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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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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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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Could We Be Seeing The End To Speed Bumps?

Friday, 10. February 2017

Let me ask you a question, what irritates you most? Pot holes, speed bumps or 20mph speed limits? For me there is little to choose but each of them has an affect on the way we drive with two meant to make roads safer and the other one simply slowing us down as we don’t particularly want to destroy our tyres and suspension.

 

Whilst you try to work out the one that destroys tyres I can tell you that speed bumps could be a thing of the past (hurrah and hurrah), to possibly be replaced by the wide use of 20 mph speed limits (damn, damn, damn). A report out at the end of last year by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – yes I thought they only approved drugs also – suggests that local authorities do away with speed bumps as they lead to erratic driving which increases pollution.

 

As a replacement they have suggested variable speed limits and ‘no idling zones’. Statistically 64% of air pollution in urban areas is caused by road traffic costing the UK £18.6 billion each year. I wish they would explain that figure, I guess as it’s NICE they mean in consequential health issues but how do they prove that it’s not down to the sufferer’s lifestyle or place of work?

 

Anyway, moving on, they want to stop idling in certain areas but this has also caused me concern. You know the old strip lights that are still used in open areas, offices, kitchens etc.? Well I remember reading somewhere that if you turned one of these lights off then switched it back on a little later the starter used up more electricity than if you had left the light on for over 2 hours (can’t remember the exact time), so my point here is could the same principal apply to stop start engines that are meant to reduce pollutants into the atmosphere?

 

Could constantly starting the engine kick out more CO2’s and other noxious gasses into the atmosphere than simply leaving the engine ticking over? Just a thought – but a very good one Graham I hear you say. I digress. They suggest that 20mph limits be introduced in areas of regular congestion and drop motorway speed limits to 50mph in order to create steady traffic flow.

 

They recommend the wider introduction of congestion charging and laws to prevent parents from leaving cars idling whilst delivering children to school. I’d have thought a gentle tip off in the local hooligans’ shell likes should solve that one! Other rather entertaining proposals suggest new houses with living rooms at the back of the house, furthest away from roads (umm what about bedrooms?), car free days for some areas and siting cycle lanes away from main roads.

 

I’m all for saving the planet but do these people really think these things through? To avoid congestion in the centre of town during the rush hour won’t be solved by introducing a 20mph speed limit when you are lucky to achieve 3 mph on a good day. Still removing road humps will be a good start as far as I, and most Ferrari divers, are concerned. By Graham Hill

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Major Increases In Speeding Fines From April Revealed

Friday, 10. February 2017

Under new laws that come into force from 24th April 2017 most serious speeding offenders will be fined 50% more. The Sentencing Council has issued new guidelines to be implemented in all magistrates’ courts in England and Wales.

 

At the moment the most serious speeding offenders face fines that have a starting point of 100% of their weekly salary, this will go up to 150% of weekly salary (no I didn’t either). The upper limit doesn’t change though which clearly favours the better off amongst us.

 

The upper limit remains at £1,000 or £2,500 for those caught on a motorway. Again, in my opinion, arse about face. Speeding in a built up area should carry a bigger fine than on a motorway. As 10 times more people die on country roads (60% of total) it doesn’t make sense to penalise motorway speeders more than non motorway speeders.

 

A speeding offence is considered to be serious if you are caught driving at 51 miles per hour in a 30mph zone, 66mph in a 40mph zone,  or 101mph on a motorway etc. Some experts are calling for 3 month bans applied to those driving at speeds that drop them into the serious speeding zone.

 

I believe that would have a greater affect on those who speed but is it the answer – I really don’t know. For information the average fine in 2015 was just £188 with 166,695 offenders being sentenced. By Graham Hill

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Mayor Khan To Replace Congestion Charge

Friday, 3. February 2017

Following on from my note explaining that Mayor Khan is trying to reduce the number of diesels driving into central London, the London Assembly is calling on Mayor Khan to do more about the daily gridlock. It is suggesting that they need to replace the daily congestion charge with a road pricing scheme.

It currently costs £11.50 per day to drive around the congestion zone area which would be replaced by charges relating to the amount of time spent in the restricted area. Subject to consultations this new scheme could be introduced as soon as 2018.

According to the Assembly traffic delays costs London’s economy £5.5 billion in 2015/16 which represents an increase of 30% compared to 2012/13. Can’t for the life of me see how they arrive at such a figure. The Assembly pointed to a similar scheme operated in Stockholm whereby you pay between £1-£3 each time you cross in or out of a central zone, with the charges increasing at peak times.

The result was a drop in traffic by 22%. The proposal is that they consider a similar scheme but also include an allowance for emissions and adjust the rates accordingly. Before you start writing into Mayor Khan there are discounts and exemptions which the Assembly intends to keep but with no plans to extend further.

If you’re a Londoner I guess you must hope that Mayor Khan doesn’t have another Trump moment and apply the new rules by the end of February! By Graham Hill

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The Effect Of Brexit On Air Quality – A Warning!

Tuesday, 22. November 2016

If, like me, you are worried about the damage that pollution is doing to our environment and to the health of our children then Brexit carries with it some additional concerns. The Government has lost a legal battle in the High Court against environmental campaigners over pollution levels and now have to take action by drawing up more ambitious plans to reduce emissions.

The ruling by the High Court was the result of an appeal by the Government over a Supreme Court ruling in favour of environmental lawyers, ClientEarth who successfully argued that the Government had continually failed to tackle the national air pollution crisis.

Mr Justice Garnham, presiding over the High Court case, said that the Government had continually failed to take steps to bring the UK into compliance with European pollution laws, and that they should take steps, as soon as possible, to correct the situation. However, this is fine whilst we are within the EU but when we are outside will the Government be as keen as the Europeans to keep pollution under control?

I somehow have my doubts which must be a worry to those of us who believe, unlike president elect Trump, that humans are the biggest contributors to the high pollution levels we see around the world, through the poorly controlled burning of fossil fuels. What a doughnut! By Graham Hill

 

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Why Are Fleets Moving Away From Electric & Plug-In Hybrid Cars?

Tuesday, 22. November 2016

Are electric cars the way forward? Clearly as far as the environment is concerned of course it is so why are many fleets taking them off their options list and consumers becoming reluctant to buy or lease them? Cost has always been a problem but the costs have been dropping whilst driving ranges increase.

So why are people not only refusing to take electric vehicles but also the plug in hybrids? The answer according to Business Car is charging points. There is still a grave lack of charging points but not only that, early points need to be replaced as many are no longer working and those that are, are simply inefficient or have the wrong connection points fitted.

The Government which was fairly and squarely behind this project has let the industry down according to experts, something that Transport Minister, John Hayes is well aware of. One of the issues that needs to be addressed is the mapping of charge point locations that was to be undertaken by Government. Not only the location but also which charge points were most suitable for which car.

In a survey it was found that only 25% of fleets offered a plug in model to its drivers whilst 69% of drivers said that they would be happy to drive an electric car. John Hayes has agreed to take the issues on board and look into the infrastructure as this is clearly a barrier to EV expansion.

He is also looking into driver education although I would suggest that this isn’t needed as drivers are very much in favour of electric vehicles. So if you are looking into an electric vehicle at the moment it may be worth some extra investigation before taking the plunge. By Graham Hill

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