With travel abroad still uncertain, many people are staying in the UK. And what better way to enjoy the great British summer than with some scenic drives? Here we look at four possible routes you could take in England, Scotland and Wales. At their heart, all feature roads that are brilliant to drive on with awe-inspiring backdrops and fun activities for all the family.
Ever more cars use turbocharging on their engines. And that makes turbo trouble a problem some drivers might face for the first time. A turbo is a way of getting a smaller, more fuel-efficient engine to match the power of a larger capacity unit.
To work their magic, turbos have to work at high speeds, high temperatures and high pressures so they can be susceptible to failures. But if a turbo packs up, the engine won’t necessarily stop. Here I look at what a turbo is and the kinds of problems your turbo car might experience.
What is a turbo engine?Continue reading
The suspension on our cars is a very hard-working piece of kit. And it’s one we take for granted – until we experience suspension trouble. While we’re driving forwards, the suspension is constantly in motion too, coping with undulations in the road surface and other forces on the car.
It’s the suspension that keeps the car’s road wheels in touch with the ground when we go round corners. And it’s the suspension that helps to insulate the driver and passengers from the outside.
Unsurprisingly with something that’s so busy, cars can suffer suspension trouble. And the number of potholes on our roads seem to be making suspension trouble more likely. Read on to discover how to diagnose it.
Signs of suspension damageContinue reading
Research by Green Flag suggests that almost a third (32 per cent) of Britons are now planning to buy a new or used car to avoid exposure to COVID-19 on public transport.
It doesn’t matter whether a car is brand new or not, getting a new motor should be a joyful moment. After all, it’s got to be better than the old smoker it’s replacing. To ensure it is, follow the tips below on how to buy a used car.
Research is rarely wastedContinue reading
During lockdown, there’s every chance you won’t have been using your car as much as usual. Before driving it again regularly, it’s a good idea to check it and its fluids thoroughly.
All cars rely on fluids to operate properly. And it’s simple to check oil, coolant, brake fluid and screenwash. Follow my tips for doing so below.
When you’re checking a car’s fluids, it’s important that you park on a flat surface or you may think you haven’t got enough when you have, or more worryingly, vice versa.
How to check your oilContinue reading
Updated: 07 April
With lockdown measures easing across the country, you may be using your car for the first time in a while very soon.
If you’ve not been driving regularly during the COVID-19 lockdown, your car may need some attention before you hit the road. That’s because some car parts rely on regular use to stay in tip-top shape.
Follow these tips and there’s a much greater chance your car will start first time after a lockdown lay-up.
1. Look after your batteryContinue reading
Updated 03 November.
If you’re a Green Flag customer and want our latest advice on what to do if you break down, please visit our important updates page here.
The country is having a second COVID-19 lockdown from 5 November to 2 December. What does this mean for car owners? Read on to find out about MOTs, what’s happening with petrol stations, and what other motoring services are and aren’t available.
What if your car needs an MOT?Read more
The debate about smart motorways is currently raging, so I wanted to clarify Green Flag’s policy on them, and provide the latest information on what happens if you do break down on one.
A quick explanation of smart motorways
Smart motorways are split into three categories:
Dynamic hard shoulder motorways have a hard shoulder on the left-hand side; however, it can be opened for traffic to ease congestion.
Controlled motorways will have variable speed limits shown on screens above the lanes themselves.
All lane running motorways don’t have a hard shoulder, as every lane is used for traffic. You’ll find yellow-painted ‘emergency refuge areas’ every 600m to 1.5 miles. Any driver can use these areas if there is an emergency or they break down.
If you ever see a red X on the screens above the lane, that means the lane is closed. There may be a breakdown or people working on the roadside. Do not drive on this lane until told otherwise (you’ll usually see the red X replaced with a speed limit).
What to do if you break down, but can still drive your vehicle
If you know there’s a problem, but you’re still able to drive safely, try and leave the motorway and then contact us.
If this isn’t possible, then either use an emergency refuge area or move to the left-hand side of the motorway.
Use an emergency refuge area:
If you’re unable to leave the motorway, aim for one of the emergency refuge areas. As these areas can be up to 1.5 miles apart from each other, it’s worth noting when you last passed one so you can work out how close your next area is.
Every emergency refuge area has a phone that you can use to contact Highways England, or you can call them using your mobile on 0300 123 5000. This should always be your first step if you’re broken down in one of these areas.
When you’re in this area, make sure you leave room behind and in front of your vehicle to allow emergency vehicle access.
Move to the left-hand side of the motorway:
If an emergency refuge area is not available, but you can still drive, the next best thing is to move to the left-hand side of the motorway. Use a hard shoulder if it’s available, or get your vehicle as close to the left-hand verge, boundary or a slip-road as possible.
If it’s safe to, have everyone leave using the left-hand doors, and if there’s a safety barrier, get behind it. Move away from the vehicle and stay at a safe distance from the motorway.
Once safe, call Highways England on 0300 123 5000.
What to do if you break down on an active lane
What happens here depends on what lane you are in.
If you’re on the left-hand lane (lane one):
If you break down on the left-hand lane (also known as ‘lane one’), we will be able to come to your rescue. However, there are some steps you need to take to stay safe.
Where possible leave the vehicle by the left doors and follow the instructions above.
If this is not possible, and you can’t safely exit the vehicle, then do the following.
First, make sure your seatbelt is left on and that you’ve put on your hazards. Second, contact Highways England on 0300 123 5000. They will be able to close the lane (using the red X mentioned before) to help keep you safe.
We will come to your rescue, with the help of a fend-off vehicle. This vehicle will sit further back on the lane to help shield you from other vehicles. This fend-off vehicle will come at no extra charge to you.
We will never attempt fix a problem on the lane. We will tow your vehicle off the motorway to somewhere safe. This minimises the amount of disruption to other traffic and enables our technician to inspect your vehicle safely.
If you’re on lanes two, three or four:
Breakdowns on these lanes need to be dealt with by Highways England or the police, as all lanes will most likely have to be closed.
If you are unable to move to any of the areas previously mentioned, make sure you remain in your vehicle with your seatbelt and hazard lights on, then call the police immediately on 999.
If you’re unable to call, stay calm. Smart motorways have control centres that use cameras to monitor the motorways. They will see the problem and will work to get you help as soon as possible. However, always call the police immediately if you are able to.
The future of smart motorways
The smart motorway debate is an ongoing one.
At Green Flag, our priority is – and always will be – customer safety. That’s why we’re an active member of SURVIVE (Safer Use of Verges In Vehicular Emergencies). This is an industry body made up mainly of government agencies and breakdown companies.
I personally sit on this, and we regularly discuss all areas of the breakdown process from the industry’s perspective.
We’re currently debating how well Highways England, which manages the motorway network on behalf of the Government, can support us in trying to increase driver awareness about smart motorways.
In the meantime, I’d like to reassure all drivers that we’re doing all we can to help ensure smart motorways are as safe as possible for everyone.
Damon Jowett is Green Flag’s head of service delivery – rescue
Safety information from GOV.UK (c) Crown Copyright https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/
Drivers shouldn’t just be worried about having their car stolen. They’re actually more likely to have something pinched from their car. And that could include the catalytic converter.
Figures from London’s Metropolitan Police reveal that in the first six months of 2019, thefts of this component, which makes up a part of the exhaust system, were nearly double the same period in 2018. We investigate the problem and give tips on how you can avoid being a victim of car (and CAT) crime.
Why are catalytic converters stolen?Continue reading
Some recent research reveals faulty brakes is the most common vehicle defect to end up causing an accident. The study of official figures by brake maker Pagid showed that dodgy brakes caused 15 deaths in 2018. In the last five years it says 64 deaths have been caused by brake trouble.
We should all check our brakes regularly and if you have any doubts about the system working properly, stop driving and have your car seen to by a professional. Here are some of the main symptoms of faulty brakes, what they mean in real terms, and what you should do about them.