Four pump price swings in the past 18 months, each temporarily adding up to
£5 to the cost of a small tank of fuel, have forced one in six drivers (16
per cent) to raid savings, owe money to the bank, pawn possessions or take
out a payday loan, AA research reveals.
A further 20 pc have seen fuel price surges push their budgets to near
Even drivers from high managerial and professional backgrounds have felt
the pinch, with 15pc admitting their spending plans have nearly come off
the road on at least one occasion since the spring of 2012. Twice as many
semi and unskilled workers (31pc) saw their finances nearly snap.
Drivers, whose finances have been caught out by rising pump prices, have on
at least one occasion in the past 18 months resorted to:
– *digging into savings* – 13pc (24pc in 18-24 age group. Worst region –
North East 17%)
– *going into overdraft* – 10pc (24pc in 18-24 age group and 20pc for
25-34s. Worst regions – Wales / N Ireland 12%)
– *borrowing from friends or family* – 3pc (16pc in 18-24 age group and
9pc for 25-34s. 6pc among semi and unskilled workers)
– *driving until they ran out of fuel* – 2pc
– *pawning a possession* – 1pc (4pc in 18-24 age group. 2pc among
skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers)
– *a bank or longer-term loan* – 1pc (2pc in 18-24 age group)
– *a short-term/high interest ‘payday’ loan* – 1pc (2pc in 18-24 and
35-44 age groups)
AA president Edmund King says: “Fuel price desperation has created a new
and sinister twist to the phrase ‘driven into debt’.
“The research responded to by 23,824 AA members has exposed the heavy
impact of fuel price surges and which groups of drivers are particularly
“Last week, the AA laid bare the consumer backlash to rising fuel prices,
showing that yet another pump price swing crashed UK petrol consumption in
July down to winter levels.
“This Populus survey moves the microscope from the forecourt to the home
and finds unsettling evidence of fuel market-inspired deprivation.
“Young drivers with little capital to fall back on and who are likely to be
on lower pay scales are clearly suffering the most – one in 50 of them have
put themselves in real financial danger by taking out a payday loan.
“But, they are not alone.
“The survey reveals that one in 50 of middle-aged AA members, aged 35 to 44
years, have also turned to high-interest lenders to counter crippling fuel
“These drivers are probably saddled with family costs and mortgages or high
rents, and their predicament is even more disturbing.”
The AA says struggling drivers may be able to make some savings through
adopting eco driving techniques<http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/fuels-and-environment/drive-smart.html>and ‘trip chaining’ – making several trips into one. AA
Routeplanner <http://www.theaa.com/route-planner/index.jsp> can help with
this, they say.
(Survey conducted by Populus between 8 and 14 August 2013)
RAC AND AA ‘TRIAL’ NEW SPARE WHEEL SCHEMES
CAR MANUFACTURERS who decided not to put a spare wheel in their new cars are being blamed for a massive 44 per cent increase in RAC call-outs to cars with punctures – but no spare wheels – over the past year.
RAC say the universal spare wheel they have begun trialling is designed to speed up the fix time and minimise inconvenience for members.
In the 12 months up to August 2012, the RAC responded to 87,000 breakdowns
involving a puncture on a vehicle with no spare, and in the 12 months
ending in August 2013 this increased to approximately 120,000.
An RAC spokesman said: “The ‘disappearance’ of the spare wheel has arisen
as a result of car manufacturers seeking to improve fuel economy and reduce
carbon dioxide emissions by lessening vehicle weights.
“As spare wheels are relatively heavy (often weighing as much as
25kg-30kg), removing them from a standard vehicle and making them an
optional extra has become increasingly common with manufacturers.
“And, with car manufacturers obliged to ensure that average new car
emissions do not exceed 130g of CO2 per kilometre by 2015 and 95g by 2020,
the spare wheel is unlikely to make a comeback in the foreseeable future.”
Although manufacturers provide a tyre inflation kit in place of a spare
wheel, these are only suitable for carrying out temporary repairs on
punctures up to 4mm and can be ‘daunting’ to use at the side of the road,
say the RAC.
“RAC patrols attending these breakdowns would firstly try to fix the
puncture and, if this was not possible, would then either collect and fit a
new tyre or, alternatively, tow the member to the nearest garage, both of
which can be time-consuming.
“But with the RAC ‘universal’ spare wheel, which fits the majority of cars
that don’t have a spare wheel fitted as standard, a quick and effective
solution is possible, saving members time.
“RAC patrols will fit the wheel quickly and liaise with the nearest ATS
Euromaster centre on their behalf to find out what replacements are
“Payment can be taken at the roadside by the RAC patrol, ensuring the
customer can drive straight to ATS Euromaster, or book a mobile fitting at
“The RAC will then arrange collection of the spare directly from ATS,
avoiding any further hassle” he added.
Developed with specialist manufacturer Dynomec working in partnership with
tyre expert ATS Euromaster, the five-stud, 17in lightweight alloy multi-fit
wheel fits a high proportion of vehicles and will significantly cut down
the time spent by members at the roadside, often in potentially dangerous
situations such as on the hard shoulder of motorways, say the RAC.
Trials are taking place in south west England and Northern Ireland with
some 200 patrols carrying the new wheel.
Head of RAC technical operations Phil Ryan said: “We understand why motor
manufacturers need to reduce the weight of their vehicles in order to make
them more fuel efficient and to meet EU carbon dioxide emissions targets
and removal of the spare wheel helps them to achieve this.
“But drivers should not suffer as a result, and in order to minimise the
disruption and inconvenience that punctures can cause, the universal spare
wheel provides additional options for patrols to deal with breakdowns more
quickly and effectively.
“We are already seeing very positive results from the trials and we expect
the universal wheel to become an increasingly common sight on our roads.”
ATS Euromaster’s group operations director Columba Zaal,, explained: “We
too have noticed a surge in the number of calls our centres receive from
drivers stranded with a tyre failure and no spare.
“The industry needed to respond to this growing problem, and it made sense
for us to partner with the RAC to jointly develop a mobility proposition
Zaal added: “All of our centres carry an extensive range of premium,
mid-range and budget tyres, so we are confident we can get the majority of
customers back on the road quickly.
“In the event that a specific tyre is not available on the shelf, we can
arrange to attend any non-roadside location, such as a member’s home or
place of work, on a same or next-day basis.”
……..WHILE AA GOES NATIONWIDE
With close to a fifth (17pc)* of AA members not having a spare wheel in
their car, the AA is trialling a ‘universal’ spare wheel nationwide to
allow members to continue their journey with minimal disruption.
The innovative wheel is the first of its kind in the UK and fits the
majority of modern cars with a five-stud wheel. The 17” alloy uses a system
of special adaptors of ten different sizes to find the best fit.
When the wheel – which is for temporary use only – is fitted, the car is
subject to a 50 mph maximum speed restriction.
The ‘universal’ spare offers a more convenient alternative by allowing you
to drive to a local tyre depot yourself or continue your journey with the
minimum of fuss
Donald MacSporran, the AA’s head of technical, says: “Although punctures
are thankfully rare for most drivers, you can’t beat the convenience of a
“If your car doesn’t have one, we can sometimes perform a temporary repair
at the roadside or take the damaged wheel to a local tyre fitter but this
can take time.
“The ‘universal’ spare offers a more convenient alternative by allowing you
to drive to a local tyre depot yourself or continue your journey with the
minimum of fuss.
“The patrol will reclaim the spare from the tyre depot or it gets couriered
back to us after you’ve finished with it.”
The nationwide trial is the latest innovation by the UK’s biggest breakdown
provider to further improve its ability to fix cars at the roadside.
The AA-Populus survey* of 22,827 AA members revealed:
– Only around half (54pc) have a full-size spare in the boot
– 29pc have a space-saver ‘skinny’ spare
– Around one-in-ten (9pc) have a tyre sealant/inflation kit
– 3pc have run-flat tyres…….
– ……AND 522 respondents (2pc) didn’t know what, if anything, they
have in their boot!
(Populus interviewed 22,827 adults aged 18+ on The AA-Populus
online panel between 21-25 January 2013. Populus **www.populus.co.uk*<http://www.populus.co.uk>)
WARRANTIES IMPORTANT TO USED CAR BUYERS, SAY RAC
Almost seven out of 10 used car warranty claims to RAC Warranty are made in
the first six months of cover, according to new statistics.
And nearly four out of 10 – 38 per cent – are made within the first three
months, according to figures released by the company.
The findings underline the importance of the warranty element of used car
propositions offered by dealers, said sales and marketing director Ian
He said: “Warranties are often taken for granted by dealers as part of the
used car package they offer but remain very important to customers. “These
statistics, which show how often claims are made soon after buying a used
car, show why.”
While RAC Warranty does not make its own exact figures available publicly,
a standard industry claim rate for motor warranties is around one in three
Ian explained: “The fact is that however solid the history of a car and
however thorough its preparation, things can and do go wrong. “Customers
know this and they realise the significance of having a solid warranty to
act as a safety net.”
“While there are signs of an economic recovery appearing, many used car
buyers are still finding their personal finances under a lot of pressure
and the confidence inherent in the initiative has very obvious appeal.”
PETROL RETAILERS WELCOME NEW FUEL THEFT GUIDELINES
The Petrol Retailers’ Association (PRA), the trade body representing
independent forecourts in the UK, welcomes new legal guidelines from the
Crown Prosecution Service calling for fuel thieves to be prosecuted.
Current industry practices allow drivers who have no means of payment to
fill in a form acknowledging their debt, agreeing to pay it back later.
Under the new guidelines, prosecutions will be recommended where a motorist
can be shown to have repeatedly filled up without any means of payment.
Motorists who leave false details with a forecourt will also be prosecuted.
PRA chairman Brian Madderson said: “The PRA has lobbied for the prosecution
of fuel thieves who repeatedly abuse ‘no means of payment’ following the
significant rise in the number of retailers falling victim of such conduct.
“PRA members have also reported an alarming increase in the number of
forecourt incidents including drive offs, bulk theft and the rise in
illicit fuel sales.
“It is imperative that the Crown Prosecution Service go further in
supporting retailers against the shocking levels of theft experienced on
The Retail Motor Industry represents the interests of operators in England,
Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man providing sales and
services to motorists and businesses.
KEEPING OLDER DRIVERS MOBILE
The number of older people with driving licences has exceeded the four
Data analysed by the RAC Foundation shows there are now 4,018,900 men and
women aged 70 or over who hold a valid full British licence.
Of these people, 191 are aged 100 or over.
The oldest licence holder is recorded as being a woman aged 107. The oldest
licence-holding man is 106.
While not all of these licence holders will be active drivers the
statistics illustrate the growing number of older people who still use a
And the total is set to increase dramatically. The Government has predicted
that of the UK citizens alive today, around ten million will reach their 100th birthday.
It is at age 70 – and every three years thereafter – that drivers must
declare whether or not they are fit to drive. This self-declaration is not
made on the basis of any formal medical or driving test, but relies on the
judgement of the individual.
To help people make the right decision, Rica, a national research charity
providing information to older and disabled consumers, has – with support
from the RAC Foundation – published *Driving safely for life*<http://www.racfoundation.org/assets/rac_foundation/content/downloadables/older_drivers_guide_final_web_ready_report.pdf>.
The guide is aimed at keeping older people mobile and safe for longer.
Many people continue to drive safely and with confidence as they age.
However, experience in Australia and America suggests an estimated one in
ten drivers continues to drive when they are not fit to do so.
And a third actually hang up the keys too early and risk exclusion from
essential services and social activities.
The guide explains to older drivers:
– Exactly what the law says about ability to drive
– How they can best assess their capabilities, for example, by visiting
a mobility centre
– What modifications can be made to their vehicles and their driving
habits to keep them on the road longer
– How, if they do stop driving, they can still maintain a good quality
The guide is available from Rica and will also be promoted by local
authorities, police authorities and other agencies as well as community
RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister, , said: “All drivers
should regularly consider their fitness to drive, but matters come to a
head when we reach 70 and have to declare that we should be on the roads.
“In general, older drivers have an enviable safety record but it is clear
that faced with this critical yes or no decision many motorists simply do
not have a realistic view of their capabilities.
“For those reliant on a car, giving up driving will have a huge impact on
their ability to live an active life so it is important that they get all
the help and support to make the right decision at the right time.
“The RAC Foundation does not support compulsory retesting at a set age
because this presumes that on reaching a particular birthday people’s
physical and mental capacities change radically.
“But we do see an important need for an ongoing dialogue with motorists and
encouragement from officials and the medical profession for all of us to
regularly consider our abilities – whatever our age.”
Rica co-director Dr Jasper Holmes said: “Rica has found that people don’t
know where to go for trusted sources of information and advice.
“We’re really pleased to launch this new guide with the RAC Foundation that
gives clear and trustworthy advice on a sensitive issue affecting older
“The guide sits alongside other useful information on our website to help
people stay independent and involved, including a unique car measurement
(Rica is a national research charity dedicated to providing independent
information of value to disabled and older consumers. It researches and
publishes consumer reports, based on rigorous research and providing
practical information for disabled and older consumers. It also works with
manufacturers, service providers, regulators and policy makers to improve
products and services.)
The guide can be downloaded here:
To obtain a printed copy of the guide, members of the public can send a
large (A4) self addressed envelope with 69p in stamps to: Rica, Unit G03,
The Wenlock, 50-52 Wharf Road, London N1 7EU.
BLACK IS THE COLOUR, CAR BUYING’S THE GAME….
They may be harder to spot in bad light, heat up more quickly in the sun
and be associated with taxis and hearses, but the Brits have a growing love
affair with black cars, say the AA.
Compared to two years ago, 9pc more AA members have one. More ‘back to
black’ cars are likely to take to the roads as the new ‘63’ plate cars hit
the road on September 1st.
Silver and blue cars have maintained their top two positions as the most
popular car colours with AA members, according to the latest AA Cars
<http://www.vcars.co.uk/>“State of the Nation’s Cars” report.
But does your car colour matter?
Status: Some feel that black or white cars denote status whilst those
with orange, yellow or purple cars are trying to be whacky.
Sale: When it comes to reselling the car there are still two clear
contenders for most saleable colours – silver and black. Sellers of purple
or beige cars may struggle. Various police forces switched to silver cars a
few years ago to cash in on better resale values.
Spick and span: One of the attractions of silver is the feeling that it
is by far the easiest to keep clean or indeed appear to be clean. Black and
white cars tend to show up the dirt.
Safest: AA members believe that lighter colours are the safest. Yellow,
white and then red topped the poll for safety. In bad light some colours
are easier to spot than others hence the importance of using your lights
when visibility is poor. The AA uses yellow vehicles to enhance visibility
of the patrols’ vehicles.
Sanest: A motoring psychologist has suggested that owners of beige or
pastel coloured cars are more likely to suffer from depression.
The happiest drivers have blue metallic cars. Owners of black cars try to top
the pecking order whilst white car owners tend to be distant and aloof.
Other psychologists suggest<http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-silver.html>that silver denotes prestige and wealth but has a feminine energy; it is
related to the moon and the ebb and flow of the tides – it is fluid,
emotional, sensitive and mysterious. It is soothing, calming and purifying.
Suits: Some people argue that a certain colour may suit a particular
model of car such as a red Ferrari or British Racing Green older MG.
Others accept that more quirky cars (2CVs, Beetles) can get away with more exotic