Car Share

car shareThanks to the programmes Peter Kay’s Car Share and Carpool Karaoke, the idea that more than one person can travel in a car at once has become more popular, and even fun!

How it works

Carpooling or a car share is a simple concept: two or more people make a regular journey in a single car.  It could be the same driver each time or they could take it in turns.

Firstly you need to either find an existing carpool or set one up.  Check with your business as they might have one set up or the facilities to connect commuters travelling the same way.

If you are setting up a new car share then talk to your friends and neighbours about it, use community noticeboards to advertise and the power of social media.

Investigate if there are any council or government incentives for choosing to carpool or indeed any apps that you can leverage.

For more details on how to set up a car share programme, take a look at this great Wikihow article.

 

Benefits

  • It can save time – not only as there will be fewer cars on the road but also saving time finding a parking space as there will be less vehicles in the car park
  • It can save money – according to Liftshare, the average car-sharer saves around £1000 a year through journey-sharing.
  • It’s better for the environment – not only are you saving on fuel, you are also reducing your carbon footprint
  • It’s good for employees – carpooling can attract and retain staff to businesses where there are poor transport links; health and wellbeing can be improved if staff aren’t worried about being late for work; staff can connect with one another improving employee engagement (which in turn reduces the number of sick days taken).

 

Apps and Websites

Through the use of technology like-minded commuters are able to share their journeys with others.

  • Liftshare.com provides the largest car sharing network in the UK – you can either use it privately or ask for a demo on how to use it for your business
  • Blablacar.com is a website and app which shows the cost of typical journeys and allows you to set up ride alerts
  • Gocarshare.com is all geared up to matching individuals with lifts to festivals and sports events. Their aim is to make car sharing fun.

At MEB Motors we want to make sure your car is in peak condition if you are part of a carpool.  Get in touch today about your next service 020 8340 0656.

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Misfuelling

misfuellingFollowing on from our article on the different types of fuel, we are exploring what happens if you use the wrong fuel in your car or misfuelling as it is otherwise known as.

What does misfuelling mean?

Misfuelling is when you put the wrong fuel in your car ie you fill up your petrol tank with diesel or vice versa.

According to Green Flag, approximately 150,000 motorists do this every year with catastrophic results.

Specialist companies

Luckily there are specialist companies out there trained to deal with these misfuelling incidents including Wrong Fuel Angel and Fuel Fixer.  You can call these if your insurance policy doesn’t cover misfuelling or you have forgotten to renew your breakdown insurance with RAC or AA etc.

What to do?

If you realise that you have filled up with the wrong fuel then the first thing to do is to follow this checklist:

  • Don’t start the engine (you can see the disastrous consequences in our section “What happens if you don’t realise you’ve put petrol in your diesel tank”)
  • Remove anything you need from your car
  • Let the fuel station staff know (they are experts on what to do!)
  • Don’t turn on your ignition when moving your car at the garage to a safe place as it will prime the fuel pump and potentially start your engine
  • Contact your car insurance company to see if you are covered in your policy. Green Flag include misfuelling cover as standard on many of their policies.  They will therefore arrange and pay for your tank to be drained, using one of these specialist companies
  • You could also contact your breakdown company such as AA or RAC who can drain your car at the roadside

What happens if you don’t realise you’ve put petrol in your diesel tank?

We’ve focussed on this scenario because you are more likely to put petrol in your diesel tank as the diesel nozzle is bigger than the petrol filler neck.

After a while your car will come to a shuddering halt. This is because petrol acts as a solvent and prevents the lubricating action that diesel has on the fuel pump.  It is like driving with engine without oil, it will create a high level of friction and tiny metal fragments will end up in your fuel injectors (ouch!).

The petrol will have also entered the fuel lines, and as we said before the petrol acts as a solvent which can eat away at the seals.  The petrol will need be flushed through with a cleaning agent and in a worst case scenario some parts may need replacing.

The fuel filter and fuel injectors will also be damaged.

MEB the Motor Centre’s Advice

Since one person every four minutes in the UK misfuels, our advice is to:

  • Concentrate at the pumps
  • pick an insurance policy that covers misfuelling like LV=
  • fit a device that makes it nearly impossible for you to misfuel
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EVs and Hybrid cars

hybrid cars EVsAs the tables turn on diesel cars and the need for zero-emission driving, there is more and more talk about electric and hybrid vehicles.  We explore the differences between these newer, cleaner energy choices. What will you invest in?

Electric vehicles

In just under a year, Volvo will start producing electric (and hybrids) exclusively.  You can read our previous article about this here.  EVs are charged up and run on electric power.  The electricity is stored in batteries which then powers the electric motor.

Government grants and the cost of charging (vs filling up) have meant that EVs are becoming more popular:

  • They emit no pollution at the tailpipe
  • They are very quiet and easy to drive
  • You can drive an EV on an automatic driving licence
  • You can charge your car at home (via a three prong plug)

There are of course faster chargers which can be found in carparks, service stations etc which are popular with EV drivers but an existing plug on your driveway or in your garage will still charge the batteries.

The disadvantages for EVs are:

  • They are quiet – pedestrians don’t necessarily hear the approaching vehicle
  • You need to charge your vehicle and it takes longer than filling your tank with fuel
  • Electricity isn’t necessarily a cleaner energy choice

Hybrid

Hybrids (like their name indicates) are a mixture of electric and petrol cars.  They have a petrol engine but many electric components.  The car is propelled forward by electricity stored in batteries and petrol stored in the tank.

There are a number of different ways the hybrids work.  Some use the petrol engine to charge the batteries, and in others the petrol motor drives the wheels directly with an additional battery adding electric drive.

Here are the different types of hybrids:

  • Mild Hybrids – One of the cheapest hybrid versions, the motor can’t run the car on its own but does help the petrol engine start and stop at the right times to save on fuel economy
  • Full Hybrids – These cars can propel the car entirely using the electric motor, although the petrol engine will be used when full power is needed
  • Plug-in Hybrids – These cars can be plugged in like EVs and will charge the car’s battery giving an electric-only range of 20 – 40 miles which reduces petrol consumption over longer journeys.

It seems that the future is electric but for those of you wanting to ease yourself in slowly then a hybrid might be a good intermediate investment.

 

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Different types of fuel

fuelIt used to be that there were two choices of fuel for your car: petrol or diesel.  However these days the options are expanding as the motoring industry explores different ways to power vehicles.  Here’s a lowdown of the choices available.

Petrol

There are generally two types of petrol that you can fill up with:

  • Unleaded (95 RON)
  • Super unleaded (98 RON)

The standard unleaded petrol which most cars use is 95 RON.  Sometimes known as “premium”, the 95 RON refers to the octane level of the petrol (how easily the fuel ignites in the engine).

Super unleaded is the highest octane petrol available in the UK.  It is often used by Porsche, Ferrari and high-performance Japanese cars.

Some garages will sell their own branded high performance fuels boasting additional benefits to the high octane rating.

Diesel

There is usually only one choice of diesel available at the filling station (at the black pump).  It should of course only be used for diesel vehicles!

However there are a few garages now selling fuel manufacturers own brands of high performance fuels.  They contain a higher cetane rating (diesel equivalent of octane) which ignites and burns more quickly and efficiently.  Some also include additional lubrication and cleaning agents which can keep your engine clean and remove existing deposits.

LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas)

LPG is a “liquid gas” also known as butane, propane or autogas.  It is the by-product of refining crude oil and processing natural gas liquids.  It is seen a low carbon fuel.  LPG costs around half the price of petrol.  Find out more information about it on the RAC site.

Hydrogen

Not very commonly used, hydrogen has some huge advantages over the traditional car fuels.  You can drive really far on a full tank of hydrogen (about 300 miles) but its fuel economy is about double of petrol vehicles.  However it is good for the environment as the only emissions are water vapour and hydrogen is abundant (can be made from renewable energy).

The problem is the lack of filling stations.  According to Next Green Car, there are currently around six publicly available ones in the UK.

Biofuels

Biodiesel and bioethanol are made from plant crops rather than oil.  They can be used on their own or blended with regular diesel or petrol.  UK fuel suppliers have been required to include some biofuel in the fuels that they sell (up to 5%).

If you decide that you want to use a higher percentage of biofuel in your car then you need to look for specific biofuel products.  However you must be aware that these aren’t currently supported by car manufacturers and they can invalidate the warranty if something were to happen to your vehicle.

Whatever vehicle or fuel you use, we welcome you all in for a service or MOT at our garage in Crouch End!

 

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Car Scrappage Schemes

car scrappage schemesIt seems that not a week goes by without a mention of a car scrappage scheme in the motoring press.  If you are thinking of changing vehicles is it worth investigating a scheme for your old car?

What are scrappage schemes?

Car manufacturers are offering discounts on cleaner models, encouraging you to part ways with your less environmentally-friendly banger.  Most of the cars traded in will need to be scrapped because they are higher-emission models and the idea is that if these are removed from the road then air quality will be improved.

Here’s how it works

Since the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal of 2015, car manufacturers and governments have been thinking of ways to reduce vehicle pollution.  The UK government considered a scrappage scheme to get rid of the top polluters but settled on a diesel tax instead.

However, in 2017 car manufacturers launched trade-in schemes for both petrol and diesel models, giving the traders discounts on buying cleaner new models.  These schemes were supposed to last to the end of 2017 but have been extended into 2018 in a bid to revive the car sales market.

You could receive up to £8,000 for your old car and therefore this eases the financial burden of trading up to a new model.

How to pick the best manufacturers scheme in 2018?

In 2017 no less than 26 car brands launched schemes with over half being extended until March 2018, six of which have been extended until June.  It could very well be that if the car market continues to be slow then many of the other car brands may well bring back old scrappage schemes (or introduce new ones) to try and boost sales.

What you need to know is that different manufacturers have different rules on their schemes with different amounts offered as part of their trade-in deal.

Some will give a fixed scrappage trade-in value for your old vehicle whereas others will give you a scrappage incentive plus either a trade-in payment or a deposit contribution discount on a PCP finance scheme.  Shop around as you could save thousands by choosing the scheme that gives the highest price for your car.

Some schemes don’t look like good value since you are losing your existing car but others give you extra discounts (compared to standard deals) which really goes to help afford your new car.

For the most up-to-date information on current scrappage schemes take a look at this article on What Car which has listed ones which are running until 30th June 2018.

Buying advice

Before entering into a dialogue with a car manufacturer, have an idea of what your current car is worth.  Have it valued as you may end up getting £5,000 in a private sale versus a £3,000 discount to trade your car in and see it taken to the scrap heap.

MEB’s position

If you are a diesel owner then you will be aware that from May new MOT rules are coming into force which will automatically fail any diesel which has a faulty diesel particulate filter, or has one removed. A diesel particulate filter (DPF) works to remove the soot from the exhaust gas of a diesel engine – the dirty part of the emissions that causes damage to health. With this in mind, you may very well be seeking out a favourable scrappage scheme for your old car.

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6 Car Maintenance Myths

car maintenance mythsIt’s funny how we hear a story a couple of times, so automatically think it is true. There’s so many car maintenance myths out there but we’ve picked our favourites!

 

I’ll save money on my aircon by rolling the windows down

Rolling the windows down might save on using the aircon which in turns saves on fuel.  However it increases wind resistance which makes the engine work harder (and consumes more fuel).  Therefore if you want to keep cool, you need to consume extra fuel. So which do you choose?  We think we’d pick the aircon as it dehumidifies the interior and keeps the driver alert.

 

I should be inflating my tyre to the pressure listed on it’s sidewall

Don’t use the pressure listed on the tyre’s sidewall as a guide. That is the maximum pounds-per-square-inch number that could be used for safe driving.  It’s best to use the information which is in your glovebox compartment.  For more fascinating facts about tyre pressure, read our dedicated article.

 

Premium fuel much better than the regular stuff

We are often taught that premium brands are better.  However this is not necessarily the case.  Unless your car manual states your car needs premium fuel then you can probably avoid suffering the extra costs.

 

I need to change my oil every 3000 miles

This is an old-fashioned notion and with the developments in car design technology, many cars won’t need their oil changing until around the 5,000 – 7,500 miles mark.  In fact cars with synthetic oil can be changed every 10,000 miles! But do remember to change your oil…  read what happens if you forget to check your oil.

 

Do I need to “Winterize” or “Summerize” my car?

In the UK we don’t really need to prepare our cars for the change of the season.  Depending on the type of coolant in your car it only needs to be changed every 2 – 4 years and your air conditioning may only need a recharge once every 2 years.

We do have guides to show what regular maintenance you should be doing to your car, and providing you keep up with this then you shouldn’t need to book in for a seasonal service.

 

All garages and mechanics are all the same

You might think that one garage is very much like another.  However you’d be wrong.  Some high street chains just want you in and out, and won’t take time to fix older cars.

At MEB, we pride ourselves in going the extra mile and repairing cars that other garages have  either rejected or failed to find a solution for.

 

If you still want more information about car maintenance myths then watch this video.

 

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Drive It Day 2018

Drive it daySunday April 22nd April is Drive It Day 2018, as designated by The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs.  It helps raise awareness of the UK’s classic vehicle movement and is held on the last Sunday in April (as close to the 1000 Mile Trial anniversary).

Who are The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs?

The Federation is comprised of some 540 organisations (over 450 of which are clubs and museums) with a total membership of 250,000 plus 1500 trade and individual supporters.

The FBHVC’s motto is “Yesterday’s vehicles on tomorrow’s roads” and they exist to uphold the freedom to use historic vehicles on the road without any restrictions and to support its member organisations.

What happens on Drive It Day?

Hagerty International (classic car insurers) will be holding a Drive It Day Tour for 100 classic cars with aims of raising money for charity and also to increase historic vehicle exposure, running from the Jaguar Land Rover showroom in Ryton-on-Dunsmore to Bicester Heritage via a beautiful 2.5 hour journey through the Warwickshire and Oxfordshire countryside.  If your car is registered before 1st January 1990, you may apply for a space (subject to availability).

The Classic & Historic Motor Club will be planning a scatter rally around Somerset – open to all cars over 30 years old.

The Brooklands Museum are hosting their own Drive It Day with pre-1983 vehicles able to park onsite.

If you are involved in an event, do make sure you post it on the FBHVC’s Facebook page.

How MEB the Motor Centre help Classic Car Owners

At MEB we like to help keep classic cars on the road.  We do this by keeping car owners aware of the change in legislations.  For example we were able to share the news that:

  • from January 2015 the cut off for VED (Vehicle Excise Duty) was going to roll at 40 years which means that any car built before 1st January 1978 (current year) will eligible for a zero-rated road tax.
  • in May 2018, classic cars will be exempt from MOTs.  Cars over 40 years old will not have to take the yearly road test (that amounts to around 1.5% of cars on the road)

As an independent garage, we are far more likely to service and repair classic cars.  What Car? Servicing Satisfaction survey of 2017 shows that of the 90% of motorists who choose a franchised dealership for the first year’s service would switch to independents as the cars age. In fact once cars reach 7 years old, almost 50% have shifted to using an independent garage.  One customer even left us a lovely review:

Excellent service, they went out of their way to fix my old ford – something that another garage didn’t even want to take on! happily driving to the airport today.

If you have a classic car which needs some TLC then bring her to us at MEB the Motor Centre.

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What is the fate of the diesel car?

dieselThe fate of the diesel car is in question and seems to have been for some time:

  • The Government’s emission policies are set to reduce emissions by promoting the use of bicycles, public transport and supporting newer forms of cleaner, lower carbon vehicles such as electric cars;
  • Volvo recently announced they will exclusively produce electric or hybrid vehicles from 2019 with the aim to sell 1 million vehicles by 2025. We wrote an article about this last year which you can read here;
  • The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan introduced the Toxicity Charge, or the “T Charge” to those cars in London which exceed certain emissions. He plans to scrap the most polluting diesel vehicles and introduce only hybrid or zero emission vehicles from this year. Again, we recently wrote about this and you can read it here;
  • In 4 major global cities diesel vehicles are to be banned from 2025 seeing Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City pushing to address concerns over air quality. (source Autocar)

But why?

We recently wrote an article about whether to choose a petrol or a diesel car which you can read here.

Drivers who tend to put in the miles have traditionally opted for diesel cars. They may have higher upfront costs but fuel for mileage is far better than petrol.

But diesels can cause higher emissions if they are not maintained properly. The matter emitted from the incomplete combustion of diesel fuel produces the particles which are harmful to health. In fact, it is reported that 9,400 die a year due to polluted air in London.

New MOT rules are coming into force this May which will automatically fail any diesel which has a faulty diesel particulate filter, or has one removed. A diesel particulate filter (DPF) works to remove the soot from the exhaust gas of a diesel engine –  the dirty part of the emissions that causes damage to health.

Due to the upkeep of DPFs in diesel cars (they become clogged easily and are expensive to replace) some drivers do choose to remove them. This is already a criminal offence punishable with a financial penalty but until the new rules come into force it was always just a visual inspection. The smoke test will also change – slashing the limit so that diesels with dirty emissions will face an immediate fail not meeting the required standards. The new automatic fail is certainly a drive to dissuade people from removing DPFs – and may even be pushing drivers to choose other types of vehicle.

So does this mean the end for diesel cars?

According to a recent article in Autocar there hasn’t been an effect on the price of diesels.  James Dower, the senior editor of Cap HPI’s Black Book. “It seems that consumer and fleet appetite for diesel vehicle has held up,” he says. “There is no waning in demand for diesel vehicles in the new or used market. Values have moved broadly in line with petrol engine equivalents through 2016, with little visible impact from negative headlines through the year” – sourced from Autocar article.

So diesel may not have had its day yet, but it certainly looks like it will do in the future.

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MOT Changes

MOTThe MOT test is due for a shake up in 2018. The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is  making the changes that will come into force on the 20th May 2018.

An updated inspection manual will be introduced for all MOT testers across the UK. But what changes will it include?

New MOT fault categories

The new fault categories will be minor, major and dangerous. Major and dangerous defects will mean an automatic MOT fail. Major faults will require the vehicle to be fixed and retested and a dangerous defect will mean the car is dangerous, making it a criminal offence to drive on the road. A minor fault would be flagged up on the MOT certificate with other advisory notes about what needs to be done.

The DVSA say these have been put in place to help drivers do right thing, as in not simply drive away from the garage.

Other checks

Emission testing will get tougher, especially for Diesel cars. If a diesel car’s exhaust emits ‘visible smoke of any colour’ it will be deemed a major fault and fail the test.

Steering locks will be tested.

There will be a check on the reverse lights, and will result in a fail if they aren’t working.

Brake discs will be tested for significant wear and will also be considered a major or even dangerous fault if found to be obviously worn.

Why?

The test is changing to bring it into line with an EU Directive called the EU Roadworthiness Package.

What can you, the driver do?

Before taking your car for an MOT it is always worth doing some basic checks. So check your windscreen for cracks or chips, check the wipers are still working well.

Tyre tread is something that often leads to a fail so it is worth checking these before the test. And of course any blown lightbulbs, and replace if necessary.

Check your horn works. This is a very common fail item.

Check for any leaks around the vehicle.

Ensure your fuel is at a decent level before taking it for the test. An MOT can’t be carried out on an empty or nearly empty fuel tank.

Make sure the seatbelts work smoothly and correctly.

For diesel car owners (or if you’re considering buying a diesel) check the DPF (diesel particulate filter) if you have one. If your dash light is flashing orange then it may be becoming blocked, which could cost a lot of money.

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New Driving Test Rules

driving testIn December 2017 the driving test as we know it changed.  The DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) wanted to bring the test into line with the skills new drivers need to have on today’s roads. Such as driving with a satnav and driving on high speed roads.  The major changes are as follows:

  1. Following directions from a Satnav

We recently wrote an article about the law in relation to satnavs in cars. Many people use them nowadays and they can be a distraction. So, the new test will incorporate it as part of the possible skills examined in order to train new drivers to use them safely. The driving instructor will set the route on their own satnav and the driver will be expected to follow the route. They can ask questions if they need to and if they take a wrong turn it won’t be a fail, unless they make a fault.

  1. Independent driving

This has always been part of the test but will now be for up to 20 minutes. The DVSA say that research shows new drivers find independent driving useful once they go on to pass their test and drive alone.

  1. Answering a vehicle safety question while you’re driving

There will be two different types of safety question. A ‘tell me’ and a ‘show me’ question.

The first will be asked at the start – before you drive. You will be asked to tell the examiner how you would carry out a safety task, such as operating the windscreen wipers.

The show me question would be asked during the examination. You will be asked to show the  examiner how you would carry out a safety task during driving.

  1. Finally, the reversing manoeuvres have changed.

There will no longer be a reverse around the corner or turn in the road manoeuvre. Instead they will be replaced by these 3 possible reversing manoeuvres:

  1. Parallel parking
  2. Reverse in and drive out, or drive in and reverse out of a parking bay
  3. Pull up on the right-hand side of the road (against the flow of traffic), reverse for 2 car lengths and then rejoin the traffic

The cost of the driving test will remain the same for now.

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