Even a basic tool kit can prevent you being stranded roadside. A working mobile phone is an important part of it (Picture: iStock/South_agency)
This might sound very old school but I think carrying a basic tool kit can be one of the most sensible things a driver does. I’m not suggesting here that you go out and buy a full socket set. And I’m not advocating dismantling a conked out car at the roadside. But a simple tool kit might make the difference between a car being repaired roadside and it being recovered to a garage.
Of course, all cars come with a rudimentary tool kit. But buying and checking a used car can be stressful enough. We often don’t have time to find out what tools it does and doesn’t have. Frequently handy tools get lost during a car’s life time and you only find out they’re not there when you need them. Here’s what I suggest you have in your tool kit.
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.
One of the problems contestants for Mud & Motors are going to have is – as the event’s name suggests ‑ driving through mud. Manoeuvring any vehicle other than a tank over a slippery surface is easier said than done.
As a regional operations manager, I have some experience of driving in mud. And I’ll be working with the contestants on Mud & Motors to help them out. Here are my tips for driving in mud.
Rather than just a field with greasy grass, when I say mud I’m thinking more along the lines of muddy tracks here. It’ll have been driven on before, possibly by heavy vehicles such as tractors. Their weight and the tread of their tyres will have broken down the composition of the soil and turned it into mud. There will be puddles, ruts and thick, gloopy mud. Lots of it. Here’s how you get through it.
Do you regularly check your car’s tyre pressures? Maybe you seek out a shady spot in a car park when the temperature is soaring? Or perhaps you have a dedicated key hook or drawer in the kitchen for the car keys?
If any of these rings true, then it’s likely you have a healthy helping of common sense. The good news is drivers who have common sense are more likely to find love and enjoy successful relationships.
According to new research conducted for Green Flag – which is well known for its common-sense prices and outstanding breakdown service – 79 per cent of people value common sense more than having a high IQ.
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.
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. Continue reading →
Taking the Scenic Route is a celebration of going places and doing things by car that you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to get to. Such as a Scottish Highland Safari. As actor and TV presenter Joe Swash discovered, driving off-road takes a bit of getting used to.
Along with Highland Safaris, we’re offering you and three friends the chance to have your own 4×4 driver for the day. To win, you simply follow @GreenFlagUK and retweet our ‘RT to win’ tweet. Whoever is successful in the prize draw will have the adventure of a lifetime by Land Rover across some of the most breathtakingly beautiful and inhospitable terrain in the country.
The experience will start with fully paid-for travel and transfers to the Fisher’s Hotel in Pitlochry. Following an overnight stay in the stylish and sumptuous hotel and a hearty breakfast, you’ll transfer to the Highland Safaris HQ in Aberfeldy, Perthshire. There you and your three guests will enjoy a full day of 4×4 driving with your very own kilted off-road driving expert. Continue reading →
Joe Swash has been on a road trip of a lifetime, touring the Scottish Highlands in a vintage Land Rover as part of Green Flag’s Scenic Route series of inspiring drives. But when a car is almost as old as its driver, things will inevitably go wrong under the bonnet.
When cars breakdown, getting to the root of the cause is half the battle to swiftly getting it back on the road. That’s why every Green Flag breakdown van carries hundreds of tools, each with a very specific purpose. It means if a driver’s motor splutters to a halt – as Joe’s Land Rover did several times – the Green Flag technician should be able to fix the problem at the roadside.
The tools vary from the simple to the highly complex, costing from pence to hundreds of pounds. And several of them came to the rescue of Joe Swash, although he wasn’t too sure what many of them were for.
Take our quick quiz and see if you can guess the Green Flag tools and identify more of them than Joe could…
Joe Swash is the first to admit he would benefit from a new driver course. The popular actor and television presenter may have taken the Scenic Route round Scotland but he only passed his driving test in July 2015. And the 34-year old Londoner says he would benefit from further lessons at the wheel.
So for Joe and the thousands of other newly qualified drivers, what courses are available if they want to brush up on their skills at the wheel and clock up more experience under professional guidance?
It’s not just an issue for those drivers who have recently passed their test. Anyone who’s been driving for some time can feel rusty and require a confidence boost in certain situations. If that sounds familiar, the good news is there are all sorts of driving courses across Britain that will put you on the right road. Here are four worth investigating:
Courses for newly qualified drivers: Pass Plus, any driving instructor
Fans will tell you buying old Land Rovers can be a fun and rewarding experience. Old versions of the model we now know as the Defender were the original ‘go anywhere’ vehicle. Ever since its introduction in 1948, the Land Rover is one of the few cars that can truly lay claim to having a cult following. It’s no surprise then that Joe Swash picked a Land Rover for his epic road trip for Green Flag’s Scenic Route series.
Joe’s is a 1985 Land Rover 90 Soft Top, the short wheelbase version fitted with what appears to be a poorly erected tent covering the back seats and load bay. You need a sense of adventure to own and drive a car like Joe’s. It’s also ideal to have a little mechanical knowledge or, at the least, the enthusiasm to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in, learning to fix faults as they arise. And they will – as any Land Rover owner will tell you. Continue reading →