Category Archives: cost of motoring

Women drivers are affected by the cost of motoring including car insurance

FOXY adds female voice to MoT consultation

Sent to

On behalf of UK women drivers, this is FOXY Lady Drivers’ Club’s response to the UK government’s proposal to extend the MOT test ‘grace period’ of new vehicles from three to four years. As you can see we are not impressed.

Dear Sirs

I run the UK’s only motoring club for women drivers, FOXY Lady Drivers Club, and am writing to you, on their behalf, about your proposal to delay vehicle first MoT tests from their 3rd to 4th birthday.

I was a signatory of the previous Pro-MoTe campaign, when this proposal was last aired and I remain as baffled, if not more, about the Government’s agenda here. I am particularly concerned about the implications re tyre safety.

MoT Consultation Concerns

These are the points I’d like to submit for your consideration within the consultation period.

1) A Misguided Moneysaver

The safety issues raised outweigh the one-off saving of some £54.85 (ie one MoT fee) even for the many women who dislike visiting garages.

2) Dangerous Cars on UK Roads

Delaying a first year vehicle MoT from 3 years to 4 years is increasing the number of dangerous cars on our roads, for longer.

An unacceptably high number of vehicles are failing their first MoT and whilst it might be tempting to think that tyres and brake failings are the main road safety issues, we must not overlook the risks drivers run with inadequate lighting, wipers and or windscreen washer levels.

Even worse, a van could have driven some 150k miles before its first MoT safety snapshot. Hence their higher first time MoT failure rates.

3) Newer Cars Aren’t Always Safer

Badly maintained ‘nearly new’ cars are NOT safer than well maintained older ones. A modern car with a typical 30,000 miles on its clock, driven by a motorist who is oblivious to tyre care and TPMS warnings is too common an example to ignore simply because a car has covered fewer miles.

4) Car Servicing Standards

Car servicing/manufacturer/vehicle handbook servicing regimes/checklists cannot be relied upon to alert motorists to car maintenance neglect in between garage visits.

5) Motorists Knowledge of Car Maintenance

My experience talking to groups of women drivers confirms that many of them are poorly informed about tyre safety in particular – I imagine this is true of male drivers too.

The Tyresafe infographic draws attention to this, extrapolating that 1 in 4 vehicles on our roads is potentially travelling on illegal ie dangerous tyres.

They also record that the level of ignorance relating to TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems) is increasing. See 2016 research.

6) The Cost of More Road Accidents

An increasing number of dangerous vehicles on our roads will result in more road accidents, more serious injuries and fatalities, more days lost at work, more traffic jams and more stress for our emergency services alike. As I see it, this is the potential risk you run were you to actively postpone essential safety checks on UK vehicles from their 3rd to 4th birthday.


All in all, I’d rather be talking to you about organising courses to help women drivers understand how to/what it takes to run safer vehicles.

Finally, I remain unconvinced that MoTs should be discounted. Demand is inelastic and MoTs should be seen as a fixed cost. Too many MoT offers look like a ‘sprat to catch a mackerel’ tactic. I’d prefer to see some of the full fee being spent on delivering better customer service.

Yours sincerely


Steph Savill


FOXY Lady Drivers Club


BN44 3GF

2017 Motoring Resolutions – Spend Less, Spend Wisely

Photo acknowledgement to Scott Webb/Unsplash

This blog has been written by Claire Jones-Hughes of

“On a drive back from a meeting in Maidstone home to Brighton, my Peugeot 308 started to lose power.

There were some rumblings in the engine, it didn’t stall, just restricted the speed to around 55mph with limited ability to accelerate.

Now I do know enough about my car to look after it, get it serviced (which I do regularly) and fixed but I had a worrying suspicion this might be the turbo and feared the worst for the bank balance.

I made it home safely and messaged a diesel-driving (male) friend for advice. It could be a turbo pipeline blockage; it could be the whole thing that has failed. And even visiting my reliable, female-friendly local garage M J B Motors, I was still looking at a pretty packet. And it did need replacing. Ouch!

Could this turbo expense have been avoided?

Although it’s not unusual for turbos to need replacing after a while, especially on cars over 7-years old or after a certain mileage, I now realise there are things I could have done to defer this expense.

Now, I’m not one for making resolutions but in an effort to sort out family finances during 2017, I am embarking on a ‘buy nothing’ or ‘minimalism’ lifestyle to make a difference. This means looking at what we spend your money on and finding ways to cut back, cut things out, mend and repair rather than replace or find stuff you need second-hand or free.

I need the car for work and family errands (visiting my 94-year old grandmother regularly for example), so it has to stay. However, when I read Steph’s earlier motoring resolutions at this blog, it inspired me to make my own in order to use the car more effectively.

So here are some of my commitments for 2017.

1. Don’t run the tank down empty. This most certainly has an impact on the engine and how much residual dirt my 2009 Peugeot pulls through from it’s old tank. This is one of my worse habits as a ‘juggle-mama’.

2. Clean the car inside and out. Shamefully I rarely do. As a business-owner and mum-of-two, this always gets shelved and it’s a luxury to pay someone to do this. Taking care of the paintwork will help prevent corrosion. Taking care of the inside upholstery means if we ever sell the car, it’s likely to be more desirable to buy but also comfortable for us to use. It’s already in fairly good condition but now is the time to start better cleaning habits.

3. Check oil and tyres regularly. During Tyre Safety Month 2016, Steph showed me the 20p check, so there’s no excuse not to check the tread. Especially as we don’t use the car as much as when I was commuting 35 miles a day. Making sure there is enough and regularly clean oil simply helps the engine live happily for longer…

4. Routinely check my mirrors, windows and headlamps for dirt before I set off on journeys. Especially during the winter months, these can get dirty, potentially obscuring vision. Usually I notice this 300 yards down the road, pull over and wipe. What a faff!

5. Re-introduce the eco-driving practices I learned on the Energy Savings Trust course years ago. Especially as I’m stuck with a now controversial diesel car, this is more important than ever until we can afford to buy a new car run on cleaner energy. The last time I did this consistently, I increased the fuel economy by an extra 5 miles to the gallon. Doesn’t sound like a lot but it helps!

What could you do different to drive more economically, eco-friendly or cost-effectively this year?”

FOXY Footnote:

Thank you Claire. As you explain so well, most of us have learned the wisdom of regular car maintenance and servicing the hard way.

And now we know better, it’s amazing to hear how many motorists still don’t know how to look after their car and why this affects its reliability and their family safety.

We can only hope that when Club members need to buy a used car in future they can find one that’s been owned by a responsible motorist like you that knows the drill rather than one that evidently doesn’t care. In our experience, if a car has been neglected it’ll return that favour in big bills – we call this carma-nomics haha…

Savvy Woman interviews FOXY

Savvy woman interves FOXYLast Saturday I was interviewed by the Savvy Woman, Sarah Pennells as part of her excellent ‘Women and Money’ radio programme on Share Radio.

The programme involved expert author Maria McCarthy and Charlotte Halkett from leading telematics insurer ‘Insure The Box’ whose brands include ‘Drive Like A Girl’.

Sarah was exploring the fact that women are increasingly wealthy customers in the motor industry yet it still seems to be a blokey environment when it comes to buying cars and going to garages.

A topic after my own heart!

But rather than rewrite an interesting conversation here, here’s the link and I hope you enjoy this discussion.

If you’d like to add to the debate, especially to do with preferential insurance for safer women drivers, please do so via Twitter.

My personal account is @FOXYSteph and the business one is @FOXYTweets.


About LPG cars, with women in mind

lpg_vehicle When Autogas asked us to test drive and review a Ford Focus 1.6 Ecoboost fuelled by LPG we didn’t have to think twice because the FOXY Helpdesk guys couldn’t wait to get their technical thinking caps on here and I needed to know more about the economics of this alternative and evidently green fuel.

In a nutshell, the car starts on petrol then the LPG fuel feeds in as the engine gets warmer. This is a seamless process, explained below, allowing the much cheaper fuel to do the lion’s share of the miles.

You need two fuel tanks of course. The LPG one is fitted in the boot, instead of a spare wheel. Instead of the spare wheel you need to carry a puncture repair kit, just in case.

Apart from that, and the two fuel fillers and caps, you’d struggle to tell it was a LPG car from the exterior – although there could be no doubt about this being an Autogas vehicle from the branded Ford we drove!

As you might expect this means two fuel tanks to fill and we cover the LPG refuelling process below.

About LPG

LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) is familiar to most as the fuel used to operate camping stoves, barbecues and patio heaters. It’s also bulk delivered to homes that are not connected to the mains gas network. It takes liquid form when stored under pressure and becomes gaseous when released – you can see this process in action when you use a transparent disposable lighter.

When manufactured for use as vehicle fuel, LPG is often called Autogas – this is a mixture of butane and propane.

A petrol engine runs on vapour (comprising petrol and air mixed) so it will happily run on LPG as well. But LPG cannot be ‘enriched’ after first starting the engine by the likes of a choke mechanism which is either be automatic, or manual (as in pulling out the choke handle) on petrol fuelled cars. This process enables the engine to develop enough power when cold to move the car. As the engine warms up, the choke is gradually closed to compensate. Once fully warm the engine generates its maximum power.

As gas cannot be enriched, LPG cars were traditionally sluggish when cold, but modern systems have overcome that by allowing the car to start on petrol only and gradually metering the gas into the mixture as the car warms up. When warm, the car runs solely on LPG (unless it runs out when the car will switch to petrol automatically). All this is managed by the fuel controller and happens seamlessly as far as the driver is aware.

It is not technically feasible to make a diesel engine run on LPG.

How LPG works

lpg_tankOn the test car, the fuel is stored in a separate tank which is housed in the spare wheel aperture (see photo). There is no spare wheel; a temporary repair kit is provided instead.

There is a small LED indicator fixed to the centre console (see below) with four LEDs which indicate the amount of LPG remaining; from four (full) to one when it is time to start looking for a filling station.

indicator_fullThe car started and ran well from cold and the transition from petrol to LPG was unnoticable except for an orange LED showing when it is using petrol. Other than the little indicator there is no apparent difference in the way the car looks, feels or drives; it’s just like driving a petrol Ford, just cheaper to run…

How to fill up

First, find a petrol station that sells Autogas – there are more than 1400 LPG stations across the UK, one in four Shell stations is one and you can get a satnav app if need be.

They are likely to be positioned near a trunk route but this didn’t cause us any problems as we’d simply learn to plan ahead to refuel en route to motorways or coastal roads.

forecourtWhen you get there, LPG is displayed on the signage (see photo).

The Autogas pump we used was on a filling island along with a diesel and a petrol filler nozzle. Because the LPG is stored under pressure, the nozzle has to be positively located in the filler aperture (see photo).

On the test car the aperture was let unobtrusively into the bodywork and concealed with a neat little cap.

The nozzle uses a bayonet action to fasten itself into the aperture. When (and only if) that is properly attached, it is necessary to press and hold the button on the pump until it switches off automatically or until the display shows the delivered amount of fuel you want to pay for (see photo).

On our test car the ECU calculated the remaining fuel for the petrol tank only. Autogas tell us there are moves afoot to collaborate with manufacturers to take the additional fuel type into the equation.


The LPG business case

Clearly you need to calculate the cost of converting a car to LPG alongside the likely fuel savings.

Yes, you’d save most if you’re a high mileage driver. Just factor in the cost of conversion (between £1200 to £1600 we’re told) then your fuel bill will quickly drop by some 40% on average. That’s a dramatic effect and can quickly pay back in this scenario.

There’s also the fact that the cost of the conversion depreciates much faster than the car so a three year old converted car will deliver up the fuel savings straightaway. Most employers will surely be happy to cover the conversion cost for that end result.

But you’d also save if you can make financial sense of converting a cherished older car where depreciation has long since mattered. Just spread the investment over a ten year period perhaps and work out your everyday fuel savings.

And as we all become more canny about motoring costs surely LPG needs to be taken more seriously by more motorists?

You can read all about converting your car, the benefits of LPG and how much money you can save on fuel here.

LPG’s green credentials

Looking at LPG from an air quality point of view, it is one of the cleanest fuels available, being a by-product of natural gas extraction and crude oil refining.

To be precise, Autogas CO2 emissions are up to 15 per cent lower than petrol, its NOx emissions (one of the main contributors to smog) are up to 80 per cent lower than diesel and there are up to 98 per cent fewer harmful particulates in Autogas emissions than in other fuels (Atlantic Consulting Report 2014).

FOXY’s verdict

We think LPG makes all round compelling financial and environmental sense whether you are looking for a value for money secondhand car or plan to convert your own family car.

Here is some practical advice if you are shopping for a used car, run on LPG.

Alternatively if you decide to organise your own car conversion, you should shop around carefully as some LPG converters are better than others. So far we only have one garage on our FOXY Lady Approved female friendly network (Herts Auto Tek in Knebworth) to service and repair LPG cars but the Autogas website will help you in both respects and we look forward to your feedback afterwards.

We see no reason why an LPG conversion wouldn’t add to the eventual resale value of a vehicle, after time, for compelling economic reasons.

There is no evident problem re: car insurance either, assuming you have used an approved LPG converter.

And with no perceived difference in handling, comparing petrol versus LPG drive and performance, I have no hesitation in recommending LPG as an alternative and very foxy cheap fuel for savvy women drivers. After all, some 25 million vehicles run on it around the whole world, meaning it is the third most popular automotive fuel available, for good reason.


How to enjoy motoring and save money

ack: Figaro Owners Club
ack: Figaro Owners Club

We were asked to write a blog for the worthy Money Advice Service about motoring savings their readers can make.

I am more than happy to oblige as saving money with women drivers in mind is a subject dear to our hearts.

My experience is that some rich people treat cars like designer fashion. When something stops looking new or the height of fashion, they want it replaced pronto.

You don’t want to buy a car from people like this for fear they’ve neglected the car, knowing this won’t be their problem come MOT time. This is why c40% of cars and a shocking 50% of vans fail their first MOT (safety check) after just three years.

And why you really don’t want to buy one of these vehicles even if they’re cheap at the time…

However, if you buy the right car in the first place ie a value for money car that’s clearly been maintained, serviced and cared for it’ll be more reliable for longer than one with a scant service history suggesting a car that’s about to get VERY expensive to run. We call these cars lemons as they always leave a bitter taste in the mouth – and motoring memory!

But if you continue to look after your car once it moves into its mellow MOT years, it’ll last you much longer and make motoring more affordable and enjoyable into the bargain.

Tips how to cherish a family car

A cherished car is safe and reliable for longer. Here are a few money-saving tips to help women economise on motoring bills.

1 If you are the main driver, get an insurance quote from a company that specialises in female drivers and excludes boy racers. There are big savings to be made for many women.

2 If you drive less than 5,000 miles a year, it still makes sense to have your car serviced once a year (because professionals can spot what’s likely to become expensive before it does) but you’ll save money, depending on the age of your car, by making do with an oil and filter change one year (cheapest formula), an interim service the next (medium cost) and a full service (the expensive one) every three years. And if you do this at the same time as the MOT ask for a half price one (saving c£27)…

3 Put a small amount of money away a month towards annual car servicing and unexpected car repair bills. You can’t run an older car without unexpected bills but if you have a ring-fenced motoring reserve to dip into this will ease the inevitable financial pain.

4 By all means shop around at MOT time but be canny. Garages aren’t regulated and mechanics don’t have to be licensed so some unscrupulous back street garages advertise MOTs for less than the cost of doing this to then rip you off. For example, a half price MOT brings in c£27 for the hour this takes. That’s not a lot to pay someone and contribute to overheads. Instead, check the garage is listed at Motor Codes or the IMI Professional Register – then you know the business has invested in being better than the rest and is unlikely to rip you off.

5 Check your tyres regularly. Illegal ones carry a fine of £2500 and 3 penalty points EACH. Choose a businesses listed at the female friendly Tyre Services Register because they’ve signed a promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell you tyres you don’t need.’ They’ll also advise you about the best buys at the time. Never buy part worn tyres – yes they’re cheap but a false economy as you don’t know where they’ve been.

6 Shop around for local fuel. Supermarkets aren’t always the cheapest/nearest and if you sign up to the PetrolPrices website they’ll tell you where your best local deals are.

7 Register with FOXY Lady Insurance for an insurance quote at renewal time. You can do this now. We’re cutting the cost of car insurance for nine out of ten motorists and this could be you…

I hope this helps you save money on your bills. Here’s to happy motoring for less in future.


FOXY Lady Drivers Club