How to Warm up a Car Quickly in Cold Winter Weather

Car Heater Controls

Warming up a cold car is vital for a comfortable journey, so how can you heat the car up faster and get on your way quickly? Here’s how:

Drive off as soon as you can

An engine gets warmer much faster when it’s being driven, and will take considerably longer to warm up when stationary.

The best thing to do is to get the car clear of snow and ice and as soon as it’s safe, start driving. If possible, take a route which avoids sitting in traffic or at traffic light junctions.
Consider an engine coolant pre-heater

Engine coolant pre-heaters are very common in countries where cold weather is a constant and I was first introduced to them by a friend who lives in Toronto, Canada. The basic principle is that a low current, low voltage device is added to the vehicle’s coolant system and then plugged in to an external power source. The pre-heater gently heats the coolant system and keeps it at around 65°C as well as slowly circulating it.

The result of this is that an engine is already at an advantage of warm temperature and will get up to the optimum temperature must fast; meaning your vehicle’s heater will start to produce warm air almost immediately.

I have an engine pre-heat in my car and I’ve noticed a huge difference in the speed that my car warms up. It’s incredibly easy to fit (anyone with basic automotive repair knowledge can do it) and the device is very reliable. I plug mine into a smart plug so that I can turn the system on when I wake up and the car is ready to go when I leave the house.
Make sure the vehicle’s thermostat isn’t stuck

Most engines are fitted with a thermostat. When cold, the thermostat remains closed until the engine is up to optimum temperature. Once the engine is warm, the thermostat opens and allows the warm coolant to circulate the rest of the engine. If the thermostat is faulty, it may be opening too early or not at all.

If your car’s cabin isn’t getting warm over a long period of time you may need to get the thermostat checked out by a professional.

 

Consider an Oil Pan heater

Popular in the US, oil pan heaters attach to the metal oil pan (sump) on a vehicle and keep the oil warmer than it would otherwise be when cold.

This heater can be used for an engine block heater, transmission fluid heater, hydraulic fluid heater, fuel heater as well as thawing frozen pipes, water tanks etc.
Turn on electrical devices

Turning on electrical devices such as lights and heated windscreens will put the alternator under load and make the engine work a little bit harder. This light load will help the vehicle heat up faster.

 

Park in a Sunny Spot

Don’t under estimate the power of the Sun, even in the coldest of weather. Even if your car is 2’c warmer parking in the sun it will warm up faster, so where possible avoid the shade.
Does your car have a pollen filter? Is it blocked?

Many modern cars are fitted with a pollen filter to prevent pollen entering the cabin in the spring and summer months. Whilst this filter is great for people with allergies it’s easily blocked by dirt and other particulates.

When I first bought my second hand car the heater blower as almost useless, but as soon as I replaced the (black and gunky) pollen filter all the power came flooding back.
Are your cars heater controls working correctly?

Often overlooked but vital; is your car actually selecting hot air on the heater controls? May basic heater controls use a system on rods to select hot air on the system, and if those rods break if may appear that the heating is set to hot when it’s actually stuck on cold.

 

Get a Remote Start system

Yes, it’s true, you can now start your car remotely. Some manufactures on modern cars already provide this feature, but if your car is colder you’ll need to source and aftermarket system.

The system is designed to start your car’s engine remotely, whilst leaving the door locked. Some systems can also switch on the heater for you.
Check your Summer Coolant/Winter Antifreeze

The coolant in your vehicle is also an antifreeze, and if it’s weak or very old it becomes less effective. A frozen engine is a very bad thing; expanding water can break vital engine components and even crack the engine block or cylinder head. It will also cause your engine to warm up much more slowly.

Make sure you’ve checked your antifreeze strength. I use the Draper Antifreeze checker which is cheap and effective.

 

Got a garage? Use it!

Place a thermostat in a garage and you’ll quickly realise that it’s a warmer place than outside, even in the depths of winter. If the garage is warmer so will your car be, so if you can, use it!

Warning: do not idle a vehicle in a garage. This causes an increase in poisonous gasses such as carbon monoxide and can kill.
Block the radiator vents in an older car

A car radiator does a great job of keeping the engine cool, but in cold weather it can cause the coolant to take a very long time to warm up.

Do this at your own risk and make sure you monitor it so that the engine never overheats: use a piece of sheet metal to block half of the airflow from cooling the vehicle. Keep it away from any hot or moving parts.

Oh, and did I mention, do this at your own risk!

 

Don’t rev a cold engine!

Revving a cold engine excessively isn’t a very wise idea; it can put strain on components and cause excessive wear or cracks.

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How to Replace and Iveco Daily Battery in 6 steps

Photo of an Iveco Daily

When it comes to knowing how to Replace and Iveco Daily Battery, you’re probably wondering where to start. Where is the battery? And how to you remove it?

The battery is hidden away behind a panel on the passenger side of the vehicle and looks difficult to get so, but with a little patience, it’s actually very easy to get to.

 

How Replace and Iveco Daily Battery

Step one: locate the battery cover at the passenger step and remove the cover to reveal the battery

Step two: remove the 5 torque screws from the step trim surround

Step three: carefully push the wheel arch trim aside to remove the step trim surround – you now have access to the battery

Step four: loosen the 10mm nut on the negative battery terminal

Step five: loosen the 10mm nut on the positive terminal (look closely under the black electric cover as it’s hidden underneath

Step six: undo the 10mm bolt holding the battery clamp in place. Remove the battery and fit the new battery in reverse order

Remember to never allow positive and negative wires to touch and never allow metal tools to short across the battery terminals.

 

I’ve connected the battery but the locks aren’t working and it won’t start

Iveco’s have an annoying habit of losing their coding when a battery goes flat for a prolonged period. The only way to resolve this problem is to have the vehicle taken to a main dealer and the keys re-programmed to the vehicle.

 

Watch a video on How Replace and Iveco Daily Battery

I made a video to help you see how the battery is removed. It’s really straight forward if you take your time.

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The UK needs Stronger Laws to Force Driver’s to Switch Off Engines

traffic in colchester

The UK needs Stronger Laws to Force Driver’s to Switch Off Engines Whilst Waiting in Traffic. Some countries have been doing this for many years. In Germany it’s the law that you must switch off your engine whilst queuing or waiting at crossings.

I first experienced this in Munich in 1994 when I was staying with a German family on a school exchange. Whilst waiting at a level crossing the mother switched her Volvo off. When I enquired as to why she said it was law. It’s covered by Section 30 of the StVO (German Road Traffic Licensing Regulations) which states:

“When operating a vehicle it is forbidden to produce undue noise and avoidable air pollution from exhaust fumes. Especially prohibited is the unnecessary idling of engines.” – Section 30 of the StVO

According to the LImSchG (Federal Emission Control Act) and the StVO it is against the law to wilfully and knowingly violate these paragraphs and violation of those rules can result in a heavy fine. It seems that Germany has been taking the issue of pollution seriously way before the United Kingdom.

 

It’s already UK law to switch off an engine whilst waiting

Few people realise that vehicle idling is already an offence in the UK against the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002. The law states that is an offence to idle your engine unnecessarily when stationary.  If you fail to turn your engine off after being spoken to you may be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £20.However, it does not apply to vehicles moving slowly due to road works or congestion, or vehicles stopped at traffic lights.

What is needed are stronger fines with more enforcement by local authorities and better education for drivers. Some traffic light junctions can take 3 to 5 minutes to make a complete so switching off definitely has advantages in combating pollution and saving fuel.

 

Switching off an engine can considerably reduce engine emmisions

It’s a fact that if more drivers switch off their engines, emissions will drop. A report carried out in New York City showed that idling cars and trucks produce 130,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year. Switching off is good for the environment, good for your health and good for your wallet.

 

Switching off an engine saves lives

There is plenty of evidence that shows children are at risk of breathing related diseases if drivers leave engines running around schools. In 2017, the Guardian released a report which showed that students in 802 educational institutions were being exposed to levels of nitrogen dioxide (NOX) that breach EU legal limits and which the UK government accepts are harmful to health.

NOX emissions are known to kill humans with some reports suggestions 38,000 people die each year because of it.

“Students in 802 educational institutions were being exposed to levels of nitrogen dioxide (NOX) that breach EU legal limits and which the UK government accepts are harmful to health.”

 

What’s needed:

  • Better driver education to explain the advantages of switching off engines
  • Forcing manufacturers to include stop-start technology in all new cars
  • Including understanding of pollution in the driving test
  • More advertising campaigns on TV and radio to education people to the benefits of switching off
  • Higher fines for those who keep their engines idling
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Converting a Classic Car to Electric – the Future of Owning an Icon

Converting a Classic Car to Electric

Converting a Classic Car to Electric is the future of owning a vehicle as governments clamp down on emission pumping diesel and petrol cars. In July 2017 the British Government announced plans to ban all internal combustion engine powered vehicles by 2040 with many experts predicting that electric battery powered vehicles will outsell diesel and petrol alternatives by 2020. Whilst this may be excellent news for green minded people it will leave millions of combustion engined vehicles with little value.

 

Converting a Classic Car to Electric is the future

There are already people taking their classic cars and replacing the engine for electric motors and battery packs. Anyone who follows the program Wheeler Dealers will have seen Ed China convert a 1985 Maserati Bi-Turbo to modern electric motors and a boot (trunk) full of high-powered batteries. Whilst that particular car had already been converted in the early 1990’s, it was an excellent example of how relatively easy a competent enthusiast can make their classic car stand the test of time.

 

The benefit of Converting a Classic Car to Electric

Whilst there are the obvious disadvantages of Converting a Classic Car to Electric such as losing that glorious sound of the engine or the smell of an over-fueling motor, there are a number of benefits.

Firstly, there are the much cheaper running costs once you’ve recouped the cost of the conversion. With charge at home on an off-peak Economy 7 electricity tariff costing just £138 to power for 10,000 miles of motoring there are obvious economy savings to be had.

Next there are the performance and reliable upgrades. Whilst some classic cars may have a great 4.0l V8 under the hood, many don’t. Those people who own classic cars will already know about the hours of time spent tinkering under a bonnet adjusted timing, replacing rotor arms or finding the cause of no fuel to the carburetors.

They’ll also know of the lack of power that some classic cars deliver. Electric motors deliver maximum torque from the beginning of the power delivery unlike petrol or diesel cars which have to hit a power band (and then a gear change).

There are also less moving parts in an electric system which assists with reliability. Then there is the attack on diesel powered cars which is going see diesel car values plummet.

And finally, an electric conversation may eventually help to improve the value of the vehicle making it more attractive for those people looking for a green alternative in classic motoring.

A classic car isn’t a classic if you get rid of the engine (or is it?)

Of course the idea of ripping out the heart of a classic car sounds like a sin to purest, but like it or not, electric is the future. Governments around the world are under increasing pressure to reduce deadly diesel emissions in favour of electric power, especially from renewables; electric will be forced on people in the future.

 

What about road tax?

This is currently an area of contention. In many countries, hybrid and electric vehicles enjoy very low (or zero) road tax (called road fund licence in the UK). Petrol and diesel cars are rated on their engine emissions or engine size. It’s therefore not unreasonable for someone Converting a Classic Car to Electric to expect the same benefits as those buying new electric vehicles.

Currently their are no plans for the UK Government to offer road fund licence relief on converted classic cars. This process would be extremely difficult to manage. It might also provide a loop hole to those who want to get around paying road tax by converting a vehicle to electric, only to convert is back to petrol once the new tax rating has been granted. It’s a bureaucratic nightmare which no government is going to want to get involved in…so the advice at the moment buy a tax exempt classic to start your project with.

 

How much does Converting a Classic Car to Electric cost?

The cost of Converting a Classic Car to Electric varies depending on who you speak to, the technology you use and where you live. Most experts suggest between $8,000 to $11,000 (around £8,000). That’s not cheap, but as fuel prices increase, it will become more realistic to some classic owners.

 

The disadvantages

Whilst this article has waxed-lyrical about the future of electric classic cars there are disadvantages of an all electric vehicle.

Range anxiety plays a big factor with some converted vehicles only managing 50 miles on a full charge. That can make planning a journey difficult especially with increased competition for charging points.

Those planning to convert a car also need to be aware of the loss of space and weight increase that all those batteries will use to power the electric motor. Expect to lose storage space and increase the kerb weight of the vehicle.

There are also a lot of issues surrounding the vehicle technology such as battery capacity and lifespan.

 

Summary

Whilst electric is the future of motoring, there are still a lot of technological aspects that remain unanswered, in particular the batteries and charging times. Nevertheless electric conversions are the future; ignore at your peril.

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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

 

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A12 closed after lorry falls off BRIDGE

Motorists faced another evening of misery as the A12 was CLOSED in BOTH DIRECTIONS due to a lorry falling from a bridge and landing on the southbound carriageway at Coleman’s Bridge, Witham. The northbound carriageway reopened at 17:40hrs.

Police closed the road from Marks Tey to Boreham, and witnesses described hearing a large explosion and seeing smoke. Police advised drivers to avoid the area completely and the Air Ambulance attended.

Witnesses described the scene as ‘unbelievable’ and ‘chaotic’. Delays were reported in the area and Witham is described as ‘gridlocked’.

The lorry on fire – Picture: Joanne Taylor
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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. Make sure there is some.

 

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

 

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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
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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.

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Police Refusing to Give Third Party Details After an Accident? Don’t let them.

Police refusing to provide third party details

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; but they shouldn’t be.

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. Customers of insurers – 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 a real headache when it comes to making a motor claim. The Police know this, which is why they’ll try and charge you for the 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.

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 fewer problems progressing your claim and save a potential headache. You’d be surprised at the number of customers 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. If they still refuse you should complain.

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