Nick Reid

Telematics: How new Alert Me is helping to make cars clever

Green Flag Alert Me

Breaking down could become a thing of the past with telematics

Technology that only a few years ago would have seemed like a dream is now coming to a car near you. The latest can predict if your car is going to break down. It’s estimated it could save British drivers 38,000 hours waiting for roadside rescue with their conked-out car.

Green Flag Alert Me plugs into the car’s On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) port. From there, the matchbox-sized device monitors the car’s battery and electronic brain. This enables it to record changes such as the battery failing to hold its charge before the driver would ordinarily notice them. If it does see changes, Alert Me reports it to Green Flag over the mobile phone network. Green Flag then notifies the driver via a smartphone app or text message. Continue reading

Expert advice: How to make your car last forever

Car last forever

If the last owner had looked after it a bit better, this might still be running…

It would be great if we could make a car last forever like Irvin Gordon did. The American driver and Guinness World Records holder, runs a Volvo P1800S coupe that has clocked up more than three million miles and counting over the last 50 years. That might be pushing it a bit for most of us. But there are plenty of things we can do to keep cars healthy for as long as possible.

Whether your car is brand new or more than 10 years old, there are simple steps to keep it running smoothly: from being gentle with an engine as it warms up, to treating it to a regular wash. These are my tricks of the trade when it comes to making a car go the distance.

Make a car last forever: regular maintenance

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Expert advice: choosing engine oil for your car

Choosing engine oil

Your car needs engine oil. You need to choose the right kind

Cars are now so sophisticated that choosing engine oil has never been so important. Some require different oils to others. Get this wrong over a period of time and you could cause irreparable damage to your motor. On top of that, the engine oil you choose can make a difference to fuel economy and how long your car can go between services without performance deteriorating or vital components getting damaged.

On the upside, advances in engine oil technology mean that modern engines will cover ever greater mileages in their life time. Here’s my guide to choosing engine oil that will achieve that. Continue reading

Avoid buying a flood-damaged car

Flood-damaged car

This might look like a watery write-off but it could be dried out and sold on

Thousands of used car buyers could be at risk of buying a flood-damaged car. The insurance industry is currently dealing with 2800 motor claims resulting from December’s Storm Desmond alone, according to the Association of British Insurers. The Christmas and New Year flooding in the north of England and Scotland is likely to increase that number dramatically.

Green Flag head of rescue and motor claims response, Neil Wilson, believes one in seven cars rescued by the company in flooded parts of the country will be an insurance write-off. That means six out of seven cars from flooded areas – thousands – will be put back on the road. And some will undoubtedly be sold as used cars. Here are some simple checks to ensure you don’t buy a flood-damaged car.

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Half a million breakdowns driving home for Xmas – but you can avoid it

Driving home for Xmas

This is what the Christmas break will mean for more than half a million drivers

Driving home for Xmas with the family is waning in popularity. But of the millions of car owners who do make the trip home for Christmas, 510,000 will be delayed on the way by a conked out car. According to Green Flag research, between December 24th and 29th, there will be a breakdown every six seconds.

Throughout December and January, Green Flag warns there will be 900,000 breakdowns. Despite that, only 23 per cent of drivers now carry a tool kit in their car. However, 41 per cent do have a first aid kit; 44 per cent will be carrying water and 74 per cent of British drivers will be armed with their trusty ice scraper.

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Expert advice: How to keep your car motoring with our winter checks

Winter checks

Hopefully we won’t see too much of this. But it’s good to be prepared…


To coincide with 2015’s Road Safety Week, it seems sensible for us to carry out some simple checks to ensure our cars are up to everything that winter weather can throw at it. Of course, at Green Flag we know from experience that there are some things no driver can predict. But there are plenty that we can. To help less experienced or less confident drivers be prepared for bad winter weather, I’ve compiled these six simple checks that take just couple of minutes to carry out and can minimise the chances of a car breaking down in harsh winter weather.

Check your tyres

Even if this winter is a relatively mild one, as it has been so far, it’s likely to be pretty Continue reading

Expert advice: Do-it-yourself checks to prepare your car to pass an MOT test

How to carry out DIY checks on your car before an MOT

Even without a ramp at home you can easily carry out DIY MOT checks

 

Carrying out DIY checks on your car before you take it for its actual MOT inspection is surprisingly easy to do and could save you money. Passing the test is a legal requirement for all cars more than three years old. But for many of us, the MOT is a bit like having the outside of your home painted; we know we need to do it but we don’t look forward to it because it can bring to light remedial work that will hit the wallet hard.

According to the Driver Vehicle Services Agency (DVSA), which oversees the annual MOT test, around 40 per cent of cars fail. Yet many flunk their MOT for reasons that even a novice mechanic could spot. Follow my tips for your own basic DIY MOT test, and you could stop your car failing on the simplest points.
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Expert advice: How to change your car’s windscreen wipers

Windscreen wipers

Windscreen wipers have come on a bit since these. They’re more efficient now as well as being simple to change

Windscreen wipers are vital because good visibility is one of the most important elements of driving. If you can’t see a hazard, you can’t avoid it. Like tyres, oil and filters, windscreen wipers wear out over time. The good news is it can be fairly straightforward to change them. Your car’s handbook is a useful ally here. But if you struggle, a wiper is far too important to take risks with so ask a friend who knows what they’re doing, or your local garage to help.  Continue reading

Expert advice: the importance of car servicing

Importance of car servicing

Having your car serviced regularly will ensure it runs reliably (Picture © IMI)

The importance of car servicing should never be underestimated. There have been various surveys suggesting that at the height of the recession, increasing numbers of drivers were trying to save money by cutting back on scheduled car maintenance. In Green Flag’s experience at the roadside, it’s evident that many of the breakdowns our technicians attend are the result of cars not being properly looked after. Here’s all you need to know about the importance of sticking to your car manufacturer’s recommended servicing intervals.  Continue reading

i-sapping is a threat to our cars’ health

i-sapping

Using a sat nav app such as Tom Tom on tablets can be a marriage saver (Picture © Fiat)

You may not have heard the term ‘i-sapping’ before, but the majority of drivers suffer from it. I-sapping is when mobile electronic devices are plugged into a car and charged from the vehicle’s battery. However, devices such as satellite navigation systems, smart phones and tablets can leave batteries drained if the cells aren’t in tip top shape.  Continue reading