Car tax changes: three quarters of new car buyers to pay more

Road tax will rise for the majority of drivers, from April 2017

Next month, the government introduces new charges for car tax. It will mean most people buying a new, efficient car will have to pay more in tax than they would have done under outgoing rules.

The proposals were outlined by former chancellor George Osborne in 2015. They are aimed at earning more revenue for the treasury, after the outgoing rules rewarded clean, efficient cars with low or no road tax. This resulted in buyers voting with their wallets and snapping up models that pumped out low levels of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Now only cars with no exhaust emissions, which means all-electric cars, will be exempt from paying car tax. Continue reading

Car pictures: the best way to photograph the car you want to sell

Car pictures

Choose an uncluttered background, ideally with plenty of space around the car

You’ve decided to sell your car privately which means you need to take some car pictures. And car photography is easy, right? You just go outside, bang off a few snaps with the smartphone and it’s job done. You could take that approach. But selling for the best possible price is a competitive business, and the first thing anyone is going to see when they view your advert is the pictures so it pays to have good images that show the car in its best possible light.

Cars are actually very difficult things to photograph. But follow these tips and you’ll have a good chance of capturing images that make your motor stand out.

Before you reach for your camera…

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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

Quiz: Drivers’ lucky charms and superstitions

What do superstitious truck drivers do in America?

As St Patrick’s Day gets underway, countless revellers will hijack the religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland, and dress up in green-coloured outfits to keep themselves invisible to leprechauns that are said to like nothing more than pinching unsuspecting individuals.

One or two pints of Guinness are likely to be consumed, and pubs and bars around the world will be ringing out to the cries of “Luck of the Irish!”, an expression that dates back to the 19th century, when Irish miners enjoyed successes during America’s gold and silver rush.

To mark the occasion, we’ve compiled a quiz on some of the world’s strangest superstitions for drivers. 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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Choosing the best hands-free Bluetooth phone or sat nav kit

Choosing the best hands-free Bluetooth phone or sat nav kit

Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel with voice-activated smartphone kits

The law on mobile phone use in cars changed at the beginning of March. The penalty for drivers caught phoning or texting without being hands-free has doubled, to six points with a £200 fine. But there’s no need to be hit with a costly fine and hefty points. There’s plenty of aftermarket equipment that will keep drivers on the right side of the law and safe on the road.

Bluetooth integration for mobile phones first made its way into our cars in 2001. For years, it remained an option that drivers would have to pay for with their new car. These days, it’s widely available as standard.

For anyone driving an older car without Bluetooth, there is a wide range of products to choose from, some offering much more than just wireless connection to a phone.

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2017 Budget: What it means for drivers

2017 Budget What it means for drivers

Drivers have been given some good news, after Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced in the 2017 Budget that fuel duty will be frozen, despite widespread fears it would be raised to help balance the nation’s books.

It means that for the seventh year in a row, the duty on fuel remains frozen. This is estimated to save the average British driver £75 a year, and as much as £270 for van drivers.

At the same time, road tax – formally known as Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) – has been frozen for a further year, for private motorists and hauliers.

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What’s the best way of financing a new car purchase?

Financing a car

Smashing this little fella or taking a loan? What’s the best way to finance a car?

Recent rises in new car sales have been fuelled by drivers using finance to buy the car of their dreams. But with so many different types of finance, many motorists are unsure which is best for their needs, and which will prove the most affordable. If you’re one of the majority of car buyers that’s happy to pay a monthly sum for their motoring rather than owning a car outright, it pays to do your homework and compare products, just as you would compare cars. Here we look at the main ways of financing a new car through the pros and cons of each.

Buying outright

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