Nick Reid

Quiz: how well do drivers remember the big stories of 2017?

The sun might be setting on another year of motoring, but how much of it do you remember? In many respects it was quite a momentous 12 months. There have been changes to the MOT, driving test, road tax and mobile phone fines. Car makers have launched their own scrappage scheme. And accident-prone TV presenter Richard Hammond had – you guessed it – another headline-grabbing crash. But how much of the detail do you remember?

Take the Green Flag quiz 2017

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Expert advice: Dos and don’ts for stopping on motorway hard shoulders

Motorway hard shoulder

Don’t try to fix it yourself. Read our five dos and five don’ts for stopping on a motorway hard shoulder

A motorway hard shoulder is a dangerous place to spend time. Recent figures released by the Highways Agency revealed that between 2011 and 2016 there were 403 collisions on Britain’s motorway hard shoulders. Over that five-year period there were hundreds of injuries and, sadly, 38 deaths.

All our technicians receive comprehensive training on what to do and how to behave on the hard shoulder. While it’s their job to spend time at the side of motorways, it’s also something every driver could have to face at some point in their car-owning career. For that reason, I’ve compiled five dos and fives don’ts for the motorway hard shoulder.

DO take care entering the hard shoulder

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Expert advice: water inside your car? How to find where the leak is

leak

Water can make its way into a car in all sorts of ways. Here’s how to find a leak

One of the most frustrating elements of car ownership is when you discover a leak. You might be alerted to it by a stale musty smell. Or perhaps the carpet feels damp. Or you may notice that the car steams up of its own accord when there’s no one in it.

All are depressing because cars are supposed to be like a home from home; something that will keep you dry and warm whatever the weather. Finding water on the inside of a car is as unsettling as having a leak in your home. But leaks in cars are trickier to find than those in a building. Cars have lots of hidden pipe work and virtually every wall is an outside one. But it is possible and here’s how.

Where is the water gathering?

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Expert advice: Simple car care tips for young drivers leaving home

Car care tips

Going off to college can be a great adventure. Our tips will help ensure your car doesn’t spoil it

I’m sure there are some exceptions to every rule, but I’ve never yet met a student who’s rolling in money. And running a car that keeps on conking out can be like having a hole in your pocket. The key with cars is prevention rather than cure. Keeping on top of regular maintenance will prevent all manner of mechanical mishaps.

But more than that, a regular maintenance routine will actually help save you money. Tyres that are properly inflated don’t wear out as quickly and mean your motor won’t use as much fuel. And having the oil and filters changed when the maker suggests will guarantee your car performs as economically as possible. Read on to see my top car care tips.

Ready…

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Expert advice: what to do with an overheating car

Overheating

Overheating cars used to be a familiar sight, stopped at the road side, bonnet up, steam pouring from the engine. Thankfully it’s not so common now as cars in general have become more robust.

But overheating – when the engine’s water literally boils – does occur. Here we look at why, what you can do if your car does overheat, and offer some tips on how to prevent it.

Why do cars need water?

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Expert advice: all about air-conditioning and how to keep cool this summer

air-conditioning

You’ll quickly know if the air-con is working or not in hot weather

Air-conditioning in our cars is something we’re beginning to take for granted. But for many drivers the hot summer sun is going to expose a problem they didn’t know they had: their air-con isn’t up to the job.

The reason for this, and something not every car owner realises, is that air-conditioning needs regular servicing. And it’s not usually attended to when a car has its regular service.

Why does air-conditioning need servicing?

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Expert advice: premium or budget tyres – which should you go for?

Budget tyres

For most of us, whether we’re talking about premium or budget tyres, a tyre is simply, well, a tyre. They’re round, black, and have a patterned tread on them. But that’s not the full story. For a start, tyres are the only direct connection your car has with the road. That little area at the bottom of the tyre – called the contact patch – dictates how your car goes round corners, how quickly it’ll stop on a wet road and even how much fuel it uses.

A car engineer once told me that the tyre can contribute as much as 50 per cent towards the way a car behaves when you drive it. So tyres are vitally important, but it can be difficult to tell the difference between the various kinds. After all, the most expensive tyres in the world can look very similar to the cheapest, so how do you know which to buy?

Start with the label

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Expert advice: car window tinting. All you need to know

Car window tinting

He might think he looks cool but in the UK, heavily tinted front windows could get you in trouble with the police and your insurer

Tinted windows or privacy glass are becoming an increasingly popular option for new car buyers. But if you decide to have the windows of your existing car tinted, you have to be really careful. The law is strict about car window tinting. And rightly so because excessively shaded glass can reduce a driver’s ability to see in the dark. It can also prevent drivers confirming through eye contact that they’ve seen other road users and pedestrians.

Although the tint of car windows isn’t part of the MOT test, you could still end up breaking the law and invalidating your insurance. Here’s what you need to be aware of.

Which windows does it apply to?

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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

Revealed: Britain’s staycation hotspots where drivers are most likely to get a flat battery

Revealed: Britain's staycation hotspots where drivers are most likely to get a flat battery

As millions of British families enjoy a staycation during the first half term of 2017, experts at Green Flag are warning drivers to beware of being left stranded by a flat battery.

Whether staying at home or exploring a new part of the UK, this week will see huge numbers of drivers park their car and leave it until the half-term break comes to an end. But in the current wintery weather, many of those cars won’t start for the journey home because of a flat battery.

This Saturday (18 February) is National Battery Day. And Green Flag’s expert technicians expect to have to ride to the rescue of 2800 drivers whose car batteries have packed up.

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