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Hastings Direct news: buying a new car

Once you decide you're going to buy a new car, it can be difficult to know where to start. First things first, you've got to set a budget limit which will dictate whether or not you will search the new or used car market. From there it can prove a bit of a minefield — but as this week's news illustrates, it's crucial you have your head screwed on and think long term.

Car clocking a "growing issue"

car odometer.

One of the biggest fears when buying a used car is that the seller is not telling you the whole truth about the history of the car in question.

As figures from the Office of Fair Trading suggest it's not at all irrational to harbour such concerns. It estimates that car clocking — the practice of adjusting a car's odometer to show a lower mileage — costs consumers £580 million a year in higher prices.

It's for this reason that the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) and the Retail Motor Industry Federation have joined forces to campaign for the government to take up a zero tolerance stance on car clocking.

It argues that the EU's plans to outlaw mileage correction companies by 2018 will not see the problem eradicated, pointing out that there are other possible routes for people who want to alter their vehicle's mileage.

NFDA director Sue Robinson says the "growing issue" is not only a danger to drivers' pockets but their safety, with owners led to believe their vehicle doesn't need servicing.

Diesel drivers face city centre charges

diesel pump.

It's hard not to feel sorry for those who have recently bought a diesel-fuelled car. For a long time the government was urging people to make their next car a diesel one, but a new report suggests they could be about to pay for it.

Diesel cars are no longer thought to be the eco-friendly option, with nitrogen dioxide — the gas emitted when diesel is burned — causing 23,500 deaths a year, according to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Meanwhile, 38 out of 43 geographical 'zones' in the UK are failing EU air quality standards due to high levels of the gas.

A strategy paper from Defra makes it clear the UK must start to take action, with diesel cars an obvious target. It proposes that six English cities — London, Southampton, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Birmingham — should "consider the role of access restrictions for certain types of vehicles".

Reading between the lines that means diesel drivers could be charged or even banned from bringing their vehicles into city centres.

However, Elizabeth Truss, the environment secretary, said the government is willing to consider other ideas.

Motorists admit to driving fault cars

car fault engine light.

If you find a car that is being sold at a much lower price than elsewhere, it should set the alarm bells ringing. That's not to say that the seller is not kosher, but you should carry out thorough checks before shaking hands.

Perhaps incomprehensive checks when buying a used car is why two-thirds of drivers say they are driving a vehicle which they know is faulty but haven't got round to having it repaired yet.

However, there are a whole number of reasons motorists might give as an excuse for putting off having their car repaired: can't afford it, don't have the time, only 'minor' faults, etc.

But as Karen Rotberg, director at — who carried out the research — stresses, none of these excuses will suffice.

"Drivers are not only putting their cars at risk of further damage, caused by existing problems worsening over time, which is likely to result in more significant bills, but in some cases they will be putting themselves, their loved ones and other road users in serious danger," she explained.

Britain's most accident-prone road revealed

A road.

As Rotberg's comments make clear, driving a faulty car can result in an unavoidable incident. Accidents are every driver's worst nightmare for obvious reasons, with some roads proving scarier than others.

The most dangerous road in the UK, however, is a 10-mile stretch of Lincolnshire's A18 between Laceby and Ludborough, which saw 17 serious or fatal accidents between 2011 and 2013.

In fact, A-roads made up the entire top ten of the Road Safety Foundation's (RSF) list of Britain's riskiest routes, suggesting that drivers need to be extra cautious when travelling along fast, winding rural roads.

Second on the list was the four miles of the A36 north of Totton in Hampshire between the A3090 and the town centre, which was the scene of 16 serious or fatal incidents between 2008 and 2013.

Lord Whitty, who chairs the RSF, told the Daily Mail that A-roads have become eight times more risky than motorways. "On many A-roads, the margin for human error is often small. The largest single cause of death is running off the road, where poor roadside protection can see brutal impacts take place," he said.

Here is a full rundown of the UK's most accident-prone roads.

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