|Australian 'stolen car' parks itself in closed garage|
A car reported as stolen from an Australian car park has been reunited with its owner, after apparently parking itself in a closed garage.
Adelaide police say they think the car rolled down an incline in the car park, across a street and into a garage forcing itself under the roller doors.
The door closed behind it and the car remained undetected for 17 days until the home-owners returned from holiday.
Fearing a burglary, they called police, who deduced the curious turn of events.
"Although the roller door was closed, it had been damaged slightly and pushed out of its tracks," a police spokesman is quoted in Australian media as saying.
Police believe that the car had not been left in the parking gear and so rolled though the car park and eventually "forced itself under the roller door, parking perfectly inside the garage where it remained safely under cover for 17 days".
The owner reported the car stolen after he parked it outside a shop in a suburb of Adelaide. Reports say that he had only bought the car two days earlier and only left it for a few minutes.
He told the police that he now recalls hearing a "bang", which may have been the car hitting the garage door, the Associated Press news agency reports.
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|TyreSafe celebrates five years of safety campaigning|
TyreSafe, the UK's leading tyre safety organisation, is celebrating its contribution to improving road safety in the UK, having reached its fifth anniversary.
The not-for-profit organisation was established in 2006 to raise awareness about tyre safety issues and since then, the number of motorists killed or seriously injured in a tyre related accident on the UK's roads has fallen by a massive 38 per cent*.
"There's no doubt that TyreSafe has made a huge contribution towards improving drivers' attitudes and behaviour towards tyre care and maintenance," explains Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. "As an organisation we've been incredibly busy and proactive over the last five years, but it's important to note that we've also received fantastic support from many other organisations that has been critical in helping us educate people and raise standards."
When TyreSafe was established, it began with just 12 member companies, and all were either tyre manufacturers or tyre retailers. Reflecting its considerable growth and influence, the organisation now boasts an impressive 35 members including many vehicle manufacturers, associated equipment suppliers as well as other influential bodies involved in road safety such as the Highways Agency, the Chief Fire Officers Association and the Driving Standards Agency.
TyreSafe's early campaigns focused entirely on educating car drivers but with its growing membership and reputation, the group has expanded its campaigns targeting many different groups including motorcyclists, van and truck users, caravanners and more recently, horsebox and trailer owners. It has also taken a lead role in campaigning on other key issues such as part-worn tyre and winter tyres.
With a focus firmly on end-users, TyreSafe has gained an enviable reputation for continuing to develop innovative and fresh ways to communicate tyre safety messages. In recent years these have included the 20p test which helps drivers check their tread depth, an iPhone tyre pressure App as well as a number of online safety movies, taking advantage of the dramatic increase in online and social media.
Such has been the success of initiatives like these that TyreSafe has received significant media coverage including several national television appearances and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. Indeed, TyreSafe was recently named in The Daily Telegraph's list of 30 best motoring Apps.
"Despite the many positives and achievements during our short history, there is still a huge amount of work for us to do as an organisation and as an industry," continues Jackson. "There are still high levels of ignorance and neglect about many tyre safety issues so it's vitally important that we ramp up our activities even further during the next five years. However, at this important milestone I would like to offer our sincere thanks to everyone who has helped and supported us during our first five years and we look forward to working closely with you during the next five."
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|Google Self Driving Car Gets One Step Closer with Patent|
Google has patented their “landing strip” technology for their self-driving cars. The patent application is called ‘transitioning a mixed-mode vehicle to autonomous mode’, which also relates to the car switching from human-driving mode to a driver-less state. The “landing strip” is a code that would help the car access the internet to get locations and directions.
The Google Land Strip patent states, “In some embodiments, a URL stored as a QR Code may enable the autonomous vehicle to download new instructions. A processing unit in the vehicle’s computer may be able to wirelessly access the Internet and retrieve autonomous mode instructions from an updated web location. For example, when accessing the URL, a unique vehicle serial number may be transmitted. The serial number could indicate that vehicle is in need of maintenance and the host may return instructions for the autonomous vehicle to automatically drive itself to the maintenance shop. Additionally, the URL may return instructions to load balance the vehicles.”
Google already presented the idea of their self-driving car in October 2010 and are in advanced stages of development. The Google self-driving car has drove more than 1,000 miles without a driver, but a total of 1 million miles is necessary before they decide it’s good enough. Sebastian Thrun, who leads the dedicated car team at Google, wrote in the patent that Google’s cars have driven more than 200,000 miles without an accident.
The Google self-driving car patent states, “The autonomous vehicle may be used as a virtual tour guide of Millennium Park in Chicago. In the example embodiment, the vehicle may have an instruction to drive to the Cloud Gate (Silver Bean) sculpture at Millennium Park. When the vehicle arrives, the autonomous instruction may tell it to wait in the location for a predetermined amount of time, for example 5 minutes. The instruction may then direct the vehicle to drive to the Crown Fountain at Millennium Park and again wait for 5 minutes. Next, the instruction may tell the vehicle to drive to the Ice Rink at Millennium Park and wait for another predetermined amount of time. Finally, the vehicle instruction may tell the vehicle to return to its starting position.”
“In some embodiments, the vehicle instruction may be a fixed instruction telling the vehicle a single route and timing for the route. In another embodiment, the autonomous instruction may be a list of possible instructions presented to a human in the vehicle. The human may be able to select a point of interest and the vehicle will responsively execute the associated autonomous instruction. In a further embodiment, the vehicle instruction is a single command telling the vehicle to drive itself to one specific location,” added in the patent for a self-driving car from Google.
Google Self Driving Car Video:
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|How to avoid a flat battery this winter|
With many parts of the country waking up to frosty cars, here’s a timely reminder from the RAC to drivers to ensure they are prepared for winter.
Driving conditions in the last two winters were extremely hazardous as well as challenging, and on Monday 29 November last year the RAC fitted 1200 new batteries – equivalent to one every 72 seconds. And between 25 November and 24 December they sorted out over 50,000 drivers with battery-related problems.
Kevin Andrews, RAC Patrol Ambassador of the Year says, “The last two winters were a real eye opener for many drivers as to just how important it is to prep their car for winter, given the extreme conditions most of us faced on the roads.
“Motorists must learn from this and take the opportunity to get prepared and protected now. Ensure your vehicle is winter battle ready before the bad weather hits.”
Here are the RAC’s top five battery care tips:
1 Switch off lights, wipers, radio and the heater before starting the engine. This prevents any unnecessary drain on the battery during starting.
2 Heaters, heated screens and heated seats put high demands on the vehicle’s battery so try and avoid using these types of devices any longer than necessary. High use of sat navs, in-car DVD players and iPods can also drain the battery.
3 Don’t leave any interior lights or any accessories such as phone chargers on overnight.
4 Park your vehicle in a garage whenever possible.
5 Have your vehicle checked before winter sets in – many garages offer free winter checks, which include charging and battery checks.
Kevin continues: “Before you start the car in the morning, make sure everything is switched off, including the heater, fan, lights and radio. Turn the ignition key to the ‘on’ position for two or three seconds to allow the electronics to get going before starting the engine. These actions will save valuable energy – every volt is precious in cold weather.”
The RAC has a new Battery Response service for both members and non-members. They will use their expertise and the latest technology to check if your battery is the cause of your fault and will only fit a battery if you need one. Visit www.racshop.co.uk/car-battery for full details.
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|Seven fuel-saving tips for motorists|
With the Fair Fuel UK campaign having hit the headlines and the House of Commons debating whether the high taxes on petrol are worsening the impact of the financial crisis on the nation’s households, DIAmond has compiled a list of seven handy tips to cut down on your fuel bills.
1. Check your tyres
When it comes to buying your next set of tyres for your car, consider fitting a set of specially designed eco tyres that have minimal rolling resistance and are intended to boost economy.
2. Avoid harsh acceleration and late braking
Reading the road ahead can usually help avoid unnecessary braking: if you see a red light ahead, for instance, come off the gas slightly earlier than you normally would and slow down progressively, applying the brakes as you approach the lights.
3. Don’t carry unnecessary weight
Carrying unnecessary bits and pieces in the boot can soon add up over a year’s worth of driving. Roof racks are a drag on the car when not in use – consider your journey and only take what you need with you in the car.
4. Turn things off that you don’t need
The principle of turning things off that you don’t need applies throughout the car, however. Switch the rear heater off as soon as the window has cleared, don’t have the radio on if you’re not listening to it too.
5. Always plan ahead
Check traffic updates before you set out on a journey, and be prepared to take a less congested route even if it’s slightly longer.
6. Use cruise control where you can
Not only that, but driving at a steady 60mph rather than 70mph will save around 10% on fuel consumption, too.
7. Set the car up for a quick getaway
It’s a common misconception that leaving the engine to idle is better at warming the car – driving off immediately without unduly revving the car is the most efficient way to get the car up to its optimum operating temperature. Needless idling is simply a waste of petrol.
Following these basic tips will save you wasting unnecessary fuel, but couple them with learning the eco-safe driving techniques taught as part of the DIAmond Advanced Test and it will save you more than 15% off your fuel bill.
DIAmond chief examiner Mike Frisby said: “The government might put off its 3p rise in January as a concession to campaigners, but doing a DIAmond Advanced Test and putting eco-safe driving techniques into practice could save you the equivalent of 15p a litre on petrol.”
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|Beat the salesman: how to get the best car price|
From Confused.com’s email newsletter
How can you get the best deal when you’re buying a new or second-hand car? To find out we went to the best source – the car salesman.
Thousands of would-be buyers look for motors every month but few of us know exactly how to get the vehicle of our dreams at the right price. In fact, there’s a list of common mistakes we make that are costing us money.
We spoke to Brian Henson from Sinclair Direct, a specialist used-car dealer with 18 branches in south Wales, and Mark James, the managing director of James and Jenkins car dealership in Cardiff for their insider tips.
1 Remember the 60-day rule
Mark James explains: “Many of the bigger dealers have a 60-day stocking policy, that’s how long they’ll keep their cars on the forecourt.
“If it hasn’t sold by then, they’ll normally pass it to car auctions to sell instead. But you can benefit: if there’s a car you’re after, make regular trips to the forecourt or keep a watch online.
"If you can see the car has been there for some time, close to 60 days, that’s the time to make an offer. You’ll probably get a better price as the dealership wants the car off the forecourt.”
2 Get your timing right
Brian Henson says: “If you want to buy a new car, it pays to understand how dealers’ targets work. Most manufacturers operate on a quarterly basis, and towards the end of those quarters, dealers who haven’t hit their targets will be more open to negotiating.
“When the quarters run from and to varies between manufacturers. You should look at TV ad campaigns as they will say when cars have to be registered by to qualify for that particular deal, and that usually marks the end of their quarter.
“So say there’s a Peugeot advert that says there’s a special deal on the 208 but cars have to be registered by 31 March. A week or 10 days before this cut-off is when you should visit the showroom.
“This won’t work all the time as some dealers will go after their targets from the start of the quarter, but others will struggle to hit them.”
James adds: “The end of the month is the time to buy as salesman try and meet their monthly targets. So you’ll always get a better deal on the 29th rather than the 2nd of the month.
“The only caveat with this is with very popular models so if you wait until the end of the month, you might not be able to get your hands on one.”
3 Buy out of season
Henson says: “Last winter when there was a lot of snow, sales of 4x4s went through the roof and prices went up. Conversely, you’ll get a better deal if you buy when a particular type of car isn’t so popular.
“Cabriolets start to sell as soon as the sun comes out, so think about buying one in October instead.”
4 Cash or finance? It doesn’t really matter
Henson says: “People often ask dealers ‘how much for cash?’ but there’s no real difference for us. With interest rates so low, there’s not a lot of commission for dealers who sell their own finance packages, so opting for in-house finance is unlikely to get you a better deal.
“But bear in mind that with a bank loan you own the car from the outset, whereas with dealer finance you wouldn’t be able to sell the vehicle on until you’d cleared the loan, but you could clear the loan early or start a new loan on another car.”
5 Aim to pay around 90% of the car value
One anonymous salesman told us: “If you are buying a used car and are actively interested in negotiating, then offer 80-90 per cent of the price tag. If you offer below that the salesman won’t think you are a serious prospect.
“By offering this much, he will see you have intent to purchase and you will likely work out a deal somewhere in the middle. It will then often work to walk away and head to your car as the chances are the salesman will come after you.”
6 Decide your maximum spend and don’t budge
James explains: “Before you start shopping for your car, decide on your maximum spend. If you don’t, it’s all too easy for a salesman to talk you up from a £4,000 motor to a £6,000 one.
“It’s a good strategy to knock 10% off your maximum spend. So if you have £5,000 to play with, it becomes £4,500.
"If a salesman says they can’t do you a deal at this price, don’t be afraid to walk away. More often than not, the salesman will come after you – either there and then or by phone or email.
"You know you still have £500 to play with, so if they offer you a deal at £4,750 then you’ve made a £250 saving.”
7 Sell your own car like the professionals
“Seventy per cent of the cars we sell are on a part-exchange basis, so this is one of the only times you’ll be selling something to us as well as vice-versa,” says Henson.
“It never ceases to amaze me how many people get this wrong. For a start, a lot of buyers don’t even bring the car they’re part-exchanging with them.
“But the biggest mistake is the condition of the car. When we come to value it, we might find a half-eaten McDonalds in there, or it hasn’t been cleaned in months. This will cloud how much we give for the vehicle.
“If it’s a car we’re going to sell on, make sure you present it in its best light. After all, if you were selling your house, you’d make sure it looked its best before people came round to view.”
8 If the price is too good to be true, something’s up
“Valuing a car is quite straightforward, and there shouldn’t be a lot of difference between the quotes you get from various dealers,” explains Henson.
“For example, say you’ve got three part-exchange quotes for your car at £900, £1,000 and £1,100 and then a fourth dealer offers you £2,000. That should set off alarm bells. Either the car he’s selling is overpriced, or he’s desperate to get rid of it for some reason.
“With part-exchange, you’ve got to look at the whole package.”
9 Understand how dealerships work
Henson adds: “Another common mistake with part-exchange is to assume you’re going to get the full resale value of your car. Sellers will go online to get a value or see what dealers are selling similar models for, and expect to get that price.
“But dealers have to make a margin, otherwise there’s no point them being in business.”
10 Take care with private sales
Henson says: “You can get some good deals with private sales but you need to be careful. Check the address on the V5 registration document is the same as where you’re buying from.
“It’s also vital to get an HPI check to make sure there’s no outstanding finance, and the car doesn’t have a chequered history.
“And have a look in the local paper or online to see if the mobile phone number of your seller comes up a lot. If so, he could be a trader which means you might not get such a good deal.
“Remember, if you’re buying privately and the vehicle is out of warranty you have no comeback whatsoever.
“If you use a reputable dealer, you’re likely to get a 12-month warranty on used cars. It’s amazing the number of people who’ll pay for a one-year warranty on a new washing machine but don’t take the same precaution with their car.”
11 Use a proper expert
“Whether you’re buying privately or from a dealer, make sure any ‘expert’ you take with you knows their stuff,” Henson says.
“It’s a standing joke in the industry when someone brings along a friend who ‘knows about cars’. Invariably they know less than the buyer.
“For private sales, take a qualified technician or get an AA check done.”
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