crash into things like banks and children! Of course, if you were sat in your car, you’d just turn the engine off and whack the handbrake on and you’d be fine… but still… DANGER! DANGER!

The reality of the situation is that hackers could get into the system and inconvenience you by messing around with your self-parking features, or maybe pre-collision systems. We don’t have cars that drive themselves yet, so you suspect that, when we do, the security on those will be beefed up to buggery.

Of course, things like Snapshot really only track how fast you’re going, how far you drive and what times of day you use your car, so don’t worry Bitterwallet motorists, you’re safe for now.

car scrap Car insurance will go up by nearly 10% reckon AACar insurance could go up by 10% according to the AA – y’know, because drivers aren’t paying for enough lately?

The self-styled ‘fourth emergency service’ believe that car insurance could rise by up to 10% in the next 12 months, and that home insurance premiums are unlikely to go any lower either.

According to the latest index of the cheapest deals on the market showed that the cost of annual comprehensive car insurance had risen by 0.2% to £540 in the final three months of 2014.

However the total was still £200 cheaper than the peak in 2011, the AA said.

Janet Connor, managing director of AA Insurance said: “Car insurance is extremely competitive. Nevertheless the underlying trend is upward.”

The AA Insurance Shoparound survey helps to sift out the best deals on an average premium from the five cheapest quotes from insurers and price comparison websites. It showed that the cheapest annual motor insurance had still risen in price during the second half of 2014.

However, the AA has previously said claims management companies and law firms may have found loopholes around the reforms as many insurers have reported a surge in lower-value ‘cash for crash’ claims, where bad people deliberately brake to cause a vehicle to crash into the rear of their car

Meanwhile, the cheapest buildings and contents insurance premiums didn’t alter much significantly in the final three months of 2014, the AA added.

The AA also said that it expected premiums to stay still, bar any freakish weather action this Winter.

Dad says sorry for son in car advert

January 13th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

ebay Dad says sorry for son in car advertHonesty isn’t always the best policy, but sometimes, you have to applaud it.

Nigel Stewart-Stone was helping his son – Dalton – sell his Renault Clio and has become an internet hero with the honesty of his eBay advert. He left no stone unturned when describing the state of the car.

The ad, titled my teenage sons 2005 Renault Clio, with story time, who would buy it?, which you can see here, kicks off by saying sorry for the condition of the battered motor, listing the numerous faults with it and basically taking the piss out of his son.

Referring to the electric windows, they apparently work well “considering the amount of times they go up and down calling to his mates, and banter with the passing girls, many of whom have been taken for rides in the car, which may explain the passenger seat not moving back and forth anymore, still makes it hard for them to escape his deafening music.”

He adds: “Anyway if you think this car may be suitable for your son, please go ahead and buy it, its (sic) after all in the perfect state for any teenager lad, and will save them all the time and effort that my son has put in to it, getting it this way.”

sorry for my sons car 500x281 Dad says sorry for son in car advert

Dad noted: “There may or may not be any oil and water in the car , despite me repeatedly telling him to make sure it was maintained , I believe he thought this meant sitting in it on the driveway listening to his music whilst having a smoke , he would have washed it occasionally , but said” not really worth it now is it dad” , as its got a big dent on it !!! and anyway, surely I would know if it needed oil , the red light would come on !! , still he does have a brand new set of mats in the boot , bought when he first had the car”

While there are some bids on the car, tellingly, one person commented: “You have made my day! I have no interest in buying your son car! But I love the fact that you let your son live his life! WELL DONE FOR BEING A FAB DAD!!!”

All hail the car of the year!

January 9th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

skoda fabia 300x200 All hail the car of the year!What Car!!! magazine has declared the Skoda Fabia to be their Car of the Year! We expect full frontal photoshoots in lad-mags soon.

The winning Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSI 90 SE beat 25 other new cars that made the overall shortlist, as well as winning the small car category.

It beat the key big boys in its class – the Ford Fiesta and VW Polo – for space and practicality. It also had good notes for the touchscreen technology and the Mirrorlink system, which works with Android phones to provide Sat Nav action.

And yet, still, Skoda is still a bit of a joke to some people, which seems rather unfair.

Other cars that did well in What Car!!! award dole-out, included the Hyundai i10 1.2 Premium in the Best City Car category, while Skoda’s larger Octavia won the award for best family car.

Best electric car was the Audi A3 e-tron, with the same company’s TT 2.0 TFSI Sport scooping the award for best coupé and the A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI 150 Sport taking the gong for convertibles. Ford picked up good notices in the estate and hot hatchback categories, with the Mondeo Estate 1.6 TDCi 120 Econetic Zetec and Fiesta ST respectively.

The Citroën Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 e-HDi 115 Exclusive won the best MPV category, and the Nissan Qashqai – last year’s overall winner – is still the magazine’s favourite in the small SUV category. The best large SUV was the Range Rover Sport SDV6 HSE.

BMW’s 520d SE automatic took the award for the leading executive car, with Porsche winning the sports car award with the Boxster 2.7 and Mercedes-Benz taking the luxury car prize with the S350 CDI Bluetec L SE Line.

What are What Car!!! readers looking forward to the most? Why, that would be the Honda HR-V SUV, due out later in 2015.

Jim Holder, What Car!!! editor, said: “The Fabia is a fully deserved winner of our most sought-after award – not just because of the fact it is a well-equipped and practical small car, but also because of the big name rivals it has disposed of in the process. We’ve driven and evaluated all of its rivals and, whichever way you cut it, the Fabia is the most rounded small car on sale in the UK today.”

Well done Skoda, you one-time laughing stock!

Petrol to be cheaper than a quid per litre

January 2nd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

petrol Petrol to be cheaper than a quid per litreAs previously rumoured, petrol prices are about to drop.

It looks like prices will fall below £1 a litre for the first time in yonks, thanks to a slump in the global price of oil and, perhaps more pertinent, the increasing competition between supermarkets as they all vie for our affections since we all started shopping at Aldi and Lidl.

Oh, and there’s the small matter of an election coming up, which means Tories winking at you and saying ‘hey guys! Remember all that cheap petrol you bought? Eh? Eh? All you hard working families! Please love us.’

The average cost of a litre of petrol was 131.6p in July, and back then, oil was going for $105 a barrel. With oil now trading at $57 a barrel, the savings are actually being passed on to drivers. Quite astonishing really. Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have all said they’re dropping pump prices, with Asda charging 107.7p a litre for petrol.

Simon Williams, an RAC fuel spokesman, said: “What’s currently happening at the pumps with falling fuel prices is something many motorists will not remember seeing before.”

Before long, it’ll be under a quid for a litre of fuel, thanks to the election and the prediction that oil prices will fall to below $40 a barrel. Of course, drivers aren’t daft and everyone is expecting that price to rise before 2015 is out.

Speeding fines increase to five year high

December 31st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

speeding car Speeding fines increase to five year highMore than 115,000 people were fined for speeding offences in England and Wales last year – the fines are at the highest number since 2009.

115,549 fines were dished out in 2013, according to figures from the Ministry of Justice.

South Wales had one of the biggest increases, with the number of people fined tripling last year to 6,491, from 2,181. Earlier in 2014 a speed camera in Cardiff generated more than an estimated £800,000 worth of fines in just six months.

While London saw the most people fined last year, the figure for the Metropolitan police area has fallen to 7,736 – its lowest level in five years.

A unnamed spokeshuman for the Department for Transport said: “Speeding can have devastating consequences and it’s right that drivers should abide by the speed limit. These fines were issued at the discretion of the magistrates and show the number of fines issued is in decline across many police force areas.”

Tune in next year to see if 2014 has been beaten!

Volvo invent a new bike helmet

December 22nd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

volvo helmet 300x168 Volvo invent a new bike helmetVolvo have invented a new bike helmet.

The usually-best-known-for-cars company, have teamed up with POC and Ericsson, the helmet helps to connect cyclists up to an app called Strava, which shares their location with the Volvo cloud, so that people in Volvos can detect where they are on the road.

The helmet even has a warning light built in, and flashes red in front of a bicyclist’s face if a car is approaching or crossing their intended path.

It’s in its early stages at the moment, as things have to be able to be how quick a response the app can provide, when the cyclist is using it.

And it could go the way of the sat nav, randomly sending cyclists too concerned with the app into nearby lakes and the like.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that in some countries cyclists and pedestrians constitute over 75% of road deaths. Volvo’s Vice President Klas Bendrick said that the firm is “getting ever closer to eliminating the remaining blind spots between cars and cyclists”.

“Our mission is to do the best we can to possibly save lives and to reduce the consequences of accidents for gravity sports athletes and cyclists,” said Stefan Ytterborn, CEO and founder of POC. ”The partnership with Volvo Cars aligns very well with our mission and we are excited to see how we can contribute to cyclist safety and increase interaction between cars and cyclists alike.”

It is at this point that we suggest drivers moan about cyclists running red-lights and cyclists, likewise, point out that drivers are thick for saying “why don’t you pay road tax?”

Police start roadside drug testing

December 22nd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

young drivers 300x187 Police start roadside drug testingPlanning on enjoying all of the drugs this Christmas? Well, you do what you like, but don’t drive, yeah?

The police will be out in force with their roadside teams, with new testing kits to determine whether you’re off your nut or not.

The kits were approved by the Home Office last week, and will be put into action over the week ahead to test any drivers they think may be on one, or whatever.

The tests will also allow police to check whether motorists have taken prescription medicines, including strong painkillers, sleeping pills and drugs to treat anxiety, that can impair their ability to drive.

Policing minister Mike Penning said motorists pulled over will not know whether they will be breathalysed, ‘drugalysed’ or both.

“This is something that has plagued society for far too long. People will have exactly the same view of drug-driving as they do of drink-driving: it is an abhorrent thing to do.”

“Not only do you put your own life at risk, but you put innocent people’s lives at risk. We will drive this menace off the road.”

‘Drive this menace off the road’. You see what he did there?

The previous drug-testing situation required the police to arrest suspects and take them down the cop shop to be tested. Now, with a swift swipe of saliva, they can do it on the road. Anonymous/Pirate Party types will no doubt be livid at the notion of the State taking swabs of your spit with all that lovely DNA in it too.

Either way, be careful out there. Or essentially, ask a friend to warn you when you’re on your third hour of gurning, and get them to call you a cab.

Should we have a lower drink-driving limit?

December 19th, 2014 9 Comments By Mof Gimmers

car crash 239x300 Should we have a lower drink driving limit?No-one gets as agitated as a driver being told what to do, so with that, what about the idea of a lower drink-driving limit?

Well, according to a new survey, three quarters of those drivers who were asked (74% to be precise) were in favour of lowering the amount of booze you can have if you’re getting behind the wheel. Of course, this comes after Scotland announcing that they are lowering their limits.

31% reckon that the UK should follow Scotland’s (and a lot of the EU) lead by dropping the limit to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (50mg/100ml). 43% said the UK should go even further by introducing a limit of 20mg/100ml, which is in place in Sweden among other countries.

One 26% think that we’re fine with the current 80mg/100ml level.


The survey was pretty unanimous that, in the cases of repeat drink-drivers, the penalties for them must be considerably more stern. 95% think that repeat offenders such face higher penalties.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: “The current drink drive limit in England and Wales sends a confusing message and asks drivers to do the impossible – guess when they are under the limit, and guess when they are safe to drive. Even very small amounts of alcohol impair driving, so the only safe choice is not to drink at all before driving. The law needs to make that crystal clear.”

Now, here’s the kicker.

The survey was carried out by road safety charity Brake in tandem with Direct Line. A road safety charity and an insurer will be more likely to yield results with a certain skew on it. You’d inevitably find very different results if you asked the readers of Top Gear magazine, the Daily Mail or whatever.

With that, we open it up to you lot – should we have a lower drink-drive limit? Should we hammer people who are repeat offenders? Should we be allowed to drink at all before driving?

Supermarkets start to drop petrol prices

December 17th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

petrol guage 300x199 Supermarkets start to drop petrol pricesIn a handy move for Christmas, the supermarkets have started a round of price cuts on petrol and fuel.

Asda and Sainsbury’s are cutting their petrol by 2p a litre and diesel by 1p a litre, tomorrow. That’s nice isn’t it?

The RAC reckon that, thanks to world oil prices, petrol could be below £1 a litre in the new year, which would be the lowest pump prices since 2009.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “What’s currently happening at the pumps with falling fuel prices is something many motorists will not remember seeing before. Talk of prices going up like a rocket and falling like a feather could not be further from the truth as retailers have been quick to pass on savings at the forecourt since we forecast on December 6 that prices were due to come down by 7p a litre for petrol and 6p for diesel.”

Did it take you a couple of attempts to see what the crap he was talking about then? Anyway, it isn’t all happy-happy-joy-joy.

AA president Edmund King is being altogether more cautious: “With duty on each litre of fuel at 57.95p and VAT around 20p, plus the pound at its lowest level against the dollar for three months, it would take another almighty drop in crude prices to reach £1 a litre at the pumps.”

“Drivers would love to see £1 per litre but a white Christmas might be a better bet at the moment. However, for canny drivers there are still variations in pump prices of up to 5p litre in the same town. So shop around and make the most of the lower prices.”

What to do if the DVLA have lost your letter

December 3rd, 2014 5 Comments By Mof Gimmers

dvla.jpg 300x300 What to do if the DVLA have lost your letterBack in 2010, we wrote about the problems with the DVLA (where do you start, right?) and how, if you send them a letter and they lose it, they’ll blame you. Their off-road notification system was described back then as “a shambles” and “legally unenforceable” and in “administrative chaos”, and it looks like nothing much has changed.

There’s have been court cases which have shown the DVLA had been acting unlawfully concerning drivers who have failed to notify them when they’ve taken their vehicle off the road (SORN) and judges have agreed that it isn’t the driver’s fault that the DVLA or the Royal Mail have lost letters.

Drivers, judges have said, shouldn’t have to pay for recorded deliveries every time they send a letter and, indeed, they shouldn’t have to ring to confirm letters have been received by the DVLA either. Imagine a scenario where everyone has to send everything by recorded delivery AND ring up to make sure letters have been received by companies. That way, madness lies.

A spokesman for the DVLA said: “The DVLA does not impose any requirements for customers to obtain proof of posting or use recorded delivery in their dealings with us. However, and this is a key point, the onus is on the customer to ensure their off-road notification is delivered to DVLA.”

“With reference to non-receipt of acknowledgement letters by customers, there is no legal obligation on the customer to contact DVLA if they do not receive their acknowledgement letter. However, and another key point, we do advise customers to contact us if this happens so that we can confirm if their notification has been delivered to us or advise them otherwise how to comply”.

However, the DVLA will still send bailiffs and threaten drivers and we’ve had people getting in touch with us about more trouble with this absolute shower. To add insult to injury, they’ve also been selling everyone’s personal details and pocketed £25 million in the bargain.

After 4 years and judges deciding in favour of the drivers, the DVLA are still losing drivers’ log-books and letters and then sending threatening letters and asking for hundreds of pounds. One of our readers got in touch to say that the DVLA had “lost identity documents of both my kids!” and if you look at these comments, you’ll see that things are a mess.

So what can you do?

Well, if your case goes to court, or indeed, you want to tell the DVLA on the phone how the law works, you can say that you have indeed sent your letter and, according to the law of the land, the Interpretation Act 1978 Section 7 says: “Where an Act authorises or requires any document to be served by post (whether the expression “serve” or the expression “give” or “send” or any other expression is used) then, unless the contrary intention appears, the service is deemed to be effected by properly addressing, pre-paying and posting a letter containing the document and, unless the contrary is proved, to have been effected at the time at which the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post.”

In English, if you say you’ve sent a letter, then it is assumed that it was received the next working day (if sent first class). Unless the DVLA can prove they DIDN’T receive it, then by law, it is accepted that it was delivered to them.

If you’d like to make a complaint about the DVLA, then ironically, you have to do it in writing. You should give your full name and address, your date of birth or driver number, the vehicle registration, make and model (if the case is about a vehicle) and your phone number and send your complaint to: Customer Services Manager, DVLA, Swansea SA7 0EE.

You’re right not to trust them with a letter, so you can complain online and fill in the form here. The DVLA aim to answer complaints within two weeks. In all complaints, you can always ask to be referred to an independent complaints assessor or get your MP to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

We’ll keep tabs on this and remember: don’t let the DVLA shove you around. It is mostly empty threats and they will try to get you to pay a smaller fine by threatening you with a larger one. If you have fulfilled your side of the bargain, don’t budge.

BMW to launch car version of Boris Bikes

December 1st, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

bmw logo BMW to launch car version of Boris BikesBMW are launching a Pay As You Go scheme in London called DriveNow. The car-manufacturer has already launched the service in Berlin, Vienna and San Francisco, and now it is Blighty’s turn.

So what the crap is it? Well, kicked off in 2011, DriveNow is a joint venture with car rental company Sixt. The idea is that it is a ‘car sharing’ service, rather than the usual car rental business. Looks like BMW have seen the relative success of Zipcar, and wanted in.

Instead of dropping your car off at a depot, DriveNow allows you to leave you car parked in any public space in the local area, so it is a bit like London’s Boris Bikes.

Whether Londoners will take to the idea is another matter. Daimler tried the car2go scheme in 2012, but no-one really took to the idea and Daimler found that they failed to find a solution to the “unique challenges” of co-ordinating a fluid network of vehicles and parking spaces. While Boris Bikes are evenly distributed across the city by being picked up and moved by lorries, the shifting of cars is a bit more taxing.

So how do you get on board with this? Well, it is reported that DriveNow customers will have to pay a registration fee, and then, you can drive a Mini around, or the electric i3 car on a pay-per-minute basis. You’ll get access to the cars via an app or bank card and your tax, insurance and parking tickets are all included.

Can you see it taking off? It’s a growth area in the States and Europe, where households have noted that cars are expensive and that you don’t use them as much as you’d like, so maybe Brits will find that this is a perfect solution for the few times they need a car?

Cars getting too big for car parks

November 20th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

car parking 225x300 Cars getting too big for car parksCars are getting bigger and car parking spaces are getting smaller, according to a new report.

A rise in minor accidents and the like is costing UK drivers around £750 million a year in repairs and, apparently there’s more than 500,000 collisions per year – working out at approximately 1,373 per day.

The Accident Exchange report revealed that car park incidents are second to rear-end shunts as the most common car mishap, costing motorists an average of £1,428 each time to repair.

The report says there were an estimated 2.2million accidents on UK roads in 2011 of which ‘general car park incidents’ represented nearly a quarter (22.78%) of the total.

A spokey for Accident Exchange said: “Most parking incidents take place at slow speeds but that does not stop motorists damaging doors, wheels, bumpers and other parts of the bodywork.”

“A possible contributing factor is that today’s larger vehicles are now squeezing into smaller parking spaces.”

The findings that emerged from their survey of car parks was very illuminating, discovering that the average car park space is an eye-opening  7ft 9.5 inches (237.5cm.) However, the average car has grown in size over the years, and even the smallest models of yore have at least another foot added to their size.

Yet due to the pesky Transport Department, parking space sizes have remained the same since 1994

It’s no joy for the drivers either, they’re getting taller and fatter and are causing themselves pain trying to get out of tight spaces. Well, it needn’t be painful if you know how to work it.

Liz Fisher of Accident Exchange said: “Looking at the statistics, you’d think there is chaos in car parks up and down the country and that drivers are literally battling for spaces to park. But the fact is that drivers are having to squeeze their larger cars into smaller spaces and there are many more car journeys made than just a decade ago.”

Car parks being a load of rubbish – who would’ve ever thunk it?