Strange Tyre Advice From Michelin

Friday, 2. June 2017

Hi, Graham Hill here, thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you learn a lot and as a result end up driving a great car. In order to do so you can get all the information you need by buying my book, An Insider Guide To Car Finance or use me to finance your next car. Happy driving.

Now here’s some strange advice I thought I would never be sharing. Michelin has urged drivers not to change their tyres too early. The reason, because changing tyres early is not good for the environment and costs individuals and companies money.

 

Research that was carried out by Michelin found that if tyres were changed with 3mm of tread remaining instead of the legal limit of 1.6mm would cost drivers in the EU an extra £6.9 billion per annum in extra tyre purchases and extra fuel consumption through increased friction on the road surface.

 

So there you have it, you should wait till your tyres are just about on their limit before changing them. By Graham Hill

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Up To Date Information On The Use & Fitting Of Baby Seats

Thursday, 1. June 2017

It’s been a while since I mentioned baby and child seats. As designs and rules have moved on since I last talked about them I thought it would be a good idea to bring things up to date. High street store suppliers now make sure that they send staff on IOSH courses to qualify them to discuss requirements with customers. Mothercare sends out mystery shoppers to assess the quality of advice given by staff.

 

Seat manufacturer Britax provide training for retailers to enable them to fit car seats properly. The most frequent problem is that parents move the child up to a larger seat too soon. This was a major finding by What Car in which 36% of children were found to be too small for the seat whilst a very small number were still in seats that were too small for them. What Car has listed 10 checks that you should carry out to protect your youngster as follows:

 

Is your child too small or large for the seat? If in doubt seek advice of an expert.

 

If the seat is secured by the car’s seatbelt make sure that it isn’t twisted and that it is fitted tightly enough around the child seat. It should be tight enough not to move if you push it.

 

When moving from wearing thick winter clothes to thinner summer clothes make sure you adjust the harness so that it isn’t too loose. Pinch the harness in front of the child’s collarbone and if you can pinch a lot of fabric between your fingers the belt is too loose.

 

If you’ve adjusted the seat’s headrest because your child has grown ensure the harness has been correctly routed back into place.

 

If using a travel system seat with a carry handle, don’t forget to put it back to the correct position after putting your child in the seat.

 

If using an Isofix seat, check that it is correctly clipped in. Indicators will change from red to green on the seat when fitted correctly.

 

If using a seat with a leg support check that the leg is fitted firmly to the car’s floor, that it’s at a 90 degree angle to the floor and that it’s not resting on an underfloor storage department unless this has been filled with a car manufacturer approved filler.

 

If using a seat with a top tether, ensure that it is routed over the back of the seat and clipped into the correct mounting point, not a luggage hook.

 

Don’t secure a high back booster with the car’s head rest: this needs to be moved out of the way so the child seat sits flush with the car seatback.

 

If you’re using a seat that is suitable for a wide age range, check it regularly for wear and tear; don’t just assume that it will stay safe for many years.

One final piece of research showed that babies should be kept as flat as possible as long as possible so avoid long journeys during which the baby is angled at 45 degrees. If it is necessary make frequent stops and lay them flat as often as possible.

By Graham Hill

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Consumer Rights Act – Confusion Over Rejection

Thursday, 1. June 2017

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has issued a notice regarding rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 vs Distance Selling Regulations. Consumers taking cars on finance are confusing the two and looking to reject the car they have just taken delivery of simply because they don’t like it. The distance selling rules allow you 14 days from receipt to reject anything you haven’t seen i.e. goods you have ordered on line.

 

You don’t need a reason to reject, you can simply return and get your money back. In the case of the Consumer Rights Act you have 30 days to reject the goods, i.e. a new or used car in our case, but there must be a problem. It must have something more than a minor fault, be not as described or not be fit for purpose for a rejection under the Consumer Rights Act.

 

You can still allow the dealer to put right the fault but it is your decision and if he doesn’t repair the fault you can still reject the car at a later date. But you can’t simply return the car because you don’t like the shape any more or you’ve gone off the interior colour. It seems that the FOS are receiving complaints from consumers because the dealer won’t take the car back because confused consumers think they can reject the car for no reason as they can under distance selling rules.

 

Having said that there are far too many dealers refusing to accept car rejections for absolutely genuine reasons as they will lose money as a result. Many feel the law isn’t working and I have proof that it isn’t from disgruntled customers – not mine I hasten to add. So it’s a good reason to make sure you have a professional independent broker working on your behalf when buying or leasing a new car in particular. That’s my plug over! By Graham Hill

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Where Best To Service Your Car

Thursday, 1. June 2017

More leasing companies and PCP providers are now insisting that cars be serviced at main dealers. Where the manufacturer either owns the funder or has major influence over the funder, through discounts provided on the vehicles supplied, you can understand that they may wish to protect their franchised dealerships.

 

And of course with changing technology having your car serviced at a main dealer with his specialist knowledge makes sense. But at what cost? I have told you what I do when my car has a service due. I call around and get a quote from an independent then ask the main dealer if he can match or beat the quote and guess what?

 

They beat it every time. Aftermarket warranty provider, Motoreasy, has carried out a survey into car servicing and found hourly rates from £36 per hour, charged by an independent, to £234 per hour charged by a sports car dealer in Reading. 6,000 independent, fast fit and franchised dealers took part in the survey. Other than the highly specialist sports car dealer the highest average rate was £81 per hour, charged in Surrey, whilst Selkirkshire had the lowest average of £49 per hour. In terms of individual quotes the cheapest was a garage in Manchester charging the £36 per hour.

 

Breaking the figures down further they found that the average rate charged by a franchised dealer was £99 compared to the average independent rate of £56 per hour – quite a difference. Now at this stage, and before it starts to get boring, I should explain a bit of a misunderstanding. You may have seen in the press or elsewhere references to the EU Block Exemption Rules.

 

In summary this enables those who buy a new car to have the car serviced at any independent garage or fast fit centre provided they use manufacturer approved parts and conform to the manufacturer’s service schedule. Provided they do this the warranty cannot be invalidated. However, this is different to the rules that the lender can impose upon you whilst you drive their motor car, this applies to PCP and Contract Hire (both business and personal).

 

He is entitled to insist that you have your car serviced at a main dealer as he owns the car and you are simply the registered keeper. Whilst this may not be in the spirit of the EU directive if it is part of the agreement you should adhere to the terms. Just thought I’d mention – make sure you read the contract. To finish off, 87% of those using an independent for servicing were happy with their experience compared to 80% who used a main dealer. 65% found independents more convenient whilst 55% found main dealers more convenient (what a dopey statistic).

 

Dealers scored higher in areas such as professionalism, knowledge and customer service. In an attempt to put up an argument on behalf of the independents Stuart James, Director of the Independent Garage Association said that independents are better at diagnostics as they have to work on a wider variety and age of cars – really?? Just make sure you don’t breach the terms of your contract. By Graham Hill

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Having An Early MOT Test Could Lead To A £2,500 Fine

Friday, 26. May 2017

Some people think that having an MOT test proves that a car is in good condition and without faults. This of course isn’t true so if you are buying a used car you should have a full inspection carried out on the car rather than just an MOT. Also if you have an MOT coming up and you want to know the likely ‘damage’ you should ask for a pre-MOT check rather than having an actual MOT carried out.

 

The reason for mentioning this is that if you have a car MOT tested and it fails this is recorded on the DVSA register as a failure. Scrapcarcomparison.co.uk has warned that some drivers have had their cars MOT tested long before the MOT is due, failed the test but believed that it is still OK to drive the car till the old MOT has run out. This isn’t true and not only is it dangerous it is also illegal.

 

Driving a car that isn’t roadworthy is not only dangerous and illegal it can also invalidate your insurance and if the police pick it up via their ANPR cameras it can lead to a fine of £2,500, a driving ban as well as 3 points on the licence. Last year 36.8% of cars failed their MOT tests on the first attempt with over 2.4 million cars requiring fixes before passing. So remember, if your car fails an MOT test at any time you can only continue to drive the car if it is on the way to be repaired (proof required) or to a pre-arranged MOT test appointment. By Graham Hill

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Variable Speed Cameras Raise Millions – Where Are They?

Friday, 26. May 2017

As we all know speed cameras are only there to help to save lives not raise revenue – yer right!! I actually don’t mind speed cameras if they are genuinely saving lives, in towns, near schools and old people’s homes or where there are likely hazards on a stretch of road such as horses or a particularly bad bend where people have had accidents. But what about the variable speed cameras on motorways?

 

The overhead speed signs that change with road conditions. Now gradually slowing cars down whilst you approach a traffic jam is fine but when you’ve passed the broken down car on the opposite side of the motorway, that all in front slowed down to have a look at, rubbernecking, and the road is clear in front but the speed limit lights are still showing 30mph is it right to cop drivers on camera anxious to get a move on?

 

Well it seems that these variable speed cameras are earning a fortune with cameras between junction 19 and 20 on the M4 in Bristol raising a massive £4,032,000 since they were installed in July/August 2014. Confused.com have revealed the top 5 money making variable speed camera stretches of motorway in the UK with the Bristol stretch of the M$ responsible for issuing 40,320 penalty notices.

 

The findings revealed that 210,000 motorists have been caught out by sudden speed changes raising at least £21 million in fines – staggering. The standard fine for speeding is £100 with 3 points on your licence but penalties can increase to £2,500 with a ban if you are excessively over the limit.

 

Want to know the other speed camera ‘black spots’? Next on the list was on the M5 at Almondsbury  – Easter Compton J16-17, since June 2014 variable speed cameras have raised £2,739.800, Luton in Beds. J10-11 on the M1 has raised £2,175,100 since September 2013. Next comes the M25 in Surrey, J9-16 that has raised £1,919,400 since 2014 and finally, again on the M25 near J27 in Epping, Sussex since January 2013 they have raised £1,888,800. So there you have it, you have been warned! By Graham Hill

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Self Repairing Roads To Combat Potholes

Friday, 26. May 2017

According to the RAC pothole related breakdowns were up by 63% over the last year. Between January and March this year breakdown patrols helped 6,500 drivers who were in trouble due to poor road conditions. The problems ranged from punctures and broken suspension through to distorted wheels.

 

So I was interested to read that researchers at Delft University in the Netherlands may have the answer. They have come up with a self-repairing Asphalt. Normal Asphalt is made to be porous in order to reduce road noise, but the pores allow cracks to build up and eventually turn into a potholes. In order to overcome this the clever people at Delft have come up with the idea of mixing in steel wool into the asphalt.

 

The steel wool makes the mix conductive to electricity. So if a crack appears a magnetic induction machine is rolled over the surface to heat the mixture that will close the cracks before they become potholes. This system has been under test since 2010 on 12 Dutch roads with none of them requiring any more repairs. The Asphalt mix costs around 25% more but they say the new mix could double the life cycle of roads saving money in the long run.

 

Personally I have yet to be convinced as firstly they have to identify the cracked roads very early on, then they need to tow to the site a special induction machine on wheels that then sends a current through the wool to heat up the Asphalt. And once a pothole appears you are back to a man with a shovel and a heavy boot to repair it. Let’s face it if we had the ‘crack warning’ early enough and the resources we could dispatch the man with his shovel to fix it just as quick and more cheaply. But what do I know? By Graham Hill

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Do You Know If You Have A Spare Wheel In Your Boot?

Thursday, 13. April 2017

If you have taken delivery of a new car recently have you checked the spare tyre situation? Many people are still driving around in the belief that they have a full sized spare sitting in the boot but if you lift the carpet mat you may be shocked to find that you only have a skinny spare, about the width of a pound coin or worse, as manufacturers try to save another gram of CO2, a can of spray tyre inflator and rubber weld in the hole that once contained a spare wheel.

Even worse if you have a BMW because you may open the boot carpet to reveal – nothing! No skinny wheel or can of tyre repair gunk. Just – nothing! Because most BMW’s are now fitted with run flat tyres, which is good because if you get a puncture the tyre will feel spongy and an alert will tell you that there has been a sudden drop in tyre pressure but you can keep going for a further 50 miles at 50 miles per hour.

The bad news is that whilst there are repair kits available to the trade few tyre repairers are happy to carry out a repair as it can be difficult to assess the ancillary damage caused to the structure of the tyre by driving it without air. So generally speaking you are into the cost of a new tyre following a puncture with the additional pain that run flats are more expensive than a normal tyre.

Incidentally, I have had clients call following the delivery of a car with a repair kit in the boot in place of a spare wheel believing this to be illegal. It isn’t. In order to reduce weight, CO2 output and fuel consumption many manufacturers are turning to the spray can so if you’re not sure check it out.

And with the RAC advising that punctures are the most common call out alongside engines that won’t start it might be wise to check the boot. You will at least be prepared and if you prefer at least a skinny spare you can normally get one from a dealer as an after fit. By Graham Hill

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Car Owners To Be Fined When Passengers Throw Litter Out Of Cars

Thursday, 13. April 2017

As I get older I’ve stopped doing many of the things I did as a young driver, mainly revolving around road rage. If someone pulls out in front of me on a roundabout now I no longer lean on the horn whilst screaming blue murder over the thumping sound of  Will I Am’s latest dance release, sticking two fingers up at the driver then spending the next 10 minutes trying to cut the dopey old 90 year old up at every opportunity to ‘teach her a lesson’!

These days I’m as likely to even slow down and let the driver pull out in front of me on the roundabout, only the one of course, my benevolence doesn’t stretch to being courteous to more than one driver at a time – behave! But there is still one thing that still causes me to see red and that is to be driving behind a car and the driver or the passenger in the car in front dispose of the remains of a Chicken McBucket meal for 4 out of the driver’s window.

Of course there are a few with a social conscience who either get the passenger to throw the rubbish out of the passenger window so that it doesn’t end up on the screen of the car behind, or if there are no passengers in the car open the passenger window and lob the rubbish out from the driver’s side contributing to the 700,000 bin bags of rubbish collected annually from the roadside.

Either way it causes me to get angry because it’s one of those things that I can honestly say I’ve never done. It’s despicable to mess up the roadside with rubbish. It’s no big effort to keep the rubbish in the car till you get home, to work or fill up at the garage – isn’t it? But having said that I don’t go knocking on car doors armed with a tyre lever to point out the error of their ways for two reasons.

Firstly cars no longer come with a tyre lever and to walk up to a car window armed with a can of Holts Tyreweld would be more than mildly silly. Secondly I heard of an old lady who became incensed when she saw the passenger of a parked car happily dropping the packaging and remains of their lunch on to the road from their window, asked politely to pick up their litter before they left, and ended up in traction for her efforts.

I’m not that brave over an empty crisp packet but I’m please to say that the law is tightening up on litter louts. From later this month local authorities in London have the power to issue £100 fines to those caught dropping litter out of cars and can be caught using CCTV cameras.

Caroline Spelman, Environmental Secretary is also considering rolling this out across the country with an increased fine of £200 and making the owner of a car responsible for the fine even though the rubbish may have been ejected by a passenger whilst the car was being driven by someone other than the owner.

The fact is that dropping litter is a criminal offence and you can be fined by a magistrate up to £2,500 so it is already serious but a fixed penalty of £200 may work better. Something else that makes me see red is seeing a driver either texting or driving with a mobile phone lodged under their chin – no that isn’t hands free! Oh and then there are the times when you let someone pass cars on their side of the road and they don’t even raise a finger in gratitude oh and then ……………… By Graham Hill

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How You Can Lease A Car For Less Than Some Of The Largest Fleets.

Thursday, 13. April 2017

I felt certain that I had mentioned this before but having checked back over recent postings I can’t find any reference to this important piece of information. So here goes. Did you know that as a consumer you can sometimes lease cars at much less that some of the biggest fleet users in the country.

Thanks to Stephen Byers, back in 2000 he created the Supply Of New Cars Order which pretty much levelled the playing field as far as new car prices were concerned. The order meant that the prices paid by consumers should be no more than those paid by the biggest fleets in the country subject to certain negotiating advantages.

This was done to stop new car buyers from jumping on the ferry to Belgium or France in order to buy their new cars from a foreign dealer and pocket savings of several thousands of pounds rather than buy overpriced new cars in the UK. The knock on effect was to equalise contract hire rates so you will often find that the rates offered to businesses are the same as those to the consumers on a PCH, simply add on the VAT.

But this is where it gets interesting because there is a little wiggle room and often a window of opportunity to do a better deal than a large company. Let me explain. Let’s say a large fleet operator negotiates with Ford and in those negotiations commits to taking say 200 Ford Mondeos over the next 12 months. They agree a  rate of say £225 + VAT per month.

The deliveries would be spread throughout the year and the rate will remain unchanged for the next 12 months. That helps the customer and the supplier to budget accurately over the next year. At some stage during the same 12 months you might consider leasing the same model of Mondeo but most of the time you are quoted say £260 + VAT on a PCH from an independent contract hire provider or Ford (I’m just using them as an example).

However, at some stage through the year Ford finds that they have stocks of Mondeos in their various storage pounds with a new model due to arrive at their dealers in 3 months’ time. In order to move them they offer them to the independent leasing companies at a huge discount resulting in PCH and business contract hire rates of say £195 + VAT so for that short window of time consumers and SME’s are able to lease cars at less than some of the largest fleet users in the UK.

This is an area that I specialise in. I find the deals on cars with extra support applied (that’s discount and bonuses to you and I) for a wide variety of reasons. Could be as mentioned a facelift or totally new model coming out, it could be to fill up the new order book to make sure that production lines continue running (this has often been the case with VW) and some even spend a chunk of their marketing budget to discount new cars going on lease as the best form of car marketing is to actually see them on the road. By Graham Hill

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