RACQ Motoring

Car Fact Sheets

RACQ offers 116 fact sheets on a variety of motoring topics including engines and oils, maintenance and repairs and buying a car. Simply browse these fact sheets for information, or contact RACQ Motoring Advice for further information on any related topics. 

RACQ Car Fact Sheets relating to Buying or selling a car. View our selection of fact sheets, or contact RACQ Motoring Advice if you require further information and assistance.

21 fact sheets available

Arranging car finance & deposits

Consider arranging your finance before finding a car. This way you will know exactly how much you have to spend, the money will be readily accessible, and you may be able to negotiate a better price if the seller knows you are able to close the sale quickly.

Arranging car insurance

There are a number of car insurance options available, allowing you to choose a level of cover that suits both your requirements and your budget.

Buying a new car vs buying a used car

The advantages and disadvantages of buying either new or used cars. Also includes information on demonstrator vehicles and superseded stock.

Car registration & duty

Before you drive away in your new car, you should be aware of some of the on-road costs involved. Both vehicle registration duty and stamp duty are payable on new and used cars.

Car reviews

Car reviews can be a great way to get an additional perspective on your next potential car purchase.

Car safety ratings

It’s important that you put safety features high on the shopping list for your next car.

Considering car accessories

Don’t get too carried away with extra equipment as some will have little long-term value and you will be unlikely to recoup the money on resale.

Considering car economy

It is important to consider the ongoing costs you are likely to incur as a motorist.

Flood damaged vehicle – buyers alert

Of the thousands of vehicles affected by Eastern Australia’s recent floods, a large proportion will be declared ‘write offs’ by insurers. And while it may be reasonable to think that these vehicles will end up in wrecker’s yards, the reality is that after drying out and cleaning, many will be sold to unsuspecting buyers, either by used car dealers or private sellers. Used car buyers therefore need to exercise greater caution than ever before in their used vehicle purchases.

How much is that car worth?

Many people are under the impression that car dealers have access to a secret book that lists the price of every car on the road.

Legal information for car buyers

Being aware of the legal obligations of motor dealers and private sellers when selling a car will help protect you as a buyer.

Negotiating the sale

When it comes to negotiating a new car deal, the result may relate directly to how much effort you put in.

Obtaining car history checks

Obtaining car history checks including checking the Personal Property Security Register.

Safety certificates

All registered cars in Queensland must have a current Safety Certificate before they are offered for sale. Significant fines apply for failing to display a current Safety Certificate.

Ten Tips for Buying a Car

RACQ can assist with advice about the car you are considering, vehicle inspections, insurance and finance. Here are some tips that may be helpful when buying a car.

Ten Tips for Buying a Car

RACQ can assist with advice about the car you are considering, vehicle inspections, insurance and finance. Here are some tips that may be helpful when buying a car.

Tips for sellers when transferring registration

Take some simple precautions when selling your vehicle and transferring the registration to the purchaser.

Top 5 Tips for buying a car

As one the biggest purchases in your life, buying a new car can be overwhelming. RACQ investigates what you need to know when purchasing a new car.

Trading in an old car

Trading in your old car can be a convenient method of disposing of it, as well as subsidising the purchase of the new one.

Vehicle Running Costs 2013

This Schedule is a guide to the average cost of owning and operating vehicles for private purposes. It is based on typical vehicles in various sizes available in Australia and provides an indication of the likely areas of expense. The tables provide costings for 110 vehicles. Models are generally chosen from the top selling vehicles in each class. This year we have again included three popular Prestige models from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Where to buy a car

There are a number of places you can buy a car, and shopping around is likely to save you money.

RACQ Car Fact Sheets relating to Car accessories. View our selection of fact sheets, or contact RACQ Motoring Advice if you require further information and assistance.

7 fact sheets available

Fog Lights

Fog lights are becoming an increasingly common feature of new vehicles. Fog lights may only be used when adverse weather conditions, such as fog or heavy rain, reduce visibility.

Fuel Saving Products

Whenever the price of fuel spikes all sorts of products that claim to produce dramatic improvements in fuel consumption appear on the market. While the benefits may sound impressive, the actual results achieved may not live up to expectations.

Micro Dots

MicroDots have had a tremendous impact on vehicle professional theft rates wherever theyve been used, and are one of the most significant and effective anti-theft measures so far developed.

Pedestrian Protection and Bullbars

Research has shown that re-designing the front structure of a vehicle could increase the chance of a vulnerable road user, such as a pedestrian or a cyclist, surviving a collision with a vehicle.

Rust Preventative Systems

Until a few years ago rust was a major enemy of the motorist, but today major rust problems in properly maintained later model cars are rarely heard of.

Vehicle immobilisers and alarms

Australia has one of the highest rates of motor vehicle theft in the western world, with on average, one vehicle stolen every six minutes.

Window Tinting

Queensland Transport regulations allow the use of tinting film on side and rear windows of motor vehicles provided at least 35 percent of light still makes its way through the tinted glass.

RACQ Car Fact Sheets relating to Cars and the environment. View our selection of fact sheets, or contact RACQ Motoring Advice if you require further information and assistance.

6 fact sheets available

Catalytic Converters

A catalyst is something that produces a chemical reaction in something else without altering itself in the process.

Diesel Particulate Filters

Diesel Particulate Filters are an industry response to the ongoing tightening of exhaust emission standards for diesel vehicles. As their name suggests, they clean the particulate matter (soot) from exhaust gasses by passing them through a filter that traps the particles.

Fuel Economy

It seems the way of the world that the price of most goods just keeps heading skywards. And the cost of fuel for our motorcars is certainly no exception! Fortunately, there are a number of fairly simple ways of making your car go further between fills at the fuel bowser and, consequently, saving some of your hard earned cash.

Stop-Start Technology

A fundamental fuel saving strategy is to switch off the engine when it isn’t needed. The value of this advice is supported by an increasing number of vehicle manufacturers that are introducing Stop –Start technology to their new models. Quite simply, instead of relying on the driver to switch off the engine, the car now does it automatically – only restarting when it’s time to drive away, charge the battery or change cabin temperature by operating the air conditioning or heater.

Sulphur Content and Diesel Exhaust Emissions

As part of the National Fuel Standards in mid 2002, the Federal Government committed to introducing cleaner transport fuels to Australia. One of the key elements of this commitment is the reduction of the amount of sulphur in diesel fuel.

Tips for Greener Motoring

The amount of fuel a car uses is directly related to the amount of green house gas emissions it produces. Selecting the right car for your needs and using it wisely will reduce your fuel consumption and help you save money and the environment.

RACQ Car Fact Sheets relating to Fuels and oils. View our selection of fact sheets, or contact RACQ Motoring Advice if you require further information and assistance.

15 fact sheets available

Biodiesel

Biodiesel can be made from new or used vegetable oils and animal fats.

Diesel Fuel Sludging

Poorly maintained diesel fuel tanks are a perfect breeding ground for a variety of fuel loving 'bugs' that can cause no end of trouble to the operators of diesel powered vehicles and boats.

Diesel Mis-fuelling Device

As diesel vehicles become more popular, there is the increased risk that through 'habit' they will be misfuelled with the wrong fuel type.

E85 conversions

A number of after-market ‘conversion kits’ claim to enable engines not so designed, to run on fuel blends containing up to 85 percent ethanol.

E85 Fuel

In September 2010 Caltex released Bio E-Flex, a blend of petrol and between 70 percent and 85 percent ethanol. It is commonly referred to as E85.

Ethanol

Ethanol in Australian petrol is limited to a maximum of 10% of the volume by law.

Ethanol Blends and Octane Number

Octane is a measure of a fuel’s ability to resist a phenomenon known as “knocking”, which a driver may detect as a “pinging” or “knocking” noise coming from the engine. Knocking is the explosive burning of fuel in an engine’s combustion chamber that can very quickly destroy an engine.

High Octane Fuels

High-octane fuels were once considered a premium product that only a small number of high performance vehicles required.

Low viscosity engine oils

Following trends established overseas, we are now seeing cars in the Australian marketplace that have low viscosity engine oils recommended by the manufacturer as their prime service recommendation.

LP Gas

Liquefied petroleum gas (LP gas or LPG) is a hydrocarbon fuel comprising propane, butane or propylene, either separately or as a mixture of any of them.

Mis-fuelling

Mis-fuelling is a term that refers to filling a vehicle's fuel tank with the wrong fuel, and it happens more frequently than most realise.

Oil Recycling

It has been estimated that each year approximately 500 million litres of lubricating oil is sold in Australia.

Opal Fuel

Petrol sniffing has become a significant health and social issue in some areas and as a result, some remote communities in central and northern Australia have totally banned the sale and trade of normal petrol to try and kerb the problem.

Understanding engine oil designations

Most engine oils are classified in two ways.

Unleaded Petrol and Pre-1986 Cars

Many vehicles built before 1986 were designed to operate on leaded fuel. However leaded fuel was withdrawn from the Australian market due to environmental and health concerns over lead pollution.

RACQ Car Fact Sheets relating to General motoring topics. View our selection of fact sheets, or contact RACQ Motoring Advice if you require further information and assistance.

20 fact sheets available

Cleaning your Car

With new car prices skyrocketing, many people are holding onto their cars longer and find it an increasing challenge to keep their valuable asset looking good.

Continuously Variable Transmissions

The concept of a Continuously Variable Transmission, CVT, is not new and has been credited to Leonardo Da Vinci in the late 1400’s. Dutch vehicle maker, DAF, used a CVT in the late fifties.

Cruise control

Cruise control is a system that maintains a fairly constant vehicle speed without the need for driver input.

Drive-by-wire

Drive-by-wire refers to systems that use electronically controlled actuators to perform functions such as throttle and brake control that traditionally have been done by systems with a direct 'mechanical' style connection.

Estimating the cost of fuel for a trip

To estimate the fuel cost for a trip you will need to know the trip distance, the average per litre cost of fuel and the vehicle’s fuel consumption in litres / 100km.

Grey Imports

Grey imports is a term given to vehicles that are imported into Australia by people other than the original manufacturer or local distributor.

Headlights

Better vehicle lighting can improve driver recognition of objects and therefore increase vehicle safety. Vehicle manufacturers have addressed this issue by fitting new vehicles with higher output headlights, as well as new lighting technology such as high intensity discharge lamps...However some drivers continue to raise concerns about the blue coloured headlights that appear to be becoming more common.

Hybrid Vehicles

The term hybrid vehicle is becoming increasingly common. In car speak; hybrid refers to the use of more than one type of technology to provide motion. Typically this means an internal combustion engine and an electric motor that can power the vehicle alone, or assist the internal combustion engine.

Jump Starting

Most vehicle handbooks provide a procedure for jump-starting, however we consider that these procedures are for use in the situation where the battery is discharged.

Laminated and high strength automotive glass

Laminated glass has been used in windscreens for many years, though tempered glass is still commonly used in side and rear windows.

Measuring Fuel Consumption

To allow consumers to compare one vehicles fuel consumption against another, vehicle manufacturers are required by law to provide fuel consumption figures for the vehicles they produce.

Odometer fraud

It’s not unusual to see news reports of individuals being prosecuted for tampering with vehicle odometers. Odometer fraud, that is, the winding back of odometers to suggest a vehicle has travelled less distance than it really has, has probably been around since odometers were first fitted to vehicles. And contrary to popular belief, the introduction of modern hi-tech digital odometer displays hasn’t stopped the practice.

Protecting your car against storm damage

Every year violent storms, flooding and large hail damage thousands of vehicles in Northern NSW and Queensland, with many being ‘written off’ because they are considered uneconomical to repair.This information sheet looks at the measures you can take to protect your car from storm related damage.

Sat-Nav Sense

For an ever-increasing number of motorists, the street directory has been replaced by the convenience of a satellite navigation system.

Snatch Straps

Vehicle recovery straps, commonly referred to by off-road drivers as snatch straps, are one of the most commonly employed items of off-road recovery gear.

Snow Chains

Snow chains are a ‘must have’ for trips above the snowline and are a legal requirement in many Alpine areas. You can be fined for not carrying or fitting them when directed. Chain requirements vary from area to area so get advice on local conditions and requirements.

Speedo Accuracy

The accuracy of vehicle speedos is covered by Australian Design Rule 18. Until July 2006 this rule specified an accuracy of +/- 10 percent of the vehicle’s true speed when the vehicle was travelling above 40km/h.

Storing Your Car

At sometime or another most of us will need to store our car, or at least not use it for a few weeks.

Vehicle Selection for Older Drivers

As we age it’s common to find that the things we find important change as well - and driving and our choice of vehicle are no different. This fact sheet provides some useful information to consider when selecting your next vehicle.

Windscreens

Your car's windscreen does more than just keep the rain and wind out of your face.

RACQ Car Fact Sheets relating to Repairs and maintenance. View our selection of fact sheets, or contact RACQ Motoring Advice if you require further information and assistance.

22 fact sheets available

Battery Care & Safety

Following basic battery care principles could extend the life of your new battery. RACQ also provides important battery safety advice.

Brake Fluids

Brake fluid is one of the most important but least considered fluids in the car. It transfers the effort applied to the brake pedal by the driver’s foot to the components that stop the vehicle.

Dealer v Non-Dealer Servicing

The subject of dealer v non-dealer servicing is a regular topic of radio and television advertisements with both sides of the argument regularly putting their respective cases.

Dealing with repair problems

Due to the complex and often costly nature of some vehicle repairs it’s an unfortunate fact of life that disputes can and do arise in even the best run workshop. In our experience many disputes are due to simple misunderstandings or poor communication on the part of one or both parties. But on occasions there can also be genuine deficiencies in the work that will need to be corrected.

Diesel injector cleaning

A quick Internet search will come up with a plethora of products and methods that claim to clean dirty diesel injectors. However the reality is that unlike petrol injectors, diesel injectors aren’t that prone to developing build-ups that block their nozzles or affect fuel atomisation. In fact the symptoms that many attribute to dirty injectors – loss of power, missing on start up, poor running, increased fuel consumption and exhaust smoke are more often than not related to issues other than injector deposits.

Engine Overheats

It's a common enough sight and we've all seen it many times. A car stopped on the roadside, the bonnet is up, with steam and water pouring forth - just another overheated engine and another hot and bothered motorist.

Engine Sludge

First appearing in Australian vehicles in the late 1980s, engine sludge is a phenomenon that can affect almost any make of later model petrol engine and can cause extensive engine damage.

Flood damaged vehicle - advice

Many parts of Queensland are flood prone, providing a challenging environment for motorists and their vehicles. The following advice applies to any car that has been caught in flood waters.

Flood damaged vehicle – repairs

A guide to the type of repairs a flood affected vehicle is likely to require. It also outlines the possible longer term effects inundation can have on a motor vehicle. It is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all vehicle components, rather it is intended to provide guidance about the most commonly affected parts.

Freedom to choose a vehicle repairer

In recent years, vehicle manufacturers have adopted complex technologies to improve the efficiency, safety and refinement of their new models. Vehicle owners and independent repairers (those workshops not affiliated with the dealer network) have for some time experienced difficulty in accessing this specialised information. Quite simply, many vehicle manufacturers won’t release the necessary information or dedicated diagnostic equipment.

Gas Struts

In normal use gas struts are very durable however they do have a life span. Most strut failures relate to gradual loss of gas pressure which results in them being unable to support their design load, and the risk that the component being supported will gradually creep down or drop without warning.

Nitrogen for Tyres

The subject of using nitrogen to inflate car tyres has received considerable publicity over the past few years; particularly since some tyre retailers have begun promoting its supposed benefits.

Petrol injector cleaning

Injector cleaners are commonly available and widely promoted additives that claim to cure or prevent a range of fuel system ills.

Quotes and Estimates

The difference between a repair quote and an estimate causes no end of conflict between repairers and customers. The common scenario is that the customer claims the final repair cost is higher than was “quoted” and the repairer is equally adamant that only an estimate was provided.

Radiators

Radiators have been part of cars since the very earliest days and still serve essentially the same purpose now as they did back then.

Replacement Parts

Motor vehicles are made up of literally thousands of individual parts and vehicle manufacturers are in the unenviable position of having to be able to supply virtually every one of them, not only for the vehicles they are currently making, but for many past models as well.

Routine Maintenance

Basic car maintenance saves you money and helps reduce the risk of a breakdown. You only need to spend a few minutes each week to do these checks.

Spark Plugs

The service life of spark plugs in modern engines is a lot longer than in the past. The service schedule for many vehicles these days won’t include a fresh set of plugs until 100,000km or more. Changes to fuels and improved plug materials have had a significant influence on plug life.

Temporary use spare tyres

Temporary use or space saver spare wheels are a common feature of many newer cars and even some 4WDs. All temporary use spare wheels have a couple of things in common – they are only intended as an emergency replacement to get the vehicle to a place of repair, and the maximum allowable speed of the vehicle when one is fitted is limited to 80 km/h. RACQ opposes the use of such wheels because they impose significant operational restrictions on the vehicle when in use.

Tyre Rotation

Front and rear tyres do different jobs so they usually wear at different rates. Some tyres transmit drive, others ‘steer’ and in some cases they do both. Their share of cornering and braking loads varies also. So regular tyre rotation is needed to ensure maximum life and help even out any uneven wear patterns.

Tyres

For many motorists tyres barely rate a second thought, until one goes flat or they need to be replaced. With a little care and attention, tyre life can be maximised and overall vehicle performance and fuel consumption can be improved. Here are a few hints and tips..

Wheel Alignment

Wheel alignment is one of those important but often-neglected regular maintenance items. Though in reality, it’s more about measuring and setting the car’s steering and suspension geometry than ‘aligning wheels’.

RACQ Car Fact Sheets relating to Safer cars. View our selection of fact sheets, or contact RACQ Motoring Advice if you require further information and assistance.

17 fact sheets available

Airbag Life

Airbags are one of the better-known safety features on modern vehicles. However as airbags have been on locally available vehicles for over twenty years now, consumers should be aware that airbag system components have a lifespan like most other vehicle components.

Airbags

RACQ Car Safety Fact Sheet - Airbags. Airbags are used to supplement the effect of the seat belt and have proven to be very effective in reducing the likelihood of severe head injuries.

Anti-Lock Brakes

RACQ Car Safety Fact Sheet - Anti-Lock Brakes. These days, ABS or ALB (the two common acronyms for anti-lock brakes) are offered as standard equipment on the majority of new cars.

Choosing a safer car

Surveys indicate that car buyers rate vehicle safety as important when choosing a vehicle. However most people have limited understanding of what makes one car safer than another. This RACQ Car Safety Fact Sheet provides information and advice on choosing a safer car.

Convex Rear View Mirrors

The claimed benefit of convex mirrors is that they provided a greater field of view than would be allowed by a flat mirror. Negatives are that they provide a distorted perception of distance.

Dangers of leaving children in hot cars

RACQ research has highlighted the risks of leaving babies and young children unattended in vehicles, even for a short time. This RACQ Car Safety Fact Sheet examines the dangers of leaving children in hot cars.

Daytime running lights

Daytime running lights (DRL) are purpose specific white lights fitted to the front of vehicles. Their function is to make the vehicle more conspicuous against its background at times when headlights are not typically used. They are increasingly being fitted to premium brands such as Audi and HSV, however they have been used by Volvo since the 1970’s.

Jack Safety

RACQ Car Safety Fact Sheet - Jack Safety. Every year many Australians working underneath cars are killed or injured when jacks or other supporting structures collapse, or the vehicle rolls off jacks or stands.

Mobile phones and fuel fires

The suggestion that mobile phone radiation can ignite vapours produced during vehicle refuelling has prompted considerable research by mobile phone manufacturers, the oil industry and academics.

Safety & Security

When it comes to crashworthiness and other safety features not all vehicles are created equal. As a minimum, look for......

Seatbelts

RACQ Car Safety Fact Sheet - Seatbelts. Compulsory seatbelt wearing has been credited with saving countless lives in crashes, yet seatbelts are one of the most overlooked of all motor vehicle safety features.

Stability Control Systems

RACQ Car Safety Fact Sheet - Stability Control Systems. Some safety experts rate Electronic Stability Control (ESC) as the most important vehicle safety innovation since the introduction of seat belts.

Static electricity

We are all familiar with that short, sharp shock when static electricity discharges to or from something we touch.

Unintended Acceleration

Unintended acceleration is a term that refers to a vehicle moving further or faster than the driver intends. Typically, drivers report that the vehicle accelerates or maintains speed of its own accord and cannot be controlled.

Vehicle and motorcycle security

Manufacturers go to great lengths to make their cars more difficult to steal. However this hasn’t always been the case. Cars more than about ten years old and some more recent light commercial vehicles are still prime theft targets because of their limited security features. Such vehicles are popular with car thieves looking for easy short term transport, or to make a quick dollar.

Vehicle over-speed warning devices

RACQ Car Safety Fact Sheet - Vehicle Over-Speed Warning Devices. These devices monitor vehicle speed and warn when a predetermined speed set by the driver has been exceeded.

Vehicle Recalls

For suppliers of vehicles, parts and accessories the Trade Practices Act 1974 and the relevant Voluntary Recall Code of Practice requires suppliers / manufacturers to recall a product or service that may have a safety related defect.

RACQ Car Fact Sheets relating to Towing. View our selection of fact sheets, or contact RACQ Motoring Advice if you require further information and assistance.

8 fact sheets available

Carrying loads

Transport regulations set out the rules for carrying loads on vehicles. These include the maximum dimensions of loads a vehicle is permitted to carry:

Choosing a tow vehicle

When choosing a tow vehicle, there are a few things apart from towing capacity and paint colour that need to be considered.

Maintenance & Repairs

Maintenance information for box trailers, boat trailers, horse trailers, caravans and campers.

Rules about what you can tow

Towing specifications are contained in the vehicle’s owner’s handbook, which will also specify any additional equipment that must be fitted, and any requirements that must be met.

General Towing Information

Towing information including speed limits, loads, tow bars, trailers and mirrors.

Towing other cars

Towing a car with a tow-rope, often as a means of recovering a broken down vehicle, was reasonably common in years past. It’s still legal, subject to complying with the relevant road rules and regulations, but it’s not something we generally recommend.

Trailer & Tow vehicle specifications explained

Much of the information required for the selection process will be readily available. However some of the trailer specifications may not be easily found, in which case it may be necessary to have the fully loaded trailer weighed.

Trailer information, design rules and legalities

Trailer information including dimensions, lighting and braking requirements.