Oct 082018
 

MOTEarlier this year, major changes to the MOT test regarding the way faults and problems are classified were made. Now, all vehicle faults will be recorded as either Minor, Major or Dangerous.

The main difference is a failed component will now be classified as major or dangerous depending on its condition. The new measures are intended to highlight to drivers the most urgent problems and the safety risks they pose.

Warranty Direct explains some of the unexpected reasons for MOT fails and how these could be prevented by regular, simple maintenance tasks.

Light it up

Our research revealed nearly 40% of class three and four vehicles (including cars and vans) failed MOTs in 2016.

Lighting and signalling defects were the most common reasons for MOT failures, causing 19% of all failures. Electrical faults (which incorporate lighting and signalling issues) also made up nearly 20% of all Warranty Direct’s authorised claims.

Many smaller electrical faults can be avoided by owners carrying out consistent maintenance tasks more regularly between MOTs. For example, indicator, tail and brake lights can be fitted for as little as £5.00 each.

To pass an MOT, front, rear, brake, fog, indicator and registration plate lights and rear reflectors must be correctly positioned and secured, in a good condition, show the correct colour and not be obscured.

Checking your lightbulbs is easy to do. Give them a light tap to see if they are loose or damaged and check pairs of lights emit the same colour, size and shape.

Brakes and suspension

According to our data, the second-most common cause for MOT failures were suspension faults, which accounted for 13% of tests where defects were found.

Braking systems were the third biggest reason for cars not passing MOTs across the UK, making up 10% of all failure rates. Despite the expense of such issues, avoiding paying out for repairs on brakes is one of the most dangerous decisions a car owner can make.

Experiencing a drift or pull when turning, or your car jerking when the road surface is uneven could mean the suspension shocks have worn out. One tyre wearing more or starting to bald on the same axis as the other is another indication of suspension issues.

If your car pulls to one side when you brake, this may suggest a problem that requires further attention before you take your MOT. Signs of excessive wear of brake pads or pitted brake discs could also mean your brakes need replacing.

Under pressure

According to Kwik Fit, 10% of all faults relate to tyre condition and pressure, so it’s important to keep these maintained.

The UK legal minimum tread depth for a car is 1.6mm, so keep an eye on tyres and ensure they’re all the same level. If your tyres are inflated at the correct level, they will wear evenly and be safer and more fuel efficient.

Watch out for tears, bulges or other signs of damage to your tyres’ structure. Not only would this be classed as an immediate MOT fail, but it could increase your risk of a high-speed blowout or serious accident.

Keep it clean

Believe it or not, nearly 2500 people were ‘refused’ an MOT because their vehicles were too dirty and non-accessible to allow one to take place. So make sure you keep both the physical and cosmetic upkeep of your car in good health.

According to gov.uk, 8.5% of all faults are related to a ‘driver’s’ view of the road’, including issues with mirrors, wipers and washers. You can avoid this with simple checks like making sure the windscreen wipers and washers work at all times.

Your rear-view mirror must be adjustable and in good condition and windscreen wiper blades should be replaced immediately if they show signs of damage.

 

Oct 012018
 

New car checklistFor many young people, owning a car is a rite of passage. But, with so much choice available and with many young people on a tight budget, selecting the right student car can be tricky.

Warranty Direct has put together some helpful tips to help student motorists make the right decision, from buying your first car to beyond.

Where to start

When looking at potential vehicles, you can be tempted to go to the first car that catches your eye. However, it’s important to keep your budget in mind when choosing what’s right for you.

Firstly, you need to decide whether to buy a new or used car. Although initially more expensive, newer cars are normally more advanced in terms of safety, technology and fuel efficiency. This could save you money in the long-term.

On the other hand, a new car can lose around 40% of its value in the first year, so you may be left out of pocket when you go to sell it later.

Statistics also show around one-quarter of young drivers are involved in a crash within two years of passing their test. So with this in mind, it might be more cost-effective not to purchase a brand-spanking new vehicle until you have a little more experience on the roads.

Don’t get caught out with insurance

For the majority of students, expensive car insurance is far from ideal. Drivers aged between 17-24 can expect to pay over £1100 for their insurance policy.

Limited driving experience and a greater likelihood of being in an accident account for this high rate. However, there are ways for students to keep their insurance costs down.

For example, adding a more experienced named driver on a student’s insurance policy can shave an impressive 13% off their insurance premiums.

Younger drivers can make further financial savings by opting for a black box insurance policy. This is where the insurer fits a telematic tracker – which records speed, braking and cornering behaviour – to your vehicle.

 In fact, according to recent figures, 60% of the cheapest black box deals are for under-25s, compared with 50% two years ago.

Factor in reliability

It’s important students know what they need from a vehicle, not just what they want. Factors such as safety, cost and reliability need to be considered; particularly if you’re facing a lengthy commute from home to your new student accommodation.

Look out for vehicles with low repair and maintenance costs and features such as light steering and user-friendly controls.

Using tools such as our Reliability Index to see which vehicles are the most reliable could help you avoid expensive maintenance issues further down the line.

If you’re willing to look beyond flashy alternatives, the trusty Ford Fiesta is a good bet for students on a tight budget. The Fiesta scores highly in the reliability stakes and suits the needs of most young motorists.

Fuel for thought

For cash-strapped young drivers, one of the major drawbacks of owning a car is the cost of keeping a vehicle on the road.

With fuel costs rising, it’s worth looking out for the most fuel-efficient models on the market.

It’s also important to account for vehicle tax, MOT tests and the general cost of upkeep for your new vehicle. On average, it costs around £472 to maintain a used car over the course of a year.

It might be worth considering Just Add Fuel options which combine finance, breakdown, servicing and tax costs into a single monthly installment if your heart’s set on a brand new vehicle.

Owning a car can give you your first taste of ‘grown-up’ responsibility, so it’s important to think wisely if you want to experience the joy of the open road on a student budget.