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 122018
 

Warranty Direct examines DVSA data revealing findings linked to UK driving test changes

April, 2018 – A leading car warranty provider, Warranty Direct, has analysed over 10 years’ worth of test data from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), to reveal the most common reasons people fail their driving tests, with some interesting results:

# The top 5 reasons for test candidates failing driving tests 2006-2017
1 Observation at junctions
2 Use of mirrors (when changing direction)
3 Reverse park/left reverse
4 Control (steering)
5 Junctions (turning right)

It’s interesting to see reverse manoeuvres were two of the most common reasons people failed their tests, as the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn-in-the road’ are no longer being examined in the practical driving test.

While the DVSA states you should still be taught these in lessons, some instructors have warned replacing them with more real-life scenarios, such as driving into and reversing out of a parking bay, will make it easier for learners to pass and won’t teach them ‘real-life dangers’.

This reasoning may not be as far-fetched as it sounds. 2017 had the highest pass rate out of 11 years’ worth of DVSA data. The UK pass rate is currently at 47 percent and has risen by 4 percent since 2006, when the national pass rate was only 43 percent.

The number of tests passed with 0 faults has also gone up massively in the last year. Back in 2006, this figure was only at 3,329. However, the DVSA results from 2016/2017 show this has gone up over 400 percent, with 17,950 people passing tests with 0 faults.

However, professionals in the industry have defended the new test changes saying it now reflects real life driving and people who pass it will have more confidence when driving solo.

While the DVSA has listed five driving tasks learners clearly struggle with, there were also a number which they completed with more success.

The majority of candidates seemed to fair well when being tested on how they responded to signals and road markings and had general, good road positioning, when assessed under test conditions.

Simon Ackers, Warranty Direct’s Chief Executive Officer commented on the results:

“Looking over the last ten years’ worth of DVSA driving test data has been particularly insightful and it’s surprising to see some of the biggest reasons for failing are for less complex driving tasks. It will be interesting to discover the 2018/2019 pass rate and what impact the new changes have on future test results.”


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.