DVLA Clamps Untaxed Vehicles in crackdown on law breakers

DVLA Clamps Untaxed Vehicles

DVLA Clamps Untaxed VehiclesDrivers are being warned as the DVLA Clamps Untaxed Vehicles at the roadside of the road if they fail to pay for Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax).

The DVLA and Local Authorities are carrying our sweeps of major towns and cities across the UK as they look for vehicles where drivers have failed to pay road tax. These photos were capture on Mersea Road, Colchester, Essex, on 17th February 2017.

Vehicles fitted with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology are being utilised by the DVLA quickly identify vehicles which are untaxed. The vehicles are then clamped with bright yellow wheel clamps; both serving as embarrassment to the owner and a warning to other drivers.

The move comes as a result of millions of drivers failing to tax their vehicles since the tax disc was abolished for an online only system in October 2014. As a result, the number of untaxed vehicle rose to over 560,00 in the summer of 2015.

The DVLA Clamps Untaxed Vehicles where drivers have tried to dodge VED

Seemingly, some vehicle owners believe that the lack of a tax disc displayed in the vehicle means that they can get away without insuring it. However, the modern ANPR system can tell officials if a vehicle has tax or insurance within a matter of seconds by querying the DVLA and Motor Insurers databases.

The real cost of driving without road tax

The DVLA clamps untaxed vehicles and then charges to have the impounded vehicle released. There is a £100 release fee plus the price of the road tax. A vehicle not taxed within 24 hours may be removed and destroyed after 7 days.

The clamps can be fitted by the DVLA, the police, local councils and VOSA.

The message is clear: if you can’t afford to tax your vehicle, it shouldn’t be used on the road. Sooner or later you’ll be caught.

Another vehicle which was clamped by Colchester Borough Council or the DVLA on Mersea Road, Colchester


Cranking Time Exceeded | Ford problems

Cranking time exceeded is a code which will occur on certain models of Fords (such as the Ford Fiesta, Focus, Mode, Taurus and F150). It happens when an attempt to start the vehicle has occurred for more than 60 seconds in total, without the vehicle starting.

The cranking time exceeded system is designed to stop a fuel pump running ‘dry’ i.e. without any fuel to lubricate it and is most common either after a vehicle has run out of fuel, or as a result of replacing the fuel filter.

What to do if you receive a ‘cranking time exceeded’ warning

Even if you have a code reader, you’re not going to be able to reset or clear the code. The only way to get rid of the error is to wait 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the model) and then try again.

Ensure you have fuel

It sounds obvious, but without fuel, this fault with continue to occur.

Ensure you have primed the fuel system

If you’ve run out of diesel fuel, or changed the fuel filter, you need to ensure that you have purged the system of air or the engine isn’t going to start and you’ll continue to get  ‘Cranking time exceeded’ message. You’ll just be suck air and the system won’t push fuel through. This should only be done by someone who knows what they’re doing. If you don’t know how to do this, don’t do it!

  1. If you’ve replaced the fuel filter, make sure you fill it with fuel before you attempt to start the vehicle
  2. Use a diesel priming kit, or a tube with a non-return valve and attach it to the output of the filter. Pump until all air is removed
  3. If necessary, repeat step 2 on the pipe before the fuel rail

Police refusing to give third party details after an accident? Don’t let them.

Police refusing to provide third party details
Police refusing to provide third party details
Some PC plods don’t understand the law themselves. You are entitled to 3rd party details by law – the police must also abide by that law.

We have begun to notice an increasing trend with various police forces across the UK, in particular the Met Police, when attending Road Traffic Collisions. The Police refusing to give third party details after an accident.

Lately, the police are taking reports from all drivers involved in the collision (and witnesses) and then telling those involved to tell their insurers to contact the police and quote an incident number. Customer, perhaps still in shock or confused as they have never had an accident before, leave the scene with no third party details. In some cases we have seen the police are failing to provide drivers with the minimal information required to make a claim (i.e. third party vehicle registration) which can cause you a headache when it comes to making a claim.

In most cases where you hold fully comprehensive insurance this isn’t a huge problem unless you need a replacement hire vehicle. Most credit hire companies will require the details of the third party before they will hire to you and without the third party details you won’t get a hire car. The problem then starts when you call the police to obtain the details, at which point they tell you there will be a charge (around £85) for the police to release them. Not only is there a charge but also you have to apply in writing and it can take weeks – sometimes months – for them to arrive.

This is an even bigger headache if you only hold third party cover as your insurer is unlikely to request the information at all.


What to do if the Police are refusing to give third party details after an accident

What the police don’t tell you is that you are legally entitled to the information completely free of charge by simply requesting them under Section 154 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Section 154(b) of the Act states:

(1)A person against whom a claim is made in respect of any such liability as is required to be covered by a policy of insurance under section 145 of this Act must, on demand by or on behalf of the person making the claim—

(b)if he was or would have been so insured, or had or would have had in force such a security—

(i)give such particulars with respect to that policy or security as were specified in any certificate of insurance or security delivered in respect of that policy or security, as the case may be, under section 147 of this Act, or

(ii)where no such certificate was delivered under that section, give the following particulars, that is to say, the registration mark or other identifying particulars of the vehicle concerned, the number or other identifying particulars of the insurance policy issued in respect of the vehicle, the name of the insurer and the period of the insurance cover.

It goes without saying but if you are involved in a collision make sure you get the third party details and, at a minimum, the vehicle registration and regardless of what the police say to you. It will cause you a lot less problems progressing your claim and save a potential headache. You’d be surprised at the number of customer we have who “forget”.

So if Police refusing to give third party details after an accident is becoming a problem, put your foot down and remind them of your rights.

Put the wrong fuel in a car? Don’t panic! Help is at hand

Put the wrong fuel in a car

Put the wrong fuel in a car? Don’t panic! There are often things you can do to prevent expensive vehicle recovery and garage repair bills.


Accidentally putting diesel into a petrol (gas) tank

This scenario is definitely the lesser of the two evils. Petrol engines rely on an explosion of fuel to run, and as diesel is much more difficult to ignite you’re not going to get far before the car brakes down. It’s unlikely to do any damage to any of the engine components other than lubricate them (although it may damage the catalytic converter if fitted).

Just like above, if you’ve only put a little diesel in the tank just fill it up with petrol to dilute it and you should be on your way.


Putting petrol into a diesel car accidentally

The reality is that modern diesels are finely tuned to use the fuel as efficiently as possible, and putting a large amount of petrol into a diesel and then running it won’t do the car much good. For example, the fuel pump on a diesel relies on the lubricating effect of the diesel to keep it lubricated and stop it from seizing.

If you’ve put a small amount of petrol in your diesel car don’t panic. Most people realise within the first gallon that they’ve made a mistake and there is a quick fix that will get you on your way again without causing any damage (and with no expensive repair bills.

Fill the tank up with diesel.

The average fuel tank of a car is around 65 litres. So if you’ve only got 5 litres of petrol in it, adding filling the tank full will dilute the diesel significantly enough to make it safe to drive and have you on your way. You’ll probably notice absolutely no difference.

In fact, in some countries people deliberately add petrol to a diesel tank to stop the diesel solidifying in the tank and lines (which can make a car difficult to start). My friend does this in the cold winters in Canada.

If you’ve put the wrong fuel in a car you definitely don’t want to run a diesel car on petrol only, but diluting 10% to 90% is very unlikely to do any damage at all and will get you on the way.


I’ve filled the tank completely with the wrong fuel – what should I do?

This is a much bigger problem that just adding a little fuel, and you’re going to have to seek the advice of a professional.

The only way you’re going to remove the fuel is to drain the tank. As most modern cars have an anti-syphoning device fitted to prevent people stealing your fuel you’re very unlikely to be able to get any sort of device into the tank to do this yourself. In addition, almost no fuel tanks have a drain point and almost all have tank sender units at the top (under the rear seats), not the bottom.

Some points to remember:

  • Petroleum (gas) is a highly flammable liquid. Never do anything which might risk exposure.
  • Petrol vapour is also highly volatile and should only be removed in controlled conditions – away from sources of ignition (including mobile phones)
  • Petrol burns skin – never attempt to syphon it using your mouth if you’ve put the wrong fuel in a car. The fumes are also very dangerous to the lungs
  • Although diesel has a higher flash point than petrol it’s still a chemical and should always be treated as such

I’m afraid that at this point it’s time to call your garage or breakdown company.


I’ve put the wrong fuel in a car and the tank needs emptying. How much should it cost?

The cost of having the wrong fuel removed will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • How easy it is to access the tank
  • The labour rate that your repair garage charges
  • Callout charges (if you can’t get the vehicle to them)
  • The cost of disposing of contaminated fuel

Some breakdown services will offer a free service to people who have put the wrong fuel in a car, so check with them if you have cover.


My garage is telling me I need to have the entire fuel system replaced. Is this correct?

In general, no.

Sadly, however, there are some garages who will tell you that you must have the entire system replaced. This is usually to cover their back (in case of future problems) or because your vehicle is covered by warranty.

In reality it’s very unlikely that every part is going to need to be replaced. The most common problems will be:

  • a damaged fuel pump
  • damaged injectors
  • a damaged catalytic converter

If your garage if telling you that you need the entire lot replaced, ask them to replace the injectors and fuel pump. Once replaced, they can run an emissions check on the catalytic converter. If the catalyst is OK then there’s really no point in replacing it and it will save you a small fortune.


How to prevent putting the wrong fuel in a car

There are some ways that you can avoid putting the wrong fuel in a car. These include:

  • add a sticker next to the fuel cap to remind you of the type of fuel, such as this diesel only or unleaded only sticker
  • a diesel nozzle on a fuel pump is usually bigger than the petrol to prevent you adding the wrong fuel – if you’re forcing the nozzle in this is a warning sign
  • colour the fuel cap red for diesel, green for petrol as a subtle reminder

Start your car with rope if the battery is dead or starter motor broken

Start your car with rope

Flat car battery or starter motor broken? Don’t panic! Start your car with rope and get yourself out of a tricky situation if your car battery is dead and you’re on your own. It will only work on cars with manual transmission (and will probably work better in petrol engines which are easier to turnover from cold) but only requires some rope and a jack.

How to start your car with rope

As you can see from the video below, you need to carefully carry out the following procedure at your own risk to  car with rope – don’t blame me if you cut your arm off:

  1. Jack the car up on one side connected to the drive (front wheel drive cars are usually easier to start)
  2. Put the car into 1st gear
  3. Make sure that the handbrake is fully engaged
  4. Switch on the ignition to the start position
  5. Take a long length of rope and wrap it around the wheel, as per the video
  6. Pull the rope as hard as you can. All being well, the engine will start
  7. One the engine is running, take the car out of gear
  8. Allow the wheel to stop rotating (or put your foot on the brake to stop it)
  9. Lower the car to the ground
  10. Drive away!

How does it work?

By putting the car into gear and then spinning one of the wheels connected to the gearbox, you are manually taking over the place of the starter motor. By turning the wheel quickly, you turn the driveshaft which is connected to the gearbox, which is in turn connected to the engine. As you turn the wheel, that energy is transferred to the engine and cranks it over; just like a starter motor.

As long as you put enough energy into spinning the wheel (which is where the rope helps) and as long as your car is otherwise mechanically sound, the engine should start.

It’s just like the old fashioned method of starting a car using a cranking handle.

How to get rid of Condensation in a Car

How to get rid of condensation in a car

During this damp winter I’ve found it increasingly difficult to demist my old Volkswagen Golf in the morning. I’m guessing that I have a leak somewhere, but I’m not able to find it. So it left me wondering how to get rid of condensation in a car.

The causes of condensation

Working out why you’re car has condensation is going to help you prevent it in the future. The problem with older cars is that they develop lots of places where water can ingress over time. For example, as door seals begin to perish and crack it may allow rain water to enter the cabin of the car. A sunroof can also leak as can a boot seal.

Understand that water always takes the easiest path

Just because you think you know where the water is coming from, doesn’t mean it actually is coming form their. Understanding how to get rid of condensation in a car means understanding that water can enter from all sorts of places. A leak in a sunroof, for example, can run along the inside of a roof to the back seats and drip on the seat.

How to get rid of condensation in a car


Evaporating water is causing condensation in your car

Whenever you get water in your car (even from old coffee cups or the like), the moisture will evaporate and eventually stick to the cold glass windows. This then causes condensation on the inside of the glass. Even wet shoes can leave water on the carpet which in time will evaporate and cause condensation.

How to get rid of condensation in a car

There are a number of things that you can do to get rid of condensation, and most of them are free and easy. These include:

  • air the vehicle as often as possible – leave a window open slightly
  • use a garage if available
  • remove all rubbish, in particular drinks and food
  • remove wet clothing such as coats
  • use your A/C – even in the winter the A/C will remove moisture from the atmosphere (which is why you get a little puddle under the car in the summer)

Don’t use silicon based products

There are a number of different silicon based products on the market which claim to reduce condensation, called ‘anti fog repellents‘. The products leave a horrible film on the inside of the glass which can blur your vision and which are horrible to get rid of. Don’t be fooled by the claims of the manufacturers as these make a real mess of your car windscreen and offer nothing more than a wiping the screen with a synthetic chamois.

Other reading on How to get rid of condensation in a car

I recently discovered an article called ‘How to Get Rid of Condensation and Damp in your car‘ which was packed full of loads of information on how to prevent the constant damp problem in the car. It also provide lots of ways to stop condensation appearing in the first place.

It led me to a video which described how to make a free damp preventer for a car using items that you can find around the house.

Both resources where very useful and although I haven’t been able to completely cure the problem, I’ve definitely been able to improve it. So if you’re wondering how to get rid of condensation in a car, take a look at those articles or better still, leave your own ideas and tricks below.

DeLorean goes back to the past to restart car production by 2017

Delorean to restart car production

First of all, let me get this clear. There will be no Back to the Future jokes in this post regarding the DeLorean. None.

The DeLorean Motor Company has annouced intentions to start building a small amount of new DeLorean motor cars in 2017 after settling an out-of-court legal battle with John DeLorean’s widow, Sally, who claimed the Texas-based DeLorean Motor Company had been illegally using the DeLorean name.

The move would see the original DeLorean DMC-12 tooling and presses being used to build replicas of the infamous car but using off-the-shelf engines and transmission from another manufacturer.

Changes in the law have allowed production to commence

DeLorean have been able to use a new section of US Law, the “Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act”, which DeLorean say “creates a reasonable regulatory structure allowing small companies to produce a limited number of completed replica motor vehicles that resemble the appearance of cars produced 25 years ago or more”.

DeLorean will buy crated engines from another manufacturer

The new cars would have to be fitted with a modern engine (motor if you’re American) to ensure that the cars would pass stringent emissions tests. It would simply cost too much for the manufacturer to design and build their own engines as they only intend to build around 300 cars a year. This means that the car is likely to get to 88mph much faster than the original DMC-12. D’oh! I made a Back to the Future reference.

What will a new DMC-12 cost?

The cars are expected to retail for between $80,000 and £100,000; around £62,000.

There will be no new models

Despite the internet and social media suggesting that there have been concepts drawn up in plans for an all-new model of DeLorean the company has no current plans to launch a new model.

This DeLorean will not be built. It was not designed by DMC and looks too much like a Lamborghini!
This DeLorean will not be built. It was not designed by DMC and looks too much like a Lamborghini!

First it was personal injury, now motor insurers are blaming oil prices for higher premiums

Listening to the BBC’s Moneybox program today I heard yet another excuse from motor insurers for the increase in motor insurance policies. This time around, they’re blaming the price of oil. Lower oil = more driving = more claims, or so they say.

As someone who worked in the Insurance Sector for many years, including underwriting, I have to say this is the most incredulous excuse I’ve heard to date. Oil prices have only very recently been reflected in the price of fuel at the pumps so I find it extremely difficult to accept this excuse. Of course there will be a slight increase but I simply don’t believe that the lower price of oil is resulting in so much additional driving that premiums need to rise as they have to compensate for the additional claims which underwriters are experiencing.

Previously, motor insurers had blamed in the increase in personal injury claims for the high cost of premiums. I can agree with this as I’ve seen countless cases of personal injury. The sector is swamped and some claims are dubius at best but insurers unlikely to challenging many due to costs, time restrictions and the risk of losing the claim.

The real reason motor insurance premiums are so high

What you’ll never hear a boss of an insurers tell you is that they are losing a considerable amount of money because they’re claims departments are understaffed or staffed with inexperienced people. Ask anyone who deals with motor claims departments on a daily basis and they’ll tell you the same. The main issues you’re likely to experience in the motor claims process include:

  • extremely long home times on the telephone, with some insurers completely refusing to take calls from third party insurers (thus increasing the time it takes to settle a claim)
  • letters taking up to two months to be responded to
  • inexperienced staff when you do get to speak to someone
  • lost file (some insurers still use paper files and even in 2016 they still go missing)

Credit Hire

Credit Hire claims are a huge expense to the industry and whilst some insurers are getting much more firm on what they will (and most importantly won’t) pay, the slow manner in which claims are dealt with means that some people are staying in Credit Hire vehicle for many months – especially where their is a dispute over liability and the Credit Hire claimant holds third party only cover. I’ve seen cases where people have been in a credit hire vehicle for 180 days. At £40 a day this is a considerable chunk for an insurer to pay.

Car Air Conditioning Smells: How to fix and prevent

Car air conditioning smells can be annoying and even embarrassing. Most cars have air conditioning fitted as standard now but if not used correctly the system can develop into car air conditioning smells in the cabin. Not only is the smell uncomfortable but it can also e a breading ground for nasty bacteria which thrive on the damp conditions but which can make you and your passengers unwell.

Air conditioning systems absorb moisture from the atmosphere as hot air is blown over the evaporator coils in your air conditioning system. You might have seen a puddle of clear water under your car in the summer when you’ve been driving. That puddle is water which has been removed from the humid air in the cabin (it’s also why air conditioning can help to get rid of compensation and damp in your car).

Getting rid of car air conditioning smells

If you’ve already got the smell, there is something you can do about it. Wurth produce a professional air conditioning disinfectant which is used by the motor trade as well as by the public, the spray comes with a long tube which you push down the system in various places, spraying as you go. It kills that nasty bacteria and provides a fresh smell.

Some garages will charge you £100+ for this service, so at £20 per can it’s well worth doing yourself and is very easy to do. Just make sure you follow the instructions properly.

Preventing car air conditioning smells in the future

There are a number of ways in which you can prevent your car air conditioning from smelling in the future. The first is to ensure that you use the the A/C at least once a week and every week of the year, including during the winter.

You should also make sure that you have the recirculation valve set for fresh air in the winter. This will allow fresh air into the cabin and expel damp air.

Finally, make sure that you have your vehicle serviced. It’s recommended that you have the pollen filter on your vehicle replaced once a year. The pollen filter will prevent particles entering the air conditioning system and will also help protect people who are sensitive to pollen – including hay-fever sufferers – from irritants in the atmosphere.