Monthly Archives: May 2013

Over 50s can trust independent garages for tricky maintenance

These days peering under the bonnet can be a daunting task – especially for those used to seeing older engines.????????????????????????????????????????????????????

The number of over 50s carrying out basic car maintenance, such as changing the battery, has almost halved over the last five years (17% compared to 10%); instead they are using garages to carry out these basic tasks according to a report from Saga Car Insurance.

Technology is the heart of the modern car which means we are now able to enjoy a smoother ride with added luxury. However, a more advanced level of expertise is needed when something needs altering or repairing. As cars have become more complex, over 50s have become less confident about car maintenance.

Old vs New

A history lesson in brief… Back in the 1970s car manufacturers started using electronic equipment to control vehicle functions and systematically regulate vehicle emissions. This subsequently increased the complexity of the vehicle functions, which improved performance, safety, reliability and fuel efficiency. These increasingly complex systems needed to be controlled and gradually the number of “computers” (or ECUs) in the vehicle grew until we have the modern motor car with its own network of interconnected systems. Although the car can even store and report faults, access to this information is unlikely to be available to the home mechanic.

These ‘on board diagnostics’, are coded, which means you require the technical expertise of a trained mechanic  – who has access to technical data as well as sophisticated and expensive equipment to generate an accurate diagnosis of the car’s problem.

What else do the stats say?

Saga report… TMG says…
One in six (16%)   men take their car to a garage after failing to make basic repairs   themselves. Rather than make a problem worse by taking a DIY   approach, use a trusted independent garage that will get it right first time.   It’s what they are there for! 
DIY car repairs:

  •   15% of over 50s will attempt their own repairs if their car is over 10   years old
  •   8% of over 50s will attempt their own repairs if their car is under   one year old
Whatever the age of your car, using a professional   is always the safest bet, even if you think you can do it yourself.   Sometimes, the upfront cost savings in DIY repairs can end up costing you   much more in larger repair work down the road, or in the loss of insurance   coverage because you didn’t go to a professional. 
Only 2% of women   are likely to attempt making repairs to their car compared with 15% of men. Women are making a wise move here. TMG members pride   themselves on being ‘female’ friendly, as they try to stub out the old stigma   attached to the industry.  They explain   all their costs in a transparent manner and offer a professional and personal   service to everyone.

 

A different report from Saga last month found that over a third of drivers over 50 are also trying to reduce their motoring spend. When it comes to taking your car for a service or repair, using an independent garage is the most cost efficient way to do it.

See our very own Infographic (infographic link) highlighting research from the Independent Garage Association (IGA). It shows that by visiting an independent garage you could be spending on average, £40 an hour less than if you visited a main dealer.

If you can relate to this post, then make sure you find your most local TMG member to make sure a professional and friendly mechanic is looking at your car and making it roadworthy… first time round!

Are you putting off your service to save money?

According to a recent survey from GoCompare, over a third of UK motorists are avoiding regular car services just to save a bit of cash.

It might seem a good idea at the time but regular servicing can work out a lot cheaper than the cost of a repair, which is what you could end up paying for if you continue to put off regular maintenance.

Delaying regular servicing on your vehicle is a false economy, particularly in light of the fact you could be getting your vehicle serviced on average, twice at an independent garage for the cost of one service at a main dealer, as recent information released by the Independent Garage Association shows!

Over 10 million (36%) UK motorists have put off servicing their vehicles to save cash, and over a quarter of us are guilty of travelling more than 2000 miles over our car manufacturer’s recommended mileage before getting a service. According to the same report from GoCompare, one in ten of you could be driving illegally by delaying replacing worn out or damaged tyres! Not only can this put you at risk of losing control on the road, it can also result in a serious driving offence which carries a fine of up to £2,500 and three points on your licence!

This is what you’re saying on Facebook

Facebook snapshot - car servicing

Think back to the last time you got your car serviced and ask yourself these two questions:

1. Was it a franchise or independent garage?

2. How much is their hourly labour rate?

By visiting an independent garage for a service, you could pay, on average, £40 an hour less than if you used a franchise dealer.

The IGA polled over 2,000 of its members on their labour rates and states that independent garages continue to offer motorists the very best value for money.

False Economy…

Since the recession officially hit around 2008, times have been tough for all of us. The total cost of running a vehicle seems to be constantly rising so it’s no surprise that people put off servicing when it’s not compulsory. BUT delaying essential servicing and repairs could render your vehicle unsafe and you can end up with much more damage in the long run. In short – preventing a problem early on can help keep car maintenance affordable in difficult times.

Let’s talk figures…

Average labour cost for independent garages = £40

Average labour cost for franchise garages = £95.94

Top 5 lowest prices by region:

1. Cambridgeshire = £34

2. Herefordshire = £35

3. Staffordshire = £36

4. Leicestershire = £36

5. Cumbria = £37

Every member of Trust My Garage (TMG) is an independent garage and provides each customer with a reliable and affordable service. By visiting a TMG member you get all the added benefits of a garage belonging to a reliable, recognised network, without the added cost of belonging to a franchise brand. SEE OUR OWN INFOGRAPHIC WITH ALL THE RESULTS HERE

What the members say:

Garage: Westfield Motors, Essex

“From our perspective skipping servicing is a false economy! Dirty or old oil will make your engine and gearbox unhealthy. If you aren’t checking your engine oil level between services and it runs too low then you could end up looking for a second-hand engine! Brakes need checking regularly for safety reasons, the same as brake fluid! For cars that have cam belts, by not servicing regularly and changing it on time this can also result in engine failure! A service will enable you to be made aware of any broken coil springs (usually caused by potholes) and this could result in cracking and piercing a tyre.

We have a 52 reg VW Golf that is approaching 300,000 miles!  Key to this vehicle getting to that incredible mileage? The customer brings it in every 10,000 miles for a service without fail!”westfield motors workshop

If you take your car to a Trust My Garage member for regular servicing this will help to identify when any repairs may be required and save you money in the long run. It’s a win-win situation!

“Mechanics, it’s only nuts and bolts!”

We’re always chatting to our members about what’s going on in their area and thought we would share some of their quirky anecdotes with you as well. We will be inviting garages to make guest posts on our blog so you can really start to relate with the Trust My Garage community, reinforcing the message of ‘trust’ from all of our members.

Chris Gurney_Quality Car Service_headshot

By Chris Gurney, owner of Quality Car Service   

A customer recently said to me “Mechanics, it’s only nuts and bolts”, I politely smiled and quickly moved on however it left me thinking “If only!”. I partly agree, the routine day-to-day servicing is relatively straight forward, although every make and model of car has its challenges; such as pollen filters that require half the dashboard to be removed, service lights that require a £3,000 service reset tool to turn the light off the dashboard (we’ve purchased them all), electronic handbrake controls that require programming with laptops, and firmware updates to the various ECU’s around the car (computer’s to you and me) and so on.

Statement retracted, there is nothing routine to the day-to-day servicing of a car, and it’s definitely not only nuts and bolts!

… One of my goals in 2012 was to ensure our garage was totally up-to-date with diagnostic equipment and tools to ensure we could service and repair all makes and models – job done!

This year (2013) we made a commitment to focus on training, we set a goal to give our technicians the opportunity to get right up-to-speed on all the latest technology being fitted to the modern car such as:nuts and bolts

  • DPF’s (very expensive precious metal filters within the exhaust pipe reaching temperatures of over 700 degrees, designed to catch soot to reduce our carbon foot print)
  • EGR Valves (recycling the exhaust fumes back into the engine, again to help reduce the carbon footprint)
  • Variable Geometry Turbo chargers (a device used to give an engine more power and increased fuel efficiency)

…and on it goes. So far this year we have covered five courses, we have one technician who has just completed his NVQ 2 (3 year course), we have three staff members completing NVQ 3 (additional 1 year training) and we are now looking into future car technology, these are cars being designed and built to cover Euro 6 Emissions standards.

To summarise, gone are the days of servicing a car yourself, gone are the days of checking your oil on a dipstick – dipsticks are a thing of the past, (electronic oil level sensor more like), gone are the days of entrusting the road side mechanic to check your car and gone are the days of servicing a car without a laptop with the correct software and operated by a fully trained and qualified technician!

Next time I’m told “It’s only nuts and bolts”, well we’ll see!!

quality car service

Quality Car Service is a Trust My Garage member based in Milton Keynes and offers MOTs, Servicing, and diagnostics.  The garage has been running for 5 years and carry out thousands of MOT’s a year. They pride themselves on the high quality services they provide their customers with and are always striving to improve their processes.

Quality Car Service_logoFacebook-logo-ICON-02

Help cut crime by using a Responsible Retailer Garage

So you’ve just had a set of new tyres fitted ready for the summer, or maybe you recently had one replaced due to a blow out on the motorway? Your brand new tread is the maximum depth and you hit the road a satisfied motorist. At what point did you think about what happened to the worn out, lifeless tyres that had served your motor so well over the past months?old tyres

It is actually illegal to keep waste tyres without a licence and if they are not properly reused, recycled, or disposed of correctly, they can have a detrimental effect on our communities and environment, let alone undermining legitimate businesses.

How? If illegally kept tyres catch fire, they burn toxic smoke and pollute the water which has a damaging effect on the communities in the vicinity.

Now there is an industry partnership which restores confidence in consumers about where their used tyres are going, and assures them that their tyres are being removed correctly, and reprocessed in a legal and environmentally friendly manner.

EACH YEAR THE UK GENERATES SOME 40 MILLION END-OF-LIFE CAR AND VAN TYRES OF WHICH 80% ARE COLLECTED AND REPROCESSED THROUGH THE INDUSTRY’S RESPONSIBLE RECYCLER SCHEME.

We are doing our bit today to encourage tyre retailers and garages everywhere to dispose of tyres the right way. Our Operations Manager will be presenting at the official launch of the Responsible Retailer Initiative, which recognises tyre retailers using the scheme as Responsible Retailers. We will speak on the synergies between the scheme and Trust My Garage and how we are working to communicate this message to consumers.

How can waste tyres be used?

  • They can provide fuel for cement kilns.
  • They can be transformed into various products like flooring, road surfaces, furniture, and shoes.
  • Bales of tyres can be used in the construction of modern engineered landfill sites and flood defences.

TIF Responsible Recycler Scheme members are subject to a rigorous annual audit process conducted regularly by independent environmental audit specialists. Garages that use an RRS member will be able to guarantee that tyres collected from their premises are reused, recycled or otherwise disposed of in ways which comply with UK and European statutory regulations. They will receive an annual certificate of compliance which you as a motorist can view in the workshops to be ensured that your tyres will be dealt with correctly.Responsible Retailer logo

5 reasons why you need to straighten your car out

Ideally you should be checking your wheel alignment as often as you get your car serviced and every time you have a tyre change!

OK- how many of you just winced because you never check your wheel alignment, or have never even thought about getting it checked?wheel alignment

If it has never seemed important, here are the top 5 reasons why you should be checking regularly that the wheels of your car are perpendicular to the road and parallel to one another.

1. SAFETY for you and your passengers

Badly aligned wheels will result in your car being pulled to one side of the road ultimately putting everyone in the car at unnecessary risk. Think of it like driving in wet or icy conditions. By not regularly getting your wheel alignment checked you are unintentionally making driving an unsafe practice.

2. Save fuel and costs

You wouldn’t initially think it, but when your wheels are not properly aligned it adds extra pressure on your tyres and they push against each other. This then creates higher resistance between your tyres and the road, making it harder for your car to move forward, and consequently using up more fuel. In addition to this the extra fuel usage means you are burning more fossil fuels which significantly harm the environment.

3. Reduce your carbon footprint

These days, everybody is trying to reduce their own carbon footprint and by making sure your wheels are correctly aligned, you can manage your emissions. The extra fuel usage needed to move your car forward when poor alignment is causing your wheels to fall under extra pressure, means that more fossil fuels are being burned and you are inadvertently contributing to global emissions. By having your wheel alignment regularly checked, you can help to improve your own carbon footprint.

4. Extend the lifespan of your tyres

New tyres can be a real drain on your bank account, and the price of wheel alignment at a garage is likely to be a fraction of the cost of brand new tyres. As mentioned, badly aligned wheels add more pressure onto your tyres – and this burns the rubber much faster. If you read our previous blog HERE on tyre depth, you will see that bald tyres are extremely dangerous and costly – so you need to keep an eye on these for both your safety and to save money.

5. Avoid knock on effects

Not addressing your wheel alignment can take its toll on other parts of your vehicle. Wheel alignment is carefully defined by the vehicle manufacturers to ensure that the car will always handle in a safe and secure manner. Misaligned wheels , which can often be caused by the poor state of our roads – not helped by the proliferation of traffic calming measures – can literally have a “knock-on” effect on other components such as brakes, steering and suspension.”

What should you do next?
Trust My Garage advises that you get your wheel alignment checked every 6,000 miles or every six months. Get your nearest Trust My Garage member to cast their expert eye over your tyres for peace of mind. You can find your nearest member HERE.