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Monday
Nov212016

New car sales edge upwards

Sales of new cars in the UK increased during August, but private buyers became more hesitant regarding the purchase of a new car.

The official figures showed that 81,640 new cars were registered during the month, which was a 3.3 per cent increase on the same period last year.

The number of new cars being registered has hit a total of 1.68m so far this year, which was on a par with the previous year.  2015 was in itself a record-breaking year for the industry, with just under 2.7m registrations made.

Private buyers have been less active so far, however, with the number of cars purchased down by 0.2 per cent on the month – an indication of a general downward trend over the last few weeks.

Sales in the fleet market continued to be excellent, with an increase of 7.7 per cent, as companies sought to renovate their fleet through purchasing new vehicles.  44,352 fleet units were registered in August, which represented a 6.4 per cent increase on August 2015.  Fleets and business registrations accounted for 54.8 per cent of the market at 921, 520 so far this year.

Diesel demand suffered a marginal fall of -0.2 per cent, with petrol registrations moving ahead 5.3 per cent.  Alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) also saw significant growth of 30.8 per cent year on year, with almost 54,000 AFVs being registered so far, compared to over 44,000 last year.

Consumer confidence has already been cited as a major reason for the continued positive performance of the industry, with the impact of Brexit yet to be firmly defined.  It’s considered possible that the Bank of England’s decision to halve interest rates to 0.25 per cent may have impacted sales figures.

Mike Hawes, chief executive for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) – who were responsible for collating the figures – did note that August can skew the figures, as many buyers choose to delay their purchase in order to buy a vehicle with the latest registration plates.

Mr Hawes said: “August is traditionally one of the quietest months as consumers look ahead to the September plate change, so growth, albeit small, is good news.

“The key to maintaining this strong market is consumer confidence for which we look to government to deliver the conditions for economic growth.”

Volkswagen’s decline in the wake of the emissions scandal has also continued, with market share falling by a quarter when compared to last year.  Overall, though, performance hasn’t been as low as many expected, with the company falling to 7.7 per cent of market share in the first eight months of 2016.

Friday
Nov042016

Cleaning Your Car – the complete guide to getting a sparkling clean vehicle, part one

 

In a number of previous posts, we’ve covered replacing most of your car’s interior.  Now, though, we get to delve into the really fun stuff: the flash, show-off bits that are the reason you bought the car in the first place.

There are a number of different things you’ll need to look at to get your motor looking its best, and we’re going to cover all of them in this monster, two-part guide.

Washing your car’s body

Though there’s nothing wrong with treating your car to a professional wash here and there, you’re missing out if you don’t learn to give it a perfect scrub yourself. 

Before we get started, a quick warning: if you treat this particular job in a slap-dash way, you’ll risk scratching the finish and the job will take a lot longer.  So take a professional approach.

What NOT to do:

  • Don’t use a dry cloth to wipe or dust the body.  Though those cloths might not seem like much, they pick up bits of dust and grit and you can end up accidentally roughing up your paintwork if you’re not careful.
  • Don’t wash your vehicle when it’s too toasty.  When the cool water meets the hot finish it can cause the paint to contract, which means cracks in the surface.
  • Don’t leave your windows or sunroof open whilst washing the car.
  • Don’t forget to hose down the vehicle after you’ve finished.  Even if it’s just a light spray across the areas where the dirt gathers: windows, sunroof, the rear deck lid, etc.  This will get rid of any surface dust.
  • Don’t give your car a bath: give it a shower.  Though there’s something gloriously ‘throwback’ about the old bucket and sponge, it’s not the most efficient way to clean.  Whenever you rinse your sponge or rag, the dirt is transferred and you end up washing your car with dirty water.  Use a spray or a traditional hose.
  • Don’t wash in circles. It’s important to always follow the contours of the surface when washing, otherwise you run the risk of those horrible cobweb-like scratches.  Treat it like shaving: go with the grain.
  • Don’t use any kind of rough cleanser. Commercial car-washing products are the only way to go in 2016.  Though things like traditional dish soap and detergent can be cheaper, they can also remove the wax and any other protective finishes from the body.  (Where possible, you should also use bio-degradable products: it never hurts to help the environment.)

Does it matter which order I wash the different parts of the car?

Good question! The answer’s a resounding ‘yes’: it can make a big difference.  Here are the main things to consider:

  • Go top down, starting from the roof.  Needless to say, water runs downward: you don’t want the grimy soap scum and sludge messing up the areas you’ve just washed.
  • Don’t forget the corners and the underbody.  Dirt can easily collect in little places you don’t expect: be thorough.
  • Take one section at a time.  Rather than doing all the hosing, all the soaping and then all the rinsing, try cleaning a section at a time and then giving the whole car one whole rinse at the end.
  • Add your chosen wax or sealer.  A really good sealant is never a bad idea, as it binds with the paint and gives your finish that extra level of protection.

Mirrors, windows and chrome

Time for the shiny stuff. Nothing will make your car look quite as flashy as having sparkly-clean mirrors and chrome.  The cool thing is that it isn’t quite as hard to achieve this look as you might think.  All you need are some good cleaning materials and some elbow grease: you’ll get results.

Cleaning the glass

  • Don’t use the same cleaning materials as you did for the rest of the car.  Instead, use your chosen household glass cleaner: these products will spray on and wipe off easily AND they’ll give you a much better shine.
  • Only use lint-free soft rags or sturdy paper towels, otherwise you could scratch the finish.  If you’ve got one - and it’s 2016, so we wouldn’t blame you if you don’t - a newspaper can work really well, too.
  • Wipe one way for the inside and one way for the outside.  Seems weird, right? Well, this little technique will come in useful at the end: you’ll be able to tell which side any streaks are on.
  • Don’t forget to clean the wipers themselves.  Whilst we’re assuming you’ll know to lift the wipers away from the windows to clean them, make sure you give the wipers themselves a quick clean.  If the blades remain dirty, they can scratch the glass or leave streaks on it, ruining all your hard work.  (Obviously be gentle when moving the wipers, as they can be deceptively easy to break).

Cleaning the trim and chrome

  • Don’t get the polish everywhere. That chrome polish can really discolour the paint on the body, so make sure you’re careful when using it.
  • Clean the insides of the bumpers.  Though they might be tricky to reach, it’s worth it: dirt can really build up in these areas.  It’s also worth looking at the metal frames around the lights and the side mirrors.
  • You may need a special glaze.  For blacked-out trim or metal framing – often found around the windows or the bumpers – there’s a special liquid glaze that’ll give the blackness a real shine and depth.  Again, you don’t have to do this – but it’s worth it if you want to really get your car back to its brand-new best.
  • Again, don’t forget to wax.  On the metal and chrome, the wax will help to prevent rust.  Again, you should be looking at a specialist wax for this task, as the more general versions may prevent the chrome from keeping its shine in the long-term.

A word on waxes

If you’ve never used car wax before, you might be surprised to find yourself confronted with a LOT of different containers.  Well, worry not: here’s our quick guide to the different types.

  • Liquid waxes.  These are probably the easiest type of wax to use and are ideal for a quick touch-up in between professional cleans.  However, they don’t last quite as long as the other versions.
  • Soft waxes.  Again, these are very easy to apply and remove and can easily be applied using a soft terry cloth rag or the applicator pads that are usually provided. Some waxes will claim to be mixed with a light cleaner, but as a general rule you should always give the car a clean on its own: mixed cleaners often mean mixed results.

Hard and paste waxes.  These offer the most protection and are ideal if you only wax a couple of times a year.  However, be sure to follow the instructions thoroughly!

Tuesday
Oct182016

Research shows fleet reluctance to adopt alternative-powered vehicles

A number of practical obstacles are preventing fleets from making use of alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs), despite increasing pressure from many quarters to increase uptake in the technology.

Multiple fears – including the higher price, limited range, longer charging times and uncertain residual values of the vehicles – have been cited by fleets as reasons for not purchasing more electric vehicles, according to a new survey by Sewells Research & Insights.

The report found that petrol is currently making a comeback, and is out-performing diesel at the pumps.  It’s believed by many that this is the result of both the emissions test cheating scandal and fears over the potential impact of nitrogen oxide emissions on air quality.

In its Fleet Market Report 2016, Sewells found that fleets are ready to adopt alternatively-fuelled cars, but only in very small numbers for the time being.  Companies expected the proportion of AFVs on their fleets to increase to 1.5 per cent by next year, 2.5 per cent in three years and 4.7 per cent within five years.

Though these figures – if achieved – would represent a market increase of 213 per cent across five years, it’s clear that traditional vehicles would remain the priority for fleet managers. More than 95 per cent of company cars would still be diesel or petrol-based.

Range issues were cited as the most common reason for fleet owners not taking on more AFVs, with recharging times and the lack of recharging points both highlighted a number of times. 

For 74 per cent of respondents to the survey, the higher acquisition price of AFVs was a continuing issue also. 70 per cent of fleet owners, meanwhile, were concerned about the residual value uncertainty of the vehicles.

Companies as a whole believed that some of their drivers were open to the idea of AFVs, but with HMRC continuing to pursue its speedy increases in company car tax, it’s likely that many drivers will be faced with a tough choice between a higher tax bill and a vehicle that’s not fit for purpose.

This is likely to become an even trickier issue over time, with local authorities beginning to introduce ‘clean air zones’ and imposing heftier charges or potentially even banning non-compliant vehicles in the more sensitive city centres.

Thursday
Sep292016

The pitfalls of buying used cars – ASM’s new infographic

At ASM Auto Recycling, we pride ourselves on running an online used car parts store that’s as good as any you’ll find anywhere.  Great quality parts, at even better prices.
But, not everyone who works in the used car market is as trustworthy as us.  To help raise awareness of the potential pitfalls that come when purchasing used cars, we’ve created this brand new infographic chockfull of useful information.
Some of the most interesting things we’ve taken a look at are:
  • Clocking.  The average UK car does between 10,000 and 12,000 miles each year, and mileage is one of the main things people look at when working out how healthy a car is.  So (unfortunately) it was almost inevitable that less-than-scrupulous individuals would work out a way of ‘clocking’ a car – that is, reducing the mileage displayed on the dashboard.
  • Cloning.  This is a technique where a vehicle is fitted with stolen number plates taken from an identical vehicle with the aim of deceiving cameras or rendering vehicles untraceable.  This might sound like a rare occurrence, but it’s really not: about 1.75 million of the 37 million vehicles in the UK are estimated to wear cloned plates, and more than 100,000 plates are stolen each year.
  • Cut and shut.  A cut-and-shut vehicle consists of two or more cars which are welded together to form one. With 500,000 cars being written off each year, there is a lot of opportunity for individuals to take advantage of wrecked vehicles in order to make a profit.  Remarkably, one out of every four vehicles checked by HPI has been written off.
As well as some of these main pitfalls, we’ve also taken a look at some of the ways in which you can protect yourself when purchasing a used car, taking in everything from:
  • How much wear and tear the car’s suffered – everything from the steering wheel to the carpets to the pedals - can suffer from visible wear-and-tear.
  • Checking out the full history of the car at https://hpicheck.com/
  • Checking out the car’s current MOT certification at https://www.gove.uk/check-mot-history
  • Checking the car’s mileage at http://www.motorcheck.co.uk/faqs/car-check-for-clocked-mileage/
  • Ensuring you take a look at the car’s VIN number, which will often display signs of tampering.  This will usually be found on a small plate riveted under the bonnet, stamped on the chassis or sometimes in the door pillar or on the base of the windscreen.

Please use the code below to add this infographic to your site

Monday
Sep052016

MOT: the complete guide

You probably already know about the MOT, Britain’s annual test of vehicle safety, roadworthiness and emissions. The MOT is a legal requirement in Great Britain, so it pays to understand the ins and outs of it.

We know, however, that everyone has to take a first MOT at some point.  That’s why we’ve put together this guide on everything you need to bear in mind when taking your vehicle in for its annual check-up.

When should you get an MOT?

The MOT test is designed to ensure that your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards: as such, it’s something that has to be carried out annually.

You’re legally required to get an MOT for a vehicle either on:

  • The third anniversary of its registration, or
  • The anniversary of its last MOT, if the vehicle is over three-years-old

(Note: there are a few vehicles that need to be tested having been on the road for just one year. Check out the government MOT fees table to see if your vehicle is applicable).

Remember, you can be fined up to £1000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT, so it pays to get the test done promptly.

So, when is the earliest you can get an MOT?

An MOT is certified for a year and the date it runs out will be printed on the most recent certificate.  If you want, you can get an MOT up to a month (minus a day) before the certificate runs out and you’ll still be permitted to keep the same renewal date.

For example, if your MOT is due to run out on 14th May 2017, the earliest you could have the next one in order to keep the same renewal date would be 15th April 2017.

If you want to, you can get an MOT earlier than this. However the renewal date for the following year will then be different.

If your MOT has run out, you cannot legally drive your vehicle on the road and you will be prosecuted if caught. There are two exceptions to this rule:

  • If you’re driving to or from somewhere to have the vehicle repaired, or:
  • If you’re heading to a pre-arranged MOT test

How can you book an MOT?

MOT’s must be carried out at an approved MOT test centre. You can tell a certified centre because they’ll show the blue sign with three white triangles - the symbol that represents certification.

Important: don’t pay more than you have to.  MOT centres have maximum fees in place and cannot charge more than this.

How does the MOT test work?

A number of important parts on your vehicle will be checked to ensure that they meet the legal standards. If you want to, you can watch the test from a viewing area: but you’re not allowed to interrupt the person doing the testing.

For a more comprehensive guide on which parts are actually tested, you can check out the government pages for cars and motorcycles.  It’s also worth familiarising yourself with the MOT guide and inspection manuals, which provide a wealth of information.

Getting your test result

The MOT is either a pass or fail.  If your car fails the test, you’ll be given a list of things that need to be repaired before it can pass.

If it passes, you’ll be given an MOT certificate from the test centre and the result of the test will be recorded in the national MOT database.

You’ll also notice that your MOT certificate will show the mileage recorded at the current and previous three test passes.  It’s important to have a quick look at these figures - which are recorded as the ‘odometer reading and history’ - as you need to report any mistakes on the reading to the MOT centre within seven days in order to obtain a replacement certificate.

If you fail

Unfortunately, this happens.  If your vehicle fails, you will be given the ‘Refusal of an MOT test certificate’ from the test centre, and again the result will be recorded in the MOT database.

If you want to, you can appeal the result.

In the result of a fail, you can take your vehicle away if your MOT certificate is still valid. If your MOT has run out, however, you need to take your vehicle to have the failed defects fixed.

Remember, your vehicle is legally required to meet the minimum standards of roadworthiness at all times.  If it doesn’t, you can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and also incur three penalty points on your licence. 

What happens if you want to appeal?

As we mentioned above, you can appeal an MOT test failure and you can also complain to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). 

If you want to, you can take your own action against an MOT test centre through trading standards, legal proceedings or through reporting the centre to the police.  It’s worth noting, of course, that the DVSA won’t help you take action against the centre.

Appealing to the DVSA

If you want to appeal to the DVSA, you need to fill in their own complaint form and send it to them within 14 working days of the test. They will then offer you an appointment within five days to recheck your vehicle - you’ll need to pay the full test fee again - and send you an inspection report listing any vehicle defects and advisory changes that need to be made.

What if it’s the other way around?

If you think your car has passed when it shouldn’t have, the process is very similar. You should fill in the complaint form and send it to the DVSA within the following time limits:

  • Within three months of the MOT if the problem is corrosion related
  • Within 28 days if the vehicle has passed for other defects

Is your MOT certificate genuine?

You can check this by looking at the MOT status page here.

Are there any exceptions to the MOT?

Yes, there are a few vehicles that don’t require an MOT:

  • Cars and motorcycles made before 1960
  • Goods vehicles powered by electricity
  • Tractors

Lorries, buses and trailers still require a test, but it’s not an MOT as such.  Click here to find out more about the annual test for these vehicles.

Contact the DVSA

If you’ve got any questions about your MOT, you can contact the DVSA here:

DVSA
Telephone: 0300 123 9000
Monday to Friday, 7:30am to 6pm

Keep your car in tip-top condition

One of the most effective ways to ensure your car is in great condition – and has a better chance of passing its MOT – is through replacing those older parts. Remember, ASM Auto Recycling has an online store full of high-quality parts here.