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.
How about giving your loved one something really special this Valentine’s Day? No, we’re not talking about a gift for your partner… We mean a present your trusty (hopefully) companion who’s by your side through thick and thin, come rain or shine.
The best gift you can possibly give a car is to have it serviced. But assuming you’ve already done that and a service isn’t due for a while, we’ve got some more ideas. Read on for six great gifts for your car. In some cases, they’ll pay it back for the sterling work it does on your behalf. Oh and some of them might just come in handy for you too.
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.
explanation of smart motorways
Smart motorways are split into three categories:
Dynamic hard shouldermotorways have a hard
shoulder on the left-hand side; however, it can be opened for traffic to ease
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).
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The Royals are rarely far from the headlines. And like the rest of us they use cars to get around. But despite their global fame, how much do you know about the Royal cars? Take our cunning quiz to find out how well you know the motoring habits of the most famous family in the world.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.