Advice

Quiz: Do you know how to prepare your car for summer driving?

Quiz: Do you know how to prepare your car for summer driving?

Drivers often check their car during the poor weather that rolls in with the winter. But those everyday safety checks are just as relevant in the summer. And whether motorists are simply commuting to work or planning a great escape to France for the summer holiday season, these pointers could keep drivers and their family safe and ensure they stay on the right side of the law.

Naturally, the Green Flag blog has lots of helpful advice on how to look after a car. But to encourage more drivers to consider their car’s general condition, we thought it was time to test everyone’s car knowledge and common sense – with our summer driving quiz.

So flex those brain cells and give it a go. After all, it could help you have a smooth roadtrip this summer.

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Sat navs: why they don’t tell the truth and how to get the best from one

Sat navs

“Take the next left. Or is that right?” Sat navs aren’t always infallible

Sat navs are one of the wonders of modern motoring ‑ until they direct you to somewhere you don’t want to be. There are numerous stories of satellite navigation systems going bad. Drivers have been directed onto the middle of ski slopes, articulated lorries pointed down totally unsuitable country lanes and coach parties sent on 750-mile detours.

Although most of us have been led up the metaphorical garden path by a sat nav at one stage, they will become an even more vital part of modern life. From December 2017, drivers will have to follow follow a navigation system for at least part of their driving test.

Research by uSwitch suggests that around four in five of us rely on navigation systems over maps. And more than half (56 per cent) use the navigation unit as a handy reminder of the speed limit.

However, systems aren’t 100 per cent reliable. Research carried out by uSwitch found that around one in five drivers (17 per cent) had been given the wrong speed limit by their navigation system. So why are we being misled by our sat navs? And what can we do about it?

Why don’t sat navs tell the truth?

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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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Simple tips to prevent a flat battery in a car

Simple tips to prevent a flat battery in a car

On the face of it, a car battery is a boring piece of equipment that’s often hidden away and rarely given a moment’s thought. But drivers who don’t want to end up stranded at home or, worse still, at the roadside should pay more attention to their car’s battery, or it could go flat.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the battery is the heart of a car. If it goes flat, your car stops working. And flat batteries are the number one cause for technicians from Green Flag to be called out to rescue drivers.

The reasons car batteries are the number one culprit causing breakdowns are simple. Batteries don’t last forever; they typically have a working life of between five and seven years. And batteries are placed under increasing strain, as new cars offer a rising number of convenience features that can drain them with precious little warning.

Happily, you don’t have to be a trained technician to care for a battery. These are the simple steps any driver can follow to prolong the life of their car’s battery. Continue reading

Not-so glorious mud: what to do if your car is stuck in mud

What to do if your car is stuck in mud

Mud, mud, glorious mud, goes the song, but it’s not something many drivers will be singing about if they end up stuck in the stuff.

Unfortunately, a combination of British weather and occasional parking venues at weddings, outdoor events and even farm shops mean it’s not just intrepid explorers who find their cars come a cropper and end up bogged down in mud. Everyday drivers do too.

So without further delay – especially for those who are, literally, stuck in the mud as they read this – here are some tips that may help get things moving again. Continue reading

Buying used cars: how to spot a bad one

Buying a used car: how to spot a bad one

British drivers like to make their money go a long way, which is why most of us buy used cars. Around 7.2 million are sold every year, compared with 2.6 million new models. And because a new car can’t have been crashed, clocked or cloned, this means the majority of car buyers are vulnerable to unscrupulous sellers trying to pass off a bad used car as a good one.

There are all sorts of tricks of the trade that can be employed to pull the wool over the eyes of a used car buyer. The Green Flag blog has covered some of the important checks that drivers should carry out before parting with their cash for a car. But here we’re looking at less obvious tips that can help drivers spot a bad car – also known as a dud, or lemon.

To make sure your next car doesn’t leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth, read on.  Continue reading

How to check if your car needs manufacturer recall repairs

Recall repairs

Vehicle makers’ franchised dealers will carry out recall repairs free of charge (Picture © Mercedes)

A new service has been launched for drivers to check if their car needs to go in for manufacturer recall repairs. This work is called for when specific parts or systems prove faulty on a large number of similar cars. Recently, Vauxhall had to issue a second recall for its Zafira family car’s electrical components causing fires after the first fix proved ineffective. And in 2009, Toyota had to recall around nine million cars world wide, including 180,000 in Britain, because of a problem with unintended acceleration.

To enable drivers to check if their car has been subject to a recall, data company HPI has unveiled a new service to enable drivers to have someone carry out a recall check on their behalf. You simply enter the vehicle registration and HPI does the detective work for you, for £2.99. But it will only save you about 10 minutes and there are cheaper alternatives.

How to check for free if a car has been recalled

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Used car buying guide: cars that make you laugh out loud. Why the Mazda MX-5, Mini Cooper S and Toyota GT86 are the best £15,000 fun cars

 

£15,000 fun cars

The Mini Cooper S is one of the most fun used cars for £15,000 (Picture © Mini)

When was the last time you laughed out loud while driving? If the answer’s no, you’ll be needing one of our £15,000 fun cars.

Admit it, the fun has all but vanished from driving. Or has it? Don’t let torturous traffic, potholes the size of a swimming pool, and wearisome weather get you down. Change your car for one that will make you laugh out loud, and open your eyes and mind to how getting from A to B can be a pleasure rather than a chore.

As a starter for 10, here are three of the most fun used cars for £15000.   Continue reading