Apr 302018
 

Choosing whether to drive an automatic or manual vehicle is just one of the many important decisions you’ll have to make when buying a new car.

With close to 650,000 new cars with automatic gearboxes registered in Britain in 2016 – a rise of 55% compared to 2013 – automatic gearboxes are catching up with the number of manual vehicles on UK roads.

Many enjoy the feeling of total control a manual gearbox gives but some prefer the easier drive of an automatic.

If you’re undecided, Warranty Direct has explored the advantages and disadvantages of each to help make your decision easier.

What’s the difference?

A manual gearbox requires the driver to physically change the gears as the car slows down or speeds up using the clutch and gear stick. A manual gearbox typically has up to five, six or seven gears to choose from. This is the most commonly found transmission in the UK with 70% of people driving a manual car, according to a survey conducted by the AA in 2016.

An automatic gearbox selects the gear best suited to the speed of the car without any driver input. It does this by selecting from Park, Neutral, Reverse or Drive options using a gear-lever, control knob or buttons.

Growing in popularity across the UK, some car brands now include an option for drivers to swap between automatic and manual transmission for mass appeal.

Cost efficiency

A manual gearbox does have financial advantages. Cars with a manual transmission are generally cheaper to buy and run than their automatic counterparts and the average insurance premium is around 6% lower too.

They’re also generally easier to fix if a problem occurs. This is because automatic vehicles have hundreds of mechanical, hydraulic and electronic parts that must work in harmony to shift gears smoothly. In contrast, manual transmissions are mostly mechanical gears relying on the driver to engage the clutch and shift when needed.

An automatic can cost drivers more money in fuel as they need more power to run. However, this does depend on the model and more efficient and environmentally- friendly automatic gearboxes are being introduced all the time

Ease of use

Some motorists have difficulties managing the hand-foot co-ordination needed to drive manually and argue automatic cars are simpler to use, creating a more relaxing drive. In busy traffic, manual means repetitive gear shifting and use of the clutch can be tiring.

If you have limited mobility and need driving control adaptions (such as a push/pull device to control the speed of your car), an automatic gearbox is essential to enable you to operate these controls with your hands.

Learning to drive

When learning to drive, a large amount of this time is designated to control, with gears and clutch operation in manual transmission being the significant factor. Learning in an automatic eliminates this issue and it’s likely you’ll need fewer lessons to reach test standard in an automatic than in a manual transmission.

However, passing your test in an automatic means you will only have a licence to drive an automatic vehicle. You’ll need to retake your driving test in a manual before you get the green light to drive both types of car.

Conversely, if you learn in a manual and receive your manual driving licence, you can switch to an automatic without having to retake your test.

Automatic driving lessons can also be more expensive as automatic cars use more fuel than a manual equivalent.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re a new or experienced driver; the preference between transmission styles boils down to personal choice. If you’re looking for more control and cost-efficiency, a manual car could be a better option, but if you’re looking for a simpler and smoother drive, an automatic may be the way to go.


Warranty Direct is a trading style of BNP Paribas Cardif Limited. BNP Paribas Cardif Limited is a company, registered in England and Wales No. 3233010 at Pinnacle House, A1 Barnet Way, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 2XX and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Register No.309075.

Apr 272018
 

Reliable and well-maintained tyres are one of the most important factors for a safe and comfortable drive, so it’s essential to keep them in good condition.

However, UK motorists were fined £27 million last year because their tyres were below the legal repair level. To help ensure your tyres are up to scratch, Warranty Direct has put together its top tips on tyre maintenance.

Why it’s important

 Illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres are the most common vehicle defect contributing to fatal crashes, yet they’re some of the simplest to detect and rectify. As well as being dangerous, motorists could be fined up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each defective tyre.

The grooves in tyres help your car brake, steer and accelerate properly. They also remove water from the contact patch between tyres and the road surface, when driving in wet conditions.

Poor tyre quality has a significant impact on vehicle stopping distances. For example; research found a car travelling at 50mph fitted with tyres with a tread depth of 4.1mm stopped in 24.3m on a wet road.

However, with a tread depth of 1.6mm, the braking distance increased to 32.7m, so tyre quality is essential for keeping stopping distances at a safe range.

 Check your tread

The legal minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6 mm across the central three-quarters of the tread width and around its entire circumference. Check the depth of the main tread grooves in several places across and around the tyre to ensure the entire surface area is legal.

Tyres also have tread wear indicators moulded into the base of the main grooves. When the tread surface is worn to the same level as these indicators, the tyre is at the minimum legal limit and should be replaced.

If you are unsure, place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when inserted, your tread is legal. If the outer band of the coin is visible, your tread may be too worn, so head to a garage as soon as you can.

Don’t forget the pressure

Tyre pressure monitoring systems are a legal requirement for all new vehicles, alerting drivers to any changes, which need seeing to. However, they shouldn’t replace physically checking your tyres for faults.

If a tyre is under-inflated by 5 PSI (pounds per square inch) it can reduce its life by around 25%, as it puts more pressure on the edges of the tread, causing deterioration of the casing and faster wear.

Under-inflated tyres can also increase fuel consumption by around 6%, so you’ll be paying for more fuel and harming the environment.

Over-inflated tyres can lead to increased impact damage and concentrate road contact in the centre of the tyre, accelerating wear.

Consider driving style

 Your driving style has a big impact on how quickly tyres deteriorate. Hard braking, fast acceleration and aggressive cornering can reduce tread depth more quickly, so you’ll need to replace tyres more frequently.

Driving at high speeds causes tyres to become hotter, which can lead to increased damage and the risk of tyres burning out while on the road.

The added pressure of a fully loaded car can result in the tread wearing out quicker. Your car’s manual should come with a tyre pressure guide for when carrying a heavy load, so ensure you prepare correctly for these types of journeys.


Warranty Direct is a trading style of BNP Paribas Cardif Limited. BNP Paribas Cardif Limited is a company, registered in England and Wales No. 3233010 at Pinnacle House, A1 Barnet Way, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 2XX and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Register No.309075.

 

Apr 132018
 

New research suggests 48 percent of motorists don’t understand what each dashboard warning light means. While the light may signal a minor issue, it could also be something dangerous or cause expensive damage to your vehicle.

Warranty Direct has put together a complete guide to help any car warning light novice to recognise what your car is trying to tell you…

Engine warning light

The engine light could come on for a host of different reasons, from a loose fuel cap to something more serious like a broken catalytic converter, so it can be hard and frustrating for drivers to pin-point the problem.

Head to a garage if the light appears and they will be able to run a diagnostic check to see what’s going on under the hood.

Coolant warning light

The car’s computer constantly monitors the coolant temperature and overall fluid level to ensure correct temperature is maintained. A warning light on the dashboard means the coolant temperature is too hot, so your engine may be overheating.

Pull over safely as soon as possible and turn your car off and let the engine cool down for at least 30 minutes. Using a thick rag, remove the radiator cap to check coolant level. If it’s low, temporarily add water, then get the car checked by a mechanic.

Airbag warning light

If you ignore your Airbag light and you have an accident, but your airbags don’t deploy, it could have devastating consequences. The airbag warning light can also mean there is a seatbelt fault. Without a seatbelt, you’re twice as likely to die in a car crash so don’t ignore the warning!

Brake warning light

Faulty brakes are the second most common cause of an accident and one of the most important car safety features. The brake light could signal many minor or major issues, such as; broken brake lights, ABS sensor malfunction, worn brake pads, low brake fluid or your handbrake is simply left on.

If the light comes on, it’s essential to go to a mechanic straight away to fix any potential problems.

Oil warning light

The oil light may come on for a few different reasons, such as low oil pressure or a low oil level. If your oil light comes on while you are driving, the first thing you should do is safely pull over and turn the vehicle off. Without oil, your engine is not lubricated and may stop at any point. It can also result in expensive engine damage,) so if it lights up, stop and call out a professional.

Tyre pressure monitor warning light

If the tyre pressure monitoring light is illuminated, your tyre pressure is either too high or too low. This could be because your tyres are underinflated, or you could have a puncture. Firstly, manually check tyre pressures with a gauge and add air until it reaches the vehicle manufacturer specification and resets the light. If the pressure drops again, you probably have a puncture and will need to repair or replace the tyre.

Power steering warning light

The power steering warning light will let you know when a fault has been detected with the steering system. With hydraulic power steering systems, you may be low on power steering fluid. If you see this sign light up, pull over and check the fluid level. Top it off with the correct fluid type and the light should turn off.

For electrical power steering systems, try pulling over and restart the engine to ‘reset’ the computer. If the warning light doesn’t turn off after restarting, the issue needs further inspection.

Without power steering, the car will be very hard to manoeuvre so be cautious, avoid motorways, and take it to a garage as soon as possible.

Battery charge warning light

If your battery charge light stays on after turning your engine on, you could have an electrical fault. This could be a damaged alternator, cable, or battery in the engine. If the battery light comes on while driving, this indicates a problem with the alternator. Turn off everything that uses power in the car (except headlights in the dark) and go to a mechanic.

 

Warranty Direct is a trading style of BNP Paribas Cardif Limited. BNP Paribas Cardif Limited is a company, registered in England and Wales No. 3233010 at Pinnacle House, A1 Barnet Way, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 2XX and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Register No.309075.

Apr 132018
 

Warranty Direct to sponsor the 2018 FirstCar Awards

We are happy to announce Warranty Direct is the lead sponsor of the 2018 FirstCar Awards. The event will be held at the Royal Automobile Club in London on 25th April 2018 and we are really looking forward to celebrate the industry and its worthy winners.

The FirstCar Awards, in association with Warranty Direct, recognises and rewards companies leading the way for young drivers. A FirstCar award will help guide young drivers when making key purchasing decisions and give added credibility to the winning manufacturers.

These awards will reward the best in class across a range of different categories – all specifically relevant for young drivers. Along with being the main sponsor, Warranty Direct will also sponsor the ‘Used Car of the Year’ and ‘Car of the Year’ awards.

Contenders for the Warranty Direct Sponsored Used Car of Year Award are:

  • Citroën C1
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Kia Picanto
  • Volkswagen Polo

Shortlisted for the Car of Year Award are:

  • Ford Fiesta,
  • Nissan Micra
  • VW Up

Cars from both categories will be assessed for their reliability and safety using Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index and Euro NCAP criteria. The judges will also be looking at a variety of other key features to contribute to overall scores, including:

  • Value for money and running costs, such as fuel economy and insurance
  • Both new and used cars should be easy to drive, dependable and safe
  • Affordability is key for both purchasing and throughout the ownership of the car
  • The standard fitment of important safety features

Speaking about the upcoming awards, our CEO, Simon Ackers said:

 “With First Car offering advice, tips and expert opinions to help their audience be better informed and safer motorists, we are proud to work with a partner whose values mirror our own.

“We are really looking forward to celebrating those in the industry who are leading the way, promoting safe driving and enabling young drivers to make knowledgeable decisions and become confident on the roads.”

Other categories at the awards will include: Driving Instructor of the Year, Regional Driving School of the Year, National Driving School of the Year, Driving Instructor Car of the Year, Best Safety Technology and Safe Car of the Year.

One thing’s for sure, there is always a real sense of team spirit and support at these awards, which not only honour the accomplishments of driving schools and their instructors, but also the motor industry’s ability to revive and improve their safety products every year.


Warranty Direct is a trading style of BNP Paribas Cardif Limited. BNP Paribas Cardif Limited is a company, registered in England and Wales No. 3233010 at Pinnacle House, A1 Barnet Way, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 2XX and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Register No.309075.