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UK Fuel Prices Brexit & Bremain Predictions

The European Referendum

In the run up to the European Referendum on 23rd June, we will all be asking ourselves what factors will be making us vote either  IN or OUT.  Fuel prices may well not be something that you have considered.

This article covers what has been predicted by both the Brexit and Bremain campaigners regarding how a stay or go vote will affect UK fuel prices.

Bremain – Predictions for Fuel prices following an IN vote

Bremain Fuel Prices

It seems that a large proportion of the motor industry has declared themselves to be in favour of a vote to remain within the EU with the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders) divulging that three quarters of it’s members had stated that they were looking for an ‘IN’ outcome.

There has been numerous claims and predictions threatening a soar in petrol prices should we pull out of the EU, with the AA predicting an increase of up to 19 pence per litre.  These figures are based on a prediction that leaving the EU will inevitably cause a 20% weaker £ alongside OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) already looking to freeze oil output increasing oil prices.

With this in mind, the AA have predicted a cost to the average 2 car UK family of an extra £494 per year, an 18.7% rise in the cost of fuel.

Brexit – Predictions for Fuel prices following an OUT vote

fuel duty budget 2016

The Brexit campaign backed by former Mayor of London Boris Johnson would argue that most of the grim predictions made regarding fuel prices by the Bremain campaign are scare mongering.

All of those three quarters of the SMMT who have indicated that they would urge for an ‘IN’ vote are large companies…none of the smaller ones indicated the same.  They say that prices could stay low.

The uncertainty regarding whether we will stay in or out f the EU has already had a dramatic effect on the value of the £.  The £ having fallen to it’s lowest value against the $ since March 2009.

Fuel prices are generally related to the value of oil and oil is traded most often in dollars, therefore sterling value against the euro is less of an issue than it’s value against the dollar.  The bulk of our fuel prices are taxes and fuel duty – making up 70% of the cost of a litre and this will ot change following a Brexit.

Howard Cox ( Founder of Fair Fuel UK) who are foremost n campaigning for lower tax on fuel prices stated that the AA are engaging in ‘ill-informed exaggerations to scare drivers about Brexit’.  He added ‘ Despite the UK already having the most punative fuel duty levels in the EU, any thought that pump prices would rise further if Brexit became a reality is a red herring’.  ‘If the ound does not crash, contrary to the pro-EU doom merchants predicting, and oil remains low due to over production, then it will still be down tp George Osborne how we pay at the pumps’.

The Brexit campaign predicts that the AA’s prediction of an increase of 19p per litre is a worst case scenario and that actual increases could be as low as between 2p and 4p per litre according to an alternative AA and RAC statement.  If the pound were to strengthen then we could even be paying 2p less.

IN or OUT?

It seems that there is a broad argument that fuel prices will increase but that most of the speculations and predictions are based on assumptions that the £ will crash…..If it does crash, it may well only be for a period while it recovers.  It may not crash at all.  Both Brexit and Bremain have compelling arguments.







Contaminated Fuel – How much is too much?

Contaminated Fuel

Contaminated fuel from misfuelling can be a distressing mistake.  It is far more common than you would think and is equally common for both sexes.  Not only can mis-fuelling be embarassing but it causes you both time and money.contaminated fuel

The quantity of time and money, the extent of damage caused to your vehicle and the necessary action required depends on the volume of wrong fuel and the type of fuel which you have mistakenly put in.

Diesel in Petrol

It is much harder to put diesel in petrol than petrol in diesel because the fuel nozel for diesel tends to be much larger than it’s counterpart meaning that it often does not fit.  Therefore, this scenario is far less common.

If a diesel in petrol mistake has been made however, starting the car can cause the spark plugs and fuel system to clog up causing misfire and smoking.  Depending on the quantity of diesel in petrol, the vehicle could stop running.

How much Diesel in Petrol is too much?

If you have put 2 litres or less of diesel in petrol ( less than 5% of a completely full tank of fuel) when you realise you have contaminated fuel in your tank, then carry on fuelling with the correct fuel until the tank is full and you should be able to be on your way without calling for assistance and with no damage to your vehicle.

In the unfortunate circumstance that you have more than 5% of a full tank of contaminated fuel, then you should not turn the engine on ( or turn off immediately you realise your mistake) and call a misfuelling recovery service such as Auto Fuel Fix for assistance.  Auto Fuel Fix will completely drain your vehicle, usually on site and give you any advice before getting you on your way again.  They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Petrol in Diesel

Mis-fuelling with petrol in diesel is far easier than the other way around and with an increasing number of diesel cars now on the market, it is a growing mistake.

Petrol in diesel can cause slightly more problems than diesel in petrol depending on how long the car is run for, what type of diesel engine you have and how much wrong fuel you have put in.  Should you start the engine, damage can be caused to the fuel system seals and pumps as it travels along the fuel system.

If you have put petrol in diesel then you should notice smoking when it’s running, if it will start at all and a noisy rattling sound.  If you notice any of these signs then switch off your engine impediately you realise the wrong fuel mistake.

How much petrol in diesel is too much?

Providing that you have put less than 10% of a full tank of petrol in diesel, equating to 5 litres or less, you should be able to get away with filling the tank full with the diesel and your vehicle should be able to burn off any contaminated fuel without the need to call for assistance.

If you have put more than 10% wrong fuel petrol in diesel then unfortunately, starting your engine or carrying on driving could cause much more damage.   You will need to call a mis-fuelling company to drain the wrong fuel from your vehicle and get you on your way.  It is possible that you will need to change fuel filters at a sooner date than usual as they could be affected by your contaminated fuel mistake.    If you have not started your engine, then there should be no damage to your vehicle once the contaminated fuel has been removed as it will not have circulated the fuel system.





Premium Fuels – Worth the extra money?

Most of us have probably looked at the premium fuels nozzle at the fuel pump while filling up and wondered whether we would see any benefit from paying the extra for super fuel…….sometimes up to 30p per litre more.

premium fuels

So what exactly is Premium Fuel?

Premium fuel has a higher octane rating (RON) than their standard fuel counterparts and this increased rating is claimed to make your engine run more efficiently, wasting less energy and with improved performance, lower fuel consumption and protecting your engine too…..

Premium fuels are availabe in both petrol and diesel formats.   The octane rating for standard unleaded fuel is 95, whereas most premium unleaded fuels are 98.

The octane rating is the fuels ability to resist engine knocking….the higher the number, the lower the knock.

Premium diesel is a higher quality of diesel which may have additives claiming to improve performance.

The cost of premium fuels at the pump.

The average price of standard unleaded fuel is currently 108.27p per litre in contrast to the average price of super unleaded being 117.98p per litre.  That is over 9p per litre more.

Diesel drivers will find that the average cost of a litre of standard diesel is 108p and premium diesel 120.76p per litre on average.  That’s a fairly hefty 12.76p per litre more.

Premium Fuel Claims.

  • Improve mileage
  • Improved performance
  • Reduced engine wear & tear
  • Saving money longterm

Improve Mileage?

Premium fuel should burn more efficiently than it’s standard counterpart meaning that less fuel is burned to deliver equal power.  These claims however could be effected by the type of car which you drive and factors such as driving style.

Many users of premium fuels claim that they only notice a small amount of increased fuel efficiency.  Drivers of performace cars will see the most benefit.

Improved Performance?

As a rule, drivers of high performance cars who often drive regularily on long drives and open roads will see the most marked improvement in engine performance.  Drivers with small engines and those who make many short city journeys will see little benefit.

The engines of high performance vehicles operate with higher temperatures and pressures and therefore the premium fuel can increase the amount of horsepower which in turn will show a marked improvement in performance.  These factors are not indicative of regular engines though and hence, these drivers will see much less improvement.

Factors such as driving style will play a larger part than fuel type in engine performance for most drivers.

Reduced Engine Wear & Tear?

Drivers of high performance vehicles again are the ones which will see a marked difference here too.  This is because the claim to reduced engine wear and tear refers to the higher octane fuels reducing engine knock which is most prevalent in performance cars due to their superchargers and turbos.

Engine knock is the term used for unburned fuel igniting in the engine.

Premium fuel can however also contain additives which help in maintaining your engine, keeping it cleaner and working more efficiently for longer.

Saving money longterm?

In essence those drivers of performance cars could well benefit longterm from using premium fuel by increased performance and improved miles per litre.  This of course will show in their pockets.   Drivers of regular cars, small cars and those who do little driving in a week will probably notice hardly any difference at all, especially those who drive older vehicles.

So is it worth buying premium fuel?

The only way to really tell if you will see any improvements in your vehicle or pocket by using premium fuels is to try it out a few times and see.  If you are a driver of a performance vehicle, then you may see a more marked improvement than drivers of regular vehicles.











Fuel Tax Frozen For 6th Year – Update

Tax on Fuel Frozen Again

After all of the pre budget speculation and predictions that the chancellor’s Budget statement 2016 would include an increase in fuel duty, it seems that Mr Osbourne has chosen to give the British motorist another year of frozen fuel duty.  This is the 6th consective year that fuel duty has been frozen in the UK.

Fuel Tax

Mr Osborne’s Budget Statement on Fuel Tax

George Osbornes Budget Statement 2016 on Fuel Tax was that tax on petrol and diesel will remain at 57.95 pence per litre.  The decision comes as a great surprise to both motorists and the financial sector who predicted a rise in fuel tax following the chancellors autumn statement which indicated that a rise would be likely in line with inflation.

“Families paid the cost when oil prices rocketed; they shouldn’t be penalised when oil prices fall.” was one remark from Mr Osborne.  “I know fuel costs still make up a significant part of household budgets and weigh heavily on small firms.”

What is Fuel Tax or Fuel Duty?

As the name suggests, fuel tax or fuel duty is the tax which is put on all hydrocarbon fuels.  Petrol, Diesel, Biodiesel, LPG.  These are all fuels used by motorists.

Why was Fuel Duty Frozen Originally?

Fuel duty was last increased in Jan 2011, rising to 58.95 pence.  At that particular time, petrol and diesel was being sold at a much higher price than it is now £1.25.2 for petrol and £1.29.3 for diesel on average. Todays prices are approx £1.03 on average.   This difference was due to oil prices being approximately twice what it is today.

In the 2011 Budget Statement, the chancellor said that he wanted to “put fuel into the tank of the British Economy” and reduced fuel tax by 1 pence per litre to 57.95 pence and he has frozen it at the level since that date.  Keeping Brits on the road.

Fuel tax was due to raise in line with inflaion thereafter but it has never been implemented.

How much is fuel duty?

Fuel duty accounts for 75% of the cost of fuel.  With oil prices at an all time low, the proportion of tax paid is markedly higher.

Fuel tax is estimated to produce £27 billion for the British Economy in this following year.

What does a continuing fuel tax freeze mean for the motorist?

It is predicted that fuel prices will not remain at the low they are now indefinitely.  It is predicted that oil prices will eventually rise once more and that the cost of this will of course be passed on to the motorist.

The freeze in fuel tax will nonetheless mean a saving for the motorist.  The cost of fuel and motoring continues to be one of the biggest household bills and freezing tax will inevitably keep fuel prices lower than if the fuel tax had risen.




Fuel Duty hike expected UK Budget 2016

Fuel Duty …  2016 budget

fuel duty budget 2016

With the 2016 Budget coming up next week, motorists are speculating as to whether Chancellor George Osborne will be increasing fuel duty in line with inflation…and it is looking likely.

The Facts

  • In Britain, we already pay more fuel duty than any other EU country.
  • Fuel duty amounts to just under 58p per litre of fuel…around 73.4% of the price.
  • Fuel Duty in the UK has been ‘frozen’ for 4, nearly 5 years.

What is being forecast?

George Osborne is being predicted to increase fuel duty in line with inflation within Westminster and the financial sector.  With his pledge to balance Britains budget deficit by 2019 growing closer, and the UK’s recovery slowing down, speculation in Westminster is that “the simplest way to raise cash is to put 2p on petrol. Prices are so low at the moment that people will hardly notice the difference.”

Fuel Prices have been steadily falling for 8 months with petrol and diesel prices both dropping to below £1 per litre last month for the first time since 2009.

In a recent interview with the BBC, Mr Osborne declined to rule out a rise in fuel duty and his aides when questioned decline to comment.  The foundations were already laid in last years Autumn statement by the chancellor.

What this means to the motorist

The cost of motoring it is fair to say, is the largest household expense and a huge cost for businesses alike.  The current trend for lower petrol prices have been a welcome reprieve for everyone.

Quite simply, an increase in fuel duty will mean an increase in fuel prices.  With car insurance costing more each year, which can be attributed in some way to rises in insurance tax last year, and the likelihood that low oil prices and fuel prices will not continue inevitably….. This could all have a huge impact on the motorists pocket and small businesses.  Haulage companies especially, will find any fuel increases a blow.

150 MPs expected to back a bid not to increase fuel duty

There is talk that up to 150 MPs , including some ministers, are backing a campaign to pressure the chancellor not to increase fuel duty in his budget on 16 March 2016.

The campaign by the All-Party Parlimentary Group for Fair Fuel for Motorists, for which MP Jason McCartney is chair is also being backed by the AA who have written to chancellor George Osborne about their concerns.

We can all join the Fair Fuel Campaign and show our support.

2016 Budget

The 2016 Budget will be announced by Chancellor George Osborne on 16 March 2016.








Car Tyres – a comprehensive guide

Good car tyres are crucial for safe and economical driving.  Maintaining and changing your tyres properly and regularily will increase their life span.

This guide covers the following topics:

When to replace tyres

In the UK, for a car to be legal and have a valid MOT, car tyres must have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm across three quarters of the tread width, around the full circumference.

New car tyres have a tread depth of approx 8mm. Tyres should be changed if the tread depth is close to or falls below 1.6mm, if there are cracks, worn patches or a puncture. In wet conditions, tyres wear faster and it is adviseable to change tyres earlier.  Around 2 mm would be a good point of reference.

Tyre tread is also a good guage of tyre health. Car tyres which have a low depth have a higher risk of failure, aquaplaning in wet weather or skidding in winter weather due to less grip.

The Law

  • All tyres must be compatible and in good condition
  • Keep tyres inflated at the recommended level (check with vehicle paperwork/manual/car door jut)
  • Tread depth must be above 1.6mm

How to check tyre depth

An easy to read depth guage can be purchased fr0m motoring shop.  Don’t rely on guessing.

First, check the depth of the main tread grooves all around the tyre using the guage.  There should be tread wear indicators at the base of the main grooves indicating when the tyre is at it’s legal limit.  If the wear is nearly at these indicators or has surpassed these, then the car tyre needs replacing.


Which tyres to replace

In an ideal world, all 4 car tyres should be replaced at the same time.  However, this can be costly and so not always viable.

Car tyres also tend to wear at different rates front and rear, generally with the front wearing faster as these are the drive wheels and do the majority of the work on modern vehicles.  When replacing tyres, you put your best tyres at the rear.  If only two are worn and they are at the front, you would move the part worn tyres from the rear to the front and put the new tyres on the rear.  In bad weather or when braking, this helps to control the vehicle and reduce loss of stability.

It is adviseable to swap car tyres front to rear periodically as a rule, regardless of whether you need to buy new ones, to balance wear.


It is important to get your wheels ‘balanced’ when you replace tyres.  (Getting the tracking done).  This is often included in the price of the fitting at most reputable tyre bays.

An unbalanced wheel will cause your car tyres to wear unevenly, generally more so on the inner or outer shoulders of the tyre. This could be because of a misalignment in the suspension.  Another indicator of this would be a feeling of vibration thirough the steering wheel.

Appropriate car tyres

Tyre size and specification for your vehicle should be listed in its handbook.

Most UK cars are fitted with summer tyres or all season tyres as standard.

Summer tyres provide the best performance during summer conditions.  All-season tyres are a generic all season tyre which can be left on the car all year round neither providing the best summer performance, or the best winter performance, but ideal for average fluctuating temperatures without the need to change in spring and autumn.

Some people who drive a considerable amount during the winter months or who live in more rural areas may benefit from fitting winter tyres to their car. Winter tyres are distinguishable by a snowflake or a mountain symbol and are specifically designed to give additional grip on snow and ice and in temperatures below 7C.

Winter tyres

The sidewall size and rating markings will be the same, but they have a deeper tread pattern and slits calls sips.  These combined,  help grip the road on snow due to snow sticking to snow.

During temperatures above 7C however, winter car tyres have significantly less grip on the road than its summer counterparts.

In some parts of Europe where extreme weather is expected for prolonged periods, each and every winter, winter tyres are compulsary, however, in the UK, winter tyres are fitted by choice only.

Ideally, you will need a second set of rims for your winter tyres. Opt for steel, which corrode less after exposure to winter grit and fit them before the bad weather strikes.  Waiting until it is already here, will probably mean that you will be unable to fit them.   Buy 5 as there is still a possibilty of a puncture and it is dangerous, and illegal to mix different types of tyres on the same axel.

Tyre markings

You will find markings on the sidewalls of your car tyres which will help you choose the right replacements for your car.  They will also be written in your car handbook.

The letters and numbers relate to the tyre size (tyre width in mm, height of tyre side and diameter of the wheel rim in inches), composition (all tyres are radial now, but some older car tyres used to be cross-ply) and capabilities ( load index and speed rating).

Example:            205/55 R16 91V

      205 – Tyre width mm
      55 – Tyre height, expressed as a percentage of its width
      R – Radial (composition)16 – Diameter of the wheel rim, in inches
      91 – Load index
      V – Speed rating (must match or exceed max speed of your this case 149mph)


      When buying a new set of tyres, you should stick to the same spec as those already fitted.

Car tyre speed ratings

S 112mph
T 118mph
U 125mph
H 130mph
V 149mph
W(ZR) 168mph
Y(ZR) 186mph
ZR Above 149mph

Energy Label

Since Nov 2012, it has been compusary for all car tyres to have a tyre energy label.  This tells the buyer which tyres are the most economical to buy.

Every label must display:

  • Fuel efficiency:  A measure of rolling resistance.  The lower the rolling resistace, the better the fuel economy.
  • Wet grip: Based on wet braking. Assuming all 4 tyres have the sae rating, the earlier in the alphabet the number, the shorter the stopping distance.
  • Noise: Measured in decibels (dB) and measured in comparison with the new 72dB European max noise level, which will be inroduced in 2016.

One black sound wave = Very Quiet – 3dB less than European limit

Two black sound waves = Fairly Quiet –  already compliant with the limit

Three black sound waves = Compliant now – compliant only with the current European limit, but not the new one

Run-flat car tyres

Run – flat tyres are increasingly popular with new car manufacturers.  A run-fat tyre will support the vehicles weight following a puncture for up to 50 miles allowing you to get to a garage to change your tyre rather tan needing to do it roadside.
Run -flat tyres should only be driven at a maximum speed of 50mph and should not be mixed on a car with traditional tyres….this could affect handling.  It is also not adviseable not to use run-flats when towing or on cars which dont have a pressure-monitoring syste which would tell you if you havd a puncture.
Markings that could indicate your tyre is a run-flat tyre:   DSST, RFT, ROF and RunFL.


Part worn car tyres

Part worn or used car tyres are legal providing that they are properly marked and deemed safe by the garage selling them.

Part worn tyres

The Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulations 1994:

Part-worn car tyres must not have:

  • Any cuts longer than 25mm which are deep enough to reach the ply or cord
  • Any bulges or tears caused by separation or failure of the tyre’s structure
  • Any puncture damage which isn’t repaired.
  • Any ply exposed (internal or external)

Part worn car tyres must have:

  • Original markings
  • Must state ‘part worn’ in capital letters at least 4mm high
  • If sold on the rim, be thoroughly inspected internally

If part worn tyres are sold privately or by a garage which does not meet these standards then they could have suffered damage and could be dangerous.  Always be particularily careful when buying part worn tyres and buy them from a reputable tyre dealer.

Tyre composition

    • Tread : Rubber compound which makes contact with the road and grips.
    • Steel belt : Rubber – wrapped bundles of steel wire which hold the tread flat to the road and give stability and rigidity.
    • Sidewalls : The side of the tyre – Lower sidewalls help tyre retain shape when cornering.  Higher sidewalls lend themselves to a more comfortable drive.  Sidewalls carry the load.
    • Bead wires : Hold the tyre to the rim.  Ultra strong steel.


Tyre maintenance

Driving safely and responsibly will increase the lifespan of your tyres.  Harsh braking, rapid cornering and acceleration all put extra wear on tyres and make them work harder.

Check your car tyres regularly for wear.

      • Is the tread wearing evenly?  Uneven tread could be a sign that the wheels are unballanced.
      • Are there any cracks or bulges. This could be an indication that the tyre is damaged.
      • Remove stones or other debris which could damage the tyre.
      • Is the rim scuffed?  If you have hit a pothole or scuffed the curb, this could cause a rough edge which could damage the tyre and cause a blow out.
      • Check your tyre pressure regularily – A tyre which is going flat will cause uneven wear, not just on that tyre but on the others which will compensate.  It will affect the cars hadling ad also the fuel economy as it causes drag.

Tyre pressures

Your vehicles handbook or the inside of your car door will advise of the correct tyre pressures for your car.  This can fluctuate depending on load.  If you have a heavily laden car, you will need slightly higher pressures.

Low pressures mean you will cause drag when driving and therfore use more fuel.   This can also cause the tyres to wear excessively on the edges near the side wall, causing bukges and makes them more likely to fail.  Car tyre pressure which are too high can affect handling and increase the wear along the centre tread.  Over-inflated tyres are more likely to blow-out if you hit a pothole or kerb.

Check car tyre pressure when the vehicle is cold as driving heats the air and slightly increases the pressure.  Inflating your tyres after a long drive will lead to under -inflation.

tyre pressures

Changing a car tyre

With the right tools, it is easy to change a car tyre.
      • Pull over in a safe place as soon as you realise that your tyre is flat or damaged.  Not on an inclined road.
      • Turn your hazard lights on and a warning triangle out.
      • Make sure that any occupants are out of the car and that the handbrake is on.
      • Locate the brace and jack to your vehicle ( usually stowed with your spare wheel).
      • Use the brace to loosen the wheel nuts first (Some cars will have locking wheel nuts – you will need the locking nut).

wheel brace

      • Place the jack under the jacking point for your car (this should be advised in your handbook) and make sure that it is straight with the ground.
      • Jack the car up so that there is room to remove and replace the tyre.


      • Remove the wheel nuts and the damaged tyre.
      • Place the new tyre on and do up the wheel nuts.
      • Lower the jack so that the new tyre is on the road and then tighten all wheel nuts using the brace.
      • Don’t at any point put your head under the car.
If you encounter any difficulties, please consult a qualified mechanic or breakdown service.

Fuel Economy, Causes of poor MPG

If you have noticed that your vehicle is running less economically than it used to, there could be an underlying mechanical problem. This guide covers the likely issues which could be attributing to you using more fuel.

fuel economy

Driving Style and Circumstances

One of the most common causes of poor fuel economy is the way you drive and the trips that you make. Cars use the most fuel during initial acceleration, so if your car journey is short or involves a lot of stops then you will inevitably use more fuel that longer journeys where your speed and acceleration are constant.  In addition, agressive driving where you accelerate hard and brake late causes you to flood the engine with extra fuel and therfore use more.  To obtain the best mpg, keep your vehicle moving as much as possible.  Combine short journeys and try to keep the acceleration an speed constant.   For a more indepth look at eco driving, please take a look at aff vehicle services eco motoring guide.

Bad Oxygen Sensors

Oxygen sensors guage and help maintain a vehicles fuel/air mix.  As they  become older, they can become less responsive.  Having faulty oxygen sensors can reduce mpg by up to 20% because the sensors are telling the car that it needs more fuel when it doesn’t.

Faulty Thermostat

The engine’s thermostat controls the operating temperature of the engine,  helping the engine warm up quickly after a cold start.  Thee thermostat’s purpose is to close when the engine is cold to block the flow of coolant.  A faulty thermostat does not close properly, allowing the coolant to continue circulating while the engine is warming up.  This could mean that the car never reaches a desired operating temperature.  A cold car uses more fuel.

Faulty Fuel Injectors

Fuel injectors are responsible for putting fuel into the engine.  Fuel varnish deposits can build up inside fuel injectors, preventing them from delivering the correct mix of fuel.  This mean that less fuel makes it to the engine and the mix is lean causing backfiring and poor fuel economy.

Engine Misfire

Engine misfire could be the result of many issues, defective fuel injectors, faulty spark plugs, bad plug wires, fuel injectors, low fuel pressure, to name but a few.   Engine misfire will waste a large amount of fuel.

Faulty Spark Plugs

Your spark plugs are responsible for sparking combustion in your engine. Old and worn or faulty spark plugs will cause engine misfire, waste fuel and in turn give you less mpg.  A car which is using too uch oil or making short trips and journeys which involve a lot of stopping and starting all cause the spark plugs to foul up prematurely.

Clogged Air Filter

If your air filter is really dirty, it interferes with normal engine performance causing poor fuel economy.

Wrong Oil Viscosity

Most modern day vehicles use a low viscosity motor oil.  During cold weather, when oils tend to thicken, this can greaty improve fuel economy.  Using a motor oil with a higher viscosity than you need can cause poor fuel economy.  Check your vehicle manual or dealership for the correct oil grade required for your engine.

EGR Valve Leak

The EGR  Valve (Exhaust Gas Recirculation Valve) is a device which has the purpose of controlling emissions.  If the EGR valve does not close at idle or when the engine is cold, it can allow exhaust gases to leak back into the intake manifold causing misfires and in turn less mpg and poor fuel economy.

Tyre Pressure and Type

Check car tyre pressures

Check car tyre pressures

The type and pressure of your tyres has a large and direct impact on your fuel economy.  This is to do with rolling resistence.   If your tyre pressures are low, your vehicle will have to work harder to get itself down the road. The harder your vehicle works, the more fuel it will use. Likewise, better qualty tyres often have less rolling resistence and therefore are more economical in the long run.

A Full Boot

If you have a lot of unnecessary weight in the boot of your vehicle, it will take extra power to haul it.  Extra power equals extra fuel.

Air Con Over Use

It takes extra power to use your air con in the car and therefore more fuel.  If you have it on all of the time then this will greatly affect your mpg.



These are some of the main and most common causes of poor fuel economy.  To check what your vehicles fuel economy should be, take a look at your car data statistics on the website. 





Winter Motoring – a guide

Keeping your car in tip top condition should be something that you do all year round, however in winter, it’s really important to make sure that you are prepared.  Nobody wants to get stranded in sub zero conditions.

winter motoring

This guide covers the following topics:

Winter Motoring Checklist

When winter approaches, we should all carry out some basic checks to ensure that our vehicles are fit and ready to cope with winter conditions.  Not being prepared could not only mean breaking down in bad weather but could also make it unsafe to be on the road.

  • Check your battery

If your car has been stood still for a long period or your battery is getting old, it may well need charging properly before you head off on a trip.

  • Check all exterior lights

Make sure that all lights are working properly and change any bulbs that are faulty including fog lights.  Winter weather leads to much darker conditions and poor working lights could put your life at risk.

  • Check wiper blades are in good working order

Wiper blades are essential in bad weather and it is easy to damage them when removing them from an icy windscreen.  Damaged wiper blades will not clear your screen properly whilst you are driving and in bad conditions this could be very hazardous.

  • Oil check

Make sure that you have the correct grade oil in your car and that levels are right.

  • Anti-freeze/coolant

Check that coolant levels are correct and add anti-freeze.  There is a risk of the engine freezing otherwise and this can be very costly.

  • Tyres

Worn tyres won’t hold the road aswell if the conditions are wet or icy.  Look for bulges, splits and cracks.  Check the pressures with your handbook or in the door jam of your car.

  • Screenwash

Check your washer bottle levels and add a winter addative to ensure that it doesn’t freeze.  If you don’t use a screen wash which is graded for the likely temperatures that you will experience in your area, then your washer pump could freeze causing damage to fuses.


Setting off

Before setting off, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have packed  a few essential and additional items just incase……

Have a spare set of warm clothes, boots and a blanket packed in the boot.

Check batteries on your torch and have it handy.

Make sure that you have an ice scraper and/or antifreeze.

Check your first aid kit.

Pack jump leads and a reflective warning sign.

Pack a shovel if it is snowing or icy.  In particularily bad snow, think about snow shoes and chains.

Make sure that your phone is fully charged, and carry an in car charger.

Sunglasses – snow can give off a large amount of glare.

Planning is key.

Try to plan your journey in advance.  Check the weather reports online so that you can be prepared for the worst.  Know what likely conditions you may encounter and where there may be the most adverse conditions.

Let somebody know where you are going and an estimated time of arrival so that you will be missed if you don’t arrive.

Go through your winter car check list and make sure that you have enough fuel to get you to where you are going, or at least to a petrol station which you know will be open.

Driving in snow and ice

Ice and snow are two of the most treacherous road conditions.  Black ice can be especially dangerous as you often can’t see it.

winter motoring

Think about changing your tyres for winter tyres which have a deeper tread if you live in an area where you are expecting a lot of snow or ice and ensure that your screenwash and coolant are safe down to -35 degrees.

Make sure that you allow adequate time before setting off to clear all windows and mirrors properly.   Also ensure that you have cleared all snow from the top of your car if it has been parked outside, otherwise it could fall onto the windsreen, obscuring your vision if you should need to brake sharply.

Only drive if it is entirely necessary.


Accelerate gently and change gear upwards at the earliest chance.  Staying in  lower gear will cause the wheels to slip.

Think about stopping distances and make sure that you allow around 10 times the usual space.

Steer into a skid.  Do not take your hands off the wheel or brake hard, this will only exacerbate the problem.  Instead, go with the car, if it is veering right, steer right.

Be aware that compressed snow, that has been driven on by many other vehicles will likely be very slippery and now be ice.

Keep your speed down, change gear and brake slowly to avoid skidding.


Hail storms can damage your car and if you chose to get out of the vehicle, injure you.

If you should encounter a really bad hail storm, try to stay in the car.  If necessary, pull over ,wait for the storm to pass and point your car bonnet forward in the direction of the hail.  Car winscreens are reinforced and will withstand a beating from a hail storm, much better than the paintwork.

De-icing your car

Make sure that you completely clear any ice or snow from your windscreen, lights and mirrors.  It is hazardous and will obstruct your view in already treacherous conditions to not do it properly.

Allow anough time and use a scraper or de-icer.  DO NOT use boiling water as this could crack the glass.  If you must use water, then luke warm, although bear in mind that any additional water applied to the windscreen could then freeze as you are driving.

De-icer can be applied to locks to free them.

Driving in heavy rain and floods

If at all possible, try to avoid venturing out in flooded areas.  Driving in heavy rain or on flooded roads can be extremely hazardous and can also damage your car.

Try to plan your journey to avoid areas where rain will have settled and there could be a risk of flooding.

Make sure that your wipers are working properly and that you have enough fuel for your journey.  Flooding and bad weather can cause delays and sitting in traffic uses more fuel that being at a constant speed.


  • Use dipped headlights so that other drivers can see you more easily and DO NOT use fog lights.
  • Think about increasing your stopping distances and reducing your speed.
  • Watch out for spray from the roads which could obscure your vision from other vehicles.  Especially larger trucks and fast moving vehicles.
  • If you feel the car aquaplanning, ease off the accelerator and pump the brake.  DO NOT brake hard, this will only lock the wheels and cause the car to slide further out of control.  Reduce your speed.
  • Try not to drive through deep water and if you have to then drive slowly, otherwise you may cause damage to your engine.  Try not to stop at a stand still in the water and keep to the highest point of the road.
  • Do not attempt to drive through fast flowing water.
  • If you do brake down, keep the bonnet closed to avoid gettng even more water into the electrics.  Turn off the engine and call for help.
  • Test your brakes fully before continuing after driving through flood water.

For more detailed information of flood damaged vehicles, please take a look at our comprehensive guide.

Driving in high winds

When driving in high winds, be wary of towing vehicles as they could sway across the road.  Watch out too for vehicles carrying items which may not be strapped down properly and could come loose. Try not to use roof racks or roof boxes and watch out for debris on the road or flying through the air.

Drive slowly as this will improve the car handling and try to stick to more sheltered areas.  Y0u could encounter very powerful and high gusts when exposed.

Hold the wheel firmly.

Make sure that you are doubly careful of high sided vehicles…lorries and buses, motorcyclists and cyclist who may get caught with a gust and swerve into the road.

Avoid parking your car under trees and other areas where high winds could cause things to fall on it..or you.

Flat Battery

Cold and damp can play havoc on batteries.  Think about checking your battery and charging it if necessary during the winter months.

Remember to switch off all lights, (incuding interior ones), heaters and wipers when switching your engine off to prevent the battery from draining.

Try not to leave sat navs, car chargers and other devises which put an additional drain on the battery, plugged in.

Carry a set of jump leads or a car jump pack with you, especially if your battery is more than three years old.



Try to ensure that your fuel tank is always full or has enough for the journey that you have planned.  Bear in mind that adverse weather conditions can cause traffic jams and hold up and a stationary car with the engine running will be using more fuel than one which is at a constant speed.

At this time of year, especially around Christmas, there may well be closures at some petrol stations or shortages due to the busy period, and you could find yourself getting to your planned fuel stop and it  is closed.  Check in advance which ones are open if you are going to need to stop for fuel and plan your journey accordingly.


Always ensure that you have a charged mobile phone with you when driving in adverse conditions.  If you are unfortunate enough to break down then you will be able to phone for assistance and let someone know where you are.  If possible, make sure that you also carry a charger.

Try to be aware of your location so that you are able to tell the recovery expert exactly where you are,  You can do this by reading the signs at at the side of te road.  For full details on how to read the road signs, please read our guide to using roadsigns to pinpont your location.  Being able to pinpoint your location will greatly decrease the amount of time it will take to get you and your vehicle recovered and out of the cold.






flood damaged car – a guide

The UK has been experiencing increasing numbers and deeper floods each year, some figures estimate the AA has rescued more than 3,000 cars from floods since last December.

flood damaged car

This guide covers the following topics::

 What should I do if my car has been damaged by flood?

Modern vehicles are designed these days to withstand a wide range of conditions, however a general rule of thumb would be…if the flood water has reached the doors of your car then dont drive it until it has been checked over by a qualified mechanic.

What damage can occur in flood damaged vehicles?

Flood damaged vehicles could suffer many different faults depending on the water levels, how long the car was submerged and how severe the flow of water was.

  • Water in the engine bay can damage transmission components and pollute the oils leading to more extensive damage.  Contaminated oil can lead to further costly mechanical failure.
  • Water which seeps into the car interior can damage electrical and control systems such as engine management.
  • If the water level rises enough, fuel tanks can be affected.  Contaminated fuel if it doesn’t stop the vehicle running altogether, can affect the cars filter systems and cause further damage
  • If the water is flowing and there is a strong current, debris can become lodged under the car.  This can damage mechanical components and clog cooling systems causing the vehicle to overheat.

Advice if your car has been damaged by flood.

If your car has been damaged by flood and the water has exceeded the bottom of door level, do not drive it unti it has been looked at by a qualified mechanic.  Make sure that key safety components such as brakes and steering have not been affected and are working as they should.

Before using the vehicle again, replace any fluids that could have been contaminated.

How to drive in floods.

The best advice is to try and not drive through the water at all, however, if you must then the IAM ( Institute of Advanced Motorists) suggests “slipping the clutch” (when the clutch is not fully engaged) all the time you are in the water to keep the revs high and help stop engine problems. Never take your foot off the accelerator either, and make sure the car keeps moving at all times so you don’t get stuck. Clear the brakes of water by lightly applying them after you exit the water.

How can I tell if the car I am purchasing is a flood damaged car?

A large proportion of flood damged vehicles are ‘written off’  by the insurance company ( deemed uneconomical to repair based on dealer prices).  These vehicles destined for the salvage yard are often sold as damaged repairable vehicles for sale.  A reputable and accountable salvage facility will declare the flood damage to the vehicle when selling it.  With flooding on the increase however, some drivers could be selling flood damaged vehickes which still run instead of claiming on their nsurance and risking higher premiums..  The extent of damage may not have been recognised or repaired. It is always best to get a qualified mechanic to check the car over first.  If you are looking over it yourself.  watch out for the following indicators.  There will often be more than 1;

  • Mud or silt in obscure places which may have been overlooked when cleaning – under seats, glove box, ashtray, air filter element and housing.
  • Rusty tools under the spare wheel or in the tool pouch in the boot.
  • Corrosion in foot wells, under seats or the boot cavity.
  • Water damage to paperwork which may have been kept in the car – log book, manuals.
  • Depending on the length of time since the car has been exposed to flooding, the seats could still be damp (although this could equally be from cleaning).  A damp smell however, or strong fragrances used to mask odours in combination with any of the other indicators could look suspicious.

Note:  Salt water exposure will show as a white, powdery corrosion on alloy components.  Salt water flooding is more agressive.
Look for green, powdery corrosion in electrical connectors.

If you are buying a car from a flood affected area after a period of flooding, be cautious.


I am thinking of buying a flood damaged car as a damaged repairable car, what should I look out for?

If you are only looking to use the car for a short term, then a flood damaged car may be an economical solution.  Likewise, if you are an experienced or qualified mechanic and could carry out the repairs yourself then buying a flood damaged car as a damaged repairable car could be a good way of saving yourself a tidy penny by rebuilding and repairing it yourself with salvage parts.

Bear in mind that flood damaged vehicles which have been written off will have a much lower resale value and may well increase your insurance premiums to boot.

A significant problem with a flood damaged car is with the electrical system and even once the parts have been dried out , there can be residual damage which can surface at a later date.  The reason that insurance companies often write off flood damaged vehicles is that once these componenets are damaged, often the whole system and it’s components need to be replaced completely which can be costly.

Can I get insurance for a flood damaged car?

It is possible to get insurance on a flood damaged vehicle, whether it is your own which has been repaired or a flood damaged car which you have purchased from a salvage yard and repaired.  Make sure that you can provide details of the damage caused from the original claim if possible and receipts to show the repairs carried out.

Some insurers may offer increased premiums and be aware that if you need to make a claim at a later date, the market value of the vehicle may be less as it will be on record that this was a written off flood damaged car and was purchased at a lower price.  For a more detailed guide to insuring salvage vehicles take a look at our guide.



Not all flood damaged vehicles have extensive damage and many can be repaired using salvage parts quite economically if you have the necessary know how.  Be aware and always buy flood damaged cars from an authorised car salvage company such as AFF Vehicle Services.



VW Emissions scandal – the facts and what it means.

VW, recently named the biggest auto manufacturer in the world has admitted cheating on emissions testing

emissions scandal

Included in this overview are the answers to many of your questions about the VW emissions scandal:

What are the accusations against VW?

The EPA (The Environmental Protection Agency) recently discovered that many diesel VW cars sold in America were fitted with a device which detected when an emissions test was being carried out and altered the cars perfomance levels to ensure that they passed.  The German Car Giant who’s latest huge marketing campaign in the US for diesel cars boasted ‘low emissions,  has since admitted to cheating emissions tests.

Although the emissions scandal was uncovered in the US.  VW have admitted that around 11 million cars worldwide are fitted with the device.   VW-manufactured Audi A3,  VW brands Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat are all implicated.

What is the device?

Accoding to the EPA, engines were fitted with computer software which put the cars in a ‘safe mode’ when it sensed that it was in a  stationary test scenario. It did this by monitoring several factors such as speed, air pressure and engine performance. This ‘safe mode’ made the engine run below normal output.  The device, once it detected the car running as normal on the road would then slip back out of its ‘cheat mode’.

What was the result of the device on emissions?

The VW engines fitted with the device  emitted nitrogen oxide pollutants up to 40 times above the US threshold.  This would explain why air pollution levels being recorded were not going down.

Which models are affected?

In the UK, the VW Group is looking to recall and repair all 1.2 million vehicles affected by its diesel emissions scandal by the end of 2016.

The first vehicles to be recalled are the EA 189 2.0-litre TDIs, ideally in early 2016, with the rest of the 60 models from the five affected brands recalled and repaired by the end of 2016.

According to VW 5 million of their cars use the  EA 189 engine,  including the Mk6 Golf, Mk7 Passat, the first generation Tiguan,  the Jetta and Beetle sold between 2008 and 2015.

Affected Audi models include the A1, A3, A4, A5, A6, TT, Q3 and Q5.

The VW Group has set up websites for their affected brands, Audi, VW, SEAT, and Skoda, for owners to see if their cars are fitted with the EA 189 engines affected by the defeat device software. Links are at the bottom of this article.

Is the emissions scandal exclusively with VW?

Other manufacturers testing results are being checked and monitored.  However there is no evidence to implicate any other car manufacturer as of yet with some denying the use of such ‘ cheat devices’ and others refusing to comment.

What has been VW’s response?

VW have launched an internal inquiry into the emissions scandal.  Almost 500,000 cars have been recalled in the US so far.

The groups chief executive at the time of the findings has left the company as a direct result after admitting liability and stating “we have broken the trust of our customers and the public”.   His replacement is Matthias Mueller, the former boss of Porsche.

Mr Mueller has said “My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group – by leaving no stone unturned.”

The cost to VW

VW has set aside €6.5bn (£4.7bn) to cover costs such as Legal action from affected consumers and shareholders along side the cost of fixing all recalled cars.

In addition, the EPA may excert the power they have to fine a company up to $37,500 for each vehicle that breaches standards – a maximum fine of about $18bn.

Is the problem confined to the US?

The emissions scandal started in the US but has spread to a growing number of countries. The UK, Italy, France, South Korea, Canada and Germany, are opening investigations.

What should I do if I think that I may be affected by the emissions scandal?

If you think that your car falls into the affected bracket  and you have not received a recall, then please contact your main dealer for further advice and information.

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