Expert advice: How to drive and stay safe on smart motorways

smart motorways

Variable speed limits are a vital element of smart motorways

Smart motorways are possibly one of the biggest shake ups to our motorway network since the M1 opened in 1959. They use variable speed limits to manage the flow of traffic. And in some cases, by opening the hard shoulder, the government has managed to increase traffic capacity without spending billions on building new roads. However, the smart motorways do take some getting used to. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a smart motorway?

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Used car buying guide: Luxury cars for £6000

Used car buying guide: Luxury cars for £6000

There’s one certainty about luxurious executive cars that cost a small fortune to buy new: they quickly lose a bonfire-size pile of money and become affordable for drivers from all walks of life.

So if you’ve always craved a car that pampers passengers with more creature comforts than a five-star hotel, the good news is you can spoil yourself without breaking the bank.

As ever, you must check a car’s history carefully and seek out the best cared-for example, rather than the biggest bargain. But do your homework, choose wisely and you could live like a Lord and drive in the lap of luxury.

Here are three executive cars that aren’t the usual suspects yet are worth going the extra mile for.
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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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Expert advice: How to drive in strong winds

Expert driving advice for stormy weather and high winds

As storm Doris approaches Britain, bringing snow and strong winds approaching 80mph, drivers face disruption and additional hazards on the roads. At the time of writing, the Met Office had issued an amber, weather warning for northern England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, which means people should prepare for the storm conditions, and a yellow warning for other parts of the UK.

This means there are likely to be 80mph gusts of winds, waves of up to 60ft impacting coastal areas, possible damage to trees and structures, interruption of power supplies and disruption to travel.

Such severe weather makes for challenging driving conditions, but short of staying at home, lighting a fire and pouring a cuppa, what practical steps can drivers take to stay safe when they need to get from A to B in strong winds?

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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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Beat the bogus buyers: how to safely sell a used car privately

Beat the bogus buyers: how to safely sell a used car privately

When selling a car, what driver doesn’t want to get the most money for their motor? That’s why each year nearly three million people choose to advertise their car for sale and handle the process themselves. They can cut out a dealer – or more significantly, the dealer’s margin – and secure the best price for their used car.

However, police and the largest online classified car retailers are warning drivers to beware of bogus buyers.

Car thieves are posing as legitimate used car buyers, as they seek easy prey. And drivers are being warned that if they don’t take sensible steps to protect their vehicle, few insurers will settle any subsequent claim against theft.

But what measures can drivers take to stay safe when selling a car? Here are tips from the experts; if you know anyone selling their car, pass them on. Continue reading

Car sales accelerate as drivers rush to beat the April road tax changes

New car sales accelerate in January as drivers rush to beat the April road tax changes

You’d be smiling too if you’d just avoided paying hundreds of pounds more in road tax

Drivers alarmed by the changes to VED road tax are believed to have fuelled a sudden surge in new car sales.

New road tax rules, which come into force this April, will make it much more expensive to tax many of Britain’s most popular cars.

During January, typically a quiet month of the year for new car sales, sales grew by 2.9 per cent. A total of 174,564 were snapped up, marking a 12-year high.

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How to pack your car for a self-drive ski holiday

How to pack your car for a self-drive ski holiday

As sure as you’re going to have at least one spectacular wipe-out on the ski slopes, packing the car for a self-drive ski holiday will have you muttering under your breath and wondering whether it would have been easier to fly and rent all your equipment at the ski resort.

But keep the faith. As many holidaymakers know, there’s a whiff of romance to a long distance road trip, and during the winter ski season the traffic at the ports and on the roads is mercifully light – unlike the queues at airports.

Most of the popular European winter resorts are less than 10 hours from the continental coast. And once you know how to properly pack your car with ski gear, you’ll find everything slots into place like a series of deftly executed parallel turns.

Here’s how to do it.

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