Heels & Horsepower Magazine

Driving through sea foam

Driving tips for rain, mist or snow are normal and expected for many countries around the world. In South Africa, however, drivers need tips on what to do when gale force winds blow sea spray and clouds of foam into the roads bordering the ocean. Yesterday in Cape Town, people found themselves driving through a ‘sea’ of foam that reached up to the door handles of some cars, depending on their size.

The first option is to cancel any plans that can be delayed by a day.

– Eugene Herbert, Managing Director MasterDrive

The Managing Director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says that while this is not a regular occurrence, it has happened before and will likely happen again necessitating preparedness for it. “When cold fronts hit the Western Cape sea line, be cautious before jumping into your car. Storms along the Cape can be violent and dangerous, whether you are out to sea or simply driving past the ocean.

“The first option is to cancel any plans that can be delayed by a day. Driving in conditions similar to yesterday is simply not worth the danger and even expense to your car. For plans that cannot be delayed, be proactive when cold fronts hit the Cape in winter. Check the news reports before you leave to make sure that a particular area on your route has not become a danger zone.”

News reports alone should not be your only attempt to confirm if an area is safe to drive through. “If you know people who live or work in areas that are vulnerable to bad weather like Sea Point or Kalk Bay, check in with them to find out what the conditions are like. Alternatively, use social media to check if people are sharing videos or content about dangerous conditions. The ultimate aim is to avoid the situation all together.”

If, however, you are caught in such a storm despite your best efforts, there are certain guidelines that can direct your actions. “In such a scenario visibility will be severely affected. Not only straight ahead of you but you will not be able to see the road and which direction to even drive toward. Use indicators such as road signs, robots or anything else showing the direction of travel to guide you.

Remember, every time the road conditions change, so should your driving.


“Ultimately, if you can use these markers, use them to get off the road and somewhere undercover, where you can wait until it is safer to drive. Be sure to let a family member, colleague or your boss where you are and that you’re waiting it out. If this is not possible and you cannot find any markers to guide your direction of travel, stay where you are if there is no danger of someone driving into your car. If necessary, call emergency services for assistance rather than endanger yourself or anyone else.”

Remember, every time the road conditions change, so should your driving.


While it is not recommended, and you do continue driving because you think know the roads well enough to drive without incident, there are some non-negotiables to follow. “Most importantly is speed. You can easily misjudge where a curve in the road is and it is better to bump into it than smash into it. Additionally, off-spray can blind other drivers. Be courteous to everyone struggling through the weather.

“South Africa is battling some of the worst cold fronts and weather conditions experienced in some time. Remember, every time the road conditions change, so should your driving. Especially if the road becomes an ocean,” says Herbert.

AA launches petition to extend validity period of licenses

The Automobile Association (AA) has launched an online petition to encourage the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, to extend the validity period of vehicle licence discs and driving licence cards.

According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), “All Learner’s Licences, driver’s licences, motor vehicle licence discs, temporary permits, roadworthy certificates and professional driving permits (PrDPs) that expired during the period that commenced from 26 March to 31 May, are deemed valid and their validity period is further extended with 90 days from 1 June to 31 August 2020”.

However, despite this concession, the AA believes it does not take into account licences which expired after 31 May, nor the reduced capacity of Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) to renew driving licences, and the South African Post Office to process discs.

…the majority of drivers in South Africa prefer to remain compliant with the regulations, and to be on the road legally

– Willem Groenewald, AA CEO

In a letter to the Minister on 29 June, AA CEO Willem Groenewald noted that there are problems with the current legacy operational framework of the DLTCs combined with unforeseen circumstances such as COVID-19 which make it difficult for them to service drivers within that timeframe. He said that the current National Traffic Information System (NaTIS) on which people must book appointments continues to be problematic and that centres may be closed intermittently due to COVID-19.

“Our experience is that the majority of drivers in South Africa prefer to remain compliant with the regulations, and to be on the road legally. Despite the system being problematic, drivers take the necessary steps to ensure they remain within the law. However, given the current constraints on the system, many are faced with the real possibility that they may not be able to do this,” Mr Groenewald said.

An added issue, Mr Groenewald noted, was that drivers who are unable to renew discs or driving cards may have problems if they are involved in crashes as insurers may repudiate claims based on the fact that the drivers are not on the road legally.

Our proposed extension date also makes provision for the closure of DLTCs over the festive period…


The AA has called for a further extension beyond the end of August to the end of January 2021, which it says it a more feasible option to the current date of 31 August.

“Our proposed extension date also makes provision for the closure of DLTCs over the festive period, and for further potential closures as a result of COVID-19,” he noted.

In support of the Minister resolving the problems, the AA is offering its national network of agents to assist drivers renew their licences. The Association says the Minister should consider allowing third party agents – such as the AA – to perform vehicle disc and driving licence card renewal services which are currently only offered through the DLTCs and the Post Office.

It said that not only will this go a long way in dealing with the current and historical backlogs, it will also alleviate the pressure on the DLTC infrastructure going forward. The AA has not received a response from the Minister nor his office to the letter sent at the end of June. However, the AA will continue to raise this issue wherever it can in an effort to ensure the validity of licence discs, driving licence cards and other licences is extended, and that drivers can drive with peace of mind.

In this regard, the AA is launching an online petition available at: https://www.aa.co.za/petition-to-extend-the-licence through which it wants to attract signatures in support for its call to pass on to the Minister as a sign of the backing its call enjoys among the public.

Charmagne Mavudzi Takes Key Role at Volvo Car SA

Multiple award-winning marketer Charmagne Mavudzi has been appointed as Volvo Car South Africa’s new Director of Customer Experience. Mavudzi moves into the role after joining the company as Head of Marketing and Communications in 2018. Her appointment is part of a global reshuffle within the Swedish auto giant. 

Known for building strong brands that leverage innovation, Mavudzi is a leader in Africa’s digital marketing landscape. An alumni of the Gordon Business Institute, she began her career as a successful tech entrepreneur before moving to prominent roles at Child Trace Initiative and their tech driver TR8 technologies. Thereafter stints at Handel Marketing and Accenture followed, before she joined Ogilvy & Mather as Head of Marketing and Communications, playing a key role in their own global reshuffling process of 2017. 

In her new role at Volvo, Mavudzi takes the reins of the new and centralised customer focused portfolio, allowing her direct influence over every user experience touchpoint, as customers move through the company’s various departments from first acquisition to return buying. 

“People centricity is at the core of the Volvo brand,” says Mavudzi. “For us this means a shift toward a 360 degree commitment to our customers. It’s satisfaction at every point of interaction that fosters retention and loyalty, and turns our customers into brand ambassadors too.” 

Concurrently, she takes a chief position in the company’s recently established Transformation Through Change management portfolio, as the company embarks on a global restructuring toward a more customer-centric approach. 

“Our goal is to create a global company that is more adaptable to our customers on an individual basis,” she says. “ It’s a data-driven, customer focused process with decentralisation and entrepreneurship at its core.”

Recognised as a Woman Of Excellence in 2019, Mavudzi stands out as an inspirational role-model to those coming after her, and is excited to take on her new dual challenge at Volvo. 

Volvo plans to complete its restructuring process by 2020’s end.

Learning To Read The Stars: How car safety ratings work

One-star or five-star? What determines car safety ratings

Everyone knows that vehicle safety is a vital component of the vehicle manufacturing process and many people have heard of the Euro NCAP five-star safety rating system. However, not many consumers understand what safety ratings are, how they are determined nor how to make use of them when identifying a suitable vehicle to purchase.

Here’s what you need to know…

The frontal tests are performed at 64 km/h into a deformable barrier.

The Euro NCAP five-star safety rating system is designed to help consumers, their families and businesses compare vehicles more easily and to help them identify the safest choice for their needs. It is a voluntary vehicle safety rating system created by the Swedish Road Administration, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile and International Consumer Research & Testing, and backed by the European Commission, seven European governments, and motoring and consumer organisations in every EU country. Other areas with similar (but not identical) programmes include Australia and New Zealand with ANCAP, Latin America with Latin NCAP and China with C-NCAP. 

The side impact tests are performed at 50 km/h.

They publish safety reports on new cars, and awards ‘star ratings’ based on the performance of the vehicles in a variety of crash tests, including front, side and pole impacts, and impacts with pedestrians. The top overall rating is five stars.

The safety rating is determined from a series of vehicle tests, designed and carried out by Euro NCAP. These tests represent, in a simplified way, important real-life accident scenarios that could result in injured or killed car occupants or other road users. While a safety rating can never fully capture the complexity of the real world, vehicle improvements (including technology developed over the past years), bring about high safety standards to the benefit to motorists all over the world.

The side impact pole test is performed at 32 km/h.

The frontal tests are performed at 64 km/h into a deformable barrier and is designed to represent an impact with a vehicle of similar mass and structure as the car itself. The side impact tests are performed at 50 km/h, and the side impact pole test is performed at 32 km/h. The pedestrian safety tests are performed at 40 km/h.

From 1 January 2009, the system adopted the rear-impact (whiplash) test as part of the new crash-test regimen. This new rating system focused on the overall score on pedestrian protection as Euro NCAP were concerned that car manufacturers were too fixed on occupant safety rather than the safety of those outside the vehicle. 

The five-star safety rating system continuously evolves as older technology matures…

THE MORE STARS THE BETTER: The number of stars reflects how well the car performs in Euro NCAP tests, but it is also influenced by what safety equipment the vehicle manufacturer is offering in each market. So a high number of stars shows not only that the test result was good, but also that safety equipment on the tested model is readily available to all consumers in Europe. 

The star rating goes beyond the legal requirements and not all new vehicles need to undergo Euro NCAP tests. A car that just meets the minimum legal demands would not be eligible for any stars. This also means that a car which is rated poorly is not necessarily unsafe, but it is not as safe as its competitors that were rated better.

The pedestrian safety tests are performed at 40 km/h.

LOOK OUT FOR THE LATEST RESULTS :  The five-star safety rating system continuously evolves as older technology matures and new innovations become available. This means that tests are updated regularly, new tests are added to the system and star levels adjusted. For this reason the year of test is vital for a correct interpretation of the car result.

THE LATEST STAR RATING IS ALWAYS THE MOST RELEVANT:  The latest star rating is always the most relevant and comparing results over different years is only valid if the updates to the rating scheme were small. Recently, the inclusion of emerging crash avoidance technology has significantly altered the meaning of the stars.

The following provides some general guidance as to what safety performance the stars refer to in today’s system:

5 STARS: Overall good performance in crash protection. Well equipped with robust crash avoidance technology.

4 STARS: Overall good performance in crash protection; additional crash avoidance technology may be present.

3 STARS: Average to good occupant protection but lacking crash avoidance technology.

2 STARS: Nominal crash protection but lacking crash avoidance technology.

1 STAR: Marginal crash protection.

It is important to note that testing is not mandatory, with vehicle models either being independently chosen by Euro NCAP or sponsored by the manufacturers. That said, it is in the best interest of car manufacturers to have their vehicles tested as car buyers are just as interested in safety as they are about performance. 


The Golden Decree For Navigating A Traffic Circle

There are 2 types of circular intersections in South Africa: traffic circles and mini-circles. This article only refers to traffic circles.

Traffic circles are sometimes referred to as roundabouts and are designed to allow traffic to flow easily and quickly. That being said there is a lot of confusion about how to navigate safely around them, but once you know and understand the rules that govern traffic circles, you’ll breeze happily through them. 

  • To turn left (taking the first exit / 9 o’clock):
    1. Use the extreme left-hand lane when approaching the circle. 
    2. Signal to the left and turn left when safe to do so.
  • To continue straight (taking the second exit / 12 o’clock)
    • Select the left hand lane (unless road signs indicate otherwise) as you approach the circle.
    • Enter the circle when it is safe to do so.
    • Pass the first exit and immediately signal left to indicate that you will be leaving the circle at the next exit.
  • To turn right (take the third exit / 3 o’clock):
    • Select the right hand lane (unless otherwise instructed by a road sign) as you approach the circle.
    • Enter the circle when safe to do so and travel around it.
    • Signal to the left only after you have passed the second exit.
    • Make sure there isn’t another vehicle entering the circle to your left (usually at the second exit) as you point your car towards your desired exit. 

Nightcrawler: Tips For Driving In the Dark

Poorly lit streets, unmarked roads, potholes, opportunistic criminals and drunk drivers & pedestrians making driving at night a challenge

Driving at night can be difficult at the best of times and quite simply daunting and dangerous at the worst of times. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are out and about after the sun has set.

  • BE ALERT AND SCAN THE ROAD: The ability to continuously survey the road, is a very underestimated defensive driving tactic. When you keep your eyes peeled for movement along the side of the road (stray animals, cyclists, children etc), minimizes the element of surprise, giving you valuable seconds in which to react. Being alert also includes glancing regularly into your rear-view and side mirrors which can be helpful when it comes to spotting criminals who may sneak up behind you. 
  • AIM YOUR HEADLIGHTS: Headlights are sometimes pointed slightly higher or lower than is suitable to your seating height, so it’s worthwhile to take the time to re-position them. Most modern cars have a dial (usually located on the right hand side of the dashboard in the vicinity of the manual headlight controls), which allow you to reposition the beam either in an upward or downward direction.
  • AVOID STARING AT ONCOMING LIGHTS:  Just as a moth is attracted to an open flame, so too are we drawn to the lights of oncoming traffic. With the interior of your vehicle being dimly lit, the harshness of bright lights approaching you can cause temporary blindness often with fatal consequences. Make a conscious effort to turn your gaze away from oncoming lights, even if it means taking your foot off the gas to slow the vehicle down until you feel more confident about your ability to see where you are going. Of course, bright lights don’t always appear from the front and many a motorist has experienced the pain of being blinded by a vehicle in their rear. Instead of reacting angrily and stomping on the brakes to demonstrate your annoyance, simply tilt your rear-view mirror away from your direct line of vision. Don’t forget to re-adjust it back to its normal position once the offending driver has overtaken you.
  • DIM THE DASHBOARD LIGHTS: More and more vehicles are built with large infotainment screens, interior ambient lighting and dazzling dashboard LEDs, resulting in excessive light within the cabin of your car. Fortunately, most cars, including some older models, come standard with dashboard dimmer switches, allowing you to adjust interior lighting to suit the sensitivity of your eyes.  Dimming interior lights vastly reduces reflections on the windscreen or panoramic roof resulting in vastly improved night-time visibility and all-round driving safety. 
  • CLEAN YOUR MIRROS, LIGHT COVERS AND WINDOWS: Dirty windscreens, windows and mirrors can reflect and distort light which can distract the driver. Dirty mirrors reflect light from other vehicles in a wider, diffused shape that can produce a glare in your eyes. Over time, plastic headlight covers become yellow or faded and could thus reduce the effectiveness of your headlights. Either have them replaced or cleaned professionally so that your lights can shine unobstructed. If your headlights don’t have plastic covers, make it a point to clean them with a simple solution of detergent and water before heading out into the night. 

Decrypting Your Car’s Dashboard Lights

By H&H Admin

Your dashboard provides information about the health of your car in the form of various warning lights. It’s a good idea to know what each of these lights represent so that you can have the issue attended to sooner rather than later.

Your dashboard provides you with lots of information about the health of your car. Usually, when you start your car, all the lights on the dash come on but after a short while they automatically turn off again.

Sometimes one or more of the lights do not go off, indicating a problem within the engine. It is helpful to know what the warning light represents so that you can communicate effectively with a qualified technician.

Here are a few common warning lights which commonly come on and need to be attended to.

1. CHECK ENGINE warning light

Meaning: Often, this light goes on after you’ve started the engine but turns off after a few seconds. If however, the light continues to glow or comes on when you are driving, your car is communicating that a service is required.

Required action:  It’s alright to blue tick this message but you will need to attend to it within a day or two. Left unattended for too long, it will start blinking, at which point it would be highly recommended that you hightail it to your technician as soon as possible as flashing lights generally usually indicate a more serious problem, such as an engine misfire that could damage the catalytic converter.

Urgency:   Moderate.  Think of this as your toes pinching in your heels. You can grin and hobble as gracefully as you can across the room but make a beeline for the exit as soon as possible, and head for a maintenance workshop as soon as possible. 

2. ENGINE OIL warning light

Meaning:   This light indicates that either there isn’t enough oil in the engine, or that the oil pump is malfunctioning, (premium vehicles may have a separate light to warn that the oil level is getting low). Engine oil is important as it keeps engine surfaces lubricated, preventing unnecessary wear and tear to the metal components.

Required action:   If you notice the oil light on while you are driving, pull over immediately. Driving with low oil pressure or low oil in the system can ruin your vehicle’s engine, leading to a breakdown and putting you and other road users at risk.

Level of urgency:   Critical.   This is one warning light that should not be ignored! Think of it as having spinach on your teeth

3. BRAKES SYSTEM warning light

What it looks like:    A surprised circle holding its face.

Meaning:  This light could indicate one of 2 things: 

  1. You may have left the parking brake on (sometimes there’s a separate light with a “P” in the circle).
  2. There may be a problem with your brakes, such as loss of hydraulic pressure, low or leaking brake fluid, or excessively worn brake pads. Cars with antilock brakes have an amber or yellow warning light which usually says ABS across it.

Required action:    It goes without saying that your brakes are an integral part of your vehicle. So should the brake warning light illuminate and stay on, your car’s braking performance will be severely affected putting you and other road users at risk.

Level of urgency:     Life-threatening.  Think of this as someone snatching your wig and making like Usain Bolt with it. In other words, get your vehicle to the repair shop right now!

4. ENGINE TEMPERATURE warning light

What it looks like:    The letter E attached to a spoon floating in water

Meaning:  If your engine is dangerously hot, usually from a loss of coolant, this symbol lights up. 

Required action:      If you are driving when this warning light goes on, pull over safely as soon as possible and shut off the engine to let it cool down. When the light has turned off, you can drive the car again, but keep an eye out for the light to come on as it most likely will until the problem has been fixed. Even if you have to pull over every so often to let the engine cool down, it’s worth the hassle to help prevent the engine from overheating. Keep in mind that a low coolant level means a leak is present which needs to be remedied as soon as possible. Otherwise, your car will eventually be low on coolant again and run the risk of the engine getting overheated.

Important:    Never open the radiator cap on a hot engine. The radiator cap is designed to pressurise the system so that the water doesn’t boil as easily. Removing the cap from a hot engine will cause the coolant to start boiling and the steam will scald you badly.

Level of urgency:     Critical bordering on ICU status. Treat this on par with not sucking on an entire packet of breath mints after eating garlic bread at lunch time!


What it looks like:    A car that’s driven over a banana peel

Meaning:   Many traction control systems will illuminate the warning light when the system detects a loss of traction, like in snowy or rainy weather. Typically the light is seen when the system intervenes to maintain traction. If the traction control light illuminates and stays lit without blinking, this means that the traction control system has been deactivated, and there is no traction control available.

Required action:   The only way to properly resolve either of the above conditions is to have the vehicle properly diagnosed at a qualified repair shop. Always have the repair shop do a full computer systems scan. 

Level of urgency:   Critical but stable unless the rainy season has begun in which case, you should treat this warning as you would you phone with 1% battery life left in it.

Seeing one of your dashboard indicator lights pop up when you’re driving can be a little daunting, but by knowing what each symbol means you can save yourself from a lot of panic and money.  Make time to familiarise yourself with your vehicle owners’ manual to acquaint yourself with the basics of its operational systems.