Jun 182017
 

2017 has already been a year of big changes to UK driving laws. New, tougher penalties are being introduced by the government in an attempt to keep all motorists, cyclists and pedestrians as safe as possible.

A recent survey conducted by Warranty Direct revealed one in four Brits endanger themselves and others on motorways due to a worrying lack of awareness of current UK driving laws. To make sure you are up to date with the new laws, we have summarised some of the biggest changes happening below and included all the information consumers need to ensure they are not caught out by updated motoring legislation.

A tougher stance on mobile phones at the wheel

Studies by the Transport Research Laboratory showed driving while texting affected reaction times by around 35 percent*. The government has already banned the use of mobile phones behind the wheel, but some motorists continue to use phones in a dangerous manner when driving.

In the past, if you were caught using a mobile at the wheel, you could expect three points on your licence and a £100 fine. From 1st March 2017, new laws were introduced to see those penalties doubled. Being caught using your phone in any capacity while driving will now leave you with six points on your licence and a fine of £200.

Beware new drivers – under the new law, being caught using a mobile just once could mean having to sit your driving test all over again!

Late for work? Think twice before speeding

On April 24 this year, a strict new set of rules came into force, splitting speeding penalties into ‘bands’ which could see fines for those caught dramatically increase. For simplicity, these brands have been dubbed A, B and C.

The Band A speeding fine category would be appropriate if you are caught speeding between 31-40 in a 30mph zone, and you can expect to receive a fine equivalent to 50% of your weekly income and 3 penalty points on your driving licence.

For those doing between 41-50mph in 30mph zone, the Band B category speeding fine means facing a fine equivalent to 100% of your weekly income, and 4 penalty points on your driving licence, or disqualification from driving for up to 28 days.

The Band C speeding fine category comes into place to anyone speeding at 51mph or above in a 30mph limit (for example) and they face a fine equivalent to 150% of their weekly income and 6 penalty points on their driving licence. They could also face disqualification from driving for up to 56 days.

By way of comparison, the average speeding fine handed out in 2015 was just £188**.

Taking it easy with the speed on the road will not only help you to avoid costly fines. Reducing acceleration and harsh braking also means less wear and tear on your vehicle and this equates to less claims on your car warranty.

Taxing your car could be costly

A major issue going into 2017 is the growing level of pollution in the country from our motors. London took just one week to break the annual air pollution limits in 2016***. To help tackle this growing problem, the government has introduced a further tax to help reduce emissions.

The old car taxing system allowed lower tax, or even exemption, if you had a low emissions car. From April 2017 unless you drive a 100 percent electric car, any new vehicles will be charged at a tiered first-year rate based on its CO2 emissions. This could mean even people looking for a small, fairly economical car could be paying significantly more on vehicle tax. For example: owning a Ford Fiesta 1.0T Ecoboost with CO2 emissions of 99g/km, originally meant a driver paid no Vehicle Excise Duty. However, you could now pay up to £120 in the first year and £140 annually thereafter^.

We’d recommend anyone thinking of purchasing a new car to ensure they research all the possible costs associated with purchasing their desired model. This will help buyers work out whether they can actually afford the vehicle they are considering and prevent any costly surprises!

Remember this only applies to new cars bought after April – if you already own a car, or will be buying one registered before April 2017, there will be no changes to how much you pay.

Big changes to the driving test in 2017

The practical driving test is on course to change this year with updates that will have a big impact on current learners.

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, the changes will include:

  • Increasing the test’s ‘independent driving’ section from 10 to 20 minutes so examiners can judge your driving ability more accurately in real-world driving conditions.
  • Asking you to follow a sat nav’s directions during the ‘independent driving’ section
  • Replacing the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn in the road’ with manoeuvres such as driving into and reversing out of a parking bay to demonstrate more likely day-to-day driving scenarios
  • Asking one of the two vehicle safety questions while you are driving so your multi-tasking skills can be judged.
  • Allowing learners on to motorways
  • A proposed 120 hours of practical driving may need to be undertaken before a test can be taken.

It’s important for all drivers to make sure they are prepared for the changes in driving legislation. Not only will this help you to avoid hefty fines, but you will also protect yourself from potential accidents and paying for unnecessary damage to your car.

* – Lincolnshire Live

** – Saga

*** – The Guardian

^ – BBC News

May 042017
 

Warranty Direct is delighted to announce that it will sponsor the Used Car Hero category at the Autocar Awards 2017.

The Autocar Awards are recognised by the car industry and car-buying public as the premier enthusiast awards ceremony, with only the very best cars of the past year and industry personalities winning trophies.

The event will be held in Silverstone’s Wing complex on 23rd May and will begin after the Car Dealer Expo (CDX) – the largest automotive retail conference of its kind in the UK.

Autocar is the world’s oldest car publication and is regarded as one of the most trusted titles for new car advice. It was launched 122 years ago in 1895, and continues to be the pre-eminent source of automotive test verdicts, news, opinion, features, video and photography today.

The Awards are influential not only because they honour the accomplishments of individual manufacturers, but also as they acknowledge the industry’s ability to continuously innovate and create vehicles to suit a wide range of preferences for today’s modern, tech-savvy consumer.

When deciding the annual short list for what makes a great used car, Autocar’s expert judges scrutinise reams of facts, figures and data generated by its road testing team. Vehicles are put through a rigorous series of tests at professional facilities to evaluate various parameters, including affordability, reliability, design, performance and driver satisfaction.

Contenders for the Warranty Direct Sponsored Used Car Hero Award have been chosen by Autocar’s used car expert James Ruppert and its readers, who nominated cars that they felt were worthy of consideration. The shortlist of six will be revealed in an Autocar magazine feature in the May 17 issue.

Other highlights of the evening include the awarding of the Issigonis Trophy, which honours the individual who has contributed the most to the health, excellence and competitiveness of the European motor industry. Previous winners include McLaren’s Ron Dennis, Porsche’s Wolfgang Hatz and PSA Peugeot Citroen’s Carlos Tavares.

The Sturmey Award, named after Autocar’s founder and recognising innovation and achievement across the automotive sector, will also be given. Previous winners include Tesla’s Elon Musk, Citroen’s Mark Lloyd and Ariel’s Simon Saunders.

Warranty Direct’s CEO Simon Ackers said:

“The Autocar Awards are one of the most anticipated events in the motoring calendar. Not only do they celebrate the highest achievers in the industry over the past 12 months, but they provide invaluable insight to consumers on the best vehicles currently on the market. We are proud to be sponsoring an award in partnership with one of Britain’s longest-established and most trusted enthusiast brands.

“Everyone at Warranty Direct HQ is currently on tenterhooks and keen to hear the latest automotive champions announced!”

Readers should continue to visit our blog page and social feeds where we will share news about the Award winners as soon as they’re presented.

With the ceremony mere weeks away, Warranty Direct will ensure its customers are kept up to speed with all the latest from the Autocar Awards ceremony.

Apr 032017
 

Tips on getting the best sale price for your motor

A car is one of the biggest financial investments that many of us will make and it can be an important part of everyday travel. However, there may come a time where you and your beloved motor must part ways. You may have a desire to upgrade to a newer and/or a more economical model. You may have to change your vehicle type to be more accommodating for business or family life. Your income from selling your current motor should help contribute to your next purchase, so it pays to have made the effort to keep your car in good condition. Not only will this help you get the best possible price when you’re ready to sell but it will also be safe and reliable for its new owner as well.

Warranty Direct has complied some straight forward tips that can help you with selling your motor.

First impressions count

When selling your car, make sure that it is clean and tidy inside and out. A buyer will want to visualise themselves in your vehicle, and that will be a lot harder to do if the vehicle doesn’t look appealing.

A grubby, unwashed vehicle exterior may also give the impression your car hasn’t been looked after properly to a buyer. As well as giving the car a good wash, it’s worth paying attention to the condition of the car’s body. Any scratches that can be buffed out, small chips filled in and dents removed will make your vehicle instantly more desirable and add value.

On the inside, the interior should be as equally appealing. A floor littered with old receipts, sweet wrappers, CDs and empty water bottles for example will not help you sell. Another cost-effective tip is to change any worn interiors, such as old floor mats – you will be surprised at how small tweaks can smarten up your car’s overall appearance.

Provide a valid MOT, service & warranty

A valid MOT is essential for any car on the road. If it is close to running out, it should be renewed before selling. No one wants to purchase a vehicle and then immediately have to shell out for unknown faults, due to poor maintenance. A recent MOT will give the buyer more confidence in the vehicle, as opposed to a car which may not have been professionally checked for a while.

Arranging a complete service history will also help give any potential buyers a full informed background into how your vehicle has been maintained throughout your ownership. It’s important to make sure you have the vehicle’s V5 or Logbook documentation as it will also show the necessary information. You’ll also need it if you do complete a sale as the V5 / Logbook will need updating to reflect the new owner’s details.

It is also useful to check the status of your warranty, whether it is a manufacture’s or an extended one, as selling with one that is still valid could allow you to get more money for your vehicle. For a car’s warranty to be binding it will need to have been serviced in the last 12 months and any issues fixed prior to sale.

An added benefit of most extended warranties is that they are often transferable (for a small fee) if you sell before your policy expires. This can add value and make your car more attractive to buyers, but make sure you check with your provider if there are any reasons why transferring may not be possible.

Ensure the price is right

Once you have checked on the warranty status and MOT, you will need to decide how much you want to list your car for. Online research through car buying websites such as Auto Trader can provide a good indication of price by allowing you to see how much similar cars have been selling for.

It might also be worth checking your car’s depreciation from the original purchase value. This can help give you an idea of a realistic expectation of value from any potential buyers.

List your vehicle correctly

When listing your vehicle, it is essential to describe it as accurately as possible. The car make, model and year the car was first registered is vital. It also helps to inform any potential buyers looking at your listing about any faults that may currently exist with the vehicle – even if they’re small and not necessarily required following the last service or MOT.

The more informative and accurate your listing is, the better the chance of being able to attract the right buyer. A lack of information or exaggeration of facts can hinder any potential sales. The buyer knows exactly what they are getting for their cash and letting them know clearly with your listing is the best way to do that.

You must detail the year the car was registered and ensure all its documents are up-to-date and passed onto the new owner.

Completing the sale

If you’ve managed to sell your car, it is important and a legal requirement that you let the DVLA know you no longer own the vehicle and it has a new owner. Updating and sending the vehicle’s V5 documentation will allow the DVLA to update its records accordingly. You must also make sure you cancel your current vehicle tax. The new owner of the car will have to tax the vehicle themselves.

Informing the DVLA and making the required changes to documentation and tax can protect you from any parking tickets, speeding fines, tax or SORN fines that may happen with the new owner. So, make sure the DVLA are informed of the sale as soon as possible otherwise you may be handed any future offences of the new owner.

If applicable, your warranty company will need to know about the sale as well. Whilst most providers are more than happy to swap a warranty, the new owner’s details will still need to be checked and logged. Failure to do so will make the warranty void.

Feb 172017
 

The latest data from Warranty Direct has revealed the brands whose part problems afflicted UK drivers most frequently last year, and how much the repairs have been setting drivers back.

Analysing statistics from over 40,000 policies and more than £3 million-worth of their most recently authorised claims has shown that when examining the total paid claims against all policies*, well over a third of Alfa Romeo (40%) and Porsche (36%) drivers needed to make a claim, whilst 34% of Land Rovers also suffered from faults.

Below are the 10 manufacturer brands which had the highest percentage of claims made against them and the average cost of repairs. Note – the number of claims was measured as a percentage of the number of policies held per manufacturer:

  Make % of Total Claims Against Total Number of Policies Held Per Make Average Authorised Claim
1 Alfa Romeo 40% £355.47
2 Porsche 36% £1,019.07
3 Land Rover 34% £513.31
4 Chrysler 26% £474.28
5 Mercedes-Benz 25% £559.99
6 Jaguar 23% £442.68
7 Lexus 22% £469.68
8 BMW 16% £609.13
9 Volvo 16% £466.92
10 Citroën 15% £363.20

 

Alfa Romeos are often considered a true driving enthusiast’s car for their quality of performance and style, but they are known for needing frequent trips to the garage, with suspension, electrical and cooling system problems the most frequent cause for claims in 2016.

Maintenance of Porsches was a considerable expense last year, with a claims rate of 36% across policies though, at an average cost of £1,019.07 per repair. Common claims for Porsche owners included suspension and electrical issues, along with steering faults.

Amongst these results, Mercedes-Benz sitting in fifth place, is particularly significant given the brand’s popularity. In 2015 alone the company sold 145,254 units in the UK, which equated to more than 5% of the market share**. However, an average repair cost of £559.99 is the highest after Porsche and BMW.

When assessing the top five manufacturers on the list’s most frequent reasons for a claim, axle and suspension problems were common, along with electrical problems. Although not one of the most regular faults, gearbox repairs came at significant cost and averaged over £1,250 per repair across these top five brands.

The figures also revealed a trend of Japanese manufacturers overtaking European options as the most reliable vehicles on the market. Honda, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota all had between just 3% and 6% of their policies claimed on throughout the year.

Super-minis and hatchbacks did not receive many claims, largely due to the simplicity of their parts and reduced costs of labour. These included makes such as Smart, Kia, Seat, Ford and Hyundai, all with less than 10% claims being made against their policies. While these vehicle types had fewer claims, a warranty does go some way to covering the unexpected costs for sudden repairs and provides peace of mind to motorists.

Commenting on the latest data, COO of Warranty Direct, Philip Ward, said: “With many cars becoming increasingly more complex in terms of component parts, repair costs will continue to rise throughout 2017. Vehicles which might initially seem reliable and reasonably priced can end up becoming a financial liability for the owner.”

*Includes multiple claims per policy

**Report from Statista – Mercedes-Benz car sales in UK from Jan 14-17.

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