Apr 282016
 

In a UK first, a simple smart plug-in connects and protects millions of unconnected drivers. There are 37 million vehicles on the UK’s roads, 30 million of which have none of the accident alert, fault warnings and theft tracking capabilities of newer cars.  But now, motorists can ‘get connected’ without having to wait to upgrade their car with Smartdriverclub.

Smartdriverclub is a completely unique membership service that offers motorists greater protection both on the road and when managing their car’s running costs, through the connectivity that comes as standard in new cars but without the heavy ‘new car’ price tag.   Available to consumers driving vehicles that have been registered since 2010, it costs just £6.60* per month.

It works like this, once a customer joins the club, as a member, they will be sent a small device – the Smartplug – which they insert in an easily accessed socket, normally underneath the steering column.  They can then view all of their Smartdriverclub services via their smartphone using the free Smartdriverclub app called ‘Viewpoint’ or online via their laptop or tablet device.

Benefits include essential safety features like automatic emergency assistance, breakdown help that can see the driver’s location to find them faster, theft tracking that can speed up Police recovery and a digital mechanic that can identify faults to help motorists avoid worsening the damage or even prevent a breakdown.  It can even provide in-car wifi for those challenging ‘kiddie’ car journeys and a valuation service is included for when a motorist is ready to sell their car, from Cap Hpi.

Motor industry expert, Penny Searles, the brainchild behind Smartdriverclub, says: “I have elderly parents who make long journeys quite regularly, and it bothered me that I had no idea if they were OK until they reached their destination.  If they were in an accident, I wanted to know that there would be no delay in emergency services being informed.  If they broke down, I wanted to know that they’d be located by roadside recovery without unnecessary delay.   They don’t drive a new car and whilst, of course, they have mobile phones, it’s not always easy to know exactly where you are if you’ve broken down.

“Parents with teenagers who have recently taken to the roads will also value the peace of mind of the services they get with Smartdriverclub, like being able to see where their car is at any time, or being immediately informed in the case of a serious accident.

“But these benefits are just the tip of the iceberg – the money saving features put motorists in control. We have deliberately priced the service to be as accessible as possible to motorists.  For example, the theft tracking alone if purchased separately could be from £300 per year.

“It’s easy for motorists to get this level of protection in the US, without having to buy a new car, so I wanted to bring the same concept to the UK.  Why should UK motorists have to wait to get the advantages of new car connectivity?  Now with Smartdriverclub they don’t have to.  We are anticipating a huge amount of interest – not only from motorist themselves but from motor dealers and brands looking to find ways to offer greater protection to their customers.”

SmartDriverClub comprises the following services in one package:

  • My Mechanic – This will alert a motorist if a car problem crops up, suggest what they can do about it and find a local dealer they can talk to.
  • Crash Assistance – If the customer is in a collision and Smartdriverclub can’t reach the customer on their mobile phone, they will contact the emergency services and direct them to the location.
  • Stolen Car – An in-car tracker activated by the customer means that if it’s stolen, the Police should know exactly where to look.
  • Breakdown Help – Smartdriverclub will inform roadside assistance so they know where the customer is and have useful information about their car.
  • My Driving – Motorists can save money on fuel costs by seeing how efficiently their car performs on each journey with a smart driving history that helps them manage fuel use.
  • My Deals – Customers can save money on everything from servicing to new tyres. Just tap through the app for the latest deal from their dealership.
  • Value My Car – Smartdriverclub provides a valuation of the customer’s car that’s actually based on their car so that they can use this instant price for better deals and finance.
  • Where Did I Park? – A handy little map is provided to those that have forgotten where they parked
  • Club Insurance – from May –  Cover for good drivers based on their driving behaviour, to ensure customers are not paying for the poor behaviour of others.
  • Car Wi-Fi optional – Family car journeys are always a challenge especially with teenagers in the back seat desperate to upload the latest selfie or to connect with their friends on chat. A connected road trip could also mean a blissful journey with everyone occupied in the car.
Apr 262016
 

potholesA new study of 3-8 year old cars from Warranty Direct reveals the Mercedes Benz R-Class (06-15) and Saab 9-3 (04-12) are the cars most likely to suffer suspension damage. Hyundai’s Santa Fe (06-12) and the Land Rover Discovery 3 (04-10) have the next most susceptible suspension, with 13.9 and 13.3 percent respectively of Warranty Direct customers claiming for axle & suspension damage annually.

Potholes are typically at their most prevalent on Britain’s underinvested road network between January and April, as heavy rainfall undermines the lower structural layers of roads, creating cracks then more potholes, increasing the likelihood of suspension damage.

The recent Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey revealed that local authorities spent a total of £118.4m filling 2,190,026 potholes across England and Wales in the last year, but also paid out an additional £13.5m in compensation claims.

With the average repair bill for pothole damage now £350, Warranty Direct’s database of 50,000 live policies shows that the most vulnerable cars are more than 15 times worse than the most robust models.

At the opposite end of the scale, the Ford S-Max (06-15) and Nissan Qashqai (07-14) share top billing as the cars least likely to be affected by the UK’s pothole-ridden roads; both boast an impressive clean sheet when it comes to model claims relating to axle & suspension damage.

Top 10 cars with the highest % chance of an annual axle & suspension related claim

Number

Make Model Group Year % chance of an axle & suspension related claim annually

1

MERCEDES-BENZ R-Class (06-15) 15.82%

2

SAAB 9-3 (04-12)

15.05%

3

HYUNDAI SANTA FE (06-12) 13.98%

4

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY 3 (04-10)

13.37%

5 MERCEDES-BENZ GL-Class (06-15)

12.61%

6 VAUXHALL ASTRA (04-12)

11.56%

7 LANDROVER RANGE ROVER (02-13)

11.28%

8 BMW X5 (07-13)

11.27%

9 MERCEDES-BENZ E-Class (06-09)

11.17%

10 MERCEDES-BENZ CLS-Class (05-10)

11.15%

 

Warranty Direct managing director, David Gerrans, said: “The variation you see in suspension damage from one model to another is remarkable.”

“Potholes are a major factor in causing axle & suspension failure and any vehicle regularly driven over impaired road surfaces or used for commuting over pothole-strewn routes will ultimately incur damage eventually.

“Components such as bushes, track rod ends, drop links, springs and dampers are all susceptible. Visit our Potholes.co.uk site for detailed advice on how best to make a compensation claim for any vehicle damaged by potholes.”

Feb 282016
 

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has come up with some easy ways to increase your car’s chances of passing its MOT test. Many people don’t prepare their car for an MOT at all, when a set of simple checks could save you time, money and inconvenience.

Many cars fail the MOT on the basic items we’re about to highlight, leaving you rushing around attempting to fix them at late notice and possibly great expense.

Mark Lewis, IAM director of standards, says start on the outside:

  • Wash your car. This will allow you to see any damage, especially to wheels
  • Check tyres. Make sure there is no damage and there is there is a tread depth of at least 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre width and around the whole circumference of the tyre
  • Clean your windscreen so you can see any cracks
  • Make sure all lights are working and get someone to help with brake lights or look at a reflection in a shop window or garage door
  • Lift the wipers and check the feathered edge (the thin part of the blade that touches the screen) for any damage. Then wipe them with a damp cloth
  • Look under the car to see if there are any fluid leaks

Now let’s talk fluids!

  • Make sure all fluids under the bonnet are topped up – these areas are often marked in yellow
  • Make sure the windscreen washer nozzles are working and aim at the windscreen
  • Don’t forget about the rear wash-wipe if your car has one

Moving inside

  • Make sure the horn works
  • Does the parking brake hold the car?
  • Pull all the seat belts out the entire way and make sure they retract.
  • Unwind if necessary

Mark said: “These basic checks will help make your chances of passing an MOT much greater. So many fails are as a result of these issues.

“But what I have suggested should not just be a once-a-year activity – these are checks that should be part of a weekly routine to ensure your car is safe to be driven day in, day out.”

Feb 272016
 

There will be more flood damaged vehicles on the used car market as a result of the treacherous weather conditions recently seen in the UK. So private buyers need to be on their guard and to know exactly what to look out for.

If a vehicle has been driven into a serious flood or submerged for a period of time, water can overcome the intake manifold, causing the engine to hydraulic lock and this may require total replacement. So, if a replacement engine or new steel wheels have been fitted are signs they have been flooded.

Other tell-tale signs of a potentially flood-damaged vehicle are random or strangely placed scrapes and dents to the bodywork, which may have resulted from debris carried by fast running water.

To help spot potentially flood-damaged vehicles, Manheim Auctions has developed a ten point inspection plan:

  1. Lift the flooring – rust, mould, dampness and/or silt under all carpets and mats are a sign that a vehicle may have taken an early bath.
  2. Open the doors – tide marks staining upholstery in a vehicle are possible warning signs.
  3. Sitting comfortably – rust on all seat-retaining bolts and seat frames could indicate that a vehicle has been in prolonged contact with water
  4. Lift the bonnet – silt and mud deposits on the engine and associated components is a possible danger sign
  5. Get on your knees – pay attention to any recent surface corrosion and body damage on lower sills and floorpan, including axles and component brackets
  6. Exhausting checks – look at the full exhaust system, sometimes the rear box is changed to disguise flood damage
  7. Time to dash – a combination of intermittent electrical problems, dash warning lights and inoperative electrical components could spell major repair bills for flooded vehicles
  8. In recession – take a good look at internal recesses, including cup holders, ashtrays, cubby holes and door pockets for signs of silt and mud
  9. Fits like a glove – check the glovebox manuals, paperwork and information packs – they may show signs of water damage
  10. Sense of smell – while some cars smell damp if they have been deep cleaned, be aware of the ‘atmosphere’ in the car as it could alert you to a flood-damaged vehicle.
Aug 262015
 

kwikFit - £154m Cost of car owners’ neglect  pictureNew research has revealed that a fifth (20%) of car owners have skipped their car’s service or other maintenance and repairs over the last twelve months. Moreover, the study carried out for Kwik Fit revealed that many of these seven million drivers are well aware that their neglect will prove more costly in the long run.

Almost half (45%) of those neglecting their car’s servicing or maintenance said that they would be spending more as a result of the delays, with the additional bill for drivers totalling £153.9 million.

Londoners are more likely to have skipped maintenance than car owners anywhere else in the UK, with a third (33%) having done so in the past 12 months. In a clear warning to the capital’s second hand car-buyers, the most common reason given by London car owners for skipping maintenance or repairs is because they were planning to sell the car.

Conversely, car buyers may benefit from travelling to the south west to buy their next used car. Only 13% of the region’s car owners say they have skipped servicing or maintenance in the last year – with almost half (47%) of them saying they have done so because they are driving fewer miles.

Kwik Fit’s research found that the UK’s more experienced car owners clearly see the benefit of keeping on top of their car’s maintenance – amongst the over 65s only 8% have skipped servicing over the last year, compared to 40% of owners aged between 18-24.

Older drivers also have a greater appreciation of the cost of delaying work. Those over 65 who have skipped on servicing believe the delays add an average of £101.44 to their eventual bill, while those under 24 think the additional cost is only £41.

Across the UK as a whole, financial constraints are the most common reason cited by car owners for skipping servicing, followed by driving fewer miles – more reasons are given in the following table.

reasons table

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, believes more drivers should appreciate that neglecting maintenance can compromise safety as well as having a financial impact. He says: “This research clearly shows that delaying servicing or maintenance often ends up hitting drivers with a bigger bill in the long run. We are sure that car owners could have put that £150 million, which was needlessly spent, to much better use.

“The old adage of a stitch in time saves nine remains as true today as when our grandmothers first told it to us as children. However, it’s not just in the pocket where car owners can feel the impact of neglecting their car. Those looking after their car will find that it looks after them when they need it most, whether that’s starting first time in an emergency or gripping the road surface in bad weather.”