Advice

Find out about new car tax rates that punish new diesel car buyers

Car tax rates

There’s every chance you aren’t aware that you may have to pay up to £520 more in car tax from this month. When Confused.com asked drivers, nine out of 10 (87 per cent) weren’t aware of the changes to car tax rates that hit new-car buyers from April 2018.

The latest Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is levied on new diesels as the government attempts to deter drivers from buying them. Read on to find out if you’ll be affected.

What are the changes from this month?

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Expert advice: what an engine warning light means and what to do

Engine warning light

This March we saw a significant increase in the number of customers ringing us with their engine warning light on. These faults were up by more than a third (39.3 per cent) compared with February.

Warning lights can be worrying and frustrating in equal measure. They’re a worry because they indicate trouble. And when things go wrong with cars, it usually costs money. They’re frustrating because while the lights reveal a fault, they don’t tell you exactly what the problem is. Here’s what you need to know.

What does an engine warning light signify?

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How they sit at the wheel gives 75 per cent of drivers back pain

Back pain

Back pain affects three quarters of drivers (Picture iStock/Chesiire Cat)

Three quarters of UK drivers suffer from back pain because of their car’s seating position. Researchers from car supermarket Motorpoint quizzed drivers about how they sit when behind the wheel. They discovered that many didn’t know what the proper seating angle was. And when shown different examples, a third thought the wrong seating position was correct. Read on to find out how to sit in your car.

How many drivers aren’t sitting comfortably

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Quiz: How many of these common car parts can you identify?

Quiz Car parts

Do you know your catalytic converter from air-con compressor and your spark plugs from your shock absorbers? You don’t have to be a mechanic to know the most basic car parts. But if you give a motor more than a cursory glance over, which components can you identify? Take our cunning quiz to find out how much you really know.

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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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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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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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Keep your driving licence at home to avoid identity theft, warns DVLA

Keep your driving licence at home to avoid identity theft, warns DVLA

Where do you keep your driving licence and is it safe? These are questions every driver should be asking after it was revealed that nearly one million licences were lost or stolen last year.

As if the hassle of applying and paying for a replacement licence wasn’t aggravation enough, security experts warn that lost or stolen licences can’t be cancelled. The result is crooks can continue to use another person’s driving licence as identification.

Victims of identify fraud can find that bank accounts have been opened in their name. Hire cars might have been stolen using their credentials. And new-car finance contracts could be applied for using stolen ID. To help drivers safeguard their licence and identity, here is the advice from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

What’s the scale of the problem?

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Expert advice: why cold weather can make your brakes jam on

Brakes

There are certain car faults you associate with cold weather and brake trouble probably isn’t one of them. But in the recent spell of extreme cold weather Green Flag saw a dramatic increase in call outs to do with braking systems.

The number of cars experiencing calliper problems increased by 52 per cent. And drivers having trouble with handbrake cables was up by 77 per cent. Read on to find out how brake faults happen and what you can do to rectify them.

Why do brakes jam on?

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Think like a pilot: drivers urged to carry out ‘pre-flight’ safety checks

 

It’s a funny advert with a serious point. A family boards its flight for a holiday. Over the tannoy the pilot explains he hasn’t bothered making any pre-flight safety checks to the plane. Cue panicked faces and unbuckled seat belts as everyone scrambles to leave.

The ad has been produced for Highways England. The organisation, responsible for the safety and management of the nation’s main roads, is trying to raise awareness among drivers to perform safety checks to their car before every journey.

The logic is sound. Driving is inherently more dangerous than flying. So why would you get into a car without knowing that crucial things like its lights, wipers and tyres are all working or safe?

The harsh reality of ignoring your car

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