Hot weather motoring myths. What you can and can’t do to beat the heat

Hot weather

Legal or not? Find out whether it’s against the law to drive in flip flops (Picture iStock/JordanSimeonov)

Whether it’s hot or cold, extremes in temperature pose problems for drivers. And when the weather’s doing something we’re not used to, we need to know how to react. Here we bust seven popular hot weather motoring myths.

Myth 1: it’s illegal to drive in flip flops

Continue reading

Know your car jargon, learn to speak mechanic and don’t get ripped off

car jargon

They might both be talking English but does what he’s saying make sense? (Picture: iStock/photo_concepts)

Every industry has its own language; jargon that only the people working in the business understand. The car industry is no different. We’ve all had a mechanic take one look at our car, shake their head, suck air through their teeth and mutter something using words that might as well be in another language.

The result is people don’t trust garages. One study found that nearly half of drivers think technicians hiding behind confusing car jargon have ripped them off. According to property company Pentific, mechanics rank alongside politicians, car sales execs, journalists, estate agents and builders for being untrustworthy. But you need never be baffled again. Here we explain six pieces of commonly-used car jargon.

Big end

Continue reading

Small parking bays: does your car fit the space?

Parking bays

New cars can often be too big for standard size parking bays (Picture iStock/Chaiyaporn1144)

Anyone who’s ever struggled to park has the perfect excuse: more cars than ever are too big for the average UK parking space. According to a survey by consumer association Which?, more than 100 models of car sold within the last 10 years are bigger than the standard size for parking bays.

The result has led to some drivers being penalised for parking with part of their car outside a bay. And one organisation believes it has led to an increase in parking prangs that is costing the UK’s drivers billions of pounds. Here’s why the size of parking bays is a problem.

How big are standard UK parking bays?

Continue reading

Drivers at risk from poisonous pollution in cars, expert says

Poisonous pollution

All cars have cabin air filters but new research shows they may not be that effective (Picture iStock/ahirao_photo)

A new study reveals that millions of drivers could be being poisoned by the air in their car. The claims come after researchers from a company specialising in motoring pollution tested 11 popular cars.

We’ve already revealed the bacteria living in car air-con. Now a study has found that some new models do little to protect occupants from dirty air coming in via filters in the ventilation system. Nick Molden, whose company Emissions Analytics was behind the report, said: “Our research suggests many vehicles are a risk to their drivers’ health.”

Which cars did badly?

Continue reading

New litter bins tested in effort to cut down roadside rubbish

Litter bins

Every year Highways England says it spends £8 million clearing 200,000 sacks of litter from our main roads. As well as costing money, it says removing roadside rubbish puts workers’ lives at risk. That’s because contractors must stand close to speeding cars to pick up people’s junk.

In an effort to solve the problem, a pair of schemes involving new litter bins are being tested. But are they common sense or gimmicks? We investigate.

What are the drive-through litter bins?

Continue reading

Quiz: how well do you know your European traffic signs?

Drivers are confused by European road signs. Find out if you are one of them (Picture iStock/vaximilian)

Planning to drive abroad this summer? Millions of us are. But how well do you know your road signs? Although we’re one big European family (at the moment) traffic signs vary from country to country.

Travel giants EasyJet and Europcar commissioned a report that found European traffic signs baffled nearly four in five drivers (89 per cent). Although Euro rules mean many signs are similar, they can look different with Italy and Portugal having particularly confusing signs. How well do you know yours?

Continue reading

Expert advice: Running out of fuel – all you need to know

Running out of fuel

Running out of fuel at the roadside is a bad idea for many reasons. For a start it can put you in unnecessary danger, stranded beside speeding vehicles. And depending on the kind of car you drive and its age, it could cause mechanical complications when you do get fuel.

But that doesn’t stop hundreds of thousands running out of fuel every year. I read a survey a little while ago which said that 70,000 drivers a month run dry on the road. The problem seems to be that owners overestimate how far their car can travel when its tank is nearly empty. Here’s what you need to know.

How do you know your car is running dry?

Continue reading

Fears assisted driving systems make people think cars self-drive

Assisted driving systems

We’re still quite a way from being able to read a book while the car reliably drives itself, experts say (Picture iStock/metamotorworks)

Safety experts have warned drivers that car makers could be lulling them into a false sense of security. One of the country’s foremost car safety experts believes motor manufacturers are overusing the word ‘autonomous’. As a consequence, drivers are getting the wrong idea about their cars’ capabilities.

Thatcham Research, an independent automotive safety specialist, and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) want car firms to be clearer about what the assisted driving systems on their cars can actually do.

What is the problem?

Continue reading

New report reveals how well speed awareness courses work

Speed

Be on the wrong end of one of these you could end up on a speed awareness course (Picture iStock/south_agency)

Are you an experienced driver who thinks they’re unlikely to be caught speeding? Or have you already been nicked exceeding the speed limit and don’t know whether to choose a speed awareness course? The most exhaustive study yet on the courses offered to drivers caught speeding reveals the answers.

The report commissioned by the government looks at the increasingly popular National Speed Awareness Courses (NSAC). It assesses who is offered the courses, who accepts, and what impact the courses have on their driving. Read on to find out if you fit the profile for drivers who take speed awareness courses.

What are speed awareness courses?

Continue reading

Does it mean air-con or stop-start? Car owners confused by tech symbols

In-car technology

Confused? You might well be by car tech symbols (Picture iStock/FYMStudio)

The best labels should explain instantly what something is or does. Yet with a lot of in-car technology, drivers don’t know what the dashboard symbols mean. And in some cases they think the buttons operate a different function altogether.

That was the outcome of research conducted by online car seller Buyacar.co.uk. It asked 1000 drivers to identify six common dashboard symbols. Much of this kit now features as standard, even on mid-range family cars such as the Ford Focus. And some of it is important for road safety. Yet many of the symbols chosen by car makers aren’t descriptive enough for drivers, leaving them flummoxed. Do you know what the following six symbols signify?

Continue reading