Monthly Archives: January 2014

The top five technologies for older drivers

The motor industry has seen many key innovations over the years, and it seems that with each passing year there’s a brand new piece of technology brought out to make your driving experience safer, easier and more enjoyable.

Male driver with thumbs up

Research has shown that 55% of older drivers are planning on leasing or buying another car in the next five years, meaning more drivers will encounter first-hand some of the fantastic technological breakthroughs that are now available in modern cars.

As with most new technology it can all be a little bit daunting at first as you try and figure out what each shiny new button does. To ensure you get the most out of your car, we’re showing you some of the best new technology and how, as older drivers, you can use them. Whilst some of them are useful, there are others that just might save your life.

5. Voice-activated systems

New technologies will enhance your safety, but do they come at a price? It’s probably fair to assume that many people will find themselves overwhelmed with all the gadgetry in front of them and all those new buttons, dials and knobs might distract you from driving. Voice-activated systems help motorists make the most of their car’s features by using their voice – which means their attention isn’t detracted from the road.

4. Intelligent Parking Assists

Intelligent Parking Assists (IPAS) are incredibly useful and take the stress out of parking. You’ll know how frustrating it is when you’re trying to find a place to park your car and the only spots available are too tight for you to manoeuvre into, meaning you drive around in fruitless circles for half an hour. Parking in big cities is becoming increasingly limited and there’s a greater need for perfect parallel parking – this is easier said than done, however, and if you’re under pressure from traffic you can easily find your nerves being shredded and your bumper bruised. Whilst IPAS doesn’t completely take control of the car (yet), and you are still responsible for the speed of the car, it manages the tricky aspect of steering, perfectly parking the car into a tricky space. IPAS will not only ease the stressful act of parking but will help see reductions to your insurance premiums as you experience fewer bumps and scrapes.

3. Blind spot monitoring systems

Blind spot monitoring systems help detect if a car is getting too close to you in a blind spot (an area you can’t see) and when there’s a risk of there being a collision. Active blind spot monitoring uses electronic devices on the on the sides of a car that will either send out electromagnetic waves (think radar) or will take computer-processed images and then analyse them. If a car is coming up on your rear and you’re not aware of it you’re at risk of changing lanes and crashing into it – blind spot monitoring systems will alert you to the danger. Some cars also offer a Lane Departure Warning System which will beep if you drift across white lines on a motorway or other major road

2. Vehicle Stability Control

Whilst IPAS might save you frustration, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) might save your life. It’s a system that helps stabilise your car when it’s going round a curve and if it senses a loss of traction will apply the brakes individually on each wheel and/or reduce engine power. VSC can help prevent crashes and is particularly useful in wet weather when grip becomes an issue. It’s important to note that VSC is there to help you, not to take over the act of driving for you, and you should always practise safe driving in the first place. It also won’t counter the performance of your tyres, so ensure they’re in good condition by having them checked at a local independent Trust My Garage member.

1. Drowsy driver alerts

Becoming tired at the wheel is incredibly dangerous and according to Think! is responsible for 20% of accidents on major roads. There are certain steps you can take to help prevent falling asleep at the wheel such as taking breaks every two hours, stopping if you start to feel tired and taking short naps at a service stop or in a suitable lay-by. However, technology is now helping to prevent fatigue-related accidents. If your car senses that you’re becoming drowsy it will take actions, such as sounding an alarm to wake you up or blowing air on the back of your neck. Drowsy driver alerts are constantly being innovated and enhanced, and new Mercedes Benz cars actually create a driver profile for you, mapping your driving style. Once you start to show unusual traits, such as late steering, it will take into consideration the time of day and if it thinks you’re drowsy will alert you. Saab’s on-board computer system even uses facial-recognition software to analyse your facial muscles and the time it takes for you to blink.

Assistive driving technology can really benefit motorists, just as regular servicing can keep you safe on the road. To find your local independent garage for a service ahead of a drive, visit the Trust My Garage website and insert your postcode into our garage finder. 

Weathering the storm – how to drive safely in wintry conditions

You just have to glance at the news to see the devastating effects of the storms that are battering Wales and Western England, leaving whole communities ruined. The bad news is that it’s only going to get worse, with even more heavy rain predicted over the next few days. Two powerful storms after each other can only mean one thing – floods.

Treacherous Driving Conditions

Driving in wet weather can be dangerous and challenging at the best of times, but when there’s flooding things are obviously made even worse, especially if you’re inexperienced driving in such conditions.

We’re offering you some handy advice for driving in floods – it might just save your life.

5. Be wary of spray

Spray, water that’s forced from the road as a vehicle drives over it, can be deadly as it has the potential to completely cut out your already reduced visibility.

To avoid spray covering your windscreen you should keep a safe distance from the car in front of you, and if you see an oncoming heavy vehicle, switch your windscreen wiper setting to full in anticipation.

You should also be aware of the law – if you’re seen driving through a roadside puddle and splashing someone on the pavement, accident or not, you’re likely to receive a caution from the police, as it is an illegal offence.

4. Check your windows and wipers

Make sure your windows are clean – this will not only improve visibility but clean windows are actually less likely to mist up than dirty ones, so invest in a high quality windscreen washer fluid. When your windows do inevitably start to mist you can counter it by turning your heater fan or air-con on to clear it. Carry out regular checks before you set off on journeys to ensure your wiper blades are in good condition, if they’re not then they’ll be less effective at clearing away water on the windscreen. It’ll be handy to have a spare set in your car so you can replace them when you’re on the move.

Whenever it’s raining and you’re having to use your wipers, it’s a general rule that you should also have your headlights on and dipped.

3. Don’t aquaplane

Aquaplaning is a nice sounding word with a terrifying definition. It is the term used for when your car loses contact with the road and effectively surfs on top of water. You’ll be able to tell when your car is aquaplaning because your steering will feel unusually light and road noise will disappear – what you need to do is gently release your foot from the accelerator so your tyres can once again regain traction with the road.

It’s imperative you don’t brake or steer as doing either of these will cause you to lose total control of your car.

2. Avoid puddles

Driving through water is, as you can imagine, incredibly dangerous. If you get water in your engine electrics it will cause it to stall, not only leaving you stranded but also incurring expensive repair costs.

As a rule you should never drive through water that is as high as your exhaust pipe, and you shouldn’t go through moving water that’s higher than four inches. If you come across water that is this deep then you should turn around and find an alternative route – it might take you longer but do you really want to get stuck in a flood?

If you do drive through water then ensure you stick to the highest point of the road and you must reduce your speed – if you go too fast you’ll create a bow wave that will rise up to your engine and exhaust pipe.

Stick to first gear, keep the revs high by slipping your clutch (keeping the clutch partly engaged) and keep your foot on the accelerator pedal so that the engine is running at a constant speed- these are all necessary because they will help prevent water from entering the exhaust.

Once you’ve got through the water you should gently push your brakes to test them. If they’re not working you need to slow to a stop, pull over and call for assistance.

The important thing to remember is to stay calm. This is easier said than done but panicking won’t get you anywhere, and if anything, will put you at further risk as you’ll be more prone to making rash decisions.

1. Servicing

You should get your car serviced at a trusted independent garage to ensure it’s in good condition for driving in wet weather. As you can imagine you’re going to be heavily reliant on your tyres because of the water on the road, and whilst you can check their pressure and tread yourself it’s always safer to use an expert.

The last thing you want is to breakdown when the rain is lashing down and the winds are ripping trees from their roots – get your car serviced so problems can be detected at an early stage rather than when you’re stranded at the side of a flooded road.

 To find your local independent garage for a service ahead of a drive in wintry conditions, visit the Trust My Garage website and insert your postcode into our garage finder. 

Why keeping your car on the road should be your New Year’s resolution

January can be quite a miserable month – you’re well and truly back to reality after an extended break over the Christmas period, money is tight and dreadful weather makes driving incredibly difficult.

“New Year 2014 concept”, road with modern city.

Rejoice though, because the start of a new year gives you the chance to set yourself aspirational targets for the year ahead as you try and make 2014 one to remember.

The main problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they’re often unrealistic as people set themselves life-changing goals. We’re offering you advice on how to make manageable New Year’s resolutions that relate to your car and your driving.

5. Keep your car clean

Appearances are everything and driving around in a filthy car will not reflect positively on you. During the winter months it is admittedly difficult to keep your vehicle in pristine condition as one journey down the motorway can see it caked in mud and battered with rain water, but if you keep on top of it you’ll prevent your vehicle resembling a rally car. It’s important to keep the inside of your car tidy as well, because it doesn’t serve for a great first impression if you pick someone up and they have to navigate their way around fast food bags and empty cans of fizzy drink, just to sit down.

At the end of each day make sure you remove all of the rubbish out of your car and every two weeks take your hoover to task. Driving around in a clean car will make your journeys far more enjoyable and rewarding.

Once the weather starts to improve and heavy rain showers cease to be a routine part of your day you should look to get your car cleaned every two weeks.

4. Improve your patience and tolerance

Do you suffer from a short fuse when driving on the roads? 2014 can be the year you curb that anger and develop more patience towards your fellow drivers. It’s important to note that road rage, like footballers arguing with referees, will not get you anywhere, and will only serve to wind you up and negatively affect your driving and mood.

Remember that other drivers aren’t there for your annoyance and they’re in exactly the same boat as you – getting from A to B. There are a number of things you can do to stay calm and collected when driving, including ensuring you’re comfortable in your seated position, taking breaks every two hours and getting your car regularly serviced to prevent frustration breakdowns.

Being courteous will go a long way and you should always acknowledge other drivers letting you pass and apologise if you’ve made a mistake – this will make you feel better as well, and remember that we’re all human and we all make mistakes.

By staying positive in your car you’ll notice the effect it has on the rest of your day – there’s nothing worse than turning up at work red-faced after berating the driver of a Ford KA that had the nerve to cut you up.

3. Understand your insurance policy

Although car insurance is undoubtedly very important, many people are guilty of not fully understanding what they’re covered against. Set a bit of time aside so you can really get to grips with your policy.

Do you know what would happen if someone breaks into your car and steals something? Can you drive someone else’s car with their permission? Do you know how much your excess is? Will you receive a courtesy car if you breakdown? If you don’t know then consult your policy or ring your insurance provider.

2. Carry out regular maintenance checks

Get in the habit of carrying out weekly or fortnightly checks on your car. Whilst we’re all aware of the importance of checking tyres, oil levels, wipers etc. we conducted a survey last year that showed a whopping 84% of drivers neglect to carry out regular checks!

So what do you need to be checking? Tyres are very important, especially as driving conditions in the winter becoming challenging. Check their pressure, tread and overall condition to ensure you’re as safe as possible on the road. Oil, water, windscreen washer fluid and anti-freeze levels all need to looked at on a weekly basis too.

It might be the last thing you want to do after a long day at work, but a quick check can save your life and in the long-run save you money as you’ll benefit from less costly breakdowns and repairs.

1. Regular servicing

Why should you get your car regularly serviced? By taking your vehicle in for checks at a trusted independent garage you’ll prevent nasty repair bills because problems will be detected before they cause further damage. As mentioned in the first paragraph there are things you can do yourself, but to be sure we always recommend you take your car to your nearest trusted independent garage and let the experts have a look over it. Whilst you can roughly gauge your tyre tread depth yourself with the old coin trick, it is far safer to trust a professional.

To find a garage you can trust for an honest and professional service just put your postcode in our garage finder and we will show you where your nearest Trust My Garage members can be found. And you can even submit feedback on the service you receive via the Trust My Garage website!


5 things younger drivers can learn from older generations

Whether or not you believe that things were better in ‘the good old days’, it’s widely accepted that older generations had more of a hands-on approach to managing their vehicles. What would happen if we were to create a hypothetical time-travelling car quiz, and put an average modern day 25-year-old up against an average 25-year-old from 1973?  The chances for the modern day driver winning are slim.

Life expectancy is constantly rising in the UK and that means that there are far more older drivers on the road than ever before. Over the past twenty years there has been a 72 per cent increase in the number of 70+ license holders. In 20 years, one in ten people will be over 80 and the number of people over the age of 100 will increase by 475 per cent! That’ll be a lot of telegrams…

The perception of older drivers is often a negative one, with claims that they’re no longer safe to be on the road. However, statistics disprove that, with recent figures stating that older drivers are involved in fewer accidents than drivers under 60. And, whilst over 70s make up nine per cent of drivers they only make up six per cent of driver casualties. Under 30s, on the other hand, make up 20 per cent of drivers but 35 per cent of casualties.

Rae Ellis is Business Development Administrator and PA to the Managing Director at Motor Marque, an independent garage and Trust My Garage member that’s been operating in Leeds for 16 years. She explains how and why younger people have a different attitude towards their vehicles, and how they can learn from older drivers.

Rae Ellis

1.  Basic car knowledge

There’s no denying that cars today are considerably more complicated than they used to be, so people are less able to do things themselves. Young people also have less inclination to learn about their cars; this might be because they don’t have the time or that they simply don’t feel they need to because professionals exist who can do this for them. When a younger person gets home from college or work, they’ve got a whole wealth of distractions at their disposal, from video games to social media. These distractions simply didn’t exist in the past, meaning people could devote more time to productive tasks, including learning about their vehicle.

Breakdowns happen all year round and many of these are unavoidable – but some could have been avoided if a motorist simply read their vehicle handbook. How many of us have actually read through ours properly?

There is no excuse. These days, there’s more information available to motorists about car maintenance. On YouTube you can find videos of mechanics or technicians showing you how to do quite complex jobs – you can even find Trust My Garage’s self help vehicle maintenance videos! That doesn’t mean you should do every bit of maintenance yourself though, because a lot of tasks will require the skills and knowledge of a garage technician.

Some garages, like us, offer training courses. Our own are usually targeted at women and we help them learn about basic car knowledge; how to check oil, tyres, topping up screen wash etc. We do this with the view to being able to make people feel more confident in checking those things. It’s all part of the service we offer.


2. Checking certain parts of the car and regular car servicing

My gran’s friend gives her a lift to church every week and he checks the oil and screen wash levels as well as the tyre tread and pressure. In the long run, you save money by constantly checking these things. If you make sure your tyre pressures are always right then you’re not replacing a tyre because it’s worn out on the edges due to under-inflation. It might mean a small time investment every fortnight or so, but in the long run there is a cost saving attached to that, just like getting your car serviced regularly. If you get your car serviced regularly it might cost in the short term but in the long term it will cost you significantly less because you’ll be preventing damage and incurring expensive repair costs.

My gran’s friend will have his MOT and service every year and they’re probably the only times he actually has to go into the garage. Whilst the need for regular servicing can’t be stressed enough, there are a number of things motorists can do themselves to keep their car running smoothly.

It’s probably an attitude thing because I think that older generations perhaps have been less used to having those facilities available and for someone else to do it. In today’s world if there’s anything you want or need you can easily find someone who can do it. Perhaps before there weren’t as many of those services available, or maybe they weren’t as affordable to everybody as they are now.

3.  Driving styles

Cars are now faster and smoother, meaning you can think you’re doing 30mph but you look down and you’re actually going a lot faster. Cars are more of a status symbol these days; whereas for the older generations simply having a car would have been a huge status symbol itself. Now, it’s not about whether you have a car, it’s all to do with what car it is, how new it is and often most importantly, how fast it goes. This doesn’t apply for everyone, but for many young people it does. It’s something that’s definitely been fuelled by the media; you just have to look at some of the films and programmes that seem to advocate driving at ridiculous speeds.

Motor Marque logo

4.  Tolerance of other drivers

There are a lot more cars on the road these days, so statistically incidents of road rage and accidents will have increased naturally. However, there’s far more technology in cars these days and that means there are more distractions. You’ve got in-built Sat Nav, MP3, DAB radio and you can even watch movies or television (though you should never do this while actually driving – leave it to the passengers!) However, even passenger TV viewing can have a detrimental effect on people’s driving, as distractions can easily lead to mistakes, accidents and vehicle damage.

If you’re retired you don’t have to be somewhere in such a rush, you’ve got a bit more time to plan things and perhaps you’re a bit more sedimentary in your life anyway. If you’re young and you think you’re invincible then you may be more inclined to drive too fast and be less tolerant of other drivers.

5.  Preparation

People have less inclination to be well prepared these days. Most modern cars don’t come with a spare tyre anymore, and whilst many of them come with a tyre canister, there’ll be a lot of people who probably don’t know that they’ve got it, let alone how to use it. People might not even be aware that they don’t have a spare tyre until they get a puncture.

It’s important to prepare your car in case of an emergency, and that means having blankets, water, boots, Hi-Vis vest and warning triangle. In a lot of countries it’s compulsory to have these things; we’re quite rare in this country that it’s not. Trust My Garage recently explained what you should have in your vehicle in the event of a breakdown and there are some really great ideas in that blog post.

To find your local independent garage visit the Trust My Garage website and insert your postcode into our garage finder.