If you’re not sure about repairs, ask the technician to point them out to you. (Picture iStock/Sturti)
Has a garage recently suggested you need new brake fluid, an anti-freeze drain and refill or a fuel and oil flush? If so, how do you know whether it had to be done or was unnecessary work? Research by Green Flag has revealed that UK drivers spend £3.4billion every year on work by garages to their cars that doesn’t need doing. That’s around £90 per car per annum.
The problem stems from drivers not having the knowledge about their cars to question whether work recommended by garages is really required. More than a third of drivers (39 per cent) say they have no idea what’s checked when their car has its annual MOT roadworthiness check. But this is when garages often say jobs need doing.
Read on to discover which 10 jobs Green Flag believes should ring alarm bells if they’re suggested by a garage. And find handy hints on how to check whether the work really should be done.
“Your brake fluid needs changing”
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?
Getting the keys to the open road is an exciting moment. But changes are afoot (Picture iStock/Londoneye)
New drivers could face a strict probationary period after they’ve passed their test. Plans drawn up by the government will restrict what newly qualified drivers can do when they hit the road. The government wants to slash the disproportionately high number of accidents involving the 17-24 age group.
A Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) spokesperson explained: “Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) will establish a revised training and testing regime for car drivers and motorcyclists. It will introduce some post-test restrictions for drivers/riders to reduce the over-representation of new – mainly young – drivers/riders in fatal and serious road collisions.” Read on to find out more.
Are the changes definitely going ahead?
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
Driving through mud isn’t rocket science. As you’ll see from my advice on how to cope with mud when you’re in a car, much of it is common sense. And that’s how I came to spend a day sitting at the wheel of an Isuzu D-Max pick-up truck, waiting to rescue competitors at the inaugural Green Flag Mud & Motors.
The event took place at the dauntingly named Devil’s Pit near Luton in Bedfordshire. We had Love Island finalist Chris Hughes plus six competitors. The idea was our six entrants had to do a lap of the four-wheel drive course. During that lap they had to make various choices based around common sense that would ensure they didn’t get stuck. They would score points on the way according to the decisions they made and the winner would get £1000. Here are four things I learned from the day.
Chris Hughes was great fun
For some drivers, the excitement of a showroom-fresh motor is short lived. Car faults can frequently take the pleasure out of owning a new motor.
At least, that’s the view of members of consumer champion Which?. Nearly 45,000 owners of cars aged up to three-years old were asked to rate their motor for reliability. Yet despite many of the vehicles still having that new-car smell, a surprising number of problems reared their head.
Here are the five most common faults that occur in a new car’s first three years of driving. And we’ve added the symptoms to help you understand if your car might be suffering from one.
Fault 1: Exhaust or emission control system Continue reading
The government has confirmed learner drivers will be allowed on motorways from June this year. It’s one of the biggest single changes to the process of learning to drive since the driving test was introduced in 1935.
Overwhelming approval during a government consultation led to the green light. Learners will now be able to drive legally on motorways from June 4, 2018. The Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says this will allow unqualified drivers to get a broader experience of driving before taking their test. They will get practical training on joining, leaving and driving on motorways. They will also be able to practice driving at higher speeds.This will help them to understand how the theory they learn works in reality. Read on to find out more.
Will this apply to all learner drivers?
The ‘Beast from the East’. Snowpocalypse. Snowmageddon. Snowzilla. Call it what you will, the Siberian winter weather that has blasted across Europe is playing havoc with Britain’s roads and wider transport network.
On Tuesday, parts of of the UK awoke to find that up to six inches of snow had fallen. And blizzard-like conditions meant gritters and snow ploughs were having little effect. Quite simply, the snow was settling faster than they could clear it.
In Kent, multiple lanes of the M20 and M2 motorways had to be closed. The result saw thousands of drivers stranded on the gateways to east London and the M25.
Many train operators had to cancel services. Heathrow and Gatwick airports also cancelled flights. And thousands of school children were pleased to find they were being treated to a ‘snow day’.
Is there more snow on the way?
Putting the wrong type of fuel into a car is easy to do. Known as misfuelling, it tends to happen when drivers are in a hurry or distracted. You’re not in your usual motor, maybe it’s your partner’s, a colleague’s, or a hire or courtesy vehicle. Your mind might be on other things and out of habit you lift the petrol pump from its holder and start filling your diesel vehicle. Hopefully you’ll realise your mistake before you drive away…
The good new is, it’s virtually impossible to put diesel in a petrol-engined car. The neck of the petrol filler is tighter than a diesel pump nozzle. The bad news is the wide neck of a diesel fuel filler easily takes a petrol pump nozzle. The even worse news is that putting petrol into a diesel does far more harm than the other way around. Read on to find out all about misfuelling and how to prevent it.
Why is misfuelling so harmful?
Black ice is the most dangerous natural hazard drivers face on the road. Speak to anyone that’s encountered it and they will tell you it sends a shiver down their spine just thinking about it.
Many parts of Britain are currently experiencing harsh winter weather. However, with some sensible precautions, driving on black ice doesn’t have to be a white-knuckle ride.
We asked Paul Ripley to explain how drivers can safely tackle the often-invisible danger. One of Britain’s most respected advanced driving instructors, Ripley has coached police forces, vehicle engineers and thousands of drivers looking to improve their skills behind the wheel. Little wonder he has earned the nickname ‘God’s chauffeur’. These are his tips for driving on black ice.
What is black ice?