• Want to Win a 2017 KTM RC 390 for Free?

    KTM would like you to sign up for their monthly newsletter. In fact, they really, really want you to sign up. So much so, that you can win a 2017 KTM RC 390 if you do.

    And it’s probably worth doing. Not only has the RC 390 received a range of updates for this year, but it’s also worth £5,099. Improvements to the bike include a new ride-by-wire throttle which aims to give smoother and more efficient power. You also get a larger front disc with a radial four-piston caliper and ABS. Plus a new power-assisted slipper clutch (PASC). The single-cylinder KTM also has a side-mounted exhaust from this year, we’re not sure that’s necessarily better than the underbelly version on previous bikes.

    Win a 2017 KTM RC 390

    The other changes include span-adjustable levers, wider rear view mirrors and a more comfortable race-style passenger seat.

    OK, so they’ll probably get quite a few people signing up to their monthly email when there’s an RC 390 as a potental reward. And you won’t get the chance to be selected until sometime after the competition closes on 26th November 2017. By which time, the model for next year will probably be on stands at various motorcycle shows. But it’s still the chance to win a free bike.

    2017 KTM RC 390

    To enter, you need to sign up at www.ktm.com/gb/newsletter/. You’ll also need to be 18 or over, and have a full A, A1 or A2 motorcycle licence and be responsible for sorting your own insurance etc once the bike gets sent to your nearest dealer.

    You’ll also need to remember to check your email after the closing date. Which means using a fake email address you never check probably isn’t the best idea. But given the number of UK motorcyclists who haven’t already signed up, the odds are still better than the lottery. And who wouldn’t want to win a 2107 KTM RC 390 for nothing?

    As cynical as we are, we certainly wouldn’t complain. Although the fact we know the KTM PR people probably means they’ll spot our email address.

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  • Options for Buying a Used Car

    With new car sales reaching record levels, the used car market is currently awash with vehicles including some real gems but buying a used car is, as it always has been, fraught with danger and great care is needed to avoid the pitfalls. The world it seems is full of used cars and so, after deciding on the make and model, it is time to get down to the serious business of car buying. Some of the car buying options are as follows:

    Buying from a Dealer

    This is the traditional way of car buying that has been around for as long as cars themselves. The main advantages of this method of car purchase are that a reputable dealer will have been able to thoroughly check the condition of the car and remedied any defects. It will also have been subjected to a check regarding any outstanding finance or previous insurance history. Some warranty is almost always available and trade sales are also subject to some legal protection. An added convenience is that a dealer will usually accept a trade-in vehicle and will also probably be able to help arrange with finance if required. The main problem with this type of sale is that the car will invariably be offered at “full book price” which is dictated by the motor trade publications. Most car dealers are completely trustworthy but it is still important to buy only from an established dealer with a good reputation.

    For buyers in the Greater London area there are some new and interesting options in the ‘dealer’ category.  The well known hire company ‘Hertz’ is now selling their used cars in London from several locations and the proposition of buying from such a well known entity comes with obvious trust and quality benefits.

    Buying from a Private Advertisement

    Private car ads can be found all over the place from cards in shop windows to local papers and sites such as Autotrader. The main advantage of buying in this way is that, by cutting out the middle-man, both the buyer and seller can end up getting a better deal but, from the buyer’s point of view, any initial savings can easily be overshadowed by huge costs only coming to light later. Private sales are not covered by the provisions of the Sale of Goods Act and the seller has no responsibility for any future faults or defects. Buyers are also strongly advised to pay for an HPI check in the same way that dealers do. Failure to do so could result in the purchase of a car that had previously suffered accident damage or, in the case of outstanding finance, the car could even be repossessed.

    Buying from the Internet

    Here we are entering dangerous territory. Internet sales sites such as eBay have revolutionised the way that we buy and sell and many second-hand items are identical so a bargain is easy to spot. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about cars. Anyone buying a used car needs to thoroughly inspect it in person, drive it and carry out all of the aforementioned checks regarding its legitimacy. Only then is it possible to determine what a fair price would be. All too often, bids are placed in an eBay auction based on the seller’s description and a few, often not very good, photos. The results of such folly are fairly predictable with many disappointments and uncompleted sales. Some people have managed to find some exceptional bargains in this way but it must be said that this is due more to good luck than good judgement.

    Buying from Car Auctions

    Auctions can be fun and prices can be completely unpredictable. Car auctions have previously been regarded as being strictly for the motor trade often used to dispose of vehicles regarded as being unsuitable for normal retail sale. Some vehicles may have faults and require some repair work attracting buyers capable of carrying out such work. Prices are generally well below the normal forecourt prices meaning that there is often the potential to make a profit on subsequent re-sales. The smart auction buyer will carry out plenty of research about the lots offered in the sale and some auction houses have sales of “end of lease” vehicles including some from the “Motability” scheme. Some such vehicles can be found in “as new” condition with very low mileages and are well worth considering. However, even when buying a very good car at auction, there is very little comeback if things go wrong later. Even when an auction lot is described as coming with a warranty this bears little resemblance to to that offered by a car dealer and will normally only be valid for a period of one hour after the completion of the auction. This gives the purchaser the chance to quickly drive and thoroughly inspect the car before the sale becomes absolute.

    So used car buying is not for the faint hearted. Those with little experience or mechanical aptitude are best sticking with a reputable dealership. The more mechanically minded may prefer to seek out a bargain but whatever buying option is chosen it is always wise to remember the buying mantra Caveat Emptor … Let the buyer beware!

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  • £212,904 – the cost of a lifetime’s motoring

    The average motorist could buy a property with the money they spend on car care over a lifetime, reveals new research.

    Online car repair marketplace, ClickMechanic, claims we spend £212,904 on maintaining our cars over a 63-year driving career.

    We’ll also buy a total of 14 cars and spend an estimated 12,600 hours (or 525 days) of our lifetime behind the wheel.

    Driving costs start with the average learner driver spending at least £690 to pass a test, and taking around 20-30 hours to do so.

    Insurance is another time and money drain with more than 80% of drivers now buying their car insurance online, with most spending approximately an hour comparing prices and purchasing policies. Over time, this could cost as much as 63 hours of your time and £29,000 over your lifetime.

    Further figures revealed that whilst modern cars are reliable and owners may only be looking at calling out mechanics approximately twice every three years, this equates to an average of £683 per repair.

    In real terms, this could amount to a staggering £28,686. In addition to the cost, the survey found that we spend an additional 84 hours waiting around for our car to be serviced at an average cost of £19,700.

    Add to these figures the 84 hours plus £28,560 we spend on road tax, breakdown cover, replacement tyres and parking it is easy to see how the cost in time and money escalates over a lifetime.

    Depending on how far you commute on a daily basis, you could be looking to spend at least £101,000 on petrol or diesel alone to fuel your car and as much as 600 hours (or 25 days) at a petrol station throughout the course of your lifetime.

    It was also found that the average amount spent on MOTs during those roadworthy years could be around £3,000. MOTs can be even more expensive if you need repairs, but they can also be time consuming. The average driver spends over 60 hours waiting for MOTs to be undertaken.

    Cleaning your car uses up precious time and money too. The survey found that even cleaning a car racked up the hours. For all weather washes, that’s approximately 168 hours, if it takes 40 minutes to clean it by hand, or take to the car wash/valet. Washing your car four times a year at average cost of £9 per time adds up to £2,268 over your driving lifetime.

    Even the smallest of car-related chores, such as putting air in the tyres, can add up. What may seem like a five-minute job, racks up a surprising total of 63 hours at the tyre pump over the course of a lifetime!

    “It’s staggering when you add up how much we invest in buying, owning and maintaining a vehicle over our lifetime, both in terms of time and money spent,” said Andrew Jervis, co-founder of ClickMechanic.

    “We all lead busy lives and are stretched for time, so anything that helps us save time as well as money is a bonus and many of us use cost comparison websites and other platforms to try and reduce the time spent comparing quotes and making sure we’re paying a reasonable price.

    “We’ve tasked ourselves to bring trust and transparency to the automotive repair industry. Being able to source a mechanic easily or get a quote for a repair online has to go in some way towards that, both in terms of saving time and knowing how much you should be paying for your repair.”

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  • Signs of Confusion?

    The British have always been great travellers with some of the world’s most famous explorers hailing from our shores: Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh and Captain James Cook to name but a few who faced incredible dangers in uncharted territories with constant threats from disaster, disease, wild animals and hostile locals. It seems that Brits have been successful in reaching every corner of the globe (assuming that globes actually have corners!) but there is one peril that these heroic globetrotters did not have to face but one that lies in wait for any unwary modern-day British traveller brave enough to venture from these sheltered isles. That danger arises from the apparent inability of the British to understand other countries’ road signs.

    Of course any traveller needs to understand a little of the local lingo even if such knowledge is limited to STOP, LEFT and RIGHT but it seems that most confusion arises with the signs containing pictures or symbols. Although there have been moves towards standardisation of road signs for many years (a protocol to which the UK did not sign-up), there remains much national diversity and there are even some signs which have different meanings in different countries. This failure to understand, and consequently not to follow, the instructions given by these signs has been cited as one of main causes of accidents abroad and this fact has been recognised by overseas car-hire companies who are now imposing additional insurance requirements on British drivers who they regard as being a bad risk. This may slightly dent the pride of our usually well-respected motorists but insurance companies report that the countries from which the most accident claims originate are: Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and Australia. The latter, being an English speaking country, may be surprising and many visitors from the UK expect driving here to be just like at home, with the possible exception of a few signs showing Skippy bouncing across the road, and are not prepared for some of the unusual road signs. The Australian sign for “The Road Ahead Will Change” is a classic example of a sign where the image seems to bear no resemblance to the message it is purporting to convey. It seems that you really need to think Australian to fully understand the logic. Some of the Icelandic signs are also highly symbolic rather than pictorial so need to be carefully studied.

    Both in the UK and overseas, there are also signs which are unlikely to have any relevance to the average motorist such as the prohibition of vehicles carrying explosives but the whole business of understanding other countries’ road signs is a matter which should be taken very seriously and some, such as those advising which roads are “priority routes”, inform drivers as to who has the right of way and abiding by this is almost as important as driving on the correct side of the road.

    The most important thing is to recognise which signs are concerned with road safety and which are simply providing information about local facilities. In France for example a sign simply showing the letter é over a silhouette of a village church simply indicates the location of a stop-over village (Village Étape) and a single letter t indicates the toll booth location for season ticket holders. It may be some consolation to know that French drivers’ knowledge of some of these minor signs is not much better than that of UK drivers.

    It should always be remembered that UK road signs are probably just as confusing to overseas visitors and we can only wonder what a Renault-driving Frenchman would do when confronted with a sign saying “FORD”.

    So, whatever country is to be visited, some time should be taken to become familiar with that country’s road signs and, if it has been some time since a driving test was passed, it would do no harm at all to also study the latest UK road signs as their numbers also steadily rise. The realisation that most of the important overseas road signs are intuitive comes as something of a relief to those with limited language skills and the few which are symbolic rather than pictorial can easily be learnt. Driving in a safe and considerate manner should be no more difficult overseas than at home and will win the respect and appreciation of local motorists. It also enables such trips to be fully enjoyed, carrying on the British tradition of travel and exploration. Take a look at the coop’s infographic:

    Road signs

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