Category Archives: Driving Advice

Title: Car Cultures Around The World: Germany’s Autobahn

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Summary: With such car manufacturing giants as BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche all based there, Germany sets the world standard for automotive quality and power. With a country so car-barmy, you would expect a road system to match - and you'd be right. The Autobahn is Germany's famous road system, where speed limits just aren't a thing, apparently.

Meta Title: Car Culture | Driving in Germany

Meta Description: Bristol Street Motors pop over to Germany to bring you the facts about the world famous Autobahn. Click through to find out more.

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Autobahn

What on Earth is an Autobahn?

There are a lot of aspects of German culture that never really caught on in the rest of Europe. English skate parks remain mercifully free of lederhosen clad youths, and you’ll rarely find a first date couple wolfing down a pair of steaming currywursts.

When it comes to cars, however, Germany sets the world standard for quality and power. With such car manufacturing behemoths as BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche all based there, it’s no wonder that Germany has been referred to as Die Autofahrernation – the nation of motorists. With a country so car-barmy, you would expect a road system to match.

A bit of background

Germany’s Autobahn is renowned the world over, and has been a source of national pride since its beginnings almost a hundred years ago. Construction of the motorway was begun in the early 1920’s and the road network grew exponentially over the next couple of decades. Progress slowed in the 1940’s, when sections of the Autobahn were used during the Second World War as makeshift runways for aircraft, with many stretches damaged beyond repair during the fighting. After the war, work began anew to finish the vast project, and today the Autobahn is over 8,000 miles of immaculately maintained German engineering.

Are there really no speed limits?

Now that we’re all nicely clued up on what the Autobahn is, it’s time for the burning question: how fast can you go?

The Straßenverkehrsordnung (good old Germany and their massive words) is the law relating to road traffic, and Germans love it for one simple reason: it states there is no upper speed limit for the Autobahn. This isn’t true of all sections, or for all vehicles, and there is a government advisory speed limit of 80mph, but this isn’t enforceable. Basically, when you see a sign marked “Ende aller Streckenverbote” (“the limits no longer apply”), you’re free to put your foot down. Roughly 50% of the Autobahn has no speed limit.

Good lord! Is it safe?!

While in any other country the ability to blast down the motorway at warp speed would likely lead to chaos, in Germany, would-be drivers have to pass a rigorous set of theory lessons, first aid tests, and courses in high speed driving, due to the radically different way cars handle at speeds above 90mph. Consequently, Germans are well prepared to handle their motorways, and their sky high tax rate means their beloved Autobahn is extremely well maintained.

The only real restriction to your speed on the limit-less sections of the motorway is your own car. Many German cars have a built in speed limiter, restricting you to a maximum of a rather generous 155mph. It’s possible to remove this limit, but it can play havoc with your insurance.

But how do they keep law and order?!

In order to maintain law and order on the Autobahn, unmarked police cars patrol the roads constantly. Drivers can be pulled over for tailgating, speeding in restricted speed areas, or being a hated ‘Linksschleicher’ (roughly translates to ‘left sneaker’) – someone who drives too slowly in the fast lane.

In Germany, it is also an offence to run out of fuel on the motorway. Petrol stations are placed every 30 miles or so, and so it’s considered entirely avoidable that you should have to stop on the Autobahn. Enter the motorway with the knowledge that your engine is running on fumes and you could have your license suspended for six months. If your car gently wheezes to a halt in the fast lane, you can expect to be efficiently slapped in irons and bundled into a Polizeiauto for endangering the public.

As you may have guessed, Germans are quite fond of their cars.  Losing your license, therefore, is like slamming the car door on your hand: painful and embarrassing. To make matters worse, Germans who have had their licenses lopped in half and who want a new one have to pass a psychological examination to prove they are sane and road-worthy, an exam which is colloquially known as the ‘idiot test’.

Should I visit?

So, if your Ferrari is gathering dust under a sheet in the garage and you’re looking for somewhere to really open it up, the Autobahn is the place. Just make sure you’re not drunk. Or going too slow. Or in the wrong lane. Or tailgating. Or running low on petrol. Or driving too fast in the limited zones. Beyond that, burn rubber!

Author: Dan Hackett

Title: Top 6 Most Amazing Roads

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Summary: If you’re itching to get back to the heart of driving, and take a trip that’s truly exhilarating, we've put together a list of some of the best roads in the world. However, we’re not expecting you to walk them, so we've accompanied each road with a car that completes the journey.

Meta Title: Top 6 Most Amazing Roads | Bristol Street Motors

Meta Description: Get inspired with our top 6 most amazing roads in the world, and the cars to drive to complete the journey.

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Trollstigen

As well as getting you from A to B, now and again driving should be an exhilarating experience.

However, it’s not just the car that’s responsible for this experience, but the place you’re driving it. It’s all well and good owning a Ferrari, but if you only ever use it to crawl along on the school run, then it’s probably easy to feel like you’re missing out on something.

If you’re itching to get back to the heart of driving, and take a trip that’s truly exhilarating, we’ve put together a list of some of the best roads in the world. However, we’re not expecting you to walk them, so we’ve accompanied each road with a car that completes the journey.

If you’re up for an adventure, here’s some of the world’s most amazing roads, and what to drive on them.

  1. Trollstigen, Norway

Trollstigen, which translates as Trolls’ Path, is one of the most beautiful mountain roads in the world in terms of its backdrop and scenery. It’s also one of the most adrenaline-inducing roads on the planet, thanks to its seemingly endless number of tight hairpin turns and loads of enormous and smooth straights.

To make this a truly Scandinavian adventure, we could only choose the Volvo XC90. Bold, yet with a calm and collected Nordic understatement, the XC90 is perfect for taking on the Troll’s Path.

  1. The Stelvio Pass, Italy

Stelvio Pass

The Stelvio Pass in Italy gives Trollstigen a run for its money, with an equally rugged backdrop, but surprisingly well maintained tarmac road. At a whopping 15-miles long with an average speed of 28mph, it’ll take you a good 45 minutes to get to the end, or even longer if you slow down and admire the ridiculously beautiful views.

With its large city car reputation, the Fiat Panda might seem an odd fit for the Stelvio Pass. However, with its use by the Italian Army and Forest Services as a climbing car, the Panda is a slightly unusual but ultimately obvious choice.

  1. Highway 1, California

Highway 1

If heights aren’t your thing, drive the Highway 1 in California. This roads runs along most of the Pacific coastline of the U.S state of California and you will take in some stunning ocean views along the way. Running for approximately 656 miles, the first section was opened in the 1930s and various sections have been added since then. In fact, this road wasn’t even called Highway 1 until 1964.

We can’t think of a better way to take in the sights and sounds of the U.S.A than the Ford Mustang. Ostentatious, brash, but surprisingly welcoming, the Mustang is the embodiment of the American dream in automotive form.

  1. The North Pennines, England

North Pennines

This drive from Hexham to Penrith is frequently voted one of the “Greatest Drives in Britain”, and it’s not hard to see why. Much of the route takes place in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, meaning there are plenty of steep climbs, slow descents, and of course, stark but breathtaking views.

For this drive, it’d seem rude to not recommend the Nissan Juke. After all, this capable crossover is manufactured in relatively local Sunderland, just under 50 miles to the east of our start point in Hexham. However, regional pride isn’t the only reason we’ve picked the Juke; big (but not bulky) looks, excellent handling, and all round dependability make it the perfect car for taking on the rugged and changeable North Pennine terrain.

  1. Tianmen Mountain Road, China

Tianmen

If the Guoliang Tunnel looks a thrill, check out the beautiful (and just a little frightening) Tianmen Road in Hunan, China. This road runs through and up the Tianmen Mountain National Park. The highest gradient on this road is 37-degrees, so be sure to select a low gear, and with a whopping 99 bends, be sure to take your driving A-game along too.

With an improved suspension and lighter build to previous models, the Jeep Wrangler is the right match to take on such a driving feat. Not only that, it looks to part too, which in such breathtaking surroundings is perhaps equally as important as performance.

  1. Furka Pass, Switzerland

Furka Pass

This Swiss road is high in the Alps, and like Trollstigen in Norway and The Stelvio Pass in Italy, it offers up some of the most stunning views imaginable. So stunning, in fact, that this road was host to the chase scene in Goldfinger. As a result, millions of Bond mad tourists hitch a ride up this road every year.

Of course, the James Bond connection means there could be only one car to take – the Ford Fiesta. Wait a minute, hear us out. In the film, henchman Oddjob is seen driving a Ford Popular, a name which in its early days the Ford Fiesta was occasionally called, alongside the Escort.

Whilst we’re not a tour operator, we can help you get hold of all the cars we’ve mentioned in this article. Luckily, they’re just as great driving on slightly less thrilling roads of Britain as they are in exotic locations. Whether you’re looking to feel like you’re cruising down a U.S highway, or just want to imagine you’re a bond henchman, Bristol Street Motors have everything you need.

Author: Tom

Title: Top Apps for Drivers

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Summary: These days, your phone is way more than just a phone. It can help you to avoid traffic, get you to your destination on time and find you the cheapest fuel prices. It can even find you a parking space. We've done the hard work for you and come up with a list of the top apps for drivers in 2015

Meta Title: Top Apps for Drivers | Best Driving Apps | Bristol Street Motors

Meta Description: Take a look at our run through of the 9 most helpful, simple to use, and overall best apps for drivers right now.

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These days, your phone is way more than just a phone. It can help you to avoid traffic, get you to your destination on time and find you the cheapest fuel prices. It can even find you a parking space.

Of course, you might already know this.

But do you know of the best apps to achieve these feats? Didn’t think so. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you and come up with a list of the top apps for drivers in 2015.

  1. Waze (iPhone, Android)

Waze

If you hate traffic (who doesn’t!?) then you’ll love Waze. Waze is a community-based traffic alert and navigation app. It offers real-time traffic data and road information to help motorists save time and ease congestion, and you can add your very own experiences to help other motorists out. Waze combines this class-leading traffic information system with a visually appealing turn-by-turn navigation feature that’s perfect for daily drivers.

  1. CoPilot Premium Europe HD (iPhone, Android)

If you don’t want to fork out for a dedicated sat-nav, then CoPilot Premium Europe HD is the next best thing. CoPilot is a satellite navigation app that works both online and offline – just download maps when you’re connected to Wi-Fi and you don’t have to worry about losing your mobile signal on the move. The app costs £25.99, and for an additional £7.99 you can get traffic alert features. This is a great app that’s highly recommended.

  1. WhatGas Petrol Prices (iPhone, Android)

It’s often a lottery as to who’ll have the cheapest fuel prices on any given day. The Esso down the road might be 2p a litre cheaper than the Shell up the road on Monday, but vice versa on Tuesday. WhatGas Petrol Prices solves this problem by detailing the cheapest fuel prices according to your GPS location. It’s a community-based app that works well (read: no fakery) and it’s free to download and use, and you could save a lot of money on fuel.

  1. JustPark (iPhone, Android)

Going somewhere you’re not familiar with? Download JustPark and avoid the frustration of driving round endlessly to find a parking space. Unlike some similar apps, JustPark isn’t London only – it supports most cities and towns in the UK – and you can choose from over 150,000 spaces in real-time. Some locations will even allow you to pre-book your parking space through the app, a lifesaver if you’re short of time (or just patience). Even better, the app is free to download too.

  1. Appy Parking (iPhone, Android)

Appy Park

Appy Parking is an alternative to JustPark. It’s on-par with the latter in terms of features, but it doesn’t support locations outside of London (at the moment). But if you live in London, this app may be better. It lets you see every Controlled Parking Zone in London and clearly displays available parking spaces, along with any time limits and prices. It also lets you see all available Green Zones and Red Zones. As such, it’s perhaps one of the ideal apps for drivers living in London.

  1. The Highway Code UK (iPhone, Android)

With The Highway Code UK app, you can read and listen to the latest version of the Highway Code. It’s an easy to use app with accurate information and it’s a great way to review your own driving style and the driving style of others. However, it’s perhaps one of the best apps for learner drivers, giving a quick an easy learning resource that can be read on the go (but not behind the wheel!). The app is free but you have to pay £0.99 to access all content. But this is still cheaper than the official Highway Code app (£3.99). Just remember to update the app regularly so you have up to date information.

  1. GloveBox (iPhone, Android)

GloveBox

GloveBox helps you to track your car’s fuel economy and expenses, so you can see exactly how much it’s costing you to run and maintain your car. It boasts support for multiple users per car and partial and full-tank entries, and you can view fuel units in litres, US gallons and imperial gallons – making it ideal for any country. All statistics are stored in the cloud on a GloveBox account, so if you lose your phone you don’t lose your data.

  1. Find My Car (iPhone, Android)

Ever forgotten where you’ve parked your car? If so, we recommend you download the Find My Car app. With this app, you can store the GPS location of your car when you park up and when the time comes to return to your car, you simply open the app and view your position and your car’s position on the map at street level. This makes finding your car a breeze and you’ll have no excuses for losing your car ever again!

  1. MileTracker (iPhone)

If you lease your car, if it is on a PCP, or if you drive a lot for work, then knowing your mileage is handy. If you lease, going over a mileage allowance can mean you’ll incur an extra cost, which is where MileTracker comes in use. This app – which is available only on iPhone at the moment – is an extremely easy to use mileage calculator, also keeping track of fuel and expenses. It uses GPS to log your movement, and as far as we can tell is pretty accurate.

So there we have it, 9 apps for drivers that can make day to day travelling easier. However, what use is a driving app if you’ve got nothing to use it in? If you’re itching to test one of these apps in a new motor, take a look at the new and used cars for sale at Bristol Street Motors.

Author: Tom

Title: Top Tips for New Drivers

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Summary: So you’ve finally managed to earn yourself the privilege to get rid of those L plates and trade in that provisional once and for all. At any age, it can be exciting passing your driving test, giving you independence and opening up new opportunities.

Meta Title: Top Tips For New Drivers

Meta Description: Check out the Bristol Street Motors top tips for new drivers, if you want any additional advice or want to buy your first car contact the team today.

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New Driver

So you’ve finally managed to earn yourself the privilege to get rid of those L plates and trade in that provisional once and for all. At any age, it can be exciting passing your driving test, giving you independence and opening up new opportunities.

However, as the old cliché goes, you only really start to learn how to drive once you’ve passed your test. For new or young drivers, passing your driving test is only the first step. Whether you’ve already got a car sorted, or are scanning the market for a car that’s right for you, there are some important points to consider. To help you drive safely, save time, and hopefully save money, Bristol Street Motors have put together what we think are some of the top tips for new drivers.

  1. Order your new driving license

This one might seem like a no brainer, but it’s surprising how many new drivers forget to order their full license. Not ordering your new license can be costly. If you don’t apply for your new license within 2 years of passing your test, you’ll have to take both your theory and driving test again, meaning you’ll have to fork out valuable money and time. It’s easy to apply for your new license; all you need to do is send off your pass certificate alongside your provisional one to the DVLA, and they’ll send you your new license in no time.

  1. Get more training

Once you’ve passed your test, it can be easy to convince yourself you’re the next Lewis Hamilton. However, it’s likely that your actual real world skills pale in comparison to more experienced drivers. Although it might seem like it at the time, driving lessons don’t completely represent the everyday driving experience.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to enrol on a Pass Plus course. These courses give you a wider experience of real world driving situations, and only take about 6 hours on average to complete. They’re also ideal for new drivers; if you complete a Pass Plus course within 12 months of passing your driving test, it can serve to lower your car insurance costs by up to 35%. Insurance for new drivers can often be astronomical, so any way to lower these costs is a benefit.

  1. Get insurance savvy

The average car insurance premium for drivers between the ages of 17-22 is a staggering £1096 a year. If you want to avoid paying out your teeth for insurance, it’s worth informing yourself of some of the insurance saving tips out there. For a start, you should get quotes from a wide range of insurance providers. Whilst it might be quicker to do this on comparison sites, it’s worthwhile contacting providers yourself, to see if they can offer you any deals not listed online. Also, some of the larger car insurance companies aren’t taken account for on these sites, so if you only search this way you’re likely to miss out on some potentially good deals.

  1. Minimise your risk factor

Shopping around isn’t the only way to ensure you get a good deal on car insurance. New and younger drivers pay more money as they’re perceived as riskier than more experienced road farers. However, there are certain procedures you can take to show insurance companies you’ve made an effort to minimise your risk of accident. Something as simple as fitting an alarm or immobiliser can work to lower your insurance costs, and any costs you pay for installation will be reclaimed from the money you’ll save.

Another way to lower your premium is to add someone known as a low risk as the car’s second driver. This person should ideally have no points, no history of claims, and be over 25; a parent or guardian is generally a good bet.

Although it may sound obvious, one of the best ways to show insurance companies you’re low risk is to drive carefully. This means no speeding, no accidents, and no points. The New Drivers Act stipulates that anyone earning 6 points within their first 24 months of driving will lose their license; bear in mind that new drivers get 6 points for using a mobile while driving.

  1. Get a real feel for driving

Once you’re finally insured and behind the wheel, one of the most important steps to take is to let yourself get familiar with the car you’re driving. It’s normal for driving a new car to feel unnatural for a while, especially considering most learner drivers will have only ever driven in one or two specific cars.

Before setting off in your car, familiarise yourself with the interior; notice where the pedals sit under the dashboard, adjust your seat to a comfortable position, and make sure your mirrors are set up properly. For the first few times you drive, you should try driving alone. It might be tempting to bring friends or family with you, but riding solo lessens the chance of distraction and allows you to properly get a fear of the car you’re in control of. Again, it might be tempting to go on long, aimless drives, but don’t over face yourself; try going short distances in familiar places for the first few weeks.

It’s tempting to get on the road as soon as possible once you’ve passed your test, but it’s important that new drivers remember these tips; they could help you drive safer, more confidently, and even save you a few pennies.

Author: Tom

Title: Guide to Driving in America

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Summary: As the cliché goes, everything is bigger in the states. However, it’s not just the portions and personalities that are supersized, and if you’re planning a road trip in America sometime soon you’ll need to brace yourself for size of the roads you’ll be driving on. If you thought the M62 from Hull to Liverpool was a long wild trek, think again.

Meta Title: Guide to Driving in America

Meta Description: Looking to go on a U.S road trip? Take a look at Bristol Street's guide to driving in America.

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Driving in America

As the cliché goes, everything is bigger in the states. However, it’s not just the portions and personalities that are supersized, and if you’re planning a road trip in America sometime soon you’ll need to brace yourself for size of the roads you’ll be driving on. If you thought the M62 from Hull to Liverpool was a long wild trek, think again.

It’s not just the size of the place that’s different, and if you’re new to driving in the U.S.A, it’s a good idea to brush up on a few pointers and expectations before you hit the highways. As it turns out, driving in America is a little more complex than simply remembering to stick to the right (or wrong) side of the road.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. Simply read Bristol Street’s guide to driving in America, and you’ll be driving like a true Yankee in no time.

Before you go…

Remember to get all your legal documents in order. Dull, we know, but in the unlikely event you’re involved in an accident or trouble, having the right documentation could mark the difference between continuing your holiday in peace and shelling out hundreds of dollars on unexpected legal fees.

Not forgetting to take the essentials is easy, and shouldn’t take too long to sort out. So long as you have the below with you, you’ll be sorted.

Valid non-provisional driving license

Counterpart license

International Driving Permit – a legal requirement in some states, and heavily recommended countrywide.

Vehicle registration documentation (Vc5)

Up to date travel insurance and proof documents

Visa (if you’ll be staying for more than 90 days)

Oh, and it might sound obvious, but don’t forget to rent a car, and check the regulations; most states require drivers of rental vehicles to be over 25. If you’re planning a one way road trip, many US car rental providers will be able to accommodate for this, but make sure this is the case before you end up having to drive hundreds of miles back on yourself after a call from an angry agency.

U.S.A Driving Laws

Whilst from the outside the U.S may look like one huge nation, in reality it’s perhaps more apt to look at it like a collection of 50 different countries with their own culture, identity, and laws. Each U.S state has its own specific laws and rules, and if you’re travelling from state to state it’s important to remember this.

The individual driving regulations are too numerous to list here, and the best way to get an insight is to ask about any specific laws when you pick your vehicle up, and check road guidebooks to make sure you’re not unwittingly committing any offences.

However, there are a number of rules that are pretty much universal throughout the country:

Drive on the right – this might sound obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many British drivers forget and end up careering head on into oncoming traffic.

At lights, only set off on the green light – whilst accelerating on amber might be tolerated in the UK, doing this stateside isn’t.

Don’t undertake – this is illegal, and will result in anger from native drivers, as well as a fine from traffic police if you get caught out.

Unless signs say otherwise, the speed limit is 65 across all states. In built up areas, this lowers to 30.

Never overtake a school bus if it has rear lights flashing – this is illegal.

Unless otherwise specified, right turns are permitted at red lights.

When coming to a crossroad or junction, right of way is given to the driver who arrived first.

Also, not technically a driving law, but its general etiquette that drivers pay for petrol before filling up. This is a common cause of confusion for UK motorists, who often get into trouble for filling up and then paying afterwards. However, the process is simple; just hand over an amount of money, fill up, then collect any change afterwards.

Driving Conditions

Generally, the condition of most major roads will be better than what you’re used to in the UK. Most states are performing continual improvements to roads and highways, meaning that potholes and uneven surfaces are relatively rare.

Whilst this might improve your overall driving experience, the prevalence of roadwork brings up another perhaps not so good point – traffic. Traffic is a common problem in most U.S cities, with lengthy jams and congestion being an everyday occurrence. Getting stuck in a gridlock is bound to happen at some point if you’ll mainly be driving in busy cities, but with a little planning to avoid rush hours and roadwork you should be able to avoid the worst.

Weather

The U.S.A is huge, and if you’re planning to travel through a lot of it you’ll encounter an equally huge variation in environment and weather conditions. The green and pleasant (grey and wet) U.K this ain’t, and depending on where you are and the distances you’re covering, in a few days driving you could be passing through dusty plains, the searing heat of the desert, and even snow-capped mountains.

As such, if you’re planning to travel interstate you’ll need to make sure the vehicle you’re in is equipped for a variety of terrains and weather conditions. In snowy or wintery conditions, make sure that your tyres are the right tread depth, and make sure to carry a replacement and some additional supplies in case the worst happens. To be doubly safe, you could always fit your tyre with chains; this isn’t a legal requirement, but chains will prove useful if you’re expecting icy conditions.

When driving through dusty environments, the common advice is to turn your headlights up bright, and slow the speed of your vehicle. If conditions are too bad to see, follow the “pull aside, stay alive” rule and slowly pull aside to the side of the road until visibility levels get better.

With our guide, driving in America should be easy as pie. If you’d like any more information, you can always get in touch with Bristol Street Motors, and we’ll let you know where to find the best information on U.S.A driving.

Author: Tom

Title: How to Drive Economically

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Summary: With energy prices on a seemingly endless rise over the past few years, the fuel we use to power our essential day to day activities can end up costing us a lot more than we’d like it to. However, with a few handy tips and tricks, saving car fuel can be a doddle any time of year.

Meta Title: How to Drive Economically

Meta Description: Check out the Bristol Street Motors guide on how to drive economically, if you require any additional advice please don’t hesitate to contact the team.

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Driving on a UK motorway

With energy prices on a seemingly endless rise over the past few years, the fuel we use to power our essential day to day activities can end up costing us a lot more than we’d like it to.

However, with a few handy tips and tricks, saving car fuel can be a doddle any time of year. If you’re looking to cut your petrol and diesel costs, our guide on driving economically should set you on your way to fuel efficiency. Not only could you save money, but in our increasingly eco-friendly world, you might also be helping the planet too.

Keep your car well maintained

It can sometimes be easy to become complacent about the state of our cars so long as they’re not causing us any real inconveniences, but let’s face it – that black smoke coming out of your exhaust isn’t “normal”. Regular maintenance is essential, and an easy starting point is to just check your tyre pressure. If your tyres are underinflated, they’ll create more resistance on the road, meaning you’ll use more fuel even when driving normally.

Another easy, day to day bit of maintenance you should do is to check your oil. If you’re using the wrong type, this can affect your cars performance, and again use up more fuel.

Get serviced

Performing a little everyday DIY to make sure your car is running well is recommended, but unless you’re a qualified mechanic, there’s probably a few things you’ll be unable to notice about your car’s performance and fuel consumption. Whilst you might like to boast about your skills to your mates, there’s only so much you can do, so put down that wrench and get into your nearest garage. Regular servicing won’t only ensure your car’s engine is running efficiently, but can also help spot other problems it’d be hard to notice yourself, such as dirty air filters.

Slim down

Driving with excess weight is one of the easiest ways to end up paying more for fuel. We’re not suggesting a crash diet – just limiting what you carry with you on a day to day basis. Whilst it’s fine to carry emergency essentials like spare tyres, if you’re a bit of a car hoarder, it might be time to have a bit of a clear out; do you really need to carry that set of golf clubs with you everywhere?

If you have a roof rack or roof box on top of your vehicle, you’ll only be increasing wind resistance, making your car work harder and using up more fuel. Removing inessential roof racks and luggage can streamline your car, making it more aerodynamic and thus more economic.

For all you boy racers out there, it might be time to ditch those spoilers. It’s often thought that spoiler improve the aerodynamics of a car, but in reality they do the opposite, increasing traction and therefore fuel usage.

Plan your journey

Before setting off, double check that you’re certain of your route and destination. Those wrong turns and endless minutes searching for parking spaces can all add up to cost you money. While in theory a sat nav should be the answer, anybody who’s spent any time shouting at the tiny voice trapped in the box will be able to tell you otherwise.

If you’re really uncertain of your route and destination, go old-school and check a road map. If anything it’s worth it for the warm, smug feeling you’ll get after reaching your destination and ignoring the worried commands of Mr or Mrs Nav.

Alter your driving style

We’re not going to tell you how to drive, and this doesn’t mean calling up your old driving instructor for a reunion. However, there are a few tricks you can incorporate in order to cut down on fuel consumption.

If you’re able to, keep rolling. Frequent stopping and starting is a major source of fuel usage, so try keep moving without braking as much as you can.

Don’t slam on the brakes, and make slowing down as smooth as possible. Make sure your timing is right, and release the accelerator in time to avoid having to change gear.

Keep to speed limits. It’s fairly obvious, but the faster you drive, the more fuel you’ll use.

If you’re not driving, turn of the engine. If you’re waiting static and not in traffic, there’s no reason for your engine to be running, and you’re simply wasting fuel.

Turn off inessential electrics

Both air conditioning and heating systems are big drains on fuel, and you should only use them if really needed. When turning on heating, never blast the heat out full whack. If you put the seat on a lower setting, your car will just take a little longer to warm up, but will still be toasty. While opening windows in summer is a bigger drain on fuel consumption than air conditioning, this doesn’t mean this can be turned up to the highest setting. Again, set the air conditioning on a low or medium setting, and in time your car will feel cool and comfortable.

Whether you’re looking to save the planet or just a few pennies, we hope our guide to driving economically has given you a few valuable tips. If you’d like specific advice for the car you own, simply get in contact with your local Bristol Street Motors dealership, and we’ll be happy to help you out.

Author: Tom

Title: A Guide to Driving Abroad

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Summary: When booking a holiday, it can be tempting to turn a simple jaunt abroad into a full on driving holiday. Taking or hiring a car on holiday can seem like a ticket to freedom; no more hassle getting taxis to and from the airport, no more getting stranded, and no more cramped tour buses.

Meta Title: A Guide to Driving Abroad | Bristol Street Motors

Meta Description: Check out the Bristol Street Motors guide to driving abroad in order to make your trip a little easier.

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Puerto de Alcala, Madrid

When booking a holiday, it can be tempting to turn a simple jaunt abroad into a full on driving holiday. Taking or hiring a car on holiday can seem like a ticket to freedom; no more hassle getting taxis to and from the airport, no more getting stranded, and no more cramped tour buses.

However, driving in a different country involves far more than simply remembering to stick on the right – or wrong –side of the road. However, with Bristol Street Motor’s driving abroad guide, we’ll give you a run through of all the essentials you need to know to keep safe when driving on holiday.

Essentials

Whether you’re a Monsieur or Madame, Herr or Frau, or Senor or Senorita, there are a few essential points to remember when driving abroad, wherever you are. A good word of advice is if you wouldn’t do it when driving at home, don’t do it abroad. It shouldn’t need to be stated, but drink driving, using mobile phones, and speeding won’t be tolerated, wherever you’re going to be. If you plan on driving abroad, make sure to check the national speed limits of the countries you’re planning to travel to; this might seem obvious, but it’s something many people simply forget to do.

Documents

Whatever country you’re driving in, it’s good practice to take a full set of identification, insurance, and proof of purchase documents. Chances are you won’t need to use all these, but in the eventuality you do and you don’t possess the document required, you’re likely to find yourself in a bit of a sticky situation. Whether you’re driving abroad in your own car or a hired car, you should always remember to take:

  • A full driving license (valid, not provisional)
  • Driving license counterpart
  • Original vehicle registration documentation (not a paper copy)
  • Car insurance documents – check you’re covered for driving abroad
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Passport
  • Letter of authorisation from vehicle owner (if using a borrowed or hired car)
  • License plate displaying country of origin (e.g. GB)

Depending on which country or countries you’re planning to drive through, a visa might also be necessary. If you’re driving through the EU, you’re unlikely to need this.

The documentation you’ll need is bound to change from country to country, so as always, you should check the specific documentation requirements of the locations you’ll be travelling to in order not to get caught out

Car Preparation

It’s not just yourself you should get prepared for driving abroad, but also your car. Create a checklist of how your car has been running in the past few months, and write down any points that may need improvement. Slight faults you may be able to cope with at home can appear accentuated when driving abroad in unfamiliar conditions, so it’s always recommended that you check your car in for a service before you travel with it. Also, make sure to keep on top of tyre pressures, oil and coolant levels, and tyre tread.

Make sure that you’ve got breakdown cover, and that this extends abroad; this can save you a significant amount of money in event of the worst happening. It’s a good idea to put a few items together in a kit you can simply store in your boot. A wheel puncture kit, first aid kit, torch, warning triangle, blanket and high visibility clothing can all be compactly stored away, so they’re there if the worst does happen. Preparing for breakdowns might seem pessimistic, but a little precaution is better than being stranded in an unfamiliar country.

Country Checklist

As well as the more universal guidelines, each country you travel to will have their own set of driving rules and driving habits. You may find that the driving styles in the countries you travel to differ significantly to those at home, and the British government suggests adopting a defensive driving style, wherever you are in the world. You should always check the full list of laws and requirements for the country you’re travelling to before driving there. As an introduction, we’ve put together some useful information for driving in some of the most common European Union countries Brits choose to drive abroad in.

France

The national motorway speed limit in France is 130kmph, or 80mph, changing to 110kmph in wet conditions.

All drivers, including foreign cars, must have at least one item of high visibility clothing, a breathalyser, and a warning triangle in the vehicle at all times. Speed camera detectors are now banned in France, and many speed cameras are no longer signposted, so be careful to drive within the limit at all times.

Spain

With a national motorway speed limit of 120kmph (74mph) in all conditions, Spain has one of the lowest speed limits in the EU.

All drivers must carry 2 warning triangles, replacement headlight bulbs, and reflective jackets for all drivers, and if you require glasses, a spare set of spectacles. Indicating is essential while overtaking on motorways, and it’s not uncommon for Spanish motorway police to hand out fines for forgetting to do so.

Germany

Germany is well known for its absence of a motorway speed limit. However, it’s not all fun on the Autobahn, as this only applies to around a fifth of Germany’s motorway network. For the other 4/5’s, a general limit of 80mph applies, although this can change regionally.

German law only requires drivers to have a warning triangle within the car, but it’s good practice to bring some of the items required by France and Spain, as they may prove useful in eventuality of accidents.

Italy

The motorway speed limits in Italy are 130kmph in the dry, and 110kmph in the wet, and all drivers are required to carry a warning triangle, replacement light bulbs and high visibility jackets within the car at all times.

Driving on the motorway in Italy is fairly similar to most EU countries. However, you should be wary when driving in cities, as many zones are permit only, and getting caught driving here can leave to a hefty fine and a wrist slapping from the Polizia.

Netherlands

The national motorway speed limit in the Netherlands is 130kmph, with only vehicles being able of 60kmph (37mph) being allowed on the motorway.

Motorists aren’t required by law to carry any essential equipment, but again, carrying warning triangles, high visibility clothing, and replacement bulbs is certainly a good idea. All fines are on the spot, and if your speed is judged to be a danger, it’s not unusual for your car to be confiscated.

The most important point to remember before driving abroad is to be prepared. If you forget important documents, don’t check your car is in full working order, and aren’t aware of the laws and standards of the country you’re travelling to, then you could be setting yourself up for a lot of stress. Driving in another country doesn’t have to be a hassle, and as long as you remember the points in our guide, your trip abroad should be memorable – in the right way. If you want to make your trip one to remember, why not treat yourself to a new car!

Author: Tom