After a bodged repair by a local London garage to my swirl flaps and deep concerns about my 2001 BMW 530D Touring I consulted Peter from pmwltd about the condition of my car. My regular mechanic whom I have known for 20 years simply took out my swirl flaps and replaced the shafts with bolts. This at some time later, only (900 miles) caused an ingestion into the chamber and ruined my piston and valves and looked like a very time consuming and costly repair. After completion I took my car to peter at pmw and discussed the works. He had his guys strip out the existing bolts that were very unprofessional and replaced with his swirl flap blanking plates. Now I have heard a lot about these plates and swirl flap damage and I can tell you as an ex AA Patrol man that if not done correctly as Peter has done you will cause serious damage to your beloved engine. This is a guy with a great team and a wealth of knowledge behind them who know their stuff, not your usual bit mechanic who ”
knows a bit about engines”. I drove down from Lewisham London to his workshops in Chelmsford and it only took an hour and was easy to get to. If I was you I would call them for your piece of mind because you know like I do that you don’t want just anyone tinkering with your pride and joy. Its worth the drive knowing your car is in safe and knowledgeable hands at pmw. He,s not a rip off either, he is a very reasonable honest mechanic and cheaper than the main dealers out there. Thanks peter.
“Just to say that if you live close enough and can get there, I would recommend these guys at PMW. Very helpful, professional and understanding. Was having big problems with my ‘07 320i M sport having only owned it for a couple of months but now thanks to PMW the car is running like a dream”
James B. Harlow
Some new info from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) provides interesting reading - basically showing that roughly one fifth of young drivers in the UK are currently driving uninsured. In essence, this equates to around 250, 000 17-20 year-olds who are technically driving illegally. Now as far as I see it, even with the most effective and well-deployed policing (i.e. lots and lots of random checks) it would be highly improbable that you could really catch more than a few hundred of these each week - leading me to think that maybe a different approach might be more appropriate here…
The problem is in the perfectly rational (if slightly unethical) reasoning of these young people, who basically see no point in paying £2,000-£3,000 for annual insurance, when the value of their car is often far less than this. If caught, all that will happen is that their vehicle is confiscated, which means that if such a lawbreaker drives a £250 old banger - then he/she must have roughly 10 or more cars confiscated per year - before paying for the insurance makes financial sense.
The added risk of losing a license to drive will hardly bother someone who is happy to do so illegally without insurance anyway - so this can be considered irrelevant in most cases. So the core issue which must be addressed is that such drivers have very little to lose in driving illegally without insurance, and paying £2k-£3k for the peace of mind just isn’t worth it (or possible) for many.
Now i’m not going to go suggesting ridiculous solutions like jail terms for such people - instead we should look at the other end of the problem and try to make insurance more affordable for such drivers. If, as has once again been proven to be the case, thousands of young people will happily drive without insurance - then the only feasable way around this is to make insurance more accesible and affordable. Extra road policing, or even harsher punishments cannot ever solve the problem simply due to its widespread scale (though of course such policies do curb it somewhat).
Now, as to how we go about reducing the cost of car insurance for young people, i can only offer one possible solution - which, for those who read this blog a few weeks ago, will ring a bell. We must introduce a consideration of the value of the car driven into the pricing structure, as only then can we avoid the case where a young Ford Escort driver for example pays thousands of pounds in insurance due to the risk posed by him/her to all the wealthy porsche and mercedes drivers out there (for more on this see last month’s post here).
Either way, unless something radical such as this is done soon, i expect the MIB figures for uninsured drivers to be more or less the same this time around next year…
There’s an interesting debate currently going on over at Guardian motoring about whether or not it’s fair that younger women drivers should pay less for their car insurance than their male counterparts. The topic is controversial and is attracting quite a few opinions in both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ camps. However one thing bothers me about the whole question - and it’s that nobody seems to be highlighting the fact that most of us are paying far, far too much regardless of our sex.
Stats show for example that the average insurance bill for a 17-year-old driver is around £1,800 for a female, and £3,800 for a male. Over the years that gap will get smaller and smaller, until the age of around 40, when the price for men will actually be slightly less than for women (though it is a matter of only a few pounds rather than the 4-figure difference seen earlier).
Now, despite this gap, for me the overwhelming problem is not one to do with sexual inequality - but rather a general shock at the ridiculous sums in question for both sexes. Why is it that even if a young sensible person drives a car worth £900, he or she must still pay between 2 and 4 times that (per year) to be on the road?
After all, most young drivers will be aware of this frustrating paradox of paying more for their insurance than their actual car is worth - and this problem is getting more acute each year as average insurance costs for new drivers increase. It is of course a reflection of the fact that other cars on the road are worth far more than the cheaper older ones driven often by the youngest and poorest drivers.
And whatsmore, this absurd disparity gets worse once more and more drivers buy cars worth upwards of 40, 50 or even 100 thousand pounds - forcing young drivers’ insurance to reflect the insurance companies’ increasing anxiety about the prospects of having to foot a repair bill for a brand new Porsche or Mercedes for example.
Is it not grossly unfair that young (and often poorer) drivers should have to be squeezed for such extortionate amounts - just because there are others out there who can afford extremely expensive luxury cars?
Is there not a more sensible way of structuring insurance that simply takes into account the value of the car which you drive - or in other words, the extent of the financial risk you pose to the system? That way we wouldn’t have the absurd situation that the youngest drivers are forced to cover the risk to the insurers posed by increasing numbers of high-end vehicles.
Ultimately such a pricing structure would correctly place the added cost of expensive liabilities in the overall system at the door of those who choose to introduce them to it - rather than those who are simply judged to be most likely to damage them due to their unavoidable driving inexperience.
Dean Baker in the Guardian has recently been espousing the values of pay-as-you-drive car insurance, both as a method of reducing motoring costs and also as an environmental measure, which would make driving fewer miles annually even more economically rewarding than it is now.
The logic is that those who drive less are also less likely to be involved in an accident, and hence should not pay the same insurance rates as those who spend much more time on the roads. It’s pretty hard to argue against his reasoning - someone who averages 2,000 miles per year on the road is clearly less likely to claim on their insurance than someone averaging 15,000 (all other factors being equal of course).
The whole idea is one which I would love to see implemented in the UK - both the environmental benefits and the improved fairness of the pay-as-you-drive system make it a highly attractive prospect. However, there are still tricky issues to be negotiated before it becomes truly viable…
Dean Baker’s article reasons that since insurance companies would make roughly the same amount of money as they do now (assuming they fixed the right price per mile) then there would be nobody opposed to the new system. However there are certain driver groups who would surely lose out heavily if the plans were introduced. Hauliers and taxi drivers for example would face enormous costs that would in all liklihood make their businesses redundant (either that or the cost would then be passed on their customers - in any case their business suffers).
Since the system must be standard accross the board (it could not be introduced as a concurrant alternative for example due to the negative implications for insurance companies’ profits); heavier users would surely oppose a system - which Dean Baker does not discuss. Imagine having to convince a haulier to accept that from now on their insurance would cost four times more than it did previously (especailly in the current economic climate with record fuel prices at the forecourt).
If this problem can be succesfully negotiated then the whole scheme would take a massive step closer to becoming reality - maybe a fixed upper price limit for heavier users could be one solution worth investigating?
The other issue that comes to mind relates to the practicalities of implementing the new system - how would your miles be counted and how would insurers collect payments? Would they send inspectors round each month or year to check milage clocks in order to produce an insurance invoice? What happens if milage clocks become unavailable before a payment is collected, through theft, fire or an accident for example?
If such hurdles can be effectively removed, then the whole system would become highly viable and perhaps provide some much-needed reforms to the pricing structure of automotive insurance in the UK, making it both fairer and more environmentally conscious.