Archive | August, 2012

Top motoring blunders that irritate other drivers

We all have them: pet peeves about other drivers that get us truly riled up. A recent study undertaken by retailer Halfords has revealed the habits most hated by drivers.

Highest on the list is ‘tailgating’ – driving too close to the car in front, with 68% of car owners reporting that this got them fuming while on the road.

Failing to indicate properly is next on the list, with 6 in 10 drivers getting irate about motorists who neglect this important aspect of communicating on the road. Half (50%) of drivers reported hating drivers weaving in and out of lanes.

People attempting to use hands-free mobile phones while driving bothered 42% of respondents.

Four out of 10 motorists also got cross about traffic jams, travelling too slowly and motorway lane hogs.

However, it’s not all bad news. The majority of drivers (3 in 5) reported that they felt drivers were displaying fewer bad habits than they did five years ago, despite an increase to 34.5 million vehicles on UK roads. Also encouraging is the fact that motorists reported feeling that people are more polite on the roads than they used to be.

In fact, though 8% reported shouting or making obscene gestures when other drivers do the wrong thing, a quarter will flash their lights or sound the horn, but the vast majority simply ignore it and continue to drive – an encouraging figure considering that road rage increases the risk of accidents, with 1/3 of all road accidents in the UK attributed to road rage.

Three ways to decrease the chances of road rage:

  • Leave plenty of time to get to your destination so that you’re not in a rush.
  • Consider what makes you irritable while driving, like having certain kinds of music or talk radio on as you drive.
  • If you feel yourself growing angry, pull over for a few minutes and cool down.

The 10 most annoying driving habits:

1. Driving too close to the car in front
2. Not indicating
3. Weaving through traffic
4. Using non hands free mobile phone while driving
5. Traffic jams
6. Driving too slowly while hogging a lane
7. Fast driving
8. Road works
9. Poor road conditions
10. Throwing litter from vehicles

Vivienne Egan is a writer for GEM Motoring Assist, leading providers of breakdown cover in the UK.

[photo by MrJasonWeaver]

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Sponsored Video: Be Sure With ESURE

One of the things that all sensible motorists should be aware of is the fact that driving is dangerous. It’s a given. It is therefore astonishing to note from statistics that driver inattention is a major cause of car accidents. Even more astonishing still is that, despite all the publicity and penalties, people are still using their mobile devices when on the go. In fact, they were responsible for 23% of traffic accidents in 2011.

This percentage is the same figure as the amount of reduction in reaction times of someone trying to send a text whilst driving. Not good.

The problem is that we have all become far to fond of our phones; we like to have them to hand at all times, including when driving. Drivers can be sure that, at the moment they are distracted by ringing or bleeping, that will be the time when the car in front carries out an emergency manoeuvre.
Fortunately, over at ESURE, the car insurance people, they have come up with a simple and yet genius solution. A Smartphone app called DriveOFF. The company decided on this course of action after seeing the results of research by the Transport Research Laboratory demonstrating the dangers of mobile devices when on the road.

This easy to use application takes control of your precious device – in a nice way, obviously – when the car is in motion, at speeds above ten miles per hour. It cleverly uses GPS technology to block all message or call signals thus saving you from yourself. All you’ll see is a static screensaver of your choice. When you’ve stopped you’ll be free to respond.

ESURE are well known for their competitive car insurance quotes with all the benefits you need like protecting your NCD or getting access to a 24 hour helpline. You’ll be well covered with ESURE and now, with the benefit of DriveOFF you will be much less likely to have to call them. That’s good news for road safety and your pocket!

This article is sponsored by ESURE but is very much all our own work.

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1939 Auto Union Goes Home

From time to time a racing car appears that really stirs the blood. Such a car was the Auto Union (that’s Audi to us these days) twin-supercharger Silver Arrow. The car originates from the 1930’s and a very rare example that surfaced in Russia some time ago has been obtained by the delighted Audi company which has bought it back home. What is more appealing is the fact that, after all this time, it seems to be in almost completely original condition.

The exquisite Silver Arrow (that’s it in the photo) was conceived and built in the ‘30s. At the time both AU and Mercedes were racing cars of a, for the time, very modern design. The Merc’s were front engined but Auto Union decided to put the motor behind the driver. This was obviously a good idea because that’s how things are today in F1. These cars dominated the Grand Prix scene, driven by the famous names of the time, until 1939 bought the storm clouds of war to Europe.

With 12 or 16 cylinder engines these cars, notoriously difficult to drive, were reaching speeds in excess of 300 kilometres per hour. That’s an astonishing 186mph in British money and, if you consider the almost total lack of safety precautions at the circuits, made the racing very exciting indeed.

What became known as the supercharger era was brought to an abrupt end by the Second World War. Most of the racing Mercedes were saved for the nation but, when the Russians occupied what became East Germany they nicked all the Auto Unions from as part of their booty. As time went by they disappeared.

After the war, in 1949, AU was resurrected at a new factory in Ingolstadt where it remains as Audi to this day. Only one of the cars remained and that had been bomb damaged during the conflict.

Curiously, it was an American collector called Paul Karassik, whose wife was German, who got wind of the existence of one of the cars and he set to work. Karassik originally came from a White Russian family and spoke the language fluently. Cutting a long story short he overcame immense difficulties – before the fall of the iron Curtain – to buy and bring out all the components of two cars, minus bodies, and flew them to America. Two examples were assembled and two new bodies built by a British coach-builder.

The years passed and eventually Audi were able to obtain both cars over time. They already had one other and it is now believed, with the arrival of the latest car, that all the remaining examples are back home where they should be. A happy ending to a piece of automotive history.

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Red Bull Make A Move On The WRC

There is a conflict of opinion as to whether sponsorship in sport is a good or bad thing. Some say it has ruined many of the popular sporting activities; football, for example, where players pay and sponsorship deals make a mockery of the average wage packet. On the other hand many sports would have died a death had it not been for business investing money to promote products. Look at how the funding acquired from cigarette advertising enhanced the various F1 teams a few years ago. Certainly, F1 would not be where it is today were it not for the power of commercial cash.

So it is with the World Rally Championship. This year, with the failure of its principal sponsor, North One Sport, very early on in the season and much indecision by the FIA, the races have been promoted individually at a local level meaning coverage has been patchy. Most fans in the UK would not have seen it at all if it hadn’t been for the efforts of Motors TV showing regular highlights.

As a result, WRC teams who spend a fortune on R&D – which does filter down to consumer cars – were at one point considering their future in the sport. Without media coverage advertisers would stay away in droves and look for more appealing marketing opportunities. So it is welcome news that after much prevaricating, it looks very much as if Red Bull are going to step up to the plate and become the WRC’s prime sponsor which should in turn bring the media on board.

If it comes to pass then this is a fantastic coup. It’s a well known fact that when this company puts their efforts into a promotion, it usually succeeds. They already have the most successful F1 team and are also one of the principal sponsors of the all-conquering Citroen Total World Rally Team who, despite the best efforts of Ford, are almost certain to win the championship again this year.

Presumably Red Bull would not continue to sponsor individual teams if this becomes a reality. It may be that Citroen will have to spread the net to bring in more money next year. One thing is for sure though; Red Bull would not sit quietly by as the events in 2013 unfold. They will want to ensure that they get maximum coverage across all the media platforms. This hopefully will be good news for fans, especially in Britain, who are starved of their ration of one of the most exciting branches of motor sport.

Meanwhile, as the championship progresses, the other drivers are probably all hoping that the legendary and unbeatable Sebastian Loeb will finally retire next year to give the others a chance. It seems likely, now that Citroen have recruited Mikko Hirvonen as their number two driver. Hirvonen is not the type to sit in the shadow of another so presumably the idea is that he will be numero uno on the team when Loeb moves on. Let us hope that next season sees a revival in the fortunes of the WRC and that the fans get the coverage they deserve.

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Driving Tips For Women

No seriously. Motor Blogger is attuned to the zeitgeist so let’s not be having any of that ‘last bastion of masculinity’ stuff. Save it for the golf club.

Long, long ago, in a time before satellite navigation, motorists would get around by the use of maps. These are large concertina-folded sheets of paper which were used to find your way about. Once unfurled they were impossible to fold back up. This is why map books were invented. Anyway, women cannot read maps – it’s a given. Not their fault of course, it’s just that their brains are wired differently and this has been scientifically proven. In any case, why is it always the female who stops and asks for directions whilst the geezer is still blustering about ‘knowing exactly where he is’?

Although this is true it has given the ladies a bit of a bad press generally when it comes to matters automotive. In fact, women drivers are more responsible and safer than men – and that’s been proved too. Lower insurance claims demonstrate the fact.

The trouble really starts because women tend to believe their own bad press despite being perfectly capable – it’s a subconscious thing. It may also be said that women are better at multi-tasking – a fact that is regularly pointed out to errant male partners; but mud tends to stick to the distaff side when it comes to cars. This is turn leads to a lack of confidence and the cycle continues.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists has shown that when a woman has a male partner it is the man who will generally do the driving (except when going to the pub, obviously). This means that the female partner doesn’t get the driving experience and, again, this in turn exacerbates the common misconceptions about women drivers. It’s a vicious circle. This is why females tend to avoid driving in difficult circumstances. It’s not because they can’t, but because they have been conditioned to think they can’t. It is almost a form of bullying.

Women need to assert themselves like professional driver Sabine Schmitz (pictured). They should try to drive regularly and avoid distractions, like thinking about the stereotypical ‘what to have for dinner’ conundrum. Good driving is a pleasure (most of the time) and it is best done when relaxed. The inexperienced driver needs to confront those situations that have previously been avoided. Difficult junctions, for example. Try using relaxation techniques (not yoga, clearly) and soothing music or even asking passengers to shut up.

It is only by gaining experience and confidence behind the wheel that women drivers can overcome the stigma of being ‘second class motorists’.

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Used Car? Have A CAT Scan

Buying a nice new car is a pleasure, especially if the customer gets a good deal. New cars are covered by warranties and other consumer protection so even if the new purchase turns out to be a bit of a dog, it should not be a problem to resolve the issue. Buying a used car however, well, that’s another matter entirely.

Buying something reasonably recent from a main dealer forecourt is usually a reliable way of going about things, but this will still involve a fairly hefty outlay. It’s down at the cheap end of the market that the real problems lie.

Crooks come in all shapes and sizes and are often very plausible. They will word their advertisements in a certain way designed to tempt buyers and the true story is only revealed by reading the subtle language of the car trader or less scrupulous private seller. Certain expressions can often disguise a nasty surprise.

Many prospective buyers may not be aware that, when a car has an accident, the damage is graded in categories. For example, any vehicle graded as an ‘A’ or ‘B’ category is a signal for the car to be destroyed. It will go to the breakers yard to be crushed. A car that is given an ‘F’ rating has had a fire. Now, insurance companies won’t bother with a repair if a car is old and of little value. Nevertheless, they can be salvageable. A wiring fire – complete with melted battery – looks dreadful but is perfectly fixable, but a buyer must be told.

A ‘D’ rating means a car has been in a repairable accident and should be fine but the one to watch is Category ‘C‘. This refers to a motor that has been damaged and is, in the view of the insurers, ‘beyond economical repair’. The worry is that this does not make it illegal to fix up such a car and sell it. If, somewhere in the small print containing all the plus points the description Cat. ‘C’ appears then a buyer needs to be wary. Caveat Emptor, as they say.

Unscrupulous sellers will try their best to keep this information hidden. Remember, a car that has been damaged in some way is not as valuable as a mint example and the price should reflect that. Conversely, if a car appears to be the deal of the century then it pays to ask questions. There may also be tell-tale signs: a fresh paint job (no used car is perfect) may be a giveaway or perhaps a shiny new set of vehicle licence plates.

There are many ways for an innocent buyer to be stung so it really pays to be vigilant. The used car selection has much to offer people on a limited budget, especially as for the last ten years cars all cars have galvanised bodies and reliable mechanicals. The trouble is that, by their very nature, accidents are unavoidable. Just don’t get caught in the aftermath.

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War On Motorists A Myth Says Think Tank

Motor Blogger isn’t here to make political points, after all, we’re a car blog; but the news has to be reported and a new report has just come to light that may be of interest.

If you think that, nationally, your opinion doesn’t account for very much, then you’d be right. For decades motorists have complained that the government, amongst others, was fleecing them. Drivers feel that they are an easy target for taxation and sundry other forms of revenue raising but, apparently, all this time, they have all been wrong.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (who presumably get paid quite a lot for this stuff) are a left-leaning think tank who attempt to advise the government of the day. This quango has said – and this will make you laugh – that there is no ‘war on motorists’, instead they state that rail and bus users were the ones being hit.

Bizarrely, they miss the obvious. Rail and bus users are hit by price rises from private industries. This is the way of the world – to make profit. Drivers are hit by increased taxation – a method of raising money for profligate and inefficient governments to spend and waste as they fit. Certainly drivers are also affected by increases in the market rate for fuel but it is absolutely clear that roughly half of the price we pay for petrol is tax. Obviously, these taxes additionally add pain to users of public transport as well.

Nevertheless the IPPR is having none of it. They believe the powers that be should press ahead with fuel duty increases and prioritise spending on public transport. Excuse us? Previous administrations washed their hands of the trains and the buses years ago and hived them off to private ownership. How then, are they to be involved in this private enterprise except perhaps for transport capital projects which, in any case, should come out of transport company profits.

The IPPR quote these figures. They say that the cost of motoring has risen by 32.5% between 1997 and 2010. This is apparently a ‘fall in real terms’, as if the government were in some way responsible for this and not motor manufacturers who thankfully have made new cars much more efficient. Certainly, the government can’t be held responsible for the horrendous rise in car insurance, unless, of course, you take into account they’re allowing of the rise in the compensation culture.

Rail fares have risen 66.2% and bus fares an astonishing 76.1% according to the IPPR figures with further increases to come. This is not doubt true but it is because the privates companies involved have raised them – not the government.

It remains to be seen whether or not our leaders will pay any attention to this given that they, and not the IPPR, are subject to the ire of the voters. Naturally, revenues need to be raised, but to make such a declaration at a time when drivers are delving deeper than ever into their wallets is, to say the least, inconsiderate and totally out of kilter with the mood of the country.

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The Bugatti Galibier – All The Car You Really Need

When is enough, enough? Why, when it’s a Bugatti of course. In 2009 the specialist company debuted the 16C Galibier with possible production slated for 2015. Well, now it looks likely to appear sooner, maybe in 2013/4. There it is in the picture. Jaw-dropping is probably an apt description. How much? Pushing the door of one million pounds seems likely. More if you want a radio, of course. That’s a joke, by the way.

Officially, the Galibier was built to gauge customer reaction to the idea of a four door, four seat Bugatti. Presumably the reaction was ‘Cor!’ or something similar because, with production of the Veyron due to end this year, the company needs to have something ready to top that astonishing car.

As ever, news about new cars tends to leech out over time and more about the Bugatti is coming to light. Is just the one thousand brake horse power enough, one wonders? Can one manage with a mere 8.0L W16 engine – the same one that powers the Veyron but with two mechanical superchargers rather than the sports car‘s turbos? It’s a thorny dilemma. The top speed is apparently around the 235mph mark which suggests that by the time the speed camera has flashed your car will already be just a blur in the distance – so no ticketing worries, then.

The car is reckoned to be equipped with a conventional 8-speed auto transmission rather than a DSG system. Most of the body is, as you would expect for that money, carbon fibre, with the exception of the wings and doors which will be aluminium. The front end of the chassis is also rumoured to made of carbon fibre. On the face of it this massive car should be very heavy but the word is that Bugatti is trying to make it the lightest in its class. This rather begs the question:

‘And what class is that then?’

As it seems to be in a class of its own then it is presumably both the lightest and heaviest at the same time, although it is doubtful that buyers will concern themselves greatly anyway.

The company state that the styling is based on the Bugatti Type 57 Atlantique model (google this and be in awe) which makes the new car a hatchback, although not as we know it, Jim. The interior is a minimalist’s dream. It truly is an exquisite piece of design with the sweeping wooden dash dominated by two large dials in the centre giving power and speed information. There is a small pod behind the steering wheel as usual, presumably with all the supplementary info.

For the average motorist this car will presumably fit the bill, more or less. There’s storage space and seats for all the family and it has a convenient hatchback. Sure, it’s probably a little thirsty but hey, if it’s all the car you really need, what’s the point in nit-picking?

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New Range Rover For 2013

They just keep on coming, don’t they? Land Rovers that is. First we get the highly regarded Evoque. Then we learn of a trendy replacement for that faithful old retainer, the Defender; and now the first news of the replacement for the ageing Range Rover is starting to appear.

The much loved Rangey has been around now for over forty years. First launched in 1970 it is now on its third iteration and no amount of facelifts, upgrades and no less than four new engines can disguise the fact that model L322, first introduced in 2002, has reached the end of the road.

The good news is that model L405 will be with us next year and it is going to be something special. Land Rover are a bit cagey about the final looks but the picture above gives you some idea. Thinking about a grown-up Evoque is probably the way to go as the new vehicle will have some of that modern aero-dynamic styling whilst retaining the high driving position. It will still be all Range Rover though, not an Evoque clone.

There is no question that the present car is a big, thirsty beast, but LR have the solution. The new Range Rover will be built around a pressed aluminium monocoque which will help to the car to shed a slimming 250 kilos which should improve performance and economy.

A factory somewhere in the Midlands and suitably improved, will make the car and if the Evoque has really done wonders for the company’s fortunes then this new Rangey is the metaphoric icing on the cake.

America is seen as the prime market and LR expect to sell around twice as many there as they would in the UK. It won’t come cheap though. Expect the starting price to be around seventy thousand pounds rising to over the £100K mark for the range-topper.

This still isn’t a tree-hugging car. As with all manufacturers, Land Rover have made great strides in reducing noxious output and improving mpg but don’t expect it to be that frugal. For the eco-conscious – as is the trend – there is expected to be a hybrid version which it is hoped will cut emissions to 150g/km. Impressive in a car this size.

It’s a big step for the company as the present Rangey has a huge and dedicated following. Additionally, there has been an increase in the level of competition with the big X-Series Beemers, the Porsche Cayenne and new SUV’s from both Bentley and surprisingly, Lamborghini, so it needs to be good. Let’s see if the legend continues.

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Drivers Reject Excess For Simplicity

If you regularly read the motoring press then you’ll know that there has been more than a hint of a change in new and used car buying behaviour. We’ve alluded to it here on Motor Blogger a few times before but this seismic shift seems to be taking hold.

Motorists have had enough. No doubt it is driven by the cost of fuel and insurance and not helped one bit by European over-regulation, but drivers simply can’t hack the pain any longer. Sales of budget cars are on the up and up as buyers realise that they can do without many of the expensive extras appearing on cars today.

Coupled with the need to counter the rising costs of car ownership, there is also a burgeoning rebellion about the technology built into cars. Car makers have now excelled in making vehicles that are smart, safe and reliable and they have left themselves with nowhere to go. Their answer has been to start loading on the goodies.

We’ve been here before. Think about the rise of the Smartphone and all that comes with it. There is a movement away from this sort of complexity as phone users dig out old models because, really, all they want to do is talk, send texts and save a few quid. Obviously, business users can find a use for the many functions, but otherwise? All sorts of technology has been built and sold to us, nor because we want or need it, but because it can be done. This in turn fuels the geek mentality as people rush out to buy the latest thing – whether they need it or not!

So it is with cars. Manufacturers keen to sell more new cars are constantly adding luxury items. A new survey of motoring organisation members shows that a very large majority would be happy to do without electric parking brakes and electric seats, for example, if it saves them money. All these things make the cars more lardy and costly.

So, for beleaguered drivers everywhere, it is back to basics time. Out goes the fancy trim and incomprehensible ‘infotainment’ system and in comes small, frugal cars without all the chintz and leather. Sales of new city cars and their slightly bigger siblings have shot up exponentially and this trend is also being seen in the used car market as second-hand buyers reject luxury for convenient, simple motoring.

Clearly there will always be a market for fully loaded and luxurious cars. Not everybody is feeling the pinch but, as the Dacia is about to prove, people are seeking another way. There is even talk that the mighty Tata organisation is looking to perhaps build a version of its ridiculously cheap Nano for the European market. Refined it may not be but when it comes to a question of cheap transport or no transport at all you know which way the vote is going to go.

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