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Title: Cars to Look Forward to in 2016

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Summary: Despite the fact that we’ve always got a great range of cars on show at Bristol Street Motors, like any petrol-head, we can’t help but get excited about what the future has in store.

Meta Title: Cars to Look Forward to in 2016

Meta Description: Take a look at some of the most anticipated new cars for 2016 on the Bristol Street Motors blog.

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Ford Focus RS

Despite the fact that we always have a great range of cars on show at Bristol Street Motors, like any petrol-head, we can’t help but get excited about what the future has in store. From upgraded versions of our current favourites to completely new designs from the world’s biggest manufacturers, 2016 looks set to be an incredibly interesting and intriguing year for cars.

But what should you keep your eyes peeled for next year? We’ve come up with the following list of new cars for 2016 that are bound to cause a stir in automotive circles.

Ford Focus RS

For 2016, Ford hopes its third generation Focus RS (pictured above) will be able to rival the likes of the VW Golf R, Audi S3, and even the Mercedes A45 AMG. It probably has a fighting chance too, as the turbocharged 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine will produce as much as 330bhp.

As opposed to previous models however, all that power will be kept in check by a variable all-wheel-drive system, which should give the Focus RS “class-leading corner speed, limit handling and a unique drift capability,” according to Ford.

Would-be owners will be greeted with numerous interior upgrades too, such as Recaro sports seats, an 8-inch colour touchscreen and Ford’s Sync2 connectivity system, which can currently be found on the standard high-spec Focus.

Range Rover Evoque Convertible
Range Rover Evoque Convertible

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, Range Rover do have plans to release a convertible version of its Evoque in 2016. The much-loved manufacturer says this will be “the world’s first premium compact SUV convertible,” which is bound to divide opinion among fans of the Evoque.

Technical details are thin on the ground right now, but with extra torsional rigidity required for the chassis and an electric roof system, fuel economy and handling may well suffer from the additional weight.

However, Jaguar Land Rover’s new Ingenium engine family manages to return 68mpg with the recent updated fixed-roof Evoque, so a convertible version could still be well within your budget.

Alfa Romeo Giulia

The first word that will spring to mind when you see the Alfa Romeo Giulia is – wow. Although this is the Italian marque’s long awaited and much-anticipated replacement for the 159 saloon, the Giulia has received a serious styling upgrade from its predecessor with an aggressive front-end and sweeping lines.

Featuring rear-wheel drive as well as a carbon and aluminium construction, the Giulia isn’t just a pretty face. You can rest assured that this sleek saloon will handle like a dream but also offer up commendable performance and efficiency figures.

Expected to go on sale in early next year, the new Alfa Romeo Giulia will also herald the debut of a new logo for the brand, which retains key design elements but looks much sharper. With all this in mind, the new Giulia is sure to be one of the key cars of 2016.

Seat SUV

SEAT SUV

Again, not much is known about Seat’s first-ever foray into the SUV market, but it will go up against models like the Nissan Qashqai and Mazda CX-5 in terms of size and performance.

Seeing as it will be based on the Seat Leon, you can expect similar specifications but with a raised driving position, more spacious interior and bigger boot. The standard engine will be Seat’s 1.4 TSI, but a 1.6 TDI diesel should also be available.

Seat boss Jurgen Stackmann says the company has been “looking for agility and precision from the dynamics, utility inside and great design that expresses our values. We have done a lot of research in to why people buy these kinds of vehicles and what our competitors already offer, and these characteristics should help us stand out.”

So, there you have it; just a fraction of the cars to keep a look out for in 2016. Whilst revelations like driverless cars might not be in our sights just yet, it’s still early days yet, and you should expect there to be a few major announcements before the end of 2015. Until then, stay on point with all the new releases here at Bristol Street Motors.

Author: Tom

Title: Taxis through Time

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Summary: We might take them for granted nowadays, but taxis have a long and illustrious history. However, if you’re looking for a quick way to get home on a Friday night, you might struggle a bit with some of the vehicles, fares, and drivers common in previous years.

Meta Title: Taxis through Time

Meta Description: Take a taxi journey back in time and view great deals on new taxis for sale at The Taxi Centre.

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Taxi-topTaxi-bottom

We might take them for granted nowadays, but taxis have a long and illustrious history. However, if you’re looking for a quick way to get home on a Friday night, you might struggle a bit with some of the vehicles, fares, and drivers common in previous years.

The first stop on our taxi journey back in time is ancient Rome, and a little vehicle called the lectica. When we say vehicle, we mean this in the loosest possible sense; the lectica is essentially a glorified chair, and roughly translates to “portable couch”. “How am I going to get home on a couch?”, we hear you ask. By manpower, that’s how! Yes, whilst the lectica does seem like a slow way to get around, the kind of people who used them most definitely had the time and money to take the leisurely route. For a select few of the elite – or patrician – class, the lectica was a stylish and ostentatious way to travel. For most though, especially the downtrodden subjects and slaves who were unfortunate enough to be tasked with carrying the thing, travelling like this was simply not an option.

For our next stop, we’ll fast forward a few hundred years, and head over to Norman Britain. The taxi industry was still a long way away, and if you wanted to get from A to B in a hurry you’d have to find a willing squire to hire a Hacquenée from. A Hacquenée was essentially an unremarkable horse, specifically used for hiring out to budding travellers – for a fee, of course. Whilst this is surely faster (and more humane) than a couch with handles, the price of hiring a horse was still far too expensive for anyone but the elite.

And so we travel forward to the time of Queen Elizabeth, where we see the first real signs of the foundation of the taxi industry. Here we see the introduction of the cart – or Hackney Carriage – and with it, the first taxi drivers. These carriages were usually the property of the ludicrously wealthy aristocracy, hired out to the less ludicrously wealthy aristocracy to maintain the costs of upkeep (horses don’t run for free, you know). However, taxi travel was still out of reach for most people. If not for the cost, this will have been due to the negative connotations associated with carriages, which were viewed as effeminate in comparison to actually riding a horse.

Over the next few hundred years, the horse and carriage was king of the emerging taxi trade. Hackney carriages went from being an effeminate luxury to a day to day way to get around. Soon, budding entrepreneurs started to purchase carriages second hand from the wealthy, and hire them out at taverns and shops; the first taxi ranks. However, as the carriages were second hand, a ride from one of these ranks wasn’t the cushy experience it is today. Instead, you might have to contend with splinters, maggot infested wood, or even the prospect of the floor dropping out beneath you.

However, that didn’t stop the popularity of the hackney. By the 1700’s, there were over 1000 carriages plying their trade across the streets of London. This would have been all very well, if it wasn’t for the lax and often unenforced regulations of the time. Whilst this period saw the introduction of standard fares, this didn’t stop crafty drivers from massively overcharging unaware (or too drunk) punters. Coupled with the overcrowded roads, and a lack of speed limit, this earned carriages of the time the name “Hackney hell carts”.

Whilst the industry was doing better than ever,  stark reforms and stricter regulations needed to be introduced if a real move forward into respectability was to be made. So what did the Georgians do? Go back a good 2000 years, of course. Yes, the mid 1750’s saw a rise in popularity of the sedan chair, reminiscent of the lectica used in Roman times. Georgian fashionistas and socialites shunned the horse and carriage, and moved back to the apparent “luxury” of human power. However, unlike Roman times, a real viable industry was built around the Sedan Chair, with chair carriers being paid a fairly decent wage. Chair carriers had their own uniform, operated from ranks, and due to the overcrowding of the roads, were often even faster than a trip in a hackney carriage.

After the extravagant step back the Georgians took to tackle to problems of congestion, it took the industrious Victorians to put forward a real solution. In 1834, the Hackney Carriage received an overhaul, and the Hansom Cab took to the streets of London. Although quaint seeming now, the Hansom Cab was revolutionary at the time, with the vastly smaller carriage allowing drivers to manoeuvre the vehicle with a much higher degree of control. The Victorian era also saw the introduction of the meter, vastly reducing fares and restoring public faith in the taxi industry.

As we go forward in time to the turn of the 20th century, we start the long process of saying goodbye to horses as a regular mode of travel. With the introduction of the Hummingbird in 1898, the new and exciting power of electricity was harnessed as a way to provide efficient and cheap travel round London. Well, we say efficient and cheap. The novelty factor meant that the cabs were run at a premium, and the relatively new and untested electric motors were prone to malfunctioning. In fact, the Hummingbirds were so unreliable – and at times, dangerous – that they were totally withdrawn from the streets after just 2 years of service.

However, with the introduction of the Prunel in 1903, the Hummingbird wouldn’t have stood a chance anyway. The Prunel was just one of a whole new range of petrol powered models active on the streets of London in the early 1900’s, providing travellers with a faster way to travel than ever before. The rise of petrol power would prove to be the final nail in the coffin for industrialised equine travel, although this took longer than you might have expected. In many places, you might have been still been able to hitch a ride on a horse and carriage well into the 1930’s. This was especially true during the Second World War, where entire fleets of taxis were commandeered by the Auxiliary Fire Service as a valuable source of transportation for fire crews and equipment alike.

From here on out, the motor car ruled the taxi industry, with a range of new models, manufacturers, and vehicles hitting the streets of not just London, but the world. However, one manufacturer and model sped out in front – within the speed limit, of course – and became not just the most popular taxi vehicle in London, but also a cultural icon. With its unique shape and all black body, the Austin FX4 is instantly recognisable as the black cab. Since its introduction in 1958, the FX4 has been imitated and reproduced around the world, with countries as far flung as China, Lithuania and Singapore having vehicles reminiscent of Austin’s finest.

Whilst the look of taxis today is still largely rooted in the models of a good half century ago, innovation in the industry hasn’t halted. With the introduction of “green” models like the HyTEC Black Cab, trialled for a limited period during the 2012 Olympics, we’re perhaps seeing the first signs of another big change for taxicabs. With rideshare and app services, we’re also seeing disruption to the entire structure of the taxi and private hire industry, something that has been met with protests around the world.

It’s difficult to predict what the future might hold for taxis, but whatever happens, you can be assured that The Taxi Centre will be there right at the heart of it.

Author: Tom

Title: A Guide to Tyre Maintenance

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Summary: Tyre maintenance isn't just important for safety, but also for the general well-being of your car. If you’re driving on worn out tyres, there’s a good chance you’re causing damage to your vehicle, not to mention your drive quality.

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Meta Description: Discover how to change a tyre and everything you need to know about tyre maintenance at Bristol Street Motors. Find out more here.

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Tyre Maintenance

We might not give much thought to them when driving down the road, but our car tyres are constantly working hard to keep us safe. Even if your vehicle has traction control, skid prevention and anti-lock brakes, nothing can compensate for badly damaged, worn-out or incorrect car tyres.

However, tyre maintenance isn’t just important for safety, but also for the general well-being of your car. If you’re driving on worn out tyres, there’s a good chance you’re causing damage to your vehicle, not to mention your drive quality.

But how can you check your tyre pressure, and how do you know when it’s time to inflate? Again, how do you change a tyre and prevent punctures from occurring? To help out, we’ve put together a handy and simple guide to tyre maintenance. Take a look below.

Checking tyre pressure

In addition to carrying out visual inspections for signs of wear and tear, an essential part of tyre maintenance is keeping a close eye on air pressure. Under-inflated tyres can be the cause of blow-outs due to the increased heat and fiction they encounter. However, overinflated tyres aren’t good either, as they can be susceptible to damage from potholes and bumpy roads.

Therefore, you should check your tyres’ air pressure at least once a month. The correct PSI (pounds per square inch) should be listed in your owner’s manual, on the driver side door panel or inside your fuel flap.

Most petrol stations will have a high-quality air-pressure gauge to measure your tyre’s PSI. Simply unscrew your dust caps, place the gauge over the valve ensuring there is a tight seal between both, and measure the pressure. You can then add or release air as necessary.

How to change a flat tyre

First of all, the following equipment is essential or highly recommended:

  • A jack
  • A wheel wrench
  • A spare wheel
  • A warning triangle
  • A cloth
  1. Make sure your car is in a safe location away from any traffic. Turn on your hazard lights and place your warning triangle at least 45 metres behind the vehicle.
  2. Remove any cover or cap to gain access to the wheel nuts and give them a slight turn to the left with your wrench. Then, place your jack under the jacking point (the location of which can be found in your owner’s manual) nearest the wheel. You must ensure this is correct to avoid damage or an unstable lift. Turn the jack handle to raise the wheel completely off the ground. You can then remove the wheel nuts and the tyre.
  3. Lift the spare onto the mounting surface and tighten the wheel nuts by hand. After the first nut, tighten the one opposite and keep going round to ensure an even alignment is achieved.
  4. Turn the jack handle to lower the car until the wheel hits the ground then remove the jack from underneath. Use your wrench to tighten up the wheel nuts and ensure everything is secure. Drive with caution at first and if using a space saver spare wheel, don’t exceed its recommended speed limit.

How to avoid flat tyres

Even though flat tyres are somewhat inevitable for most motorists, you can reduce the risk of punctures and blow-outs through good maintenance and sensible driving. The main preventative measures are:

  • Avoiding roads with rough surfaces
  • Looking for hazards while driving
  • Checking your tyre pressures regularly
  • Checking for uneven wear and good tread regularly
  • Not overloading your vehicle

We hope that this guide has given you a good introduction to tyre maintenance. If you’re still unsure about changing a tyre or checking your air pressure, don’t worry. Just get in touch with your local Bristol Street Motors dealership, and we’ll be happy to help you out with whatever you need to know.

Author: Tom

Title: Everything You Need to Know About Motability

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Summary: Since being founded in 1978, Motability has helped millions of people in the UK to get access to life changing vehicles. If you think you might be eligible to receive the benefits of Motability, but don’t know the full ins and outs of the scheme, we’re here to help

Meta Title: Everything You Need to Know About Motability

Meta Description: Bristol Street Motors break down everything you need to know about the Motability scheme, including eligibility, vehicles available, and pricing.

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Motability 3

Since being founded in 1978, Motability has helped millions of people in the UK to get access to life changing vehicles. It’s estimated that over 640,000 people of all ages and backgrounds benefit from the scheme, which allows those with disabilities to affordably drive the vehicles that are right for them.

If you think you might be eligible to receive the benefits of Motability, but don’t know the full ins and outs of the scheme, we’re here to help. With our full guide to Motability, we’ve put together all the information you could need to know before deciding whether to look into the scheme. With eligibility, pricing, and the benefits of the scheme all covered, we’ve provided a full introduction to Motability.

What is Motability?

Motability is a scheme that helps disabled people to lease brand new cars, scooters, and wheelchairs by using their government-funded mobility allowance. If a person receives a regular government mobility allowance, they can exchange all or some of this to fund a lease car. When a person leases a car under Motability, they may also be able to receive Motability adaptations. These adaptations are designed to make it easier for those with specific needs to drive, and can be simply installed into most cars when needed.

What are the benefits of Motability?

The Motability scheme presents a number of benefits for disabled people. Members of the Motability scheme can get:

  • A new lease vehicle every 3 years
  • Insurance, maintenance and servicing readily organised, and carried out free of charge.
  • Full breakdown assistance included in all lease packages.
  • Replacement tyres and windscreens when needed.
  • Vehicle tax readily paid and arranged.

If you need vehicle adaptations – such as steering wheel alterations, pedal rearrangements, and wheelchair lifts – you may be able to receive these free of charge. However, not all adaptations are free, so you should always ask your dealership about the potential extra costs of any extras you might need.

Who is eligible for Motability?

Eligibility for Motability depends on a number of factors. As mentioned, the main prerequisite is that all applicants must receive some form of government funded disability allowance. At the moment, these allowances are:

Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (HRMC DLA)

Only those in receipt of the highest amount of the Disability Living Allowance are eligible to be considered for Motability. As of April 2015, this amount is currently £57.45.

Enhanced Rate of Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (ERMC PIP)                       

Personal Independence Payment was introduced by the Government to replace Disability Living Allowance for people of working age.  This has seen many new recipients of the benefit with different qualifying criteria and assessments are currently taking place across the country.  If you receive the enhanced rate of the mobility component of PIP, currently, £57.45 a week, then you may be eligible to receive Motability.

Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)

AFIP was introduced in 2012, to compensate veterans of the British Army injured as a result of active service. The mobility component of AFIP is currently £57.45, the same as DLA and PIP, and if you’re in receipt of this you may be eligible for Motability.

War Pensioners Mobility Supplement

This is an allowance paid by Veterans UK to those injured in active service, and is currently £64.15 a week. Those who receive this mobility supplement are able to apply for Motability.

Applicants must have at least 12 months left of any allowance to be eligible to join the Motability scheme. There is no upper age limit for drivers on the scheme; as long as drivers are the legal 17 or above, they’re eligible to join.

Motability 1

How much does a Motability car cost?

A large range of vehicles are available through the Motability scheme, all paid for by exchanging all or part of your disability living allowance.

Around 200 Motability cars are currently available at a lower cost than any of the above allowances, and many more can be accessed by exchanging the entirety of your allowance. If the cost is lower than the whole of the disability payment, they will still be regularly paid the remainder of the allowance.

A wider choice of vehicles is available if you decide to pay an advance payment. This is a one off payment given at the beginning of a lease period, in addition to the payments supported by your mobility allowance. This payment is payable on the day you collect your car, or the day before.

Who can drive a Motability car?

Two named drivers are allowed to be added when leasing a Motability vehicle; this can include the disabled person themselves, family members, carers, or friends. This means that you don’t necessarily need to be able to drive or hold a driving license to join Motability, as the both named driver positions can be taken up by others. Nominated drivers must be named when taking out a lease on a vehicle, and will need to provide certain information about themselves. A third driver can also be added if necessary, but this comes at an additional cost.

Certain restrictions apply to nominated drivers, listed below.

  • Only one nominated driver is permitted to be under 21, providing they live at the same address as the customer.
  • Drivers under 25 will be restricted to driving vehicles that fall within lower insurance groups.
  • Nominated drivers should live within 5 miles of the Motability scheme member’s address. However, exceptions will be considered in cases where the proposed drivers are essential to the support of the customer’s mobility and Motability are satisfied that the car will be used for the customers benefit.
  • Drivers with certain criminal convictions or driving disqualifications may not be permitted to be nominated.

If needed, your nominated drivers can be changed part of the way through a lease period; this needs to be done through contact with RSA Motability. A temporary nominated driver can also be added if and when necessary, for a period of 30 days at a time. However, if the temporary driver is the third driver added to the lease, this will come at a cost.

How do I get a Motability car?

Once you’ve worked out whether you’re eligible for Motability, you can get started looking for a vehicle. Motability vehicles from a range of manufacturers can be leased from Bristol Street Motors dealerships up and down the UK, with all of these having at least one member of staff trained to deal with Motability queries.

Getting a new Motability vehicle involves a few easy steps:

  • Before heading to a Bristol Street Motors dealership, it’s always a good idea to ring ahead or get in touch beforehand, and book an appointment with the Motability specialist. This way, you can be certain that there will be someone there who can fully handle your queries when you visit.
  • When you come see one of our Motability specialists, they should be able to let you know exactly what’s available to you on the scheme. Simply tell them a little about yourself, such as any specific needs you might have, how much you’re able to spend, and who will be driving the car. It is important to bring along your award notice or letter of entitlement confirming your allowance and length of award, proof of address (a utility bill addressed to the customer dates within the last three months), driving licences of all those to drive the car and the Dealer Guidelines letter if you have been awarded a grant.
  • Once we know what you’re looking for, and what you need, we’ll be able to suggest the options that are best for you. We’ll also be able to tell you about any adaptations we think would be suitable for you.
  • Once you’ve decided on the Motability car that you think is right for you, we’ll order it in for you, complete with any adaptations. Delivery can take up to a few weeks, and we’ll keep in touch to let you know of the progress. In the meantime, you’ll be given a Personal Identification Number – keep hold of this.
  • Once your car arrives we will arrange a convenient time for you to come in to the dealership On collecting the car you will be required to enter your PIN as an electronic signature and acceptance of the contract hire agreement.
  • Then, our Motability specialist will check over the car with you explaining controls, features and equipment.

Motability 2

Is Motability right for me?

If you have a disability and receive some form of mobility allowance – or care for someone who does – you may want to consider Motability. To help you make a decision, here’s a summary of how to get Motability, and what it can do for you.

  • If you receive some form of government funded mobility allowance, you might be able to get a Motability car.
  • Cars on the Motability scheme can be leased for 3 years, and Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles can be leased for 5 years.
  • Over 2000 vehicles are available on the scheme, from all major manufacturers.
  • You may be able to receive vehicle adaptations to help driving easier and more comfortable; some of these come free of charge.
  • You don’t need to drive to get a Motability car, as you’ll simply need to name someone who can drive for you.
  • You can join Motability as a carer on behalf of another person, so long as this person is above 3 years of age.

If the above sounds like something you’d be eligible for, or interested in, then Motability might be right for you. To find out what the Motability scheme can do for you, why not get in touch with a Bristol Street Motors dealership near you. Or, why not just take a look at the Motability vehicles we have available online right now.

Author: Tom

Title: What the 2015 Summer Budget Means for Drivers

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Summary: Earlier in July, George Osbourne delivered his seventh Budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer, but the first for a majority Conservative government since November 1996. As always, there were several announcements that will affect drivers and car owners in the UK.

Meta Title: What the 2015 Summer Budget Means for Drivers

Meta Description: For a breakdown of changes in Vehicle Excise Duty, fuel duty, and how the Summer Budget 2015 will affect Britain's drivers, read our blog post.

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Summer Budget - BSM Blog

Earlier in July, George Osbourne delivered his seventh Budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer, but the first for a majority Conservative government since November 1996. As always, there were several announcements that will affect drivers and car owners in the UK.

So, to keep you in the loop of what the new announcements means for your bank account, we’ve taken a look into the 2015 budget’s main implications for drivers, from fuel duty to MOT’s.

Fuel Duty

The first piece of news for drivers is that fuel duty won’t rise this year and the current rate of 57.95 pence-per-litre will remain frozen. Since 2011, fuel duty has not increased due to Labour’s fuel duty escalator being scrapped.

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)

From 2017, a range of sweeping changes to the VED system will come into effect, which is mainly due to the rising number of new low emission vehicles on UK roads.

All new cars will be taxed against three VED bands, which are zero, standard, and premium. Taxation will be calculated on a combination of emissions and the vehicle’s list price. However, the changes will not impact existing cars on the road, and will only affect new drivers.

There will be a flat standard rate of £140 for all new cars, but vehicles emitting zero CO2 won’t have to pay anything. Cars costing more than £40,000 will be subject to an extra £310 per year or £450 in total for the first five years, which includes the flat standard rate.

Improving and maintaining Britain’s roads

For the first time since the 1930s, VED will be used exclusively for improving and maintaining Britain’s roads. Currently, a mix of general and local taxation pays for repairs and upgrades, whereas VED has simply been a general taxation on car ownership. A “Road Fund” was started in 1920, but returned a surplus each year and was wound up in 1937.

Seeing as the World Economic Forum recently said that Britain’s roads were of a similar condition to those in Namibia and Puerto Rico, the decision doesn’t come without a decent premise. As such, the Chancellor has decided “every penny of VED paid by the population’s cars will now be used to improve the roads that people drive on.” So if you’ve been complaining about those potholes at the end of your road, expect them to be (finally) filled in sometime soon.

MoT

The Chancellor also said that the Government would consult on extending the period for new cars and motorbikes to have their first MoT from three to four years.

Even though new car buyers will end up paying more in 2017 under VED changes, the Government claims that a change to four years for MoTs could save motorists a combined £100 million a year.

However, this proposal is bound to raise numerous questions, as around 20 per cent of cars currently fail their first MoT. However, any change will be subject to a public consultation and cost-benefit evaluation, and as no time-scale on either of these put in place, don’t expect any real changes any time soon.

March Budget details

In case you missed the March Budget too, here are some other points the Chancellor made:

– Driverless technology – The Government pledged £100 million of funding to keep Britain at the forefront of driverless car technology, which could start being tested on public roads as early as summer 2015.

– Classic cars – The rolling exemption for historic vehicles will continue. So, next year classic cars made before 1976 will be exempt from road tax.

So, to sum up, the budget 2015 could both end up saving you money, costing you money, and could even finally get those pesky tyre damaging potholes cleared up. For any future announcements in the budget, and for more car related news, make sure to keep checking out the Bristol Street Motors blog.

Author: Tom

Title: A Conversation with John Harris

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Summary: Paralympian, fundraiser, and mountaineer; it’s safe to say that John Harris has led a pretty eventful life. With this in mind, Bristol Street Versa got in touch with John to talk about gold medals, raising awareness of disabled people in sport, and what he thinks of today’s up and coming athletes.

Meta Title: A Conversation with John Harris

Meta Description: Wheelchair athlete John Harris talks to Bristol Street Versa aboutlife changing accidents, the Paralympics, and what it feels like to win a gold medal.

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John Harris

Paralympian, fundraiser, and mountaineer; it’s safe to say that John Harris has led a pretty eventful life. With this in mind, Bristol Street Versa got in touch with John to talk about gold medals, raising awareness of disabled people in sport, and what he thinks of today’s up and coming athletes. Take a look at our conversation with the pioneer of disability sport below.

“I was born in a little village in south Wales called Pantygasseg. There were about 50 houses, 1 school, 1 pub, 2 shops and about 3 buses a day –really small– but it was a fantastic place to grow up. Even as a kid sport was a massive thing for me.

When I was growing up, I played anything and everything – boxing, gymnastics, rugby, football – I was just like most boys.
By the time I was 15, I left school and went to work in a steelworks as a crane driver. I had a great time there! When I think about how tough kids have it today, I realise how much of a dawdle it was. My mother didn’t have to worry about any of the problems parents do today.

Then when I was 18, I was at holiday in Butlins. I was on a big wheel with a mate of mine, and I decided to try and scare him. So I started shaking it. I wasn’t being sensible.

All of a sudden, the safety bars came out of my hands and out I went. I fell about 40ft from the very top, and landed on my back with one arm behind me on a brick wall. It was a hell of an impact. My back was shattered, my arm was broken, and all my veins had collapsed. I thought I was going to die.

I was flown to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where I spent the next 6 months of my life. The hospital informed my mother I’d been in an accident by letter. She came all the way to see me and the first thing she asked the staff there was “will my son live”. She was told “we don’t know.

During those 6 months I felt absolutely dire most times. If someone would have offered me a tablet to end it all, I’d have taken it. I was either in bed or a wheelchair. When you’re in a state like that, you come to think about a number of things – mortality for one. But two main things dawned on me. One, I thought I was no longer a threat. And two, I thought no woman would ever find me attractive again. I’d always been able to hold my own, but now I was just some bloke in a wheelchair.

When you’re rehabilitated, they send you on your way just like that. After I was released, I just turned into a drunk. Drinking was all I did for a few years. I didn’t exercise at all. At Stoke Mandeville, we did things like archery and table tennis, but this was more as rehab, and they weren’t really for me. At the time, I thought these were the only sports you could do if you were disabled; I didn’t’ have a clue.

I only got back into sport after a mate of mine invited me to a local gym. I had to pluck up a lot of courage, but eventually I went. I went for a few weeks and started to get into weightlifting. A guy at the gym, Bryan Taylor, and he’d come up to me while I was lifting and say “you’re doing that exercise wrong”. He invited me to train with him and a bunch of other bodybuilders, and show me the proper techniques. My life changed after that. I stopped smoking and drinking my days away, and got fit.

Shortly after, I was asked to join a paraplegic sports club down in Cardiff, which is where I first got into discus. I started training, and eventually got to compete in the Stoke Mandeville national games in about 1973. I came 2nd or 3rd – I can’t remember which – but someone must have taken notice of me, because I was invited to start training with the G.B squad. I started training with them, but it took until 1978 for me to be selected to compete. I went to the Super Challenge in Canada, and ended up coming 49th out of a total of 50. I thought I was a nobody.

Despite myself, somebody must have seen something in me, because when the 1980 Paralympic games came I round I was selected to compete. I came 6th in discus, but ended up breaking the British record at the time. But a mate of mine ended up winning silver medal in Javelin – this just made me determined to get a medal!

I spend the next 4 years training with that medal in mind. I trained and trained and trained, and then in the 1984 Paralympics, I won my first medal – gold. Without a shadow of a doubt, I wouldn’t be here talking to you if I hadn’t won that gold medal.
Winning gold just spurred me on, and in 1988 in Seoul I ended up winning a silver in Discus, and a bronze in the Pentathlon. I competed for another 8 years, but in 1992 and 1996 I didn’t win any medals. I think I was probably past my peak a little by then, but sport was so important to me I couldn’t give it up.

My career hasn’t just been about competition though. In 2013 I climbed Kilimanjaro – that was intense. And in 1987, me and my mate Chris Hallam wheeled around Wales to raise money to build a sports centre for the disabled. We did 400 miles in 11 days. Then in 1997, we did a further push of 600 miles in 3 days – 18 miles a day, every day. In my opinion, Chris had to be one of the greatest there’s been. For me he was a true pioneer of disabled sport – he held every record from 200m right through to the marathons.

I guess that people like myself and Chris paved the way for today’s athletes. When we first started out, we couldn’t have been more dedicated. I always say there can’t have been an able bodied athlete around that wanted it more than me. I don’t think that today’s athletes are any better than my generation; the main difference is the equipment. When I started out, you had to throw or race from your standard day to day wheelchair. Compared to today’s chairs, the weight difference is phenomenal. I think if some of the top boys from back in the day were competing with today’s equipment, they’d have been unreal.

The public’s perception of disability sport has definitely changed since I was in competition. The funding for disabled athletes has changed too. Today they can get lottery funding and sponsorship, which is the way it should be. When I was competing, I had to work full time to afford to be an athlete. The most money I ever got from competing was £250 for coming 3rd place in the Great North Run.

Compared to when I started, the kudos and credibility that disabled sport has is incredible. But I don’t think disabled sportspeople will ever be in the same position as non-disabled athletes. Disabled people just don’t get the same amount of competition; they don’t have the same kind of “bread and butter” year round competitions to take part in. The media exposure isn’t the same either, some countries just aren’t that bothered. Take the USA for example; even for big competitions, there’s far less coverage UK.

I guess that everything i’ve done – the jobs I’ve had, the people I’ve met, even my fitness today– has been as a result of that gold medal. If I hadn’t have won that, my life would have gone down a completely different route. At 70 I still go to the gym 3 times a week, sometimes with my 22 year old son. The other week we did 1000 reps! He’s just as sports mad as me – he’s done a sports degree and he’s going to go back and do a masters. The Olympic gold medal was my dream really – it took me 11 years of training and competing to get it, but it was worth every second. The Olympic gold medal is the most important sporting moment of my life”

Author: Tom

Title: How do Hybrid Cars Work?

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Summary: According to the BBC, It’s been predicted that by 2044, car manufacturers will only be producing hybrid models.

Meta Title: How Do Hybrid Cars Work

Meta Description: How do hybrid cars work and how are they changing the car industry and most importantly our lives, find out here with the guide from Bristol Street Motors.

Article:

Hybrid Car Charging

According to the BBC, It’s been predicted that by 2044, car manufacturers will only be producing hybrid models.

Whilst we might not quite be at that stage yet, it’s safe to say that hybrid car ownership is at a higher level than it’s ever been. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 9955 “Alternative Fuel Vehicle’s” were registered in 2014, a 54% increase on the previous year. As the number of hybrid models on the market and their availability increases, this number is set to rise in turn.

However, many people are still confused about what exactly hybrid cars are, how they work differently to traditional petrol or diesel vehicles, and whether they’re actually worth investing your hard earned cash in.

If you’ve ever found yourself asking “how do hybrid cars work?”, our guide should help you out.

How are hybrid cars different?

Traditionally, cars have relied on only one fuel source, most commonly petrol or diesel.

Energy is created by the burning of petrol or diesel, which in turn powers pistons in the car. This energy is then converted into manual power, which propels the car forward; simple stuff so far.

However, hybrid cars differ from solely petrol powered vehicles in that they are powered by two fuel sources rather than one.

How do hybrid cars work?

As well as a petrol engine, hybrid vehicles also contain an alternate energy source; typically, an electric motor. These two sources of energy can be used by the car separately or simultaneously.

Most hybrids will solely use the petrol engine whilst driving at relatively high and steady speeds; for example, on a motorway or A-road. However, when hybrids are driving slowly – as in through city traffic or low speed suburban areas – they will be powered by the electric motor.

When powered by the electric motor, the car will sound much quieter, as the noisy mechanical equipment used by the petrol engine is not in use. These motors are powered by batteries, which in the majority of hybrids are rechargeable. When the car is moving by its own momentum, such as freewheeling downhill or when braking, these batteries will be recharged. This is known as regenerative braking, and happens as the wheels turn the electric motor.

As well as this, most hybrid car batteries can be recharged at home or at selected charging points. While slowly increasing in number, hybrid charging points can still be few and far between when compared to petrol stations, so availability of these in your area could make or break your decision to whether to get a hybrid.

Are petrol/electric cars the only type of hybrid cars?

At the moment, petrol/electric hybrids are by far the most common on the market. However, car manufacturers such as Toyota and Nissan are increasingly focusing on producing cars powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. In 2003, the US government launched an initiative to make fuel cell powered vehicles available and cost effective by 2020, something motivated by their energy efficient nature.

Why buy a hybrid car?

The main positive to hybrid cars is their energy efficient nature. Although hybrids contain a smaller petrol engine, they will need to be refilled less often than single energy source cars. This means that owning a hybrid could even save you money.

Another incentive to buy a hybrid is their lower environmental impact. Petrol consumption can contribute to negative environmental factors such as global warming. As hybrids use less petrol, they’re viewed as being friendlier to the environment than petrol cars.

Which hybrid car should I buy?

There’s a wide range of hybrid cars out there to choose from, in a variety of body shapes and price ranges. Luckily, we’ve selected a few for you here, all available at Bristol Street Motors dealerships.

Peugeot 508 RXH 2.0

One of the newest Peugeot models, the energy efficiency and long term cost effectiveness of this hefty SUV far outweigh its initial price. Running on a hybrid diesel/electric engine with a power output of 200bhp, this Peugeot comes with a panoramic glass roof, automatic head lights, cruise control, and an integrated Sat Nav system.

Ford Mondeo 2.0 Hybrid

The most recent release of this ever popular Ford has also been released in a hybrid version. Designed as a facelift of the Mondeo model, this diesel/electric combo comes with all the usual Mondeo specifications. Noticeable is a slightly larger interior space, making this model an affordable car ideal for a family conscious of their energy use.

Citroen DS5 2.0 Hdi Hybrid

This Citroen doesn’t sacrifice power for energy efficiency. Another diesel/electric hybrid, this is a sleek mix between a family hatchback and a sporty estate. With a combined output of 200bhp and a selection of 4 driving settings, this hybrid is powerful and suited to all driving conditions.

If you’d like to know more about hybrids, or would like to see alternative models to the ones mentioned in this article, get in contact with your local Bristol Street Motors dealership to see what we can do for you.

Author: Tom

Title: How Long Does an MOT Take?

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Summary: Ever wondered how long an MOT takes, why you need an MOT, or how much an MOT costs? At Bristol Street Motors, we’ve put together a guide to the most frequently asked questions about the MOT test.

Meta Title: How Long Does An MOT Take

Meta Description: If you want to find out how long an MOT takes you can find it here with the Bristol Street Motors guide. You can also book your MOT online today.

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Car MOT

Ever wondered how long an MOT takes, why you need an MOT, or how much an MOT costs? At Bristol Street Motors, we’ve put together a guide to the most frequently asked questions about the MOT test.

What is an MOT?

The MOT test is a test that checks that a vehicle is in a roadworthy condition. Designed to ensure that a vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards set out by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), all cars must receive an MOT test at some point in their driving life.

Driving without a valid MOT test is illegal and carries a potential £1,000 fine. No points can be issued for driving without an MOT, however, 6 – 8 points can be issued for driving without vehicle insurance. An expired MOT voids most – if not all – vehicle insurance, because insurance companies have a section in their terms and conditions which states that the owner of a vehicle must keep their vehicle in a roadworthy condition, and an expired MOT test breaches this.

So, it pays to keep up with your MOT tests.

When do I need an MOT?

You must get an MOT test once every year if your vehicle is over three years old or in some cases once your vehicle is over one year old.

You can renew your MOT up to one month before its expiry. So, drivers have a fair amount of flexibility as to when they can have a new MOT test carried out (in other words, there’s no real excuse for not getting one). If you are unsure of when your vehicle needs a new MOT, details of the earliest date you can have a new test will be printed on your existing MOT certificate.

Points to consider:

Always book your test in advance if your certificate is due to run out.

How much will my MOT cost?

The price of your MOT will be dependent on the type of vehicle you own. For example, an MOT for a goods vehicle will cost more than an MOT for a family hatchback.

MOT test centres can only charge up to the official maximum for an MOT. Most companies promote cheaper rates than the official maximum, but it’s important to know what the maximum is so you have a good idea of how much a test is going to cost.

If you’d like an MOT cost estimate for your car, you can always get in touch with Bristol Street, and we’ll be happy to give you a quote.

Points to consider:

The maximum price of a car MOT test is £54.85, but this will often be cheaper.

Where do I get an MOT?

You can get an MOT test carried out at any approved MOT test centre, such as a Bristol Street Motors dealership. This is often your best bet, as a dealership will employ technicians who specifically deal with specific manufacturers and models, meaning you’ll know your car is in good hands.

Approved centres must always show an official ‘MOT Test: Fees and Appeals’ poster on a public notice board on their premises. It is illegal for a test centre to advertise or perform MOTs if they are not approved to do so, and an MOT carried out at such a centre will not be valid.

What do I need for an MOT?

Once you have booked your vehicle in for an MOT at an approved centre, it’s important to collect all necessary documents. You will need to produce your V5C, or Vehicle Registration Document, and take with you a means for payment. It’s a good idea at this stage to account for any work that may need to be carried out on your vehicle to ensure it meets road safety and environmental standards. So, make sure that you have enough money to cover any unexpected bills. Common failures include faulty windscreen wipers, non-working lights, and worn tyres.

How long does an MOT take?

There is no golden rule when it comes to the length of time an MOT takes, however the test itself will usually take no longer than 60 minutes. If your vehicle requires work to ensure that it meets road safety and environmental standards, then depending on the level of work required, your car may be at an MOT test centre for a couple of days. This reaffirms the position that it’s incredibly important for you to plan ahead with your MOT test and ensure that you have another means of transport.

After the MOT test, what happens?

If your vehicle passes the MOT test, you will be presented with an MOT pass certificate. Your vehicle will also be registered on computer databases for the record.

If your vehicle fails the MOT test, you will be presented with a ‘notification of failure’ from the test centre. This failure is recorded in the central MOT database. If your existing MOT test certificate is still valid, you will still be able to drive your vehicle, however if your prior certificate is no longer valid, you can only drive your vehicle to pre-arranged appointments with a garage or MOT test centre.

How to check the MOT history and MOT status of a vehicle?

You can easily check the MOT history and MOT status of a vehicle by heading over to this webpage on the Direct.gov website. You can check the date of a test, odometer (mileage) reading, and expiry dates of a test pass. All you will need to use this service is your V5C Vehicle Registration Document, or your VT20 test certificate and VT30 refusal certificate.

Think you’re ready to book your car in for an MOT test? At Bristol Street Motors, we can provide MOT testing that is thorough and professional. Get in touch with a dealership near you today, to see how we can help you out.

Author: Tom

Title: A Guide to New Car Technology

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Summary: In 2015, cars that could safely be described as budget options feature technology that a decade ago would have been viewed as high end. With electric ignition, power steering, automatic wipers and all round enhanced safety features, car technology once viewed as futuristic is now commonplace.

Meta Title: A Guide To New Car Technology

Meta Description: Bristol Street have uncovered the latest new car technology and how it will change our lives and driving experience, check out the guide here.

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New car technology

In 2015, cars that could safely be described as budget options feature technology that a decade ago would have been viewed as high end. With electric ignition, power steering, automatic wipers and all round enhanced safety features, car technology once viewed as futuristic is now commonplace.

However, as with all technology, as certain features become standard across a majority of models, manufacturers will begin to test and install new technological advances into their high end models. Not yet available to the majority of the car buying public, new technology brings a sense of excitement and futuristic innovation to the vehicle market. We’ve put together the new car technology that might seem cutting edge, but we’re certain will be standard in the coming years.

Vehicle to Vehicle communication

From mirrors, to seatbelts, to airbags, many features now standard in all cars have been introduced to improve the safety of the driving experience. Vehicle to Vehicle communication, aside from being a little more high tech than a simple seatbelt, is no different, and if widely introduced has the potential to drastically cut down on accident rates. By using wireless communication, this new car technology sends signals between cars, informing drivers about the speed, location, and driving direction of other vehicles on the road. This information isn’t only useful for drivers to know, but can also be used by the cars themselves. For example, if the car detects another vehicle running a red light ahead, then it could automatically hit the brakes, cutting out error in part to human reaction time.

Video Streaming Rear View Mirrors

Allegedly set to debut in 2016 – although already available in the Japanese market – this future car technology is another feature designed to cut out human error and improve safety. Cars featuring this innovation will replace the rear view mirror with a live video stream, provided by a camera strategically installed on the rear end of the vehicle. This should provide drivers with a clearer view of the rear end of the car, reducing sunlight glare, and cutting out obstructions caused by headrests, passengers, or luggage. The stream can be switched off easily at the flick of a switch, meaning that drivers can easily revert to using a standard mirror if needed.

Automatic Parking

For many out there, this new technology will be a more than welcome innovation. For those who have a little trouble parking up, or who haven’t attempted a parallel park since their driving test, this feature can take away a whole load of worry. With automatic parking, you’ll never need to be backed in again, as your car will be able to park itself. Using laser systems, a car with automated parking technology will make a map of the surrounding area, taking note of objects to avoid, then find an available space and park up. However, there’s a catch – at this stage, the car will need a digital copy of the area it’s in in order to park automatically, meaning that prior preparation will be needed for the technology to work.

Self-Driving Cars

Previously the stuff of Sci-Fi films, the notion of a self-driving car is becoming increasingly close to being made reality. Amongst others, Google have been making big strides into researching and testing the necessary technology, having reportedly already trialled self-driving cars on public roads in the U.S.A. This is another technological advance that could drastically improve safety, as if the cars are “smart” enough the possibility for human error could be greatly reduced. Self-Driving cars would have better vision than human drivers, better special awareness, and with vehicle to vehicle communication, would be able to automatically avoid other cars on the road. Traffic jams may become a thing of the past, as with GPS cars will be able to seek out and follow alternative routes. For those thinking this is merely fantasy, don’t be so sure; it’s been estimated that some kind of self-driving car will be on the market within the next 10 years.

Whilst many of these new car gadgets and technologies aren’t currently on the market, it’s highly likely they’ll become more popular in the coming decade. Who knows – by 2035, driving tests and mirrors may become things of the past, as we all drive around in our video-streaming, self-driving cars.

Want to see some of the newest technology available now? Get in contact with Bristol Street Motors, and we’ll show you some of the latest technology from the greatest car manufacturers.

 

Author: Tom

Title: New Car Tax Rules Explained

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Summary: In October of last year, the government finally retired one of the longest serving British motoring institutions; the tax disc. First made mandatory in 1921, the disc was finally sent on a permanent leave of duty in 2014 after a solid 93 years of service. However, new ways of checking Vehicle Excise Duty have been created to take its place, meaning you’ll need to find another use for that little plastic disc.

Meta Title: New Car Tax Rules

Meta Description: Find out about the new car tax rules and what you have to do in this guide from Bristol Street Motors.

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Car Tax

In October of last year, the government finally retired one of the longest serving British motoring institutions; the tax disc. First made mandatory in 1921, the disc was finally sent on a permanent leave of duty in 2014 after a solid 93 years of service. However, new ways of checking Vehicle Excise Duty have been created to take its place, meaning you’ll need to find another use for that little plastic disc.

To help you get to grips with a tax disc free world, we’ve put together a full guide to the new Vehicle Excise Duty laws, and explained what the rules mean for you.

What are the new road tax changes?

Effective from the 1st of October 2014, motorists in the UK are no longer required to display up to date tax discs on vehicles. Instead of relying on the colourful little discs to check whether a vehicle is properly taxed, authorities will now solely rely on a number plate recognition system. Using cameras, visual checks will be performed on a vehicle’s number plate, informing authorities whether a vehicle has been taxed or not.

In theory, the changes should make it easier for motorists to pay for and display car tax, requiring little effort on a driver’s part. The changes are also expected to make the system of car tax easier to run, completely getting rid of the costs needed to produce tax discs.

What do the changes mean for motorists?

In theory, the new rules shouldn’t affect motorists too much. Instead of purchasing or receiving a tax disc in the post, vehicle duty will simply have to be paid online, over the phone, or in a post office. Once this is done, the purchase should take effect automatically, and your car will be taxed for an extended period.

Motorists still have the option to purchase car tax annually or bi-annually, as before. However, with the removal of the tax disc comes the introduction of option to purchase car tax monthly. If you choose to purchase car tax monthly, you will incur an extra 5% surcharge, which is still less than the 10% surcharge on 6 months tax.

Another change noticeable to motorists is the option to pay for car tax via direct debit, which will surely come as a blessing to those of us out there who serially forget to update our road tax on time. The decision to pay for car tax by direct debit further streamlines the process, as an automatic payment will be made to the DVLA when your tax is due to be renewed on either a monthly, 6 monthly or annual basis.

What happens to road tax when selling a car?

Whilst the changes make it easier to purchase and renew road tax, they have led to some confusion over what happens to existing road tax when selling a car. In fact, clamping figures have soared from 5000 per month to 8000 a month, simply due to misunderstandings about what happens to car tax when you sell your car.

Whilst previously road tax could be transferred to a vehicle’s new owner, under the new regulations this is no longer the case. Now, when selling a vehicle, the seller will be able to receive a refund on the amount of road tax still remaining (minus any monthly or 6 monthly surcharge). When selling a car, the seller will need to inform the DVLA as soon as the vehicle has been sold. This can be done via a VC5 registration form, more commonly called a log book. As soon as the DVLA receives notification that the vehicle has been sold, the seller will automatically receive the refund.

On paper, this process might seem simple, but in practice it has resulted in a fair bit of confusion from both buyers and sellers alike. As stated, when an owner sells their vehicle they’re eligible to receive a refund, calculated from the beginning of the month following the sale. However, when the new owner taxes the vehicle, they have to pay from the beginning of the month. This effectively means that when a car is sold, the government collects two sets of tax for the same month, something that many motorists – perhaps for good reason – feel is a bit of a swindle.

How will the new rules be policed?

If you’re thinking that lack of an immediate way to check road tax now means it’s easier to get away with sneakily not paying, think again. Although on slow days the more eagle eyed police and traffic officers may have caught people out by manually looking at tax discs, this hasn’t been the primary way of checking for up to date tax for quite a while.

Even before the death of the tax disc, most policing of road tax was done by checking number plates. This is set to continue, with automatic number plate readers and number plate recognition cameras now being the main way to separate the taxed from the untaxed.

Whether you think the new system is simply a streamlining of a slightly outdated system, or a way to catch out previously law abiding motorists, the changes are set to reduce government spending by £10million annually. For that reason, it looks like they’re here to stay; if you’re still clinging on to that tax disc, it might be time to let go.

Contact the team if you need additional advice.

Author: Tom