Car ownership

Why more drivers than ever own old cars – and how to maintain one

Why more drivers than ever own an old car - and how to maintain one

How old is your car? If it’s getting on for the best part of 10-years old, don’t feel any shame in not keeping up with the Joneses: the average age of motors on UK roads is rising.

The typical vehicle is now 8.1 years, the oldest since 2000. The figures for all cars and light vans licensed in 2017 suggest that more drivers and businesses are holding on to their vehicle to help make ends meet.

Analysis by The Times shows that over the past two decades, the proportion of the very oldest cars on Britain’s roads – those more than 13-years old – has almost tripled in the last two decades.

So what’s causing more drivers to keep their car for longer?

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How to report an intermittent fault on your car to a garage

Intermittent fault

Sometimes technicians need to go to extreme lengths to find a fault in a car (Picture iStock/Boschettophotopgraphy

The older cars get the more likely they are to develop faults. And the worst of those is the intermittent fault; a noise or problem that’s there one minute, gone the next. The temptation for many of us is simply to tell the mechanic there’s an occasional rattling noise at the front and let them get on with it.

That’s fine but you wouldn’t go to the doctor, say you’ve got a pain in your leg and expect them to instantly diagnose the correct malady. And unlike most doctors, mechanics charge by the hour, so leaving them to find out what’s wrong will cost you.

But even the least mechanical people can make the technician’s life easier. And by doing so, they may even save themselves some money. Here’s how you should go about reporting an intermittent fault with your car to a garage.

Before you contact the garage

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Expert advice: check your car’s tool kit

Tool kit

Even a basic tool kit can prevent you being stranded roadside. A working mobile phone is an important part of it (Picture: iStock/South_agency)

This might sound very old school but I think carrying a basic tool kit can be one of the most sensible things a driver does. I’m not suggesting here that you go out and buy a full socket set. And I’m not advocating dismantling a conked out car at the roadside. But a simple tool kit might make the difference between a car being repaired roadside and it being recovered to a garage.

Of course, all cars come with a rudimentary tool kit. But buying and checking a used car can be stressful enough. We often don’t have time to find out what tools it does and doesn’t have. Frequently handy tools get lost during a car’s life time and you only find out they’re not there when you need them. Here’s what I suggest you have in your tool kit.

Jack and wheel brace

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SUVs are the cars that drivers love to hate and hate to love

SUVs

Some car firms, such as Kia, have an entire range of SUVs (Picture Kia Motors)

On the face of it, drivers might say they hate SUVs. But actually, many of us secretly want to own one. More than half of people (54 per cent) claim SUV or Sport Utility Vehicle drivers are the most annoying on the road.

Despite this, chunky, high-riding off-road style motors – sometimes called crossovers or dual-purpose cars – have a certain appeal. More than a third (35 per cent) of drivers are attracted by the thought of owning one. And sales of new SUVs have bucked the market trend by exceeding record-breaking 2017 levels so far in 2018.

Why drivers DON’T like SUVs?

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Child car seat laws are causing confusion, parents reveal

2018 child car seat laws are cause for confusion, say parents

Do you drive with children in your car? Are you fully aware of the laws around using the appropriate child seat? If your knowledge is a little sketchy, the good and bad news is you’re not alone. Almost nine in 10 parents admit that they are baffled by new booster seat rules and regulations.

Introduced last February, the updated rules were meant to provide clarity for mums, dads and carers when it came to securing a child safely in a car. Yet safety experts say that far from helping clarify the use of child seats, the rules have caused confusion.

Worryingly, almost one in five drivers with children under the age of 12 admit they rarely or never sit them in a car seat. So what are the guidelines that drivers should be following?

What the survey found

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New laws mean drivers to be fined for dropping litter from cars

Dropping litter

One in seven drivers admits to dropping litter (iStock/Art of Photo)

It isn’t just driving that can put you in danger of a hefty fine. New laws have come into force meaning car owners can get bigger fines for dropping litter than speeding. And if more new rules get the green light, drivers who park partially on the pavement could face £70 fines. Read on to find out more.

New fines for dropping litter

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Pothole update: report claims roads are falling apart faster than ever

Pothole update

Tyre swallowing potholes are a fact of motoring life (Picture istock/Tacojim)

When did you last see a pothole? If you’ve been on the road the chances are it was pretty recently. And an annual report into the state of the nation’s roads backs that up, concluding that Britain’s road are deteriorating faster than ever.

The study by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) has now been carried out for 23 years. Called the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey, it canvasses opinion from local authorities the length and breadth of England and Wales. And its results are a concern for all drivers.

The AIA’s chairman Rick Green revealed: “It’s unfathomable to think that you could drive almost around the world on the length of local authority roads that could fail if they are not fixed in the next 12 months – but that is the reality.” Read on to find out more.

How bad are the UK’s roads?

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Spot the warning signs of the five most common faults in new cars

How to spot the warning signs of the five most common faults in new cars

For some drivers, the excitement of a showroom-fresh motor is short lived. Car faults can frequently take the pleasure out of owning a new motor.

At least, that’s the view of members of consumer champion Which?. Nearly 45,000 owners of cars aged up to three-years old were asked to rate their motor for reliability. Yet despite many of the vehicles still having that new-car smell, a surprising number of problems reared their head.

Here are the five most common faults that occur in a new car’s first three years of driving. And we’ve added the symptoms to help you understand if your car might be suffering from one.

Fault 1: Exhaust or emission control system Continue reading

Expert advice: how to drive through thick mud without getting stuck

One of the problems contestants for Mud & Motors are going to have is – as the event’s name suggests ‑ driving through mud. Manoeuvring any vehicle other than a tank over a slippery surface is easier said than done.

As a regional operations manager, I have some experience of driving in mud. And I’ll be working with the contestants on Mud & Motors to help them out. Here are my tips for driving in mud.

Rather than just a field with greasy grass, when I say mud I’m thinking more along the lines of muddy tracks here. It’ll have been driven on before, possibly by heavy vehicles such as tractors. Their weight and the tread of their tyres will have broken down the composition of the soil and turned it into mud. There will be puddles, ruts and thick, gloopy mud. Lots of it. Here’s how you get through it.

Your car driving through mud

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Cost of motoring: how much will you spend over a lifetime at the wheel?

Cost of motoring

We all know running a car is an expensive business. But exactly how costly is it? Over an average driver’s lifetime, do you think motoring will cost tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of pounds?

Now we’ve got some answers. Two lots of research have come up with figures. While neither agrees with the other, both concur: running a car is more costly than many of us think. According to finance company MyJar, people will start forking out for motoring aged 17 and go on until they’re 80. MoneySuperMarket meanwhile looks at the cost over a car’s lifetime. Read on to find out what they think you’ll spend.

How much is the cost of motoring over a lifetime?

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