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Last year there were just under half a million reported incidents of third party car crime. That’s a huge number of incidents of which most happened in Hull and seven other cities in the Midlands and North East. The safest place was however Swindon, which incidentally has the most complicated roundabout in the United Kingdom. Many cars do however get returned, a probability which is improved a lot if you have a GPS tracking device, which should also reduce your car insurance quote. According to Tracker, a company which provides such a service, the top 5 vehicles to be stolen and recovered are as follows:
5. Audi TT
The Audi TT is a popular vehicle to be stolen by thieves. The TT has been the staple of the young middle class professional with its sporty looks and good handling, faintly reminiscent of its bigger brother, the R8.
4. Audi RS4
Another Audi to make it into the top 5 is the RS4, which has a maximum speed of 155mph (electronically limited). The RS4 has a formidable reputation and produces a lot of power for its engine’s size.
3. BMW M3
2. Range Rover
In second place is the Range Rover, which costs just under £70,000. The new Rangerover has an all new aluminium space frame chassis which has reduced weight a huge amount and improved fuel efficiency too.
1. BMW X5
The X5 has been crowned as the most stolen and recovered car. It’s a common site on British street and has had good reviews all round, being both fast, safe, quiet, comfortable and practical. It’s also also proving quite a steal with thieves around the UK.
Everyone knows that the best way to improve a car’s value is to customize it beyond measure, adding lots of chrome and carbon fibre. Wrong. The best way to improve a car’s value is, according to a recent study conducted by Auto Express, is to spend a few pounds on some falsified documents over the web. This is the latest trend used by criminals to sell vehicles, claiming lower mileages and so on.
How it works
A full service history and low mileage really increase a car’s value and having paperwork of course should be the proof of such claims. If there isn’t a service history, the risk being taken by the buyer is greater and thus the price goes down.
The fact is however, that you can easily purchase false service history which guarantees nothing. You can buy blank log books and by people who offer to ‘officially’ stamp them for around £20. They look the part and you are left to fill in service intervals, whether genuine parts were used and so on. Such illegal practices can add a lot of value, especially when vouching for lower mileages on premium brands.
What can you do to avoid such a con?
This will no doubt leave many of you with the question; how do I avoid getting conned? Car companies are becoming more aware of such practices and are trying to put some sort of measures in place to stop illegal document forging. They cannot however do much with cars they’ve already sold but are working with Trading Standards to resolve the issue.
Meanwhile, you yourself can check a vehicle’s background by conducting simple HPI checks via the internet or phone to verify whether it’s a write off or has outstanding finance and so on. You can also call the garages purportedly listed on the history to verify if they’ve actually got any documentation of having worked on the vehicle in question. Large garages often have comprehensive records. Also, if there aren’t any receipts, ask a few questions as these are normally kept along with service history.
The consequences for perpetrators
If you are engaging in such illicit activities, you can be sure that the law will clamp down hard. Applying a false history to a car will invalidate your motor insurance and is likely to land you up to £5000 in fines in a magistrates court even if you didn’t falsify the documents yourself. Crown court offenses however have unlimited fines or even possibly a prison sentence whether you’re a private or trade seller.
The government is thinking about implementing a new ‘two-tier’ Vehicle Excise Duty policy which would mean that those using Motorways and A-roads would have to pay a higher tax than those using small roads.
A question of revenue
The current VED rates bring in around £6 billion a year. The government is concerned that the new breed of fuel efficient vehicles becoming increasingly popular is going to drive down road tax revenues. The current system taxes those fuel guzzlers and is based on the amount of carbon dioxide produced per kilometre. This is just one of a few options being entertained by ministers.
The system would be implemented by using automatic number plate recognition cameras to look at people’s number plates on motorways. These would be very much like the cameras used in congestion charging in London or bus lane cameras. The technology and infrastructure has already been developed by technology giant IBM and is in place to see such measures take effect soon.
Many notable motor companies, including motor insurance companies are concerned about what appears to be yet another attack on motorists. There is also a worry that there will be congestion on small but crucial roads, as well as the prospect of many travelling longer distances to avoid motorways thus creating more pollution. More congestion itself would also lead to more pollution due to idling engines as well as inefficient urban speeds.
Another option has been the introduction of privately controlled road tolls or a one-off sales tax on new cars. Ultimately, implementing such policies without considering every single possible impact would be foolhardy to say the least. What we can be sure of is that issues will spring up in the Treasury’s continuing quest to replenish its coffers post Credit Crunch and to balance the ever pessimistic budgets.
With the great majority of motorists experiencing their first week of night driving on the way home from work this year, after the clocks were turned back an hour at the weekend, the realisation that winter is upon us will suddenly have hit home. Many drivers in the south of the country found themselves trying to manoeuvre theirs cars in snow and ice for the first time last year and the experience was not pleasant.
Warm weather can end any time now
Although temperatures are still more like early autumn, the fact that Bonfire night is this coming weekend should be enough to remind drivers that winter weather can now be upon us at any time. After last year’s miserable, freezing winter that caught many motorists out now is the time to be prepared for the coming months.
Breakdowns can happen to anyone
First of all motorists should check they have breakdown cover, most car insurance brokers can now arrange for breakdown cover to built into a normal motor insurance quote, but if it isn’t on yours make sure you arrange cover with one of the big motoring organisations. After last year’s winter, many motorists will now realise that breaking down can be entirely out of their own hands but it still won’t hurt to prepare for all eventualities.
Check, check and check again
Drivers should check their tyres, oil and fuel levels before each journey, they should let someone know where they are heading if bad weather is forecast and their car should contain several important items, including; warm clothing, a torch, mobile phone, and some sort of food and drink, a flask of soup is ideal. In the boot of the car the driver should have a shovel of some kind, many drivers found themselves in snowdrifts last year. De-icing kits and scrapers are a must and Wellington boots or some other sort of strong footwear should also be carried. Spare oil and fuel will also be carried by some.
It does seem a lot of fuss just for a car journey but just cast your mind back to last winter and the number of people who were stuck in their cars overnight and remember most of these items apart from the perishable goods only need packing once.
Millions of people each year get a motor insurance quote, most will drive the vehicle everyday and have no idea about its weight, or that it has been getting heavier in recent years. Most of the weight on cars today comes from steel. Only a few years ago the average car contained 2,400 pounds of steel. Now, consider that most cars weigh around 3,000 pounds, that’s a lot of steel. In cars, it is steel that is used to create the underlying chassis underneath the body. This forms the skeleton of the car and will protect the driver and passengers in the event of a crash. Doors, roofs and even the body panels made during manufacturing on most cars today are made of steel. Steel is also used in a number of different areas throughout the vehicle. Even the exhaust will often be made from stainless steel.
The manufacturing of steel has evolved massively, enabling carmakers today to be able to use different types of steel for parts of the vehicle. However, it still remains a fact that in order for us to get better mileage and lower emissions in the future, vehicles will have to lose some weight. That will not be easy with drivers demanding more creature comforts inside the vehicle. It would be a bad business move on the manufacturer’s part to stop offering the latest technology that make for a comfortable drive. Yet it is the technology that makes cars heavier.
One answer would be to make body parts out of lighter materials like carbon fibre-reinforced plastic, which is often abbreviated as CFRP. Like many other auto innovations, this one started out life in the racing world for a long time before seeing it in the consumer marketplace. CFRP works pretty much like fibre glass which sees the carbon fibre spun into long strands and then arranged into a weave for strength. A plastic material (the polymer) is soaked into the carbon fibre around a mould. When the two harden, the result will be both strong and quite light (50% lighter than forming the part out of metal alloy). This is very expensive, and because of this it is still uncommon on vehicles that are mass produced.
Chevrolet already makes limited use of carbon fibre on some of its factory models. Lexus is using CFRP extensively on its LF-A to be released next year, and they say more carbon fibre cars will be released in the future. BMW have used carbon fibre for the roof of its M3 sports car, and they have plans to use it on a wider scale for its eco-friendly city car which is expected around 2015.
When I first passed my driving test I had very little money but a burning desire to get mobile , so I invested extremely unwisely in a Morris Marina of dubious legacy, and even more dubious reliability. This affair, as you may guess did not last long – the only good news being that when I did write it off I escaped unharmed.
There followed a sad succession of awful cars most of which bit the dust in one way or another but at least the wrecks that I could afford to buy were getting slightly newer, and thus less prone to massively expensive repair bills. They also had features like working brakes(!), and silent exhausts.
Finally into my thirties I at last had an income with a modicum of disposability and I was in the market for a decent car and my heart was set on a BMW. After ages searching the press and trawling round local garages, these being the days before the internet could show hundreds of models at the touch of a button, I found a 3 series just 2 years old in immaculate condition with automatic transmission and just within my price range.
It was love at first sight and for the first time in my life (apart from the occasional drive of someone else’s decent motor). I was driving something quiet, comfortable and reliable and I relished every moment. This was a car that did everything it promised and did it in style. At that period I was travelling a lot for work and as a motorway cruiser it is still the best car I have ever driven, we also drove it to the French Alps for a ski holiday after taking out any driver car insurance and even after completing a journey that included travelling through the night it still felt comfortable to be in.
The only drawback as I’m sure any BMW owner will confirm were the high motor insurance and servicing costs – especially as at that time only authorised dealers could reset the annoying service warning indicators, and other relatively minor jobs like cam belts required a special tool that, you guessed it, only the dealers had. Sadly then at around 120,000 miles the financial pains were starting to outweigh the pleasures so we had to part company. I was delighted and also a little saddened to be overtaken on the motorway a few years later by my old Beemer still looking good and obviously living up to the reputation of , in my opinion, the best car manufacturer in the world.
It’s just sad that I can’t afford another one