New driver - advice/opinions sought - Welliesorter
I've taken delivery of a new Skoda Fabia (I'm developing a thick skin for the inevitable jokes) and the initial impression of myself and others is that it's far better than a car so cheap has any right to be.

As this is my first car, I'd be interested in views on a few points:

(1) the car is to be parked on the street. Should I get one of those massive steering wheel locks? The car has an immobiliser, which causes an LED on the driver's door to flash, but it's not much of a visual deterrent.

(2) the vibrations from the (1.4 petrol) engine seem a little uneven when I'm sitting waiting to move off with my foot fully on the clutch. Should this be a cause for concern? I learned to drive in a variety of diesels so I'm not really used to the sounds or feel of a petrol car. I hardly notice any engine noise (or vibrations) at all when the car is moving.

(3) I hesitate to ask a catch all question, but can anyone think of any other general advice for a mature but inexperienced and relatively clueless driver with a new car?
New driver - advice/opinions sought - glowplug
Point 3. obvious really but get some practice in when it's quiet on the roads, preferably when it's daylight. Practice your parking and manouvering skills in a empty car park. This way you'll soon get to know how wide and long the thing is which will help your judgement. Plan ahead for the journeys don't take a difficult route with bad junctions until you're used to the new car. I've moved up from a small hatchback to a 405 estate without any real problems. One final thing consider folding in the mirrors (if possible) when parked on narrow/busy roads.

Steve.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - DavidHM
(1) I wouldn't worry too much about theft. New cars with immobilisers and good door locks are too difficult to steal for the opportunist thief and a Skoda, or any ordinary supermini, isn't worth stealing to order. Therefore theft isn't likely to be much of an issue for you. If it gives you peace of mind, by all means get a lock, but it's not a necessity.

(2) A slightly uneven idle could be caused by many things. If the car is brand new, take it back to the dealer and ask them to run a diagnostic check on it, and maybe drive another one with the same engine. If the diagnostics show nothing, and the other one is the same, I'd leave it. They shouldn't, and probably can't, charge you for this.

(3) Change the oil often (at least once between services) for a good quality semi-synthetic. Even if you do a low mileage, make sure the car is serviced at least once a year or as the handbook recommends. Don't take the car to the car wash unless you're not worried about paint scratches/swirls and, after a handwash, a good wax will keep the paint looking like new.

Also, read the road ahead and not just immediately in front of you - although the test has, I believe, improved in this respect since I took mine seven years ago. Finally, relax and enjoy your driving; despite all the congestion and restrictions, driving is still a pleasure for me and many others.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Altea Ego
Nice to have a new car, one of the best feelings in the world.

1/ Nah dont bother, most new cars can not be driven away without specialist knowledge or time. You car is no likeley to warrant attention from professional thieves or joyriders, YOu cant stop people breaking in tho to knick things. If nothing is on show they assume its hidden

2/DONT sit there with the clutch depressed you will wear the thing out, and dont drive with your foot resting lightly on the pedal either - same applies.

3/ I think 2 answers that one.

Enjoy your car. Skoda jokes? Nope not any more.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - DavidHM
I agree (as a serial clutch killer) with RF about not riding the clutch. It's a bad habit to get into, so try and nip it in the bud.

On the other hand, if the idle is also uneven when the clutch isn't depressed, get the diagnostic check done; it'll put your mind at rest.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Welliesorter
I've been lurking here a few weeks and realised that it was a very active forum but thanks for so many replies so quickly! In the day since I collected my car, I've driven everywhere from the M1 (immediately after collecting it) to single track roads in the Lincolnshire Fens and I'm enjoying it far more than I expected to.

Just to clarify, when I'm talking about sitting with the clutch depressed I mean in gear, waiting to move off at lights. I had two driving instructors but neither taught me that this was a bad thing to do!

On the subject of parking, I learned to do this because it's now part of the driving test: getting between the white lines in a car park as well as parallel parking. It will take me a while to get used to the car but I'll darned well have to because space in my street, where few people have their own driveways, is very scarce. I'm glad that I learned these skills but I do think the way they are taught is rather artificial. On a driving test, the examiner tells you not to park in a gap but to drive up to a random car and reverse, pointlessly, behind it. This means that you don't have to learn to judge your distance from the car behind and can't use its position to guide you into the gap.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Blue {P}
My instructor also didn;t tell me that by sitting in gear you are actually wearing out the clutch.

Fortunately I already knew, if you think you\'re gonna be stood for more than 5 - 10 seconds I would seriously think about taking it out of gear and letting the clutch out. It\'ll save a lot of wear, as sitting in gear waiting to move away does accelerate your clutch wear...

I also agree about the automatic car wash thing, unless you really don\'t mind having the paint ruined and losing the occasional aerial, wiper or mirror I would avoid an automatic car wash. Far better to wash by hand...
Blue
New driver - advice/opinions sought - KB.
Just to clarify, when I'm talking about sitting with the clutch
depressed I mean in gear, waiting to move off at lights.
I had two driving instructors but neither taught me that this
was a bad thing to do!


Just on this one point, it's not generally considered good practice to sit in gear with the clutch down for longer than necessary. (a) It wears the clutch release bearing but more importantly (b) If you get shunted from behind with it in gear you're more likely to have your foot slip off the cluch and hit any car in front harder than you would otherwise have done. Handbrake - neutral - anticipate the lights and get in to gear in time for a prompt get away but don't sit for 2 or 3 minutes making your left leg ache and your clutch groan with disapproval.

Find your nearest Institute of Advanced Motorists group and get involved with them - they'll welcome you and you'll get answers to all your driving questions and ultimately get you in for instruction and a test. After that you'll be a better, safer and confident driver and be proud of the little red badge you've rightly earned.

KB.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - SteveH42
I'm sure this has already been thought of, but doesn't knocking the car out of gear when at a stand and then engaging 1st to pull away not wear out the clutch mechanism and gear linkage more than just going straight in to 1st with the clutch down? Which is the least desirable?

As for the lumpy idle, the Yaris also 'suffers' this - the engine seems to tick over at about 500-600 rpm based on the rev 'counter' on the display. (It's got a very low resolution so it is hard to judge exactly) While it sounds rough it doesn't seem to be a problem, and also seems to reduce the amount by which the engine warms up and overheats when stuck in traffic. The only thing that has be worried is that I believe the car has to idle at more than 500 for the MOT!
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Obsolete

1) Don't worry. You have a Skoda. No-one will nick that! :) Seriously though, I don't think they are needed. Make sure you hide valuables when parked.

3) Be careful where you park or you'll end up with dents all over the doors. Never park near old/tatty cars. Never park in Asda car parks: the place is full of slobs. :) Never park near the entrance: slobs are lazy.

HJ recommends shopping at Waitrose to avoid dents: the real reason to shop at Waitrose is the posh totty. And the cheesecake.

3) Always keep a good distance behind other cars and be observant. There's no need to rush either. It is much more relaxing to enjoy the journey while making good progress. Don't be intimidated by others. They are the idiots not you.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Welliesorter
Re supermarket car parks: the coward's way out is to go to a 24 hour Tesco at 3 am. Surely I'd be wasting my time seeking out the posh totty at Waitrose, I am, after all a Skoda owner ;)

Returning to the issue of sitting on the clutch: my driving instructor taught me to engage first gear almost at the same time as coming to a halt and before engaging the handbrake. Maybe instructors do this because they're concerned about making sure the pupil is ready to move away without stalling.

Driving instructors fear rear collisions as it's the one thing they're almost powerless to prevent with the dual controls. Worn clutches are, presumably, an occupational hazard. Given the amount of wear and tear they got, my instructor was a wonderful advertisement for his diesel Fiestas (current and old models). I didn't buy one myself because I found the Fabia to be a much more comfortable car.

It didn't occur to me to note whether the engine behaves in the same way when idling in neutral (I don't think it does) so thanks for the advice.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Shortwing Rob
As always, other views are available.

There is a body of opinion that even the most enthusiastic hand washer never uses the volume of water that an automatic car wash does, therefore they are actually doing more damage with their sponge than the rotating brushes do.

There is no danger of trim detaching itself from the solidly built, and largely trim-free Skoda.

Lif is also too short for bucket and sponging.

Whatever, enjoy your new car and keep concenmtrating as far ahead as possible, that's the secret. (And yes, riding the clutch is not a great idea.)

Rob P
New driver - advice/opinions sought - roscopervis
My advice is look after the car.

Treat everyone else on the road as potential idiots who could do anything at any time.

The most important pedal is the brake!

The bubble theory (its what I call it) dont let anyone in your 'bubble' around the car when driving. The bubble grows very large at speed and is a lot smaller at low speeds but is still a nice size and should always be bigger at the front, you cant always control the size at the rear.

Anticipate the road and adjust speed and gears in advance.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Jonathan {p}
The bubble theory (its what I call it) dont let anyone
in your 'bubble' around the car when driving. The bubble grows
very large at speed and is a lot smaller at low
speeds but is still a nice size and should always be
bigger at the front, you cant always control the size at
the rear.



Well said about the bubble theory.

When your bubble gets squashed at the back it displaces itself and increases in size at the front.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Obsolete
SWR: The local Nissan garage used to push my car through the car wash after a service. I knew that because it was always completely covered in fine scratches.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Alfafan {P}
Wouldn't it start after a service? Didn't they get awfully wet?
:)
New driver - advice/opinions sought - eMBe {P}
I think all the replies given so far are sound, especially the advice not to ride/depress your clutch. All I would like to add is that if I remember correctly, the Fabia came out near the top in its security rating in tests conducted by someone like the AA or Which or What-car (even beating some very exppensive luxury cars). It withstood attempts to break in by expert "ex-thieves".
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Welliesorter
Thanks again for the continuing replies.

I paid a visit to my local Tesco this morning (I was underdressed for Waitrose). I decided to try not sitting on the clutch at traffic signals. Unfortunately it's such an ingrained habit that I narrowly risked a couple of rear collisions forgetting that the car wasn't already in gear. Admittedly one of these had been at an inordinately long wait where the police were directing traffic round a lorry that had shed a load of breeze blocks. Sadly, the RDS radio warned me about this ten minutes too late.

I think I'll get a bit more confidence on the road before I try changing my habits again. I do at least use the handbrake when I'm waiting, something a lot of experienced drivers never do. In my humble opinion, sitting on the footbrake is a worse habit than sitting on the clutch but I'm not sure everyone would agree.

The sound/feel of the engine wasn't really any different whether sitting in neutral or with the clutch fully down. It does seem smoother now. The car has only done a little over 200 miles so maybe things are starting to bed in a bit.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Flat in Fifth
W,

Re the "lumpy idle" it appears that "they all do that," and its certainly is the case with Mrs FiF's vehicle.

Been examined twice by the dealer, free on both occasions and they have confirmed that it is not a misfire but a function of the mapping to try and get emissions as low as possible.

Not sure I'm totally convinced of the argument, but I do know that at anything above idle speed the engine runs as sweet as anything and goes OK.

Not a huge mileage on it, just over one year and 3000 miles so its a short run scenario, and the Mrs is light footed.

Effect seems to lessen after an Italian tune up by yours truly and a tank of Optimax, but that might be placebo effect of spending extra p/litre.

Get the dealer to check, and if they come up with a fix let me know please.

Other than that IMHO you've got yourself a nice motor.

Keep an eye on the coolant level. No problem with ours but about 5% have had a head gasket problem. Again well known by dealers.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Flat in Fifth
One more thing in case anyone doubts the solidity of Skodas.

The Skoda and the Polo share the same floor plan, allegedly. Yet a firm rally preparing these models needs four guys to lift a bare Fabia shell where its only a two man job with a Polo.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Welliesorter
W,
Re the "lumpy idle" it appears that "they all do that,"
and its certainly is the case with Mrs FiF's vehicle.
Been examined twice by the dealer, free on both occasions and
they have confirmed that it is not a misfire but a
function of the mapping to try and get emissions as low
as possible.
Not sure I'm totally convinced of the argument, but I do
know that at anything above idle speed the engine runs as
sweet as anything and goes OK.


Thanks for the info.

A couple of colleagues have fairly new Fabias with the same engine so I'll ask them when I see them. It's not particularly noticeable: I was just concerned that the car might have a fault that could cause problems if not attended to.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Welliesorter
Another quick question for FiF (or anyone else): what sort of oil should I be using. I mean to top up rather than replace the original.

I realise this is rather a basic question (and one that's probably discussed ad nauseam) but it is my first car.

TIA
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Flat in Fifth
"what sort of oil should I be using. I mean to top up rather than replace the original."

while its under warranty we are using exactly what it says in the owner's manual. Then there is no excuse if.....

New driver - advice/opinions sought - Cyd
Do you have ABS? If so, get out in the wet and practice using it. Find a stretch of road with about a mile of straight and keeping in the middle (when there's no one else around) practice bringing the car to a complete stop from various speeds up to 80mph. When you've got used to the feel of the ABS in a straight line, practice your emergency stops and steering at the same time. No matter how careful a driver you are, there will come a time when you will need to do some kind of emergency stop cum avoidance manouvre - when this happens it will help you keep your cool and complete the manouvre successfully if you already have a handle on how the car will behave under these circumstances.

www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/Equipment/index.ht...l
Follow this and look at the two articles about ABS if you use an ABS equiped car

www.howstuffworks.com/anti-lock-brake5.htm
Follow the links:
design + function of ABS
AAA - Improper steering
About ABS

www.howstuffworks.com/anti-lock-brake.htm
Useful laymans guide, includes various links including studies which show ABS has done nothing to cut road deaths. Do pay heed to the reasons.

Even if you never take the test, join your local IAM group and practice with them.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - StuW
\"Do you have ABS? If so, get out in the wet and practice using it. Find a stretch of road with about a mile of straight and keeping in the middle (when there\'s no one else around) practice bringing the car to a complete stop from various speeds up to 80mph.\"
I must say that some the advice given out in the Back Room can be very odd at time, i seem to remember someone saying the best way to remove grease in the rear brake drums was to reverse at full speed and apply the handbrake???! Do the people who hand out this advice really do this?
I must this piece of advice sounds quite dangerous, firstly no roads in Britain have 80mph so your already breaking the law! And also driving at this speed in the wet is even more dangerous, what if someone turns out of a sideroad you didn\'t see and you heading towards them on the in the middle of the road at 80mph!? Also even with ABS you could still lose control by steering all over the place especially on a wet road and at that sort of speed its gonna be very messy! Aswell as being dangerous its too artificial to really prepare you for emergency stops. Nothing really will prepare for the first time when you have to do a high speed real emergency stop! I speak from experience believe me!!! When it happens you just stand and the brakes and brace yourself on the wheel and push yourself as back in the seat!!! Its scary and its over in what seems like a second, there is no time to think and to take any other action, its a horrible feeling being out of control at that speed. I realised how fast 60 mph really is about a year ago! You sound like a young driver like me, we\'re both still learning gaining experience and this driving lark is still fresh for me so and the best advice i can give is don\'t get cocky and don\'t think you\'re never gonna crash like i did! And always keep your eyes on the road, (never text, fiddly with the radio etc while driving) and always keep that safety distance from the car in front!! I learnt how dangerous driving is the hard way! Although i still love driving and always to improve my driving and be more safe, it only takes one stupid mistake to crash!!
New driver - advice/opinions sought - KB.
YSD, Pleased to see you're taking this seriously and have troubled to speak your mind as you have. In fairness to Cyd (I don't know how long s/he has been driving so won't speak out of turn)...s/he was advising trying to gain experience of ABS prior to finding out in a real emergency. However you have a genuine point regarding the use of a public road to try out high speed manouvres and a private area such as an airfield (with the relevant permission)is far safer at speeds of 80 mph.

My advice has often been to contact a local Institute of Advanced Motorists group with whom these subjects can be discussed at length with people who share a genuine interest and have years of experience between them and can advise on facilities available to practise driving techniques such as skidding and use of ABS & Traction Control etc. If I read your attitude correctly it sounds as though you would get on well with the IAM and would profit greatly as well as taking a young open mind to them in return.
KB.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - henry k
A few more very basic tips/suggestions-
1. RTFM. You will get to know a host of things about your vehicle and general info.
2. Advice I give to all non teckies like my daughter. Try to make a habit of regularly having a quick look at the tyres when the car is on the level. The tyres should all be about the same
shape at the bottom. I.E. No flat or low pressures exist.
I am saddened to see so many cars on the road with obviously under inflated tyres.
3.After RTFM, absorb the safety info, then an a nice day in a safe place take off each of the wheels in turn.
This achieves several things. You can do it with confidence in case you need to on a wet windy dark night. It ensures the wheel nuts are not too tight. You can at the same time clean the wheels and check for any tyre damage.
4.You may consider getting an extending wheel nut brace.
Other items might be warning triangle, dayglow vest, torch and a pair of old gloves and some plastic to kneel on.
Changing a wheel is the obvious task that may be required in normal motoring.
5.Get a set of spare bulbs. Ensure the kit has the important bulbs for your model.The manual with indicate what is needed.
Check you can access the bulbs again on a sunny day.
I always feel that if you get stopped for a failed light but have a spare and offer to change it immediately you will get treated more favourably.
6.If it applies- put the AA, RAC etc. Help number in your mobile fone memory. I have also stored the AA 401100 for traffic report if road is jammed up.
7. I know its your pride and joy but a car is only a lump of metal. People are more important. The car can always be sorted out and replaced.
8. Enjoy your motoring. you have started well by not being afraid to ask questions
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Welliesorter
For background, I'm 34 and returned to driving after an 11 year gap (never reached test standard the first time) and an interminable number of lessons. The reason for the gap was that one or all of time, money and enthusiasm were lacking. In the intervening period, cars got easier to drive but roads became harder to drive on. There's no comparisom between the awful eighties Fiesta I had my first lessons in and the latest model in which I passed. The test is also a lot harder now, with far more to do. In some respects I'm grateful for this: if I had the same difficulties parking that many experienced drivers have, I'd have dreadful problems in my crowded street where many households have two vehicles and few have driveways.

Re oil: I realise the manual tells you what grades to use. I was thinking brand names. Or doesn't this matter, provided that the label states that it's of the correct specification?

Re ABS: I wasn't planning to follow the advice about practicing emergency stops too closely! However I know the advice to gain an understanding of how the system works is sound and I will take a look at those web links.

Re RTFM: I have done this but the manual is a little confusing. It isn't for just for my exact model but for every Fabia from the basic 1.2 to the turbo diesel. To make sense of it you have to filter out the bits that don't apply and this isn't always terribly easy when you're still getting familiar with the car.

Re wheel changing: a (female) friend who started driving relatively late said she'd never tackle this but would always call out her breakdown organisation (Direct Line in her case). I have to admit it wouldn't occur to me that you could call them out for this situation. Any thoughts on this? I can't say I'd like to try changing a wheel myself on the hard shoulder, even if I were an expert.

While we're on the subject, I seem to remember that garage tyre pressure gauges are supposed to be inaccurate but are the pocket ones you can buy any better?

Re: storing the number for the AA in my phone memory. Blindingly obvious but it hadn't occured to me to do it. Thanks for the tip.

Thanks all for the continuing replies.

New driver - advice/opinions sought - slefLX
Just a small point. you should NEVER change a wheel on the hard shoulder. Always go to the emergency phone for help, that can locate you exactly automatically without you having to worry about exactly where you are. I have changed a wheel myself when it was necessary but I was in a pub car park in the light. At one point I ddi consider ringing the AA but I was more determined the wheel wasn't going to get the better of me!
New driver - advice/opinions sought - TrevP
"I seem to remember that garage tyre pressure gauges are supposed to be inaccurate but are the pocket ones you can buy any better?"

Yup. Buy the "key-ring" digital one from Halfords.
Brilliant idea - stops you losing it.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - Cyd
.......Nothing really will prepare for the first time when you have to do a high speed real emergency stop! I speak from experience believe me!!! When it happens you just stand and the brakes and brace yourself on the wheel and push yourself as back in the seat!!! Its scary and its over in what seems like a second, there is no time to think and to take any other action, its a horrible feeling being out of control at that speed.....

oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Just the very situation Welliesorter needs to avoid. The whole point behind ABS (and other driver aids) is to enable one to retain control. In order to work effectively however, the driver needs to know how to use them - and that comes with practice, practice and more practice (and some tuition can help). You obviously didn't look at any of the links I gave. Retaining control and keeping your cool gives you the time to think, to assess how to react - maybe to live to drive another day.

I didn't suggest WS go out and start slewing his car all over the roads at 80 mph straight off. The advice has to be added to a little common sense of your own. Find a safe place, start at low speeds, take your time, get the feel of it. If you can find a suitable off-road venue, then great (actually, damp grass would be good to get the initial feel of how ABS works).

Before the advent of ABS I used to practice, practice and practic using cadence braking (amongst other things). Of course, I was doing it for my own ends - to help with my motorsport exploits. There's a 20-odd yr old lad in Salford who doesn't know it, but he would never have passed 3 if I hadn't (and yes, I was below the speed limit - his mother pushed him right out in front of me in his push chair).

So you see, I preach what I practice.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - StuW
I did read your links Cyd and they contained nothing that most people probably didn't already know about ABS. We all know that ABS allow some form of control when braking but how many feet per second are you moving are speed of 60mph plus? I don't know exactly but i know its a lot! You really don't have a lot of thinking time at these speeds and if someone pulls right out in front of you at these speeds i'm afraid you'll no time to do anything else but slam on the brakes and pray. You could use your abs to swerve round it and crash head on into a truck in the other lane.
Of course if your following a car that slows or brakes suddenly its much easier and if you keep a safe distance usually one hard hit of the brake pedal is sufficient followed by light braking. Unfortunately in the last few weeks many drivers have decided to see how well i can brake by pulling out in front of me and i have become very good at controlling my (non-abs) car from skidding in the wet. The best thing really is just to keep distance from the car in front and increase in the wet. I min point in my original article thought was that you were advising driving at speeds of upto 80mph in the middle of wet road and practicing emergency stops and wheel steering at the same time which i think is rather dangerous.
New driver - advice/opinions sought - TrevP
"You could use your abs to swerve round it"

and how do you use this ABS?

 

Value my car