As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Australia’s Best New Car News, Reviews and Buying Advice


Is Driving A Pain In The Neck?

Does this sound familiar? You’ve been on the road driving interstate for hours on end. You finally get to your destination but as you go to move, and it suddenly feels like someone’s driving white-hot nails into your neck or shoulder.  Sometimes, this pain can come on long before you reach your destination.  

This sort of thing can be one reason why some people prefer to fly rather than go on long-distance road trips.  However, if you prefer to drive, as a lot of us do, and you want to see the scenery up close as you travel, then you probably want to stop the long hours of driving becoming a literal pain in the neck.

What causes neck pain when driving?  Two factors are at play here. The first is that your head is kind of heavy, and your neck has to have the muscles to support it – if you’ve ever seen or held a newborn baby, you’ll know that we aren’t born with the ability to hold up our big brains inside our big heads, and these muscles have to be developed pronto.  The second factor is that when driving, we tend to keep our heads and necks in more or less one position the whole time: on the road ahead, with the occasional head-check of the wing mirrors. Being forced into one position for a long time causes the muscles to cramp.  I don’t know if the heads-up displays found in most modern vehicles make the problem worse or not.

The issue of support is easy enough to deal with. For a start off, adjust your headrest. Most of us know how to adjust the lumbar support (if your driver seat has this; many do) and the angle of the seat to the right position. If you don’t know how to do this properly, the idea is to have your seat back at an angle so your hips and shoulders are stacked above each other (the seat and the back should be at an angle of 90–100°). If you like to slump or slouch back, your neck will have to go at an angle it doesn’t like for long periods so you can see ahead. Fixing the angle of your seat and making sure that your lumbar support is sitting nicely in the small of your back will go a long way to avoiding neck pain while driving.  Also make sure that the head rest is touching the back of your head.

However, even with the cushiest of seats in the perfect position, your neck will get tired and sore after a while. This means that you may need to take other steps during long-distance drives to avoid your neck aching.

The best tips I’ve found for avoiding neck pain while driving are the following:

  1. Get a neck support pillow. You might feel that you look silly wearing something that looks like you’ve just had neck surgery, but at least you’ll feel a lot more comfortable. These pillows will take some of the weight of your head so your neck doesn’t have to work so hard.
  2. Adjust your hand position during long drives.  Yes, we all know that 10 to 2 is the best position to have your hands on the steering wheel, but keeping your arms in this position will cramp the trapezius muscles (that’s a big group of muscles in your neck and shoulder).  During a long drive, change your hand positions around.
  3. Chill out. Many of us tend to clench our jaws and tense our shoulders when we feel stressed.  This leads to agonizingly tight shoulders.  As you drive (assuming that you’re not in a high-pressure situation), do a quick survey of your neck, jaw and shoulders.  Are you holding your stress in these parts of your body?  Do a few deep breathing exercises as you drive to help dispel the stress.
  4. Massage. Use self-massage (with one hand on the back of your neck), a massage seat or a helpful passenger riding shotgun to give the muscles in your shoulders and neck a quick squeeze and rub.
  5. Move your neck. Even while you’re driving, you can move your neck and shoulders – without taking your eyes off the road.  Shrug your shoulders and try to roll them.  Do that neck roll and one-sided shrug you see tough guys and gals in the movies do before a fight.  Slide your neck from side to side while staying level like a belly dancer.  Tilt your head from side to side like a stereotypical Indian. Nod and shake your head.  As long as you keep your eyes on the road ahead, you’re all good.
  6. Take a break! The fact that your neck is sore is a sure sign that you’ve been sitting in one position for too long. Your legs could probably do with a break as well.  Pull over and stretch your legs. As well as all the neck exercises mentioned above, remember to move your arms and do a few twists of your spine as well.

Obviously, if the traffic is heavy or if you’re driving through the middle of the city, then you may not be able to do all of these. However, do what you can when you can, and you’ll find that driving is less of a pain in the neck.

Don’t Blame EVs For This Fire

Stock image – not the Luton Airport carpark fire.

I’m not sure if you caught this one on the news recently but recently, Luton Airport in London was shut down because of a major fire that ripped through a full car park, writing off over 1000 cars.  It wasn’t long until someone posted videos of this on YouTube and other social media, with at least one video – which went viral – either suspecting or outright blaming EVs for the fire and even claiming that this would kill the EV market.

Well, we all know that the social media is not the most reliable source of new, unless its news about your family members and friends that they post directly (and even then, it can be dodgy!). According to the officials investigating the fire, it looks as though a diesel car was to blame. All vehicles get pretty dramatic when fire is involved, either thanks to being full of a highly combustible substance (petrol or diesel) or prone to thermal runaway in the case of a short-circuit (in the case of EVs) or both (hybrid vehicles), so once the fire got started, every new car involved in the blaze made the problem worse. On top of that, the building didn’t have a proper sprinkler system. What were they thinking?

Were EVs involved in the Luton Airport car park fire? Well, given that London usually has a congestion charge but exempts EVs from this, I think it’s safe to say that a few EVs would have been caught up in the inferno. However, it looks as though they weren’t the cause. The claims probably arose because there have been warnings put out by several fire departments and authorities that lithium batteries are one of the most rapidly growing causes of fires. However, it’s not EVs that tend to get the firefighters called in. Instead, the more culprits are e-bikes and e-scooters that have been plugged into the charger for too long, resulting in the battery overheating and triggering thermal runaway.

EV fires are not particularly common because the designers know about the problem and have done their darnedest to prevent them happening. They are still working to ensure that the battery pack can’t be damaged easily, as anything that crushes or punctures the battery pack can trigger a reaction. The problem is that lithium battery fires burn differently from petrol or diesel fires (and a lot hotter), and the technique of putting them out quickly is different, and it’s something that firefighters may not have been trained in, although that’s changing as EV uptake increases – to say nothing of those annoying e-bike and e-scooter fires. This is partly because starving the reaction of oxygen (which works for combustible things) doesn’t work in the case of thermal runaway. The difference between the way ICEs burn and the way EVs burn is reminiscent of some of the advice given by Marmie in Little Women:

He has a temper, not like ours—one flash and then all over—but the white, still anger that is seldom stirred, but once kindled, is hard to quench. 

It’s not the case that EVs are more prone to catching fire because of the batteries. Petrol and diesel cars can also burn nastily, though probably not the way you see them do in the movies, where even one bullet turns a car into a fireball. It’s just that EVs are different, and what causes them to catch fire can be unexpected, so people don’t know to avoid the risk.

So what can you do to minimize your risk of a fire in your new EV? Here are some tips I’ve come across:

  • Watch out for sharp objects on the road. Physical damage to the battery can trigger thermal runaway – in fact, this is probably one of the most notorious causes of EV fires. Potholes can be quite nasty, so if you end up driving an EV through one of these, get it checked pronto. The same applies to loose stones.  This is probably also the reason why EVs aren’t as popular in circles and places where serious bush-bashing happens and dirt roads are common, as the potential for damage is much higher.
  • Keep the car at the right temperature. An EV is like Goldilocks – it doesn’t like to sit somewhere too cold (in which case, the battery will sulk) and it doesn’t like being too hot either. In a well-ventilated garage is probably the best, with air conditioning if you live in a particularly hot part of the country, or at least in the shade in summer.
  • Avoid charging the battery to 100%. Stop short of the maximum. Overcharging is usually the root cause of fires in smaller lithium batteries (phones, e-bikes, laptops, etc.). It’s recommended to keep the battery level between 20% and 80%. This may mean that you have to be more vigilant when charging your vehicle and keep an eye on progress, either via an app or in person.

Spring Car Maintenance: A Checklist

Spring Car Maintenance

Spring is a season of fresh beginnings and for most, a thorough Spring cleaning.

Just a reminder: your car needs as much maintenance and deep cleaning as your home. After all, it’s also an important part of your daily routine and will probably take you on your next adventure.

To help you give your car the attention it deserves, we’ll discuss Spring car maintenance and provide you with a comprehensive checklist to make sure your vehicle is ready for the warmer months ahead.

What is Spring car maintenance?

It’s exactly what it sounds like.

Spring car maintenance refers to the set of essential maintenance tasks that you need to perform on your vehicle as the weather transitions to a warmer one. Spring car care and maintenance is a proactive approach to address the issues that may have occurred before the warmer seasons.

It’s also a way of preparing your car, especially if you’re planning a fun road trip soon!

Why is maintaining your car in Spring important?

Maintaining your car is always important. But even more so in Spring, for the following reasons:

First and foremost: safety.

Roads tend to be extra challenging during the storms leading up to the warmer seasons. So, when Spring comes, it’s important to check your vehicle for issues that compromise your vehicle’s safety, such as worn brakes, damaged tyres or faulty lights.

Maintain your car for efficiency and longevity.

A well-maintained car operates more efficiently and has an extended lifespan. When you address small issues in Spring, you can prevent major problems down the road and improve fuel economy that then helps you save money on petrol.

A well-maintained car is a comfortable car.

Spring maintenance includes checking your vehicle’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Ensuring your air conditioning is working correctly will definitely help you keep cool during those warmer Australian days.

Why is maintaining your car in Spring important

Checklist: How to care for and maintain your vehicle in Spring

Now, let’s go through the important steps in your Spring car maintenance routine:

☐ Examine all of your tyres.

Since harsh weather conditions can be hard on tyres, this is the best time to inspect them for tread depth and uneven wear patterns. Check the tyre pressure and switch back to all-season tyres (if you used winter tyres during the colder months).

☐ Replace your windshield wiper blades.

Ideally, wiper blades need to be replaced every six months. So, if you’ve had your wiper blades for over six months or you’ve noticed signs of damage, it may be time to replace them.

☐ Check all the lights.

Check that all lights, including headlights, taillights, brake lights and indicators are working correctly and replace any burnt-out bulbs.

☐ Conduct a brake inspection.

Inspect your brakes for signs of wear and tear. Pay especially close attention to squeaking and grinding noises as these are signs that your brakes may need replacement.

☐ Change and replenish automotive fluids.

Check all car fluid levels: engine oil, coolant, transmission fluid, and brake fluid. Also, ensure they are at the right levels. An oil change is also an important part of a Spring car maintenance routine.

☐ Do a battery check.

Cold weather can be tough on vehicle batteries. So, check for corrosion and ensure the connections are secure. Tip: if your battery is more than 3 years old, you might want to consider replacing it.

☐ Once everything is settled, refresh and clean the car.

Start from the outside: look for rust or any other external damage. Wash your car and apply a protective wax coating to shield it from the elements. Then, go through all of the interiors. Wash your floor mats and liners and clean all surfaces with car-safe cleaning products.

With a comprehensive Spring car maintenance routine, you can ensure your car is ready to take you efficiently, safely and comfortably on any springtime adventures you have planned (or not planned!).

Just don’t forget the Spring car maintenance routine

Remember: doing regular maintenance and following these steps on the Spring car checklist will not only save you money in the long run, but it will also ensure that you have a safer driving experience at any time of the year.

So, as everyone gets into the refreshing spirit of Spring cleaning, don’t forget to have a look at your car too.

Find the right vehicle for you with Private Fleet this Spring.

Private Fleet empowers you to gain all the benefits of a fleet purchase but as a private buyer.

Backed by decades of vehicle industry experience, fleet buying power and a network of car dealers across Australia, we’re here to ensure that buying your next vehicle will be as straightforward as possible for you, no matter the season or time.

Shopping for a car is an enjoyable process – let us make it hassle-free, too.

Reach out to us today for a seamless and simple car-buying experience.

How To Really Annoy Other Drivers: The 10 Worst Driving Habits

OK, everybody, gather round. Mama’s going to teach you how to be a terrible driver*. You know the one: that driver, the one who everybody hates and who nobody wants to ride with. In fact, I’m going to tell you about all the bad habits that you simply must acquire if you want to lose friends and irritate people.

*For the sake of any non-human robots reading this, this article is an example of the ancient art of sarcasm and irony.

Of course, there are plenty of bad habits when it comes to driving, but these are some of the most annoying. They aren’t stupidly dangerous, like running red lights or driving on the wrong side of the road, but they are still somewhat dangerous all the same.

#1: Incorrect Indicators

Those amber lights on the side of your car front and back are designed to let your fellow drivers know if you are about to change lane or turn a corner. But other people should be able to read your mind, right? After all, you should be able to go where you want to when you want to, and why should you be bothered taking time to use those indicators, even though the lever for applying them is right by your hand (assuming you’ve got both hands on your steering wheel, that is). Failure to use them will really make the blood of other drivers boil quite satisfactorily.

However, this isn’t the only way to annoy your fellow drivers with your poor indicator habits. A safer way to mis-indicate is to turn on your indicators far too early and keep everybody guessing as to whether you’re turning the corner or turning into a driveway. At least the people behind you will slow down so they don’t bang into your rear end, and you can hold them up for ages and then (extra bonus points) accuse them of Annoying Driving Habit #2.

#2: Tailgating

Yes, you’ve heard of the two second rule, but that’s for wimps, right? After all, that person in front of you has had his or her indicators on for the last minute, so you can hardly be blamed for driving a scant metre from their rear bumper. Besides, why did they put bumper stickers on the rear of their car if they didn’t expect you to read them? Never mind that you’re driving so close that the driver in front of you doesn’t dare to slow down one iota to avoid you rear-ending them. That’s a way of ensuring that everybody keeps up to the right speed, right?

Even if you’re a little further away and are able to stop in time if the driver in front of you does finally decide to turn into a driveway or if they have to stop for something insignificant, like a dog running into the road, you can still annoy and intimidate them. After all, you’re only sticking close to them waiting for a chance to overtake, and they’re guilty of Annoying Driving Habit #3.

#3: Channelling Your Inner Gandalf

Every time someone comes up close behind you, you need to get your battered grey hat and wizard’s staff on and shout “You shall not pass!” However, if you’re unable to make the road crack at their feet, sending them plunging like a balrog into the chasm beneath the Bridge of Khazad-Dum, there’s a simpler way to stop the people behind you from overtaking and annoy them at the same time. If you’re really lucky, they may let out a suitable enraged roar.

All you need to do is to keep your speed really slow during all the bits of road that are windy, filled with oncoming traffic or painted with pretty yellow lines down the middle. Once these useful areas have shifted to open, empty straight roads with passing lanes, speed up to the full speed limit so that the driver in the car either doesn’t pass you or is forced to break the speed limit to get past you. Bonus points if you can bait them into doing so going past a speed trap or when there’s a cop hiding behind a bush.

This surefire way to annoy all your fellow drivers is best combined with Annoying Driving Habits #4 and #5.

#4: Not Pulling Over

OK, so there’s a queue of traffic piling up behind you like you’re leading them to freedom. At long last, you’ve come to part of the road with a wide shoulder, or possibly even a slow vehicle bay. To get the satisfaction of completely ticking off every single one of those drivers and their passengers, don’t pull over. Just keep on driving and staying in your lane.

#5: Living In The Fast Lane

Finally, to ensure that your fellow drivers start shouting dubious things about your ancestry and your love life, get into the fast lane or the passing lane (in Australia, that’s the one on the right that doesn’t have the oncoming traffic). And stay there. Don’t go at speeds that get used when overtaking. Don’t even go at the open road speed. Go just below it.

After all, you can’t let anybody pass you, as they may be guilty of Annoying Driving Habit #6.

#6: Scantily Clad Loads

If you have a ute or if you’re towing a trailer, it makes sense to tie down anything large like tables and chairs. You don’t want the inconvenience of losing that. However, if you’re taking a load of garbage to the dump or if you have a lot of things in the back that you don’t mind losing, such as leaves, grass clippings or stones. So to ensure that you enrage your fellow drivers, don’t bother covering this load. Leave it naked, even. That way, some will blow back as you drive, right into the windscreen of whoever’s behind you (see Annoying Driving Habit #2). If your load involved stones or gravel, then you may be lucky enough to chip their windscreen. Extra bonus points if the person behind you is getting about on a motorbike or bicycle– those peasants who don’t have as many wheels as you deserve a load of old barbecue ash in the face, right?

If you don’t have a trailer or a ute, you can get a similar effect by applying Annoying Driving Habit #7.

#7: Litterbugs

Your car is your castle, and you don’t want to clutter up your precious car with old coffee cups, uneaten fast food meals and packages, etc. You could merely keep these in a bag and dispose of them at the end of your journey, but why squander the opportunity to irritate not just other drivers but pedestrians, home owners, town councils and environmentalists? Out the window with it!

Throwing an apple core or peach pit out into the grass in the middle of the countryside is for amateurs. If you do this when nobody is in sight, this won’t annoy anybody. However, for maximum effect, dispose of plastic, paper or glass that you can’t be bothered with any longer, and do it in a built-up area.

However, a still-burning cigarette butt (here, I’m assuming that the way you drive isn’t your only bad habit) might be a bit too far. After all, you could hit a cyclist in the face with hot ash or, during drought season, start a fire. And the person behind you might be indulging in Annoying Driving Habit #8, meaning that they’ll be able to squeal to the authorities and get you into hot water.

#8: Staying Glued To Your Phone

You spend a lot of time in your car and you’ve got a busy life, so of course you NEED to stay on your phone. There are calls to take, and you’re pretty sure that you saw a text message or Snapchat or maybe it was a notification on Messenger from your boss or maybe it was your boyfriend or possibly it was your mother, but you’d better check, and then even if it came from the person in the group chat from the book club commenting on the latest bit of chick lit you’re working through at the moment, well you have to read it then and there because it would be rude to ghost them and just leave them with a Seen message without even a like or an emoji, right**? You have to consider the people in your life who are there only virtually ahead of the drivers around you! Besides, if checking your phone leads you to miss a light changing, make manoeuvres at the last minute (see Annoying Driving Habit #1) or swerve in front of people, you’ll annoy them to perfection.

Moreover, if you want to indulge in Annoying Driving Habit #9, you have to curate the right Spotify list.

#9: Wannabe DJs

You might not have the world’s most expensive car but you certainly have a very good sound system with very powerful speakers. If you’ve gone to all that effort, you have to flaunt it, right? Wind that speaker up, put your windows down and let that music play! Now, doing this with middle of the road music might only mildly annoy people. But to really grind people’s gears, select something that is loved by only a select few, preferably with dodgy lyrics of the sort that would have seen your grandfather getting his mouth washed out with soap by great-grandma.

If you’re a fan of this particular habit, then you probably regret the fact that Elon Musk chickened out on having some varieties of Tesla making fart noises when travelling at slow speeds. You’d have had a lot of fun with that – think of how many people you could tick off with an EV with a loud stereo and farting noises, especially if you drove past where they’re coming out of a funeral or something along those lines. However, that would probably mean that you’d drain your battery fairly quickly and have to drag yourself to the nearest supermarket with a charging station (see Annoying Driving Habits #4 and #5) and hope that someone else hasn’t decided to try in Annoying Driving Habit #10.

#10: Entitled Parking

It’s raining, so you want to park close to the doors of the mall or the supermarket or K-Mart or your other retail destination of choice. Otherwise, you might have to WALK (Gasp! The horror!). So park wherever you like. You’ll have the satisfaction of getting people’s goat and getting their knickers in a twist if you park your car somewhere clearly designated for something special (who do they think they are, right?). Put your 4×4 in the disabled parking spot or in the mothers with babies parks (your 4×4 will probably blend in with the others in the parents-only carparks anyway as long as nobody sees that you don’t have baby seats cluttering up your back seat). Or to become everybody’s least favourite person, park your 5-litre petrol or diesel in the EV charging spaces.

Now, have I missed any?  Who wants to suggest a few more annoying habits guaranteed to irritate?

**100 words in one sentence – I think that’s my personal best. Tell me, are you not annoyed?