Ford

Quiz: Do you know your superbrands? Who owns which car companies?

car companies

The days of the independent car companies are pretty much over. Motor makers are now superbrands so they can reap the enormous financial rewards of selling millions of models all over the globe. In a world where every car company seems to be owned by someone else, we look at some of the smaller firms and ask who owns them? Some of the questions are cunning. And there are a couple of teasers in there to make it a bit of a challenge. If you enjoy this, try some of our other mind-stretchers.

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Scrappage: all you need to know about car maker incentive schemes

scrappage

Vauxhall has been running its scrappage scheme since May (Picture © Vauxhall)

For drivers who might be considering swapping their old car for a new model, there are now multiple scrappage schemes to help. But, unlike last time when we had government-organised scrappage, these are car maker-inspired schemes. We explain what scrappage is, which manufacturers are currently doing it and look into these latest incentives.

What is scrappage?

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Pothole warning system: new virtual map to help drivers avoid car damage

Pothole warning system

Imagine if your car could warn you of a pothole like this. You could then avoid it

Think about how useful a pothole warning system in your car might be. We’ve all felt that sickening thump on hitting a pothole. The first thought is frequently whether the wheel is still attached to the car, let alone  how damaged. And with cold weather giving way to warmer temperatures, now is the time potholes begin to appear on winter-ravaged roads. But a new virtual map could make hitting potholes a thing of the past.

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Brilliant bangers: five of the best cheap and cheerful cars for £1000

£1000 used cars: VW Bora is a brilliant banger that’s a VW Golf in disguise

Avoid the obvious when searching for a cheap car (Picture © Volkswagen)

Brilliant bangers don’t have to come in packs of six, ready for the frying pan or barbeque: they can also be some of the best value motors money can buy.

Choosing a used car on a £1000 budget calls for patience, detective work and an ability to resist the lure of luxury names. You’ll also need to read between the lines and not be tempted by classic sales patter: “First to see will buy”; “One lady owner”; “Starts every time”.

A full service history, all accompanying paperwork, verified mileage – clocking can be common – are just your starting points. Check the length of the MOT, find out when the next service is due (and how much it’s likely to cost) and don’t be put off by cosmetic blemishes if the car is mechanically tip-top. After all, you’re buying it to get from A to B for the least amount of money, not cruise London’s Kings Road in head-turning style.

A final tip is to try to build a picture of how reliable the car is likely to be. A helpful tool is the Reliability Index, provided by Warranty Direct, a leading provider of mechanical insurance for cars. With all that in place, start hunting out any of these brilliant bangers…

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Choosing the best car: top 10 diesel and petrol cars with the lowest nitrogen oxide emissions

Nitrogen oxide emissions

It’s not easy being a driver who wants to do their bit and buy a car with the lowest nitrogen oxide emissions. These NOx are harmful pollutants emitted by cars that are estimated to contribute to over 30,000 premature deaths a year in the UK. Information about a car’s NOx levels has been hard to come by as, for obvious reasons, vehicle manufacturers tend to advertise cars’ fuel economy or performance rather than the nasty particulates pumped out of exhausts.

But now a new website allows drivers to see just how polluting Britain’s most popular makes and model of car are when used in normal, everyday driving conditions.

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How new glare-free headlamps will prevent drivers being dazzled

Glare-free headlamps

Ford’s new Glare-Free Highbeam system costs from £900 (Picture © Ford)

Glare-free headlamps which prevent drivers being dazzled by on-coming lights could be on a car near you in the very near future. In the 70s, the Manfred Mann hit Blinded by the Light could be heard coming from cars all over Britain. More recently, the song’s chorus has been adopted as a protest against super bright car lights.

Ever since the introduction of Xenon or High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights in the early ’90s on the BMW 7 Series, and Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights in cars such as the 2006 Audi R8, the brightness and intensity of headlamps has increased. Continue reading

Engine flush and fuel additives: Are they worth the money or not?

Engine flush

Regular oil and filter changes should be a routine part of car ownership

When it comes to finding out whether drivers should use engine flush products or fuel additives, the internet will send you round in circles. Some say the products, added to a car’s oil or fuel to clean the engine’s internal moving parts and boost performance, are worth their weight in motor-protecting gold. Others claim they’re not worth the time or the effort.

The basic theory behind both these kinds of products is that by running them through the engine, you’ll clean out any deposits left by the engine’s combustion process. Proving whether they work is easier said than done. Here’s what the experts say.
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Used car buying guide: Best family cars for the school run

dropping off a girl at school Green Flag

September means one thing for millions of parents across the country: back to school. But after the fun of the summer holidays it can be a rude awakening – especially if the family car is on its last legs.

Just as children outgrown their school uniform and shoes faster than parents can ask ‘Does that still fit you?’, so they can outgrow the family car. One minute your Ford Fiesta fitted them perfectly, the next they’ve got their knees wedged into the back of mum or dad’s seat and are grumbling that there’s no way to stream music or charge their smartphone.

As a parent of three who knows what it takes for a car to make light work of the school run, I’ve rounded up three of the best used and new cars for busy families: cars that are as practical as they are safe, and as affordable to run as they are good to drive. Continue reading