Dec 262014
 

pic_story3Fed up with big fuel bills, be it petrol or diesel? In that case convert your old car to Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG). Andy McGarvey has made huge financial savings in his courier business by running his Ford Transit on cheaper LPG autogas.

Andy’s van was supplied with a factory-fitted LPG system when he bought it with 10 miles on the clock in 2003. In the 11 years since then, he’s racked up a further 225,000 miles on regular jobs travelling between his Preston base and London – and has saved more than £20,000 in fuel costs compared to running the equivalent petrol or diesel model.

“When the recession hit, I was able to cut my prices because I was using LPG,” says Andy. “At the time I also had a diesel Mercedes Sprinter 311CDI with about 50 per cent more load-space than the Transit, but everyone went for the cheaper Ford, because it cost less even if it needed two trips that the Mercedes could have done in one.”

Explaining what attracted him to the LPG-powered Transit in the first place, Andy explains: “As a logistics company I’m always looking for new opportunities to cut costs. I also need to know if it will work, if it does half a million miles!”

Since he got it the Transit has delivered on those expectations in spades – and more. Not only has it saved Andy a huge amount of money; it has proved incredibly reliable over 11 years and more than 225,000 miles. With a laugh, Andy admits: “I’ve had to call the AA out maybe 30 times because the door lock has jammed, and only once for the LPG – and that was only because we’d run out of petrol it uses to start up before switching to gas!”

Andy goes on to make an even bolder claim for the benefit LPG autogas has given him. “LPG costs me about half what petrol or diesel would,” he begins. “To get to north London from Preston is 230 miles, which costs £38 on gas but would cost £80 in petrol. The last six years have been very tough financially and without the big savings I’ve made using LPG I’d have gone bust. I’ve kept my head above water thanks to LPG – so it’s no exaggeration to say it’s been a real lifesaver for me.”

It goes without saying that Andy would wholeheartedly recommend LPG autogas to other courier and logistics businesses like his – as well as the big name companies. Not only can firms significantly reduce their operating costs and offer more competitive pricing to customers; on a more subjective level Andy says that his LPG van is a dream to drive.

“It runs so smoothly and quietly on gas,” he enthuses. “I’ve been driving in London for years and this is the only vehicle that people almost step in front of and say ‘Oops, I didn’t hear you coming’ because it doesn’t chug along like most vans!” In fact, it’s so enjoyable to drive that Andy confesses he always took it out in preference to his Mercedes Sprinter before he sold that van.

Andy would have another LPG-powered Transit in a flash – if only Ford offered one. “I looked into buying a new one but Ford stopped doing its own LPG models, which was a massive disappointment that I hope Ford is reconsidering,” he sighs. “To be perfectly honest I’d buy another used van that’s been converted to gas rather than change to diesel now. Once you’ve made the move to gas you’ll never go back.

“My goal, in about five years, is to have 10 vans, with three people in each, running on LPG, and serving the north-west and London like I do at the moment – I don’t want to be Eddie Stobart. He should be using LPG though!”

It’s hardly necessary to ask Andy if he plans to carry on using LPG autogas, so obvious is his keenness for the fuel. He beams: “I’ll use it until the day I die. I think it’s the greatest thing, and I don’t know if the person who invented it is still with us but I take my hat off to them. The only exception I’d make would be if I won the lottery, then I’d have an electric Mercedes SLS!”

Even then, Andy wouldn’t part with his trusty LPG Transit. “If I get a nice apartment in Manchester I’ll take the van apart
and put it together again in there – it would make a great office.”

Dec 242014
 

pic_story2Many women drivers are not able to care for their cars properly because they don’t know how to choose a garage or technician they can trust, recent research reveals. In response, IMI, the professional body for the UK motor industry, is launching a campaign, featuring presenter Suzi Perry, to give women the advice they need.

The IMI survey, carried out by Vital Research & Statistics, found that women are reluctant to go to a professional technician because of worries about spiralling costs and being uncomfortable in a garage environment.

Over a third (36%) admitted to knowing nothing about cars and being totally reliant on their chosen garage for guidance. Yet 22% of women drivers said they were reluctant to deal with garages because they were not comfortable with the atmosphere, 28% also said they were nervous about asking technical questions, and 31% said they were confused by the jargon used by the trade.

A quarter of women drivers admit to never having their car serviced by a professional mechanic. They only deal with problems when they show up on the MOT. IMI fears that this approach makes them vulnerable as consumers and compromises their safety.

They also said they don’t know what they were being charged for in a garage and wouldn’t know how to challenge a bill if they felt it was wrong.  Worryingly, nearly 1 in 5 women (17%) said they felt they had been overcharged in the past.

When it came to choosing a garage in an emergency most said that without knowing the difference between a professional and a rogue trader, they simply went for the closest available.

IMI’s campaign addresses all of these issues by giving women the necessary knowledge to confidently deal with garages as well as directing them to skilled and trustworthy technicians in their local area through the online IMI Professional Register, www.imiregister.org.uk.

A series of empowerment videos have also been posted on the IMI website, featuring Registered technician, Vicky Kempton, and the BBC’s Formula 1 presenter Suzi Perry.

IMI CEO Steve Nash said, “Women drivers clearly feel they are in a precarious position as consumers in the motor industry and it’s all about trust. There is a massive knowledge gap between the professional and the customer in this industry and contrary to popular belief, there is no Government protection for them in the form of a license to practice for the motor trade.

“The IMI Professional Register is the only way consumers can be sure they’re choosing a skilled and trustworthy technician to work on their car.”

Steph Savill, Founder of FOXY Lady Drivers Club, the UK’s only motoring association for women, adds: “We recommend that women get their cars serviced once a year at least, choosing the most suitable regime based on annual mileage. This makes financial sense because regularly serviced vehicles are less likely to let them down and often sell at a premium.

“But I worry that 60% of women drivers aren’t members of an emergency recovery service, putting themselves and often children at risk in case of a breakdown, especially if they are scrimping on garage servicing.”

In research carried out by Vital Research & Statistics, 1,000 female car owners said:

I don’t get my car serviced between MOT’s 25%
I’m worried about spiralling costs 17%
I don’t feel comfortable choosing a garage 10%
I don’t like the atmosphere in a garage 22%
I’m nervous asking technical questions 28%
I don’t understand the jargon on the bill 31%
I’m not treated with respect 13%
I wouldn’t challenge my bill 32%
I don’t know anything about cars 36%
Dec 222014
 

pic_story1Only a minority of car buyers would buy an electric car as a new Price Waterhouse survey of 500 drivers suggests that 99% of people looking for new cars wouldn’t consider going electric car and only 13% are interested in buying a hybrid vehicle.

Only 15% of those asked, believe that driving less is a realistic resolution for the future. However, choosing smaller vehicles, wasn’t an option for more than half (63%) of those questioned.

By contrast Nissan LEAF drivers registered on CarWings telematics have collectively driven one billion kilometres worldwide*, drivers have saved more than 180 million kilograms of CO emissions and over 147,000 Nissan LEAF vehicles have been sold globally to date, so someone must be buying them.

Dec 222014
 

Nearly 100,000* Christmas lunches could be put on hold by the most unwelcome of festive mishaps – car breakdowns.

Analysis of Warranty Direct’s 50,000 live policies reveals that, with an average annual failure rate of 36.5% across all makes and models, some 30,000 individual vehicles could break down on Christmas Day.

According to Warranty Direct’s unique Reliability Index (www.reliabilityindex.com), electrical issues, particularly batteries, are expected to be the root cause of more than 25% of all Yuletide breakdowns.

Assuming an average of three occupants per car on Christmas morning, breakdowns could strand nearly 100,000 people on the big day.

Despite being more reliable than average, Vauxhall Corsa owners are the most likely to be affected on Christmas morning – with 1.1 million registered in the UK and a failure rate of 36%, that’s almost 1,200 of the UK’s third most popular model that will break down.

The least reliable model among the top-10 most popular is the BMW 3-series; however, the executive saloon car can boast only 650,000 registered examples on UK roads compared to more than a million Corsas.

Top-10 most popular models by number of registered vehicles & amount predicted to breakdown

Xmas Breakdown

Another popular model – the Ford Focus – is predicted to leave up to 1,000 families stranded on the driveway, followed by the Volkswagen Golf with nearly 900.

Warranty Direct managing director, David Gerrans, said: “A huge number of families expect to travel to see relatives on Christmas day; sadly, breakdowns could result in thousands of cold turkeys.

“The winter is generally tougher on many electrical and mechanical components, which can increase the chances of a breakdown. The only option is to be vigilant when it comes to maintenance.”

Warranty Direct cover starts from as little as £15 a month. For more information on the reliability of your vehicle, visit www.reliabilityindex.com, or for a quote on cover www.warrantydirect.co.uk.

Dec 012014
 

The Honda HR-V is the SUV most likely to keep you on the road during the approaching winter period, according to a new study by Warranty Direct.

SUVs and 4x4s now claim 11% of the market – up from 4.5 per cent in 2000* – as motorists are attracted by better ground clearance and a more commanding driving position. However, they do not always live up to their reputation for ruggedness.

Warranty Direct analysed its 50,000 live policies, using the Company’s unique Reliability Index (www.reliabilityindex.com) to measure overall reliability by combining rate of failure, average mileage, age and repair cost.

Honda’s HR-V (99-06) performed significantly better than other SUVs, with only one in 10 recording a fault in the last 12 months. The Suzuki Jimny was second most reliable in the sector, with one in five suffering a breakdown each year.

While the average SUV repair bill is £420, Warranty Direct reports that costs can soar as high as £16,000.

Top 10 Rated 4×4/SUVs
(A lower Reliability Index rating means the vehicle is more reliable and less expensive to run)

TopRated4x4

The 10 best performing SUVs are dominated by Japanese and Korean manufacturers, although Swedish manufacturer Volvo is cheapest to fix, with the lowest ‘largest claim’ cost of the top 10.

At the other end of the scale, the Mercedes-Benz GL is the least reliable of the off-roaders, with eight in 10 breaking down each year. The Audi Q7 and Audi A6 Allroad are not far behind in a list populated mostly by European manufacturers.

Bottom 5 rated 4×4/SUVs
(A higher Reliability Index rating means the vehicle is less reliable and more expensive to run)

BottomRated4x4

Warranty Direct managing director, David Gerrans, said: “The SUV market segment has developed significantly in recent years. In comparison to some other vehicles, they are fairly expensive to run but our study shows that there are reliable SUVs available which are not too costly.

“An SUV vehicle is most definitely the transport of choice for motorists during winter; not only is the driving position more commanding, but they are more likely to withstand challenging conditions.”

Warranty Direct cover starts from as little as £15 a month. For more information on the reliability of your vehicle, visit www.reliabilityindex.com, or for a quote on cover www.warrantydirect.co.uk.