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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Vauxhall has been hit

Vauxhall has been hit by fresh claims that it is producing cars with faulty handbrakes and its vehicles have the capacity to roll away when parked.
A Report by the BBC’s watchdog programme said owners of the latest Vauxhall Corsa with a D Model variant, which is less that a year old, had reported instances of their car rolling away after being left stationary with the handbrake on, similar to other models earlier last year.

Complaints to the programme have now reached triple figures. Watchdog reported that Vauxhall was ‘surprised’ to learn of the problems with the new corsa but was now looking into the problem.
Watchdog expert Mark Brown said: “even though the design on the teeth of the handbrake is different from the Vectra, it has still presented the same symptoms that we found with the Vauxhall Vectras and Sigums.”
Vauxhall responded by saying it was investigating the cases raised, and insisted that as per the Highway code, when parking on a slope motorists should ‘engage a gear’, and ensure the handbrake is applied without depressing the release button.

The latest blow for Vauxhall comes just months after Which?, the consumer pressure group, reported that owners of Signum and Vectra models also suffered from the same fault.

Arround 250,000 Sigum and Vectra models are being recalled by the manufacturer in order to fit new springs in the handbrake. Vauxhall described the move as a “customer satisfaction programme”. There are no plans to roll out the scheme to Corsa owners.

The recent development is a further embarrassment to Vauxhall, which issued a massive 355,000 Corsa recall in December after a problem with the vehicles braking system was not fixed properly. Despite an initial recall of last generation Corsas in March 2006 and a further recall of 250,000 models in August 2007, the brake fault still affects newer models.

ISOFIX has been around a while now

ISOFIX has been around a while now, so it was a surprise not to see more articles out there that talked about this incredibly important safety feature of modern vehicles (then again, I haven’t yet written my thrilling and James May-esque post about airbags). 

Car seat cushions and seatbelts are used to restrain adults in the event of a crash of sudden stop of a vehicle, yet they’re also used to anchor child restraints. The problem with this is that not all seats for children are suitable for the setup of all cars. 

ISOFIX was brought in as an ‘International Standards Organisation FIX’ – or a way in which, internationally, to solve the problem of child safety fixings within any given vehicle. Technical standards were proposed back in the nineties but have only recently been agreed on as a way forward (early this decade).
When cars are manufactured, many of them now feature ISOFIX points. These points allow for the installing of a child seat in a much more easy and simple way – as well as ensuring the secure positioning of the seat itself. 

I thought it might be useful to offer the definition from Wikipedia at this point:
“Isofix is International Organisation for Standardisation standard ISO 13216, which specifies the anchoring system for Group 1 child safety seats. It defines standard attachment points to be manufactured into cars, enabling compliant child safety seats to be quickly and safely secured. Isofix is an alternative to securing the seat with seat belts. Seats are secured with a single attachment at the top (top tether) and two attachments at the base of each side of the seat. The full set of anchor points for this system were required in new cars in the United States starting in September 2002.” 

Generally speaking, the anchor points of ISOFIX in the vehicle will also make it very difficult (if not impossible) for a child seat to be positioned incorrectly within the vehicle. This is also another benefit of the scheme and furthers the safety credentials of ISOFIX. 

There are a variety of ISOFIX classes, which denote what height of seat should be used along with the age of the child (toddler or young child), as well as (even) which way the seat should be facing. The biggest recommendation though is to check your vehicle handbook prior to purchasing any seat, as this will give you an indication of suitability and clear instructions on how to approach the attachment of the seat into your car.

The World’s Most Amazing Car Records

The closest mere mortals ever get to true auto-heaven is to book a supercar driving experience at a race track like Silverstone, until then we’ll just need to dream of sitting behind the wheel of a Ferrari, Lotus or Lamborghini…

The world’s most expensive new car

Read our post on the topless Bugatti Veyron
The Bugatti Veyron, at a cool $1,700,000, is the world’s most expensive car. It’s also the world’s quickest off the mark, going from 0-60 in 2.6 seconds. It’s only recently wrested its way back from being only the second fastest however, as that distinction belongs to…

The world’s fastest car

The 2011 Bugatti Veryon Super Sport (our 2010 Supercar of the year) will, when it becomes available later in the year, claim its rightful place as the fastest car in the world, with a recorded top speed (verified by the Guinness Book Of World Records) of 267 MPH. The previous record was held by the SSC Ultimate Aero, at 253 MPH.

The world’s most ‘blinging’ car…

A 24-carat gold-plated Aston Martin DB7 with seven diamonds embedded in the bodywork was shown off at the Prestige And Performance Show in London, shortly after the Bond movie Quantum Of Solace premiered in 2008.

The world’s most eco-friendly car…

The Nissan LEAF (Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable Family car, runs the bacronym) is the first fully electric car to be named Car Of The Year. It has a top speed of 93 MPH, with zero emissions.

The world’s most economical car…

The super-efficiently named Volkswagen XL1 Super Efficient Vehicle was unveiled at the 2011 Qatar Motor Show. Its 800CC TDi engine linked to an electric motor can return 313 miles to the gallon.

The world’s smallest car…

Is the recently re-released Peel P-50. Originally released in 1962 and 1965, the three-wheeler is 137cm long by 120cm high, and has been limited to a production run of only 50 units.

The world’s fastest car window opened by a dog…

Striker, a border collie, opened a non-electric car window in 11.34 seconds. His feat was recorded in Quebec City, Canada, in 2004.

This is a guest blog post from Silverstone racetrack, where you can try your hand at driving a range of supercars, including a Ferrari experience, a Lamborghini driving day, as well as taking an Aston Martin for a hoon around the world famous track.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fall Into Good Car Maintenance Habits


Fall into good car maintenance habits now, and keep your car in excellent condition for years to come.

(NAPSI)-While your vehicle might have cruised through warmer weather, cold weather can set in before you realize the leaves have fallen. It's important to remember that vehicles need seasonal adjusting-if you don't want to get caught out in the cold.

"Autumn is a great time for automotive maintenance and repair," says Jim MacPherson, car care expert and automotive radio host for WTIC-AM in Connecticut. "It gives us time to repair the wear and tear and allows us to prepare for those colder days ahead. Following a simple maintenance checklist will save drivers time and money by extending the life of their vehicle and ensuring safer operation."

To keep your car in top shape and running smoothly as we transition into cooler months, here are four big tips to keep in mind:

Tires: Good Pressure, Little Wear and Rotation

Tires lose pressure every month, and more when the temperatures drop. To maintain proper pressure, check your tires monthly and make sure they're filled up to their recommended psi rating (which can be found on the driver's side door paneling, in the owner's manual or sometimes on the tires themselves).

Drivers should also check the tread on the tires regularly for wear; replace excessively worn tires. If it has been over 5,000 miles since your tires have last been rotated, it is important to do so because there's a risk of having one tire wear more significantly than the others.

Finally, if you live in a region where the temperature consistently rests around freezing during the winter months, it's a good time to start looking around for winter tires.

Oil: Switch to Synthetic

Lower temperatures can add stress on your engine. To prevent engine wear, change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual. A switch to synthetic oil, if you're not using it already, will help your car operate more efficiently.

Synthetic motor oils, such as Mobil 1, are specifically designed to protect your engine in wide temperature ranges. For example, Mobil 1's synthetic 5W-30 flows rapidly to critical engine parts during cold start-ups, provides outstanding wear protection and keeps engines clean and running smoothly.

Cooling System: Flush and Refill

The cooling system (radiator) should be checked for leaks and low levels. Additionally, it should be flushed and refilled as recommended in the owner's manual. When checking, remember to never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled.

While coolant may mostly be associated with warmer weather, a vehicle's coolant (or antifreeze) is equally important in the colder months to make sure the vehicle can withstand the temperatures. A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and distilled water is the usual recommendation.

Full Engine Tune-up: Systems and Fluid Levels

If you haven't had your yearly-recommended basic tune-up, now's the time to have that done. Cooler weather will only make existing problems worse. A tune-up will correct engine problems such as stalling and diminished power, and will also ensure that fluid levels (for brakes, transmission, windshield washer, etc.) are topped off or replaced if needed.

A Winter Checklist For Drivers


A winter checklist for drivers, find the basic car maintenance checklist to keep your car in great running condition this winter driving season. Make sure you, your passengers and your vehicle are safe in cold weather, snowy driving conditions.

(NewsUSA) - As the temperature drops, car batteries produce less power, belts and hoses become more brittle, tires lose air pressure and engine oil thickens. In a few words, winter is tough on vehicles.

"Marginally operating systems can fail outright in extreme weather," notes Martin Lawson, editorial director for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

The following tips from ASE will help motorists prepare for winter's toughest conditions:

Cooling System.

The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked to prevent breakdowns and potential engine damage from freezing or overheating. The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps and hoses should be checked at the same time.


Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual. In extremely cold regions, switching to winter-grade oil, which has a lower viscosity and makes starting your vehicle easier, may be necessary.

Engine Performance.

Get engine problems, like hard starts, stalling and rough idling, corrected early, since cold weather makes existing problems worse.

Windshield Wipers.

Replace worn, streaking blades. If your winters are especially harsh, get rubber-clad (winter) blades. Carry extra windshield-washer solvent and a quality ice-scraper.


Can't recall when you bought a new battery? A weak one is likely to fail in the winter. Have its charge checked at a good repair shop to be sure.

Tires. Balding tires are useless in winter's snow and slush. Replace them with all-season tires, or snow tires if your region gets heavy snow. Check the air pressure of all tires including your spare.


Carry gloves, boots, blankets, a winter coat, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, a flashlight, a cell phone, and some non-perishable snacks.


Clear all snow and ice off your vehicle before driving. Keep headlights and taillights cleaned of snow and road grime for visibility -- yours and the other drivers'.

ASE was founded in 1972 to improve the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive professionals. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact area(s) of certification, while their employers display the blue and white ASE sign. They can be found at all types of repair facilities from dealerships to independent garages and franchises. Visit for more seasonal car care tips.

Remember to keep your car in tip top running condition all winter with this helpful basic car maintenance checklist for the cold weather months.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Expensive Marques Vs. Budget Brands

Have you ever thought about how much that little insignia or motif that sits on the front of your car adds to its’ value?  Some cars are more expensive than others and it isn’t just for the want of a different specification.  What most people don’t realise is that many manufacturers use similar (or the same) platforms and even share engines.  A good example is the 1.9 TDI that’s been an Audi staple for a good while.  This is also shared with SEAT.  VW also ran the same 1.9 TDI in their Golf.

If you’re in the market for a new or used car, remember that a simple badge can add significantly to the price.  Why?  Well, let’s put it another way.  You go into Asda and there’s Asda’s own branded tin of tuna.  Nothing wrong with it, but it might be in basic packaging.  However, does the ‘John West’ stuff look more appealing?  I’ve no doubt that the little coloured logo has more attraction to the eye.  Are the basic components any different?  Of course not.

Cars are just the same as the example above.  They might be in a special place of their own being as they are uniquely designed to transport us places, but they are nonetheless a means for many manufacturers to draw out that extra penny from us, just because we want to be seen driving a particular brand around.  Now, paying for something with a bigger engine, a more economical engine or indeed another extra that genuinely makes a difference to the experience, well that’s something different… I’m happy to spend a few bob extra to get the V6 instead of the standard 2 litre four cylinder…