Car ownership

Shifting up a gear: rising cost of motoring hits drivers

Shifting up a gear: rising cost of motoring hits drivers

If you’re convinced that the cost of driving has been creeping up, you’re not imagining it. At least that’s the conclusion of new research, which says that even owners of the cheapest cars have seen everyday motoring costs creep up by 10 per cent, over the past year.

Research carried out by CAP HPI, the vehicle valuation specialist, looked at the running costs associated with owning a car, rather than the purchase price of the car.

The price of scheduled servicing and general wear-and-tear maintenance were calculated, as were bills for fuel (petrol or diesel), road tax and the drop in value of the car – known as depreciation. Once combined, they were used to produce a pence-per-mile figure.

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Expert advice: what the digits and letters on your tyre sides mean

Tyre sides

If your car suffers one of these you’ll need the characters in the picture below

 

You may never have looked at the writing on your tyre sides. And if you have, there’s every chance you’ll think they’ve been written in another language. But strange as these codes may look, they’re important because if you have a puncture, or your tyres wear out, they give you all the information you need to choose a replacement.

If you look at the side of a tyre, you’ll see characters like 205/55 R16. This is the most basic information you’ll need to tell a retailer if you’re hunting around for new tyres. But other details are vital too. You must choose a load index that is right for your car. Use tyres with the wrong one and you could invalidate your insurance.

The speed rating is important as well. If you have the wrong speed rating and you suffer a tyre failure, you may not be covered by your insurer. You’ll be able to find the correct load index and speed rating for your car in its user manual. Here’s my guide to what the most important characters on your car’s tyres mean. Continue reading

Car economy: new car maker website helps drivers find true mpg

car economy

Testing, testing… Drivers can now find real-life economy stats for more than 1000 versions of DS, Citroen and Peugeot models

A car’s fuel economy, makers’ ‘official’ figures and the inability of drivers in the real world to match them is a regular bugbear for many people. But one car maker is hoping to buck this trend and help car buyers choose a truly economical car. A new website lets drivers input details of their vehicle and driving habits. It then gives an estimate of actual fuel consumption. And the idea could catch on with Volkswagen bosses claiming the company is looking into offering a similar tool for its cars.

PSA Group, the French company behind Peugeot, Citroen, premium brand DS Automobiles, and the new owner of Vauxhall, has launched a web tool. By joining forces with independent consultants Transport & Environment and pressure group France Nature Environnement it has come up with a series of tests to measure fuel consumption more accurately. The measurements on 58 of PSA Group’s models make it possible to estimate the real-world consumption of more than 1000 versions of car.

How does it work?

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Spare parts: what is the difference between genuine, OEM, aftermarket and used?

Spare parts

Spare parts but are they genuine, replacement or aftermarket?

Your car needs some repairs doing to it and that means spare parts. But when your garage asks if you want OE, OEM, pattern or reconditioned, which should you go for? The jargon used in the motor industry can appear to be impenetrable. And that means you could be paying good money for something that won’t last, or paying for quality parts your car doesn’t need. Here we explain what the different sorts of parts are and what you should be watching out for.

Genuine spare parts

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Pothole warning system: new virtual map to help drivers avoid car damage

Pothole warning system

Imagine if your car could warn you of a pothole like this. You could then avoid it

Think about how useful a pothole warning system in your car might be. We’ve all felt that sickening thump on hitting a pothole. The first thought is frequently whether the wheel is still attached to the car, let alone  how damaged. And with cold weather giving way to warmer temperatures, now is the time potholes begin to appear on winter-ravaged roads. But a new virtual map could make hitting potholes a thing of the past.

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How to shop around for cheap car servicing

Shop around

As with insurance, if you shop around for where you have your car serviced you’ll get the best price. It’s the simple law of supply and demand that not all businesses will charge the same for a job. A garage that is snowed under with work is likely to quote more than one where tumbleweed is blowing through the service bay. Equally, the spotless franchised dealership can cost more than twice the labour rate of the local garage that specialises in your car. The question is: how do you find the best garage for your requirements? Follow our guide to find out.

Main dealer or independent?

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Rotating tyres: is it a good idea and how do you go about doing it

Rotating tyres

Rotating tyres can be time consuming and some experts advise against it

Rotating tyres to get the maximum wear from them has been something canny drivers have been doing for years. But there is now some confusion over whether switching your car’s tyres around is the way to go or not.

Look up rotating tyres via the websites of the major tyre makers and they will give you information on how to do it. So will suppliers such as Blackcircles.com. However, Kwik Fit says it does not recommend tyre rotation. Those that do favour switching suggest it should be done every 6000 miles. Direct Line Group’s head of automotive technology, Nick Reid explained: “This is one of those jobs that really is down to personal preference.”

Here we look at why rotating tyres may not be such a good idea, how it can eke more life out of your rubber, which tyres you move where and how you go about it.

Rotating tyres is a bad idea

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How to prevent whiplash: a guide to adjusting car seat head restraints

How to prevent whiplash: a guide to adjusting car seat head restraints

Most drivers are well aware of the word ‘whiplash’ even if they’ve never experienced the physical discomfort it can bring. That’s because Britain has been called the ‘whiplash capital of Europe’, with 80 per cent of personal injury claims following a car crash involving whiplash.

The government says one whiplash claim is paid out every 60 seconds, and has launched a consultation as it attempts to tackle the problem. Things have got so bad, jokes have been made about the Britain’s drivers having the weakest necks in the world. But it’s no laughing matter.

The majority of whiplash claims are believed to be bogus claims, estimated to add an extra £1bn to UK drivers’ insurance bills – or £93 for every premium.

And according to Matthew Avery, an expert in car safety, only 10 per cent of claims are from people who have suffered serious injury with long-term side effects.

So how can drivers ensure they aren’t one of the few who suffer serious injury from whiplash?

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Speeding drivers: new law will mean bigger fines for drivers who earn more

Speeding drivers

The more you earn, the more money you’ll hand over if you get caught speeding

Speeding drivers will soon face much higher fines and stricter penalties. On April 24 2017, new guidelines set by the Sentencing Council will come into effect in the UK. Those caught driving at more than 101mph in a 70mph speed limit could be disqualified for up to 56 days and get a fine of between 125 and 175 per cent of their relevant weekly income.

Although the motorway fines have taken the headlines, drivers are most likely to be affected by the new fines and penalties on slower roads. If you are caught at between 31 and 40mph in a 30mph zone you will get three penalty points and a fine of between 25 and 75 per cent of your weekly income. Currently many drivers get away without points and a fine by paying for a speed awareness course.

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VIN plates: what they mean, why they’re vital for all car owners

VIN

Rather like humans have finger prints, cars have VIN plates. These Vehicle Identification Numbers should be unique to every car. The first thing to know about this number is that it’s actually not a number at all. It’s a seemingly random collection of digits and capital letters. But as we’ll see, these characters aren’t random at all. And the VIN is actually the most important means we have of registering the true identity of a car. Here’s everything you need to know about your car’s finger print.

Where do you find the VIN plate?

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