Feb 062017
 

8 driving tips to reduce costs and protect the environment

Warranty Direct have compiled a list of some of the best ways you can fulfil your eco-driver potential (and save yourself a few pennies as a result!)

You may have heard of the term eco-driving, but not all drivers are aware of its benefits. Put very simply, it can save us all money – both in terms of fuel consumption and wear and tear to our cars. According to a study by Fiat (which included 5,700 drivers in five countries), eco-driving saves an average of 15% of fuel costs* and greatly reduces maintenance expenses.

There could be enormous benefits to the environment too, as air pollution in the form of emissions could be reduced significantly. The European Climate Change Programme calculated a reduction potential of at least 50 million tons of CO2-emissions in Europe, which could save as much as 20 billion Euros if more drivers chose to drive in a slightly more mindful manner.

Eco-driving also reduces noise as well as local air pollution. The engine noise of one car driving with 4000 rpm (revolutions per minute) equals the engine noise of 32 cars at 2000 rpm. Thus, it reduces one of the main issues with traffic in urban areas.

So how can you fulfil your eco-driver potential? Here are a number of things you could try:

Growing inflation 

According to tyre manufacturer Michelin, underinflated tyres can increase fuel expenditure by up to 6%. The average tank of fuel is priced at around £70, so pumping up your tyres could save around £4 per top-up.

Be a smooth operator 

When driving, try to maintain a good distance from the car in front to avoid last-minute braking. Get up to speed as smoothly as possible and keep the gear engaged to achieve fuel reduction. Change to a lower gear when the engine speed drops below 1500 rpm. Conversely, the Energy Saving Trust recommends trying to change up a gear before you reach 2,500 revs in a petrol car, and 2,000 in a diesel car.

Purchase a fuel consumption display

If your car comes with a consumption computer, use it to get instant feedback on fuel use. By using it to adjust your driving habits, you could save up to 10% of fuel. If your vehicle doesn’t have one, they’re easy to install, so it’s not just individuals with fancy vehicles who can reap the benefits!

Don’t go full throttle

The Energy Saving Trust advises drivers to take their foot off the gas when they travel downhill. In most modern cars, this stops fuel being sent to the engine and minimises consumption. Make sure you don’t coast in neutral though, as this reduces driver control. The Trust also reports the most efficient speed you can travel in a car, in terms of achieving the best fuel economy is 55-65mph. Any faster, though, and the fuel efficiency decreases rapidly. For example, driving at 85mph uses 40% more fuel than at 70mph (oh, and it’s illegal too).

Take shortcuts

Allow yourself to skip gears when road conditions permit. For example: by shifting straight from third to fifth, you’ll minimise wear and tear on your car’s transmission and save on fuel. Similarly, when slowing down, bypass shifting through each gear individually.

Combine trips and plan ahead
Trips under 5 km are the most polluting, due to the engine and the pollution control system never reaching maximum operating temperature. Merging several trips into one can cut fuel use and emissions by 20 to 50%. Look ahead at the travels news, to prevent travelling during the busiest periods of traffic. Stop-start driving is among the most fuel intensive forms of car travel.

Don’t be a drag and travel light

Remember to remove roof stacks from your vehicle, when they’re not in use to make your car as aerodynamic as possible. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes to fuel economy, as every extra hundred pounds reduces efficiency by up to 2%.  Empty your boot of unnecessary items and close your windows if travelling more than 50mph – this also reduces drag.

Switch off your engine in traffic 

If your vehicle has a start/stop feature and you’re at a standstill for more than a few minutes, turn off the engine. Not only will this prevent unnecessary fuel consumption but it’ll make for a more pleasant wait. Even as little as fifteen seconds can save fuel, just make sure you don’t switch off your concentration as well!

So why not take advantage – save yourself some money and help protect the environment? If Eco-driving becomes the norm rather than the exception, it has potential to drastically decrease emissions from transport and boost road safety.

* Information from Treehugger article – March 2011

Oct 062016
 

10 Top Tips for buying Used Cars

If you choose to buy a used car the obvious benefits can include making significant savings without having to compromise too much on quality. Whether you’re after a dream machine or a cheap run-around to get you from A to B, there’s plenty of choice on the second-hand market. However, the Citizens Advice and Trading Standards claims second-hand cars are one of the most protested issues; complaints are often about a fault, but sometimes the problems are so bad the car is scrapped. With murky histories and hard-nosed salesmen, purchasing a used car can be a minefield to a potential buyer. Here are our top tips to minimise the chance of any nasty surprises.

Timing is key

One way to reduce costs is to buy at the right time. Dealers have targets to meet and bonuses to compete for. These are usually based on quarterly sales at the end of March, June, September and December. They need to shift cars, so will be more willing to negotiate and offer appealing finance packages at the end of these months. Private sellers don’t have set targets, so keep an eye on their prices a few months before you actually buy – if they’re decreasing, you may want to wait. Increasing and it’s sensible to buy sooner.

Prioritise what you need, not what you want

Before you begin perusing for the ‘one’, consider realistically what you really need from a car. There’s no point buying a two-seater convertible if you’re about to start a family. Ask specific questions to boost decision-making such as ‘what are my essential requirements?’ and ‘will I be using it for short drives or longer motorway journeys?’ Fuel choice can also make a big difference to running costs, so consider whether you need diesel or petrol.

Shop around and negotiate

Ask dealers for their best price on your second-hand car of choice. Make a note of the best price, and then ask others to beat it. You can expand your radius, if you’re happy to travel to find the lowest price. Never sign on the day- walk away and you will be pleasantly surprised with the number of sales calls you receive offering even better discounts than discussed previously.

Inspect the vehicle thoroughly

As the old saying goes, it’s not enough to go by good looks alone and this is most certainly the case when buying a used car. You need to look at everything, from the seatbelts, headlights to the paintwork and tyres. Check the car’s mileage. The average covered is around 10,000 miles a year, so if the odometer’s figure seems strangely out considering age, ask why. Service history is crucial as you don’t want to purchase a car which may be subject to immediate repairs. Also check for any signs of poor repair and oil or water leaks in the engine which could lead to serious problems.

Don’t skip the test-drive

Test driving a second hand car is imperative to ensure you’re comfortable driving the vehicle and that you don’t notice any red flags when out on the road. Try different routes and include the motorway to check how the car feels whilst driving it. Check the brakes and clutch function smoothly and effectively, plus experiment with manoeuvres such as a  three-point turn and an emergency stop to check steering and brakes.

Check for outstanding finance

Buying, leasing or hiring a car on finance is increasing in popularity. This means many vehicles on the road are actually owned by finance providers until their customers pay off the finance agreement in full. Make sure you carry out a Car Data Check because if you buy from someone who’s not paid off their finance agreement, the provider could retrieve the car and leave you without a car and out of pocket. Most reputable dealers carry out a vehicle check, but we’d advise you to still liaise with them to ask whether it’s been done on your visit.

Protect your rights

Remember that if you choose to buy through a private sale it is also your responsibility to check the car’s condition and history, and you have far fewer rights if something goes wrong. A private seller must give an accurate description, but it can be hard to prove if you’ve been duped – so keep copies of the original advert. Purchasing a used car warranty can be excellent way to protect yourself from expensive incidents you may experience once you’ve actually bought your vehicle. Many warranties can be bought direct as well –  another bonus as it eliminates additional costs which may incur if buying through another party.

In this case, eBay may not be the best option…

You can buy anything online these days, but is buying a car this way worth the risk? Lots of people seem to think so and eBay is one of the most popular sites for used car purchases. Ensure you’ve done all the necessary checks before you place a bid, as if you pay using PayPal its purchase protection does not apply to cars – and neither does eBay’s own buyer protection. So if anything goes wrong, you cannot turn to either to sort it out.

… although considering your credit card could be wise

Paying even a penny towards your car by credit card, means you get effective, additional protection, as you’re then covered by Section 75. Providing the total cost of the car you’re buying is between £100 and £30,000, paying anything towards it by credit card means the card company is equally as liable as the dealer if anything goes wrong with your vehicle.

Be thorough with paperwork

When you buy a used car check you have all the necessary documents before paying. Most important is the  Logbook, or V5C,  which proves you are the keeper of the vehicle. It should list you as the registered keeper, though you may not be the owner if the car has been bought on finance. The car’s servicing booklet is essential  to check when the car was last serviced, as well as what’s been repaired/replaced. Manuals, spares such as wheels, keys and the sales contract should also be included.

Whether or not you decide to purchase the used car you are considering, it’s imperative to make sure you are well-informed and have researched the market before buying. The more aware you are of common scams and sneaky sales tactics, the less likely you are to be left out of pocket or with a vehicle that won’t stand the test of time.

Dec 102015
 

With potholes estimated to cause as many as 1 in 10 mechanical failures on UK roads and costing motorists an estimated £730 million every year, Potholes.co.uk has been created to help you avoid the cost and misery they cause thanks to Warranty Direct.

The website can provide information advising how to make a claim against a local council regarding pothole damage to your car or if you just want to report a poor piece of road. With access to similar stories and related news, Potholes.co.uk aims to help motorists fight back against this road misery.

You can also follow Potholes.co.uk’s Facebook page where the latest stories regarding pothole disasters and triumphs are shared. Here’s a selection of recently shared news stories.

County Council trials new technology for tackling potholes – Harrogate Informer

 

 

 

 

 

With new technology and processes being investigated to help tackle pothole repairs, the Harrogate Informer focuses on one new technology being trialled across the Harrogate district. The Velocity Jet Patcher is designed to fill potholes much faster than conventional methods. The process takes only a couple of minutes for each hole with no excavation, no waste materials and the filled hole ready to drive on immediately. Promising technology at work….

Potholes: the scourge of cyclists returns for the winter – Cycling Weekly

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Winter upon us, Cycling Weekly advises the best course of action to deal with potholes this season. Potholes can prove deadly to cyclists if avoiding them forces them out into the road and being hit by other vehicles. Although it’s hard to predict where a pothole might occur on a cyclist’s travels, there are a few things riders can do to reduce incidents or injuries attributed to potholes.

More than 45,000 potholes repaired across Worcestershire – in just 18 MONTHS – Worchester News

Worcestershire County Council have revealed that they repaired 45,000 potholes in just 18 months. Since April 2014, highway workers have patched around 83 potholes every day. Another 15,000 are due to be completed by next year.

To see more stories from the world of potholes, you can follow Potholes.co.uk’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.