Saturday, April 21, 2012

History Of The MOT In The United Kingdom

In the UK virtually all cars and light commercial vehicles over 3 years old are required by law to undergo an annual comprehensive examination known as the MOT to ensure that they are roadworthy. This testing has undergone changes since its inception in 1960. During the 1940s and 50s motor vehicles were becoming more common on the roads and many of these vehicles were produced before 1940 and were not serviced very regularly or if at all. This meant that there were many lorries on the road that were potentially hazardous with the most common faults being with the braking system, lights and steering. In 1960 Ernest Marples, the then Minister for Transport ordered that all vehicles of more than 10 years of age must have their steering systems, lights and brakes tested every year. This testing became known as the Ministry Of Transport Test, which was then shortened to 'MOT'. In April 1967 the testable age was lowered so that all vehicles over the age of 3 had to undergo testing every year.

The MOT has altered over the years to become more inclusive and it is continuing to develop. In 1968, new tyre tread regulations are introduced so that there is at least 1mm of tread across three quarters of the width of the tyre. In 1978 the test is updated to include windscreen washers, wipers, horn, exhausts, spotlights and indicators. In 1991 petrol emissions, anti-lock braking systems and rear seatbelts are included in the test. The next update comes in 1992 when a review of tyre tread is changed to a minimum depth of 1.6mm. In 1993 additional changes are introduced to include mirrors, rear fog lights and registration plates. 1994 sees diesel emissions added to the test. New changes in 2012 are set to include examination of the electronic parking brake, electronic stability control, towbar and trailer/caravan electrical socket and the function of warning lights. As our vehicles become more complex, more can go wrong with them and this is why more components are added.

From the very start, the British Government decided that the MOT test should be able to be carried out at local garages so that motorists have the handiness of a test centre near where they reside. There are about 19,000 testing stations in the United Kingdom and only the Ministry of Transport had the power to award a licence to the test station. These days the scheme is run by another government agency called Vehicle Operator and Services Agency, or VOSA but they still answer to the Secretary of State for Transport. The test has a uniform set of standards throughout the country, so whether you have your MOT done in Caithness or in Cornwall the same set of tests are performed on the vehicle. The local MOT garage is liable for the quality of the testing at that individual testing station. These garages become known as an Authorised Examiner, having been granted a license by VOSA to perform MOT tests. In turn these AEs have the authority to appoint specially trained people to carry out MOT Tests on vehicles. These MOT Testers become known as Nominated Testers. Anyone wishing to become an NT will have to train at a testing garage before attending a 2 day course run by VOSA so that they can be nominated as testers by an AE.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Importance of Proper Seat Support for the Driver

Any sporting vehicle will benefit from lightweight sport seats. It's true that sports cars and sporting sedans come from the factory with high-bolstered seats that work almost as well as aftermarket sport seats in terms of holding a driver in place. However, OEM seats are rarely lightweight and this where a change to lightweight racing buckets benefit a vehicle with sporting pretenses.

It's unfortunate that many buyers of aftermarket sport seats obtain them for their looks and street cred. A glance through some car forums will even show opinions stating that aftermarket sports seats give you added comfort. Well, unless your car came with wooden benches, it's safe to say that most of today's OEM seats are more comfortable than the lightweight, thinly padded and rigid racing seats out on the market today. There are of course replacement seats from Recaro, Sparco or one of the other known manufacturers that are quite comfortable, even luxurious. These are not the units you normally use as replacements though, and enthusiasts more often than not will choose seats with high bolsters, lightweight padding and carbon fiber or fiberglass shells.

A seat's purpose is to locate the driver properly so that his or her sightline to the road is unimpeded, and access to the controls is comfortably accessible. With a properly-positioned racing seat, a driver is able to concentrate on the driving task at hand without being distracted by having to keep the body's position in the seat or counteract the physical forces that are generated in cornering and braking.

When considering a racing seat, look for good lateral support at the hips and shoulders. The head should also be properly supported. Some units even provide lateral support for helmeted heads. One common oversight in replacing the OEM seats with aftermarket ones is the seat support. Mounting brackets often need to be replaced when changing seats and some owners make to with fabricated brackets that do not have the strength to withstand high loads. While it's best to use motorsport-approved brackets, any experienced fabricator can do a proper set of brackets for aftermarket seats. A vehicle's seats must stay in place in the event of a crash, and poorly mounted seats can become a liability when the worst-case scenario happens. A seat that moves in a crash can put pressure on a part of the body that is ill-equipped to withstand the forces of a crash. The same goes for the multi-point harnesses that racing seats are complemented with. The anchorage points have to be strong enough to withstand the stresses of a crash.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

3 Items You Should Always Have in Your Car in Case of an Emergency

Emergencies, by nature, can occur unexpectedly. Whether you are at home or on the road, it is always best to be as prepared as possible for any emergency scenario. It is much easier to be prepared for emergencies that occur at home. Most homes will likely have closet or storage space where emergency supplies can be kept. So whether your power goes out or your water stops running, you can be better prepared for an emergency in your home. It is not as easy to be ready for emergencies in your car. Given the type of car you have, you may not have as much room for supplies to be ready for every emergency scenario. But there are three items that everyone should keep in their car in case of an emergency. Read on to find out what those three items are:

This item will likely be more useful in the late fall and winter months, but it is important to always have a candle in your car in case of an emergency. A standard sized, sturdy candle, when lit, has the potential to heat your whole car for the duration while it is lit. Depending upon the size of your car you may need more than one candle to heat your entire car. A candle lit in your car can be even more effective if it is lit inside of a coffee can. The coffee can captures heat and acts like a makeshift radiator.

A candle in your car can be especially useful if you find yourself stranded on the side of the road in the winter. Whether your car has stalled or you turn your car off to preserve your car battery, you will likely find yourself without heat. During treacherous winter driving conditions it can take a long time for roadside assistance workers to reach your car, and if your car has no heat you can get very cold very quickly. That is why it is important to keep a candle in your car. With a candle you can keep your car heated, without it running, until help arrives.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 46% of traffic accidents happen at night in rural areas and 55% of traffic accidents occur at night in urban areas. When an accident occurs at night it can be very disorienting and it can be difficult to get a grasp on what is happening, especially if your car's headlights go out and you have difficulty seeing. In these situations it is best to have a flashlight.

By keeping a flashlight in your car you will be better prepared for emergencies that occur at night. For example, if you are involved in an accident at night you will better able to assess the damage and whether or not the parties involved require immediate medical assistance. Or if your car stalls on the side of the road and you have to abandon it you will be more visible to passing by motorists.

Water is essential to any emergency situation. Whether you are in an accident or stranded on the side of the road it is always important to keep hydrated. If you find yourself in an emergency situation in your car and you become dehydrated it can be even more dangerous for you to drive once your car is running again.

Keeping water in your car is especially important in the summer. If you find yourself in an emergency situation where your car isn't running then it is especially important to have water to keep cool. Without water you could become dehydrated and suffer from heat stroke. Water can also come in handy if your car runs out of coolant, as it can act as a temporary coolant for your car.