EV Charging points

A recent article in The Times follows that suggests we are wasting money on EV charging points – maybe I am now biased because I am about to buy such a vehicle, but it seems to me that unless the EV infrastructure is in place then they will never become common place and bring the environmental advantage we hope for. What do you think?

Electric car chargers waste parking spaces

Hundreds of subsidised electric car charging units are going unused for long periods and wasting valuable parking spaces, according to research by the RAC Foundation.

Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of the 905 charging units in London were not used at all in June despite a quadrupling in registrations of electric cars.

More than half the units, installed at a cost of more than £9 million to the tax-payer, were not used in either June 2013 or June 2014, according to Transport for London data released under the Freedom of Information Act. The most heavily used units were in the congestion charge zone, in which electric cars are exempt from the £11.50 daily charge.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said low usage should prompt a review of plans to install thousands of units. “The medium-term aim should be to encourage home, off-street and workplace charging, not turning valuable kerb space over to probably wealthy electric vehicle drivers,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Boris Johnson said the London mayor wanted to support a shift to ”more environmentally friendly vehicles”, adding that the extra charging points could support fleets of electric taxis and car clubs.

(Source: Ben Webster Environment Editor, The Times, 17/1/2015)

Solar panel experiment

Over the next year (it is January 2015 now) I will be running an experiment using domestic solar panels, energy saving and monitoring systems, and a plug in hybrid car. The plan is to see if I can run the car for free. The 4kW array of panels was fitted and commissioned on January 16th 2015. In the first week they generated 22kWh. I’m no expert (yet!) but this amount seems reasonable for the middle of winter. We will see.

Figure 1 Panels before fitting

Figure 2 DC panel connections

Figure 3 Cell arrangement

Figure 4 Details of the photo voltaic (PV) cells

Automated driving

Bosch makes Hollywood fiction a reality

K.I.T.T. replica co-stars at the CES in Las Vegas

  • Test cars fitted with Bosch technology can already drive themselves
  • Bosch is developing automated driving in California and Germany
  • Bosch sensors are the eyes and ears of modern vehicles
  • Bosch iBooster paves the way for automated driving
  • Bosch to present its technology portfolio at the Vehicle Intelligence Marketplace

Figure 1 At the CES in Las Vegas, Bosch will not only be presenting its extensive product portfolio for driver assistance functions and braking systems at the Vehicle Intelligence Marketplace. The company will also be exhibiting a true Hollywood legend: K.I.T.T. from the action series “Knight Rider”.

Hollywood did it first: in the 1980s, the dream factory created the action series “Knight Rider”, featuring a speaking and – more importantly – self-driving Pontiac Firebird Trans Am named K.I.T.T. Nearly 30 years later, automated driving is no longer just another TV fantasy. “Bosch is making science fiction reality, one step at a time,” says Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, who sits on the Bosch board of management. Cars equipped with Bosch technology can already drive themselves in certain situations, such as in traffic jams or when parking. Bosch will be presenting its solutions at the Vehicle Intelligence Marketplace during the CES in Las Vegas (January 6-9, 2015).

Figure 2 On the Las Vegas Strip, a Bosch vehicle demonstrates how the traffic jam assist function works. In congested traffic up to a speed of 60 kph, the function brakes, accelerates, and keeps the vehicle in its lane – without any intervention by the driver.

As one of the world’s largest providers of mobility solutions, Bosch has been working on automated driving since 2011 at two locations – Palo Alto, California, and Abstatt, Germany. The teams at the two locations can draw on a worldwide network of more than 5,000 Bosch engineers in the field of driver assistance systems. The motivation behind the development at Bosch is safety. Worldwide, an estimated 1.3 million traffic fatalities occur each year, and the numbers are rising. In 90 percent of cases, human error is the cause.

Figure 3 Thanks to the traffic jam assist, drivers can now reach their destination more safely and with less stress. Driving along the Las Vegas Strip in a demonstration vehicle, drivers can see for themselves what the function is capable of.

From predictive emergency braking to traffic jam assistance

Assisting drivers in critical traffic situations can save lives. Studies suggest that, in Germany alone, up to 72 percent of all rear-end collisions resulting in casualties could be avoided if all cars were fitted with the Bosch predictive emergency braking system. Drivers can also reach their destinations safely and with minimum stress using the Bosch traffic jam assistant. At speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour, the assistant brakes automatically in heavy traffic, accelerates, and keeps the car in its lane.

Figure 4 As one of the world’s largest providers of mobility solutions, Bosch has been working on automated driving since 2011. Cars equipped with Bosch technology can already drive themselves in certain situations, such as traffic jams or when parking.

“With driver assistance systems, Bosch expects to generate sales of one billion euros in 2016,” Hoheisel says. Assistance systems are the cornerstone for automated driving, which will become established in a gradual process. Bosch already has its sights on highly automated driving, in which drivers no longer have to constantly monitor the vehicle. “With Bosch highway pilots, cars will be driving automatically on freeways by 2020, from entrance ramp to exit ramp,” Hoheisel predicts. In the decade that follows, vehicles driving fully automated will be available, capable of handling any situations that arise.

Figure 5 Bosch is developing and testing automated driving at two locations – in Palo Alto, California, and Abstatt, Germany. The teams at the two locations can draw on a worldwide network of more than 5,000 Bosch engineers working in the field of driver assistance systems.

Bosch sensors are the car’s eyes and ears

Automated driving affects every aspect of the car – powertrain, brakes, steering – and requires comprehensive systems expertise. It is based on sensors featuring radar, video, and ultrasound technology, sensors Bosch has been manufacturing by the millions for many years. “Sensors are the eyes and ears that let vehicles perceive their environment,” Hoheisel says. Powerful software and computers process the collected information and ensure that the automated vehicle can move through traffic in a way that is both safe and fuel efficient.

As vehicles gradually take over more and more driving tasks, safety-critical systems such as brakes and steering must satisfy special requirements. Should one of these components fail, a fall-back is needed to ensure maximum availability. Bosch already has such a fall-back for brakes: the iBooster, an electromechanical brake booster. Both iBooster and the ESP braking control system are designed to brake the car – independently of each other – without the driver having to intervene.

Figure 6 Bosch has been testing automated driving with special demonstration vehicles on public roads in the U.S. and Germany since the beginning of 2013. Several thousand test kilometers have already been driven.

iBooster: essential for automated driving

In this way, the Bosch iBooster meets an essential requirement for automated driving. The brake booster can build up brake pressure independently, three times faster than an ESP system. If the predictive brake system recognizes a dangerous situation, the vehicle stops much faster. At the same time, the iBooster can also provide the gentle braking required by the ACC adaptive cruise control, all the way down to a complete stop. Moreover, it is practically silent.

Figure 7 The motivation behind the development of automated driving at Bosch is safety. Worldwide, an estimated 1.3 million traffic fatalities occur each year. Drivers can reach their destinations safely and with minimum stress using systems such as the Bosch traffic jam assistant. At speeds up to 60 kilometres per hour, the assistant brakes automatically in heavy traffic, accelerates, and keeps the car in its lane.

The iBooster is also a key component for hybrid and electric cars. One reason is that it does not require a vacuum, which otherwise has to be generated in a complex process by the combustion engine or a vacuum pump. Second, because in conjunction with ESP hev (designed especially for hybrid and electric vehicles), the brake booster can recover nearly all braking energy and convert it into electricity, which extends the e-vehicle’s range. Thanks to the iBooster, nearly all typical traffic delays can be used to recover maximum braking energy for the hybrid or electric vehicle’s electric motor. If the car has to brake sharply, or if the generator is unable to provide the necessary brake torque, the brake booster generates any additional brake pressure required in the conventional way, using the brake master cylinder.

Figure 8 Driver assistance systems are the cornerstone of automated driving, which will become established in a gradual process. Bosch has already set its sights on highly automated driving, in which drivers no longer have to constantly monitor their vehicle. With the Bosch highway pilot, cars will be driving themselves on freeways by 2020, from entrance ramp to exit ramp. In the decade that follows, vehicles will become fully automated, capable of handling any situations that arise.

Bosch technology at the Vehicle Intelligence Marketplace

At 2015 International CES in Las Vegas, Bosch will not only be presenting its extensive product portfolio for driver assistance functions and braking systems at the Vehicle Intelligence Marketplace. The company will also be exhibiting a true Hollywood legend: K.I.T.T. replica from the action series “Knight Rider”.

Additional links:

www.automated-driving.com

YouTube: http://bit.ly/1osJDai

LEXUS TO ROLL OUT BRAND NEW ACTIVE SAFETY PACKAGE FROM 2015


In line with the ultimate aim of eliminating traffic fatalities and injuries, Lexus will next year launch the “Lexus Safety System +” package, a newly-developed set of active safety technologies designed to help prevent or mitigate collisions across a wide range of vehicle speeds. While Lexus vehicles already feature a wide range of safety technologies and systems based on the Integrated Safety Management Concept1, this latest package is aimed at further encouraging the uptake of safety technologies and will therefore be rolled out across all Lexus models in Japan, North America and Europe by the end of 2017.

Brussels, Belgium –  ”Lexus Safety System +” integrates several of Lexus’ existing active safety technologies: the Pre-Crash Safety System (PCS) helps prevent and mitigate collisions; Lane Departure Alert (LDA) helps prevent vehicles from departing from their lanes; and Automatic High Beam (AHB) helps ensure optimal forward visibility during night time driving. As part of a multi-faceted approach to active safety, the ”Lexus Safety System +” package combines millimetre-wave radar with a camera, achieving high reliability and performance.

Lexus Safety System +
”Lexus Safety System +” combines Lane Departure Assist (LDA), Adaptive High Beam (AHB), Pre-Crash Safety System (PCS) with a pedestrian detection function, and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). Also included will be the newly introduced Road Sign Assist (RSA).

Pre-Crash Safety System with pedestrian detection function (PCS)
This system uses millimetre-wave radar and a camera to detect pedestrians in addition to vehicles. To help prevent or mitigate collisions, the system activates an audio and visual alert in addition to brake assist, followed by automated braking if the driver does not brake in time. Automated braking operates at relative speeds of between 10 to 80 km/h for potential collisions with pedestrians, and can reduce speed by approximately 30 km/h2. For potential collisions with vehicles, the PCS system operates at relative speeds of between 10 km/h and the vehicle’s top speed, reducing speed by approximately 40 km/h3.

”Lexus Safety System +” PCS Capabilities

Hazards detected

Automated braking

operational range

Automated braking speed reduction

Sensors

Vehicles

Approx. 10 km/h – top speed

Approx. 40 km/h

Millimetre-wave radar and camera

Pedestrians

Approx. 10 km/h – 80 km/h

Approx. 30 km/h

Lane Departure Alert (LDA)
LDA uses a camera to detect white and yellow lane markings. If the vehicle starts to deviate from a lane, LDA alerts the driver with an audio-visual alert and steering wheel vibration. Some vehicles are also equipped with Lane Keep Assist (LKA), which controls power steering to make it easier for the driver to remain within lane markings.

Automatic High Beam (AHB)
AHB helps ensure excellent forward visibility during night time driving. It uses a camera to detect the headlights of oncoming vehicles and the tail lights of vehicles ahead, and then automatically switches between high beams and low beams so as not to dazzle other drivers.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
On highways, ACC uses millimetre-wave radar to detect preceding vehicles and determine their speed. It then adjusts vehicle speed (within a set range) to ensure that there is a safe distance between vehicles. By using a forward-facing camera and millimetre-wave radar to monitor vehicles moving into or out of the lane, Adaptive Cruise Control helps maintain smooth acceleration and deceleration while driving.

Road Sign Assist (RSA)
Especially useful when crossing a country boarder, the system uses a camera placed in front of the vehicle to recognise speed limits and road signs and displays them on the meter display.

1 The concept of integrating all of a vehicle’s individual safety technologies and systems to provide a more advanced level of support to drivers in all driving situations.
2 Results achieved during testing using a vehicle travelling at 30 km/h and a stationary vehicle/pedestrian; system operation depends on driving environment (including road and weather conditions) and vehicle circumstances.
3 Results achieved during testing using a vehicle travelling at 40 km/h and a stationary vehicle; system operation depends on driving environment (including road and weather conditions) and vehicle circumstances.

www.lexus-europe.com

About Lexus

Launched in 1989, Lexus has become renowned throughout the world for its pursuit of perfection, the outstanding quality and sophisticated high-technology content of its products, and for its unique concept of complete customer service. Further reinforcing the traditional Lexus values of unparalleled build quality, interior luxury and state-of-the-art technology, the L-finesse design philosophy represents a highly significant factor in positioning Lexus as a uniquely desirable global brand. Today, Lexus remains the first – and only – premium automotive manufacturer to offer a comprehensive full-hybrid model range comprising the RX 450h, the GS 450h, the LS 600h and the CT 200h. In Europe, models featuring Lexus Hybrid Drive account for 60% of all Lexus sales. Lexus sold 42,637 vehicles in Europe in 2011, an increase of 40% vs 2010.

MRR rear radar sensor

Introduction

Drivers are taught to assess surrounding traffic before changing lanes by checking their rearview and side mirrors and looking over each shoulder. But even for those who scrupulously follow this sequence of checks, the vehicle’s blind spot – the area alongside and just behind the vehicle – is a constant source of danger and often the cause of serious accidents. Drivers are not able to see into this area using either the rearview or side mirrors, but it is big enough for even a minivan to disappear from view and be missed by a cursory glance over the shoulder before switching lanes. To help minimize this risk, Bosch developed the lane-changing assistant, which receives the information it needs from the new mid-range radar sensor for rear-end applications. “The MMR rear means drivers are effectively looking over their shoulders all the time, because it reliably and accurately recognizes other road users in their vehicle’s blind spot,” says Gerhard Steiger, president of the Bosch Chassis Systems Control division.

Sensors monitor all traffic in the area behind the vehicle

A leading global car manufacturer is currently putting the Bosch system into series production for one of its high-volume mid-sized vehicles. To make changing lanes safer, this European manufacturer has concealed two sensors in the rear bumper – one on the left, one on the right. These two MRR rear sensors monitor the area alongside and behind the car. Powerful control software collates the sensor information to produce a complete picture of all traffic in the area behind the vehicle. Whenever another vehicle approaches at speed from behind or is already present in the blind spot, a signal such as a warning light in the side mirror alerts the driver to the hazard. Should the driver still activate the turn signal with the intention of changing lanes, the lane-changing assistant issues an additional acoustic and/or haptic warning.

The MRR rear system can do much more than just assist with lane-changing, however. These sensors also form part of Bosch’s cross-traffic alert system, which supports drivers reversing out of perpendicular parking spaces when their rear view is obstructed. Able to recognize cars, cyclists, and pedestrians crossing behind the reversing vehicle from the left or right at a distance of up to 50 meters, the system alerts the driver to the imminent danger of collision by issuing a timely audible or visible signal.

Significantly smaller and lighter than a pack of butter

Bosch’s mid-range radar sensor has been a great success. And it is just as effective when facing forward and used to provide information for other driver assistance systems. “Both product versions are based on fourth-generation Bosch radar technology,” Steiger says. The MRR is a bistatic multi-mode radar with four independent receiver channels and digital beam forming (DBF). It operates in the 76-77 GHz frequency band that is standard for automotive radar applications in almost all countries worldwide. Whereas the MMR rear has an aperture angle of up to 150 degrees and a range of up to 90 meters, the forward-facing version looks significantly further: with an aperture angle of up to plus/minus 45 degrees, it can detect objects up to 160 meters away.

Bosch uses the mid-range radar sensor for front-end application to offer solutions such as ACC adaptive cruise control and predictive emergency braking systems, either alone or in parallel. And it so happens that from 2016 onwards, radar- or camera-based predictive emergency braking systems will be a requirement for vehicles hoping to obtain the highest rating in the Euro NCAP test. The Bosch MRR system’s compact design also works in its favor. Significantly smaller and lighter than a 250-gram pack of butter, the radar sensor fits into even the smallest cars. As Gerhard Steiger says: “The Bosch mid-range radar sensor is a customized, cost-effective solution that enables radar sensor technology to be fitted as standard in all vehicle segments.”

(Source: Bosch Media)

ESP mandatory in the EU from November 1, 2014

(Source: Bosch Media)

  • Effective November 1, 2014, ESP will be mandatory for all newly registered passenger cars and light commercial vehicles
  • Since its introduction, ESP has prevented 190,000 accidents and saved more than 6,000 lives across Europe
  • Bosch has manufactured 100 million ESP systems since series production began in 1995
  • While 84 percent of all new vehicles in Europe were equipped with ESP in 2014, the figure for all new vehicles worldwide was only 59 percent


In the European Union, the ESP electronic stability program will soon be a universal standard. Effective November 1, 2014, all newly registered passenger cars and light commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of up to 3.5 metric tons must be equipped with the anti-skid system. The regulation will take effect for all other vehicles one year later. “ESP saves lives,” says Gerhard Steiger, president of the Bosch Chassis Systems Control division. An accident research study by Bosch confirms its effectiveness. In 2011, ESP prevented more than 33,000 accidents involving injury and saved more than 1,000 lives in the EU member states (of which there were 25 at the time), even though ESP was only installed in an estimated 40 percent of vehicles. Since being launched in 1995, ESP has prevented 190,000 accidents and saved more than 6,000 lives across Europe.


After the seat belt, ESP is the most important vehicle safety system – it is even more important than the airbag. Bosch has manufactured 100 million ESP systems since series production began in 1995. While 84 percent of all new vehicles in Europe were equipped with the anti-skid system in 2014, the figure for all new vehicles worldwide was only 59 percent. “ESP is an unparalleled success story that we hope to replicate outside Europe as well,” says Gerhard Steiger. According to independent studies, up to 80 percent of skidding accidents on the road could be prevented if all vehicles were equipped with the anti-skid system.


ESP – a true all-rounder that offers a lot of added value
Swerving on dry, wet, muddy, or slippery roads often results in severe traffic accidents. Using smart sensors, ESP compares 25 times per second whether the car is actually moving in the direction that the driver is steering it in. If the measured values do not match, the anti-skid system intervenes and first reduces engine torque. If that is not sufficient, it additionally brakes individual wheels, generating the counterforce needed to keep a vehicle on course. ESP is the logical next step in the further development of the ABS antilock braking system created by Bosch in 1978. Today, ESP is much more than a mere anti-skid system. A number of value-added functions now account for most of its performance, including the ability of ESP to prevent a vehicle from rolling backwards during hill starts. It is also able to stabilize swerving trailers and to reduce the rollover risk of sports utility and light commercial vehicles.


ESP is the basis for many driver assistance systems
The electronic stability program also plays a key role when it comes to many driver assistance systems and automated driving, which is why its development is always ongoing. Bosch offers ESP as a modular concept that offers the right system for all circumstances and requirements, which ranges from the affordable ESP light for entry-level cars in emerging markets and special systems for commercial vehicles all the way to ESP hev regenerative braking systems for hybrid and electric vehicles.


With its customized solutions, Bosch supports the worldwide efforts of manufacturers and governments to make active safety systems standard equipment in every vehicle. Other countries have also begun to recognize that ESP is extremely important for road safety. Since September 2011, ESP has been mandated for all vehicles in the United States and Canada with a gross vehicle weight up to 4.5 metric tons. Australia and Israel have also made ESP mandatory. Similar regulations will take effect in Japan, Korea, Russia, and Turkey in the years ahead.

Additional YouTube-Link:
How does ESP work? http://bit.ly/1zAaScd

Euro 6 made simple

(Information from Bosch Media)

What is Euro 6?

Euro 6 is a European Union regulation that sets emission standards for vehicles. “Euro 6 will make diesel cars as clean as gasoline cars,” says Dr. Rolf Bulander, the member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH responsible for powertrain technology. The main thrust of the new regulation is to set lower limits for vehicle emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxides. As of September 1, 2014, diesel vehicles may emit no more than 80 mg of nitrogen oxides per kilometre (gasoline vehicles: 60 mg per kilometre). This replaces the previous limit of 180 mg per kilometre. Starting January 1, 2015, all new vehicles sold must meet the Euro 6 limits.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL5gZrBwKCI

What is the point of European emissions legislation?

Since the Euro 1 regulation was introduced in 1993, emissions from road traffic have been drastically reduced. Advanced automotive technology – as provided by Bosch – reduces emissions of substances such as CO2, nitrogen oxides, and particulates. Technical advances in powertrains are also having an effect: since 1990, particulate emissions from diesel engines have been reduced by around 99 percent, while modern diesels emit some 98 percent less nitrogen oxide than comparable vehicles from the early 1990s. As electrification of the powertrain continues to progress, emissions will fall even further.

Will cars now be more expensive?

Prices for models that comply with Euro 6 are generally in the same range as prices for comparable models that meet Euro 5. Sometimes Euro 6 models come with additional features – a different transmission, say, or different tires – that push up the price. Take away the additional cost of these extras, and there is currently no appreciable increase in the price of Euro 6 models.

How does Euro 6 change the technology of diesel vehicles?

Diesel vehicles need a perfectly tuned exhaust-treatment system in order to meet the lower limits set out in Euro 6. For vehicles weighing up to around 1,700 kilograms, a low-cost NOx storage catalytic converter is sufficient. “In heavy vehicles, only an SCR catalytic converter with AdBlue will do,” says Dr. Markus Heyn, president of the Diesel Systems division at Robert Bosch GmbH. This system injects AdBlue, an odourless urea solution, which converts the nitrogen oxides into harmless water vapour and nitrogen. AdBlue is refilled at regular service intervals.

Will my old vehicle still get the same emissions sticker?

The allocation of emissions stickers in Germany is not affected by the switch to Euro 6. Anyone who currently receives a Euro 4 or Euro 5 emissions sticker allowing access to the city centre will keep the sticker after Euro 6 comes into force on January 1, 2015.

What does Euro 6 change for drivers?

For anyone who already has a car, Euro 6 changes nothing in Germany. They can continue to use their vehicle as before. According to the latest information, vehicle taxes for Euro 5 diesel vehicles will not change in Germany. It will also still be possible to drive in low-emission zones. Buyers of new vehicles, however, should be aware of the switch to Euro 6 if they want to have a model equipped with cutting-edge technology.

Further information is available online at www.bosch.com

Assessing the condition of a used vehicle

The price you may agree to pay for a used vehicle is dependent on a number of factors, including mileage, colour and condition of the vehicle, promotions currently on offer and the location. This original list price may assist in determining value but it is more common to use a published price guide. Optional equipment does not necessarily increase the used vehicle valuation.

Figure 1 VW Golf

There are a number of steps that you should take to reach a final opinion and therefore a value on a used vehicle:

  1. Documentation
  2. Mileage
  3. Accident damage
  4. Safety
  5. Test drive
  6. Engine
  7. Locks, windows and general controls

Each of these steps involve getting answers to a number of questions. These are presented over the next few screens.

Figure 2 Checking a car means following a number of steps even if it looks good to start with!

Documents

  • Can the seller show you the registration document?
  • Is the seller the registered keeper shown on the registration document? If not, why are they selling it for someone else?
  • Does the registration document have a watermark?
  • Are there any spelling mistakes on the registration document?
  • Do the vehicle identification number, engine number and colour match the documentation?
  • Does the registration/number plate match the documentation?
  • Has the vehicle identification number plate been tampered with?
  • Do vehicle identification numbers etched on glass or lights match the vehicle identification number plate and documentation?
  • Are there any sign of scratches on glass to remove etched-in marks?
  • Does the fuel filler look as if it has been forced or replaced?
  • Does the seller have a current annual test inspection certificate?
  • Is the handbook available? Also check service records.

Figure 3 Documentation

Mileage

  • Does the mileage, age and appearance of the car look consistent?
  • Are there any signs like worn screws to indicate that the instruments might have been tampered with? (Digital odometers can be tampered with electronically so clues like this won’t exist)
  • Check recorded mileage on service records, test certificates and other documents.
  • Does it look consistent with current mileage/condition and increase steadily year on year?
  • Check annual test status and history online if you have access to this facility.

Figure 4 Mileage

Accident Damage

  • Are there any signs of inconsistent gaps between panels or mismatched colours that could be a sign of extensive repairs?
  • Is the paint finish even across the car?
  • Are there any traces of paint spray on handles, window seals or plastic mouldings?
  • Could the car’s colour have been changed? (Look under carpets and in other hidden areas in particular.)
  • Any unusual looking welding under the bonnet or in the boot?

Figure 5 Look for damage

Safety

  • Are the tyres in good condition and are the specifications and dimensions correct? Tyres with less than 3mm of tread will have to be replaced soon.
  • Is the spare wheel or tyre inflator/sealant kit in serviceable condition?
  • Are the jack and other tools present?
  • Do all the seatbelts operate correctly? Check there are no cuts or fraying that could affect the way they work.
  • If airbags are fitted, check that warning lights operate as described in the handbook – normally they will come on with the ignition and then go out?
  • Do all lights and windscreen wipers/washers work correctly?

Figure 6 Check for the correct tyres

Figure 7 Make sure the wheels are not damaged

Test Drive

  • Do all warning lights operate normally? Lights will generally come on to test and then go out – unless there’s a fault.
  • Are the brakes effective or does it take a long time or a lot of effort to stop?
  • Is braking even or does the car pull to one side?
  • Are there any unusual noises when you brake?
  • Is the handbrake effective?
  • Can you feel any steering vibration or does the vehicle pull to one side?
  • If ABS is fitted, does the warning light go out after the engine is started?

Figure 8 Headlights

Figure 9 Rear lights

Engine

  • Can you hear any abnormal noises when the engine is started from cold?
  • Does the oil warning light go out as soon as the engine starts?
  • Are there any signs of excessive visible exhaust emissions?
    • White water vapour from the exhaust is normal while the engine is cold
    • Blue smoke isn’t normal – it indicates that oil is burning
    • Faint blue smoke from diesels is OK but black smoke is serious
  • Does the clutch operate normally? A noise when you press the pedal or a high biting point could mean that repairs will be required soon.
  • Is the catalytic converter in good condition? Look for a recent emissions test, either alone or as part of an annual test. This will confirm that emissions are within the limits applied to modern cars.
  • Is there sludge on the underside of the oil filler cap? This could indicate poor servicing or predominantly short journey use.
  • Is the oil level correct? Too low shows neglect; too high could be a clue that the engine is using oil but it could just have been over filled in error.
  • Has the cam belt been replaced according to the service schedule?

Figure 10 Engine bay

Figure 11 Oil filler

Figure 12 General check for leaks

Figure 13 Battery

Locks, windows and general controls

  • Do all the locks, including central locking and remote control, work properly?
  • Do all windows, including the sunroof if fitted, open and close normally?
  • Can you see any signs of forced entry, damaged or different locks, suggesting they’ve been replaced?
  • Are all the correct keys available? Check the handbook to see which keys were provided when the car was new. Modern keys are expensive to replace, particularly the coloured ‘master’ key provided by some manufacturers to programme new spare keys to the car.
  • Are locking wheel nuts fitted? Check that the special adapter required is included with the tool kit. Make sure it fits too.
  • Do all the minor controls operate correctly – heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, radio/CD/USB, navigation etc.?

Figure 14 All controls should work

Summary The key to assessing the condition and value of a used vehicle is being thorough and consistent. Work your way through all the steps outlined previously and use a current price guide – but remember that the price guide is just that – a guide! The final value you agree can also be determined by other factors, for example, the value of the new car a customer may be buying from you. Watch this video and see if you can list all the points the technician is checking.