First Gear English edition

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Everything you need to know about your first car. …

Everything you need to know about your first car.

Welcome to the wonderful world of wheels!
We know that every single person dreams of owning a car. It’s understandable: a car epitomises independence. Success. Stature. Mobility. The freedom to go your own way. But we also know that the decision to purchase a car can be fraught with challenges. What car do you buy? What can you afford? What about the servicing requirements? What safety features should you look out for? What about safety out on the road? These and many other important questions plague your mind. First Gear aims to address all these topics and many other essential issues associated with car ownership. We have canvassed the opinions of the world’s leading authorities and this book aims to give you independent, authoritative and utterly essential advice. We want to take the mystery and malaise out of car ownership, and replace it with easy to follow advice and tips… so that your road to car ownership isn’t filled with potholes! We trust that it will provide you with a stress-free introduction to the world of wheels.

Enjoy your first car; you’ve worked hard for it!

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  • 1. Everything you needto know about your first car
  • 2. FirstGear Everything you need to know about your first car
  • 3. Welcome to the wonderful world of wheels! We know that every single person dreams of owning a car. It’s understandable: a car epitomises independence. Success. Stature. Mobility. The freedom to go your own way. But we also know that the decision to purchase a car can be fraught with challenges. What car do you buy? What can you afford? What about the servicing requirements? What safety features should you look out for? What about safety out on the road? These – and many other – important questions plague your mind. First Gear aims to address all these topics – and many other essential issues associated with car ownership. We have canvassed the opinions of the world’s leading authorities – and this book aims to give you independent, authoritative and utterly essential advice. We want to take the mystery and malaise out of car ownership, and replace it with easy- to-follow advice and tips… so that your road to car ownership isn’t filled with potholes! We trust that it will provide you with a stress-free introduction to the world of wheels. Enjoy your first car; you’ve worked hard for it! 2  First Gear   First Gear  3 
  • 4. Table of Contents Meet Jack and Jill First Gear is a hands-on guide aimed at men and women who are purchasing their very Chapter 1: First things first 06 first car. Bearing this in mind, the authors of this book chose to come up with two fictional characters called Jack and Jill, because they represent archetypal readers. Chapter 2: Choosing your ride 14 So who are Jack and Jill? Well, we believe that they are typical first-time car buyers. Jack is a young guy who aspires to buy an ultra-fast sports car (although maybe his Chapter 3: Dealing with the dealer 22 wallet won’t quite meet his aspirations). Jill is a young lady who wants a stylish car that suits her lifestyle and her desire to be at the height of fashion. Chapter 4: Signing on the dotted line 28 We’re talking two typical young people – a man and woman with hopes, aspirations and dreams that are shared with millions of people all over the planet. Chapter 5: Technology on wheels 36 We hope that you can relate to Jack and Jill… and that you can learn from some of their experiences at the dealership, out on the road or whenever you drive your car. Chapter 6: Safety in your car 44 Chapter 7: Safety on the road   52 Chapter 8: Avoid fuel funk 62 Chapter 9: Tech talk 70 Chapter 10: SOS 78 Chapter 11: Bling it on 84 Chapter 12: Green 88 First Gear Everything you need to know about your first car Published by Ford Communications 20th Floor, Lake Rajada Office Complex, 193/82-86 Ratchadapisek Road, Klongtoey, Bangkok, 10110, Thailand. Director/Publisher: Whitney Foard Small; Managing Editor: Mia Barrett; Editor: Charleen Clarke; Writers: PRISM Asia Pacific and Africa Content Factory; Illustrator: Junho Kim; Design: Content Factory, Europe. A publication of Ford Communications Network. December 2011. 4  First Gear  First Gear  5
  • 5. CHAPTER 1: First things first Money isn’t everything but it sure does help when you want to buy a car. So, unless a long-lost great uncle has left you a small fortune, the first question most of us need to ask before shopping for a new car is: “What can I afford to drive?” But your answer needs to take into account more than just the purchase price. This, we’re afraid, is just the tip of the motoring iceberg. The costs of financing, maintaining, repairing and insuring your car – along with incidental expenses such as parking and registration fees – also need be factored in. As Ford Asia Pacific and Africa Director of Sales Mark Winslow points out: “It’s not only the price of the car itself, but the cost of ownership that impacts affordability.” Of course, most guys – take young Jack for example – can’t wait to take their girlfriend for a cruise in a flashy new convertible or a racy Focus RS. After all, they do have a certain image to maintain. But, for most first-time buyers, the more affordable Figo subcompact or the Fiesta are more realistic choices. And the really terrific news is the fact that they are still fun cars to drive – you really don’t need to spend a small fortune in order to have a cool, hip motoring experience. It all boils down to what you can afford. “Customers should not feel too much pressure from their car payment,” notes Ford Automotive Finance (China) Vice President of Sales and Marketing Eric Chou. “If a customer chooses to finance a car, his monthly dispensable income (money left over after taxes, rent or mortgage payment, and basic living expenses are deducted) should be more than twice the amount of the monthly payment. 6  First Gear   First Gear  7 
  • 6. fan pages exist for many new vehicles, and “Or, to put it another way, the customer’s their personal finances, because everyone estimated fu el mileage to lots of helpful information, from both average bank account balance should be should aim to save at least a small portion many litres of figure out ho petrol it will w current owners and the manufacturer, can at least double the amount of the car pay- of their pay check. where you ne take to get yo ed to go. Don u be found there. ment,” he adds. “The first question to ask is how much you for future pr ’t forget to al ice increases low Even the most reliable cars on the market The authoritative Consumer Guide can afford to pay on a monthly basis,” says you could ru at the pump n out of mon – or need periodic maintenance and repairs. Automotive says it could even be a good Keith Watson, director of strategy and out of fuel! ey before yo u run Tyres, filters, fluids and belts need to be idea to shop for finance before going car business support, Standard Bank. If the car When estim ating the co replaced regularly. A stray pebble on the hunting. “Decide how much you can afford is going to add 10 percent to your monthly new car, repa st of owning irs and maint a highway could damage the windscreen. and how much you are willing to pay debt, that is probably manageable. As much come into pl enance also ay. Once you’ And, if you are unlucky and have an before you shop for a vehicle. If, like most as guys such as Jack get a kick out of driving model and br ve chosen th and that tickl e accident, you could be replacing a fender consumers, you have to borrow money, the latest, sexiest set of wheels, your car a good idea es your fanc to gauge the y, it’s or headlight – and more. shop for a loan before you shop for a should not cost more than your house! target vehicl reliability of e. Informatio the vehicle,” it suggests. How much fuel your car will consume is of repairs a sp n about wha ecific model t types Standard Bank of South Africa advises also an important budget consideration. over time is is likely to ne available on ed prospective car buyers to very carefully Estimate the average distance travelled consumer gr line and with consider how a car purchase will impact each month, and divide this by the car’s oups, as wel consumer co l as data abou mplaints an t d recalls. Fa cebook 4.5l/100km The fabulously low fuel consumption of the Fiesta 1.6 TDCi – a fun but sensible buy. 8  First Gear   First Gear  9 
  • 7. The cost of replacement parts can vary greatly. Imported vehicles are often the most expensive – and take longer – to repair because spare parts may need to be shipped 7 out of 10 from abroad. The number of car purchases in The more frugal among us save up all their pennies before heading to the dealership to make their purchase. which women are involved in the UK. But most car-buyers only have enough money saved for a down payment and will need some sort of financing plan to complete the sale. Dealer finance is often the most convenient and popular option. At reputable dealerships, the staff will sit down with the customer and tailor a payment plan to meet their individual needs, after calculating monthly income, household expenses, mortgage payments, and food and entertainment expenditures. They can adjust the amount you must pay each month, or the number of payments you have to make over the lifetime of the contract, depending on the buyer’s financial situation. 5 Five fast buying tips • Keep your emotions under control. Be conservative and don’t rush; you’ll have to live with this purchase for years to come • If you’re financing your car purchase, your monthly payment should not put a big strain on your budget. Don’t bite off more than you can chew • Make sure you understand all the terms of your buyer’s contract, paying special attention to the interest rate and whether there is a balloon payment required • Figure out how much it will cost to keep the car running before you buy. Remember: cost of ownership counts! • Shop around for the best insurance rates10  First Gear First Gear  11
  • 8. Keep in mind that lower monthly In conclusion, it’s very important not topayments mean you’ll be paying off thecar for a longer period of time, and more overreach. (You know what they say about car sickness: it’s the feeling you Insider insurance tipsof your hard-earned money will be going get when the monthly payment is due!) Insurance requirements vary from country to thrilled; this was a price he could afford.towards the interest. And remember that So it’s best to be conservative when country, so be sure to check the laws in your But, after reading the policy closely, Jack wasinterest rates rise and fall. Rising interest calculating what monthly instalment you country before you purchase a vehicle. confused.rates could affect the terms of your car can afford, especially if this is your first Irrespective of the rules and regulations within “What’s this bit about a USD 2,000 ‘excess’?”repayment, along with other debts like a car purchase. It’s seriously bad news to your specific country though, insurance is a no- he asked.home loan or credit card. Even a small default on a car payment; this could brainer, because that car of yours represents a The salesman explained to Jack that, if he hadrate hike could raise your monthly affect your credit rating and thus your massive investment! As such, Ford Asia Pacific an accident, he’d be responsible for any repairspayments across the board and bust ability to get a loan, buy a house, or a and Africa Director of Sales Mark Winslow advises that cost less than USD 2,000. If the car need-your budget, so it’s advisable to allow for second car in the future. customers to purchase comprehensive coverage ed two new doors and a fender, and the bodysome wiggle room. In certain instances, to fully protect their investment. “If you can’t shop charges USD 2,300 for the job, Jackyou can fix the interest rate (this means afford comprehensive insurance, perhaps you would have to pay USD 2,000, while the insur-that it will neither increase nor decrease, should consider a less expensive car,” he says. ance company would pay USD 300.so you know exactly what you will be Sports cars are generally more expensive to insure, “Wait a minute!” Jack told the insurancespending for the entire duration of the and young drivers often pay higher monthly pre- agent. “I can’t afford to pay USD 2,000. After Ifinance plan). Chat to the dealer aboutthis possibility; he/she will be able to 611 million miums than older, more experienced drivers with an established safety record. For smaller monthly payments drivers can opt to buy this car, I won’t have any savings left!” The salesman crunched the numbers again,explain exactly how it works. The predicted number pay a larger “excess”, or deductible, in case of an and came up with another plan for Jack, which provided the smallest “excess” possi- of cars in India by 2050, accident. This is the amount the car owner must ble, USD 100. But this time, the monthly pay before the insurance company will reimburse making it the world’s him/her. A higher deductible means lower pay- payment came out to more than USD 235 per month. Before you sign on the dotted line, largest car market. ments, and vice-versa. “That’s almost twice as much!” Jack pro-make sure you can see the bigger picture For example tested. “I can’t afford that!”and understand all the payments that Jack visited his local insurance salesman to see “I’m very sorry, sir,” the salesman replied.need to be made. Some finance plans how much it would cost to insure a new Ford “But this is how insurance works. The morecall for what is known as a “balloon Focus. Since the down payment on the car you pay up front, the less you will have to If you begin to miss monthly car was going to wipe out his savings, he was pay for any damages later. If you want topayment”. This is the total balance payments, sometimes the dealership looking for the lowest monthly payment pay the minimum premium possible,remaining on the car at the end of the can arrange a new payment schedule. plan possible. He didn’t want to spend that’s fine. But further on down the road,payment plan, and it usually needs to be But, if you fall too far behind, you could more than USD 1,500 per year for compre- it could cost you a lot more.”*paid in full as a lump sum after all the lose the car entirely... and all the money hensive coverage.monthly payments have been made... you have invested thus far! The salesman, after factoring in Jack’s Source: Progressive Insurance Co.which even though it’s at the back of So make 100 percent sure you commit driving record, age, marital status andyour mind, is still a nasty surprise if you to a monthly payment you can handle to vehicle model, offered Jack a plan that *This statement is a guideline only, anddon’t have the cash. If you don’t avoid an unpleasant visit from the Repo fitted his budget: USD 130 per month not advice that should be relied upon.understand all the terms and conditions Insurance advice must be sought from Man (just in case you don’t know this would pay for comprehensive cover-of the contract, ask an independent an accredited financial services provider. guy; he’s the chap who comes to age of the new Focus. Jack wasfinancing professional to look it over repossess your possessions when youbefore you make any firm commitment. don’t pay!)12  First Gear First Gear  13
  • 9. CHAPTER 2: Choosing your ride 14  First Gear   First Gear  15 
  • 10. As the Wisebuyer’s Guide notes: “Buying a “green” vehicle, sports car or SUV perhaps car requires commitment. The two of you – will be defined by your motoring are going to be seeing a lot of each other, requirements. Ultimately, there is no right so it’s best if you’re happy. There’s a lot of or wrong choice: the type of vehicle you money at stake, so you don’t want to be select is dependent entirely on your disappointed.” individual needs and budget. So where do you start? How do you pick the vehicle that’s absolutely perfect for 2. New or used? you? Should it be something practical and We all dream of buying a brand new set of sensible or something wild and wicked? wheels, complete with that incredible new And how do you know you haven’t selected car smell but in reality used cars often do a complete lemon? Follow our ten-point offer a good value for money proposition. If guide and chances are excellent that you you cannot afford a new car, invest in a low will meet your dream date (in terms of mileage used car instead. But make sure Prefer something a little sportier? wheels anyway). you buy a car with a full service history (a Then consider a hatchback or a coupe. 7 service history is a record of all the 1. Decide what type of vehicle hours mechanical work that has been done to you want the car). And only buy from a reputable There are so many different kinds of organisation. Resist that unbelievable vehicles on the market, and your choice – bargain at all costs; remember… if the deal The average length of time that three quarters of car buyers a sedan, hatchback, coupe, 4x4, pickup, appears too good to be true, it probably is. spent online when making a new vehicle purchase in 2008, according to J.D. Power and Associates. Do you want something that’s especially 3. Evaluate the value adds that you won’t have any unexpected versatile, and can be all things to all people? All cars come with extra bits and pieces. motoring expenses that will blow your Maybe a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) could be the answer. We’re not talking about dangling dice and monthly budget out of the water. fluffy seats; we’re referring to value-adds such as service plans and warranties. 4. Google it These can vary significantly from car to car The Internet is a wonderful source of and, when things go wrong, they can make information on your potential car. Google a huge difference. A warranty generally whatever cars interest you and see what covers all the major mechanical items on pops up. If that car is unreliable, you will the car – ideally, you want a warranty that find loads of motorists complaining about is available for as many years and it on consumer sites. You will be able to kilometres as possible. The same can be read reviews by independent motoring said of a service or maintenance plan – you journalists too, which could steer you in the want it to be valid for as long as possible, right direction (if you will excuse the pun). Do you want something so that you have peace of mind and know practical with a boot? A sedan will work for you.16  First Gear First Gear  17
  • 11. How about something that’s dead sexy? Hello sports car… Do you really need a bigger engine? Fancy the idea of heading off-road? A 4x4 could be the ideal vehicle for you, or maybe even a pickup (if you fancy the notion of being able to toss stuff in the load box). 5. Consider colour Colour is important due to resale values. fuel just as fast. Similarly, a vehicle such as a large saloon or SUV will typically be thirstier 8. Pick a brand Now that you have decided what type of Common errors Cars in popular colours may be easier to sell and boast better resale value. When than a small hatchback or sedan. That’s because bigger cars are generally a bit vehicle you’d like, and whether you’re going the new or used route, it’s time to nail your when buying a car deciding on colour, also bear in mind that heavier, so while they do offer sensational colours to the brand mast of your choice. certain colours are more popular in certain versatility and practicality, there is a price to This can be a tough one: you may be Rushing into a decision markets than others. pay at the fuel pump. There may also be a tempted by the bargain basement pricing Buying with your heart only price to pay in terms of CO2 emissions. options of some lesser known brands or the 6. Fuel consumption to the fore glamour of an exotic one. It’s very important Blowing your budget Before you sign on the dotted line, you need 7. Safety features are important to be sensible in this regard though. Deal Only considering the to investigate the facts and the figures. It We have a whole chapter devoted to the with a company with a proud heritage, one purchase price costs an arm and a leg to fill a fuel tank – so vital issue of safety. Decide which safety that has been around for a while and has an how economical is your potential car? That features are the most important to you and excellent reputation for delivering quality Purchasing a cheap, sports car may accelerate faster than a ensure that your new car has these features products. You’re making a substantial unknown brand rocket, but remember that it may gulp down before you make your purchase. investment, so only deal with a company18  First Gear First Gear  19
  • 12. that is ethical. Take Ford Motor Company, 9. The test drive Ideally, you want a warranty that is available for instance. It has been recognised as one (and pay attention) for as many years and kilometres as possible. of the world’s most ethical companies by Once you’ve decided on a short list of the Ethisphere Institute, an international vehicles, you need to take each one for a business ethics think tank. This is quite test drive. The single most important some honour; thousands of companies in question you need to ask yourself is this: 10. Finally... pick a ride a bigger (and often thirstier) engine? Do you more than 100 countries and 36 industries would I be comfortable and happy in this So you have made your decision. You have need the luxury specification level? Are were evaluated and Ford was the one vehicle each and every day for the next few decided which car to buy. The last factor you electric windows really necessary at the and only automaker to receive this honour years? It’s a good idea to test drive the car need to take into consideration is the back of the car (when you will hardly ever in 2010. on roads that you will typically drive on specific model. Cars are generally available use the back seat)? What safety features once you have purchased a vehicle. If, for in a range – models within that range will are on offer with each specific model? instance, you spend most of your time in differ in terms of engine capacity and Remember: the bigger the engine and the city, ensure that your test route includes specification level. Carefully compare the the more luxurious the car, the higher its driving on busy city roads. models within the range. Do you really need price tag. Are you looking to save money? A vehicle with great fuel economy could be what you’re looking for. 20  First Gear  First Gear  21
  • 13. CHAPTER 3: Dealing with the dealer Walking into a big, shiny car dealership showroom for the first time can be really exciting – and often intimidating. But don’t be scared. Remember, at every step of the way, that the sales team is there to serve you. The customer is king – or queen – of the showroom!22  First Gear First Gear  23
  • 14. Keep in mind, however, that a car is just like agirlfriend or boyfriend: Joseph Cueter, operations manager forLooks are not Ford’s Customer Service Division, Asia Pacific and Africa.a guarantee “Your local dealer should be what we at Ford like to call a ‘hometown hero’,” he says.to happiness. “They should be engaged with the local community – supporting local schools, sponsoring sports programmes.” Dealers that advertise in smaller, local newspapers and support education, sport, Choosing a dealer that’s right health and environmental initiatives in the for you community are more likely to form a long- Start by looking at dealer outlets that are term relationship with customers. “Look for close to your home or workplace. “You can anything that indicates they are not just build a lasting relationship and get better looking for a one-time sale,” adds Cueter. follow-up service if you stick to your Of course, you may be able to get the car hometown or where you work,” advises you want at a cheaper price from a that prove the repair shop meets international standards. Ask to see the qualifications of the technical staff and service advisors. Certificates from the Society of Automotive Engineers, for example, are good professional credentials. dealership in a neighbouring province or city. So are factory certifications from Ford- But any discounts you find may not be authorised dealerships that show the worth it in the long run. It’s inconvenient and mechanics have been specifically trained to costly to travel a long way to bring your car work on certain components. in for service or repairs. Since dealers are generally the best Communication is key source for warranty-covered repairs and Dealership sales staff should be friendly and maintenance, take a close look at the helpful, but not pushy. You should be service centre. Ask around: have your warmly welcomed when you enter the neighbours or colleagues been satisfied with showroom. The salesperson ought to ask the service provided by the dealership? It’s how they can be of service and offer some also a good idea to look for certifications general information about the dealership 24  First Gear First Gear  25
  • 15. before trying to steer you towards any As you do a particular vehicle or promotion. To avoid 360-degree stroll the hard sell, you may want to tell the around it, check salesperson that you won’t be making a model. If you live in a tropical climate, you purchase today, and are only visiting to may need air conditioning. If you drive a the seams gather information. vast distance to work every day, you’ll need between body “You want a salesperson who listens to a car that cruises well and has excellent you and asks meaningful questions about fuel economy. If you have a big family, a panels and doors; your transportation needs,” says Cueter. roomy interior will be a requirement. are they evenly spaced, You also want a salesperson who treats “Make a checklist of what you need to be without gaps or you with respect; someone who truly has a satisfied owner,” advises Cueter. “If the car your best interests at heart. meets all of these requirements, performs irregularities? Does Prepare a list of the top ten features that well on the road and appeals to you the colour look good? you require in your new vehicle; this will visually, you’ll be in good shape.” help the salesperson direct you to the right Is the paint smooth, with make sure the seats are comfortable and that the controls are easy to reach. The The test drive mirror like reflections? speedometer, fuel gauge, and other Ensure that you test drive and carefully instruments should be clearly visible. The inspect a car before buying it. You wouldn’t driver should be able to glance at the buy a USD 15 jacket without trying it on instruments and adjust the controls without first. So why should you buy a USD 15,000 performance, etc. If you haven’t driven taking his/her attention off the road. car that you have never driven? much, you may not be able to realistically If you are an inexperienced or unlicensed Fast facts compare the car’s features or performance driver, bring a qualified driver along who can to competing models. evaluate the vehicle’s driving dynamics: Check the exterior carefully, with an eye handling, acceleration, braking for details. Open the boot to see if there’s enough storage space. Is there a full-sized 100 spare tyre? If you drive on rough roads you may need one. Consumer Reports, a U.S. magazine and Find a dealer near your workplace website published by a non-profit consumer or home who you can trust and advocacy group, recommends walking in a with whom you can build a lasting Do your research – on the Internet circle around the car to perform an overall relationship and with consumer groups and quality check: magazines – before negotiating Keep in mind, however, that a car is just Make a checklist of what features a purchase price like a girlfriend or boyfriend: looks are not a you need to be a satisfied owner guarantee to happiness. And while it’s great and bring it to the dealer It’s a good idea to test drive the to have a sexy car, you and your passengers car before you buy will be travelling inside the vehicle. So Look for a salesperson who listens The number of new dealershipsto you and is focused on your that Ford plans to establish inneeds. Avoid the hard sell China to meet demand.26  First Gear First Gear  27
  • 16. CHAPTER 4: Signing on the dotted line eets your a vehicle that m anaged to find Once you’ve m alership, it’s tim e to start a trustworthy de about needs at the salesperson u should chat to financial negotiating. Yo to protect your rvice plans in order per work warranty and se to get all the pa tshell, you need interest. In a nu in order. We all know that you’re dying to get behind can save. If you learn how much others are the wheel and head out on the road – but paying for the car you want, you’ll know it’s very important to focus on all the immediately if the price you’re being details. quoted is competitive. “Do your research,” recommends Joseph Knowledge is power Cueter, operations manager for Ford’s First things first: you need to agree on a Customer Service Division, Asia Pacific and price. The more you know, the more you Africa. “By visiting chat rooms and reading 28  First Gear   First Gear  29 
  • 17. u are s and blogs, yoonline car forum payinggoing to see whaand find a pr As we’ve alread t people are ice range.” y stressed, the sticker $5,000 ning th e window of price that’s ador The amount you be negotiable. showro om vehicles may s hat sort of sale should budget for Depending on w e m anufacturers ar incentives auto t bonuses car maintenance alers, and wha offering their de eir sales the dealers m ay be offering th over five years of erson may be willing to staff, the salesp cessories. ownership (if you lower the price or add ac s staff always have Remember, sale won’t have a service to achieve… and targets that they need e t to achieve thos they will do a lo or maintenance plan). targets. “Ask what kind of wiggle room is model, that’s a good indication that the 5 available,” Cueter advises. “Ask the salesperson might accept a lower price. dealer: ‘What can you do today to make Likewise, when car companies roll out me buy this vehicle?’ “ new models, dealers will often be Keep in mind that car sales operate in motivated to clear out existing cycles: there are high and low seasons. inventory to make room for the latest When sales in your market traditionally product line-up. drop off, such as during the Lunar Festival in China and Taiwan, Christmas As Jill discovered when she went car shopping, there is nothing wrong with Fast facts in Australia and Tet in Vietnam, dealers buying what is known as a “previous Do your research may be even more motivated than generation model”, especially if you can For more bargaining power, buy at usual to make a sale. get it at a great price. When car the end of the year or month There are other times when sales companies launch so-called “new” staff might be more willing to give models, they are generally one of two Read the fine print: don’t pay for customers a better deal. For example, things: a completely new car boasting accessories or services you don’t at the end of the month, when all sorts of fabulous new features need dealerships are trying to meet sales – known as a “new generation model” quotas and companies are eager to – or a “face-lifted model”, which has Make sure there are no out-of- post record monthly sales figures, you had moderate changes. In the case of pocket expenses for warranty- may have more leverage to negotiate. the latter, they do not offer huge covered repairs If you see lots of promotions and benefits over the models they are Compare the warranties offered rebates being offered for a particular replacing (much like many movie stars, with different models30  First Gear  First Gear  31  First Gear  31
  • 18. and tell you the repair is free of charge? Or purchase but, in most markets, you must when you go in, do you have to fill out a pile purchase the extension before the initial of paperwork, pay for the repair out of your time period runs out. own pocket and then submit a claim to be The terms and prices of the warranty reimbursed under the warranty? Some agreements generally cannot be companies out there make you do that,” negotiated. But you can shop around and explains Cueter. “When you bring your compare the different warranty options vehicle into a Ford dealership for a offered for a variety of new vehicles. warranty-covered repair and provided the Consider the following example: one component you’re after is covered, you vehicle has a sticker price of USD 10,000, don’t have to pay anything up front and you and comes with a one-year bumper-to- don’t have to fill out lots of paperwork to bumper manufacturer’s warranty. The get the service you’re entitled to.” dealership will sell a three-year warranty The warranty period can be extended for extension for USD 3,000. Another vehicle an additional fee. Warranty extensions do has a sticker price of USD 12,500. It comes not have to be bought at the time of with a five-year warranty. Even though the they have just had a nip and a tuck here afraid to query any items on the invoice. and there). Jill opted for an older model Remember: you are the one with when she decided to invest in a nippy the power! hatchback because it had all the safety and technology benefits of the face-lifted Protect your investment model, but the exterior and interior styling Now that you’ve successfully negotiated a was slightly different. However, this did not purchase price, it’s time to think about how bother Jill one iota when she discovered best to protect your investment. All that she could knock 10 percent off the reputable manufacturers offer a warranty sticker price. with new car purchases. If you want to be the first one in your A good warranty offers complete town to drive a new model, you will pay for coverage and easy repairs at any dealership the privilege, and Jill decided that this with no out-of-pocket expenses for simply was not worthwhile. So, do as Jill warranty-covered repairs. Read the fine did, and buy a previous generation car. print carefully, as you would with any After you’ve agreed on a price with the warranty, to understand the terms and salesperson, check the invoice carefully for conditions exactly. hidden fees. Make sure you’re not paying “When you take your vehicle in for a for accessories or additional services that warranty repair, will the dealer just hand you don’t want, need or order. Don’t be you an invoice explaining what was fixed32  First Gear  First Gear  33 
  • 19. The sticker price that’s adorningthe window of showroomvehicles may be negotiable. first car boasts a cheaper purchase price, schedule. You don’t need to fret about this; This really is a great way of ensuring that “If you buy a new car and intend to keep the second vehicle may be a better value just take your car to a franchised dealer your car is constantly in tip-top condition it for five years, you can buy a scheduled for money proposition when you factor in when its service is due – the professionals while never having to stress about breaking maintenance plan and lock in service at the warranty coverage. So weigh up all in the workshop will know precisely what the bank or cutting back on your today’s prices for parts and labour. This these factors before deciding which vehicle to do. entertainment budget. “It’s just like buying protects you from fluctuations in the cost to buy. The only snag, of course, is that it can be insurance,” Cueter says. “Pay a little today of oil and raw materials that could drive up Remember, for your warranty to remain expensive to service a car. One way to to avoid a big hurt later on.” the price of components,” explains Cueter. valid, you must maintain your vehicle and negate this expense is to sign up for a In addition to meeting warranty adhere to the servicing recommendations maintenance or service plan that will requirements, there are other benefits to of the manufacturer. For instance, the oil ensure that all the necessary work is buying a service plan up front. For instance, must be changed regularly, and all hoses, performed at a manufacturer-authorised you can avoid future price increases in belts and filters must be replaced on dealership free of charge. parts and lubricants.  34  First Gear   First Gear  35 
  • 20. CHAPTER 5 Technology 0n wheels Gone are the days w hen your car was jus contraption with four t a mechanical wheels that got you B. These days, it is m from point A to ore like a supercompu with possibly more th ter on wheels, an 100 mini compute controlling ever ythin r systems g from the door lock s and brakes to 36  First Gear   First Gear  37 
  • 21. without the risk of stalling or rolling Defying gravity backwards. This also eliminates the need Rolling backwards on an incline can be to engage the handbrake to hold the car scary. Ask Jack. The last time he momentarily, leading to a smooth and attempted to pull off on an incline, the simple start when pulling away on a hill car rolled back and he ended up or in one of those multi-storey car parks. rearranging the front bumper of the car It transforms even the most junior of behind him (that car’s owner wasn’t drivers into geniuses. particularly pleased with the new arrangement). Music on wheels If you don’t want to play bumper cars CDs … what are they? Cassette tapes … with the vehicle behind, your best bet is never heard of them! You can now test to pick a car with a Hill Launch Assist the acoustics in your car and turn it into feature. It prevents your car from rolling your personal rock concert by playing back for up to three seconds as your foot music from your MP3 player, USB stick or travels from the brake to the accelerator phone. You don’t even have to worry pedal. about battery power on long journeys As soon as sufficient engine torque is – the system charges your device as you available, the feature releases the brakes play it. the starter and ignition system. under the collar because they’re being Cars are becoming more and more delayed. As the stress builds up, Jack high-tech as automakers work towards starts to think how nice it would be making safer vehicles that are also if someone could park the car for him – or better still, if the car could just Over 100 easier and more enjoyable to drive. There is loads of car technology out park itself. there (some technology is more useful The thing is – it can! If it has an Active than the others!). Here are some of the Park Assist feature, that is. To activate most useful and fun features that you the system, just press a centre console The number of mini computers should consider having in your car. button which activates ultrasonic in the average car sensors that measure and identify a Bye bye to parallel feasible parking space. It then calculates parking woes the optimal steering angle and quickly For the fifth time, Jack is trying to steers the vehicle into the parking spot reverse his car into that ever-so-tricky for you – hands free. The driver must parallel parking bay. Will I ever get this maintain control of the vehicle by right, he asks himself. In the meantime, shifting the transmission and operating a long queue of cars has lined up behind the accelerator and brake pedals. him. Some of the drivers are amused Yippee, hassle-free parking. Plus you at the Jack parallel parking sideshow; never ever need be embarrassed at your others are getting dangerously hot parallel parking skills again!38  First Gear First Gear  39
  • 22. Car of the future What do you think cars will look like in the next 10 to 20 years? That was the question we posed to J Mays, group vice president of design and chief creative officer, Ford Motor Company. Here’s what the designer behind Ford’s personality-driven Start concept car has to say… "From an exterior standpoint, it’s going to be more of the same. Exterior design is always going to be the thing that characterises first and foremost, what the car should represent in the customer’s mind. But over the last 10 years, interior design has become more and more important because that’s where people spend all of their driving time." To activate the microphone that Look Ma, no hands detects your voice command, Jill simply One of the funkiest yet affordable presses a button next to the steering features of new cars today is wheel and speaks her command. If she Bluetooth® with Voice Control. This wants to access her climate control allows you to operate your mobile, system, for instance, she just says climate control and audio system “Climate”. Or, for the phone, she says using voice-activated commands – all “Phone” and so on. The system allows wirelessly. Practically, this leaves you Jill to receive and make phone calls, and free to keep your eyes on the road and also access her mobile’s phone book your hands on the wheel. This feature and calling history… all hands free. digital information or favourite music helps Jack to drive safely, even as he behind while on the road. chats with his buddies. At one with your car For example, Ford has built on its Bluetooth® is a trademark of Bluetooth SIG The latest buzzwords in car technology award-winning SYNC device connectivity Inc., and is used under licence. are “seamless integration”, meaning that system to deliver an intuitive connected automakers are finding ways to help you driver experience called MyFord. It connect with your car so that you won’t replaces many of the traditional vehicle have to leave your communications, buttons, knobs and gauges. With more 40  First Gear   First Gear  41 
  • 23. voice commands, clear, crisp LCD up-to-date information includingscreens that can be customised and business listings, news, sports andfive-way buttons such as those on cell weather – without the need for a built-phones and MP3 players, drivers can in navigation system.choose which information is front and The new thing that is probably goingcentre through a button click, voice to dominate car design in the next 10command or touch-screen tap. years is going to be the human-machine Developed with Microsoft, Ford SYNC interface, where all the navigation takesis an advanced software platform that place inside the car. The human-allows motorists such as Jack and Jill machine interface will becomethe convenience and flexibility to bring increasingly sophisticated with voicedigital media players and Bluetooth®- activation and multi touch-screenenabled mobile phones into their technology. Cars are becoming morevehicle and operate the devices via like rolling computers and that’s goingvoice commands or with the steering to transform the way people drive. It’swheel’s radio controls. In the U.S., it can also going to transform the way weeven deliver personalised traffic reports, design automobiles.precise turn-by-turn directions and42  First Gear First Gear  43
  • 24. CHAPTER 6: Safety In Your Car So here’s the thing, guys a new (or pre-l nd gals: whe oved) set of n you buy a important th wheels, the ing is not ho single-most sounds. Yes w good the c , a hot colou ar looks or And what’s b r and flash in eneath the h terior are cru never forget: ood is also im cial. it’s the safety portant. But the differenc features tha e between lif t could mea e and death n . Today’s cars come with a bunch of sci-fi technology manager, Ford Asia Pacific stuff, with all sorts of weird acronyms. and Africa, points out: “Beyond the And so we’re often clueless as to what vehicle’s structure and design, there are they mean. ABS, EBD and ESP...? Go an increasing number of safety features figure… available which at either an individual But these weird and wonderful or combined level of offering serve in contraptions all play a vital role, as Jamie contributing towards enhancing a McCullough, cross carline feature and vehicle’s ‘accident avoidance’ and/or44  First Gear First Gear  45
  • 25. Zen and the art of crash testing New cars must pass certain safety and pole test. Separate pedestrian tests before being sold. Most have a tests will score the pedestrian rating. Euro NCAP safety rating (European Euro NCAP also rewards cars with New Car Assessment Rating). Or, if it’s intelligent seatbelt reminders. Australian, an ANCAP (Australian Since 2009, Euro NCAP has released New Car Assessment Program) rating. only one overall star rating for each For cars tested before 2009, Euro car, with a maximum of five stars. This NCAP has three ratings: adult protec- comprises the scores in adult, child tion, child occupant and pedestrian and pedestrian protection, and safety protection. These ratings are achieved assist. The tests are identical to pre- from three impact tests: frontal, side 2009 ones, with the addition of a test talities which fa reduced 50 a g e by Percent s c a n be us injurie age. and serio us seatbelt t hanks to ‘occupant protection’ performance. Wise Jill, who’s often sharper than for whiplash neck injury protection in ous/fatal injuries for buckled-in adult Ford is a safety leader; you can see it in Jack’s buddies realise, asks how safe rear impact. Also, Euro NCAP rewards occupants. The 64 km/h test speed our innovations that help customers it is. not only seatbelt reminders, but also represents a car-to-car collision with avoid crashes or protect them if one is “Well, it’s got seatbelts,” the speed limiters and standard fitment each car doing about 55 km/h. unavoidable.” salesman announces proudly. That is a of ESC. Steering wheel-mounted airbags are And so, it’s important to buy a car good thing: according to the National So how do they do crash tests? The quite critical, and Euro NCAP encour- that has as many of these features as Highway Transportation Safety frontal impact test takes place at 64 ages seatbelt pretensioners, load lim- possible… not that all young drivers Administration (NHTSA), seatbelts km/h, and readings taken from the iters and dual stage airbags. remember to prioritise. Picture Jack in reduce the risk of fatality and serious test dummies assess the protection So essentially, the more stars out of the showroom, or used car lot, inspect- injury by 50 percent when used by given to adult front occupants. Con- five your car has, the better. Drive a ing the gleaming array of fine machin- drivers and front-seat passengers. tact between the occupant and superstar and your chances of surviv- ery. And there’s the salesman trying “Seat belts are your first line of defence intruding parts of the passenger com- ing the roads are better. to sell him that cool hotrod, which is against injuries or death,” declares partment is the main cause of seri- chromed to the hilt and emits a fire- David L. Strickland, administrator, breathing roar when you step on the gas. NHTSA. 46  First Gear  First Gear  47
  • 26. But, of course, seatbelts are a given relief, “Honest” Bob (as he’s known) lists today. The salesman shouldn’t be so the car’s safety features. proud. It’s actually an old car: truth be There’s ABS, he says, or an anti-lock told, it’s a bone-rattler of note. braking system. This helps prevent the Jill shakes her head. Uh-uh. She prods wheels from locking during sudden Jack in the ribs, and points to a newer, braking, like when you slam on anchors bigger, but infinitely less flashy vehicle. when a driver in front of you stops How about that one, she asks. And with unexpectedly. By allowing the car to slow in a more controlled manner, ABS helps maintain steering control. Some ABS systems include brake assist, which senses emergency braking by detectingStrapped for cash? the speed or force at which you press the brake, boosting the power asHere are the most needed. Under certain conditions, brakeimportant safety features assist can reach the braking force needed to activate the ABS faster, andin any car: help reduce stopping distance by• Seat belts: With all of the technological eliminating the delay caused by not advances, seat belts are still the top life-sav- braking hard/soon enough. ing device in cars today He says the car also has ESP, or an• Anti-lock braking system (ABS): it pre- Electronic Stability Programme, which vents the wheels from locking during braking; means drivers are better able to control you have far more control over your vehicle as a result the car in intense steering manoeuvres. Times to take extra care Venture out onto the road and you’re taking• Electronic Stability Programme (ESP): your life into your own hands: we all know that. this is a very clever electronic system that But there are high-risk periods, when you really steps in if your vehicle is about to skid out of should be extra careful. According to the control; it takes over by selectively applying Automobile Association of South Africa, this the brakes and helps prevent things from is when accidents are statistically the most going pear-shaped likely to occur:• Crumple zones: this is a structural feature of your car; it compresses during an accident, thereby absorbing the energy and minimising • Between dusk and dawn the impact of the accident on people sitting • During morning and evening peak traffic in the car • At “closing time” for bars and clubs• Airbags: these are, quite literally, bags of air • Late in the week and at weekends when that inflate in milli-seconds if you have an the use of alcohol increases accident; they help prevent you from knock- ing your head on the dash, for instance • On public holidays and weekends when many motorists are paying more attention to• A well trained driver: you can never ever sightseeing than to proper driving have too much training; it needs to be cou- pled with the right attitude out on the road48  First Gear First Gear  49
  • 27. ESP helps prevent a car from spinning There’s also a host of airbags that out by constantly monitoring and help protect you in the event of an applying braking force to one or more accident. Depending on the impact wheels as needed. speed and the stiffness of the object It has crumple zones. This means that, struck, front airbags inflate to help in the event of an accident, the car’s reduce the risk of occupants hitting the body parts are designed to absorb the dashboard, steering wheel and energy from a crash’s impact. As a windshield. Side airbags reduce the risk result, the passenger compartment is of you hitting the door or objects not as badly damaged, which means the crashing through it. Some cars have driver and passengers are less likely to head airbags, which deploy in side be injured. impacts, while some deploy during It also boasts a high amount of ultra rollovers. Both provide additional high strength boron steel in its door protection to help reduce head injuries. intrusion beams, which helps protect Then there’s AWD, or all-wheel-drive, occupants in side-impact collisions. which distributes power to both the Boron steel is very good news for road front and rear wheels to maximise safety – because it delivers a rigid, yet traction. This means that you’re less lightweight passenger cell, providing likely to go barrelling off the road. greater side and frontal impact Jack and Jill decide it’s a no-brainer. protection. “I read an article about this The cool hotrod is rejected in favour of steel,” Jill tells Jack proudly. “The use of the far more sensible vehicle. Honest these high-strength steels has helped Bob has done it again: Jack and Jill are Ford perform extremely well in crash sold. So’s the safety conscious car! tests, earning its vehicles more U.S. government five-star safety ratings than any other brand!” 50  First Gear   First Gear  51 
  • 28. Everyone thinks it won’t happen to them. Especially TER 7: young drivers – they believe that they’re invincible. But the reality is that anyone can have an accident while driving – even CHAP professional racing drivers! Even if it’s not your fault, you Safety oad on the r can still lose life or limb because of some other road user’s silly mistakes. Can you avoid accidents? Sure – not Besides, she knows what she’s doing… just by piloting a safer car, but by being or so she believes. aware of potential pitfalls, and Actually, she doesn’t. Well, not all the exercising more caution. time, anyway, as Jack regularly points out. For starters, this too cool for school Speed kills young lady has a bad habit of going flat As for Jill, she drives way too fast for her out and then standing on the brakes as own good. This is, of course, quite she’s cornering. Generally speaking, she common behaviour for someone like Jill. drives way too fast (even keeping within As the Royal Society for the Prevention the speed limit can be unsafe, for of Accidents in England points out: example on wet or icy roads or on “Young drivers are more likely to see narrow, winding rural roads). speed as exciting. They are particularly She tailgates trucks too… and other prone to approaching bends too fast cars. So she has to keep crossing into and to dangerous overtaking.” the oncoming lane to see what’s ahead Jill, of course, thinks this is all and if it’s safe to overtake. Jill has had nonsense. Hey, her hot hatchback was many close calls, but hasn’t learned. designed for speed, so why not?52  First Gear First Gear  53
  • 29. When is it safe to overtake? The experts say: • When travelling along a single lane road behind another vehicle, ask yourself if you intend to overtake it • If not, leave a gap ahead that’s long enough to allow overtaking by other cars. This allows other road users to overtake you, slot safely into the gap you’ve left, and await an opportunity to overtake the next vehicle • Vehicles travelling close together create a very long vehi- cle that’s more difficult to overtake, increasing the risk of an accident • Even if no one’s behind you, leaving a large gap increases your line of sight and safety margin Consider the conditions Here are some pointers when you hit •• If you’re driving in fog, switch on your Bad weather? Well that’s another story. the road (someone pass these on to low-beam headlights, slow down When the roads are wet, it’s not rocket Jill, please): before you reach a patch of fog, and science that the tar is slippery and you need turn on your defroster and windshield to slow reduce speed. Not Jill. She goes full •• The U.S. Transportation Department wipers steam ahead, with absolutely no thought to says more than 450,000 crashes •• Increase your following distance in bad the consequences. The other day in a occur annually in adverse weather weather, such as monsoons seriously crummy thunderstorm, she floored conditions or on slick roads. To help •• Dry your feet before getting into the the accelerator even though visibility was nil avoid a crash, keep your tyres inflated car; wet feet can easily slip off the and driving conditions were so scary that to the right pressure and make sure pedals there were hardly any another vehicles on they have enough tread the road. She miscalculated her abilities, and •• Turn on your lights in bad weather or spun four times before stopping – with a low light resounding crunch – against a street pole. •• Avoid puddles: they could be That cost her a fortune in repair bills. She’s lucky she’s alive. camouflaging potholes •• If you start aquaplaning (also known More than as “hydroplaning”, this happens when there is water between the tyres of the 450,000 vehicle and road surface, leading to The number of crashes that occur the loss of traction), don’t brake or annually in adverse weather steer. Stop accelerating until you feel conditions or on slick roads. your tyres make contact with the road54  First Gear First Gear  55
  • 30. Of course, there are several basic that should be rules you’re hit from second nature behind, there’s Jill and guys like to girls like space to steer aw time and Jack. Just like ou ay from the vehi in good or bad r advice front. Always ch cle in weather conditi eck your blind sp always stay thre ons, before changin ots e cars’ lengths g lanes. A mom car in front of yo from the peek can be all entary u. This means th you need to avoi at, if accident. d an lp you improve fuel driver; it will also he st line time advantages Defence is the fir efficiency (think big of at tack er your CO2 to your wallet) and low e” driver when it Always be a “defensiv emissions. lists, and aggres- guys and girls comes to children, cyc n Finally, one word for sive drivers: expec t the unexpected. Pla d then drive: no. d them who love to party an t yourself an wer, and the stats Demon drivers •• A truck with a badly packed or a “defence” to protec Your reactions are slo According to the Automobile Association unsecured load, or a car with a bulky against the da ngers they present. alities resulting show far too many fat for every single to convince us of South Africa, there are also some load on the roof rack – the load, or It is vitally important from drunk driving me older ones too!) es for speeding. It vehicles that you should be especially part of it, may come adrift young driver (and so otherwise. Same go ed driver training as simple as that. wary of while out on the road. •• A car containing active children and to invest in an advanc kills. Don’t do it. It’s bally successful pets – the driver may not be programme. Ford’s glo •• Any vehicle in which the driver’s range concentrating on the road Driving Skills for Lif e programme is a ues Avoid holiday bl classroom and nning a long of vision is limited – such as a fully •• A car with stickers on the windows, great option; it mixes Going on holiday? When pla help increase the fatigue. Turning laden truck with no side mirrors piles of luggage, or a large number of practical training to trip, be aware of driver ving techniques. or opening the •• A vehicle that “wanders” about the passengers – the driver’s vision is awareness of safe dri up the sound system ch you to be a safe road – it could be a faulty steering or probably obscured And it won’t only tea suspension, or the driver may be drunk •• A vehicle with a driver who does not or sleepy appear to be giving his full •• Any vehicle that is dirty, rusty, missing attention to the road body parts or with a badly smoking exhaust – it is probably in poor overall mechanical condition Remember, if you cannot see the mirrors of the vehicle in front of you, that driver can’t see you!56  First Gear First Gear  57
  • 31. window won’t work. Rather, get plenty of shut-eye. If you feel drowsy, pull over for a nap, some fresh air or physical activity (walk around the car several times). Everyone knows that booze is a complete no-no and that it’s to be avoided if you plan to spend time behind the wheel. But bear in mind the fact that over-the-counter drugs such as allergy pills and muscle relaxants could also make you dozy. The Institute of Advanced Motorists in the United Kingdom also offers some other handy practical tips: • Pack belongings securely – loose objects can be distracting and, if the driver needs to brake sharply, unsecured items could fly forward and hit those sitting in front • Where possible pack heavy items in the boot • Don’t load your car until it’s ready to burst; you will almost certainly obscure visibility. You need to have a clear view of the road all the time • The driving seat should be adjusted to a safe Remember: upright position and the heating/air-condition- • Do regular visual checks ing set to a cool – not cold – temperature • Lumps/bumps could mean internal • Keep an eye on the fuel level to make sure you don’t run dry. Running out of fuel on a motor- damage: remove and have an way puts your safety at risk, and it will be very expert check it expensive to call out for help to top you up • Tyres deteriorate with age. If Rubber alert • Check tyre pressures before setting off. cracked, the rubber could be Never under-estimate the importance of your tyres: Tyres on a full and heavy car usually require perished. Remove and get they are what keep you stuck to the road. higher pressure expert advice Always check the air pressure when the tyres are • Driving on unfamiliar roads can be unnerving. cold – never during or immediately after a journey. • Keep your spare pumped and Satellite navigation systems can help and ena- Check every two weeks and adjust when necessary. primed for action. Check its ble the driver to re-route quickly and relatively The right pressures prevent unnecessary wear, pressure regularly, especially easily, but they can be expensive. It’s always minimise excess fuel consumption and help avoid best to plan the journey before hitting the road, before long journeys potentially dangerous blow-outs. using a map or online journey planner58  First Gear First Gear  59
  • 32. 50% The percentage by which road fatalities are expected to rise in low and middle income countries by 2020 according to the International Road Assessment Programme. 5 Five fast life-saving tips • Take it easy at night. Young drivers have a high proportion of their crashes at night • Don’t drink and drive. And don’t accept a lift from someone who has been drinking or might have taken drugs. Remember, some over-the-counter medicines can also cause drowsiness • Always use a hands free kit when talking on the phone while driv- Cheap is not always best! “Not all replacement vehicle parts are ing. And don’t text or surf the net. U.S. government research shows It’s sometimes tempting to buy counterfeit created equal when it comes to safety,” the most dangerous distractions are those that take your eyes off or non-factory parts, because the warns Paul Massie, Ford powertrain and the road and hands from the wheel for an extended period of time perception exists that they’re cheap. And collision product marketing manager. “All • Loud music, eating, drinking and smoking can distract you while that’s sometimes true – they may be drivers should be aware that copy parts you’re driving cheaper than “the genuine thing”. But, can compromise the safety of their • Buckle up. Always. And get your passengers to do the same according to scientific studies (we’re not vehicles.” just talking marketing puffery here), you Copy aftermarket parts can end up could end up endangering your life by costing you big bucks if they result in fitting one of these substandard engine failure, or a mechanical breakdown. components to your car. But what is the actual difference Ford Motor Company recently conducted between a genuine part and a counterfeit substandard materials in order to be marketed a series of low-speed crash tests, and or non-factory component? Unless you’re as a cheaper alternative to authorised these revealed that aftermarket copy an expert in this field, it’s hard to tell replacement parts,” explains Massie. structural parts absorb less crash energy them apart – because, to the naked Sadly, counterfeit parts are rampant in the than genuine Ford structural parts and can eye, they sometimes look fairly similar. aftermarket industry… so how do you avoid also result in unintended airbag But, as Jill discovered when she dated using them inadvertently? “Always ask for and deployments. These fake parts are also a drop-dead gorgeous man who insist on the installation of original equipment not properly crash tested by the seller of turned out to be a complete factory parts. Your best chance to get ‘genuine’ the parts – so, in the event of an accident, disappointment, looks can be factory parts is to have the vehicle serviced at a you don’t know if they’re actually going to deceiving. “Aftermarket copy factory dealer,” suggests Joseph Cueter, work properly. parts are often constructed with operations manager for Ford’s Customer Service Division, Asia Pacific and Africa. Whatever you do, don’t take a chance… the single most important thing is remaining safe on the road.60  First Gear  First Gear  61 
  • 33. CHAPTER 8: Avoid fuel funk62  First Gear First Gear  63
  • 34. s is that it The good new ill have ad news. and st have g ood and b ave as you drive ear. The b ad We ssible to s d of the y ould only y po en is actuall or a holiday at the bits. If you w tf a money le f driving h bout real dollar ou – a nd your a news is y e talking glide until it’s green and accelerate Don’t sweat it, but if it’s cool enough, s e ha bits, you’r moderately again, he would save petrol switch off the air conditioning, and possibly tweak tho just cents. – and brake pads. save yet another 10 percent on fuel. not savings, Given the price of fuel these days, there are 2. Slow and steady wins the race tips galore on how to drive more fuel- Taking your speed down to 90 km/h from efficiently. But which ones really work and 105 km/h can improve your fuel how much can you save? Jamie consumption by 10 to 15 percent, according McCullough, cross carline feature and to the U.S. Environmental Protection technology manager, Ford Asia Pacific and Agency. Drive at low engine speeds, ideally Africa, reveals the top ten winners. at 1,500 to 2,500 rpm to maximise fuel economy. Why waste all that fuel – and 1. Watch the aggression risk your safety and getting a ticket – just Sudden acceleration and hard braking can to get there five minutes faster? increase fuel consumption by as much as 40 percent while toxic emissions can be 3. Use natural air conditioning more than five times higher. Studies have The verdict’s still out on this one as some also shown that changing lanes doesn’t studies have found that turning the air result in significantly reduced travel times, conditioning off may reduce fuel so stick to your lane, and decrease fuel consumption only minimally. consumption – and your blood pressure. Jack loves to accelerate right up to the red light – but is this really necessary? Why not ease off the accelerator from a distance? Were Jack to use the car’s momentum to64  First Gear First Gear  65
  • 35. Slow down Jack! 7. Get tuned in 8. Regular’s good Sudden acceleration and An improperly tuned engine hurts fuel Unless your vehicle is specifically tailored hard braking increase fuel consumption by an average of 4.1 percent, to take advantage of the higher octane consumption by 40 percent! according to U.S. government studies. A level in the premium fuel, you’re potentially properly working oxygen sensor is most wasting money. Go by what is important to fuel economy and can recommended in your owner’s manual. At increase or decrease your efficiency by as current prices, you might save up to USD much as 40 percent. 150 a year by opting for unleaded instead of premium. 40% Your fuel bill can rise by this percentage if your car doesn’t have a properly working oxygen sensor. 4. Inflate your tyres fuel consumption. As greenyour.com notes: Under-inflated tyres increase resistance “Lightening your car’s load may take a Regular or premium? and make it more difficult for the engine to chunk out of your day, but you’ll be saving Save money by using the type of fuel recommended in your move the car along the road. These under- money – and the environment – in the long owner’s manual. The difference between regular and premi- nourished tyres can chow more fuel by up run.” So adopt a minimalistic approach and um, other than the price, is the octane rating. Now, the rat- to six percent. Check your owner’s manual get rid of all the junk and clutter. ing doesn’t indicate how much power the fuel delivers. But for optimal “pounds per square inch” or PSI Remember: a light car equates to a happy, a higher octane rating means the fuel is less likely to cause ratings. The U.S. Department of Energy less thirsty car. your engine to knock. says that for every one PSI you are under the optimal rate, you take 0.4 percent off 6. Oxygen needed Knock, or detonation, happens when part of the fuel-air your fuel economy. Cars do not run on just fuel. They need mixture in one or more of your car’s cylinders ignites sponta- oxygen too. If air flow is restricted by a neously due to compression, independent of the combus- 5. Think light clogged air filter (and your engine cannot tion initiated by the spark plug. Instead of a controlled burn, You don’t need to store all 300 pairs of breath as a result), the car’s performance you get the equivalent of an explosion – certainly not good your shoes in the boot! Clear out all the and fuel economy will suffer. It’s been for your engine. To avoid this, high-octane gas is formulated magazines, shoes, golf clubs and clothes estimated that you can save eight percent to burn slower than regular. that are in your car and you’re off to a each time you fill up your tank by replacing slimmer fuel bill. Remember, an extra 48 a bad air filter. kg of weight can add two percent to your66  First Gear First Gear  67
  • 36. 9. Training pays dividends I don’t need Still not sure how to change your driving to carry that much. habits? Then what about enrolling in Ford’s Driving Skills for Life programme? The Save energy! training combines classroom teaching and practical driving sessions to help you be a safer and more eco-friendly driver. 10. Buy a greener car And, if after all that, you’re still unwilling or unable to change your driving habits, there is still one more option left – buy a fuel- efficient car. This may or may not be a hybrid; there are now lots of regular cars on our roads that boast terrific fuel economy. Saving money at the pump is not rocket science; it just takes making small changes to the way you drive. Look at all the tips, pick one, and go save the world. to 20 percent fuel improvement and 15 seeks to improve economy. By 2015, for There are lots of ways percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. instance, it plans to increase car and truck fuel economy by more than 35 percent that cars are becoming Green tyres Tyre manufacturers are developing low thanks to powertrain advancements. Small is big more economical. rolling resistance tyres – which means a lower fuel bill at the end of the day. Put Car manufacturers the world over are downsizing – and Ford is no exception. simply, with these tyres, there is less “We’re changing from a company focused So, if you want to cut your fuel bill, look out double-clutch gearbox and cuts fuel friction. In other words, they roll down the mainly on trucks and SUVs to a company for these features: consumption by as much as nine percent. road more easily. This is a very big deal; with a balanced product line-up that energy is wasted all the time thanks to a includes even more high-quality, fuel- Smart gearboxes Turbochargers build-up of heat between tyres and the efficient small cars, hybrids and all-electric We all know that a manual gearbox is Turbocharging technologies have allowed road. vehicles,” says Mark Fields, Ford’s President generally (but not always) less thirsty than automakers to come up with smaller of The Americas. “As customers move to an automatic transmission. But what if engines that can deliver the power of a Improved powertrains more fuel-efficient vehicles, we’ll be there there’s a way of mating the best of both larger engine. For example Ford’s EcoBoost Globally, Ford is making an unprecedented with more of the products they really worlds? Ford’s PowerShift technology engines combine direct fuel injection investment in new engine and want.” essentially does that with its six-speed technology and turbocharging to deliver up transmission components – all because it68  First Gear First Gear  69
  • 37. CHAPTER 9: Tech talk You don’t need to be a mechanic or a mechanical engineer in order to keep your hot hatch or snazzy sedan in tip-top running condition. But you do need to understand a couple of technical basics… The first is this: you simply must have invalidated. Which you don’t want. It’s your car serviced regularly – much like also a good idea to go to an authorised your scheduled dental appointment; it’s dealer because they have all the silly to allow your car to miss a service. necessary equipment to work on your car. Your car is a big investment and it makes Jill learnt this the hard way: she sense to treat it with tender loving care. spotted a bargain basement deal on a So check the owner’s manual, which will service – what a nightmare that turned specify servicing intervals – and then out to be. Yes, the service cost next to stick to them. Remember, it’s also much nothing – but she ended up having cheaper in the long run to maintain your endless hassles with her car because the car properly rather than to wait for it to workmanship was substandard. break, and then fix it. In days gone by, cars were very simple While your car is under warranty, you and no complex equipment was needed. must take it to an authorised dealer. That couldn’t be further from the truth Taking it elsewhere is just plain nuts, today. For example, your car’s engine is because then your warranty will be quite likely controlled by an Electronic70  First Gear First Gear  71
  • 38. Also, when you do business with an take charge of some basic bits and pieces authorised dealer, you know that certain too: there are some rudimentary duties standards are maintained. Notes Joseph that you can perform to ensure that your Cueter, operations manager for Ford’s car operates efficiently. Customer Service Division, Asia Pacific and Africa: “Ford factory trained Engine technicians know your Ford vehicle best Popping open the bonnet or hood will and can advise you on how to protect often tell you… exactly nothing! That’s and care for your car with regularly because, with many modern cars, the scheduled maintenance.” engine is obscured by plastic covers But you cannot relinquish all which prevent you from tampering with responsibility to the dealer. You need to technical components. If you run an engine without oil, it can seize – which, in non-technical terms, means it literally curls up and dies!Control Unit (or ECU) and, if the engineis not running optimally, the dealer mayneed to hook up sophisticated diagnos-tics equipment and run specialisedsoftware in order to fix the problem. It makes sense to service via anauthorised dealer as this will boost thevalue of your car when the time comesto sell. It is common knowledge that theresale value of your car can be improvedif you have it serviced at an authoriseddealer and your service book is stamped.Remember to check that the dealer hasnot forgotten to stamp your book!72  First Gear  First Gear  73 
  • 39. engine! If you run an engine without oil, Tyres it can seize – which, in non-technical Don’t forget those bits of black rubber! terms, means it literally curls up and The tyres on your car are safety critical dies! items. So it’s really important to keep Check the radiator coolant level in the them in peak condition. plastic reservoir – it should be between This means sticking to the correct tyre the high and low marks. You should pressures and, once again, this will be never ever check your coolant level stipulated in the owner’s manual and/or when the radiator is hot (this could lead on the inside of the door. Look for to nasty burns). This is one of the most uneven tyre wear and nails in the tread. ? common vehicle-related accidents; it Inspect the sidewall for cuts and happens around the world almost on a bubbles. daily basis, simply because car owners In the tyre tread you will find places are unaware of the associated dangers. where there is a small rubber bridge It is vitally important that you heed this – this is called a tyre tread indicator. advice. When this segment of rubber is the same depth as the tread you should 5 Association (NRMA) in Australia But recommends that you check the oil Some age-old snippets of advice are nothing there level while your car is parked on a level more than maintenance myths. Here are five are some surface. Start the engine, let it run for a things you short while, and then turn it off. While common fallacies: should check, your engine’s still warm, remove the and the two most important items are dipstick, and wipe it clean with a lint- • You should change your car’s oil every • The number listed on the sidewall of your oil and water levels. Your car’s engine free rag. The dipstick is normally pretty three months. This isn’t necessary. Synthetic tyre is the recommended tyre pressure. simply cannot survive without these easy to find. It’s that long, flexible rod oils don’t break down so rapidly. Check your False! In most cases, this is actually the maxi- two liquids. It’s also a good idea to normally near the front of the engine owner’s manual and be guided by its mum pressure allowed for that tyre. The rec- check the level of windscreen washer compartment – and it often has an recommendations ommended pressure is usually listed on the fluid as well as the brake and power orange hoop at the top. Be careful to • You need to let your vehicle engine warm inside door panel – check your owner’s manual steering fluid. Don’t know where to find reinsert the dipstick fully, otherwise up in cold weather. Not true. The engine to be sure these? All is revealed in your owner’s you’ll get a false reading. warms up while you drive. Running your car any • Buy fuel in the morning and you’ll save manual. If you read the manual and Remove the dipstick again and check longer beforehand is just a waste of fuel money. When someone tells you to fill up in you’re still clueless as to their location, the oil level. If it’s reading low, top up the morning when fuel is coolest and most • Premium fuel is a treat for your car. Wrong! stick your pride in your pocket and pop your oil using the correct grade as Unless your vehicle is specifically tailored to dense (because fuel is sold by volume), just tell over to the dealer, who will explain all. recommended by the vehicle take advantage of the higher octane level in them they’re talking nonsense. The belief was But firstly the all-important oil. The manufacturer. Very important: if no oil the fuel, you’re wasting your money. Use what you would get more fuel for your buck. But fuel National Roads and Motorists’ shows on the dipstick, do NOT run your is recommended in your owner’s manual is housed in underground, non-metallic tanks and they aren’t that sensitive to sunlight74  First Gear First Gear  75
  • 40. replace the tyre. Legal requirements Lights pedal spongy (this means the brake differ from country to country but, Check that all your lights work properly. pedal is not solid when depressed, but according to the Automobile Association Get a friend to stand outside your car bounces softly)? Does the car tend to (AA) in the U.K., most countries require a and help you check your park lights, high pull to one side under braking? Can you minimum tread depth of 1.6 mm. It and low beams, indicators, brake lights hear an unusual grinding sound? recommends a minimum of 2 mm for and fog lights. Unless you have some If the answer to any of these questions road safety reasons. It is extremely mechanical ability, do not attempt to is yes, go to the dealer or an approved important to have enough tread on your replace faulty globes or bulbs (it’s a brake fitment centre. And ask them to tyres: without enough tread, tyres cannot tricky job; you could end up damaging sort it out now! do their jobs. the expensive plastic clips that form part Remember to always check the infla- of the lights, for instance). Shock absorbers tion of your spare tyre. We recommend These nifty devices (which you cannot that you keep an emergency tyre sealant Windscreen and wiper blades see unless you look under the wheel – it’s often referred to as a “tyre bomb” If your windscreen is chipped – do not arch) are part of the suspension. They canister – in your boot. This handy tyre leave it. It’s very important that you have work in conjunction with the wheel sealant inflator re-inflates a flat tyre in a maximum visibility on the road. spring. They are responsible for the road minute or two. It cannot be used for a Clean the wiper blades with a rag holding and handling characteristics of sidewall puncture (this is a puncture in dipped in household detergent regularly. your car so they’re also pretty important the side of the tyre). It’s not vitally important to use fancy to your car’s (and your!) wellbeing. If your tyres show uneven wear pat- windshield washer fluid – a few drops of You cannot replace or repair the terns, get the wheel alignment checked. dishwasher detergent mixed with water shocks yourself; this must be done by will do the job perfectly. If, in wet the dealer. But you can certainly check if weather, your wiper blades leave lines they’re functioning optimally. The best and do not clean the windscreen way of doing this is by getting a strong properly, this means it’s time to change person to push down independently on them. These are readily available from each corner of the car and then suddenly your local spares shop. They will most release the downward pressure. The car probably even help you fit them – it’s a should lift to its normal ride height five-minute job. So you don’t need to go position at a uniform rate – if it bobs up to the dealer and pay for this service. and down a few times, chances are good that your shocks are faulty. Brakes The brakes are seriously important components! That’s because they can keep you from becoming another road statistic! So, if you suspect you may have a problem with your brakes, attend to this immediately. There are many things that impact on good braking, and firstly you need to understand what is wrong. Is the brake76  First Gear  First Gear  77 
  • 41. CHAPTER 10: SOS Much like having a best friend, owning a car is a fun experience – generally speaking. Alas, things can go wrong. You and your friend can have an argument. With your car, things can Scenario number one: owner’s manual will stipulate easily be as traumatic: you can break down The breakdown precisely how often your car needs and end up stranded on the side of the road. We’ve all heard horror stories about to be serviced. Don’t ignore these people breaking down and it always guidelines; cars are like relationships You can have an accident. Or your car could be happens in the dead of night on a – they need attention. You must hijacked or get stolen. But follow our trusty quiet road. In reality, a breakdown adhere to those service intervals survival guide and you stand a good chance of isn’t normally that traumatic; there anyway, because if you fail to do so, avoiding those motoring nightmares. is often a knight in shining armour to your car’s warranty may not cover lend a helping hand (or, failing that any subsequent repairs. romantic prospect, an auto club). Secondly, get to know your car – But it’s still a stressful affair – so and especially those pesky lights on there are a couple of steps that you the dashboard. If they do light can take to prevent this happening up, you need to know what they in the first place. stand for. Once again, all this The first is keeping your vehicle in information will be in your owner’s tip-top running condition. Your manual. So read it!78  First Gear First Gear  79
  • 42. Two of the major causes of breakdowns are fuel (a lack thereof) and a burst tyre. Scenario number two: need the other driver’s name and The accident address, identity number, make of You may think you’re the world’s vehicle as well as the vehicle greatest driver (and maybe you are). registration number.” Despite this, chances are good that you Always keep a notebook and pen in will meet someone “by accident” one your glove box, in order to record these day. So, what do you do if this happens? details. Your mobile telephone is a really Specific legislation varies from handy tool: you can use it to country to country, but there are a photograph the actual crash site. If you Two of the major causes of breakdowns mechanical item on your car could fail. You couple of “rules of thumb” that apply don’t have a camera, a simple sketchare fuel (a lack thereof) and a burst tyre. need to be properly prepared, so consider the world over. If you do have an plan of the accident could prove to beNever ever allow your fuel to run to below a keeping some essential items in your car, accident, your first priority is to check to invaluable – especially if a court casequarter tank. And always ensure that your including: see if anyone has been hurt. Then, you results from the collision.tyres are in good condition and properly •• Charger for your mobile telephone need to exchange your details with the An important word of advice: whileinflated. “Wear and tear are the main •• Blanket driver of the other vehicle. “On a chatting to the other driver, stay calmculprits behind flat tyres and blowouts. •• Bottle of water practical level being involved in an (shouting or boxing never helps theWhen you fill up with fuel get into the habit •• First aid kit accident is a traumatic event. It is quite situation). Always report the accident toof checking your tyre pressure and tread at •• Torch easy to forget your responsibilities and police within 24 hours.the same time, and look to see if there is •• Map to act out of character,” comments Gary The AA suggests that, if your vehicleanything, such as a nail or piece of glass, •• Matches Ronald, public affairs manager, needs to be towed to a panel beater orwhich is sticking in the tread but hasn’t •• Energy bars Automobile Association (AA) South body repair shop, you should contactpunctured the tyre yet,” Green Flag, a British •• Wet wipes Africa. “However it is very important to your insurer and be guided by them asprovider of breakdown cover, advises. Oh •• Money (a secret stash of cash in the make sure that as the driver you obtain to who to call to do the recovery andand don’t forget to check the spare! boot) as much information from the driver of where to take the vehicle. Always obtain Check the oil and tyre pressures on your •• Fire extinguisher the other vehicle. Typically you would a reference number.car every time you refuel. Wash your car •• Reflective trianglesyourself once a month – and, while you’re at •• Jumper cablesit, do a visual check on the general condition •• Notebook and penof your tyres and lights. •• Tyre bomb (tyre sealant canister) Of course, even if you adhere to theseprecautions, you could still break down – a80  First Gear First Gear  81
  • 43. Scenario number three: Bearing this mind, we asked the The theft South African Police Service for som It happens every single day som e tips to ewhere help minimise vehicle theft. The in the world: a car is stolen. It’s men a and women in uniform suggest horrible feeling: emerging from the the mall following: only to find our much-loved set of •• Park in well-lit areas wheels gone. But you can ado pt some •• Lock all the doors and make preventative measures to min sure the imise the windows are all closed chances of your car going mis sing. •• Fit an alarm and immobiliser The first tip is the most obvious if your : lock car doesn’t already have one your car! Incredibly, lots of peo ple still •• Fit locks to your wheels so they don’t do this… with disastrous can’t be stolen consequences! For instance, Prin cess •• Leave nothing visible in your Beatrice of England had her car car stolen •• Be aware of your surrounding after she left the keys in the igni s at all tion. times Locking your car won’t only min imise •• Avoid stopping in remote area the chances of it being stolen; s it will also reduce the chance of som eone If you live in a country where veh hiding in the back seat when you icle return. theft is commonplace, a tracking It’s a sad fact of life that, in Sou device th is a good idea. Africa, vehicle theft is common place. is more from the car. Your life Scenario number four: possessions valuable than your The hijacking •• Never give strange rs a lift vehicle Even sca rier is the prospect of •• Become familia r with your route s can involve hijacking, because thi before you start the trip , we turned to nd as pe rsonal risk. Once again •• Have your keys ready in your ha the South African boys and girls in r, esp ecially if you approach your ca d this is what your uniform for advice, an they are difficult to find in they recomme nd: to buy a leash, handbag. It’s possible travel to work and your handbag •• Vary the route you which is attached to s back, if this is possible and makes it ea sy to locate your key tering near or at rking attenda nts •• If strangers are loi •• Parking lots with pa st and alert yo ur driveway, drive pa or supervisio n are best y or police ays leave enough your security compan •• At traffic lights, alw •• Car hijackers or extortionists may and the car in you. space between you stage a mino r accident to entrap never boxed in front of you so you are Be aware of this. If your car is , ch eck around you •• As you near home d and you think following you? bumped from behin – any suspicious cars drive to the sit uation is suspicious, •• Only turn into yo ur garage or tion for help te/door is open, the nearest police sta driveway once the ga co operate fully. Do r driving up •• If you are hijacked, to prevent another ca not reach for your purse or valuables. you in behind and blocking hind if forced Leave everything be 82  First Gear   First Gear  83 
  • 44. CHAPTER 11: Bling it on Jill’s not happy. Jack is fixated about customising his new (pre-loved) car. To be honest, apart from the costs, she’s worried he’ll go completely over the top and she’ll have to endure the embarrassment of driving around in a bling-mobile. He’s been looking at wild and wonderful options, ranging from a mild engine modification and some chroming here and there, to outrageous ideas like spinners on purple ostrich-skin styled wheels to coloured body foils – with 150 colour choices, from gloss and matte finishes to glitter, chrome and metallic. Seeing Jack is pretty much colour-blind, it’s a given, thinks Jill, that the end result will be quite terrifying. The reason for his insane desire? His buddy’s just come back from a trip to Dubai, where OTT (over-the-top) is the order of the day. Also, Jill’s convinced that once he’s changed the look of the car, despite spending a whole heap of money on it, the resale value will drop. She’s dug out some ammunition for her argument, quoting Wissam Azhari, founder and owner of the Foil-a-car concept in the Middle East and Europe. He had said the84  First Gear First Gear  85
  • 45. colour foils (which Jack wanted) are a better choice than paint. “The biggest advantage is they can be very easily Fast facts 20 to 30 removed. As most clients change their The percentage by which colour as a fashion statement, this is a Don’t ever mess with the electrics of the value of your car can good option. With a paint job you will lose the vehicle on the resale value and to repaint will cost decline if you mess with the you twice as much. In fact, with high-end Check that accessories don’t impact original paint finishing. super cars, the second you start playing on the warranty of your car. Certain with original paint finishing you lose about modifications could negate the 20 to 35 percent of the car.” He added that warranty on some vehicles customising a car might be a nice option Chat to your dealer and ask for for when you sell, but it didn’t always independent advice before fitting increase the value. And while auto-styling something weird and/or wonderful could add value, it often boils down to taste. “If you do something that’s pretty far Don’t even consider an accessory that out, it’s a matter of taste and is worth impacts on safety whatever someone wants to pay for it.” Always consider resale value when Incidentally, always remember the laws for customising your car vary from country accessorising your car to country. This even applies to issues such as how dark you can tint your windows. Being a typical guy, Jack did endless have to say. In the end, he decided maybe research on what he could do to his car he’d just put a subtle colour foil on the car, and what other guys who have done it fit fat 20-inch rims, chrome some fittings, drop the suspension, slap on a rear spoiler, order a custom built exhaust, and fit a racing steering wheel. “Why stop there?” asked Jill grumpily. “Why not stick TV setsTop Tip in the headrests and put fur on the dashboard as well…” Actually, she’d had no idea of the choicesDon’t ever accessorise your car in available to “pimp your ride”. From chrome After much deliberation, it was agreedsuch a way that you impact on road beading to boot spoilers to bonnet scoops he’d save bucks by buying sticker decalssafety. For instance, don’t mess with – even chromed skull cup holders! And and asking a buddy to help him fit a super-the tail lights by fitting tail light tailpipes and mufflers and woofers and sized stereo system and some sub woofers;guards. It is vitally important that sub-woofers and performance dump- if she paid half for the new tailpipe (hisyour car’s tail lights are visible to valves and goodness knows what else. birthday was coming up), and his brotherfellow road users – otherwise they So she devised a plan: Jack should sit threw in some cash for (lightly) tintedwon’t know when you plan to slam down, make a list of what he wanted – and windows as a birthday gift.on the anchors. If ever in doubt, go another of what he could afford. Peace reigned once again in the house ofand have a chat with your car dealer. Jack and Jill.86  First Gear First Gear  87
  • 46. CHAPTER Green, green cars of home88  First Gear First Gear  89
  • 47. Caring for the environment is no longer just a hip thing to do – it’s become a necessary duty. While one of the best ways to fulfil our responsibility is to make sure we drive more fuel-efficiently, the easier way out might just be to buy a “green car”. Now, a green car might evoke images of an The good: Such vehicles are readily available ugly battery-operated toy car. But actually, and don’t cost more. a vehicle is “green” as long as it uses less The bad: Petrol engines generally emit fossil fuel and produces fewer carbon around 10 per cent more carbon dioxide dioxide emissions than the average car. than diesel. With innovative technology, conventional petrol or diesel autos, hybrid vehicles, Modern diesel electric vehicles, or cars that use biofuels Think diesel, and the first thing that springs can all carry the “green” label. to mind might be the sputtering old bus So which vehicle is best for you if you spewing black fumes across town. But want to do your part for the planet? many modern diesel engines come with a Read on… particulate trap to help prevent emissions of sooty particulates. Diesel engines are also Petrol lifts its game often more economical than petrol engines; Automakers have gone the extra mile to that’s why they emit less CO2. And new make conventional petrol vehicles more “common rail” diesel motors consistently fuel-efficient than before. They have made top fuel economy rankings. the car body lighter and used technologies such as turbocharging to deliver the same The good: In some countries, diesel is amount of power with fewer cylinders. cheaper than petrol so you save at the pump. The bad: A diesel vehicle is usually more fuel is considered to be renewable and The bad: Since ethanol contains less energy expensive than the petrol version of the environmentally friendly. per volume than petrol, be prepared for same model. They can sometimes be more Since these vehicles look and drive just lower fuel-efficiency numbers when topping costly to maintain too. like cars with petrol engines, you might up with the biofuel. even be driving one and not know it! While 20 % Flexible fuel FFVs have been in mass production since Petrol-electric hybrids Flex-fuel vehicles (FFV) are designed to run the 1980s, the first commercial one was A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) runs on a on either conventional petrol or petrol mixed actually the Ford Model T, produced from combination of a conventional petrol with a biofuel, such as bio-ethanol. Hence, 1908 through 1927. engine and an electric motor powered by The percentage of ethanol an E20 vehicle is able to run on 80 percent batteries. It works on the principle that the petrol and 20 percent ethanol. Ethanol is The good: Due to tax incentives, the price of electric motor provides the power at low on which an E20 vehicle is made from sugarcane, and this alternative the alternative fuel is cheaper than petrol. speeds such as urban driving but switches able to run.90  First Gear First Gear  91
  • 48. to petrol for driving at higher speeds. The good: Running costs can be two- normally limited to less than 100 km or cadmium-based, there will be a serious The batteries are recharged while driving. thirds that of equivalent petrol vehicles. between charges, which means they are pollution problem if they are not properly Hybrids also use regenerative braking, The bad: The price tag can be very high. really suitable only for city-dwellers. disposed of at the end of their life. where the vehicle’s kinetic energy is Electric vehicles can be recharged by converted and put back into the battery, Battery-electric vehicles plugging them into an existing electrical The good: No tailpipe emissions instead of being wasted as heat energy BEVs, as they are called, use a battery and socket. However, they are only truly “green” The bad: Limited range and a lack of a as in conventional brakes. electric motor to power the vehicle, so they if they are recharged with electricity from public infrastructure for charging can mean Many HEVs also reduce idle emissions have no emissions at the point of use. Due renewable sources such as wind farms or you get stranded out on the roads. by shutting down the petrol engine at idle to the capacity of the battery, their range is the sun. Moreover, if the batteries are lead and restarting it when needed. This is known as a Start/Stop system. With all these technologies, hybrids boast impressive fuel-efficiency figures as well as big reductions in CO2 emissions. However, they only really achieve maximum economy benefits in built-up areas where they run primarily on electric rather than petrol.Top five ways to gogreen… withoutbreaking the bankChoose a car that hasbetter-than-average fuel economyGo for a car that emits less CO2Pick a car that can run on biofuelConsider the content. Automakersare increasingly using eco-friendlymaterials in the interiorsBuy a car that is built by anautomaker which is truly committedto the environment92  First Gear First Gear  93
  • 49. Once you have a good idea of which green vehicle is most suitable for you, Top up with algae? the other thing to look out for is the All around the world scientists are working on using automaker’s commitment to the What is a plug-in hybrid? biomass to produce future biofuels… and Ford’s environment. In the same way that you scientists are eyeing algae in this regard. “Algae What do you get when you cross a HEV and a BEV? have some very desirable characteristics as a probably won’t buy a pair of shoes because You get a PHEV, or a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. potential biofuel feedstock and Ford wants to it’s made in some sweat shop using child Think of it as a conventional hybrid electric vehicle show its support of any efforts that could lead to a labour, you wouldn’t want to invest in a with the ability to recharge its batteries by plugging viable, commercial-scale application of this tech- vehicle that is built by automakers that in to an electric socket. Plug-ins run on the stored nology,” says Sherry Mueller, research scientist, don’t care two hoots about the planet. energy for the days’ driving and when the charge is Ford Motor Company. used up, they automatically keep running on the Ford is very supportive of the increased availability fuel in the fuel tank. A person whose daily driving of biofuels and biofuel blends from diverse and distance is shorter than the car’s electric range uestions sustainable sources. “We recognise the importantHere are some q you pick would never have to dip into the fuel tank. At the same time, the petrol engine is a safety blanket for contribution that biofuels could make toward a sto think about a those who are anxious over the lack of charging more sustainable future and improved energythe automaker: security,” says Jim Anderson, technical expert, Ford stations on long drives. Motor Company. has it made to• What promises ficiency, lower increase fuel ef l prove operationa emissions and im sustainability? Pick a company that cares has it been in • How successful e promises? When buying a new car, consider the manufacturer keeping to thos ies “green”? and its approach to the environment. Some compa- • Are its factor nies really do care; others purely focus on profits and sustaina- s been publishing a turnover. For example, Ford ha ch annual report past 11 years. Ea bility report for the has made in five For instance, Ford has long adopted a leading role details the pro gress the company in this regard. As Derrick Kuzak, Group Vice President mobility, ange, fuel economy, key areas: climate ch o reflects a of Product Development, Ford Motor Company, human rights. It als vehicle safety and rlier notes: “Ford is determined to take a leadership promises made in ea commitment to fulfil position on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, reports. a better and optimising efficiency has been an absolute siness and building “Creating a strong bu they are essential priority. By making new technologies like our Ford icting goals – EcoBoost engines and Ford Auto-Start-Stop widely world are not confl ss,” says Sue ingredients for long-term succe bility, available, we are making a significant step forward Vice President, Sustaina Cischke, Ford Group “Our vision in reducing the environmental impact of our fety Engineering. Environment and Sa tion that is products.” is to provide su stainable transporta , sense of the word – socially affordable in every d economically.” environmentally an 94  First Gear First Gear  95
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