Apr 252019

Major changes to the MOT test were introduced in May 2018 and while it’s been nearly a year since they were first announced, many motorists who have yet to get their new MOT certificate may not be aware of them.

Warranty Direct looks at some of the most recent changes and how motorists can avoid unnecessary repair costs.

New rules

The new rules for MOT testing categorise defects as either: dangerous, major or minor. In the previous MOT testing system, if your car failed its MOT you had a month to repair the faults before your old MOT certificate expired.

In the latest changes, if your car fails due to a dangerous fault, your vehicle cannot be driven until it has been repaired. However, if your car has failed due to a major fault, you may still be able to drive if your car is roadworthy and your old MOT is still valid.


If caught using a vehicle with a dangerous fault you can be fined up to £2500, be banned from driving and get three points on your licence. This is due to your vehicle being automatically recorded as no longer legal to drive on the UK’s digital vehicle database.

That said, if your MOT results show a dangerous fault, this doesn’t necessarily mean the repairs have to take place at the garage that carried out the test.

If you think the price you are given is unreasonable, you can still receive quotes from other garages.

At Warranty Direct we offer a Preferred Repairer , consisting of 3,362 specially selected garages, helping you find a dependable local business. These garages can either be a main dealer or independent.

For inclusion, all nominated garages must meet and agree to a 43-point service level agreement before they can join our Preferred Repairer Network. These garages are highly professional, experienced and accountable for work undertaken, so customers can be sure they are leaving their cars in safe hands.

Check, check and check again

According to the DVSA, nearly a third of all MOT failures could have been easily avoided if drivers had checked their tyres, lights and windscreen before the test.

Obviously, you won’t be able to examine your car to the same standard as a professional mechanic, but there are plenty of things you can do to minimise your chances of a MOT fail.

Checking the tread of your tyres is above the minimum legal limit of 1.6mm allows you to correct any potential issues in advance. Check your windscreen wipers are functioning properly too.

These are all relatively cheap and easy tasks you can do to help you minimise your chances of failing a MOT and paying over the odds for repairs.

Do your research

If your MOT is due soon it’s worth doing some research into the average repair costs around your area and what problems could arise with your own model.

Check sites such as Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index which offers advice on the mechanical problems that can arise with certain vehicles and the average repair costs you could expect if your vehicle has a particular issue.

To reduce costs, it may be worth booking your MOT along with your service. This is because most checks performed on cars during a service are also included in annual MOT tests. This means some drivers may end up paying for the same checks to be done twice on their vehicle!

Apr 192019

Founded over a century ago by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, Aston Martin is now a bonafide British institution.

This luxury vehicle, beloved by James Bond and royalty alike, has weathered many storms and become synonymous with British excellence.

Warranty Direct charts the evolution of the Aston Martin from its humble origins in a small London workshop to its stature today as an internationally-recognised luxury brand.

Humble beginnings (1913)

In 1913, Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford decided to start making their own vehicles after joining forces the year before to sell cars manufactured by Singer.

The idea for the Aston Martin came from a stretch of road used for racing near Aston Clinton in Buckinghamshire. The decision was made to combine this with Lionel’s surname to create the brand we know and love today.

The duo unveiled their first car in March 1915 after acquiring premises in Kensington at Henniker Mews. However, production came to a standstill due to the First World War, with Martin joining the Admiralty and Bamford the Royal Army Service Corps.

Setbacks and successes (1922-1937)

Post-war, Bamford and Martin relocated to Abingdon Road, Kensington. However, this did not guarantee smooth sailing for the fledgling Aston Martin brand, with Bamford leaving the company in 1920.

In 1922, after receiving funding, vehicles were produced to compete in the French Grand Prix. These cars went on to set world speed and endurance records at Brooklands.

However, Aston Martin was hit by major financial setbacks afterwards, which led to bankruptcy in 1924. Lionel Martin also left the company two years later.

Investors took charge in late 1926 and Augustus Bertelli–an Anglo-Italian car designer–became the driving force behind the company, producing vehicles which were mostly open two-seater sports cars.

New beginnings (DB Models)

The Second World War posed a further challenge to the Aston Martin brand, with production halting yet again and the company concentrating their efforts on producing aircraft components.

In 1947 however, fortunes changed, with David Brown Ltd (a privately-owned Huddersfield gear and machine tools manufacturer) buying the company.

This ushered in a new era of cars dubbed DB, which were among the most recognisable models under the Aston Martin marque.

The first DB car was the DB2 which debuted at the New York Auto Show in April 1950. The first 49 produced, featured a chrome-framed front grille in three separate parts and large rectangular cooling vents in the front wings.

This was followed by the DB2/4 in 1953, the MKII in 1955 and the DB Mark III in 1957; the latter becoming the first car to introduce Aston Martin’s iconic front grille, as well as mechanical changes including disk brakes and an optional dual-exhaust system.

The DB Mark III also holds the unique honour of being James Bond’s first official Aston Martin, as this was the vehicle used by the character in the 1959 novel ‘Goldfinger.’C

Changing fortunes (the 1970s and beyond)

David Brown left the company in the 1970s and, while there were bright spots during the period (e.g. the launch of the popular four-door saloon known as the Lagonda in 1976), by the 1980s the company needed money to survive.

In 1987, Ford Motors bought a significant chunk of the company before acquiring full ownership in 1994.

Aston Martin would be back under British ownership in 2007 and would see renewed success with standout models including the Aston Martin Rapide; a 4-door, 4- seater high-performance sports saloon.

Recent models launched as part of Aston Martin’s ambitious ‘second-century plan’ such as the DB11 AMR highlight the brand’s continued ability to marry tradition with modern expectations of increased performance and enhanced driving dynamics.

With prices starting at an eye-watering £174, 995, Aston Martin looks set to remain the ultimate emblem of British luxury.

If your wages can’t quite stretch to an Aston Martin, rest assured that whatever the cost of your vehicle, our extended warranty service has you covered; offering added security if there’s a mechanical or electrical failure with an insured component.

Apr 112019

If you’re going to be driving your car abroad this summer on holiday, or if you’re planning to drive down to watch the 24 hours of Le Mans, the world’s oldest, active, endurance sports car race, did you know that if you drive through France you’re legally required to carry a portable breathalyser in your vehicle? No? You’re not alone.

But ignorance is not a legal excuse, so before you buckle up and head down to the south coast to begin your journey over to the continent, have a read through our guide to driving your car abroad, and make sure you’re fully clued up.

Before you leave the house

Before you leave your driveway, check you have all the documents you require to drive your car abroad. Such as:

  • Full photocard driver’s license or a valid paper-only license (if issued before 31 March 2000)
  • Car registration document (V5)
  • Insurance documents (see below)
  • An authorisation letter if your car is a company car, stating that you’re allowed to drive the car abroad
  • Breakdown policy documents – better to be safe than sorry, repair bills for emergency work overseas will quickly add up

International driving permit

As it stands at the moment (pre-Brexit), you can use your Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving licence in all EU or European Economic Area countries and Switzerland.

If you’re planning on driving your car in any non-EU country, you might need an international driving permit – check where you’re going just in case.

In some countries you will need one if you’re planning on hiring a car, or only if you’re planning on staying for longer than 30 days. Each country is different, so do your homework before you leave home.

If you do need an international driving permit, you can pick one up, over the counter, from your local post office for £5.50. To qualify, you have to:

  • be a GB or Northern Ireland resident
  • have a full UK driving licence
  • be 18 or over

Bear in mind, if you’re planning on travelling between countries, you might need to get different types of international driving permits.

If you have an international driving permit already, check its expiry date, because a 1949 permit only lasts for 12 months and a 1968 permit only lasts for 3 years.

How Brexit will impact driving your car abroad

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 12 April 2019, you may need an international driving permit to drive in all EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries, apart from Ireland.

Also, you may need to get a new international driving permit because your existing one may no longer be accepted in some countries.

As a way of guidance, the government advices after Brexit you will need a:

  • 1926 permit to drive in Liechtenstein
  • 1949 permit to drive in Spain, Iceland, Malta and Cyprus
  • 1968 permit to drive in all other EU countries, plus Norway and Switzerland

Insurance requirements

At the moment, if you want to drive your car abroad, you have to ensure that your current insurance provider covers you to drive outside of the UK (not all of them do).

The easiest way to find out if you can drive your car abroad or not, is to give your insurer a call and let them know you’re planning on driving your car abroad. If you’re not covered, they will most likely have add-on car insurance you can purchase, to cover you whilst you’re away. This add-on insurance typically lasts for 30 days, so if you’re planning on going away for longer, you might want to rethink your whole policy.

If you are allowed to drive on your current policy, always read the small print, because some insurers will have a clause that says you can only drive abroad up to a certain number of days.

Always ask your insurer for a Green Card (an internationally recognised proof of insurance) if you’re going to be driving in Europe. The card itself is free.

Emergency European driving kit

You know full well that sod’s law says you’ll have an emergency when you’re not prepared. So make sure you pack an emergency kit in your car for all eventualities, including a:

  • First aid kit – you never know when accidents will happen
  • Tool kit (if you know how to do basic car repairs)
  • Reflective jacket – always wear this when you’re moving beside a road
  • Torch
  • Warning triangle – some countries such as Spain require you legally to carry two warning triangles
  • Fire extinguisher – car fires are more common than you think. According to the Fire Service, in the UK there are nearly 300 car fires every day, of course these aren’t all due to engine fires, but a percentage of them are.
  • Portable breathalyser kit
  • Headlamp beam converters
  • Map of Europe – because you know the sat nav and/or your phone will pack up just when you need them the most

The AA has a handy guide for which countries have what requirements:

Service your car

Before you head off abroad, make sure your car is up to the journey. A quick service will see you right. At the very least:

  • Check the water, oil and coolant level
  • Check tyre pressures and thread
  • Ensure you have a visible GB sticker or sign on your car
  • You might also need to adjust your headlights so you don’t dazzle oncoming drivers. This is a simple job that you can do with a beam converter kit.

Know your road signs around the world

In a previous blog post we put together an infographic of international road signs, it’s definitely worth having another read through of it to refresh your memory.

Breaking the law abroad

One thing worth mentioning, if you are caught speeding abroad, you will be penalised for it. The local authorities will run your car details through the DVLA website and you will find a brown envelope pop through your door at some point on your return. Always stick to the speed limits.

Mar 222019

Power steering is quite possibly the best thing to happen to vehicles, since the installation of the steering wheel. Why? Because you no longer need guns of steel to drive your car; turning the steering wheel is augmented by a power steering device. So in actual fact, power steering should really be called ‘power assisted steering’.

In an automobile, there are two types of power steering systems:

  1. The rack and pinion steering system.

Image credit: HowStuffWorks

This is the most common type of power steering system in use in modern cars. It is a relatively simple concept: the steering shaft moves the rack from one side to the other.

2. The conventional/integral steering gear system.

Image credit: How Stuff Works

This type of power steering is most commonly found in trucks and has a series of steel balls that act as rollers between the steering shaft and the rack piston.

Advantages of power steering

There are numerous advantages to having power steering, most notably:

  • Ease of operation – the driver need only exert minimal effort to comfortably turn the wheels when driving at speed.
  • The force needed to turn the wheels when the car is stopping or travelling slowly is greatly reduced, when you’re parking, for example.
  • The power steering system itself can be manipulated to provide artificial feedback to the driver, depending on the terrain (because typically the power steering overpowers the road feedback).
  • Increases fuel efficiency.

How electric power steering works

For hydraulically-assisted rack and pinion power steering, the frontrunner to electric power steering, the car’s own engine powered the hydraulic pump that gave the requisite pressure to aid steering.

In electric power steering there is no need for an hydraulic pump. Instead an electric motor connected to the steering shaft provides all the power assist.

Difference between electric and hydraulic power steering

  • Where hydraulic power steering relies on pressurised fluid in the steering gear cavity to provide assistance to the steering, electric power steering uses an electronic control unit attached to the steering rack.
  • Electric power steering provides a better fuel efficiency as their minimal set up significantly reduces their weight. Plus, it only utilises energy when it’s in use.
  • Electric power steering doesn’t draw its power from the engine unlike hydraulic power steering.
  • Electric power steering requires less maintenance as it doesn’t need fluid to operate.
  • Hydraulic power steering provides a better road feel than standard electric power steering, however electric power steering can be modified to give the driver artificial feedback.
  • With electric power steering, if the engine stalls you will still have power assist, unlike with the hydraulic power steering.

Cars with electric power steering

The first production car to have electric power steering was the 1988 Suzuki Cervo, however at present unless your car is a rally car or built pre-1988, you will more than likely have an electric power steering system.

Put aside for a moment the fact that cars with electric power steering are lighter and therefore more fuel efficient to drive than hydraulic power steered ones. One of the other key reasons for modern car builders to prefer using electric power steering over hydraulic power steering (which some petrolheads prefer), is that electric power steering is necessary for cars of the future and high end cars to operate.

Why? Because technology is advancing so quickly, that new cars can now have radar guided parking and semi-autonomous driving modes, and for that, the car’s computer has to be able to operate all aspects of the car, and that includes the steering.

Mar 072019

Car depreciation isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you’re in the market for a new car. However, it is one of the most expensive factors that should be taken into consideration when you purchase a new car (along with fuel, tax and servicing costs combined).

Car depreciation is the difference between what you pay for your car when you buy it and what it’s worth when you come to sell it.

This may seem like a fairly straightforward calculation, but cars differ so greatly in value due to so many factors, placing an exact value on depreciation can be complicated. As well as age, car depreciation is affected by its mileage, its condition and even the different brand’s models.

One thing that is consistent is that car depreciation is like a bell curve: flattening out at the bottom, the older your car becomes.

Image credit: wikipedia

What is the average depreciation of a car per year?

To put car depreciation into perspective – you can expect a brand new car, just driven off the forecourt, to have lost up to 10% in value in its first month alone. This rises to a depreciation of up to 40% by the end of the car’s first year, and then potentially up to 60% by the end of the car’s third year.

How is car depreciation calculated?

To find out how much your car’s value has or is likely to depreciate by, there are many online calculators you can use, such as: The Money Calculator.

What factors affect a car’s value?

The main factor affecting car depreciation is the age of the car. The biggest depreciation, as shown in the above graph, happens in the car’s first month, then its first year.

Cars around 2 to 3 years old tend to hold their value a little better, but their value starts to decline again as they reach 5+ years. And pretty much reaches a standstill by the time they’re 8 years or older.

Which car brands hold their value?

The second factor affecting car depreciation is the make and model of your vehicle. Typically more popular car brands will hold their value, due to a higher demand for that type of car, as a result their depreciation is much slower.

Unsurprisingly, the higher end car brands have the slowest depreciation in 2019 (according to WHATCAR?), these include:

  • Porsche
  • Range Rover
  • Mercedes
  • Audi
  • Jaguar
  • BMW

The regular car brands with the best resale value (according to Autocar) include:

  • Mini
  • Volkswagen
  • Lexus
  • Ford
  • Vauxhall
  • Fiat  
  • Kia

What is it about certain car brands that make them hold their value? Essentially, it’s the car’s perceived efficiency that slows its depreciation, because a car that won’t cost you the earth to run, has great fuel efficiency, is reliable and low maintenance, is a desirable prospect to most people.

Cars that are cheaper to run will always be a popular choice amongst today’s buyers, meaning as demand remains high, so too will their value.

What can you do to maintain a car’s value?

To be honest, there really isn’t a whole lot you can do to prevent a car depreciating, because when it comes to the brand of your car and the age of it, there is nothing you can do to change that. However, being a good car owner will help:

  • Keeping the mileage low (the fewer miles you clock up the less value your car loses).
  • Servicing your car regularly and logging a full service history.
  • Taking care of it aesthetically, both inside and out.