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

Friday, 26. May 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.

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

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

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

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

European Laws Following Article 50

Tuesday, 17. January 2017

What happens to the laws being introduced by the EU after Prime Minister May has started the Brexit process by enacting Article 50? Over the next couple of years, called the transition period, the EU will impose laws on all member countries but where does it leave us as we will still be part of the EU for two years after Article 50 is passed through parliament?

Take the European Court of Justice ruling in the Vnuk case. A Slovakian man was injured when a tractor reversed into a ladder that Mr Vnuk was on. Insurers refused to pay up as the accident happened on private land so it was up to Mr Vnuk to sue the driver privately for his injuries.

His claim went through the courts and failed at eac level until it was referred to the European Court of Justice. The European Court of Justice ruled in 2014 that it was compulsory for all vehicles to have insurance, whether on the road or not, and whether used as a vehicle or machine, which should have therefore protected Mr Vnuk.

The EU’s Motor Insurance Directive states that vehicles such as lawnmowers, disability scooters and golf buggies should all carry insurance, much to the annoyance of our own insurance industry. The Government is, as a result, consulting about changes to the Road Traffic Act in order to meet the EU regulations.

Having expressed concerns regarding the cost of conforming to the EU regulations it would seem that as we are expecting to be outside the EU when the changes have been formalised the lawmakers have introduced a ‘sunset’ clause which means that changes to our current laws, as a result of this directive, can be immediately ditched the minute we Brexit. What a waste of time and money.

The question is how many more regulations will be introduced with ‘sunset’ clauses incorporated into the UK laws before we fully exit the EU? And where do we stand when European workers come into the UK to work on farms and experience similar accidents, will we need regulations to cover UK workers and others to cover EU workers and will UK workers be happy to be refused the same protection as those working in EU countries? And so my concerns about the full implications of Brexit continue. By Graham Hill

Warranties, Guarantees And The 2 Year EU Guarantee Rule

Tuesday, 20. December 2016

As things stand at the moment whilst we are still members of the EU, a 2 year guarantee is your minimum right on anything you buy. National rules in your own country may give you extra protection, however, any deviation  from the EU rules can only happen if it is in the consumer’s best interest.
If goods you bought anywhere in the EU (any of the 28 member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) turn out to be faulty or do not look or work as advertised, the seller must repair or replace them free of charge or give you a price reduction or a full refund. This does not apply to items purchased from an individual.
According to Your Europe you might not be entitled to a refund if the problem is minor, such as a scratch on a CD case or damaged packaging. I would argue that if say a bottle of perfume was purchased as a gift then the packaging is part of the product and the whole item should be replaced or money paid back.
In this country we now have the Consumer Rights Act that strengthens the consumer’s position as you have the right to reject a faulty item within 1 month of purchase and demand your money back. After 1 month and up to 6 months after receiving the goods, if a fault occurs that appears to be a fault that existed when you bought the goods you simply need to prove to the seller that a fault exists.
He has one opportunity to attempt to repair the fault, after which he must return your money if the fault remains. After 6 months and up to 6 years the onus is on the consumer to show that a fault existed at the time of purchase through maybe an independent inspection. I cover this in more detail elsewhere in this book.
Every member state has a European Consumer Centre that can help with difficulties if you have a problem with goods supplied by another EU country. They can also help with complaints against UK companies when consumers are supplied with goods that are faulty or do not look or work as advertised. You can find them here:
In the UK shops and producers tend to offer an additional commercial guarantee (also referred to as a warranty), either included in the price of the product or at an additional cost. The rule here is that it must give you the same or better protection than the EU 2 year Guarantee. It can never replace or reduce the rights you have in law.
The fascinating thing here is that the EU rules cover items bought as used (excluding purchases from a private individual). So let’s say you bought a used car from a dealer who offered the usual 3 month or 6 month warranty. If the car develops a fault that can be identified as being on the car when purchased, any time up to 2 years after the day you took delivery, you have a claim under EU law. The warranty cannot replace your legal rights only enhance them.
In another example that easily explains your position let’s say you bought a kettle with a 6 months sellers guarantee. It breaks after 8 months and you take it back to the shop. The shop assistant explains that the guarantee has run out so you are not entitled to a refund. You can point out that under EU law the shop guarantee is provided as ‘additional services’ and that the EU law covers you for 2 years. In point of fact you are also covered by the Consumer Rights Act but under our law the onus is on the buyer to prove that the fault pre-existed. Not difficult to prove as the expected life of a kettle must be in excess of 5 years.
HUGE REVELATION: Now here is a very important point that illustrates the 2 year rule. If you visit the VW website they explain, better than most, your position with their new car warranty. I should add at this stage that the 2 year rule does not discriminate against useage. So the 2 year guarantee covers you whether you cover 8,000 miles PA or 100,000 miles PA, the guarantee is time related. Back to VW. When you take a new VW you will be told that the warranty lasts for 3 years or 60,000 miles. But here’s the truth, and it applies to all cars purchased in the UK and across the EU, the first two years warranty is unlimited miles but you only get the third year cover provided you are still under 60,000 miles. Here is an extract from their site:
All new Volkswagen passenger cars purchased from an Authorised Retailer in the United Kingdom qualify for a 3 year vehicle warranty consisting of a 2 year/unlimited mileage warranty and a 3rd year warranty with a 60,000 mile limitation.
The chances are that you and many taxi drivers were totally unaware of this fact!
In some EU countries the buyer and seller can agree a guarantee period of less than 2 years but that must be fully understood by both parties and cannot be less than 12 months. I will be covering warranties in greater detail elsewhere in this book as there are various types and levels of cover. And I have a revelation regarding Manufacturer Warranties that will possibly shock you.

 

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

 

Some Of The Technological Advances In The Latest Cars

Tuesday, 22. November 2016

Technology is advancing at an amazing rate in cars to the point where many new and used car drivers are quite oblivious to some of the latest features fitted to their cars. It is bad enough getting to find out what is fitted to your car when it is new but when you buy a used car from a used car lot the chances are that the dealer hasn’t a clue so you’ve no chance.

However, as always Hill is here to help so here is a breakdown of some of the latest features and what they do: 360 Degree Cameras: Rear parking cameras have been with us for about 15 years but the low cost of cameras and new technology enables you to have an all round view of the car and in some cases an image of your car from a position above. This technology can help with parking, especially into car park bays with cars either side.

However, what we need is continual surveillance and a voice that tells anyone, in no uncertain terms to F*** Off if they are about to key the side of your car and inform them that they have been photographed – something I could have done with a year ago. Bastards!

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB): This uses sensors to check to see if you are getting too close to an obstacle when driving. If, given your speed, you are getting too close a visual and audible warning is given. Get too close, where the system senses an accident is about to happen, and the brakes are applied with sufficient force to enable you to stop before impact. Euro NCAP safety tests favour cars with this feature fitted as it is believed to prevent 38% of rear end crashes.

Lane Departure Warning: Does what it says, if it feels that the driver is drifting across the lane markings the system will alert the driver with either an audible and/or visual alert and in some cars a vibrating steering wheel (leave it). This feature is already standard on many new cars.

Traffic Jam Assistance: This uses AEB technology along with lane departure technology to keep you in the lane in slow moving traffic with little intervention by the driver.

Blind Spot Warning: this detects cars approaching either side of the car from behind using radar technology to detect cars approaching in your blind spot. It doesn’t do this every time a car is about to overtake or a bike undertake – that would be silly!  Only when it senses that you are attempting a lane change and senses an approaching vehicle will it sound an alarm or lights appear around the door mirror on the side that the vehicle is approaching. Automatic Main Beam: You can switch this on continuously but will only automatically activate when the light dictates. The system senses when you are approaching a car in front or a car is approaching you from the opposite direction and automatically dips the main beam. It can even detect cyclists approaching and also drops to dip beam in lit up areas. Some new LED units can now give the driver as much light in front even though the headlights are no longer dazzling approaching drivers. Clever!

Rear Collision Warnings: This clever system senses a fast approaching car from behind and immediately switches on the hazard warning lights to alert the driver of both vehicles. If the car continues to close fast the seatbelt pre-tensioners are applied and the brakes are also applied to reduce whiplash injury and attempt to stop the concertina effect.

Evasive Steering Assist: This system senses an approaching vehicle on a single carriageway and prevents the car from veering into its path. Some systems can sense a pedestrian walking into the path of the car and allows the car to gently swerve to miss the person then return to the normal driving line.

Rear Cross Traffic Alert: This is activated when reversing out of a parking space and can sense anyone else approaching, possibly also in reverse, and stops the car in order to prevent a collision. Some can also sense cyclists and pedestrians.

Speed Limit Detection: This picks up the speed limit from speed limit signs and adjusts the cruise control speed automatically. It can also place the speed limit on the screen if you are exceeding it and it will gradually adjust the adaptive cruise control speed down to within 5mph of the limit. So there you have it, some of the latest advances in technology, most of which is either available as an optional extra or fitted as standard on new cars. By Graham Hill

What Will Happen To Car Leasing Following Brexit

Tuesday, 22. November 2016

On the face of it nothing much has happened. There has been a bit of a drop off of cheap lease deals but that is pretty much down to the fact that most manufacturers will hit their new car sales targets this year with a total number of new cars sold, close to or hitting 3 million. And if you are hitting your targets why give away more discount than you need to?
You’d have to be nuts. This also means that in 2 or 3 years time when the lease deals end there will be a surge of used cars in the market just as we fully exit the EU. Good news for used car buyers but bad news for the leasing companies who have to try and predict future values.
With this in mind we have already seen an upward adjustment of rates due to two things. A price increase imposed by most manufacturers following the weakening of the pound and a re-alignment of resale values for the reason stated above. Now having said that leasing companies are very poor at predicting future values. They said that 2016 would see a slump but it didn’t, in fact used car performance this year has been particularly strong.
The problem is that leasing companies take a simplistic approach. They use a very simple supply and demand model, which for many seems to be the only way to predict the future. For example if we have sold a lot of cars this year on 3 year leases it makes sense to assume that there will be a glut of 3 year old cars in three years time, thereby driving down the price of these cars in auction and through the trade.
But my theory, and it is only my theory, is that the used car market isn’t linear. Let me explain, each year somewhere between 8 and 9 million used cars change hands. A linear approach would suggest that demand remains constant, so there will be roughly the same number of 1 year old car buyers (that’s the car not the buyer – good grief), the same number of 2 year old car buyers etc.
If we have roughly the same number of buyers of 3 year old cars in 3 years I agree that the average car price would drop. But this ignores desire. Experience has shown that as manufacturers change models more frequently there is a greater desire to have a much newer car with more gizmos fitted. So many 4 and 5 year old car buyers force themselves into the 3 year old sector increasing demand and forcing up prices.
So will we see any major changes as we exit Europe? Much depends on the trade arrangement that we negotiate. If we negotiate a strong tariff free deal it will not only ensure that we don’t have to factor in duties but that should also strengthen sterling. And with consumers mainly funding new cars on the more expensive PCP with only 5% using the cheaper Personal Contract Hire (PCH) I believe that the industry will remain generally buoyant with a few glitches along the way! You’re right I haven’t got a Scooby!  By Graham Hill 

 

What Lessons Will Be Learned By The Zafira Debacle?

Friday, 12. August 2016

In the current Health and Safety obsession by the EU and lawmakers in all civilised countries I find this next piece very hard to believe can still happen, especially in the UK. If you are a recent reader of my musings you may not have read the piece I put out regarding the sort of health and safety attitude that existed in the US in the 1970’s.

Briefly, Ford had a car called the Pinto which happened to be the biggest selling ‘sub compact’ car in the US at the time. Unfortunately the design of the car was unsafe, they had placed the fuel tank in such a position that if the car was hit from behind the tank exploded.

More than 500 people died as a result of the Pinto bursting into flames when they were either driving or were a passenger in the car. Many more received severe burn injuries. When a burn victim sued Ford for the faulty design it was uncovered that Ford engineers had known about the problem for many years. But Ford management had carried out a cost – benefit analysis and concluded that it wasn’t worth the $11 per car to fix the problem by recalling all of the cars compared to the cost of recompense payable to the victims.

They believed that if the problem remained unfixed they would face claims from 180 burn victims and the families of 180 victims killed. They placed a monetary value of $67,000 on a burn victim and $200,000 on a death. They added to these costs the cost of replacing the cars. They concluded that if they fixed the problem it would save them $49.5 million in compensation and car replacement costs but the cost of repairing the 12.5 million cars affected would set them back $137.5 million.

So they concluded that the cost of paying out for losses and injuries was a better option than paying out for the cars to be repaired. This of course raised a number of issues that the US Government jumped on and Ford ended up with huge costs and penalties to pay. One would assume that this couldn’t possibly happen again in this day and age with a higher moral obligation placed on companies along with massive legal consequences.

But then I read about the recent problems experienced by Vauxhall Zafira owners. I had seen several YouTube videos of Zafiras catching light and cars being pretty much instantly destroyed. For ages Vauxhall denied the existence of a problem but after 300 Zafiras caught fire they were forced to take a more responsible approach. The problem was found to be in the car’s heating and ventilation system which led to a recall of all Zafiras, known as ‘B’ models on sale between 2005 and 2014.

They originally claimed that the problem had only come to light in 2014, following which they instigated a full recall in December 2015. However, when questioned by MP’s a couple of weeks ago, Peter Hope, customer experience director at Vauxhall, admitted that they had known about the problem as long ago as 2009 when the first fire was reported. Their excuse was that when cars are completely destroyed by fire there is very little evidence left to analyse in order to establish the cause of the fire.

The good news is that unlike the Ford Pinto no-one was even injured but that isn’t the point. At what stage does a car manufacturer take responsibility and carry out a very detailed investigation when consistent things go wrong with one of their car models? The estimated cost of repairs is £33.6 million – tough! Only now, in the month of August 2016 is a further 235,000 Zafiras, as agreed with the DVLA, being recalled to have the fault fixed.

Shame on you Vauxhall for putting customers through all this when it could have been avoided. When Vauxhall denied responsibility drivers no doubt made insurance claims for their losses, paying an excess and losing no claims bonus. This simply isn’t good enough and after making the cars safe again they should prepare a plan to pay those affected compensation, something, according to Peter Hope is not at the moment being considered. What a disgrace! By Graham Hill