Industry News
New child seat rules

Child car seat rules explained

You won’t carry a more precious cargo in your car than your children, so it’s great that there’s a huge range of excellent products on the market to help you transport them safely. However, from 1 March 2017 the rules changed and it’s left a lot of parents feeling very confused. Indeed, according to a recent survey by confused.com, just 13% of parents claim to understand the new legislation.

Much of that confusion hinges on the fact that from 1 March, backless booster seats (also known as booster cushions) can’t be sold for smaller children, and many parents are assuming that from this date their old seats can’t be used. However, the new law states that parents won’t be forced to replace old seats; it’s just that selling backless booster seats for smaller children became illegal. As a result, ‘high-back boosters’ are now the only option if your child weighs under 22kg, is shorter than 125cm and needs a new car seat.

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Industry News
new road tax rules 2017

New road tax rules explained

The UK government has a problem. Its income from vehicle excise duty (VED, or road tax) and fuel taxes has plummeted in recent years thanks to increasingly efficient cars; it’s reckoned around a quarter of new cars pay no road tax at all. As a result, the current CO2-based system is set to be overhauled from 1 April 2017 in a bid to increase revenue from drivers.

The current system sees car owners paying more VED the more CO2 their car emits. Under the new regime only pure-electric cars with tailpipe CO2 emissions of 0g/km will be exempt; all other cars will pay a flat fee of £140. However, to bump up its income further, the government is also imposing an extra annual charge of £310 on any car costing over £40,000. This is for the first five years only though; it’s to stop older, thirstier cars from quickly becoming worthless, because of the high cost of taxing them.

If you buy a car with a list price of £40,000 you’ll have to pay that £310 annual supplement (for the first five years), even if it’s an electric car such as a Tesla. This list price includes any optional extras you specify, so just a few hundreds pounds worth of options could end up costing you an extra £1550 over the next five years. Incidentally, the list price doesn’t include any on-the-road charges such as number plates, fuel, delivery charges or a new car registration fee. Also, even if you negotiate a big discount it’ll make no difference; the bill you pay is based on the list price, not the transaction price.

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Advice and Tips
Winter-driving

Winter Driving

We previously posted a blog full of top advice on how to prepare your car for winter driving. That was the easy bit – but how do you cope with driving when the temperatures plummet and the roads are covered in snow and ice?

If you had to guess whether the roads are safest in the summer or the winter, which would you go for? It’s a no-brainer isn’t it? In the winter there’s the spectre of sub-zero temperatures to contend with, as well as fog and darkness. So if you find the idea of summer driving nerve-wracking, you’ll probably be freaked out by the notion of getting behind the wheel when things get icy. But while driving is more hazardous in the winter than the summer, if you’re properly prepared there’s nothing to be afraid of.

The key thing to remember when it gets really cold is that you can’t afford to be lulled into a false sense of security. Even when things look safe, they may not be, so always drive carefully. When the temperatures fall, road surfaces are often wet and/or covered in frost, ice or snow – but not necessarily uniformly. Here’s how to deal with it: Read more

Buying & Selling, MOT History
Car servicing bay

Your car’s MoT history

When you’re looking at buying a second-hand car you want to home in on one that’s been cherished. One where the owner has kept on top of the routine servicing and really lavished plenty of love and attention. Do your homework and it’s not all that hard to find such cars; ones with detailed service histories and invoices an inch thick.

However, at the other end of the spectrum are the cars that have been run on a shoestring. They’re the cars that are nursed from one MoT to the next with a minimum of cash spent on them, and as a result MoT time tends to be a bit expensive.

Imagine how useful it would be to be able to glimpse into a car’s past. Ideally into its MoT history so you can see whether it has sailed through each time, or if every year it’s had to be patched up to gain a pass, while still staring down the barrel of a long list of advisories as the certificate is issued.

Well now you can see into a car’s MoT history, because when you take out an HPI check on a car this is now one of the many pieces of information that’s included in the report. To get an idea of the kind of information that’s included and how it’s presented, take a closer look at the sample HPI Check.

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Campaigns

What You See Isn’t Always What You Get

It’s fair to say that things online things aren’t always what they seem. From editing selfies to make ourselves seem more attractive on social media, to creating embellished profiles on dating websites, everyone wants to present a perfect and often airbrushed image of themselves.

Internet first impressions can often be deceiving. From turning up to meet a date who doesn’t quite look like they did on their Tinder profile, to buying a product that doesn’t quite match up to its description, the world wide web has made it so easy for people to be catfished in all areas of life.

Don’t just take our word for it though… we surveyed 2,000 people across the UK on their attitudes on perception versus reality online. We found that 72% of people thought that people look different in photos on the internet to what they do in real life, and that 50% of people have never uploaded a photo of themselves that isn’t edited, highlighting that what you see online isn’t always what you get in person.

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Advice and Tips

Winter car maintenance

Keeping your car serviced is essential at any time of the year, as our blog on top car maintenance tips proves. But in the winter it’s especially important that you keep on top of things if you want to avoid a breakdown or even a crash. Fail to maintain your car properly and once the temperatures plummet you could easily be involved in an accident – and that’s when things can get really stressful.

There are lots of checks you do to ensure your car doesn’t let you down when the going gets tough. None are time-consuming or difficult and much of the following is good advice all year round. But now the sub-zero temperatures have hit with a vengeance, make sure you find the time this weekend to give your car the once over.

Battery

This is the most common reason for winter breakdowns for two key reasons. Firstly, a battery doesn’t hold its charge as readily in cold weather and secondly, turning over the engine demands more of the battery because the oil is thicker. So the temperature dropping by just a few degrees can make all the difference between the engine spinning over and firing, and there just being a click when you turn the key, because it’s all too much.

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Advice and Tips, Car Maintenance
tyres on a snowy country road

Winter tyres

If there are two things that don’t mix, it’s conventional summer tyres and icy roads. They’re the motoring equivalent of strawberries and mustard, or lamb chops with clotted cream. You just don’t want to go there. But if you’re reliant on your car to transport you whatever the weather, what can you do to keep moving when the temperatures plummet? Investing a few hundred quid in a set of winter tyres is the simple answer.

When the temperature drops below seven degrees centigrade, the rubber in conventional tyres hardens and grip is reduced. Winter tyres feature a compound which stays soft even when the mercury drops below zero, so getting going is easier, while braking distances are reduced too – from 30mph, you could stop in just 35 metres compared with the more usual 43 metres. As a result, you can get going more easily, stop more quickly, and when you corner your car will feel much more stable.

For years, some drivers in mainland Europe have been compelled to fit winter rubber in low temperatures. It’s one of the reasons why Scandinavian countries don’t grind to a halt when the snow hits; they just fit their winter tyres and keep driving. Recent harsh winters in the UK and lots of publicity has led to an increasing number of drivers here adopting European practice, but many drivers remain unconvinced.

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Valuations
car valuation

What dictates the value of your car

You’ve probably heard a thousand times that something is worth only what somebody will pay for it, but what dictates how that figure is set? Why is one car worth £500 and another 10 or 100 times as much?

It’s down to a multitude of factors but at a simple level a car’s value is driven by the balance of supply and demand along with its original selling price. So if it was expensive to start with and very sought after, it will continue to be valuable – but if there’s little demand for it, its value will quickly drop. Conversely, if a car is cheap to start with it’s unlikely to become more valuable, so will always be worth relatively little.

For more on car depreciation and residuals check out our blog on the subject. In the meantime, these are the key things that will affect your car’s value.

Image

Arguably the thing that makes the biggest difference to your car’s value is something that’s subjective and driven at least partly by reputation. In the UK we like our premium marques whereas mass-market products aren’t so highly regarded. As a result we’re happy to pay a higher price for a car from an upmarket brand, even if the car isn’t as reliable or such good value as a cheaper alternative. Sometimes a car doesn’t have much of an image because of limited awareness through a lack of marketing – and it’s these that can make the best used buys.

Condition

If you’ve got a mainstream car to sell, one of the things that will make the biggest difference to its value is its condition. If it looks abused nobody will want to buy it – why would somebody buy a car with grubby paintwork and stained interior trim when they can find a better example elsewhere? Buyers will pay a premium for a car in immaculate condition and the same goes for one that’s covered a low mileage and comes with a full service history.

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Valuations
car valuation

Why you should get a car valuation

Five reasons why you should get a car valuation

The value of anything is driven by the balance of supply and demand, and it’s no different for cars. How well a car retains its value depends on how desirable it is and how many of them are available – so even if there’s a good supply, you can still pay plenty if there’s also a strong demand.

Just look at cars such as the BMW Mini, Audi A3 and Range Rover Evoque. There’s one on every corner, but because they’re also held in such high esteem by used car buyers, you’ll always pay plenty to buy one.

The thing is, there’s no way of knowing what your car is worth without referring to some kind of valuation service. Just because you paid £10,000 for it a year ago, it’s impossible to say what it’s worth now. Besides, if you bought it from a trader you’ll have paid top whack for it, and it’ll immediately be worth significantly less than you shelled out for it if you then sell it privately or trade it in. To understand this better, check out our blog on how depreciation works.

And here we’ve opened a can of worms, because your car doesn’t have a set value as such. Instead it has a range of values depending on whether it’s for sale at a dealer, being traded in against another car or being sold privately. It might also be going for auction – in which case that’s yet another value you can put against it.

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