There Are No Such Things As Accurate MPG Figures

Friday, 6. February 2015

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.

Drivers have been complaining for years that the MPG figures provided by car manufacturers are inaccurate and don’t reflect every day driving. Correct, the figures are calculated by applying very strict conditions within a controlled environment to best reflect the conditions, known as Urban, Extra Urban and Combined.

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The fact is that every car is subjected to exactly the same tests so if nothing else the resultant figures provide a fairly accurate way of comparing the results of different models. It can’t be done any other way. If you were to drive the same Ford Fiesta round the same route in the middle of Bath on three separate days I guarantee you will achieve three different results.

Add to that changing weather conditions along with different driving styles and the results become meaningless and can vary massively. So let’s stop whinging on about the manufacturers’ fuel consumption figures and simply use them as a guide as to which cars use more fuel than others. In America the situation is different.

There have been a string of high profile cases involving Kia, Hyundai and Ford after they all admitted leading customers astray over fuel consumption figures. The cases resulted in hefty fines and compensation being paid to car buyers.

But before you start opening Word in order to start your claims process the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) say it is unlikely that any similar claim in the UK would succeed as the EU testing regime does not claim to represent real world driving conditions. Sorry ladies and gentlemen but simply drop the suggested MPG by 15 to 20, that should give you a more accurate figure. By Graham Hill

New Ridiculous MPG Rules To Be Introduced

Saturday, 20. September 2014

OK got my angry hat on so watch out! If it’s not APR it’s bloody MPG. I’m sick to death of the ridiculous arguments over MPG and I’m even more angry to read this week that the EU is to poke their nose into our affairs, yet again, and legislate on the way MPG figures are calculated.

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They are set to demand that vehicle emission and economy tests be carried out on public roads rather than in laboratories. I thought it was dopey enough when What Car decided to carry out their own tests on cars to establish a more ‘realistic’ MPG but simply ignored this idiocy as a ploy to sell more magazines but it’s now getting ridiculous.

First of all expect your road fund licence cost to increase along with your benefit in kind tax as it will show an increase in CO2 emissions but let me turn to MPG, which is about as accurate a measure as APR and Brake Horsepower. I think we would all agree that the MPG, achieved in a laboratory, under very strict test conditions, will not be achievable under normal driving conditions.

So we are all agreed so far. And MPG can vary as a result of the road conditions, the condition of the car and most important of all the way we drive. Agreed? So with such a mash up of so many factors it is virtually impossible to come up with a definitive MPG. Ask any driver how they drive and they will come up with numerous different descriptions, let’s think of a few, carefully, fast, slowly, safely, quickly, with care, legally, illegally, cautiously, erratically, carelessly, considerately and like a rabid monkey.

The fact is that we all drive differently, not only to each other but also in different road conditions. Some drivers drive more carefully when it is raining or if there is ice about whilst others see these conditions as sent to test their rally driving skills affecting the fuel consumption substantially.

Poor service and maintenance of the car can affect fuel consumption as can worn tyres or incorrectly inflated tyres which can make a difference of up to 15% in fuel consumption. Braking hard, braking late, racing away from traffic lights can all affect fuel consumption, even having a window open, continual use of air conditioning or the fitting of a roof rack can affect the fuel you use as well as carrying passengers and/or a load of unnecessary or even necessary weight in the boot.

Cars are also not manufactured with the same precision as a Swiss watch, the mechanics will vary slightly between identical cars produced on the same day providing different fuel consumption. I think you get the gist, it is absolutely impossible to establish ‘accurate’ real life fuel consumption figures for all the reasons mentioned. So why are we about to spend a fortune trying to fix something that ‘aint broke. At least with the way MPG figures are established at the moment all cars are tested consistently in laboratories.

The figures may not reflect genuine real life conditions but they provide a means to compare different makes and models of cars. So if your car choice is between a Ford Fiesta or a Vauxhall Corsa you will find that the Government controlled average on the Fiesta is 54.3mpg whilst that on the Corsa is 51.4mpg. So whilst you probably won’t achieve either figure when you drive the cars the Fiesta is likely to be a little better than the Corsa. So to change the method now would be a nonsense and a waste of money.

What inspectors found when they checked the way manufacturers established their MPG figures was doors being taped up and tests being carried out on very smooth surfaces. This is where action needed to be taken so that all tests are identical and we certainly don’t need the Europeans poking about and instructing us on how we should do things!

Oh and if it was possible to ‘manipulate’ the figures under controlled conditions in a laboratory I can only imagine the manipulation that will go on when attempting to replicate real life driving conditions. Nonsense, absolute bloody nonsense! By Graham Hill

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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Graham Hill Warns About The New Financial Conduct Authority

Monday, 3. February 2014

We are getting close to the day when the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) takes over from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and launches its new guidelines to the finance industry. The new rules will affect all parties involved in ‘consumer’ finance. At one end of the spectrum the new rules will affect consumers as well as non limited SME’s such as sole traders and small partnerships, in the same way as the Consumer Credit Act covers these entities at present.

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 rules will also affect every provider of ‘consumer’ finance. In the motor trade that will include the finance organisations as well as dealers, brokers and introducers such as accountants and IFA’s, all will be affected by the new rules which will come into force from the beginning of April 2014.

For those currently providing advice they should have applied and paid for ‘Interim Permission’ that keeps their Consumer Credit Licence active whilst the changes are introduced. If, whoever you are dealing with, doesn’t have interim permission they are trading outside the law. The problem is that we don’t yet know exactly what the rules will be, making it impossible to prepare for them.

One thing is for certain, we will have much stronger controls imposed upon applicants for finance to prove that they can afford the repayments. This raises two issues, the first goes to the core of the credit industry which is down to the judgement of the underwriter. The word affordability is used in the proposed regulations but what does it mean.

We are told that applicants will have to provide some form of affordability proof. This is likely to be an income and expenditure statement. But if you take a person who can demonstrate income of £1,000 per month with expenditure of £1,001,including his vehicle costs, does this mean that he fails the affordability test?

He is hardly likely to pop to the pub for a pint if it means he can’t afford the repayment on his car which he needs to get to work in the first place to earn his £1,000 per month. So it will be interesting to see how this pans out and what additional pressures are placed on those providing and wanting finance.

It is a bizarre situation when someone else has to tell me if I can afford a repayment on a car or not. Personally I would die of starvation before I would give up my car through non payment of the monthly lease. Which brings us to the next point. After carrying out a more substantial test on applicants for finance it is reasonable to assume that far fewer applicants will receive credit approval, otherwise what would be the purpose of the massive investment and the changes to legislation?

So let’s think about that. I have a client who applies for finance on a Ford Fiesta at a prime rate of £150 + VAT per month. Unfortunately he fails the affordability test so he is now forced to go down the path of sub prime lenders. The current rate is around £295 + VAT per month for the same car.

But the sub prime lender must surely apply the same affordability test or is it a little less stringent – in which case it defeats the objectives of making sure the client can afford to make the repayments in the first place. By making sure he isn’t offered finance at £150 per month how on earth is he likely to be able to make payments at twice the rate?

The whole thing is starting to look like a farce but very worrying at the same time. The only advice I would give at this stage is that if you are looking to change your car this year do it before April you could give yourself an awfiul lot of work and be badly disappointed! Watch this space. By Graham Hill

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Do We Need A New Car Model Every Year?

Friday, 23. September 2011

Isn’t it about time the manufactures started to put their design staff on some internal company awareness courses or set them to work planning the layout of the staff canteen or something? Why should they do this? Because we have far too many cars and variants. Over the years we have seen the manufacturers start to change their cars every year with Read more

Graham Hill Names The Top Ten Selling Cars Of 2010

Tuesday, 8. February 2011

Nissan Qashqai Facelift

Image via Wikipedia

Who wants to know the best selling cars of 2010? No-one? Well tough I’m going to tell you anyway! The Fiesta tops the chart for the second year but the Nissan Qashqai has popped into the top ten as a result of Nissan’s car sales hike from 77,924 in 2009 to 87,396 in 2010, a jump of 15%. This made Nissan the most popular Japanese car maker in the UK overtaking Toyota who suffered badly with its massive recall dropping sales by 15%. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) who Read more

Vauxhall Insignia Found To Be UK’s Most Reliable Car

Friday, 21. January 2011

Opel Insignia 1.6 Edition side 20100912
Image by M 93 via Flickr

DEKRA, Germany’s equivalent to our AA or RAC, has voted the Vauxhall Insignia as Europe’s most reliable car. The findings came about following 15 million inspections of 230 different models so a pretty significant survey. DEKRA is highly regarded for its independent inspections and testing. The Insignia came out on top with more than 96% failure free. Good news for GM as their Corsa topped the chart last year. In second and third place came the Ford Fiesta (95.8%) and the Toyota Prius (95.6%). So surprise surprise we have made the Insignia our deal of the week. Do you run an Insignia, has it been reliable for you? By Graham Hill

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Ford Leads The Way With In Mirror Gadgetry

Friday, 29. October 2010

Ford seems obsessed with their rear view mirrors. First (as I announced recently) they added an option to have a Sat Nav built into the mirror now they have the option of adding a rear camera with the screen in the mirror. Buyers of all models from the Edge to the Titanium will have the £475 option available that includes the camera, automatic headlamps and wipers, camera and rear parking sensors as well as the special rear view mirror. Good idea or potentially a distraction? What do you think? By Graham Hill

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Ford Announces Amazing New Engine

Friday, 8. October 2010

Ford has announced their plans to create the ‘most significant’ engine ever. They are close to making a spectacular breakthrough that will drop the fuel consumption on some of their most popular cars to 100 miles per gallon. The goal will be reached within the next 5 years. The power unit is a new 3 cylinder engine has been created by their research team in Holland. The final decision to go into production lies with the development engineers based in Dunton in Essex. The engine will have a 1.0 litre Read more

Top Passers Of MOT Tests Revealed

Sunday, 26. September 2010

Image by CARLOS62 via Flickr

Halfords owned Nationwide Autocentres has revealed the top ten 3 year old cars and 5 year old cars to pass the MOT amongst the UK’s best selling cars. This information is normally very hard to find so Halfords have pretty much broken ranks by revealing the information that I print out below: 

3 Year Old Cars % Fail
BMW 3 Series 7
VW Golf 11
Ford Mondeo 12
Ford Fiesta 13
Ford Focus 13
Renault Clio 13
Vauxhall Astra 14
Ford KA 15
Vauxhall Corsa 20
Renault Megane 25


5 Year Old Cars % Fail
Ford Fiesta 20
VW Golf 21
Vauxhall Astra 21
Ford Focus 22
Peugeot 206 24
Ford Mondeo 27
Peugeot 307 33
Renault Clio 34
Renaukt Megane 35
Vauxhall Corsa 39

The figures were based on the top 10 selling cars during the year of manufacture according to Halfords. One or two surprises there I have to say but it would be interesting to see stats for all cars, not just the top sellers, now that would be revealing! Are you surprised by any of the figures, drop me a note? By Graham Hill

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