Archive | March, 2014

Transport Department’s New Cycling Safety Campaign

As someone who, in a former life, wrote about and participated in the world of mountain bikes and cycling in general, I like to think I am qualified to pontificate on the subject of cycling road safety. As, today, a driver and enthusiastic petrol head of many years standing I also like to think I am qualified to pontificate on the subject of cycling road safety.

I love cycling. The fresh air, the smell of the flowers in the countryside, the burning legs and the rasping lungs all aid and abet a healthy lifestyle. That is until a car slices across your bows as if you aren’t there, or worse, actually has you off. It has happened to me more than once.

Conversely, I like to make sure that I go for a long walk every day to clear the mind and the tubes. In the last week I have had three near misses from cyclists riding on nbso the pavement or the forest path who have approached from behind with no advance warning. I walk in a straight line, small children do not.

The whole point is that both groups, the two wheeled and the four, are both sinners and sinned against. The positions are polarised. Red-faced drivers rant against cyclists and Lycra-clad monomaniacs hate all things motorised. So, once again, the Department for Transport at the time of writing is having a crack at a new ‘Think’ campaign designed to improve safety for cyclists. Some city dwellers will see signs and posters in the near future.

Certainly we could all do better. The fact is that these things are always slanted towards the two-wheeled community because, quite rightly, they are far more vulnerable but the bad road behaviour of some cyclists is overlooked because of that vulnerability. There is no need to cycle on pavements on quiet roads. There is no need to buzz past pensioners who are not too quick on their feet. There is no need to ignore the rules of the road.

The Highway Code is there for all. We don’t want to see a rise in cycling fatalities but equally we don’t want the motorist shouldering all the blame.

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Say Goodbye To Coolant Leaks

Historically, one of the things that made you glad you owned a really reliable car was the sight of some poor unfortunate soul standing at the roadside next to a car with steam coming out of the engine.

Overheating, possibly because of water leaks from faulty or damaged radiators or other engine coolant issues were relatively commonplace in days gone by and can still plague those who by choice or necessity run older motors.

Modern cars, it is commonly believed, are less prone to this sort of thing but this is absolutely no reason to become complacent. Today’s vehicles, when they do malfunction, do so in a much trickier way because they are considerably more complex than cars from days gone by.

When air-conditioning first became popular on cars, drivers began to notice the little pools of water that could gather under their vehicle. A frisson of fear would run through them because they did not know what the problem was or, indeed, how to fix it. Now, of course, we all know that it is a harmless by-product of running air-con systems and not a fault at all, but that moment of doubt should serve as a timely reminder about reliability issues.

There are things car owners can do to minimise the possibility of leaks. In addition to keeping the water/coolant level where it needs to be, a driver can prevent trouble in the car’s cooling system by keeping an eye out for mysterious leaks before they get troublesome and by replacing old or damaged hoses. The common trouble spots in the cooling system can be identified by a few minutes of research. Good maintenance practices are vital and this is especially true the older a car gets, particularly if it is a classic model.

This is why the sensible driver carries a little pack of useful safety items in case of breakdown. Most motoring outlets carry these as ready assembled kits. It doesn’t hurt to have a little tool roll to hand as well. The trouble is there is no way that every eventuality can be taken into consideration. Fate has a strange way of dishing it out.

There exists out there on a shelf near you a range of products that can fix most leaks in all types of water cooled engines – including cracked cylinder heads, head gasket failures, cracked blocks, radiators, heater cores and water pumps. One easy-to-use and respected product, called K-Seal, can have your vehicle up and running, leak-free, within minutes with the added benefit of not having to flush the system before or afterwards. Finally, drivers can say goodbye to coolant leaks.

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Nissan LEAF drivers racing towards one billion kilometres

The LEAF is Nissan’s first fully electric car and the owners of the LEAF are quickly approaching the one billion kilometres driven milestone.

As part of this accomplishment Nissan have created a number of animated stories, the first one being made around a Spanish taxi driver called Roberto San Jose. Roberto bought his LEAF in October 2011 and has covered 62,000 miles (100,000 km) making a large contribution to the aim of one billion LEAF miles. There are a number of other LEAF owners who have had these animations designed around them. Vito Mondelli, who resides in Bari in Italy decided to make a 100km trip to a charming town called Taranto. He was mocked by his friends as they didn’t believe he would make it in one charge of the LEAF’s electric engine, he proved them wrong. Nissan have also announced that they are making further animations based around Laura Farina, the first ever Nissan LEAF owner from Italy, and Sue Terry and Darren Golder from the United Kingdom. These animations describe how making the transition to an electric car has changed their lives for the better.

The LEAF being 100% electric leaves no trail of CO2 behind it when driving; you don’t have to pay congestion charges (London), road tax, of benefit-in-kind for businesses. With sat nav, rear view camera and climate control the LEAF is also not compromised of gadgets. The Carwings telematics SatNav system cleverly tells you the exact amount of energy that will be required to get to your desired destination, on top of this it also tells you where the nearest charging point it for increased ease of use. If its peace and comfort you are after look no further than the Nissan LEAF, at 21 decibels because the LEAF is 100% electric it statistically makes less noise than a crying baby (95db) and a ceiling fan (26db), ensuring you travel in comfort and silence.

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The Need For Speed – USA Style

There are track day specials and there are track day specials but the car featured here is what you call the ultimate track-day special. Posting a fast lap time on a circuit requires a combination of driver skill and a properly balanced high-performance machine.

The Chrysler Group’s SRT (Street and Racing Technology Team) delivers half that equation with the 2014 SRT Viper TA (Time Attack). You provide the other half along with the brown trousers and the huge bank balance.

The street-legal (Yes, it really is – in the USA, at least) SRT Viper TA is specifically built for the performance enthusiast driver who likes to exercise their machines at the more than 150 road-race courses that are available around North America. Based on the SRT model – the lightest Viper in the line-up – the TA Special Edition Package builds upon the vehicle’s ultra-low centre of gravity, 50:50 weight distribution and largest contact patch in the production car world.

The Viper TA uses chassis parts developed specifically by the SRT chassis dynamics team to attain the most out of the racing car-like chassis and create the most confidence inspiring Viper ever – or so they say as we at Motor Blogger are unlikely to get our hands on one anytime soon.

SRT developed new spring rates, dampers, sway bars and brake components, combined as a system with the Viper’s available Advanced Aerodynamics Package, to create one of the most track-capable production cars in the world. The changes keep the SRT Viper TA glued to the tarmac, while the brake system is enhanced for improved balance and to resist overheating during track work.
This new car has been engineered for the serious speed-freak who needs a car that can be used as a daily driver (ha!) yet has mind-boggling limits on a circuit that would rival many track-only cars.Vip2 The Need For Speed   USA Style

There’s a host of unique features including Bilstein shocks with tuned springs and Brembo brakes. Standard Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres are mounted on ultra-lightweight, multi-spoke Sidewinder II wheels. The list of goodies is very long but suffice to say it all adds up to something very special.

Under the bonnet (and this is where it gets serious) is the handcrafted, all-aluminium 8.4-litre, (yes, you read that right) mid-front V-10 engine. That’s 640bhp and 600lb/ft. of torque fueled performance to light you up. Production began last year and the car is now available to order in the USA. It’s gorgeous, it’s orange, it actually looks like a snake and, sadly, the chances of it coming to the UK are pretty remote. We can imagine it would cause quite a stir.


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Lexus RC Coupé Roars In For 2014


Wow! Lexus have certainly pulled out all the stops with their brilliant new four-seat RC Coupé, based on the IS saloon. Shown recently at the Geneva Motor Show it has captured the imagination of car enthusiasts everywhere.

Initially the car will be available with a choice of two engines – a 3.5 litre V6 engine and a 2.5-litre petrol-hybrid. It is understood that further options are in the pipeline. For the UK, buyers should expect to see the hybrid first.

The V6 petrol engine is paired with an eight-speed sports direct shift transmission, with paddle shift controls whilst the hybrid version uses a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine working in conjunction with a 141PS electric motor. The hybrid is driven through an electronic continuously variable transmission with six step-gears.

In addition to the above, the Japanese manufacturer will also release a fire breathing version called the RC-F which is featured in this video. It’s the most powerful Lexus yet, developing an awesome 450hp from its five litre V8 power plant. This version will have the added handling benefit of an active, speed sensitive rear spoiler.

Lexus have long been known for their quality and exclusivity. Now they have added sporting flair as well.

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Golf Class

At Motor Blogger we like a car test. This time it’s the turn of the legend itself, Volkswagen’s highly regarded Golf Hatchback. In this case the model tested is the base, but not basic, S model fitted with the 1.2L TSI BlueMotion 105PS petrol engine driving through a six-speed manual gearbox. This model is a five-door.

The TSI engine combines direct injection with turbo charging that promises to maximize power from a smaller displacement while limiting fuel consumption. Meanwhile torque is available from much lower revs and maintained at most engine revolutions. This makes cars equipped with these engines more lively at lower revs, which in turn makes them more economical and cleaner.

Owners who regularly drive longer distances would probably be better served by the diesel options available for this car, but for lower mileages this modest version is hard to beat. VW reckon that in the combined cycle the Golf S can achieve as much as 57 miles to the gallon. We didn’t see that (40mpg to be precise) but then we didn’t perform any longer trips and the car was put through its paces on our evaluation cycle. We think that an overall average circa 50mpg is possible in the real world of motoring.1MB Golf Class

The traffic light charge to 62mph is achieved in a fairly brisk 10.2 seconds and, if you were allowed to do so, the 1.2L Golf can keep going to 119mph. The basic price is around £18500 although this particular car had some optional extras like alloy wheels – mobile casino the car comes with steel hoops as standard but you don’t want those – meaning the bottom line is about £20k. For what you get this is good value.

On this version all the expected safety features known only by their initials – ABS and the like – are all there in force and the price includes an excellent infotainment centre with Bluetooth, DAB, MP3, an SD card reader and much more. No satnav or reversing sensors at this price though. This doesn’t matter because the shape of the car makes it easy to park and you can always buy a navigation device or use a smartphone app.

Out on the road this classy car shows its value. Performance is perfectly adequate – this car is designed for economy after all – and good progress can be made. There’s a long third gear for ease of overtaking. The ride is, frankly, superb. Too soft for performance driving obviously, but very comfortable, as are the supportive seats. Steering is light at low speeds but weights up as speed increases; plus there is genuine feel to the steering sensation – the car feels safe and planted. It’s a Golf so build quality is as good as you would expect.  If family motoring matters more to you than performance or striking looks then there are few cars to rival it. When you shut the doors it sounds just like a Golf; it looks like a Golf so it must be a Golf.

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The Point Of Motorways

Unless your editor has got things tragically wrong, the idea of motorways was to speed up traffic and journeys by virtue of wide roads and direct routes. Generally speaking, travel on these routes is pretty joyless but they do serve commerce and convenience.

On 5 December 1958, the eight mile Preston bypass (pictured – now part of the M6) opened. It was closely followed by the M1 which runs north–south and was the first inter-urban motorway to be completed in the UK. 1958 really was the start of the motorway age of motoring.

That Britain’s growing band of motorists increasingly found they were able to stretch the boundaries of work and leisure when unthinkable journeys of the past gradually became the norm. There was no speed limit either although, obviously, cars of the time could not routinely achieve the average performance of cars today.

At the time, nobody was truly aware of how fast – in a growth sense – motoring would move on and despite all our motorways and major trunk roads today our highways network simply hasn’t kept pace.

The other thing that’s happened is the European Union. We now have a body of people from all over Europe telling us what to do. One of the things they want us to do is to slow down and clean up the air. Despite the fact that car manufacturers continue to work tirelessly to produce ever cleaner engines we have now reached the stage where the Highways Agency has revealed that a thirty four mile section of the M1 – spanning Derbyshire and South Yorkshire – would have a maximum speed limit of 60mph between 7am and 7pm seven days a week from 2015 onwards as part of a drive to meet European Union clean air targets.

As a motorist I have my own views on this which have no place here but in a very recent poll over two thirds of motorists wanted the Government to apply the brakes to plans to lower speeds limits on motorways on the basis that it simply defeats the point of having them.

Motorists are already doing their bit for the environment by buying greener cars in record numbers and the Government needs to respond in kind by making our roads better rather than introducing measures that will only contribute to making our motorways even slower.

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Desirable DS4

Your editor is a great fan of Citroen. Don‘t ask me why, I can‘t tell you. That‘s just how it is. Prior to the arrival of the DS3 the company languished in the doldrums of the Xantia and  Xsara but now, with the imminent arrival of the on-trend Cactus, Citroen may very well be on a roll. For the most part Citroen’s designers can usually be relied upon to come up with stylish goods and such is the case with the DS4, a great car that seems to be virtually ignored in the UK.

The car in the pictures is the DS4 DSport HDI 160 with a six-speed auto ‘box. Essentially it is a high-riding five door hatchback based on the regular C4 but with the DS family facial features. As it is not an SUV it must be what they call a ‘crossover’. It‘s certainly very handsome wherever you stand to admire it. I like the way the roof-line sweeps down to the deep spoiler and the rounded haunches. The rear doors have ‘hidden’ handles for that sleek coupe look.

Specifications vary as ever but there are three trim options – DSign, DStyle and DSport – but additionally on this car there are some nice touches. The 19” Cairns alloys are gorgeous (more on those later though) and the panoramic windscreen is a delight, giving the interior a light and airy aspect. In the unlikely event of being subjected to the glare of the sun however the visors not only hinge in the usual manner but also slide down to narrow the screen. Genius. The lid of the central cubby slides forward to make a handy armrest for both front seats. It’s possible to fiddle about with the dashboard mood lighting too.MB2 Desirable DS4

The rest of the interior is tidy and uncluttered.  The comfortable seat are heated, have electric lumbar adjustment but, rather oddly, only manual adjustment for height, reach and rake. At this money I would like to see all-electric adjustment. Things are a bit tighter in the back but normal sized people can cope and kids will do fine.

Driving, then The first thing to mention is the gearbox. It’s a six speed automatic that’s smooth in operation, has a manual sequential shift option – though not paddles – but is otherwise as you‘d expect. The four cylinder 2.0L turbo-diesel on this option offers 163bhp, which is fine, and 251lb/ft of torque so progress can be brisk, reaching 62mph is just under ten seconds. Thanks to up-rated suspension, the Citroen DS4 offers a sharper feel and is more agile from behind the wheel.

Steering is nicely weighted and gives plenty of feel from the road with a precision that makes driving the DS4 a pleasure. However, on rough B roads and the like the ride was a bit unsettled. This might be due to the big 19” wheels. There’s an option to select smaller wheels which will help the ride although the 19’s are so good-looking you probably won’t.

MB really liked this car although the version you see costs £27,920, which included special paint and some other extras. Go for the standard model though and you will have a very good car that won’t be seen on every street corner.

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Why Is It Absolutely Necessary To Have The Correct Tyre Pressure?

Many of us go on motoring for mile after mile without checking our tyre pressure. Some can go between services without even considering the amount of air that ought to be pumped into their tyres. Although some of us might kick the car’s tyres from time to time, maybe ahead of long motorway journey for instance, this is only the roughest of gauges and is hardly an accurate measurement of pressure. Even if you stop to check the tyre pressure using an electric pump at the filling station once in a while, it is worth asking yourself if you do this often enough. Perhaps, if your tyres need pressure adding every time that you check, then it might be worth doing this with a greater regularity. After all, driving with tyres that are under-inflated can cause problems which are easily avoided.

Extend the life of the tyres

Most mechanics would agree that maintaining the correct air pressure in your car’s tyres is important. With the right amount of air pressure set in your tyres, they will go on for a longer period. Once your tyres have become sufficiently worn down, they are no longer street legal and you could face a fine. Under-inflated tyres wear more rapidly on all sorts of road surface. If you fit new tyres because yours have worn down, buy them from a good independent dealer like Point-S Tyres and remember to keep them pumped up in future.

Brake Efficiently

Not only do correctly inflated tyres enhance the handling of a car, they can also prevent accidents. This is because tyres which have a low pressure cause you to brake inefficiently. Simply put, swerving out of trouble and braking quickly are both harder with under-inflated tyres. This is the case even if it just one of your wheels that is affected.

Avoid Poor Mileage

Failure to maintain the correct tyre pressure with your vehicle can also result in poor mileage. Low tyre pressure leads to more energy being used by the car to get it moving in the right direction. You end up burning more and more fuel to accelerate. Even when you have reached a good cruising speed, on the motorway or a dual carriageway, under-inflated tyres cause you to use more energy maintaining that speed. Low tyre pressure means that you have to fill up with fuel more often and, like the cost of tyres that are wearing down quickly, all of this ends up costing money.

Find out the correct air pressure for your car

The correct air pressure for your car can be found in the owner’s manual or on a tyre panel. This is usually located on the edge of the driver’s door or in the glove box. Some models of car have it handily displayed on the inside of the fuel filling cover. Remember that – with some models – you have to inflate the car’s rear and front wheels to differing levels for them to be correct. For van owners, it is essential to adjust the tyre pressure depending on the weight of the load that you carry in the back, because heavy loads can cause problems for tyres which are over-inflated.

About the Author
My name is Emily Cole. I am an avid blogger. I love to write about the automotive industry, travelling and tips and tricks on how to take care of your vehicle. I believe that keeping your ride well maintained can save you from unforeseen events and can help in saving money!!

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