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Friday
Nov212014

Dartford Crossing information released

Information regarding the new Dartford crossing has finally been released, informing drivers exactly what they need to do to stay within the new regulations. 

The Thames crossing is to have a new barrier payment system put in place known as Dart Charge, which will replace the current toll-booth payment process.  Originally, the details of the scheme were set to be announced in October.  However, the Highways Agency responsible delayed the release of the information.

The new scheme will now go live on 30th November.  The free flow tolling has been brought in to try and reduce overall congestion and ease traffic flow, with drivers no longer having to stop at the barriers.  Instead, motorists will be able to pay their fees in advance online, by phone, by post or at thousands of retail outlets around the UK.

However, there are concerns that awareness of the change isn’t high enough.  A survey sent out by the AA ahead of the new launch found that up to 85 per cent of those surveyed were unaware that the new system would require them to pay online or by phone.

This could cause millions of UK motorists get hit with fines.  It’s estimated that the crossing is currently used by 170,000 motorists every single day.

Fines for incorrect crossings will then rise to as high as £105, with cameras snapping the car number plats in both the two northbound tunnels and over the southbound bridge.  If drivers fail to pay the fines by midnight on the same day that they use the crossing, they will automatically be fined £35, which will increase to £70 within 14 days.

A spokesperson for the Highways Agency said that they were hoping for full compliance, but did estimate that around seven per cent of drivers would probably be fined overall, amounting to 3.5 million people or so. 

The spokesperson also said that it had been running an activity since April in order to inform motorists of the new changes, and that 50,000 people had already signed up to the emails.

The new charges will be as follows:

  • Cars £2.50
  • 2 axle goods £3.00
  • Multi-axle goods £6.00

The crossing will continue to be free between 10pm and 6am, with the last toll booth payment being taken on 29th November.

There are a number of different ways in which you can pay:

  • Online using the government gateway at www.gov.uk/dart-charge
  • By calling the government hotline at 0300 300 0120
  • Via using a Payzone retail outlet
  • By post (but only in advance), with payment sent to Dart Charge Customer Service PO BOX 842 Leeds LS1 9QF

The highways agency are also planned to carry out some work on the Kent Marshalling Area (the KMA) – the holding area in which abnormal loads or vehicles carrying dangerous goods are checked before making the crossing.

Monday
Nov032014

A guide to buying replacement car parts

If this is the first time a part of your car has gone down, you might be a tad unsure about what to look for when buying new car parts.  Today, we’re going to go through the various things you need to consider.  Let’s get stuck in.

Which car parts can I buy?

You can purchase more or less every single part of a car online (with the odd exception).  At ASM Autos, we have a full online store of various car parts listed according to brands.  There, you can pick up everything from a gear stick to a new engine, at some great prices.  If you’re still not sure, then give the part you’ve got in mind a quick google; you’ll normally be able to find the information you need.

Should I buy new or old?

There are two major options for picking up new car parts.  You can either pick up a part brand new from a licensed garage/retailer, or purchase a second-hand part.  Second-hand parts, of course, may still be licensed, but they will often have a different (or no) warranty depending on how old they are.

One of the best things about purchasing on the web is you can hunt down exactly which part you’re after, even down to specific vehicles and in many cases specific years.  You can also easily price compare between different parts and decide exactly which one will best suit your budget.

Should I repair the car myself?

Largely, this will come down to experience.  If this is the first time you’ve had any problems and you’re a relatively inexperienced driver, then it’s usually sensible to take the part to a qualified mechanic.  However, if you have some experience with repairing cars and it’s a part you’re familiar with, you could save money going DIT.  Remember, though; if you cause additional damage to the car you’ll end up with bills bigger than those to have a professional fit the part! If all else fails, get a quote for the job in advance: it might be cheaper than you think.

Do your research

Needless to say, the most important thing is to ensure that the part you’re looking at really is the right one.  It’s often not enough to simply be the correct brand: it may be that the year of car you drive had slightly different parts installed during a particular year.  If in doubt, consult with the manufacturer (or check their original specifications).

Pick a reputable manufacturer

It’s important to ensure that you purchase parts from a reputable vendor.  Car parts aren’t something to mess around with: a bad one can turn your car into a death-trap!  A company like ASM Autos have years of experience in supplying high quality car parts to customers all over the UK, and have a wide range of testimonials.

If you’re still not sure what you’re looking for, get in touch with ASM Auto Parts today on 01844 268 940 and we’ll be happy to help out.

Friday
Oct172014

Vehicle Tax: your complete guide to the new changes

As of October 1st, the good old fashioned car tax disc – first introduced way back in 1921 – has been officially retired.  It is no longer a legal requirement to have the disc displayed.  Today, we’re going to go through the changes and take a look at the changes you'll need to make.

So, what’s happening to the disc?

Car tax discs are no longer to be issued, and it is no longer a legal obligation to display one in your front window.  This will be the case with both vehicles that have been exempt from the charge and those that have not (previously, even cars exempt from the charges had to display the disc.

My tax disc still has six months remaining, do I have to display it until it runs out?

No; it is no longer legally required.  Obviously you can leave it on there if you want, but there’s no reason to!

Why has the changed been introduced?

Simply due to cost-cutting.  The DVLA has said that removing the print and postage costs for the old tax disc will save around £10 million each year.

Won’t this stop tax evaders being caught?

No.  From now on the police, the DVLA and other enforcement agencies will use automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras.  Combined with the electronic vehicle register this will mean the tax discs are no longer needed for physical checks.

Does this increase the risk of me driving an untaxed car?

Some motorists are concerned that without being able to check the tax disc, they could potentially end up driving an un-taxed vehicle through rental companies or a car pool.  However, the car tax status of any vehicle can now be checked online using the make and registration details.

How will the payment system change?

Currently, motorists are required to pay their vehicle tax in advance, in an annual or six-monthly instalments.  However, with the new regulations come the possibility of paying via direct debit for car tax in annual, biannual or monthly payments, with the latter two having a 5% surcharge.

Doesn’t this affect the used car market?

Yes.  Previously, used cars would be sold with tax remaining.  Under the new regulations, tax cannot be transferred.  The buyer will be expected to tax the car immediately, with the seller instead receiving a refund for any full months remaining.

Won’t this slow down the sale?

According to the DVLA, no.  It is now possible to tax the car using the ‘new keeper supplement’ of the V5C.  This allows the tax payer to go onto the DVLA website (or use the 24 hour service) and tax the vehicle straight away.  You’ll also still be able to buy car tax in a Post Office.

Wednesday
Oct012014

Diesel or petrol: making the choice

One of the first decisions that you have to make when picking up your first car is whether you want to go with a petrol vehicle or a diesel one.  Today, we’re going to take a look at the differences between the two, and which one is likely to suit you best.

The price difference

In the UK, diesel can be more expensive than petrol, with fuel pricing favouring the latter.  As well as this, the advances in petrol engine technology has led to increased levels of efficiency, bringing it closer to diesel.  As a result, the diesel premium – typically between £1000 and £2000 on an otherwise identical vehicle – can now be seriously questioned.

One of the most common arguments is that, in the long run, diesel vehicles are more economical.  This is certainly true; however, it can take much longer than people think to recoup the costs.  (If you’re unsure, consider using this Which? petrol and diesel fuel calculator to work out how long it would take you).

The other key financial consideration to make is the residual value of the cars: namely, that diesel cars generally retain their value better than their petrol-based cousins.  They’re currently in high demand, with consumers looking for better fuel economy and lower car tax rates. 

Reliability

A study conducted by Which? in 2012 showed that, as a general rule, diesel-powered cars were slightly less reliable than petrol ones.  Not by a huge amount, but if you don’t have a lot of disposable cash to spend on repairs it’s something worth bearing in mind.

Repairs

Typically, routine maintenance costs are similar for both petrol and diesel cars.  The difference comes on the more in-depth, serious repairs are often more expensive for a diesel system.  One noticeable problem with diesel cars is their use of particulate filters, filters that sometimes get clogged (especially if the car is only used on short journeys).  Replacing them is a repair that can sometimes stretch into the thousands.

Car tax, insurance and servicing

Diesel engines are normally more efficient than their petrol counterparts – it remains one of their main selling points. As a result, their CO2 usage is typically lower, leading to correspondingly lower car tax liability.  However, the difference in serving costs is largely pretty negligible.

The price of insurance will largely vary according to the model of the car: for some, diesel will be cheaper.  For others, it’ll be petrol.  No useful information to impart here, we’re afraid!

What else should you take into account?

Smooth driving.  Never to be underestimated! Traditional views hold that petrol cars are usually quieter, smoother and faster than their diesel counterparts.  However, in recent years diesel models have become more refined, so if this your main interest it’s worth giving them a try.

Diesel engines typically offer increased torque from lower revs, which is useful when towing or over-taking.

Overall, diesel cars will use less fuel for a given mileage, and are considered much better for the environment.  If you’re a green thinker, then you should definitely consider investing in a diesel model.

ASM stock a wide range of different car parts.  To find out more, visit our online store here.

Thursday
Sep252014

A guide to buying a salvage car

At ASM, we work to provide modern motorists to help them manage their driving finances.  Car salvage auctions are one of the main services that we offer, and we’re going to use today to take a look at how any driver can benefit from them.

So, what is a salvaged car?

Put simply, a salvaged car is one that an insurance company no longer considers fit for use on the road, in its current state.  If the total damage exceeds a certain percentage of the value of the car (ranging from 75-90 percent), it will be declared a ‘total loss’ by the insurance company and sold to us.

So, why would I want to buy a salvaged car?

Put simply, the price.  Salvaged cars can be bought at a tiny fraction of the cost of other used cars.  What’s more, many insurance firms will ‘total’ a car for reasons other than major defects in the structure or mechanics.  As a result, salvaged cars can offer outstanding value for money, with the buyer paying far less (including for the cost of repairs) than they would for the same vehicle in the used market.  Salvaged cars can be a complete bargain.

I’m in! What should I look out for when buying a salvage vehicle?

Here are our tips on finding the right vehicle to suit your needs:

  • Obtain full details of the vehicle.  All salvaged cars are damaged in some way.  However, damage can vary substantially.  You should learn your categories for rating vehicle damage.  ‘A’ damage is terrible, ‘B’ is bad and ‘C’ and ‘D’ designated workable damage. (The latter two are less common in salvage lots).   
  • Try and inspect the car. Generally speaking, a pre-purchase inspection can pay for itself.  Always ask if you can view the car up-front.  Know what you’re actually bidding on.
  • Look out for theft recovery vehicles.  One category that you should look out for is theft recovery.  If a stolen car isn’t recovered within three weeks, then the insurance company will pay the original owner and write the car off as a complete loss.  However, if the car is then found it will often still be written off as salvaged!
  • Buy from a reputable dealer.  A company like ASM has years of experience in helping our customers get their hands on the highest quality salvaged vehicles available.  The last thing you want is to purchase a vehicle from a less-than-stellar firm.

To find out more, get in touch with ASM Autos today, and we’ll be happy to help you further.