The relentless onward march of technology often produces as many misses as hits. The pressure on manufacturers to impress with space-age on board tech has never been higher, yet this often forces some questionable choices onto the final product- when they should really have stayed on the drawing board.
Arguably pointless and pretty expensive, moisture-activated wipers typify the ‘gadgets for the sake of gadgets’ approach favoured by car makers competing for what’s seen an increasingly tech-obsessed public. Whether it’s what consumers want or not, cars that don’t need you to tell you if there’s water on your windscreen are apparently here to stay- with an extra few hundred on your bill for the privilege. Simply producing a more accessible wiper control apparently didn’t showcase enough digital bling for the designers. Still, at least they are an ostensibly helpful- if over engineered- feature.
Pointlessness score: 2.5/5
Social media integration
If there’s one thing we wish other drivers could do more easily, it might be to see more of the road, avoid distraction better, brake faster, or perhaps be more aware of speed & control. It’s fairly certain that our fellow road users’ ability to drive while casually checking twitter or facebook isn’t on most people’s lists. Unfortunately, that’s the sort of tech the guy driving the brand new SUV coming up your tail at 70mph probably has to look at instead of you.
Public tolerance for using phones at the wheel has rightly dwindled in recent years- yet car manufacturers have responded by finding new ways we can scratch the digital itch without technically using a mobile. Responsible drivers (and most normal humans) can survive the duration of a journey without checking their instagram likes- or at least we learn to pull over if there’s something urgent to look up. Having your car plugged into social media seems like great way to prolong an otherwise declining road safety issue for the sake of selling a few cars- in our opinion, people should know better.
Pointlessness score: 4/5
Lane departure warning system
Using new technology to solve problems that aren’t there is a consistent theme in the history of ‘style over substance’ design duds. Eager to load up on as much sci-fi tech as possible, the designers lose perspective and instead bury their customers in unnecessary gizmos that serve no real purpose but sound great- and offer plenty of chances to upsell.
As one reviewer of this glossy gimmick claimed- ‘if you need this, you shouldn’t be on the road’. While this at least has the potential to improve peoples’ driving, and maybe, just maybe, prevent and accident, it’s hard to see how this doesn’t enable poor driving. That said, if in a few years all cars have facebook rigged up to the dashboard- we’d probably rather this came as standard too.
Pointlessness score: 2/5
Touch screen computers
This is a broad section- and not exactly new. Touch screens have been appearing in cars since the 1980s, but while they offer a stylish way to navigate the (generally) necessary functions of an on-board computer- navigation, radio, etc, it does seem a little like modern manufacturers are feeling pressured to add more bells and whistles to their on board computers than are strictly sensible, or necessary. Famously had to use and prone to problems, these confusing systems are no running better than ever- yet it’s what they’re running that’s become the problem. Unlike your headlights, wipers, or horn- which all operate on instinctively-positioned stalks or pressure sensors- a touch screen is hard to operate without taking your eyes off the road. Despite this obvious drawback, car makers seem convinced making your car as much like your smartphone as possible is the only way to remain a serious competitor. Anything that leaves you less able to see the road ahead would be bad enough- yet increased interface between the computer and the engine has also led to cases of car thieves hacking into and stealing cars.
Pointlessness score: 4/5
Just as a touch screen increases distraction, so does hands-free. The number of phone or voice-controlled apps for your car keeps increasing- with instant messaging by voice just one feature taking off for drivers. It’s not just about taking phone calls- sending texts or searching Google can now be done using only the driver’s voice. Near-universal smartphones and the now vast app marketplace mean car or phone manufacturers no longer have a monopoly on in-car tech: what effect the unchecked development of thousands of untested in-car apps has on safety remains to be seen. Road safety experts have unequivocally stated over and over again that using hands-free lessens your focus on the road. However while fewer and fewer people find it acceptable to use a mobile while driving, the marketplace for apps and gadgets that let you perform the same jobs with only your voice seems to be growing- hampering the improvements to road safety many have worked hard for.
Pointlessness score: 3/5
Walker Cutting is Rotherham’s top car repair service, proud to stand out for value and quality. Whether it’s MOTs, servicing or diagnostics, through to advanced van or car repair using Bosch-made, manufacturer quality parts, our team of experienced professional mechanics are always happy to go the extra mile to keep you on the road. Talk to us today or read through some of car repair customers’ reviews to learn more about how we can help you.
Industry experts fear the clock may well be ticking down to the demise of diesel- with uncertainly around British manufacturing jobs causing driving worsening concerns of a slump
Sales continue to slide for diesels- with a 20% fall in the past year- and an 8% across the car industry as a whole. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reported a continued slide following on from March, which saw a record 562,000 new cars registered- suggesting many potential buyers chose to purchase earlier to avoid new vehicle excise duty levels coming in at the start of April. Nonetheless the industry organisation stressed the unprecedented dip in interest in diesels was linked to a range of factors besides this:
Bad news for diesel has come thick and fast lately- scandals, scares and mounting regulatory pressure seem to be burying what was, once, the car du jour for the environmentally conscious. With more and more concern over the public health effects of diesel in European cities, and regulation to match, it seems days may be numbered for the diesel car. Some municipal leaders have spoken of banning them entirely from noxious city centres.
- The election
With tax on things like car insurance being one of most-increased sources of government revenue over the past few years, there is understandably some uncertainty about the extent of the blow about to fall on motorists after the election. Whoever wins, it seems unlikely already hard-pressed drivers will get away unscathed. Yet with diesels still in the firing line as concern grows over air pollution, it would appear many of us are holding off investing, or opting for petrol instead.
- Superior petrol engines
The diesel industry is lobbying hard for restrictions against diesel engines to be limited. Yet the prime reason for their continued popularity- and, some suggest, their ultimate downfall- is the importance placed on efficiency by customers. The rising cost of diesel ownership only accentuates the rapid development going on in the other camp- the less restricted petrol industry. With more and more efficient petrol engines being produced all the time, it really seems that the industry sees its future in petrol, and diesel as being less and less of a safe investment. With some reports suggesting certain manufacturers are looking for a cut-off point of less than five years’ time to cease diesel production.
- Alternative fuels
Amid the slump, alternative fuels cars continue to boom- with a 27% rise in sales. Whether the decline of diesel will see electric and hybrid cars replace diesel in time remains to be seen- but in a future dominated by expensive fuel and draconian regulation it seems fair to speculate that with diesel’s decline we might be seeing the ascendancy of alternative fuels.
Walker Cutting delivers the highest standard of car care Rotherham has to offer: not just great workmanship, but value and customer service that’s won awards, which other comparable, main dealer service centres can’t match. Our team use decades of experience, a customer-focused approach and the very latest equipment to deliver a top quality specialist car repair for less than the main dealers. We don’t affect your warranty and we charge considerably less- so speak to us today to find out how much we could save you on specialist car repair.
As we get closer to summer, more and more of us will be using our car for long journeys, from visits to relatives to days out to holidays. But unexpected fuel costs can leave your trip with a sting in the tail. How can you take the road trip you want without it costing at the pumps?
- Make one longer trip instead (especially in cold weather!)
Cold engines use a lot more fuel- as much as 22% more on petrol & 31% on hybrid cars. This isn’t just because of all the extra electrics we use to keep warm on cold days- your engine needs to hit around 90 degrees to reach maximum fuel efficiency. Making, say, three short trips during the course of your day lets your engine cool- each time you set off it needs to hit that bracket of maximum fuel efficiency all over again: using more fuel than necessary. Roll your short errands into one round trip and you’ll save fuel, and perhaps time on the road too.
- Shed weight
A common if gung-ho suggestion from high-end motoring writers, who seem to cite prolonged carrying of golf clubs as a cause of low fuel efficiency (who carries golf clubs?!) and suggest ditching everything from maps and loose change to kid’s toys and boxes of tissues.
The risk here is that while shedding weight will reduce fuel use, bear in mind that in the event of a breakdown, you’ll be glad of that spare tyre. So before you chuck it in the garage where it will almost certainly do you no good, try to weigh this against how much you’re willing to be without in the event of the unexpected. Of course, if you’re going away in summer you can probably ditch the snow shovel though.
- Go aerodynamic
Still sporting those wing mirror extensions? How about lugging around your roof rack? Cut back on that wind resistance and you’ll save fuel. Closing the sunroof may also have an effect- although estimates on this vary wildly. It has been widely accepted that air conditioning uses less fuel than the extra burned dealing with the wind resistance of having windows down- though the US TV show Mythbusters has disputed this.
- Plan your journey
This is sensible advice from any angle- a spontaneous road trip might sound great but can lead to unexpected problems. Do you know where to get fuel at any time of day? Will you have enough in the tank to tackle steep climbs? How about rush hour traffic?
- Keep it smooth
Going over 50mph might make for a great driving experience and get you where you need to go- but it’s terrible for fuel efficiency. Going from 50 to 60 increases fuel consumption 12%, while going to 70 it’s 25%, and 80 it’s 36%.
Car repair from Walker Cutting Rotherham is a great value, high quality car service using manufacturer-quality parts and the latest garage equipment: not to mention award-winning customer service. Our professional car repair experts handle everything: we aim to have you car fully repaired and back to you as quickly as possible.
Garage giant rip-off revealed in newspaper’s sting
The Daily Mail sent thoroughly checked cars to five different Kwik Fit garages- each garage charged their undercover reporters for unnecessary work, completed work to a substandard degree or in one case, charged the for work not done.
At a Kwik Fit in Nottingham, a wheel alignment found by the Mail’s expert to be unnecessary cost the reporter £49.95, while in Birmingham a £195.95 service went up in price dramatically when mechanics claimed a £151.60 bearing needed replacing or the steering wheel ‘would fall off’. They still billed her for the original service of course, and Kwik Fit later claimed suggesting the wheel would come off was “not overselling” because he used the justifying term “worst case scenario”!
Among the other problems identified with Kwik Fit’s services are an unfixed leaking oil filter- a potential risk that cause serious damage to the engine and potentially endanger lives, and a screen wash tank left with insufficient anti-freeze. In a separate Nottingham garage an undercover reporter was billed for new spark plugs- when upon later examination they were shown not to have been changed at all.
With a £25 million profit in 2016 the chain claims to be the largest network of fast-fit centres in the UK. Yet despite the evidence laid out in the Mail, Kwik Fit defended its actions, demanding more proof was needed.
A lot of drivers find themselves using large chain garages, expecting a superior service. Next time though, as yourself, why not use a local independent garage? We can’t hide behind big branding or a national network to protect shoddy work- we’re proud to be local and that means helping local people with consideration and professionalism. We’ve been a part of our local community for ten years and we’re proud of our local connections. As the top local provider of an expert, thorough MOT Service, Rotherham drivers have trusted us for over ten years to care for their cars. If you need repairs, diagnostics, or something as simple as an MOT/ service, Rotherham-based Walker Cutting deliver, with the highest standard of customer service and professional, expert car care. Contact us today for more information on our services and competitive pricing.
Car repair experts Walker Cutting deliver the highest standards of diagnostics, MOTs, servicing and car repair. Rotherham-based with customers across South Yorkshire, we’re proud of our reputation as a provider of the highest standard of car repair and a top car repair provider. Read some of our reviews to learn more about how we always try and go the extra mile for our customers.
A guide to 2017 tax changes from Rotherham car repair experts Walker Cutting
If you plan to buy a new car this year- you may want to make it sooner rather than later. After April all new cars will be subject to increased road tax- and a new flat rate of at least £140 will apply for the first year. Tax could increase by up to 9 times over the next 3 years as increased rates are rolled out. Some cars already have a high first year rate, meaning that over time the increases will be less pronounced- but all cars will end up paying more.
Those who buy a SEAT Alhambra, for example, will experience the lowest proportionate rise, at only 10%, but this is due to the current, higher first year tax band and moderate third year rate of £480.
Meanwhile, if your new car costs over £40,000, you will also be required to pay a supplementary tax of £310 in addition to the increased first-year tax rate. In the short term your prospects benefit far more from buying a car before April if you plan to spend that much. The goal of the new road tax plan is to deliver increased government revenues by closing the existing tax bands protecting environmentally friendly family cars- meaning only a handful of SUVs and luxury models, as well as some zero emissions vehicles, come out unscathed from the new tax rises.
There are also changes to how you sell your car. The onus will now be on the seller to seek a refund of road tax- instead of the bill simply passing over to the new owner. Whoever buys the car will be required to re-tax the car. Not only that, the new tax starts the beginning of the month the car was sold, while the old tax ends the start of the following month- so drivers will end up paying an extra month in tax.
Walker Cutting is Rotherham’s top car repair & servicing centre, providing far cheaper manufacturer servicing even than the best main dealer workshops. Our high quality car repair comes with just 33% the labour costs of franchised dealers without affecting your warranty. We use original quality parts and the most experienced mechanics in the area to ensure your car is repaired to the highest possible standard. We’ve won awards for customer service and always put the customer at the centre of everything we do- to get you back on the road as safely, quickly and professionally as possible.
Rotherham Car repair experts Walker Cutting revisit the birth of a British icon
The land Rover in its many forms has been a staple of the British automotive landscape now since 1947. The founder of Land Rover, Maurice Wilks, built a prototype ‘Landy’ by using a chassis and various other components from a Jeep.
Officially the first true Land Rover came on to the market in April 1948, only a year after Wilks had begun tinkering. There are many things about the Land Rover that have become iconic and will perhaps always have a place in popular car culture. One such thing is the traditional green paintwork. It was an early and cost cutting choice by Wilks to use the army surplus cockpit paint that just happened to be green. Therefore, right from its early days of testing the Land Rover it has been synonymous with field use, ruggedness and military readiness.
As a true entity, Land Rover has existed since 1978, prior to this it was a faction of the Rover Company. Things stayed much the same until 2000 when Ford bought the company, later in 2008 the jaguar and land Rover companies were bought by Tata motors, the largest car manufacturer in India.
Throughout its history, Land Rover has produced a number of iconic models, such as the Freelander being introduced in 1997, the Discovery in 1989, and the Defender in 1983 (although not initially referred to as such).
In 1949, the British Military purchased a trial batch of Series I Land Rovers, and have used these and many others ever since.
For 67 years the land Rover defender in its many forms was produced at their Solihull factory, though sadly this came to an end on the 29th January 2016 after 68 years. Now Land Rover are running a project to restore these classic vehicles to their former glory after many years of wear, a fitting tribute to the tradition of the old workhorse’s near 7 decades of indefatigable ruggedness.
Do you need car repair? Rotherham-based Walker Cutting are the region’s top service centre, and a top manufacturer servicing provider accredited by Bosch. We deliver factory-grade work using original quality parts, protecting your warranty while delivering the highest standard of car repair.
Rotherham car repair experts Walker Cutting discuss the rich history of a giant brand
The Mercedes logo is an icon of motor history- from the earliest cars to the modern day engineering behemoth dominating the roads today. It’s also one of the German brands that Walker Cutting is proud to service: as Bosch-accredited specialists we deliver second-to-none German car care, without the cost of a brand mechanic or showroom.
The legend of Mercedes started with a man named Carl Benz. Born in 1844, Benz pioneered the creation of the world’s first car to be powered by petrol- the 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen (top speed 8mph). Bertha Benz was also involved in this pioneering product through means of financing the ambitious project, as well as completing the first, 66 mile journey in 1888.
The Benz automobile wasn’t brought on to the market until 1901, at which time it was marketed by Daimler Motors Corporation. The original Mercedes in 1901 boasted an impressive 35hp. This 35hp seems laughable now when you compare it to a model such as the AMG A 45 that offers a horse power of around 380.
Rolling forward into the 1930s, Mercedes-benz were known for producing the 770 model. Those models that survived were sold at auctions to private buyers. Another famed connection was the Pontif’s car, the famous ‘Pope-mobile’, often being produced by Mercedes Benz.
Mercedes-Benz have a rich motorsport history, particularly in the field of F1. With the recent success of Nico Rosberg, the AMG Mercedes team can proudly look back at their F1 heritage, stretching back to 1954. Since then, they have won 5 Driver’s championships in: 1854, 1955, 2014, 2015, and 2016.
No one can deny the prestigious place that Mercedes have made for themselves in the world of motoring. Amongst such competition they’re still able to be in no denial over the fact that they are and no doubt will be for many years to come, a major player. Whatever the future of this giant of motoring holds, Walker Cutting will continue to provide cutting edge car care and specialist MOTs to these impressive examples of car engineering.
Preparing for bad weather can be as simple as checking your tyres, lights and oil. But those in rural areas or expected especially bad weather, you might need to consider what you would do if, despite your best laid plans, you become stranded. Sheffield is surrounded by plenty of beautiful countryside, from idyllic farmland to the majestic but barren Peak District. But if you become stuck, broken down, or crashed in these places and the winter weather is whipping up, these picturesque surroundings might seem less inviting.
Keeping a spare phone charge on a portable battery can really save your skin in a breakdown. A cheap battery from any high street camping or electrical shop can hold enough power to recharge your phone several times. It’s also worth considering keeping an adapter or cable to charge the phone from the cigarette lighter in the car. Most smartphones can now double as effective sat navs if you get really lost.
A can of fuel to get you to the nearest petrol station might be the difference between a night in the cold, and a quick detour on your way home. If you live in a remote area, trekking for fuel could be a serious hazard- prolonged exposure to very bad or cold weather can easily pose a risk to safety. Make sure you use a safe fuel can from a garage, and replace the fuel in it every so often- safe and responsible storage of fuel is vital.
A road atlas
We’ve already talked about using a phone as a satnav, but it’s always worth having the old fashioned version to back it up. Paper maps fit easily behind your seat and don’t crash or run out of power. Before long journeys it’s worth getting a rough idea of where you’re going anyway, and knowing where you are is vital when calling for roadside assistance.
Grab some energy bars, a bag of crisps or sweets, some bottled water- something that you can keep in the car for a while. If you face a long wait for a recovery vehicle it could really help- especially if you’ve got kids in the car. While we’re on the topic of sugary snacks, this advice goes double if you suffer from conditions that might be alleviated by topping up blood sugars such as diabetes or panic attacks.
If you have to take medication regularly, make sure there’s some in the car with a bottle of water, just in case. Inhalers, contact lenses, anything you might regret not having if you’re stuck in the car for a long time, make sure there’s some available. In addition some paracetamol, ibuprofen or similar, along with some wet wipes and plasters, are always worth keeping in the car.
It’s never a good a good idea to keep a lot of money in the car, but what if you lose your wallet and need some petrol? Or have to get a taxi to the nearest petrol station in the event of a breakdown? £20 cash might be difference between a walk and a taxi. Make sure it isn’t on show- opportunistic thieves may think there’s more cash in the car- and keep it somewhere you won’t be tempted to grab it for some shopping.
Warm clothes & boots
If you don’t fancy digging your car out of a snow drift in your work shoes, or trekking to the nearest petrol station in a suit jacket on a December night, bear in mind breakdowns occur when you least expect. Put a pair of wellies and a warm, waterproof coat in the boot, and some gloves in the glove box- it might be a big help if you find yourself out looking for a phone.
The best way to prepare for long journeys in bad weather is to get an expert to thoroughly check your car to ensure it’s running smoothly. Don’t ignore the need to keep something in your boot for emergencies, but catching those small problems before they become serious lessens the chance of you needing them.
Funnily enough, horse power is quite literally a comparison to a horse. The term was first used by James Watt when he was attempting to prove the effectiveness of his steam engine, compared to the horses he aimed to replace. Watt claimed that 1 horsepower as a measure was equivalent to one horse lifting 33,000 over one foot in one minute, with the force of earth’s gravity… Still following?
When applied to cars, it has to be altered to brake-horsepower (bHP). This is so a vehicle’s energy loss due to friction is taken into account. However standard horse power often takes this into account so they’re mostly the same measurement, it’s just someone trying to doing as though they know what they’re talking about.
Luckily the measurement has been refined somewhat and now 1 horsepower is equivalent to around 550 foot-pounds per second, this is also similar to 750 watts.
The first car in Britain to use its horsepower to exceed 100mph was the Vauxhall 30-93. This particular car developed 90bhp, impressive for its time and weight. Brooklands raceway was the venue for the record and allowed Britain to show the world that they know how to use horsepower.
Is your engine sending smoke signals? Discover your car engine complaints hidden in the smoke.
Does your car ignition greet you with an unusual cloud of smoke? If it does, it could be an indicator of the state of your engine. Below we lay out some of the characteristics of engine smoke- and the action you may need to take if the fumes aren’t what you expect to see.
Black or Grey
Black smoke may not be the worst news- it means your car is burning too much fuel, or burning it incompletely. While this might hit your fuel economy, it isn’t a huge problem compared to some other ‘smoke signals’ your engine might send. You will want to get it checked out before it starts to cost you too much money. Likely it’s a problem with fuel injection, air filters, return line, or pressure regulation. If your car is a diesel, you may be burning the wrong kind of fuel or your engine may be overheating.
Generally, a little white smoke is to be expected on starting the engine. This is condensation evaporating, and as the engine heats this should disperse. On a diesel, this might mean your fuel injection pump is not working properly, that the engine is overheating or that the timings in the engine motion are faulty.
On petrol cars, white smoke can be more serious- indicating that coolant is leaking into the engine and being burned, or that the gasket head or cylinder is cracked.
Blue smoke comes from burning oil- this means valves or piston rings might be worn out, allowing oil into the engine, or that you’re using too much oil.
This is isn’t a comprehensive list, but hopefully it can give you some idea of how to react to sudden smoking from your engine. If you have any concerns, doubts or questions about how best to respond to a sudden cloud from the depths of your engine, contact us & speak to a member of our team today.