Is The Government Serious About Electric Cars?

Friday, 9. February 2018

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.

Of course, they are making the right noises but are they making the right noises for the wrong reasons? I rarely supply electric cars, even with all the publicity surrounding the benefits to the environment and low running costs.

 

The original argument was that they were too expensive and the range wasn’t sufficient. Whilst we have managed to supply some electric cars at heavily subsidised rates, in some cases at lower rates than their petrol and diesel equivalents, they were still not taken up in numbers, even when the potential customers rarely took their cars on long trips. Mainly driving them around their local town. Even then, they still refused to lease them.

 

Look below the surface and you can see that if all drivers reverted to electric cars the Treasury would lose an absolute fortune. On the other hand, thanks to mayor Khan and Chris Grayling, we have suddenly found diesels demonised as destroying the environment and an opportunity for the Chancellor to hit diesels hard with initial registration tax and initial road fund licence.

 

In addition, for years, the Government encouraged manufacturers to develop diesel engines capable of achieving close to 100 miles per gallon, resulting in businesses turning virtually 100% to diesel cars. As a result of the Government’s changed green policy towards diesel engine’d cars they have now hit innocent company car drivers with added benefit-in-kind tax because their companies have provided them with diesel cars, as was recommended by the Government. I believe that there’s a stitch up going on here.

 

Am I right? Am I being unfair on the Government? Well, one of the reasons why I have come to this conclusion is a report I read regarding the installation of EV charge points installed in 2017. Top of the list was France with 11,987, next was Germany with 7,937 followed by the UK at an abysmal 2,833. 4th was Switzerland, just behind the UK at 2,716 with Norway 5th at 2,116.

 

As usual, it is my view that whilst the Government strongly supports a cleaner environment and a wholesale move to electric cars in public, it is secretly holding back the growth of electric cars in order to screw over drivers of petrol and diesel cars through increased taxation in the short term. By Graham Hill

A Rethink Over Smart Motorway Refuge Areas

Friday, 2. February 2018

Following complaints and serious concerns expressed by drivers on Smart Motorways the Highways Agency has had a rethink and decided to place refuge areas, wherever practical, at distances of 1 mile and not 1.5 miles as is the case at the moment.

 

They will also extend a system, currently in operation, that automatically detects broken down vehicles in live lanes. Highways England will also install more refuge areas in locations  ‘with the highest levels of potential live lane stops’ and paint them orange to increase driver confidence.’ That’ll work then, nothing like a lick of orange paint to increase confidence eh!

 

Clearly something had to be done following a survey carried out by the AA that found 80% of respondents saying that they felt that smart motorways are more dangerous than traditional motorways. The automated breakdown detection system will be rolled out to all smart motorways across the country following a successful trial on the M25.

 

Smart motorways are now being accepted more but Highways England have found motorists still using lanes that have been blocked off with a red X signal. Whilst they have not been charging motorists for breaking the rules to date, in future they will incur fines as well as penalty points, due to begin this year – you have been warned. By Graham Hill

 

MOT About To Go Through Major Changes

Friday, 2. February 2018

On the 20th May this year new rules come into play. Special attention is being paid to diesel cars and new defect categories will come into force. New categories will be Minor, Major and Dangerous. Major and Dangerous will cause the car to fail the test. Cars with Minor defects will be allowed to pass but the faults will be recorded on the MOT certificate and online MOT record in the same way as ‘advisories’ are at the moment.

 

The new tighter rules have been put in place to stop those driving older diesel cars with particulate filters from having the casing opened and the filter removed rather than replace it. In future, if a diesel car, fitted with a particulate filter (DPF) emits ‘visible smoke of any colour’, during the metered tests will be given a ‘Major Fault’ and will fail their MOT.

 

Testers will also need to check the DPF canisters more carefully and if there is evidence of them being opened and re-welded, removed completely or otherwise tampered with the tester must refuse to test the car unless the owner can prove that it was done for ‘legitimate reasons such as filter cleaning.’

 

The changes have been brought in by the EU with the categories Major, Minor and Dangerous being applied, in future, to all cars across the EU. The wording of MOT certificates will be altered to reflect the changes. Unlike the current scheme if faults are found that could show that the driver is driving a dangerous car or in breach of the Road Traffic Act he could be prosecuted. That should produce a few headlines!

 

Some believe that the new rules will create even more confusion. For example, if a steering box had a leak it would be regarded as a minor problem and the car would pass its MOT. However, if the leak from the box is enough to be dripping that would lead to the fault being regarded as a major fault and result in a failure – really!!

 

There are mixed views regarding the new categories. My view is that they are not workable as there will be no consistency between MOT centres as testers take a different view to each fault they find. What may be Minor to one could be dangerous to another. We will see. By Graham Hill

Top Ten Breakdown Service Callouts

Friday, 2. February 2018

According to What Car these are the top ten reasons why drivers call out breakdown services (in 2016)

 

  1. Battery (433,964)
  2. Puncture (328,863)
  3. Alternator (65,118)
  4. Engine (63,870)
  5. Clutch (57,153)
  6. Starter Motor (48,910)
  7. Engine Control Unit (34,756)
  8. Ignition Coil (29,287)
  9. Gearbox (20,789)
  10. Contaminated Diesel (19,711)

 

Very few of the above can be fixed at the side of the road so you would need to make sure that the cover you have is sufficient. Most new car policies that come with the car for either the first year or sometimes 3 years plus will be quite a good cover but some may only recover you to the nearest garage if you breakdown so check that. On the other hand your car insurance may cover you for a hire car so no need to include it in the breakdown policy.

 

Check the policies to make sure that you are sufficiently covered. Some policies will cover you in any car in which you are travelling so make sure that you are aware in case a friend’s or relative’s car breaks down and they don’t have a membership of a breakdown service whilst you are in the car.

 

Oh and make sure you have the number of the breakdown service in your phone, you don’t want to be fumbling about for the number when you break down in the middle of the night. By Graham Hill

Mileage Clocking On The Increase

Friday, 2. February 2018

According to Cap HPI, one in 16 cars on our roads has been clocked, i.e. had their mileage adjusted. The number of instances of clocking has increased by 25% over the last 3 years with over 40% of dealers having bought a second-hand car that they later found to be clocked. Cap HPI have estimated that an average family car can increase in value between £2,000 and £4,000 after wiping off 60,000 miles from the mileage reading.

 

The RAC agreed with the Cap HPI findings saying, ‘Our vehicle check data shows that discrepancies with MOT recorded mileages are on the increase for vehicles more than 3 years old.’ The cost of clocking to buyers has been estimated to be £800 million with an estimated 5 million cars showing incorrect mileages.

 

Years ago someone would climb underneath the car, attach a drill bit to the speedo cable and run the mileage forward till the desired mileage was reached after starting again from zero. Or someone would remove the speedo and with a screwdriver fiddle about with the counters but that often left telltale scratches on the dial and the counters. Not that I ever did anything like that.

 

It was as wrong then as it is now. But not illegal as long as you told the new owner that the mileage has been adjusted – yeah right. The trouble is these days mileages can be adjusted with a laptop and connector within a few minutes. There are companies out there who will ‘adjust your mileage’ for £100. Frankly, it’s a disgrace.

 

As always the press has turned on those taking out PCP agreements who realise how much the excess mileage bill will be at the end of the agreement and decide that it would be cheaper to adjust the speedo reading. As a result, it has been suggested by the press, that 3-year-old car are being returned to the leasing companies with an adjusted mileage. Of course years ago the only reason why cars were clocked was to increase value. These days it is suggested that it’s because drivers are trying to avoid excess mileage charges.

 

The fact is that years ago we had no warning lights in the cockpit. We either had the car serviced whenever we reached the service mileage or at the end of the year, whichever came sooner. Or, as was the case with this struggling accountant, we waited till we heard a crunching noise from the brakes, clutch, suspension etc. and got them replaced. So whilst we were being conned out our hard earned money by the clockers they weren’t putting lives at quite so much risk as those clocking these days.

 

As I’ve mentioned before, many of the safety systems in modern cars are triggered by the mileage on the car when repairs or replacements are necessary. So if a driver has had the mileage changed on a modern car he or she could be putting theirs and other’s lives at risk by throwing out all the safety alert systems that rely on mileage.

 

So if you are considering clocking – don’t! And if you are buying a used car check the service history for dates and mileages, look carefully at the condition, worn carpets on a low mileage car is always a giveaway. Test drive the car and ask the seller questions if you have concerns. Don’t get caught out by a dealer who puts a caveat into his sales agreement that states that the mileage isn’t verified.

 

Another trick of the trade is to show one mileage on the car when you test drive then adjust it back to the original true mileage when you collect it so that they can’t be prosecuted for selling you a car showing an incorrect mileage.

 

The crazy situation is that clocking can put lives at risk. I, like others feel that the Government should make the selling of the equipment that they use to adjust mileages online illegal and the clocking of cars by anyone other than a registered garage, who only does so after a fault is repaired, to be made completely illegal. As usual our laws are not fit for purpose. By Graham Hill

Plug-In Hybrids – The Dangers

Friday, 26. January 2018

I reported last year that companies in particular, as well as many private drivers, were being tempted into Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) as a result of MPG’s being advertised of 130 – 150. One company in particular, under pressure from employees because PHEV’s come with low benefit-in-kind tax, switched much, if not all of their fleet to Mitsubishi Outlanders.

 

However, many of the drivers had no access to charge points so drove their cars as a normal hybrid but ended up driving the car mainly on the petrol engine. The result meant that the cars that should have achieved over 130 MPG ended up returning just 25 MPG. At the time of writing the company was haemorrhaging money, pouring it into the tanks of its cars.

 

The point is that as pressure increases on companies and consumers to take more fuel efficient cars you should understand that PHEV’s are only efficient if they are run on the electric motor which must be charged from a charge point, not the trickle charge from the petrol engine. Make sure that if you are going down this route you understand all the implications.

 

There are grants for charge points to be installed at work and at home but if you don’t have access to your own or a street charge point your car could end up costing a fortune in petrol costs and the increased emissions do more damage than if you’d taken a petrol car in the first place. By Graham Hill

 

Most Popular Car Colours In 2017

Friday, 26. January 2018

The most popular colours specified on new cars in 2017 ran pretty much true to form. Most manufacturers have reduced choice over the years with a few exceptions.

 

Few cars are ordered for stock these days as dealers have to pay for the cars as they arrive rather than when they sell them so they influence colour choice further by only producing black or grey cars.

 

In the VW range their only solid paint is now Urano Grey so with manufacturers still charging for metallic paint as an extra (ridiculous) there are a lot of grey VW’s on the road that was the only colour available from stock.

 

Moving on to the top five colours. They were Black (20.3%), Grey (19.7%), White (19%), Blue (16%) and finally Silver at just 10%. By Graham Hill

Are You Properly Insured When You Test Drive A Used Car?

Friday, 26. January 2018

When a used car dealer buys a car he either buys it at auction, takes it in part exchange or buys it from one of many other sources. As a registered trader he simply advises the DVLA that he is now the owner and has the car up for sale. Thus avoiding another owner in the log book (V5C). All good so far.

 

As a result of this he must keep the car off the road and when driven on the public highway he needs trade plates. The trade plates identify the dealer and also prove that he has Trader Insurance. As a result he can use the car for his own trips but predominantly the trade plates are used when a customer takes the car for a test drive.

 

A little like having fully comp insurance with the ‘any driver’ clause. But, unlike a domestic policy that generally only covers other drivers for Third Party Only the trader policy covers all drivers fully comp.

 

Now here’s the thing, a firm of lawyers has found that under the Road Vehicle (Registration & Licencing) Regulations 2002 a dealer who has held a car in stock for more than 3 months i.e. the three months period of grace, he or the company must register the car in their name (PART 4, Regulation 24).

 

This means, according to the lawyers who picked this up, that the dealer can no longer use the trade plates on the car once registered in their name, they must tax the car and insure it independently. It could also have a more sinister consequence.

 

Once the car has been owned for more than 3 months as a ‘stock car’ very few dealers are aware that they must buy the car so continue to take potential buyers out on test drives using their trade plates. As the DVLA would consider that the car was illegally on the road, after the 3 months period, unless registered, it could render the traders insurance void.

 

So you could be on a test drive, have an accident, and either be uninsured, or if you have fully comp on your own car, your own insurance may take over. However, you will only be covered for possibly third party with potentially a massive excess to pay.

 

Worse still I understand that many fully comp policies no longer include any cover at all when driving any car other than your own unless requested at the time of taking out the policy.

 

With over 8 million used cars changing hands each year there must be many car dealers carrying stock over 3 months old. Ask the question when you go for a test drive. By Graham Hill

End Of Contract Servicing – Beware

Friday, 26. January 2018

I read an interesting story about a car crash that happened whilst a car was being driven by a car mechanic. A firm of lawyers was using the story as a case history of what can go wrong when evidence is lost or disposed of. Basically the driver, taking the car on a test drive, had an accident that not only injured him but also several other innocent motorists.

 

A forensic investigation took place following a police interview with the driver who could recall nothing of the accident. Evidence collected at the scene and an investigation of the wreck showed that the most likely cause of the loss of control was a deflated rear tyre.

 

However, at this critical point of the investigation, as it was several weeks after the crash took place, the suspect wheel had been thrown away. It was devastating for the driver as the lawyers needed the tyre to be able to prove whether the loss of control was, in fact, the tyre or  whether it was down to driver competence, his input and/or that of those who serviced the car?

 

Without the tyre they couldn’t tell whether the deflation was the cause or result of the crash. Did the sidewall collapse or did it have a puncture? Without this vital evidence the mechanic was found guilty of causing the accident – seen as unjust by the lawyers as the mechanic suffered and the garage saw its insurance sky rocket, all because a vital part of the car wasn’t kept.

 

The important message here is never destroy evidence. Which got me thinking. At the end of a contract you often find that a service is due. Some cars tell you on a ‘condition based counter’. This means that the service is due based on the way that you drive the car, time and mileage. On the other hand it could be an annual service per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

 

As most lease cars are registered a day or two before the car is delivered the service becomes due a day or two before the car is due back. Read the contract but the chances are that you will have to get the car serviced.

 

It’s a pain in the neck for you but a profit opportunity for the garage to charge for repairs/replacements that aren’t necessary. Typically they will tell you that you need fluid changes or replacement brake pads, even though warning lights haven’t come on.

 

On one occasion I still had a month to go and my brake warning light came on so I popped in to a garage for a new set of pads. Whilst they were carrying out the work the service manager came out and told me that the discs needed changing as well. I asked if they were illegal and as soon as he said no I told him to leave them. Worse still if I’d said change them and they invoiced me without doing anything. Which is my next point.

 

Some main dealers and garages take a video of the work they carry out which you can watch in real time on your phone or tablet or have it sent to you after the service/repair has been completed. If they don’t video make sure you ask for the replaced parts to be put into a box and placed in your boot.

 

If you feel that the item didn’t need to be replaced have it checked and be prepared to challenge the dealer if your expert says the work didn’t need to be done. It seems Trading Standards are getting more pro-active. By Graham Hill

 

Should Ex Lease Cars Be Demonised?

Friday, 26. January 2018

I read an interesting story this week about car dealership Robins and Day who had to pay a fine of £5,000 plus £500 costs and £1,000 compensation to their customer for not declaring that the car was an ex-hire car.

 

Their customer bought a Peugeot from their dealership in Gateshead in January 2017 for around £10,000 marked up as ‘one previous owner’. Within a few days of purchase he noticed a smell and, having returned the car to the dealer, was told that the clutch needed replacing.

 

He was then told that he would have to pay the major part of the replacement cost, £650, as they suggested that it was because of his wife’s driving style. You know me, my blood started to boil when I read this. How on earth could a driving style wear out a clutch in a matter of days? Personally I would have rejected the goods.

 

In the meantime the customer received the V5C (log book) which showed that the previous owner was car hire company, Europcar. The customer took up the case with the local Trading Standards Office who confirmed that the car had indeed been owned by Europcar so had been driven by many drivers with varying driving styles.

 

Gateshead Council Trading Standards prosecuted Robins and Day under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The company pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay as shown above.

 

But the interesting point here was that in amongst the report they explained that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that dealers now have to disclose the full history of any car before selling it.

 

This includes whether the car was leased, hired or used for fleet purposes. In my opinion I feel it is right that you are told if a car was hired out because it would have had many drivers and, as a result of the different driving styles, cause abnormal wear and tear on certain component parts.

 

However, in my experience, most lease and fleet cars are only driven by one person or possibly the main driver along with another family member. They also have to be maintained to the highest standard to avoid end of lease charges as well as making sure that the car spends as little time off the road awaiting repairs as a result of driver abuse.

 

So in fact this could work in your favour. Judge the car by its mileage and service history. If you find an ex lease car with relatively low mileage and perfect service history you could still argue with the dealer that as the car was leased ‘and probably abused as most company cars are’, you need more off the price.

 

Of course the car will be perfectly fit for purpose but the ex-lease or fleet info puts you into a strong negotiating position. By Graham Hill