Tomorrow’s world today: new technology we’ll see on our motors in 2020

new technology
Cars monitoring their driver for tiredness is becoming increasingly common (Picture Mazda)

The car industry is developing new technology faster than ever before. Here we investigate some of the great kit that will be fitted to new cars and should be available to buyers during 2020. It’s making cars ever safer and more user friendly. Read on for eight innovations that are on their way.

Upgrade your car after you’ve bought it

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Cars are ‘better value for money’ than they were

value for money
New MINI has much more kit that its 60-year old predecessor (Picture MINI)

If you’ve decided 2020 is the year you’ll upgrade your motor, you could be in for a nice surprise. On paper, cars might look scarily expensive. But they’re actually more attainable for most of us than they’ve ever been. And new research suggests they offer better value for money too.

When we buy a modern car, there’s a very good chance it’ll be safer, comfier, more reliable, better equipped, more environmentally friendly and use less fuel than its equivalent from previous decades.

Car maker Mini has found proof of how the real cost of cars hasn’t really increased over the last 60 years, despite dramatic improvements in technology.

The cost of cars in 1959

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Expert advice: how to get more trouble-free miles from your motor

trouble-free motoring
We can’t guarantee this won’t happen to you but follow our tips and it’ll be a lot less likely (Picture: iStock/Ljubaphoto)

How many trouble-free miles has your car covered? And perhaps more importantly how many more is it good for? Records by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) show there are more high mileage Skoda Octavias in the UK than any other vehicle. That’s currently 1950 UK-registered Octavias with a valid MOT that have done more than quarter of a million miles.

But how do you get that many trouble-free miles out of your car? It certainly doesn’t happen by accident. Here are my tips.

Have your car serviced regularly

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10 top car parking tips for hassle-free shopping all year round

car parking tips
Parking can be the hardest bit about shopping. Follow our top tips (Picture iStock/BrettCharlton)

Whether it’s Christmas shopping or enjoying the Boxing Day sales, Green Flag research shows the largest proportion of people (46 per cent) will drive. And that means having to park in shopping centres or on busy high streets. Here are our 10 car parking tips for ensuring a hassle-free shopping experience, whatever the time of year.

Research before you go

One of the most wasteful bits of parking is using fuel doing laps of a town centre looking for somewhere to stop. Research where you’re going to park before you go and have a list of parking places in order of convenience.

Where you park

Try to choose a car park that’s been approved by Parkmark for its security. If you’re worried that a car park isn’t safe, try to park near to the lifts or the exit where there are likely to be more people around.

car parking tips
Ideally you don’t want to be doing laps of a town centre or car park trying to find a space to use (Picture iStock/Bim)

Check parking times

Some councils suspend charges over the Christmas period to encourage shoppers. Others don’t. You don’t want to be caught out with a parking ticket at any time of year, least of all Xmas, so make sure you know where and when charges are enforced.

Have change

Not everyone’s comfortable using the new style parking meters where you pay using a smartphone app. If you’re not, make sure you have change in the car. If you do leave coins in the car, stash it somewhere it can’t be seen.

Don’t be rushed

Don’t allow yourself to be hassled by other drivers. When you spy a free parking spot, indicate early. If you’re parking on the street or in a crowded car park, you may well hold up the traffic behind. But it’s better to take a few seconds longer to park than to damage your car or someone else’s. Always remember, if anyone’s getting impatient with you, they too will hold up traffic when they park. And you will have been held up by other people parking. In this instance, what goes around really does come around.

Reverse in

When you parallel park, it’s much easier to reverse in than to go in forwards. Equally, in a car park, it’s usually easier and quicker to reverse into a bay than to go in forwards. The downside of this is boot access may not be as easy. But there are two big benefits.

It’s safer because when you leave it makes it much easier to spot hazards such as other cars or pedestrians. And if you’re in a car park, as most people park nose in, it’ll mean your driver’s door is adjacent to the next car’s driver’s side. If there are big cars in small bays, this means you can position your car to give yourself room to get out of the car knowing the driver of the car next to you will have room to get in too. And if you are tight to the car on your passenger side, their driver should still be able to get in.

car parking tips
Perhaps don’t park like this… (Picture iStock/simonkr)

Think about others

If everyone parked in the middle of the bay, how easy life would be. But as we’ve reported, parking bay size isn’t keeping up with the ever-expanding girth of our cars. When you’re stopping in a car park, try to position your car in the middle of the bay if you can. If you leave your car right on the white line, chances are, the person in the bay next to you will have to do the same thing. And there will come a point where bays next to walls or bollards become unusable.

When you’re parallel parking next to a kerb, look at how the cars in front and behind are parked. If you can, leave some space for the car in front’s owners to put things in their boot.

Keep valuables hidden

Remember: most car crime is the theft of things from vehicles. If you’ve bought some presents and you’re heading off somewhere else to do your shopping, put them in the boot. That should keep them away from prying eyes.

Equally, a fifth of people asked in our survey said they use their car to hide presents in. If this is you, make sure you hide them in the boot.

Remember where you’ve parked

It sounds obvious but in the rough and tumble of Christmas shopping, it can be easy to forget where you’ve left the car. Most smartphones have a function that will show you where your car is and guide you back there using a map. Alternatively, in a multi-storey car park, take a quick snap of the sign by the door; at least that way you’ll know which floor you’ve parked on.

Use your smartphone

Use your smartphone as your handy assistant once again. If you’ve parked on the street and have paid for a certain amount of time on the meter, set your phone’s alarm. It’s easy to get carried away buying presents and this will remind you to get back to your car before the parking attendant can get busy with the ticket.

General election 2019: who’s offering what to Britain’s drivers

general election 2019
More electric car charging points feature strongly in all manifestos (Picture iStock/PlargeDoctor)

It may not have escaped your notice that there’s a general election this week. In the UK there were 45,775,800 people eligible to vote in December 2018. Of those, latest Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) figures show 40,861,015 hold driving licences.

With 89 per cent of voters also drivers, what do the political parties have to offer them? We’ve combed the manifestos of the eight parties represented in the UK Parliament until the general election 2019 to see what they’re promising drivers. The parties are ranked in order of the number of seats they currently hold.

The Conservative Party

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Catalytic converter and premium car thefts help fuel spike in car crime

catalytic converter
If you know what you’re doing it’s easy to steal CATs from exhausts for their valuable metals (Picture iStock/BanksPhotos)

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?

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Expert advice: how to know if your car is suffering brake trouble

brake trouble
Sudden brake failure is unlikely but faulty brakes still cause crashes (Picture iStock/RapidEye)

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.

Brake trouble: Soft pedal

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10 of the best mobile phone apps for drivers

Mobile phone apps
There are some great free mobile navigation apps (Picture iStock/Svetikd)

Mobile phone apps are a way of life for many of us. And unsurprisingly there are loads out there aimed specifically at drivers. Some are better than others so we’ve chosen 10 that we think are among the best.

All the ones we’ve picked are available for either iPhone iOS or Google Android operating platforms. And all are free. That said, some do have upgrade options that you can pay for if you choose.

Do remember that it’s illegal to hold your mobile phone while you’re driving. You must control it via a Bluetooth headset or voice command, or while it’s safely located in a dashboard or windscreen mount. But we’d advise drivers to program destinations into navigation apps before they set off.

10 Great mobile phone apps

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