Posts Tagged ‘motoring’

Too many mobile blackspots putting motorists at risk

November 30th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

car crash Too many mobile blackspots putting motorists at riskIt is frustrating when you can’t get a mobile signal, but if you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere with a broken down car, it is potentially very dangerous.

The RAC are not happy about these mobile blackspots that are all over the UK, and they say that it is putting motorists’ lives at risk. By their calculations, they think there’s around 2,600 miles of road around Britain that don’t even have a 2G signal, which is what you need for the most basic of mobile services.

That means 2% of the roads have no coverage, so if you break down there, you could be in a very stick situation indeed. The worst areas are in the Highlands, Argyll & Bute, and Powys in Wales. In England, the worst covered areas are Cumbria, North Yorkshire, and Devon.

The RAC said that some roads, including the A93 in Scotland, A149 in East Anglia, A494 in Wales and A591 in Cumbria, have no signal at all, which makes them a risk for drivers.

They also found that 14,554 miles of road has no 3G coverage, with an additional 111,679 miles of road only having partial 3G coverage. 56% of Britain’s roads have no 4G coverage, and the RAC would like someone to do something about this.

“Most of us like to think we are always just a mobile phone call away from help but even in a crowded, high-tech country like Britain the reality is somewhat different. Our work shows there are thousands of miles of road along which you would not want to break down or have an accident because calling the RAC, the emergency services or even home wouldn’t be an option. Even where there is partial network coverage it might not be from your network provider,” said Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation.

“And it’s not just in emergencies that we rely on our mobiles. Increasingly we drivers depend on our smart phones for everything from telling us how to get from A to B, to what the weather is going be, to where the congestion is.”

“The concepts of connected cars and drivers is at the heart of much thinking about how we might make our travelling lives easier. But the best ideas in the world will fall at the first hurdle if there are no bars on the phone.”

Asda cuts petrol price under £1

November 27th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

ASDA logo Asda cuts petrol price under £1Hey motorists! Good news! Asda have gone and cut the price of a litre of unleaded petrol by 4p, which takes it to 99.7p.

That’s the first time their fuel has dipped below the £1 mark since 2009. Remember 2009? Michael Jackson died and we all got swine flu. Heady days.

Anyway, a litre of diesel will cost 103.7p from Friday November 27 until Monday November 30, before reverting back to the former price of 106.7p.

This here, is an “exclusive three-day price drop” from Asda, but honest guvnor, it is nothing to do with Black Friday, because Asda don’t want anything to do with that after everyone chided them for letting people wrestle each other for tellies.

Either way, cheaper fuel. Not something to turn your nose up at. Go fill ‘er up.

Death of paper tax disc sees evasion double

November 27th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

tax disc Death of paper tax disc sees evasion doubleInstances of car tax evasion has more than doubled, after the scrapping of the old paper tax disc, according to official figures. If you put your head out of the window now, you’ll be able to hear a load of people muttering ‘I told you so.’

Now, the number of people dodging tax is 516,000 according to Department for Transport statistics. That’s a loss of around £80 million according to their figures. Not to be sniffed at, given that this new system was brought in to save £10 million (thanks to not having to print out discs, and the removal of some red tape).

The Department for Transport said: “The rate of unlicensed vehicles observed on the road was much higher in 2015 than when previously surveyed in 2013, following changes in the licensing system.”

Other than people just thinking they can get away with it, what’s caused this rise? Well, the new way of doing things ended the practice of letting drivers transfer unspent car tax across to a new owner; now, each owner must re-tax a car when they buy it. This extra bit of hassle for drivers looks like it has resulted in them not bothering to do it at all.

The DfT report continues: “The increase is probably due to major changes to the vehicle licensing system which took place in October 2014, especially the automatic refund of tax when a vehicle changes hands. This could cost about £80million in lost VED revenue over the course of a year, about 1.4 per cent of the total amount due.”

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “These are very worrying and disappointing statistics indeed. Sadly, the concerns we raised about the number of car tax evaders going up at the time the tax disc was confined to history have become a reality.”

“The number of car tax evaders has more than doubled from 210,000 in 2013 to 560,000 in the latest statistics and is now at its highest level for eight years. We really cannot afford for this to increase again for the sake of both road safety and the country’s finances. Hopefully, much of the increase in evasion is due to the system being new and these figures will reduce as motorists become more familiar with how it works.”

Toyota recalling more cars with faulty airbags

November 25th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Toyota Logo 4 300x258 Toyota recalling more cars with faulty airbagsToyota are recalling a load of cars again, over dodgy airbags.

They’re recalling 1.6 million vehicles for the airbags that have been supplied by Takata, who were at the centre of the last scandal which saw huge amounts of vehicles recalled worldwide.

Now, at the moment, it involves 22 models, including the Corolla and Vitz, manufactured from January 2004 through December 2005. It affects cars in Japan, Italy, Britain and Spain – there’s no numbers on that yet.

Like before, it looks like these Takata airbags might be inflating with too much force, which results in shrapnel being flung through the car when the bags inflate. People have died as a result of these airbags, but for the latest recall, there have been no reports of injuries.

Toyota will be getting in touch with drivers and dealerships. If you want to get on it first, then click here to check Toyota’s recall checker.

In America, regulators fined Takata $70 million for hiding evidence that their airbags were faulty, and if the company don’t abide by new terms, the penalty can be upped to $200 million by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

No compensation for VW drivers

November 24th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Volkswagen Logo 300x300 No compensation for VW driversIf you were hoping to get a nice little payout apology from Volkswagen over the emissions scandal, don’t hold your breath (unless you’re trying to not breathe in all the gunk pouring out of the back of your VW). The company said that they have ”no plans” to compensate customers in Europe, although, after some official investigations, that could all change.

The company have put aside £4.8bn to cover recall costs, but that doesn’t include compo, because they’re not planning on forking out.

Now, Volkswagen have been compensating drivers in America, and they think that the market circumstances were different. Of course, in the UK, the car’s re-sale value has changed thanks to this cheat-scandal, so this is a bit of a kick in the teeth.

Stateside, drivers have been promised $500, and another $500 in credit vouchers. If you’re in the UK, VW are telling you to go whistle.

In a statement, VW said: “We are putting together an individual package of measures for each market designed to achieve high customer satisfaction in what is currently an unsatisfactory situation for customers.”

So why are Volkswagen treating American drivers differently to those in Europe? Well, it has been suggested elsewhere that VW would like to spoil the Americans, because it is seen as a key area of growth in the market that they would like to develop. Seeing as Europe drives a lot of VW vehicles, it sounds like a case of ‘what are you going to do about it?’

There could well be some official intervention on all this, so things could change, but for the time being, Volkswagen aren’t going to be crossing your palm with silver.

Morrisons to reduce petrol to £1 a litre

November 23rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

fuel1 5106391 300x199 Morrisons to reduce petrol to £1 a litreMorrisons have said that they’re going to reduce the cost of petrol to £1 a litre. That’s the lowest price they’ve sold it at in six years apparently.

Bryan Burger, Morrisons petrol retail director said: “Prices have been hovering above the £1 mark for months now. We have seen oil prices also continuing to fall this week and that means that headline fuel prices could continue to fall.”

Full marks to anyone who tittered at the name ‘Bryan Burger’.

Anyway, Morrisons aren’t the only supermarket dropping their prices as wholesale costs fall. Asda cut 2p off the price of a litre last month, and it looks like that’s got another price war going.

Good news for drivers at the pumps, trying to nail a perfectly round number when filling their vehicles up, as this means that, over the coming weeks, a lot of forecourts should start dropping their prices.

Tesla recalling 90,000 cars over seatbelt problem

November 23rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

tesla 300x300 Tesla recalling 90,000 cars over seatbelt problemTesla are recalling all 90,000 of its Model S sedan cars worldwide, so they can check for a defect in the cars’ front seatbelts. The company say that the cost of this is ”immaterial”.

There are some cars in the UK, but most of the vehicles are in America, with some in Asia, and the rest of Europe also. The recall is happening after a report showed a seatbelt assembly breaking, when a customer was using it.

A spokesman said there had been no accidents or injuries related to this, and added: ”Our investigation was unable to reveal any root cause. We are going to look at every single car. We expect the vast majority of seatbelts to be fine.”

So, if you’re a Tesla driver, you will have already got an email from them, or be getting one imminently. Check your spam folders just in case. There, you’ll be asked to get your car looked at, at a service centre, where they’ll inspect the bolt that attaches the seat belt mechanism to the body of the car.

This follow the fires that are continuing with Vauxhall Zafira cars, with a recall ongoing.

Vauxhall Zafira fires continue

November 19th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

vauxhall car 300x168 Vauxhall Zafira fires continueWe’ve written about Vauxhall Zafira cars setting on fire before, yet it still seems to be going under the radar thanks to the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

New figures from the fire brigade are showing that the problem is indeed a common one. The London Fire Brigade (LFB) told the Press Association that it has attended 71 Zafira fires (this figure doesn’t include arson attacks) since 2013. When you compare that to a mere 38 in the previous four years, you can see the problem.

Vauxhall are writing to 220,000 Zafira B owners, and asking them to get their cars looked at, so they can see what’s going on with the car’s heating and ventilation system.

Sue Freemantle, who is heading up the online campaign regarding these, said: “I think it’s shocking – just last month alone, from what I have on my record, we’ve got 21 car fires.” She thinks that the cars should be taken off the road while tests are undertaken, and in addition to that, she’s said that she believes Vauxhall are withholding information: “I think they’re hiding something. They’re not telling us everything.”

London Fire Brigade’s director of operations, Dave Brown, said: “If you smell smoke or burning coming from your car while you’re driving it, you should pull over as soon as you can in a safe place, get everyone out of the vehicle and always stay a safe distance away.”

“Then call the fire brigade and never go back to the vehicle while you’re waiting. If you are concerned that your vehicle is affected by the recall then contact your manufacturer immediately.”

What to do?

Vauxhall are recalling a number of vehicles. If you’re worried that your vehicle is affected, and no-one has got in touch with you yet, Vauxhall have images of what to look for. They will inspect your vehicle free of charge, but sadly, there’s long waits. Find your nearest dealer by clicking here, and contact them accordingly.

If you own one of the vehicles affected, you can also contact the Vauxhall Recall helpline on 0800 026 0034 and you can email them at

Driving test is about to change in the UK

November 19th, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

learner driver 300x199 Driving test is about to change in the UKThe government are looking at changing the way the driving test works in the UK, saying that it is the “biggest shake up of the driving test in a generation”.

Oh really? They’re introducing proposals for a ‘cashback’ incentive for the test, which would see you putting a deposit down, which is returned to you if you pass. Great news, provided they don’t make it impossible to pass your test.

What happens if you end up taking multiple tests? Either way, the government are certain that this is all going to make sure that learner drivers are, in their words, “better prepared for taking their test and driving independently”, “less likely to have an accident in the months following the test”, and that learners are only going to take “their test when they are ready and confident of passing”.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We want to make learning to drive safer and more affordable. This change will give those who pass first time some money back and provide an incentive for learners to be more prepared before they take their test. These common sense proposals mean that all learner drivers can feel the benefit.”

The RAC are on board too, with director Steve Gooding saying: “We support measures that will encourage learner drivers to get the experience they need to pass their test first time with flying colours, rather than barely scraping through or failing and having to repeat the process a few months down the road at yet more expense.”

There’s going to be reviews on all fees for services provided by motoring agencies, as well as a shake-up of when driving test times can happen, as well as offering a range of venues of people wanting to take a test.

The government say that they want your views on all this, so if you want to chuck your two pence’s worth at them, have a look here.

Here’s a video to watch

Automyze – helping drivers save money

November 19th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

poolside Car wash 300x197 Automyze   helping drivers save moneyBuying a car is a pain in the hole, and sometimes, they cost you far too much in repairs, compared to the price you paid for it.

And so, to Lucy Burnford who bought a car, which ended up having a catalogue of problems, which then saw her coming up with something to help other drivers from having the same problems as her.

She’s come up with Automyze, which is being referred to as an online ‘personal assistant for your car’. The AA liked the idea so much that they snapped it up. The idea is that the MOT history of a car is more important than the service history. Instead of knowing what necessary work has been done on a vehicle, instead, you can find out all the maintenance work it has had.

Lucy says: “I developed the idea but not from a tech or auto background but I, and everyone I spoke to, thought it had legs. A full service history is basically a book with a couple of stamps – it does not tell you if the car has had bigger bits of maintenance done. I asked the guy selling my car and he said it had all been done but you have to take someone’s word for it. You can buy service books from eBay and sell them on yourself.”

And so, wanting all the documents for a car in one place, she hit on an idea: “I really wanted to create a digital hub and a portal where you could see if the car has had any major things go wrong and been serviced correctly.”

Lucy and her team came up with Motoriety, which eventually became Automyze. Drivers set up an account, and then you can call up information on MOT, tax, vehicle servicing, repairs, insurance, and all that stuff. Within the next 12 months, it is predicted that there’ll be half a million cars registered on the service.

Even though this is a joint venture with The AA, you don’t have to be a member to use it. If you want to have a look at it, click here.

MPs to probe UK emissions testing

November 17th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

car pollution 300x187 MPs to probe UK emissions testingThe Volkswagen emissions scandal may have gone a little quiet of late, but it is far from over. Now, Parliament is going to look at the testing done in the UK, to see whether or not it is “fit for purpose”.

With over 1.2 million cars in the UK affected by the scandal, it is obvious that things aren’t as stringent as they need to be, and that someone might have been asleep on the job to have missed all those cars with ‘defeat devices’.

The software installed in the VW vehicles could detect whether or not a car was being tested, which meant that it would change the way it acted, so it would appear to meet environmental standards.

The Commons Transport Select Committee said that they’re going to investigate whether the current testing arrangements were up to date, with a particular focus on why results in testing conditions should vary from those in the real world.

Many in the motoring world have been critical of these tests for some time, saying that they are outdated. Louise Ellman, chair of the Transport Select Committee, said: “The Volkswagen scandal has raised serious concerns about whether vehicle type approval testing is fit for purpose. We heard evidence in October that the gap between emissions detected in test conditions and those detected in the real world significant. The testing procedure is clearly inadequate.”

In a letter to Ellman, VW’s UK boss, Paul Willis said: “It is widely recognised, both inside and outside of the industry, that the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) testing (which is the type approval testing used in the EU) is not fit for purpose. Its deficiencies are recognised. There is no simple linear relationship that exists between data from NEDC testing and data derived from real world driving.”

It is obvious that something needs to be done, and it is clear that Volkswagen are going to be hit with some huge fines.

12,000 miles of road blighted by potholes

November 6th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

pothole 12,000 miles of road blighted by potholesIf you drive a car, ride a bicycle, or have basic functioning eyesight, you’ll know that Britain has a big problem with potholes. How big? Well, according to a report, there’s nearly 12,000 miles of road that have potholes in them. You could drive to Brazil and back – that’s how much road that is.

Of course, this is hammering everyone’s cars, and that means there’s loads of insurance claims and repairs that result. It’s a mess. It has been deduced that one-in-seven motorists have suffered damage to their vehicles because of our crappy road surfaces.

Freedom of Information requests to all of Britain’s councils showed that there are 31,162 potholes that are waiting to be repaired, on 11,564 miles of roads. The average size of a pothole is roughly the same size as a pizza, if you’re wondering.

It is costly for the councils too, as they’ve coughed up around £1.6million in compensation to drivers, according to the report by the LV=. You can only assume it is cheaper to compensate drivers, than it is to fix the roads. Or maybe you’d like to assume that our councils don’t know their arses from their elbows? That’s your call.

Selwyn Fernandes, managing director of LV= Road Rescue, said: “Britain’s pothole epidemic is costing councils millions in compensation, but unfortunately it doesn’t look as though things are improving.”

“Drivers should protect themselves and their vehicles by reducing their speed and driving carefully on potholed roads, and also reporting damaged roads to their local council.”

vauxhall car 300x168 Vauxhall Zafira catches fire   heres what you should doWe told you about Vauxhall Zafiras catching fire, and there’s been another incident in Swansea.

Jason Williams was driving with his three-year-old daughter, when he smelled burning. Alarmingly, Jason and his child couldn’t get out of the car, because the fire burned his electrics, which caused the central locking to freeze. He had to smash his window to get out.

That’s a picture of Jason’s car on the right.

Speaking to BBC Watchdog, Vauxhall said they’re looking into the problems with a number of Vauxhall Zafira B models.

Williams said: “I pulled up… and took the seat belts off my daughter and tried to get her out. The doors were basically locked and I couldn’t get her out at all. I was punching at the glass to try and break the window. I had hold of my daughter’s hand because at one point the smoke was quite thick in the car.”

“There’s a release button on the dashboard which opens the central locking. Obviously because of the fire, electrics burning, it wasn’t working…terrifying, really petrifying.”

Again, Vauxhall don’t seem to have any urgency in this matter, and there’s been a lot of complaints about huge delays in trying to get their vehicles inspected. Vauxhall, when contacted by Bitterwallet, posing as a customer, said that a recall would happen “when appropriate.” We suspect people’s cars setting on fire is as appropriate as you can get, Vauxhall.

What to do?

If you’re worried, and want to find out whether or not you have one of the cars that might be affected by this, you need to find out if you have a Zafira B model, made between 2005 and 2014. It has to be the one that has manual air conditioning (not Electronic Climate Control). Vauxhall have images of what to look for on your dashboard. If it has an ‘AUTO’ button, then you don’t need to worry.

If you have concerns about using your car, because there’s unusual activity with the heating and ventilation, or a squeaking noise coming from the dash, or if your  fan doesn’t work in positions 1, 2, and 3, then you should have your car inspected. Until then, put your fan at position zero, and if you need to demist the inside of your car, whack it on level 4.

Vauxhall will inspect your vehicle free of charge, but as we’ve said, there’s long waits while the company get their finger’s out. Find your nearest dealer by clicking here, and contact them accordingly.

Update 05/11

More than 220,000 Vauxhall Zafira B models are now being recalled following reports of fire

As we mentioned earlier, the potential issue only relates to vehicles with manual or no air-conditioning and those models built between 2005 and 2014- the Mk2 Zafira, known as Zafira B.

The first generation and the current Zafira Tourer model aren’t affected by the recall; nor are Mk2 Zafiras with “AUTO” air-con.

Vauxhall will writing to relevant owners next week. If you own one of the vehicles affected can also contact the Vauxhall Recall helpline on 0800 026 0034 or email 

VW: ‘Uh, we might be lying about CO2 as well…’

November 4th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

car pollution 300x187 VW: Uh, we might be lying about CO2 as well...Volkswagen are facing more trouble, after the debacle that surrounded them lying about emissions coming out of the back of some of their cars. Now, they’re admitting that up to 800,000 petrol and diesel-powered cars have had their CO2 and mpg ratings wrongly certified.

VW say: “Under the ongoing review of all processes and workflows in connection with diesel engines it was established that the CO2 levels and thus the fuel consumption figures for some models were set too low during the CO2 certification process. The majority of the vehicles concerned have diesel engines.”

They also say that they’re going to “immediately start a dialogue with the responsible type approval agencies regarding the consequences of these findings”.

What a mess. The fines for the company are going to be enormous – we think they might be record breaking, such is the gravity of the situation. Of course, this doesn’t just affect VW cars, but other cars in the group from Audi, Seat, and Skoda. Porsche might be implicated in all of this too. Volkswagen have put £1.4bn aside to sort this out – it’ll cost them more than that.

The value of the company is dropping like a stone, with over €4bn wiped off.

In the statement, Matthias Müller, CEO of Volkswagen, said: “From the very start I have pushed hard for the relentless and comprehensive clarification of events. We will stop at nothing and nobody. This is a painful process, but it is our only alternative. For us, the only thing that counts is the truth. That is the basis for the fundamental realignment that Volkswagen needs. The Board of Management of Volkswagen AG deeply regrets this situation and wishes to underscore its determination to systematically continue along the present path of clarification and transparency.”

What about recalls? Well, the Department for Transport said that they won’t be issuing a mandatory recall for cars affected by Volkswagen’s emissions scandal. A spokesperson said: ”The government has been putting pressure on VW to address these issues quickly. The government expects VW to set up the next steps on how they are going to correct this problem and support owners in the UK. In the past few weeks the Transport Secretary has spoken to the German Transport Minister about the actions of VW, and has been reassured that the German authorities are working closely with VW.”

car pollution 300x187 VW compensation for emissions scandal   also, linked to deathsA study in the US reckons that, Volkswagen’s rigging of its cars to cheat on emissions tests, could cause approximately 60 deaths in America by the end of 2016. In the UK, there’s also been similar claims.

Not only that is hanging over VW’s heads – there’s also the small matter of compensation for drivers who bought cars that weren’t nearly as clean as thought. Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, says that the car-maker has got to start financially addressing this problem by compensating motorists.

When asked whether VW should meet the full financial implications of falling resale values, McLoughlin said: “That is one of the issues which I think VW will have to address in due course.”

He added: “I will be looking to Volkswagen who have, it has to be said, acted disgracefully in this whole episode, to ensure that they live up to the expectations which they promised originally. We will be working to make sure that does happen.”

Around 11 million vehicles worldwide, were fitted with the cheat-device, and in preparation, they’ve put aside £4.4bn to cover the costs of recalling the vehicles. However, this figure is absolutely going to rocket, once the legal action starts rolling in, not to mention fines and the aforementioned compensation.

Volkswagen have hired accountancy firm Deloitte, and law business called Jones Day, to find out who is responsible for this device. It is thought that a group of between 10 and 20 employees were at the centre of this scandal.

While this trundles on, there’s a big sense that a number of other car-makers are going to be having their own emissions scandals with cheat devices and the like. It is worth pointing out that no other manufacturer has admitted to using these defeat devices, and no-one has been rumbled for using them, but it is only a matter of time before another company gets embroiled in all this, as there’s concerns about this being an industry-wide practice.

We’ll have to wait and see. Until then, pressure will be continually applied to VW, to compensate those affected by this scandal.