You may have read Part One of our Driving with Children article, but here are some more essential bits of information you should consider before heading off on your travels.
CHECK UP ON LAWS
Last year, the law changed regarding the suitable car seats for children of different ages and sizes. The law requires all children travelling in the front or rear seat of any car, van or goods vehicle to use the correct child car seat until they are either 135 cm tall or 12 years old. After this, they must use an adult seat belt.
For those of you who are planning on driving to and around another country, it is important to brush up on your knowledge of the local laws regarding motoring.
Did you know, in Italy you’re not allowed to drive in flip flops? Or that in France, you are required to keep at least one high-vis jacket available to hand in your car (not in the boot!) at all times, in case of an emergency?
Make sure you’re clued up on all the relevant legislations in order to keep you compliant with the law – you won’t want to scare the youngsters by being reprimanded by the police.
Driving with children is also the perfect opportunity to enforce road safety to help them to understand the importance of being extra careful on the roads.
DRIVE WITH ANOTHER ADULT OR OLDER CHILD
With RoSpa reporting that children and babies can distract driving, it may be beneficial to carry an extra responsible passenger, where possible, to tend to them while you’re driving.
On the motorway, in particular, pulling over is scarcely an option, unless there is an absolute emergency. This makes it difficult for you to check in on your backseat passengers, should they require your attention.
Having an extra pair of hands, and eyes, with you on your journey will take a great deal of stress off your shoulders, knowing that you won’t have to worry too much about the mischief they’re getting up to. This allows you to stay more attentive to the roads ahead.
COMFY CLOTHES AND SPARES
Buttons and stiff materials can be really uncomfortable at the best of time, but while stuck in the back of a car for hours on end, the discomfort can become unbearable – especially for children.
Ensure that kids are kitted out in loose, elasticated clothing to avoid digging and chafing.
It is also worth packing a spare pair of clothing for the journey. Wet wipes can clear up most stains, but when it comes to clothes stains, they may not suffice. Wearing wet, stained or sticky clothes will only make the children more irritable, which is best overcome by being prepared.
This also applies to nappies for babies. Be sure to dress your babe in a fresh nappy before the journey, and check and change at regular intervals.
Travel sickness is a burden that no one should have to bear. Where adults are much abler to tolerate such ordeals, children may not be so resilient.
It won’t always be possible to pull over, and doing so will cause frequent delays in the journey, which could lead to more restlessness.
Carrying sick bags in the car with you will save your interiors from becoming stained, and will also allow you to cut down the amount of times you have to pull over. Zip top bags are best, as these will prevent further spillages, and help to control any unwanted odours.
Wet wipes, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizers and black bags will help to clean up the area further while you’re on the move. This is also where having a spare change of clothes to hand is useful!
Of course, prevention is far better than cure. Mints, Dramamine and peppermint oils can all help to avoid car sickness.
Eating too much before a journey can also make children sick, especially if they don’t save enough to time for digestion. Avoid feeding children heavy foods before setting off, and allow adequate time between eating and setting off.
Bored children tend to fidget and play with things they shouldn’t – including door handles! Make sure you take precautions to ensure your children do not risk harm. Should your car have 5 doors, ensure the back seats are child-locked to ensure your little ones don’t try venturing astray.
Most importantly, in order to keep your children safe on the journey, you need to be confident that the vehicle you are driving is completely up to the job. Breaking down on a motorway with children is not only inconvenient but potentially dangerous too.
Top up vehicle fluids, ensure your tyres are inflated and make sure your car is roadworthy before carrying your children across, or out of, the country.
Your local Trust My Garage member will be able to prepare your car for your summer travels. Head to www.trustmygarage.co.uk to find your nearest trusted garage.
Have fun and stay safe!
The summer holidays are finally here!
For most, this means an extra 10 minutes in bed, reassured by the fact that there will be far fewer cars on the road during the morning commute to work.
For others, however, it means six weeks of quality time with the munchkins.
The summer break is the perfect way to escape the mundane routine of school runs and smelly PE kits, with many opting for some sort of summer getaway.
Jetting abroad can be costly and hectic, so more and more Brits are opting for UK breaks in sites such as Devon, Cornwall, and the Lake District. For the more venturous, willing to drive the engine further afield, ferrying into mainland Europe is also a favoured alternative to flying.
Of course, both of these options means long road trips are in store, which, for parents, can equate to a long, sore headache.
With RoSPA reporting that 21.5% of drivers are distracted by babies or children while on the road, here’s how to keep sane during your lengthy journeys with the kids.
TRAVEL AT NIGHT
Simply put, the best way to keep the children from whining and throwing tantrums during your journey is by making sure they’re asleep the whole way. Most children have a set routine during term time which means that, despite having no school to wake up for, they’ll be used to drifting off at a certain time. This is the perfect opportunity to set out on your travels as, not only will their state of slumber allow for a more peaceful journey for you, but during the evenings, the roads are far more likely to be quiet.
If this is not an option, then there are always ways to encourage your nippers to kip outside of their usual bedtime. How about tiring them out before the journey? Taking a long walk, keeping them up late the night before, and getting them to dance to their favourite songs are all ways to burn the energy they’d otherwise use to occupy their boredom during your travels. Lavender will also aid this. Stocking up on lavender oils and scents, and dropping a few squirts onto their seat will have them relaxed and soothed in no time.
KEEP THEM OCCUPIED
It’s no secret that children tend to get very bored very quickly. On a long car ride, it won’t take long before they’re fidgeting and fussing out of restlessness. Fortunately, there are plenty of activities to keep your children occupied, even during the longest of journeys. What’s more, you can get involved in the fun too! Here are some of our favourite options:
- Bringing along their favourite toys
- Arming them with activity packs, colouring books and word-searches
- Playing verbal games as a family, including I-spy, How many lorries and I went to the market…
- Map spotting: Get them to track where about you are on a map, this way you won’t have to hear the shriek of ‘Are we there yet!?’
- Carrying their favourite books and perhaps encouraging them to role play their favourite characters
REWARD GOOD BEHAVIOUR
Every child likes prizes. In fact, everybody likes prizes. The great thing with children is that the rewards need not be extravagant giveaways. Sweets and treats are great ways to encourage good behaviour. In moderation, though, to avoid a catalyst to hyperactivity.
The key thing is to let your children know the behaviour that is expected of them during the trip. Try writing out a checklist of fun car rules, showing the type of behaviour mummy and daddy expect on the journey. These don’t have to be strict or formal – in fact, children will be far more likely to abide by rules if they’re presented in a fun and humorous way, especially knowing they could receive a treat for being good boys and girls.
Taking breaks is essential during a long journey. Not only will it allow you to take in some of the great views along the way – but it’ll also stop the fidgeting and complaints of a numb bum.
Children tend to get hungrier easier, and will put all their efforts into making it known! Breaks are the perfect opportunity to make sure they’re fed and hydrated as eating in the car is best avoided; not only could this end up being really messy, but potentially hazardous too! Should the car jolt or brake suddenly, children could end up choking on food; while strapped up in seat belts, it is much more difficult to come to their aid. Instead, it is safer, and much more fun to take a picnic stop.
Service stations can be relatively expensive, so why not get the kids involved by setting up some picnic nibbles beforehand?
Thanks to tablets and portable DVD players, children can now carry their favourite films and programmes with them wherever they go. Most systems also allow users to download and install games, apps and audiobooks too, which should just about keep the little ones occupied for hours.
This option does require some preparation beforehand though. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a system with internet data, most tablets will require some sort of internet connection. To avoid disappointment, pre-download any apps and games at home before setting off on your journey. Also be sure to check the tablet is fully charged before leaving, to avoid batteries running out too soon into your journey.
Nursery rhymes and cheesy pop may not be the ideal playlist for mums and dads, but the children will certainly enjoy them. Who can really complain when a singalong to The wheels on the bus is saving you from the shrieks and screams of restlessness?
Get all the family in on the action, and make it a real musical treat. Children love to be involved, and seeing mummy and daddy enjoying a bit of a warble will provide them with great amusement.
CARRY WET WIPES AND TISSUES
Children can be messy. While on the roads, it won’t be possible to tidy up after them, even when you do get the twitch to do so.
Keeping wet wipes and tissues at hand will provide a quick fix for sticky hands and spills as the kids should be able to tidy up themselves. This will help to protect your interiors from permanent stains of spills and leaks.
PLAN YOUR JOURNEY
Car journeys can be stressful in any case, but not knowing where you’re going can be even more traumatic. On a long trip, getting lost will only make both you and the children irritable. Although most car owners have shunned the road map, and put all their trust into the Sat Nav, it is important to familiarise yourself with the route beforehand – just in case!
Sometimes Sat Navs can be a little bit untrustworthy, especially where new roads are concerned. Doing your research beforehand can prepare you for any diversions or changes to your trip.
It may also be beneficial to carry a road map in your glove compartment to prepare you for any electronic or technical issues with your navigation device.
Don’t make your journey any longer than it needs to be.
There are plenty more hints and tips for driving with children, click for Part Two of our article!
Over the past few months, Britain has faced a juxtaposition of weathers. The UK has seen some extreme rains and flooding, but dotted between the downpours has been cameo appearances of blue skies, blazing sunshine and highs of 24 degrees. While some choose to work up buckets of sweat in the gym, pining for the perfect summer figure; many forget that there’s another body that ought to be prepared for the summer, should it make an appearance.
Just like you, your car needs extra care to make sure that they don’t go into overdrive during the summer season. Where we accept it’s entirely unnecessary to slather your car in SPF40, there are some quick and easy ways of making sure your motor doesn’t burn out this summer. Not quite sure how? Luckily, Trust My Garage has put together your guide to keeping fit during summer driving:
During spells of heat, keeping cool is vital. Too much heat can have detrimental and damaging effects on your body which can restrict you from really enjoying the sunshine. To name a few, heat stroke and dehydration are both common problems during this time of year. These issues are not too dissimilar to one risk your car is open to this summer: overheating.
If you have a long journey planned, make sure your car’s cooling system is working efficiently, and your coolant level is optimum. Where keeping windows open is also a suitable alternative, as well as burning more petrol due to the extra drag, open windows can open you up to a world of greater evils in the form of bugs and pollen.
Save yourself some pennies and sneezes by having your air conditioning system checked at your local Trust My Garage member.
Like you, your car can face extra pressures if it isn’t kept hydrated. During summer, cars face a higher risk of overheating which can cause damage to your engine. Due to the extra work your car faces, trying to keep you cool through cooling systems, there is always the potential risk that your motor can go into overdrive and overwork itself so much that irreversible, and expensive, damage is caused.
As a precaution, make a habit of keeping fluid levels checked and topped up regularly. Low coolant level is one of the most common causes of overheating. Coolant, more commonly known as antifreeze, is needed to keep your motor’s engine working within normal temperatures. Keeping coolant checked and topped up will help minimise your chances of overheating. However, this process can be dangerous if you are unfamiliar with it – even when working properly, the coolant circulating in your engine will be scalding hot as the system is pressurised. If in doubt, seek assistance from your local Trust My Garage member.
Don’t forget the oil level either. Although the primary function of the oil is to lubricate the moving parts, this helps to keep the engine cool as reduced friction means lower temperatures.
In order to be extra safe, if you feel your car is showing signs of overheating (smoke pouring out of the bonnet, the temperature gauge sitting above the normal limit, an unusual smell coming from your engine), give it a break to cool itself down. Your nearest Trust My Garage member can help you spot more signs of overheating, and suggest extra ways to avoid it.
Keep on track
The sun can bring out the Beyoncé in every driver. Blue skies are the perfect backdrop for a gutsy singalong to tunes and rhythms of summer. While this can make a long journey much more enjoyable, it’s important to make sure that the road gets your full attention. While channelling your inner diva, it is essential to stay focussed on the roads in order to avoid accidents.
According to the Department of Transport, road accidents are more commonplace during the summer months, with young people being the involved the most. Have a read of our Summer Driving Distractions blog post to help keep you safe on the road this summer.
Where this may not be a fashion blog, it is still recommended that accessorising well can prepare you well for summer cruising. Kitting yourself out with a good pair of glasses can be beneficial when the glaring sun restricts your vision. During long stretches of road, a bright sun can hinder your ability to see in the distance. This means it becomes increasingly harder to prepare for any obstacles further along in your path. Where glasses won’t absorb all of the sunlight, they’ll certainly improve your vision. Stay prepared by keeping a pair to hand.
Check your equipment
If a long route is on the itinerary, checking the state of your tyres is essential. Your local garage will be able to advise you of the acceptable tread, pressure and condition of your tyre, to help you avoid them becoming a hazard to drive on. As a general rule, you should check your tyre pressures at least once a month as driving on poorly inflated tyres can poorly affect your grip, and increase your braking distance, which could lead to fatalities.
In more fatal incidences, too much pressure on a worn out tyre could lead you in more serious trouble, causing your tyres to fail completely. Excessive contact with the road surface increases friction, which produces heat; this heat can lead to tread separation, blow outs and, as a result, a terrible accident.
It is important to remember that overinflated tyres can also be just as damaging.
Make sure your journey isn’t a blowout by keeping your tyres in a good state, avoiding damaged road surfaces, and keeping your tyre pressure to the correct level.
Warm weather can be draining, with many suffering from lethargy after just a few hours in the sun. With long drives, feeling awake and attentive is the key to avoiding dangerous situations. If you feel your eyes becoming a little too heavy, be sure to take a break from your journey to refresh and revitalise.
Where you may believe you can power through the drowsiness, staying awake doesn’t necessary keep you attentive. Whilst drowsy, your mind is far more focussed on the need for rest, that any sense of hazard perception is drastically minimalised. Utilise service stations to give you a break from the road; it could prove a life saver.
There are plenty more ways to keep you and your motor healthy this summer. Fortunately, there is a wealth of Trust My Garage approved specialists all around the country with a whole range of knowledge to keep you from burning out in the heat. Visit your local member for more help and advice on how to get your body summer ready.
According to a recent report by Yahoo!, young drivers have admitted to being guilty of driving when distracted. 23% of young drivers said they’d nearly had an accident through carelessness behind the wheel, and 18% suggested that driving distractions have led them to driving through a red light.
In the UK, it is illegal to use a mobile phone at the wheel; this includes instances where a car is stationery but has the motor running. Drivers who are caught using a hand-held device behind the wheel risk being issued an automatic fixed penalty notice, 3 penalty points on their licence, and a £100 fine. At the moment, there is also talks of increasing the fine for those caught with a phone behind the wheel to £450. However, reports show that 42% of young people still use their hand-held devises at the wheel. Although a staggering result, surprisingly it didn’t top the charts as the most distracting thing drivers get up to while driving- eating and drinking did! According to Yahoo!’s reports, 47% of young drivers agreed that their driving had been poorly affected through them eating and drinking at the wheel.
So what are the effects of being a distracted driver? Safecar have reported that distracted driving can lead to more than just a bump. Other consequences include poor lane discipline, inability to make quick decision, reduced situational awareness, inability to execute emergency manoeuvres and an inability to recognise and obey traffic signals and signs; all of which can be potentially dangerous to other motorists and pedestrians.
With RoSpa claiming drivers partake in at least one distracting activity per journey, here is a list of potential distractions you may face while driving this summer:
Summer always comes with a soundtrack of anthems that make you want to sing and dance. When the sun’s out, drivers often get tempted to crank up the volume and belt their hearts out to the roads ahead. However fun this may be, it can increase a driver’s risk of collision. Studies show that overuse of one sensory organ can result in the others underperforming. When it comes to loud music and driving, the overworking of the sound organs can lead to a decreased sense for spotting a hazard and, as a result, a delayed stopping time. As well as this, loud music will cover other sounds from your surroundings, including sirens from emergency vehicles and potentially any concerning noises your car makes. Stay safe by keeping your volume low enough to be aware of other sounds in your environment.
An unwelcomed distraction, sometimes the sun can be hard to avoid. On occasion, it may be possible to take an alternative route, with a clearer vision field, but this isn’t always an available option. It’s beneficial to utilise sun visors and perhaps invest in a pair of sunglasses. Decreasing your speed and using extra caution is recommended while driving in the sun, especially on routes prone to greater hazards, such as pedestrian and school zones. Where this won’t completely avoid the distraction of sun, it can minimise any potential dangers.
Bugs in the car
It’s no secret that the warm weather brings out all of God’s creatures. Unfortunately, insects aren’t so polite, so find no qualms in trespassing in motorist’s cars. Where some proportion of drivers are happy to accommodate these bugs by ignoring them, for most, instinct dictates an attack of some sort. Swatting, spraying, brushing and flinching can all lead to jerking or drifting while driving, which can lead a driver into greater danger. Whilst bug-phobes are using up all their efforts to flick the creatures away, they’re not giving the roads their full attention, leading to delayed reactions. Avoid bug-mishaps by opting for the air con, instead of opening your windows.
Moving objects (taking kids/pets on a drive)
Driving or not, it is only human to become distracted by things that just won’t sit still.
Parents and pet owners may know this all too well, and when it comes to driving with fidgets, they could be decreasing the driver’s attentiveness. Where it is wholly inappropriate to keep children and pets tied up, there are some ways to keep their movements to a minimal. Keeping children and pets fed and hydrated and making sure they have activities to keep them occupied are both ways to keep them from distracting drivers.
Friends and talking
No summer road trip is complete without a good crowd of friends to enjoy the time with. In some cases, the drive is the perfect opportunity to have a laugh and a good old catch up. However, being caught up in all the laughs and jokes can distract drivers from the important task of keeping their friends safe along the journey. Social Media is now, for the most part, disallowing any part of an individual’s life from being undocumented. In a group, it is almost unheard of to not share adventures with the rest of the world via platforms such as Twitter and, most commonly, Snapchat. However, performing for the world, while behind the wheel is risky business, and not worth the potential destruction it may cause. Keep you and your friends safe during a road trip by sitting out on the mischief throughout the journey, and keeping your full attention on the roads.
Day dreaming and Scenic views
When driving down long stretches of road on a summery day, it’s easy to get lost in thoughts of bliss. While zooming through scenic routes, it’s easy to imagine yourself in the set of a glamourous film. But having your heads in the clouds, can lead to your reactions becoming delayed, should you face a hazard. Reports state that daydreaming cannot be eliminated completely; only decreased. The problem with daydreaming behind the wheel is that you can feel completely in control of your surroundings, when in reality you are barely conscious to it. Decrease the chances of a wandering mind by keeping your eyes active. Glaring at the same stretch of road can make you lose focus; however, changing your gaze every few seconds will disallow your mind to roam too far off. Staying self-aware is key to avoid daydreaming distractions, and could be a life saver.
Following from Yahoo!’s report, here’s the complete list of driving distractions that young people admitted to committing:
- Mobile phones – 42%
- Food and drink – 48%
- Looking at something outside of car – 44%
- Changing CD/radio station – 1/3
- Music streaming apps – 27%
- Applying make-up or skin care products – 13%
- Styling hair – 12%
Other distractions noted by RoSPA included: driving when drowsy, listening to an audiobook, lack of familiarity with a vehicle, reading, and smoking; all of which can be easily avoided. Before setting off on a journey of any length, it is important to make sure you and your car are both fit for purpose. This will not only allow for a more enjoyable journey, but also a safe one. Remember, you are risking more than your own life when driving inattentively; you are also responsible for the safety of other road users and pedestrians. Stay safe by steering clear of any tempting distractions, and taking extra precautions when experiencing the unavoidable ones.
Driving in wet weather
Over the past few weeks, Britain has experienced heavy out-of-season showers. In some cities, these downfalls have proven too much for drainage systems, as flooding has been seen throughout the country. Although 20 June marked the official first day of summer, weather reports suggest that it may not be time to pack away the umbrellas and wellies just yet. When it comes to driving, too, extra precautions ought to be taken.
As most will remember from the theory driving test, rain can severely impair driving conditions. Aside from the splutters and splats of raindrops obscuring windscreens, stopping distances and visibility are also affected. Lack of care, when driving in the rain, can lead to lack of control, collision, and, in extreme cases, fatalities – so keeping safe during downfalls is essential. Acting as further solution, it has been suggested that drivers ought to avoid driving during extreme weather conditions, if possible.
Richard Gladman, Head of Driving Standards, said: “Only travel in extreme adverse weather conditions if it is really necessary.”
For most, avoiding the weather can be impractical, but there are easy ways to ensure greater safety when driving during the current weather conditions.
Here’s a list of things to consider during your summer downpour driving:
The last thing you want, when caught up in a spell of heavy rains, is to have your vision restricted due to damaged or dirty windscreen wipers. With the current unforgiving conditions, it is important to make sure that your senses, as well as your motor, are fully functional. During extreme downfall, it can become near impossible to see more than the stampede of raindrops on your windscreen, which makes it increasingly difficult to spot a potential hazard. What’s more, excess water decreases the amount of grip your tyres have on the road, which could lead to slipping and sliding, should your breaks be pressed too abruptly. Avoid potential casualties by ensuring your lights, windscreen wipers and tyre pressures are all present and correct, and be sure to stay attentive. Contact your local Trust My Garage to carry out all your essential car checks.
Planning is key when it comes to driving in extreme weather conditions. Where it is best to avoid travelling altogether, if this is unavoidable, forward-thinking is important. Gladman said: “Before setting off, check for any weather alerts, traffic updates or planned road closures that may affect your journey.” It is beneficial to clue yourself up on any roads in your area that are prone to flooding; this will allow you to avoid potentially dangerous routes. What’s more, it is best to allow more time to reach your destination, as the current weather can lead to longer routes, more diversions and lengthier traffic queues. These circumstances could lead to stress behind the wheel which can poorly affect your driving. Stay safe by planning your journey in advance, and leaving out earlier than usual.
It’s no secret that some road surfaces around the country are a little worse for wear; what’s more, heavy rains often lead to them becoming even more damaged. As well as leading to a slightly bumpier journey, damaged road surfaces can also be detrimental to your tyres, causing excessive wear and tear. In clear weathers, it is far easier to avoid potholes or chips in the road; however, during the rain, puddles make them increasingly difficult to spot. A tip for spotting potentially impaired surfaces is to look out for any loose chunks of tarmac, as these are signs of damaged road surfaces.
With heavy rains deterring vision, it is important for motorists to stay visible. Switching on your dipped headlights will allow other drivers to see you easily – without overwhelming them with the glare of your full beams. When driving an unfamiliar car, it is important to make sure you are aware of how buttons and switches work before setting off on your journey. In extreme weather conditions, familiarise yourself with the light switches and settings before revving off.
It is a fact that stopping distance increases during wet weather. Due to the excess water on the roads, your tyres grip is far less efficient, so slips and skids can be unavoidable. During extreme weathers, it is essential to consider your speed, as the physics of driving in the rain dictates that the higher the speed, the greater the stopping distance. Stay safe by sticking to the speed limit and keeping a safe space between you and the car ahead.
Reduced speed will also provide a smoother ride when driving through large puddles. When driving through excess waters, or at high speeds on wet roads, your car faces the risk of building up a layer of water between the vehicle’s wheels and the road which cannot be cleared by the tread on the tyres. If this becomes too much for the car to handle, your vehicle could lose traction which prevents the car from responding to your controls, and gaining a mind of its own. This is called aquaplaning, and gives you the feeling that your car is on water-skis. You may also notice the car becoming much quieter, as the noise of tyres on tarmac will disappear.
In this event, although instinct may dictate it, it’s best to avoid slamming on the brakes or jerking as these can lead to skidding. Should this happen, allow the vehicle to follow the path that it wants to and ease your foot off the accelerator until you can feel friction and traction coming back to your wheels. At this point, it is safe for you to gently nudge your steering wheel and use your brakes lightly (if your car has ABS, at this point, you can brake normally). More preventatively, keeping a steady pace will allow for a more streamlined approach to the water, decreasing your chances of aquaplaning, or spraying other road users.
Aquaplaning is much more likely if your tyres are worn, so be sure to check your tread depth regularly.
In extreme circumstances, torrential rain can interfere with the electrics of your vehicle, leading to a breakdown. Plan ahead for any emergencies by keeping your mobile phone charged, so you can call for recovery. It is also recommended that you are familiar with your local garage for any repairs that may be needed. Be sure to download the Trust My Garage app or head to the website to locate your nearest trusted garage. While you wait for your recovery service, ensure your bonnet is closed to avoid further complications.
Most importantly, during the extreme weather conditions, it’s important to stay warm and dry – ensure your car is kitted out with emergency supplies such as blankets, first-aid kits and extra food and drink.
For more information on how to keep you and your car safe during the summer flooding, seek advice from your local Trust My Garage member.
Vehicle technology is evolving at a rapid pace. Modern cars are more sophisticated, intelligent and responsive than ever. As a result, vehicle technicians who are a part of Trust My Garage have to continue to complete training courses and invest in the latest equipment in order to successfully service and maintain your car to the highest standards. But where does that leave you as the owner?
Decades ago if your car had a problem and money was tight you’d probably invest in a cheap manual and socket set, and patch over the cracks yourself. But with vehicles becoming more and more complicated, largely through having a lot more on-board technology, this isn’t an easy thing to do. Indeed, the AA recently stated that half of the 3.4 million call-outs it attends every year are caused by poor maintenance. Of course, there are still some basic maintenance tasks you can carry out yourself, such as checking fluid levels, tyres, mirrors, etc, but many of the maintenance tasks we performed ourselves a few decades ago have been consigned to the toolboxes of history. To illustrate how the modern vehicle is evolving, we look at a few of the maintenance tasks that have become a thing of the past.
Hands up if you remember standing outside, wearing more layers than the Michelin man on a cold, frosty winter night, and pouring antifreeze into the car to ensure that the water in your engine was not frozen the next morning? These days are long gone now, because most cars manufactured post-1998 use organic acid technology – or OAT – which acts as an extended life coolant. OAT consists of different chemicals than traditional engine coolants, meaning that antifreeze only has to be replaced every six years or 600,000 miles, negating the need to check levels every single winter night.
Remember having to top up the water levels in your car battery? Vehicle batteries were not as sophisticated years ago as they are today, and had to have their water levels checked regularly to reduce the risk of them overheating. Drivers used to have remove the vent cap and look down into individual cells to check water levels, topping them up with distilled water when necessary. For modern cars this is no longer necessary. Batteries are now sealed units and in most cases are maintenance free, meaning that any battery issues are best left to highly trained professionals, such as the vehicle technicians who are a part of Trust My Garage.
If you own a vintage car, or an electric lawnmower, there’s a chance you’ll be purchasing non-alcohol fuel stabiliser, to protect replace the lead that’s no longer in the fuel and protect it from the ethanol that’s now in modern fuels. However, if you own a modern car (and live nowhere near grass), you probably haven’t even heard of the stuff. That’s because vehicle engines are a lot more robust, durable and rust-free today than they used to be, brought about largely by the availability of new materials that can be used to manufacture engines. Engines today live a lot longer than they used to, and engine maintenance is always best left to a qualified expert.
Keep on motoring
Ever wondered why, when driving down a country road on a hot summer day, there’s always someone taking their vintage car out for a drive? Not only does it look good, but it’s also an essential part of maintenance. Many years ago cars had to be driven regularly in order to keep them in tip-top condition. Of course, it still helps to use your car regularly now; keeping it dormant still runs down the battery a very low level as there are so many systems in the car that are “live” and protecting the car when switched off – even though they draw very small amounts of electrical current. But modern cars are more robust than their predecessors and do not require quite as much driving to stay in shape.
Confused by your motor?
Put down that spanner, and get your car maintained in a professional manner. The best way to keep your car in tip top condition is by having it regularly serviced and maintained with your local Trust My Garage member. Our members can service all types of vehicle to the highest standard and can even advise you on some of the checks that you can still carry out yourself today.
And just like the motor vehicle, Trust My Garage has come a long way over the last few years. Today, we are the only truly independent code exclusively for independent garages. Want to find your nearest member? Enter your details in our postcode finder.
When purchasing a car seat for your child or baby, ensuring you have the correct size can be something of a complicated process, especially in light of changing regulations. The rules around car seats are set to change over the next two to three years as a result of both UK and EU legislation. With this in mind, Trust My Garage take a closer look at everything you need to know in order to keep your child safe and to ensure you’re not breaking the law.
The current laws in place stipulates that a child travelling in a car must use a child car seat until the age of 12 years old or until they reach the height of 135 cm. Under new rules which are set to come into force later this year, backless booster seats are set to be restricted, resulting in them only to be used for children who are taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kgs. The results have come about due to concerns regarding the safety of the booster seats, especially in regards to younger children. Experts are recommending that parents should instead high backed booster seats, as they provide a greater level of protection, guiding the seatbelt across a child’s body properly. In addition, tests have shown they offer a greater level of protection in the event of side on crashes in comparison to their backless counterparts. The new rules are expected to come into force by the end of the year, meaning the rules will be applied to all new products released from 2017.
Making it simpler
In addition to UK regulations in regards to booster seats, the EU has also announced the introduction of the the European standard i-Size car seats. The new seat plans were announced in 2013, with the aim of making the process of buying a car seat simpler and safer, with the changes in legislation set to come in force in the UK by 2018.
The i-Size seats are to be fitted into cars using a system referred to as Isofix, a system whereby metal bar connectors built into the chassis of the car are used to connect the child car seat, making the connection much more secure. Additional security is provided either a support leg which will be built into the seat or a top tether, which will ensure the car seat does not move forward in the event of an accident. All cars manufactured today will be Isofix equipped, however you should bear in mind that not every car comes with Isofix, it was first introduced in 1997 in the Volkswagen Golf IV and more widely introduced from 2004 onwards.
The other significant change we will see as a result of i-Size car seats, will be that the correct seat will be identified by a child’s height, rather than weight, making it much easier for parents to identify the right seat for their child.
The perfect fit
The importance of fitting a child seat correctly cannot be overstated, with worrying statistics from RoSPA revealing that an estimated two thirds of all child seats are fitted incorrectly. As such an important factor in keeping children safe on the road, parents need to get the right advice and support during their purchase and installation.
Currently legislation in the UK requires the following seats to be fitted:
From birth to fifteen months, with a height of 40 to 80 cm, a rear facing seat should be fitted, with a five point harness.
Aged fifteen months to four years, with a height of 80cm to 105cm, either a rear or forward facing seat can be installed, also with a five point harness.
Aged four plus and with a height of 105cm to 135cm, a forward facing seat with a three point seatbelt should be installed.
Once you have purchased your car seat, especially if this is your first one, it is recommended that you get it fitted by an expert. You can make an appointment with a qualified fitter at your store of purchase who will guide you through the process or alternatively, local council may sometimes run a car seat fitting clinic, so it’s always a good idea to contact your local council for more information and advice.
For additional peace of mind, get to know your car seat really well, study the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and keep them somewhere safe, so you can refer to it should you need to switch the seat to a new vehicle.
When installing a seat for a baby, the ideal position should be in a rear facing position on the back seat, ideally in the middle rear. Once a child is fifteen months old or they can hold their head up on their own, then this can be exchanged for a forward facing seat.
The car’s headrest should not cause interference with the seat when installed, allowing the seat to be flush against the back of the car. The head rest shouldn’t touch the seat and it shouldn’t stop the car seat touching the car fabric.
When the seat has been fitted it should firmly in place and should have minimal movement with plenty of resistance. Before setting off, ensure that the buckle is secure and locked into place, making sure the material part of the belt is touching the car seat frame.
Trust My Garage
If you need additional advice on support in regards to child seats and restraints to ensure you remain safe on the roads, your local Trust My Garage member will be more than happy to advise. Find your local trusted garage by entering your postcode into our search finder to locate your nearest member.
Or, by downloading the free Trust My Garage App, you can find services in your local area at the click of a button. Trust My Garage is the only government backed code solely for independent garages.
The popularity of staycations shows no signs of diminishing, as latest research from Mintel suggests that 2016 will be a record year for people choosing to holiday in the UK rather than abroad. The figures are expected to be the highest for a decade. Of all the staycation options available, the popularity of the caravan continues to grow. According to the UK motor home trade body the NCC, more than £1.8 billion is currently being spent annually on caravan holidays in the UK; equating to around 2 million holiday makers.
It is not much of a surprise that caravanning continues to be so popular. With the prospect of owning a holiday home out of reach for many of us, the option of a caravan is a great alternative, giving the freedom to set off on the road at a moment’s notice.
If you’re new to the caravan owner’s club, you’re probably excitedly planning your first trip for this summer, but before you do, let Trust My Garage guide you through the necessary requirements before setting off.
First things first, when did you pass your driving test? Knowing if your driver’s licence enables you to tow a caravan can often be a source of confusion. However it is thankfully relatively simple. If you passed your driving test before the 1st January 1997, the conditions of your licence mean you are automatically entitled to tow a trailer and this is indicated by a B+E on your driving license. In practice, the conditions allow you to drive a vehicle and trailer with a total combined weight of 8.25 tonnes. The rules for pre-1997 drivers means there are few restrictions for drivers in terms of car and trailer or caravan combination, although you should always be careful to ensure that the car and caravan are correctly matched and that the caravan is not too heavy for the towing car.
Drivers who passed their test after the 1st January 1997 are subject to a few more restrictions. You can tow a vehicle and trailer combination weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, provided that the unladen weight of the towing vehicle is greater than the maximum permissible weight of the trailer.
Keeping in trim
To keep your vehicle safe, it’s recommended that the total weight of your caravan is no more than 85% of the kerb weight of your car, this is the weight minus any passengers or goods. Information can be found in the manufacturer’s handbook. Packing for your journey is an important consideration, not just what you bring along but how you pack it. Heavier items should be placed above the axis, to keep it stable, and ensuring a smoother journey.
The next item on your checklist is to check your caravan’s nose weight. The nose weight is the weight or force which is exerted on the car’s tow ball when your caravan is attached.
This is an important check, as it can have a significant impact on the stability of your caravan. Too light and this could cause the rear of the towcar to lift. Conversely, if it’s too heavy, this will have an adverse impact on steering, increasing your risk of having an accident.
As a simple guide in measuring this, your caravan’s nose weight should be approximately 7% of its laden weight. To measure the nose weight is straightforward if using a nose weight gauge. Simply make sure the caravan is on an even, level surface and any heavy items are in the middle of the caravan above the axis, ensuring heavy items are loaded low down in the unit.
If towing a caravan in the UK, the maximum speed limit is 50mph on a single carriageway and 60mph on a dual carriageways or motorways. If the combination weight of your car and caravan exceeds 7500kg, then a restriction of 50mph also applies on dual carriageways. If you need any further clarification regarding speed limits, always check the Highway Code.
If you’re new to the world of caravanning, maneuvering a caravan can take time to get used to. As a good way of developing your skills and confidence, it may be a good idea to enrol on a towing course. Courses can be arranged through organisations such as the Caravan Club. And the good news is there is no formal exam at the end. Full details regarding the range of courses available can be found on the Caravan club website. (www.caravanclub.co.uk)
Trust My Garage
Whether you’re a first time caravanner or have years of experience behind you, Trust My Garage can provide expert help and advice to ensure you and your vehicle remains safe on the road this summer. If you need any help and advice regarding your caravan, your local Trust My Garage member will be more than happy to advise. Find your local trusted garage by entering your postcode into our search finder to locate your nearest member.
Or, by downloading the free Trust My Garage App, you can find services in your local area at the click of a button. Trust My Garage is the only government backed code solely for independent garages.
The new car market in the UK is growing, with an 8.4% increase in purchases of new models during February, the biggest increase for more than a decade. In fact, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has revealed that once again the colour white has retained its position as the most popular car colour in the UK for the third year running, a rise of 2.2% from the previous year.
So why has white become the colour of choice for British motorists? Could it be that despite a rise in car sales, as a result of the recession, the public still remains economically cautious, with white cars tending to hold their value for longer than other colours? Is this trend a reflection of the public’s financial prudence?
To discover what your car colour may say about you, Trust My Garage has teamed up with colour psychologist Lucy Curtis to look at the top ten car colours in the UK and what this could reveal about the type of driver you might be.
Top 10 car colours in the UK
White – The number of white cars on Britain’s roads have surged over the last decade, with white cars accounting for almost a quarter of cars on Britain’s roads. If you choose to purchase a white car you are most likely to be someone who is extremely focused, not wishing to be distracted by external factors and with a penchant for order and cleanliness, your car will be sparkling inside and out.
Black – if you’re an owner of a black car, you’re not likely to be someone who fades into the background. You probably carry an air of mystery and sophistication and perhaps give off the impression of being slightly ‘untouchable’. Not keen on being a laid back driver, you won’t be reckless, but you’re someone who wants to get noticed. You’ll want to make sure your vehicle is well looked after with regular servicing from your local Trust My Garage member.
Grey – Perhaps surprisingly, grey takes the bronze position for colour popularity. In stark opposition to drivers of black cars, if you have a grey car you probably want to remain in the background, not wanting to be noticed by others. You’re unlikely to break the speed limit or creep through amber lights when you should be remaining still.
Blue – Once frequently the most popular car colour in Britain, blue has now slipped to fourth position. As an owner of a blue car it is all about the mind and intellect. Inquisitive by nature, you’ll be keen to learn about the inner workings of your car, meaning you’re not intimidated when it comes to understanding why there is a strange noise coming from your bonnet. Confident of your own abilities you’re not afraid to push your car to its limits, but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid regular servicing. On the contrary, you’re likely to be fascinated by your local Trust My Garage technician and will do all you can to learn from them.
Red – It is unsurprising that red is a popular choice when it comes to racing cars, with their highly energised and fast past nature, owners of red cars are likely to want to be noticed. This could lead to an increase in taking risks. Red car drivers are unafraid to queue jump, and typically, accelerator pedals may need a bit more attention than others as your forceful nature may lead to you being heavy footed on the pedals.
Silver – If you’re behind the wheel of a silver car, you likely to be a calm individual, not easily fazed by those around you. Keen to be seen as forward thinking and innovative, whether it’s the latest satnav or tyre pressure monitor, you’ll have all the latest gadgets and gizmos to keep you safe on the road. You’re certainly not someone who is likely to neglect regular car servicing.
Green – As a driver of a green car, it’s all about balance. You’re generally an even paced driver, on the whole, and you’ll be reluctant to take risks, but on occasion you may find yourself going against the norm.
Brown – A practical and down to earth driver, you’ll be reluctant to take risks. Any passenger jumping into your car can rest assured they’re in the hands of a safe and trustworthy driver. Your practical nature means you’re likely to ensure your car is well maintained, with regular car checks and servicing.
Orange – A vibrant outgoing personality is what you can expect of drivers of orange cars. If this is you, you’re likely to be a fun and sociable driver, who loves listening to music as you travel. For you, driving is an experience, not just a case of getting from A to B.
Purple – If purple is your colour of choice, you’ll be reluctant to fit in with the crowd. You’re an individual who likes to do things on their own terms, a trait which translates into your driving style. You have an inner confidence which means you won’t worry about fitting in.
Whatever your style, TMG are here to help
Whatever your driving traits or colour preference, regular car servicing is the key to keeping you and others safe on the road. If you need any help and advice regarding car maintenance, your local Trust My Garage member will be happy to advise. If you need to find your local trusted garage for a service, it’s now easier than ever. Enter your postcode into our search finder to locate your nearest member.
Alternatively you can now download the free Trust My Garage App, allowing you to find services in your local area. Trust My Garage is the only government backed code solely for independent garages.
The UK driving test looks set to witness the biggest changes in almost 20 years as the government plans to update the test in mid-2016 to reflect changes that have taken place in regards to both driving habits and driving technology. The plans are being introduced to help increase pass rates, which currently stand at just under 50 percent. Future driving tests will include more real life situations and conditions, it is hoped this will not only increase success rates but also prepare drivers more comprehensively for the reality of independent driving, creating more confident, proficient drivers. Trust My Garage takes a look at some of the changes learner drivers will be expected to face before they can rip up those L plates for good.
The use of satnav
One of the biggest changes to the driving test will be the inclusion of the satnav, now a commonplace navigation tool for drivers. Drivers will soon be expected to use a satnav for the first part of their test and be required to navigate their way to a specified location.
Removal of the three point turn
The three point turn, more properly called the ‘turn in the road’, and a staple of the UK driving test, could be about to disappear. According to the DVSA, it is no longer a common procedure, and will be replaced with more challenging, everyday skills instead. In addition to the removal of the three point turn, reversing around corners could also be a thing of the past under new plans.
With the removal of two manoeuvres comes the inclusion of two additional moves, including the requirement to drive forwards into a car parking space and stopping, and then reversing back out to the left or right when leaving a car park. This will replace the traditional reverse bay park and is being introduced due to the increase of trolley lanes in supermarket car parks, for drivers to take their shopping to their vehicle to store in the boot. It is thought that reversing into bays makes it difficult to open the boot when a driver reverse parks in the bay opposite. Another new manoeuvre is pulling up on the right side of the road in a convenient place, and then reversing back two car lengths, and then driving on when you are ready.
Those who have already passed their test will be familiar with the current use of show and tell questions before the test begins, however under plans to make this more realistic, drivers will be required to answer questions on the move, including describing how they would perform basic maintenance checks, with the aim to create the feel of real life situations drivers will have to face.
Raising the age limit
Currently once a driver reaches the age of 70 they are asked to re-apply every 3 years to renew their licence. Plans are now underway to increase this to 75. Reaching 75 does not mean you should stop driving, it simply means you will have to decide if you are fit to drive by renewing your licence and every three years after that.
Tips for older drivers
Being an older driver certainly doesn’t make you an unsafe driver, in fact with the experience and knowledge that comes with many years of driving, older drivers are well equipped to face the challenges of the road. However with ageing, inevitably there does come a time when our reactions may become slower and health conditions may have an impact on our ability to drive as we once did. Monitoring your health and being realistic about how this may impact on your driving, making changes when needed, will ensure you keep yourself and others safe on the roads.
Health checks should include regular hearing and sight tests. Be aware of possible side effects of any medications you may be taking and the impact this could have on your driving abilities, if you are unsure, always seek the advice of your doctor.
If you believe your reactions are slower than they previously were, plan your routes in advance, you may also decide to avoid driving at night or during times of high congestion, such as rush hour. You may also need to change your vehicle as you get older, and opt for a car with larger mirrors and windows to improve visibility. Knowing your limitations and making changes as a result is the sign of responsible driving and will ensure you remain a safe driver.
Tips for newly qualified drivers
Research from RoSPA has reported that drivers are more likely to have an accident during the first two years after qualifying than at any other time. Passing your test is just the start of your journey, a journey which will see you build up confidence, knowledge and experience. Passing your test is an exciting time but it doesn’t mean you now know all there is to know about driving; there will still be plenty of scenarios and situations you’ll have to face for the first time. Once you’ve passed your test taking an additional qualification such as Pass Plus, while not compulsory, is a great way to build on your newly acquired skills and knowledge in a safe and controlled way. There are a total of six modules covering topics including driving at night and on the motorway.
Driving requires a huge amount of concentration, regardless of experience. As a new driver, maintaining concentration and focus is a skill that needs honing, so reducing distractions is a must. Avoid carrying other passengers if you can, as you build up your confidence, as they can be the biggest source of distraction. Leave your car stereo and mobile phone switched off, eliminating the risk of interruption from a call or your favourite song.
Whether you’re an experienced driver or newly qualified, Trust My Garage can provide expert help and support to ensure your vehicle is in its best possible condition.