Car ownership

Balancing act: how to load a car roof rack safely

Balancing act: how to load a car roof rack safely

When drivers run out of space in their car, an increasingly popular practical solution is to fit a roof rack and storage box. These allow for a holiday’s worth of luggage to be carried without resorting to packing out the passenger seats. But failing to load road-mounted luggage correctly might lead to more than scattered clothes in the road. It could cause an accident.

According to IAM Roadsmart, a leading UK road safety charity, each year thousands of accidents are caused by debris falling from vehicles. Even if there aren’t any casualties caused by such an event, the charity points to the practical problem of delays. It claims that each incident leads to a 20-minute traffic jam on average.

To help keep drivers safe, the IAM’s driving experts share some simple tips for loading a roof rack safely.

Why use a roof rack or roof box?

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Expert advice: how to achieve better fuel economy from your car

Expert advice: how to achieve better fuel economy

Hyper milers: Paul Clifton (left) and Ian McKean with their diesel Ford Fiesta (Picture © Ford)

Failing to achieve the fuel economy that their car is claimed to return is one of the most common grumbles among drivers.

So what would you say if simple driving tips could improve your car’s economy? And in some cases it might even climb by a staggering 60 per cent compared with the manufacturer’s figures.

Most of us would raise an eyebrow and wonder if it’s really possible. But these aren’t the claims of sharp-suited sales execs; they’re perfectly practical tips from normal drivers that anyone can put into practice.

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Highway Code stopping distance needs urgent review, experts say

stopping distance

New research has revealed that the stopping distance prescribed by the government’s Highway Code is too short. They now believe it could take drivers half as much time again to come to a halt in an emergency. Road safety campaigners have called on the government to undertake an urgent review. They want the stopping distance section of the Highway Code revised.

How is stopping distance calculated?

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Smoking harms car resale value. How to spot a smoker’s motor

Smoking

Smoking isn’t just harmful to you and your passengers

We all know smoking is bad for us. But now there’s conclusive evidence that it’s harmful to our car’s health as well. Anyone who partakes in the evil weed will realise that smoking is an expensive hobby. But the impact on our pocket doesn’t stop with buying tobacco or cigarettes. It can keep on hurting us financially when we sell our cars too.

A new report by car valuation experts CAP HPI reveals that cars can lose as much as £2000 off their resale value if they’ve been smoked in.

Why does smoking in cars hit their value?

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Quiz: Do you know your superbrands? Who owns which car companies?

car companies

The days of the independent car companies are pretty much over. Motor makers are now superbrands so they can reap the enormous financial rewards of selling millions of models all over the globe. In a world where every car company seems to be owned by someone else, we look at some of the smaller firms and ask who owns them? Some of the questions are cunning. And there are a couple of teasers in there to make it a bit of a challenge. If you enjoy this, try some of our other mind-stretchers.

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Phone holders: mounts to let drivers use sat nav or make calls legally

Phone holders how to remain legal in a car when using sat nav or making calls

Smartphones are an important aid for drivers. The devices help us find our way from A to B, let us make important calls, and help long journeys pass faster by providing in-car entertainment.

But since 2003, it’s been illegal to handle a phone while driving. And in March 2017, tougher penalties were introduced for drivers caught in the act, with a £200 on-the-spot fine and six penalty points. The move was aimed at addressing a rise in the number of fatal road accidents in some parts of the UK.

However, we can still use the convenient features on our smartphones – if they’re fitted to an in-car phone holder. Here’s how to stay safe and on the right side of the law.

What is the law on using phones in-car?

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Expert advice: Simple car care tips for young drivers leaving home

Car care tips

Going off to college can be a great adventure. Our tips will help ensure your car doesn’t spoil it

I’m sure there are some exceptions to every rule, but I’ve never yet met a student who’s rolling in money. And running a car that keeps on conking out can be like having a hole in your pocket. The key with cars is prevention rather than cure. Keeping on top of regular maintenance will prevent all manner of mechanical mishaps.

But more than that, a regular maintenance routine will actually help save you money. Tyres that are properly inflated don’t wear out as quickly and mean your motor won’t use as much fuel. And having the oil and filters changed when the maker suggests will guarantee your car performs as economically as possible. Read on to see my top car care tips.

Ready…

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New driving test: what young drivers can expect

New driving test

In order to handle a car legally on public roads in the UK, new drivers have to pass a 40-minute driving test. But to ensure the test better prepares drivers for modern motoring, the biggest shake up in 20 years is happening in December 2017.

The driving test will still last the same amount of time and still be marked the same way. It will still cost £62 on weekdays, £75 for evenings, weekends and bank holidays. But from Monday December 4, the driving test in England, Scotland and Wales will face the most far-reaching changes since the addition of the theory test in 1996. Here are the four new features budding drivers will encounter.

Increased independent driving

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MOT: half of drivers don’t realise government check service is free

MOT test

The annual MOT is vital to ensure cars are roadworthy

When is your car’s MOT test due? If you don’t know the answer to that question, you’re not alone. A new poll has revealed that a quarter of drivers (27 per cent) don’t have a clue when their current MOT runs out.

Although the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) automatically sends drivers reminders about when their road tax is due, there is no such service for MOTs. Instead the government has an MOT check website. However, nearly half (47 per cent) are unaware of it according to the survey by Carbuyer.co.uk.

It’s easy to check when your MOT test is due

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Your driving licence: Make sure it’s up to date or risk a £1000 fine

Driving licence

When did you last look at your driving licence? And if you have looked at it recently, did you know that you have to update it every 10 years or risk a hefty fine?

You won’t be alone if you haven’t. According to a new survey, 4 per cent of the UK’s 37.5 million driving licence holders have the wrong address on their licences. That means there are 1.5m drivers whose licences have incorrect information on them. Another 2.2m driving licences have expired completely. If the Driver Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) could track them all down – unlikely as it doesn’t have a valid address for nearly half of them! – and impose the maximum fine, the government would be £3.7bn better off.

What’s the penalty?

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