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

Thursday, 13. April 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.

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

A BMW That Achieves 148 MPG!

Thursday, 25. February 2016

How do you fancy driving an executive car that achieves 148 miles to the gallon? Well you can with the new BMW 330e M Sport which we just happen to have on offer at the moment. It is BMW’s entrée into the Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV).

Whilst the new tiered Government Grant scheme has dropped the grant from £5,000 to £2,500 it is still good value for money on a lease. You will need a means to re-charge the car from an electric charge point that can be installed in your garage (grants available) or via charging points now available at services on motorways, some hotels and on certain streets.

The electric motor starts you up and moves you off whilst the 2.0 petrol engine takes over to boost power or take over when the 87bhp electric engine starts to flag. In EV mode the car has a top speed of 80 mph but switch across to petrol and you increase the top speed to 140 mph. The car has all the usual refinement of a 330i but with all the economy of a hybrid, the general consensus is that the car is a definite winner leading the way for other hybrid cars across the BMW range.

Oh and another piece of breaking news, Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin has announced plans to allow PHEV vehicles to have access to bus lanes in the eight Go Ultra Low cities across the UK as part of a £40 million investment plan in readiness for electric and hybrid vehicles. Some of the investment will be used to provide rapid charging hubs and plug in points at street lights. Time to make the move? If not we are certainly getting close. By Graham Hill

Should You Now Be Considering Driving An Electric Vehicle More Seriously?

Tuesday, 13. October 2015

With so much in the press of late regarding emissions, thanks to the VW group of crooks, oops I mean vehicle manufacturers, there seems to be a new tidal wave of opinionated experts who say that we should either all walk, ride bikes or at worst drive electric cars.

Thinking of a change but unsure as to the best way to finance your car? Then you need a copy of my car finance book, Car Finance – A Simple Guide by Graham Hill. Click on the link below to buy the best car finance book on the market, available as a Kindle Book and Paper Back.

And we recently had a great deal on the BMW i3 that didn’t reflect its massive £30,000 + price ticket, it was remarkably cheap to lease. But before you join the queue of tree huggers outside your local BMW dealership you should be aware of some of the facts that you might like to consider.

You can get yourself a subsidy to install a charger at home, which is fine unless you are restricted to on-street parking, the local authorities won’t allow you to run electric cables along pavements unfortunately. A home charger operating from a standard 13a supply, I’m told, can take up to 8 hours to re-charge the car.

An installed fast charger can re-charge in a couple of hours whilst the industrial sized roadside fast-chargers can recharge the car in 20 minutes. Still a tad longer than sticking a petrol or diesel nozzle into your tank. But let’s not be negative, London, like other cities are planning on installing hundreds of fast chargers throughout their centres but if someone leaves their car charging for a couple of hours how do you get their car out of the way to allow you to get your car onto the charger?

There are also three different connectors that fit either the BMW i3, the Nissan Leaf/Mitsubishi Outlander or the Renault Zoe/Teslar S etc. depending on whether the cars are all electric or hybrids. Brilliant, they couldn’t even get some form of standardisation there – where is the EU when you need it?

Easy payments, even cameras that identify your car registration as you pull up and ready the charger before you even get out of your car speed up that part of the operation but the real sticking points are the time it takes to charge and the range. Until such times as these problems are overcome I feel that electric cars will remain last choice for most of us. By Graham Hill

Sophisticated Car Theft On The Increase

Wednesday, 29. April 2015

Having been in this industry for years there are few things that have caused me serious concern but the rapid growth in sophisticated car theft over the last few months is one of them. One leasing company won’t allow you to lease a Land Rover car without having a tracker fitted which can add quite a bit to the monthly rental.

Thinking of a change but unsure as to the best way to finance your car? Then you need a copy of my car finance book, Car Finance – A Simple Guide by Graham Hill. Click on the link below to buy the best car finance book on the market, available as a Kindle Book and Paper Back.

Thieves are even targeting vans now, not only for the money they can make on the van but also the goods or tools that are being carried around in the back. The latest high tech thefts are perpetrated by gangs using gadgets that reprogram the electronics controlling keyless entry and start systems.

There has been a lot of publicity around these thefts but few people know that the surge in thefts has come about as a result of a change in European legislation which countered anti-competitiveness by making it easier to obtain replacement keys and the ability to program them. Vehicles on the thieves radar are high end Audis, BMW’s Range Rovers and Ford Transit Vans.

Within hours of being stolen cars and vans are being exported in containers, either whole or in parts, abroad as far away as Africa. Manufacturers have been advised to look into this problem as a matter of urgency. Changes to the electronics have been called for as well as improved marking methods to identify stolen parts.

The warning came after BMW said that it had fixed a security flaw that allowed hackers to unlock the doors of up to 2.2 million Rolls-Royce, Mini and BMW vehicles. As a result the police have stepped up their anti theft operations. They launched Operation Endeavour which was a campaign against keyless car theft. Scotland Yard reported that they had made 84 arrests and an 800 strong team of officers from the Met, Kent, Essex, Hampshire, Surrey and Thames Valley seized 222 vehicles after monitoring 20 arterial roads.

In another operation a search at Felixstowe docks found 5 Range Rovers believed to have been stolen from Surrey, South Woodford and Islington in containers bound for Kenya. Hundreds of parts from a dozen BMW cars, stolen in East London, were headed for Cyprus. In order to hide the stolen parts they were stashed within a pile of motorbike parts.

The police believed that the car parts were to be forward shipped. The police and manufacturers are working on the problem but in the meantime the police are suggesting that drivers revert to 80’s technology by fixing highly visible steering and brake locks which may be enough to deter a crook from breaking in. From my point of view the law needs to be changed.

We allow people to sell the gadgets and others to buy freely online. The law only says that you must not use the equipment for illegal purposes. It should be illegal to sell or buy this equipment unless you are properly authorised to do so. Not to do this is ridiculous. By Graham Hill

The Shocking Cost To Replace Broken Or Stolen Car Keys

Tuesday, 10. February 2015

Have you ever, lost or stood on your car key (I use the expression ‘key’ lightly). My brother in law once had his BMW key eaten by their dog, just before the car was due to be returned at the end of the lease.

Thinking of a change but unsure as to the best way to finance your car? Then you need a copy of my car finance book, Car Finance – A Simple Guide by Graham Hill. Click on the link below to buy the best car finance book on the market, available as a Kindle Book and Paper Back.

He wasn’t too worried until he saw the cost of the replacement. I was staggered to read a report from company, Recover Me, whose founding director, Robin Reames, revealed the cost of replacement keys on the UK’s top 10 selling models. He explained that finding out the cost of a replacement key is nigh on impossible until you need to replace it.

Hence the reason for revealing the costs, which average £206 per car. Of course the reason why the costs are going up and will continue to rise is the amount of information stored within the circuitry of the key. It’s like a mini black box. I remember taking my BMW 7 series in for a service a couple of years ago and the service agent asked for my key, not to drive the car but to see what needed to be done!

In order to make sure you take good care of your car keys here is a list of the top 10 selling cars with the cost of the replacement key alongside:

  1. Ford Fiesta                          £220
  2. Ford Focus                          £220
  3. Vauxhall Corsa                  £135
  4. Vauxhall Astra`                £130
  5. VW Golf                               £190
  6. Nissan Qashqai                £280
  7. Fiat 500                              £230
  8. BMW 3 Series                    £216
  9. VW Polo                             £210
  10. BMW 1 Series                    £233

Shocking or what, worth their weight in gold – literally!! By Graham Hill

Where To Get Your Leased Car Serviced

Thursday, 22. January 2015

As most of my customers are aware you can now have your car serviced at any service or repair centre without the loss of the car’s warranty provided the work is in line with the conditions stipulated by the manufacturer.

Thinking of a change but unsure as to the best way to finance your car? Then you need a copy of my car finance book, Car Finance – A Simple Guide by Graham Hill. Click on the link below to buy the best car finance book on the market, available as a Kindle Book and Paper Back.

Since this European rule, known as Block Exemption, was introduced in 2003 it has meant that anyone who buys a new car carrying a manufacturer’s warranty can have their car serviced and maintained at a non-franchised dealer, thereby saving a substantial amount of money.

However, when you lease a car and you are responsible for the servicing of the vehicle, can the leasing company insist that you only have the car serviced at a main dealer as this would be a contradiction of the regulations? Again, regular readers will know that most leasing companies are happy for you to have the car serviced at non franchised dealers provided the work is carried out in line with the manufacturer’s instructions using original or compatible parts.

But you need to check your contract as these things have a habit of changing without notice. Mercedes-Benz changed their rules a few years ago so that if you return a lease car (including PCP) and the service work has been carried out by a non authorised service/repair centre they will impose an end of lease charge, in some cases, over £1,000, even though the car has been serviced on time and even using Mercedes original parts.

I took some legal advice on this and was advised that whilst the car is owned by the finance company they can include terms relating to the service and maintenance of the car. So whilst they may be out of line with the rest of the leasing industry they are not acting, on the face of it, illegally, albeit that they are acting outside the spirit of the law.

But there are two issues on which they could justify their stance. The first is the quality of the work which Mercedes could argue would be of a lower standard if carried out by a service centre. I would argue this every day of the week having received some of the worst services ever when I have had a Mercedes serviced by a main dealer in the past.

On the other side of the coin a judge might argue that a customer should be free, in an open market, and given the Block Exemption law, to choose where the car is serviced – it is the whole point of the law to make it competitive and stop the protectionist approach that most manufacturers had used when insisting that their cars are serviced at a main dealer or lose your warranty before it changed in 2003.

The other argument could relate to resale value of the car when it is returned which they could argue would be less than if the car had not been serviced by a main dealer. However, they list a scale of charges which could suggest a penalty, which in these circumstances could be considered illegal.

If, through breach of contract, you were to cause the other party a loss they can not charge anything above their losses incurred. Having spoken to many trade buyers over the years most would not draw a distinction between a car that has ‘Full Service History’ and ‘Full Mercedes Benz Service History’ so it might be difficult to prove their case against a customer in front of a judge.

If you have been charged a ‘penalty’ by MB Finance and you are unhappy about it you could take out a complaint through the Financial Ombudsman Service if you are a ‘consumer’. Putting MB Finance to one side the point of all this is that Halfords are about to launch an aggressive new campaign to take away a larger share of the £10 billion a year after care market from main dealers.

This comes on the back of the Auto Express Driver Power Survey in which a large number of dealer networks were criticised by drivers. Traditionally the Halfords target market has been 3 – 5 year old cars but the new approach will attract new to 3 year old car drivers looking to save up to 40% of the labour cost. They will be introducing new receptions that will look more like the pods you will see in an Apple store and they will offer a collect and return service.

The receptions will also have Wi-Fi facilities and you will even be able to watch your car being serviced on an iPad that they will provide for your use. So it may be worth considering Halfords for your next service but don’t forget to check your lease agreement first and don’t forget you can always negotiate with the main dealer before booking your car in for a service. By Graham Hill

Auto Express Best Car Awards 2014

Sunday, 3. August 2014

Auto Express has published its list of award winning cars which I am listing below staring with their car of the year, The Mini. It is the first time the Mini has won the Auto Express car of the year award even though it is now into its third generation.

Thinking of a change but unsure as to the best way to finance your car? Then you need a copy of my car finance book, Car Finance – A Simple Guide by Graham Hill. Click on the link below to buy the best car finance book on the market, available as a Kindle Book and Paper Back.

Mini (marque)

Mini (marque) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well done Mini, still one of my most popular cars and still providing great value for money with the rates we can currently offer. Other awards are as follows with one or two shockers. For full details of the awards you should subscribe to Auto Express:

Car Of The Year                  Mini (on offer)

Best City Car                       Skoda Citigo

Best Supermini                     Ford Fiesta (on offer)

Best Premium Small Car      Mini (on offer)

Best Compact Family Car    Seat Leon (on offer)

Best Crossover                     Nissan Qashqai (on offer)

Best Family Car                   Mazda 6 (on offer)

Best Estate Car                    Seat Leon ST

Best Compact Executive     BMW 3 Series (330d on offer)

Best Executive Car              Audi A6 (on offer)

Best Luxury Car                  Mercedes S Class

Best Hot Hatch                    Seat Leon Cupra (on offer)

Best Coupe                          Jaguar F-Type (on offer)

Best Convertible                  Audi A3 Cabriolet

Best MPV                            Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

Best Compact SUV             Porsche Macan

Best Large SUV                  Hyundai Santa Fe (on offer)

Best Roadster                      Porsche Boxster

Best Pickup                          VW Amarok

Best Performance Car          McLaren 650S

Design Award                      Volvo Concept Estate

Green Award                       BMW i3

Special Award                     Tesla*

Best Van                              Ford Transit (on offer)

Safety Award                      Nissan Safety Shield**

*The Tesla has received the award for its efforts in bringing luxury and speed to electric cars and without the backing of old established manufacturers. They are even in the process of installing fast superchargers at key locations that will allow drivers of their cars to ‘top up’ in half an hour giving a range of 170 miles (a full charge takes longer but offers a range of just about 300 miles), a 0-60 acceleration of 4.2 seconds and the level of luxury and gadgetry you wouldn’t even find in a top of the range premium brand. Who said electric vehicles are dead?

**Nissan Safety Shield is a range of safety devices fitted across much of their range of new cars showing that they take safety very seriously.

So there you have it. Auto Express’s list of their top cars, many of which we have on special offer. So get your quote requests across as soon as possible. By Graham Hill

Top Cars For 2014

Monday, 26. May 2014

Auto Express have just published the results of their driver survey to end up with a top 150 cars as voted by the 50,073 car owners that took part in the survey. The top car manufacturer, up one place from last year was Skoda, who regained this position after losing out to Lexus last year. Not only were they voted top manufacturer they had the top three cars with the Yeti, Citigo and Superb.

Thinking of a change but unsure as to the best way to finance your car? Then you need a copy of my car finance book, Car Finance – A Simple Guide by Graham Hill. Click on the link below to buy the best car finance book on the market, available as a Kindle Book and Paper Back.

A truly excellent company, according to their customers. At position 2 was Jaguar, up a place from 3rd last year. Ride and ease of driving scored highly with Jaguar owners. Reliability and running costs were not so good, enough to prevent them from taking number one place. 3rd place was a new entrant, MG.

The revived badge was somewhat of a surprise. The MG6 was top of the pops for handling and a creditable 6th place in the overall model chart. It shaped up well for running costs although fuel consumption wasn’t so good, servicing costs did well. With only two models on sale MG have done well. In 4th place, dropping 3 from last years number one slot, is Lexus.

The score achieved this year is actually higher than last year but because of strong competition Lexus has been demoted to 4th. Nothing has actually gone wrong for Lexus who are still number one for reliability and build quality. It was also number one for in-car tech and runner up for ease of driving.

Very low places for practicality (always a problem when you only produce 4Dr saloons) and high running costs dragged the prestige car down. This was surprising as Lexus have become synonymous with hybrid technology these days. Another newcomer stormed in at 5th place, the Dacia brand.

However it is thought that this was due to very low expectations and the cars performing better than expected. Areas such as affordability and running costs helped the car up the rankings. But it wasn’t all about low costs as the cars came a creditable 3rd for reliability and 4th for practicality.

3rd place for in-car tech probably had more to do with the fact that some items included as standard were not expected in a budget car. Time will tell but well done Dacia. In 6th place was Porsche up from 13th last year. Impressive improvements have pushed them up a deserved 7 places with a score that would have pushed them up to 3rd last year.

High scores in performance and handling were obvious reasons why they did well but they also scored well in build quality putting them in 2nd place. Running costs and practicality didn’t help the manufacturer although ease of driving and seat comfort scored highly. 7th was Kia, staying in the same place as last year.

Kia cars are above average and scored well in all categories without excelling in any particular section. Consistent is the word to describe Kia. In car technology scored well as did running costs helped more by servicing costs than fuel consumption. Performance and ease of driving scored not so well and prevented Kia from doing any better.

At 8th was Mazda, down from 4th place last year. Generally the drivers of Mazdas are no less happy than last year, it’s just that other manufacturers have improved pushing the bar higher. Running costs were a little disappointing but there were no major deficiencies, the report should read, not a bad effort but could do better.

Mercedes dropped from 5th to 9th but still managed to see off its main German rivals. The results reflected a general satisfaction although owners were not exactly blown away. Ease of driving and build quality helped it past BMW. Running costs scored badly as did practicality. Finally at 10th place was BMW, up from 15th.

Good scores for performance and handling contributed to the improved position and with the 5 Series considered to be the best executive saloon the 10th place wasn’t surprising. For the positions of all 33 manufacturers please refer to Auto Express Driver Power results. By Graham Hill

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Beware Of Accident Claims Management Companies

Monday, 7. April 2014

Over the years there have been many reports about claims management companies, otherwise known as ‘ambulance chasers’ allegedly paying off police, health staff and insurance staff for details of anyone involved in car accidents. They then contact the driver to see if he or his passengers suffered any personal injuries and offering to manage any claims, whether injuries were suffered or not.

Thinking of a change but unsure as to the best way to finance your car? Then you need a copy of my car finance book, Car Finance – A Simple Guide by Graham Hill. Click on the link below to buy the best car finance book on the market, available as a Kindle Book and Paper Back.

In extreme cases those involved in accidents have been ‘encouraged’ to make a personal injury claim after suggesting that a little bit of residual back pain could be whiplash. They also provide a management service including a hire car that is recharged to the insurance company.

You could often deal with these things much more efficiently yourself or via your broker than using the claims management company who have been known to recharge the insurance company with the cost of renting a BMW and providing a Citroen C1 (that’s nothing like a BMW).

The latest occurrence of this crime was a crooked staff member working for AVIVA Insurance who passed on details of accident claims to claims management companies. Drivers started getting calls from several claims management companies offering their services – free of charge following an accident.

They would say that they would look after the whole of the accident claim on your behalf. One gentleman had a simple bang into his neighbour’s car which was settled immediately, he then had up to 5 calls a day from accident management companies offering legal advice to cover his ‘injury claim’ when there clearly wasn’t one.

The AVIVA employee has been sacked and an investigation is being carried out by the police and AVIVA have confirmed that no personal or medical data has been passed on and apologised. Their advice, which is the same as mine if phoned, is simply say the claim has been settled and hang up.

They are charlatans trying to make a quick buck whilst increasing all our premiums. I’m sure, whilst greed exists, we haven’t heard the last of this type of crime. Just don’t get into a conversation whenever they call. By Graham Hill

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Alloy Wheels Set To Be Replaced!

Saturday, 5. April 2014

When alloy wheels came onto the market they were revolutionary, they were smarter than the old steel wheels, didn’t need wheel covers that had a habit of flying off if you took a corner faster than 20 miles per hour, they were lighter and by simply changing the design of alloys fitted to your suped up Ford Fiesta you would change it’s whole appearance, like changing the design of glasses that you may wear.

Thinking of a change but unsure as to the best way to finance your car? Then you need a copy of my car finance book, Car Finance – A Simple Guide by Graham Hill. Click on the link below to buy the best car finance book on the market, available as a Kindle Book and Paper Back.

The downside, from my point of view, is the ease with which they scuff. The light weight alloy looks good, is lighter and these days easy enough to fit tyres onto but when a lease car is returned this is the one part of the car that causes most disputes. Scuffed alloys are not fair wear and tear as many drivers believe.

Hit the pavement and damage the alloy it must be repaired before it is returned or you will be charged for a repair. If you opt for the cheapest lease rates you should also be aware that in order to return a decent profit some leasing companies will even try to charge for replacement wheels (check your agreement).

A smart repair to an alloy would be around £30 – £50 per wheel but not good news if you have scuffed all four wheels. However, a better solution may be arriving soon. BMW have developed a new carbon fibre wheel following along behind the carbon tech designed i3 and i8.

Lightweight production boss at BMW, Franz Storkenmaier has been using carbon waste from the car production to develop other products including a carbon fibre steering wheel and combined the carbon with plastic to develop other lightweight components. But his main priority is the carbon fibre wheel rim. We saw some initial ideas fitted on the 2011 Mini Rocketman concept car.

With over a third weight saving over a traditional alloy they will have a measured improvement on CO2 emissions and fuel consumption when fitted. Herr Storkenmaier pointed out that the weight saving was the best sort of saving as it is ‘unsprung mass’ (no I don’t either), he added ‘Carbon Fibre wheels are more damage resistant, scratch them and it’s easier to polish out than an alloy.’

He pointed out that he has two wheels under development, one completely carbon and another with an alloy rim and carbon spokes. BMW has also added that the wheels, whilst lighter, are also stronger. Unfortunately we may not see them in full production for a while as they have yet to be certified by European regulators. By Graham Hill

BMW E63 M6 Coupé Wheel

BMW E63 M6 Coupé Wheel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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