Fuel Consumption

hd fuel pumpWhy you can’t trust official figures quoted by the manufacturers

When a new model is developed the manufacturer must put it through a complex series of European ‘type approval’ tests before it can be offered for sale. One of these involves the car being driven over a standard driving cycle on a rolling road to determine official fuel consumption and CO2 emissions data.

The test procedure and driving cycle – accelerations, gear changes, idling etc. – result in three official fuel consumption figures: official urban, extra-urban and combined, which is a weighted average of the other two. Continue reading

Car Tax

tax formThe tax you must pay* to use a motor vehicle on public roads

Excise Duty on motor vehicles was introduced way back in 1920 when local councils were first required to register all vehicles. The new tax was based on engine horsepower and was initially hypothecated (ring-fenced) for road building and maintenance – it was paid directly into the ‘road fund’ and was therefore known as the Road Fund Licence. Tax discs were introduced in 1921.

Since 1936 Vehicle Excise Duty has been treated as general taxation and has not been hypothecated for road building and maintenance. The road fund continued, funded by government grants, until it was abolished in 1955. Continue reading

Car Buying Scams

alertIf an offer sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Car buying scams cost consumers around £3 million a year but you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim by:

  • Buying locally from a reputable dealer.
  • Always getting a vehicle history check  included with all cars listed on AA Cars.
  • Not handing over money to someone you don’t know for a car you’ve never seen.
  • Walking away from an offer that sounds too good to be true. Continue reading

New Technologies

car technologyWhat next after airbags and ABS?

The ’90s and early 2000s saw a steady and significant improvement in ‘secondary safety’; a car’s ability to protect you and your family in the event of a crash.

The design of the vehicle’s body/chassis plays a big part, but the most visible change during this period was the proliferation of airbags. Ford’s Mondeo (1993) was the first to have a driver airbag fitted as standard to all model variants, but today you’d have to look hard to find a new car with less than four, or even six airbags. Continue reading



What to look for and what it can tell you.

Understandably it’s the car, rather than all the paperwork that goes with it, that will attract most of your attention but it’s important to take time to go through the car’s written history carefully  it can tell you a lot about the car’s background and how well it has been looked after.

Continue reading

Spare Wheels

Spare WheelsMake sure you know what’s in the boot.

Just because there’s a full-size spare in the boot of your current car, don’t assume there’ll be one in the new car – always check the boot yourself.

Car manufacturers are under no legal obligation to provide a full-size spare, or, for that matter, any means of dealing with a puncture at the roadside. Continue reading


WarrantiesCheck the small print very carefully.

New car warranties typically provide 3 years of cover, although some manufacturers offer up to seven years, which can sometimes come with mileage restrictions, and some offer less.

If you buy a used car, the balance of any remaining warranty should be transferable. Where a lifetime warranty is offered this is likely only to apply while the vehicle is in the hands of the first owner and is not transferable. Continue reading

Where to buy a car

18043875The pros and cons of the main ways you can buy a car

The chances are you’ll do some research and decide on the make and model you want to buy first rather than choose a seller and then select a car from the stock they’ve got available.

Nevertheless, it pays to have an idea of the pros and cons of the different types of dealer you can buy a car from. Continue reading