Posts Tagged ‘motoring’

Driving abroad? Warning!

April 27th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

flooded cars 300x128 Driving abroad? Warning!Are you planning on going abroad this year and driving while you’re there? Well, there’s something you need to know - after 8th June, you’ll need to take a special code with you if you want to hire a car.

This is all to do with the computerisation of the paper counterpart of UK driving licences. Now, if you want to hire a motor when overseas, you’ll officially need a code to show convictions for offences like speeding.

You’ll have to go to the DVLA website for all that.

Get this – the code will only be valid for 72 hours, so if you’re planning on hiring a car after three days of your trip, you’ll have to get a code while you’re on holiday. If you don’t have internet access, there’ll be a phone number you can ring. All sounds like a bit of a faff, doesn’t it?

Concerning the paper bit of your driving licence, the DVLA is saying you can shred it and bin it after 8th June. However, the AA aren’t so sure about that. They clearly don’t trust a word the DVLA says. It would be wise to hang on to that document, in case some hire companies aren’t aware of the new arrangement.

“Not all car rental companies, or indeed traffic police abroad, will be aware of the changes, so a ‘belt and braces’ approach of also taking the counterpart might help,” said AA president Edmund King.

Amazon to deliver to the boot of your car

April 27th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

amazoninstant Amazon to deliver to the boot of your carWhen we heard that Amazon were going to start delivering packages directly to car boots from next month, we thought they were either tapping into the car boot sale market, or selling drugs. How wrong – and disappointed – we were.

Amazon have teamed-up with DHL and Audi, which means that selected Audi-owning Prime customers in Munich will be able to stand next to their car for ages, waiting for someone to drop a package off for them, when they could be doing something less boring instead.

That’s actually not true. The person delivering the package will get a one-time keyless access to the car boot to drop off a package, meaning that a stranger will be able to get in your car. That should cause a few furrowed brows. Audi are adamant that there’s going to be no insurance issues with all this.

Amazon said: “During the checkout process, customers simply indicate the approximate location of their car during the delivery window. When a carrier driver arrives, the vehicle’s car trunk can be momentarily accessed via a unique, order specific digital authorisation.”

“The delivery agent then simply places the order into the trunk and closes the hatch which locks the car again.”

If you’re not bothered about someone getting in your boot, then this could be a handy way of receiving goods and save you messing about waiting for someone. Participating drivers will have to have their cars adapted to enable third-party access though.

Amazon says it wants this feature to be available to all Prime members, regardless of their car, at some point.

Are you being conned with fuel efficient cars?

April 23rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

fuel1 5106391 300x199 Are you being conned with fuel efficient cars?Fuel efficient cars might be having you on and not giving you the efficiency they claim, according to a Which!!! report.

Drivers may well be coughing up an average of £133 more on fuel, per year, than they thought they were thanks to suggestions that car-makers are misleading everyone by overstating the fuel-economy figures.

According to the report, only three of the 200 models tested across 2013 and 2014 managed to reach the official miles-per-gallon (mpg) figure stated in info from the car’s manufacturer. On average, vehicles with falling short by 13%.

The three cars that managed to live up to claims were the 1.2-litre 5-door manual Skoda Roomster, the 2-litre version of the Mazda 3 Fastback and the 2-litre, five-door, automatic diesel model of the Skoda Yeti. The worst performing vehicle in the Which!!! report was the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV hybrid.

Now, Which!!! want the European Commission to introduce its new testing procedures to make sure figures reflect the reality of what cars can achieve.

Which!!! executive director Richard Lloyd said: “The cost of fuel is one of the biggest concerns for consumers which is why fuel efficiency has become an important selling point for new cars. The new test should be brought in without delay so consumers are no longer misled by fantasy mpg figures.”

old driver car Car insurance down   but it isnt all good newsCar insurance premiums in Britain fell by 1% in the first quarter of this year, which is reasonable news, but no great shakes. Still, a saving is a saving right?

These figures are from the AA, who say that the average quote for an annual comprehensive car insurance policy dropped to £530.47, which follows numerous months of price rises. However, insurers have form when it comes to trying to lure motorists in with price drops in the first quarter.

However, messing things up are the number of claims for whiplash, which is putting an upward pressure on prices, according to the AA. They say that the cost of claims is larger than premium income for many insurers.

Of course, Bitterwallet talked about this a while ago, with drivers coughing-up £93 each (on average) due to the volume of whiplash claims.

“We’re starting to see insurers quoting higher prices and I think that’s the beginning of a trend, but the market remains very competitive,” says Janet Connor, managing director of AA Insurance.

“My greatest fear is that if insurance fraud such as whiplash injury claims isn’t brought under control and quickly, we will see a repeat of the spiralling premiums of 2010 and 2011 when the cost of the average policy rose by over 40 per cent in just 12 months.”

Avoid MOT retests by checking your tyres

April 20th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Mechanic Conducting MOT Test1 Avoid MOT retests by checking your tyresGiving drivers any advice is a tricky business, because as soon as you say anything, along comes Nigel Who Knows Everything Ever to say ‘well duh’ or ‘actually, I think you’ll find…’.

For the rest of you motorists who aren’t tedious Nigel, here’s a thing that could save you a decent amount of money when it comes to MOT time.

One of things that rinses drivers is MOT retests, which could be avoided if you simply make sure your car’s tyres are correctly inflated before the initial test date. You see, under current legislation, any car that has a warning light showing on the dashboard fails its MOT. If you have a car that is fitted with TPMS, the wrong pressure on your tyres could see the rest of your good work coming unstuck.

Basically, under-inflated tyres are costing drivers millions across the board.

Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe said: “Although TPMS technology has been around for decades, its inclusion in new model vehicles has only been mandated in Europe since 2012 and on all new cars since 2014. This led to a gradual introduction into the market over a period of years and with little or no fanfare to help educate motorists.”

“Garages have been telling us that they’re encountering a lot of customers who either aren’t aware of how these systems work and need to be maintained or just see them as an expensive luxury rather than the crucial safety feature they are.”

petrol AA say drivers pockets are being plunderedThe AA has slagged off fuel vendors for “plundering drivers’ pockets” by putting up the price of petrol and diesel disproportionately.

They noted that, over the last few weeks, the price of oil has fallen by nearly 5% – but guess what? Surprise, surprise – petrol prices are up by 1.2%. The AA said that drivers are now paying an extra 1.73p a litre of petrol, and an extra 0.63p a litre of diesel.

The fuel industry said that wholesale costs are up, which is why prices have risen at the pumps. The fact that oil is priced in dollars and the pound has fallen against it, isn’t helping either.

Edmund King, the AA’s president, isn’t having any of it and said that motorists are losing out. ”Cars are like blank cheques for whoever feels the need to balance the books by plundering drivers’ pockets,” he said. ”Now the fuel retailers are taking £3 a tank extra on diesel to steady their finances.”

This comes on the back of the RAC saying that fuel prices were ‘highway robbery’, which again, saw the sellers saying that everyone should leave them alone and that no-one understands them.

What the most – and least – reliable cars?

April 16th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

eating in the car What the most   and least   reliable cars?Cars are expensive, so you’d hope that once you’ve forked out all that cash for them, they’ll be nice and reliable and not a massive pain in the hole.

Well, What Car? have teamed-up with Warranty Direct to find out which cars are the least reliable. They’ve also tried to find out which cars you can count on, generally speaking, too.

Of their 38-strong league table of cars, surprisingly, the super expensive luxury cars from Bentley and Porsche came bottom of the pile. If you’re spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on a car, you’d hope it was flawless wouldn’t you? Then again, if you can afford these vehicles, then you can afford to keep getting it serviced, no doubt.

At the top of the chart came Honda and Suzuki.

The faults that were most common across the board, were electric faults, as well as problems with axles and suspension faults. Between then, around a quarter of all visits to the garage were for these.

Apparently, air conditioning is the least concern to drivers, with just 3% reporting faults in them. Maybe they get loads of problems with them, but just don’t report them because they can just open a window?

What Car? editor Jim Holder said: “Honda’s success in the reliability index is chiefly down to low failure rates… but, when things do go wrong, the cars are also relatively cheap to fix.”

“Reliability is always one of the key attributes buyers look for when considering a used car purchase, so manufacturers that consistently demonstrate durability will always do well with the consumer.”

Most reliable cars!

1. Honda
2. Suzuki
3. Toyota
4. Chevrolet
5. Mazda
6. Ford
7. Lexus
8. Skoda
9. Hyundai
10. Nissan

Deathwatch: Hidden speed cameras

April 13th, 2015 5 Comments By Mof Gimmers

speed camera large 300x235 Deathwatch: Hidden speed camerasHidden cameras – the blight of drivers everywhere and the reason that there’s been a 25% increase in speeding fines – are looking like they could soon be a thing of the past.

After the General Election, Labour have vowed to paint these things bright yellow so drivers can spot them more easily. The Tories meanwhile, are looking at scrapping them if their current review decides they’re a bad thing.

Roads minister John Hayes, who commissioned the Highways England review, will get the report back in the summer. He’s shown concern about ‘stealth cameras’ and said that it is important that drivers know about the whereabouts of these grey menaces.

With almost 113,000 drivers getting speeding fines last year, the figure has shot up from 89,000 in 2013 and around 55,000 in 2010. These hidden cameras have been one of the reasons that there’s been a spike. And we all know that someone is making a pretty penny out of the whole thing.

So, if one of the big two parties wins the General Election, it is looking like the days of the hidden speed camera could be numbered. With £100 fines and points on licences being added for each offence, this is good news for motorists indeed.

That is, of course, if politicians manage to keep their promises.

Don’t catch a train over Easter

March 30th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

train Dont catch a train over EasterGot time off over the Easter weekend? Congratulations! You don’t work in retail. Fancy a nice day trip somewhere? Well, whatever you do, don’t think about catching a train.

You see, as usual, the train companies have decided to do a load of engineering works on the days when loads of people might actually want to use them. Naturally, that means there’s going to be huge traffic jams as well, so you might as well stay in and sulk.

So what’s going down? Well, there’ll be no Southeastern trains running to or from Charing Cross, Waterloo East or Cannon Street in That London. As well as that, there’s major works going on at Watford, which means there’ll be no Virgin or London Midland trains able to run in-and-out of Euston station between Good Friday and Easter Monday.

Virgin won’t have any trains running any further south than Milton Keynes, Rugby or Northampton and there’ll be no direct London Midland services between Euston and Hemel Hempstead, with Virgin saying that they are “strongly recommending” that passengers don’t travel between Good Friday and Easter Monday.

Trains through Manchester will also be affected as well as services in Scotland and, well, bloody everywhere. If you’re planning a journey, have a look at your routes to see which ones are going to be a pain in your backside.

The roads will be chockablock too, with traffic information givers from Inrix saying that the congestion hotspots this weekend will be in the South East and the South West of England.

If you’re travelling by road to Gatwick and Heathrow, journeys could take four times as long, so set off early if you’re going on holiday.

TomTom launch free sat-nav app

March 26th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

TomTom 281x300 TomTom launch free sat nav appTomTom have gone a launched a free sat-nav on Android called TomTom Go Mobile. If you’ve just bought a sat-nav, gutted for you.

So what do you get with it? Well, it looks like it has more features than the competition, with live traffic updates and speed camera notifications and all that. Oh, and of course, you can navigate yourself with it. That’s pretty obvious though.

You can also take trips to millions of ‘points of interest’ and if you’re worried about hammering your data, you can download offline maps for the 111 countries covered by TomTom.

What’s the catch? Well, it is free to download, but that’s limited to 50 miles per month. If you’re driving in advance of that, then you’ll need to look at the £14.99 per year subscription (or £34.99 for three years).

Of course, you could just use Google Maps for free, or indeed, the Google-owned Waze which also won’t cost you a penny.

However, Google Maps can be a bit of a faff, while TomTom Go Mobile has big, clutter-free buttons, which is advantageous if you’re behind the wheel. Either way, sat-navs as we know them are rapidly becoming a thing of the past, so TomTom need to do something, and with this freemium model, they might be onto something.

Unless Google are scheming something…

pothole 13 years and £12bn   thats what is needed to fix potholesDrivers and cyclists all know that there’s a big problem with potholes in the UK. The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) claims the money spend on repairing roads in the last year has been “wasted”.

We assume Scotland and Northern Ireland are doing their own thing, but as far as England and Wales are concerned, to fix the problem, it would cost £12 billion and need 13 years of work, which is a damning viewpoint indeed.

The AIA annual found, unsurprisingly, that there’s been an increase in the amount paid in compensation to motorists in England, hovering somewhere around the £20m mark. Add to that, the increased costs of local authorities staffing the situation and to process claims, that’s another £18m.

Alan Mackenzie, chairman of the AIA, said: “Essentially, the money spent on filling the 2.7 million potholes reported is wasted – it is inefficient and short term in its effectiveness. So, while we understand that the Department for Transport is promoting permanent repairs, the point remains that money would be better spent preventing potholes forming in the first place.”

“The £6bn of funding pledged between 2015 and 2021 is welcome, and hopefully will be confirmed by an incoming government. But the truth is that although it sounds like a big investment, it will only be enough for local authorities to tread water and it will do nothing to tackle the backlog or prevent continuing deterioration.”

Mackenzie’s not the only one who is alarmed by all this. Peter Box, transport spokesman at the Local Government Association, said: “Councils need billions, not millions, to bring our roads up to scratch. Every mile of motorways and trunk roads will receive £1.4m funding over the next six years compared with £31,000 per mile for local roads.”

“This makes little sense given the Government’s own traffic projections predict an increase in local traffic of more than 40% by 2040.”

fuel gauge 285x300 Are diesel drivers subsidising unleaded motorists?Not only are diesel drivers being ‘demonised’, but there’s a suspicion that they’re also subsidising all the unleaded drivers too, which is just not on.

The RAC is calling for a cut of 4p-per-litre at the pumps because something doesn’t add up regarding what motorists are paying and the wholesale costs. The group noticed that the wholesale price of diesel was 1p a litre more than petrol, however, diesel drivers paid nearly 6p more than petrol-havers at the forecourt.

So what’s going on there then?

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “It’s hard not to think that business is being taken for a ride by the fuel retailers. Traditionally, business runs on diesel, and with sales of diesel at an all-time high the retailers have maintained a higher margin on diesel, perhaps to subsidise petrol sales”.

It appears that diesel drivers are being rinsed as the forecourts trying and recoup money as oil costs have lost (up to) 60% of their value. And while diesel prices hit a five year low in January, they’re not dropping as fast as unleaded. The latest figures show that the average diesel prices at the pumps is 118.31p per litre, while unleaded costs stand at 112p.

driving license 300x186 DVLA kills off paper section of the UK driving licenceWave goodbye to the paper bit of your two-part driving licence if you live in the UK. That’s because it is going to be replaced by a brand new online system from June 8th this year, according to the DVLA.

Of course, the DVLA are really great at holding everyone’s details, as we saw with their unsecure parking data and the fact they unlawfully lose loads of our letters, so no-one needs to worry about a thing.

This new system will store all the details of all the licensed drivers in the country.

And now, the DVLA say that, after June 8th 2015, the paper bit of your licence will have no legal status and you can shred it and throw it in the bin (unless you have a paper licence which is pre-1998). Your photocard should be kept. If you have points on your licence, they’ll be stored at the DVLA and if you want to know what they are, you can check online or if you prefer, ask for them on the phone or via the post.”

“The reason for abolishing the counterpart is to reduce the burden on motorists.” a government spokesman stated. “For most drivers there simply isn’t a need to have this information on a piece of paper when it is now freely and easily available online. It also saves drivers from paying £20 to replace a lost or damaged counterpart.”

“Paper driving licences issued before the photocard was introduced in 1998 will remain valid and should not be destroyed.” DVLA spokesperson said.

Whiplash costing drivers £93

March 13th, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

CarCrash 300x168 Whiplash costing drivers £93Whiplash is great isn’t it? No matter what car accident you’ve had, all you have to do is rub your neck and wince a bit, and you’re away!

Of course, we’re being sarcastic and whiplash claims have, according to a report from one insurer, hit record levels.

The result of all this is that on average, motorists are getting £93 added to their motor insurance premium. So, thanks to people with no neck ache, everyone else is paying for it. Nothing new, but galling all the same.

So what’s brought these new levels about? Well, once again, we can thank the no-win no-fee law firms who have been drumming up business on daytime TV and doing very well for themselves.

Aviva reckons that, despite the best efforts of the government  to sort out compensation culture and lower motor insurance costs, more needs to be done if there’s going to be any reduction in whiplash claims. According to their figures, whiplash is costing drivers as a whole, £2.5bn a year. Their research also showed that the UK is on course to bring in advance of 840,000 motor injury claims to the Claims Portal, which allows insurers to submit claims, for the year ending April 2015.

Last year, 80% of motor injury claims included whiplash. Compare that to France where it only makes up 3% of injury claims, and you can see that something’s awry.

What is the most stolen car in Britain?

March 12th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

burglar What is the most stolen car in Britain?What do you think the most stolen car in Britain is? No, we’re not talking about Fred who keeps leaving his car unlocked, despite the fact he’s seen his motor taken for 3,592 joyrides by scallies in the last two years.

We’re asking which model is stolen most.

Well, according to a new survey, it is the BMW X5. The figures show that, if you want to increase your chances of your motor being nicked, then buy a 4×4 as the top ten of most swiped vehicles is dominated by them. As for the BMW X5 – this is the sixth year in a row that is has topped the stolen table.

BMWs are always prone to catching the eye of burglars and the M3 sits in second place. Jumping into third place this year was another German car - the Mercedes C Class.

Andy Barrs, head of police liaison at Tracker (who compiled the results), said: “The 2014 figures illustrate that prestige models continue to catch the eye of thieves, but the average value of stolen cars we recovered was just £25,600, suggesting that older models of prestige cars could be just as attractive to criminals as newer models.”

“Interestingly, the number of vehicles that are being stolen without keys has steadily risen over the last few years, accounting for 43per cent in 2014. We believe this is down to the growth in car hacking where criminals target keyless vehicles by bypassing their security systems, using technology they’ve bought on the internet.”

“Indeed, experts have warned that as keyless security systems become commonplace in cars, the skills to bypass these will be widely practised by most criminals and in turn, lower value keyless vehicles will be equally at risk. We recommend that car owners invest in an added layer of security.”

Top 10 most stolen vehicles in 2014:

1. BMW X5
2. BMW M3
3. Mercedes C Class
4. Audi S4
5. BMW M5
6. BMW 3 Series
7. Range Rover Sport
8. Range Rover Vogue
9. Audi S3
10. Mercedes E Class