Monthly Archives: July 2013

Top 10 tips to take the heat out of summer driving

Driving in the sunshine can be an exhilarating experience as we wind down the windows and breath in the fresh scent of summer. But heat waves and very hot temperatures are not always good for our cars. As Britain basks in record temperatures, we are urging motorists to take extra care of their vehicles. Summer driving, particularly on long journeys and on unfamiliar routes, can not only have adverse effects on you as a driver but also on your vehicle too. The key to a safe and hassle free trip is preparation.

Our top tips will keep you from getting hot under the collar.

Young adults taking road trip in vintage car.

Young adults taking road trip in vintage car.

1. Rubber
Consistent hot weather can exacerbate any existing minor damage to wiper blades and rubber windscreen trim. Give them a good look over to make sure any small problems are not worsened by hot temperatures.

2. Tyres
High temperatures will also worsen any existing damage to rubber, and under-inflated tyres can be more prone to friction, leading to punctures and blow-outs. The answer? Check the condition and pressure before going anywhere! Why not do it the very next time you pass by a petrol station which has air and water facilities?

3. Coolant
Keep your engine coolant topped up to the correct level. Engine coolant could be at risk during summer driving. Aggravated by warm weather, low engine coolant, leaking coolant hoses and broken electric cooling fans can all result in overheating and temperatures hot enough to cause severe and expensive damage.

4. Washer
Is your windscreen washer bottle topped up? Water evaporates more quickly in hot weather, so check that your windscreen washer bottle is full before setting off. Sudden rain showers on a dry but dirty windscreen can cause bad smearing if your washer bottle is empty – don’t get caught out. A working screen washer is a legal requirement

5. Chippings
Loose stone chippings can cause punctures. Be extra careful driving through rural areas as summer is a popular time for the National Roads Authority and county councils to lay tar covered with loose chippings to improve roads. We tend to drive faster on rural roads as the speed limits are higher than in towns and cities. As well as the risk of skidding, the loose chips can fly up and cause damage to your paintwork.

6. Wildlife

Be on the lookout for wandering wildlife. Animals and birds are particularly active in summer as they feed their young. Larger animals such as badgers and deer are big enough to write off your car if they are hit, even at lower speeds. Please remember to report any collisions with wild animals, especially the ones that are protected such as badgers and some of the wild bird species.

7. Farmers
It’s the busiest time of the year for farmers as they harvest their crops and move livestock. Don’t drive too closely to tractors that are fully loaded or towing agricultural machinery such as ploughing equipment. Debris often falls from these vehicles and can cause costly damage to your car’s bodywork.

8. Air conditioning

In older cars, air conditioning increases your fuel consumption as the compressor provides “drag” on the engine. If you are stuck in traffic, you might want to turn the aircon off and open a window instead to save fuel. However, this mechanical drag is much less significant on modern cars in the first place, and once moving again, the extra aerodynamic drag of an open window will cancel this out anyway. Some very modern cars, especially hybrids, have “smart” efficiency settings to absolutely maximise fuel economy, and turning on this settings reduces the aircon load on the engine to an absolute minimum.

9. Glare
Sun glare can cause accidents in a number of ways, but one thing you can do in preparation is keep your windscreen clean from smears inside and out to stop the sunlight catching on them and impairing your vision.

10. Battery
Excessive fluid evaporation can reduce the life of your battery. Check your manual to see if it needs liquid top-ups and add distilled water if needed.

If you have any doubts about the condition of your vehicle, do take it along to your nearest and trusted ‘Trust My Garage’ member for expert advice and a simple summer service. Click HERE to find your nearest one.

Why you will benefit from TRUST MY GARAGE getting Government backing

Recently, responsibility for the government’s Consumer Codes Approval Scheme has been transferred to Trading Standards Institute from the Office of Fair Trading and this means an even greater focus on the needs of the consumer.

As TRUST MY GARAGE has always demonstrated high standards in the independent service and repair sector we have now submitted an application for TRUST MY GARAGE to be an approved code.

What does this mean for you?

1. We guarantee you’re not getting scammed

In a recent survey conducted by the AA, 22% of motorists believed that items had been fitted or replaced unnecessarily during a car service. By visiting a TRUST MY GARAGE member you eliminate any chance of this scenario ever happening to you. We will be working with Trading Standards to drive out any independent garages that do not comply with the high standards we set. This way you can be sure that garages who display the TRUST MY GARAGE shield are genuinely working to provide the very best experience for the consumer – and if they don’t, we want to hear from you.  We can all play our part in raising standards across the entire independent sector.

2. You ALWAYS receive the very best service

All garages that are members of TRUST MY GARAGE work to the highest industry standards. Our members have access to the most up-to-date technical information and tools, and employ highly skilled mechanics. We have even had TRUST MY GARAGE member technicians voted among the best in the country!

3. Customer service is always outstanding

Customer service is top of the agenda for all our trusted independent garages. We ensure that our members explain work carried out clearly and treat customers and their vehicles with the upmost respect. These garages are part of the local community. They visit the same shops as their customers and their children often go to the same school as their customer’s children. They get to know you and always provide a personal and friendly service.

4. You receive REAL value for money

In the same AA survey 44% of respondents believed that the expense of a repair had been a lot higher than expected after a garage visit. One of the key benefits of a garage being in the TRUST MY GARAGE code means that you will receive an honest and loyal service every time you visit one of our members. Our garages are committed to providing motorists with a fixed quote or estimate, both inclusive of parts, labour and VAT and they only charge for the work completed and parts supplied and fitted.

5. Complaining is easy

In the unlikely event that you are displeased with any aspect of your visit to one of our member garages, you will be able to report it to Trading Standards as well as to us. This means you are backed by the support of two reputable, national associations and also have access to free advice to help address your complaint and rectify it promptly. The key to this is clear communication between the customer and garage.

6. Honest Consumer Feedback

We will soon be adding consumer feedback to the scheme via our website at www.trustmygarage.co.uk and through a TRUST MY GARAGE dedicated “app”. This means that your views will really count – all TRUST MY GARAGE members will welcome constructive feedback and other consumers will see an honest appraisal of the garage.

So remember, any garages displaying the widely recognised TRUST MY GARAGE shield can be trusted to provide an honest and professional service to all motorists.  Upon completion of the process, the TRUST MY GARAGE consumer code will be the only approved code in the UK that is exclusively open to independent garage businesses. TRUST MY GARAGE is already a household name and with European law stating that new cars can be serviced at independent garages without invalidating the warranty, the Trust My Garage consumer code will be the final piece in the independent garage jigsaw.

And don’t forget… To find your nearest TRUST MY GARAGE member you can always use the POSTCODE FINDER HERE

You have the RIGHT to choose Independent value

Are you the proud new owner of a 63 plate? A new car is a significant investment so you will want to make sure that it is Right to Repairproperly maintained. But where is the best place to get quality regular servicing at value for money prices?

The proud owner may ask themselves

“If I buy a new car I can only use the main dealer for servicing and repairs so that I don’t infringe my warranty”
MYTH!

Wrong! Under European Law the Block Exemption Regulations give you the  right to have your vehicle serviced, maintained, and repaired at an independent garage of your choice without invalidating your warranty TRUTH!

Also, did you know that recent research undertaken by the Independent Garage Association revealed that Main Dealers can be up to £40 an hour more expensive than independent garages. Driver woman showing new car keys

So, having experienced the joys of your new driving machine and all the latest innovative technology and gadgetry that the manufacturers have designed  to make your motoring safer, more comfortable and even more enjoyable, you want the same quality support when it comes to vehicle servicing.

Although taking your car to a Main Dealer might be the normal thing to do, you can equally get a professional and honest service and pay  a reasonable price for parts and labour from a good independent garage.

There are thousands of quality independent garages that are perfectly competent to service newly manufactured cars. They have full access to manufacturer information and operate equipment and tools that can analyse faults on your vehicle and with quality parts and trained staff, independent garages are able to offer you safe and clean mobility throughout the entire life cycle of your car. Taking your brand new car to an independent garage will not invalidate your warranty  as long as the garage services the vehicle according to the manufacturer’s schedule using parts which are of “equivalent quality”.

Most of the parts which are fitted to a modern car during routine servicing are not made by the vehicle manufacturer themselves anyway.  Parts such as brakes pads and oil and air filters which are supplied to vehicle manufacturers for OE (“Original Equipment”) fitment are usually available with the actual makers branding at significantly lower cost –  so they are not just “equivalent quality” , they are identical apart from the box they come in.

How am I affected?

As a consumer you are no longer forced to rely on the vehicle manufacturer as the exclusive supply source for parts and repair services for the aftermarket care of your vehicle. Your car is your property and the law enables you to choose exactly who carries out the work on your car.

Even if your car has an electronic service record held digitally in the vehicle manufacturer’s systems, the same rules give the independent garage the right to access and update the record to keep your vitally important service history intact.

Why go to a TRUST MY GARAGE approved independent garage?

Cost

The Independent Garage Association recently polled over 2000 of its members on their labour rates and results concluded, that independent garages ‘continue to offer motorists the very best value for money.’ Figures from the poll show that the average labour cost is slightly over £40 for independent garages, and the most recent Warranty Direct annual Labour Rates survey demonstrates that average labour rates for franchise garages stand at a national average of £95.94, with some franchised dealers charging a staggering £55.94 an hour more than independents.

Access to technical information and quality parts

Although independents cost a significant amount less that main dealers there is no compromise on the level of expertise and parts. All TRUST MY GARAGE members have access to the same level of technical information and  quality parts. Training is also no different and most independent garages train their staff to the same levels as main dealers.

No car is a challenge

TRUST MY GARAGE members are specialists in all makes and models and work to very high standards continuing to achieve key industry standards set by TRUST MY GARAGE.

A more personal service

Independent garages are renowned for their friendly faces and high customer retention levels. All TRUST MY GARAGE members pride themselves on the personal service that they provide their customers with, in order to increase the level of trust between them. The TRUST MY GARAGE customer charter states that all garages must explain the work they do clearly and treat customers and their vehicles with respect.

So if you’re now thinking again about where to take your new car for a service, find your local TRUST MY GARAGE member HERE without worrying about invalidating your warranty!

Make sure your driving isn’t costing the earth

We have already pointed out the things to look out for when driving abroad but if you are driving on holiday in the UK this year have you considered your carbon footprint? In 2008, the UK government unveiled its plan to cut the nation’s carbon emissions by 80% before 2050, and last year UK vehicle manufacturers were told by EU environmental regulations that they should cut their carbon emissions throughout the manufacturing process. So what can you do to make sure your driving not only saves money by reducing your fuel consumption, but you will also contribute to saving the planet by not releasing harmful emissions into the atmosphere?green driving

You can make a start by following our top ten tips for greener driving:

10. Change your car to one that is more fuel efficient

OK, it might seem an expensive thing to do if you have already had your car for a long time, but if you are due a change, make sure vehicle efficiency is something you consider. Typically, scaling down from a large vehicle to a smaller vehicle will result in less CO2 emissions.  Bear in mind that cars with electric engines emit no pollutants and charging stations are increasing across the UK.

9. Remove roof racks when not required

Vehicle manufacturers are always looking to make their products as aerodynamic as possible. Adding a roof box or rack on top of your vehicle compromises this. It increases the wind drag on your car, making your engine work harder and increasing fuel consumption, especially when driving at high speeds. If you don’t need to use it for your journey, remove it.

8. Check your tyre inflation

Tyres are often be overlooked by drivers, but one of the easiest ways to reduce carbon emissions is to make sure your tyres are properly inflated. Underinflated tyres make the engine work harder due to the surface drag and friction with the road surface. Properly inflated tyres have less contact with the road, encountering less friction and meaning that excess fuel is not wasted.  Driving on underinflated tyres also leads to potential damage to the tyre or the wheel rim which means you will have to change your tyres more frequently, resulting in a higher use of the earth’s resources.

7. Eliminate excess weight

We all put things in our boot and leave them in there, but this could be harming your green credentials. Remember your engine burns fuel for energy, so the more energy it needs to carry the unnecessary weight, the more C02 emissions are released into the atmosphere. Make sure you have only what is necessary in your boot and remove any items you don’t need to carry it around.

6. Drive in the correct gear for the road conditions

It is something you are taught when learning to drive, but remember to drive in the most appropriate gear for the road conditions.  Getting into fifth ( or even sixth in modern cars) gear during motorway driving, for example, whilst staying within the speed limits, will help with optimising your fuel consumption.  However, remember to stay in a lower gear when driving down steep hills.

5. Plan your route

Avoid getting lost. Not only does this add unnecessary time to your journey, it also increases fuel consumption and wear and tear on your car if it is something that happens regularly. Invest some time in planning your route before you begin a journey. This will ensure you conserve fuel as well as enjoying a stress free and pleasant journey. If you are a SatNav user remember that some devices offer a “green” option in the settings along with “quickest” and “shortest”

4. Avoid unnecessary shopping trips

For most people, shopping is a chore yet many of us make unnecessary trips to the supermarket or the local shops for items we’ve forgotten during our weekly shop.  This means increased fuel consumption, increased emissions and further wear and tear on the car. Minimise the number of journeys you make by planning ahead.

3. Drive at a steady speed

Driving within the speed limit is a legal requirement, but try to keep your vehicle at a steady speed when driving. Accelerating rapidly and braking harder than you need to all reduce efficiency and waste fuel. Drive at a steady speed and stay at that pace for as long as you can to ensure you only use the fuel you really need to use.

2. Turn off the engine when you are stationary

If you are stuck in a traffic jam or waiting to pick up a friend, turn your engine off. Many of us probably leave our engine running when we really could – and should – have turned it off. This is the easiest way to waste fuel and is more harmful to the environment.

1. Get your vehicle serviced regularly at a Trust My Garage member

Trust My Garage members have the professional expertise and vehicle know-how to keep you car a lean, green machine.  Regular services make sure things like your tyres and engine, are performing as they should and you are not unknowingly wasting any fuel or damaging the environment.

So what are you waiting for? Book in with your local Trust My Garage member today and enjoy a service backed by Trading Standards after we applied to become a government code. Enter your postcode into our website HERE and book your car in with a trusted technician today.

Get it right on the wrong side of the road

Every year around two million of us drive abroad (according to an RAC report), and aside from just getting used to driving on the other side of the road there are a wealth of things you need to consider when taking to the European roads.

Passport & Car KeysPassport & Car KeysIt’s not surprising that 76% (3/4) of British motorists feel nervous about driving abroad due to all the things they have to think about. We have compiled a list of things for you to think about to help put your mind at ease before you head off on your foreign road trip this summer.

Preparing your car for driving abroad…

Similarly to making long distance journeys to your UK holiday destination (read full blog here) you need to ensure that the overall condition of your vehicle is suitable and in top running condition to make the full journey. Breaking down is not just an inconvenience abroad, but it can also be very pricey!

preparation for tripDistances

In Europe you can easily end up driving much further than you might in most of the UK. This means that tiredness can be an issue. When you combine this with the much higher speeds in some parts of Europe it is important to stay alert at all times.

Many European countries have smaller, less crowded rest areas without fuel or restaurant facilities which are ideal for a quick break to stretch your legs and use the toilet.

If you are a Sat-Nav user, the ability to find off-motorway petrol is a useful tip. Not only will the fuel be cheaper, there is less likely to be long queues at the pumps. This has the added advantage of providing a break from the monotony of motorway driving.

preparation for tripDon’t overload your vehicle!

One of the perks of travelling abroad is the tax free products that we can bring back, and one of the most common things to bring back is wine. However, five cases of wine is the equivalent of another passenger in your car. The heavier the load the more you put your car at risk of damage to the suspension, burning the clutch, or wear and punctures on your tyres. So whatever delights you may be bringing back from your travels, just weigh up whether the cost savings are worth any potential damage to your car.

headlightsLights

In Europe (and other countries that drive on the right) you will need to make sure that you have adjusted your beam pattern so that the dipped beam does not dazzle oncoming drivers. Modern cars with “projector” headlamps need to have the deflectors carefully positioned so make sure you prepare in advance! Some headlights have an internal ‘shutter’, but others are less convenient and you will need to visit a specialist to adjust them.

tyreTyres

One of the most important parts of your vehicle to check before journeys is your tyres. Once they get down to a tread depth of 3mm they can wear out very quickly, so if you are making an extra long journey abroad it is worth considering replacing them entirely even though the legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm

CHECKLIST

driving abroad checklist

Did you know?

  • The phone number for the emergency services across Europe is 112.
  • In Spain the minimum driving age is 18
  • In most EU countries it’s compulsory to carry a warning triangle in your car and in Germany it is also compulsory to carry a first aid kit in your car.
  • France is the most likely country Britons will break down in, with the RAC stating that 64.33% of overseas breakdowns occur there.
  • In Switzerland pedestrians have the right of way and cars are meant to stop for them
  • In France most motorways are toll operated so keep your Euros handy!
  • In Spain, if you wear glasses you must carry a spare pair in your car when driving
  • In Germany you can be fined on the spot for running out of fuel on the autobahn (motorway.

If you have any reservations about your car being fit to make the journey abroad then it is important that you get it checked over by a trusted professional. TRUST MY GARAGE members possess the skills and expertise required to provide you with peace of mind that should you be making a trip abroad in your car this summer, you are doing it in a safe and capable vehicle. Find your nearest trusted garage HERE and book in for a service before your trip.