Category Archives: Motoring

Spring driving – Keeping safe in your motor with Trust My Garage

Spring is well on its way across the UK, but it can lead to changeable weather conditions – so how can you ensure you’re driving at your best for the conditions? The Trust My Garage blog is here to help!

Clear Out

Before setting off your journey – be it short or long – take time to clear out any accumulated items in your vehicle, such as winter coats, scarves or bags that kept you warm during the coldest period. By reducing additional weight in the vehicle, you may be able to help improve your fuel economy, which will put a spring in your step!

Pay Attention

With the weather getting slightly warmer, once you’re on the road you will find more people will begin to either walk or bike to work, so be sure to be alert for passing pedestrians and cyclists while driving.

If you want to brush up on the rules of the road, you can read the Highway Code in full here – or read our “Highway Code – How well do you know the rules of the road?” blog post!

Wear some Shades

If you’re driving to and from work, you’re probably going to encounter a very low sun. This means glare and reduced visibility, so be sure to take your time and try to spot any potential road hazards well in advance.

If you know it’s going to be a sunny journey, try to position your vehicle’s sun visor to keep your eyes in the shade. You can also wear sunglasses if you feel they’re necessary – but if you wear prescription glasses, make sure your sun lenses have an up-to-date prescription!

Keep an Eye on the Weather

Although it may be getting warmer, there is still a chance of some inclement weather! April showers are no joke, so don’t let them make a fool of you. Check out our “What to do when… you’re driving in wet weather conditions” blog post for some great tips on making sure you’re driving safely when it’s wet outside.

Stay Cool

Air conditioning is a boon as the temperature rises, but it contains a special gas which can slowly leak away. If you want to keep cool when it’s warm, you’ll need to ensure your air conditioning system has plenty of gas, with no holes in the pipework.

Many local garages offer air conditioning re-gas services – and many Trust My Garage members even list the service on their online profile! Type in your postcode here to find your nearest member and see what they offer:

Visit a TMG member

After the government’s MOT extension during the coronavirus pandemic ‘lockdown’ in 2020, it may be a good idea to re-align your vehicle’s regular MOT schedule by booking in an MOT at your original time. – so if your vehicle normally has an MOT in May but didn’t until October 2020, book an MOT in May 2021 to re-adjust the yearly schedule.

This can help you avoid the onset of extra MOT tests in September, due to other motorists who utilised the extension – and help ensure your vehicle is in a safe and roadworthy condition! If you need an MOT or a service this spring, make sure to take it in to your local TMG member or other nearby garage to get it ready for the road.

If you’re looking for a reputable, local, independent garage you can head to the Trust My Garage website and use our handy ‘Find a Garage’ map to locate your nearest TMG member, operating to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved code of conduct. You can also check out our latest TV advert below:

Since 2016 Trust My Garage members have all operated to a strict Code of Conduct, which has been approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) – the national body for trading standards professionals. Trust My Garage is currently the only CTSI backed code exclusively for independent garages, so you can rest assured that you are dealing with a firm that is determined to deliver the highest levels of customer satisfaction.

Want to know more about TMG? To get more information or to contact Trust My Garage, please visit TrustMyGarage.co.uk or Contact Us here.

Keep your vehicle road ready in lockdown with Trust My Garage

A new survey of the nation’s drivers has revealed more than half (54%) don’t know when their next service is due – so how can you keep your vehicle in top condition all year round? Find out with Trust My Garage!

Every year Highways England’s traffic officers deal with more than 85,000 breakdowns. 40 per cent of these breakdowns are caused by vehicles running out of fuel, poor tyre maintenance, power loss and engine trouble. These basic checks and maintenance can prevent many breakdowns:

  • Check tyres – check your tyre pressures are suitable for the load and their condition, including the spare. Always look out for cuts or wear and make sure tyres are comfortably over the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm.
  • Check fuel – before every journey, check your fuel levels and make sure you have enough to get to your destination. Always keep your tank at least one quarter full.
  • Check engine oil – use your dipstick to check oil regularly, if your vehicle has one.Alternatively, you can use your vehicle’s information system. Top up if needed, making sure you use the correct oil. Take your car to a garage if it is requiring frequent top ups.
  • Engine coolant – check your coolant is within the minimum and maximum markings.
  • Check screen wash – Always keep your screen wash level topped up so you can clear debris or dirt off your windscreen.
  • Check lights – look at whether indicators, hazard lights, headlights, fog lights, reverse lights and brake lights are functioning properly and that your lights are clean.
  • Windscreen wipers – check your wiper blades for cuts, nicks and wear. Replace them if they are not clearing your windscreen properly – and if they judder during use it’s a sign they may need replacing.

For more in-depth details on how to conduct basic checks and maintenance, take a look at our “What to do when… your vehicle needs some TLC” blog post!

If you’re looking for further help, Highways England has prepared a guide showing road users how to carry out the five most important vehicle checks: tyres, engine oil, water, lights and fuel. The guide has written details and helpful videos showing you how you can make sure your vehicle is always safe and roadworthy.

According to Highways England, knowing the benefits of regular checks and maintenance before getting on the road is key to travelling safely – but so is maintaining your vehicle’s regular servicing and maintenance schedule!

If you’re looking for a professional local garage to help with your servicing, repair or MOT needs, you can find a local CTSI approved Trust My Garage member by visiting the Trust My Garage website’s ‘Find a Garage’ map! You can even read reviews from other motorists about the members in your area to help you decide which garage is right for you. Try it out here:

Want to know more about Trust My Garage?

Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s trusted local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.

Every garage in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association, which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who must comply with a strict code of practice. That way, every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best quality and value of service.

Have you got any top vehicle care tips? Let us know in the comments below!

What to do when… you’re learning about UK road speed limits

The UK’s road network has a range of road categories with different widths, rules and speeds – so how can you ensure you’re abiding by the speed laws in each? Trust My Garage is here to help, so read on to learn more about speed limits across the UK.

How many speed limits are there?

Depending on the type of vehicle you’re driving, different speed limits are applicable. Gov.uk provides clear details on accepted speed limits depending on the type of road and vehicle you’re driving, which you can read here.

For cars, motorcycles, car-derived vans and dual-purpose vehicles, the limits are:

  • Built up areas – 30mph
  • Single carriageways – 60mph
  • Dual carriageways – 70mph
  • Motorways – 70mph

You can also encounter locally-set speed limits. These are limits set by local councils in certain areas, and will be clearly signposted. Examples of locally-set speed limits are:

  • 20 mph zone in a built-up area near a school
  • 50 mph (rather than 60 mph) limit on a stretch of road with sharp bends

How can I stay aware of speed limits?

There are basic rules to help remember which speed limits apply on which roads. As a default, in areas of street lighting (other than on motorways) a 30mph limit applies unless another limit is specifically signed.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has released a guide for all road users called “Know Your Traffic Signs”. Pages 20-21 of the guide provide clear, simple information detailing all the speed limit signs on the road network, as well as details on all other traffic signs that can affect motorists. Read it here.

How are speed limits monitored?

Speed limits are monitored by speed cameras, of which there are several varieties. Some of these cameras are in fixed locations, some work out an average of a vehicle’s travel speed between two camera points and some are handheld, operated by members of normal or traffic police forces.

The most common type of speed camera in the UK is the yellow Gatsometer unit, commonly known as the “Gatso” camera. These cameras were introduced in 1991, and operate as rear-facing cameras. This means the camera unit faces up the road and takes a picture of the rear of a speeding vehicle, so it can catch motorcycles as well as cars, vans and trucks.

How many speed cameras are there on the UK’s roads?

According to Speed Camera Database, there are currently 4016 Gatso camera units operational in Great Britain.

Speed cameras are spread across the country, and according to Highways England’s response to an October 2020 Freedom of Information (FOI) request, on smart motorways alone there are 168 fixed speed cameras:

Smart MotorwayCameras
M147
M2534
M624
M6211
M427
M510
M6010
M312
M204
M237
M42
TOTAL168

On smart motorways in 2010 there were 49 fixed cameras, and in 2015 there were 105, but according to the FOI a breakdown of their distribution is not available. However, Highways England note: “Primarily, the smart motorway network was the M25, M1 and M42.”

Speed cameras on smart motorways are also being utilised for other traffic offences; in the FOI, Highways England stated: “Currently, we are upgrading all our cameras to also record drivers that do not comply with a ‘Red X’, to indicate a closed lane.”

What happens if I’m caught speeding?

According to Gov.uk, if you are caught by a speed camera committing an offence the following will happen:

Within 14 days of your car being caught speeding you’ll be sent a:

  • Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP)
  • Section 172 notice

You must return the Section 172 notice within 28 days, telling the police who was driving the car. After you’ve sent the Section 172 notice back, you’ll be sent either a:

  • Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN)
  • letter telling you to go to court

If you get an FPN you can choose to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, you’ll have to pay a £100 fine and have 3 points added to your licence, unless you’re given the option to attend a speed awareness course. As well as this, your driving licence will have a code on it for 4 years.

You may be given the option of attending a speed awareness course if:

  • the police decide it’s appropriate for your offence
  • you have not been on a speed awareness course in the past 3 years

You’ll have to go to court if you plead not guilty.

You can be fined more and get more penalty points if the court decides you’re guilty of speeding.

The amount you’re fined depends on what the speed limit was and how much over it you were driving. It’s usually a percentage of your weekly income, up to a maximum of £1,000 (£2,500 if you were driving on a motorway).

You could also be disqualified from driving or have your licence suspended.

Penalties can affect new drivers more severely as well; if you’re still within 2 years of passing your driving test, your driving licence will be revoked (withdrawn) if you build up 6 or more penalty points.

Staying safe on the road

As well as speeding fine penalties for motorists breaking the law, DVSA have also published “The top 10 prohibition defects as a percentage of all cars inspected at roadside”.

With a total of 38,712 serious defects and traffic offences in 2019, and the most common defect being the condition of a vehicle’s tyres, it’s important to ensure you and your vehicle don’t get caught out by any defect risks. If you’re looking to stay safe and motor happy, you can contact your local Trust My Garage Member garage for your servicing, repair and MOT needs.

Why use Trust My Garage?

Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s trusted local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.

Every garage in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association, which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who have to comply with a strict code of practice.

Each and every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle.

 If you’re looking for more information about Trust My Garage, you can head over to our website, TrustMyGarage.co.uk. We’re also on social media, so check out our Facebook and Twitter profiles to get the latest motoring news and updates straight into your social feeds!

How does coronavirus affect MOTs? Find out with Trust My Garage!

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the public in many aspects of daily life – whether you’re working from home, ordering take-aways instead of eating out, or exercising via a run instead of going to the gym, many people have had to make changes to their lifestyle.

Unlike the first lockdown, the MOT is one thing that hasn’t been affected by the second wave of COVID-19 restrictions; so, what can you do to ensure your car’s MOT status remains valid and roadworthy? Trust My Garage is here to help!

What is the MOT?

The MOT is a government-mandated test for vehicles to ensure they meet safety and roadworthiness standards, as well as environmental standards.

A new vehicle requires its first MOT test after three years, and then will need one every year after that. You cannot drive or park your vehicle on a public road if the MOT has run out, and you can be prosecuted if caught without a valid MOT.

The Gov.uk website states you must get an MOT for your vehicle by either:

  • the third anniversary of its registration
  • the anniversary of its last MOT, if it’s over 3 years old

The MOT checks many important parts of your vehicle, as shown here:

(source)

These checks ensure vehicles meet the minimum requirements for road safety and environmental legislation.

After a vehicle’s MOT test, it will receive a certificate stating whether it has passed or failed the MOT. You may get a list of ‘minor’ or ‘advisory’ problems to monitor or fix in the future.

If the vehicle has ‘dangerous’ or ‘major’ problems it will fail its MOT, and you will not be allowed to drive it until the problems are fixed. The fail will be noted in the vehicle’s MOT history and you will get a ‘refusal of an MOT test certificate’ from the test centre.

You can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points for driving a vehicle that has failed its MOT because of a ‘dangerous’ problem.

Why was there an MOT extension in the first lockdown?

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the national lockdown restrictions, some vehicles were granted a six-month MOT extension by the government to help protect the public and avoid the spread of COVID-19. It was also to help the many key workers that found it difficult to get their cars to a garage, to stay mobile and continue to provide the vital services they delivered.

The extension was not mandatory, and the Government still advised the public to have an MOT test for their vehicle if they felt it necessary at the original time their MOT was due. 2.1 million MOTs were still carried out in April and May, despite lockdown restrictions and the implementation of the MOT extension.

Does my car need a valid MOT during lockdown?

In short, yes. Regardless of any lockdown restrictions, your vehicle must always have a valid MOT. You can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT, and unless your MOT date has been extended by the Government you must submit your vehicle for testing before the expiry of its current MOT.


To check your vehicle’s MOT expiry date, you can use the Gov.uk MOT check service. The service also lets you set up text reminders for your MOT due date and check if there are any manufacturer recalls issued for your vehicle. If there are any recall issues, you can find out more information about them with our “Vehicle safety recalls – what are they and how can they affect motorists?” blog post.

Where can I go to get an MOT test?

To conduct MOT tests, a garage (or dealership) must be a DVSA-approved MOT testing station. You’ll know if a premises is an MOT testing station by the display of the official logo:

 Some service and repair garages also conduct MOTs, and some garages will only offer MOTs, so check which is best for you before booking in your test. If you purchased your vehicle from a branch of the manufacturer’s franchised dealerships you can also use their facilities for your MOT, depending on your preference.

Many Trust My Garage members offer MOTs as part of their range of services, so it’s always worth checking if there’s a member in your area! It’s simple to do, just head to our “Find a Garage” map and pop in your postcode! Try it out here:

You can check TMG members in your area by distance, number of reviews or star rating. You can also view their profile page to see what services they offer and even request more information directly from the garage. TMG member profile pages also provide direct contact information, so if you prefer a phone call you can contact a garage quickly and easily. 

As for pricing, there’s a maximum amount MOT test stations can charge, depending on the type of vehicle. The maximum fee for a car is £54.85 and £29.65 for a standard motorcycle, and the fee is not subject to VAT.

How can I prepare my car for an MOT?

Once you’ve booked an MOT, you may want to take extra steps to prepare your vehicle during the pandemic.

Many motorists have taken to leaving Personal Protective Equipment (PEE) in their vehicle’s for convenience, such as face coverings and/or disposable gloves; make sure these are removed in advance of your MOT test so garage staff don’t have to touch them. Some garages have taken to  reminding to customers at time of booking and again on the day of their visit to ensure any used PPE is removed from vehicles to ensure the safety of both staff and customers.

You may also want to clean your vehicle prior to it entering the garage. Our “Keep your vehicle germ-free with Trust My Garage” blog post has some great tips on how to keep the germs at bay!

Some garages are currently offering deep-cleaning services at an additional charge when you take in your vehicle, so if you’re interested in a professional clean you can discuss this with the garage to see if it’s an option they provide.

Once your garage visit is over and your MOT is passed successfully, you can put your PPE back in place and carry on motoring.

More about Trust My Garage

Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s trusted local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.

Every garage in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association, which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who must comply with a strict code of practice.

Every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle.

If you want to find out more about Trust My Garage, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Planning a summer staycation? Get your vehicle holiday-ready with Trust My Garage

This year, global circumstances are affecting many UK residents’ plans for a summer holiday. Instead of waiting until the world is turning again, some people are opting for a stay-at-home holiday this summer – often referred to as a “staycation”.

Staycations are a great opportunity to explore parts yet unknown across the UK, and with a wide range of options on our doorstep, many are, or will be, driving to a new destination to get their summer break. If you’re taking your vehicle on the road to relaxation, these top tips from Trust My Garage will help make sure you get their safely and happily – read on to find out more!

Plan your route(s)

Before setting off on any journey it is worth checking the routes to your destination. Ideally, have a main route and a back-up option prepared in case of unforeseen delays like traffic or road closures. Many internet search engines offer mapping functions, providing travel times based on time of day, traffic and road incidents, so you can prepare well ahead for your trip. By doing a little homework beforehand, you could save a lot of time and avoid frustrations – which means more time for you to enjoy your holiday.

Check your fluid levels

Prior to making your trip you should check your vehicle’s fluid levels. You can check these yourself if you are comfortable doing so, or you can take your vehicle to a local garage and ask them to check that your levels are where they should be. Key fluids to check are:

  1. Windscreen wash fluid – windscreen wiper symbol on cap
  2. Brake fluid – black with hazard triangle with “!” on cap
  3. Power steering fluid – steering wheel logo on cap
  4. Engine Oil – cap with “OIL” or oil can logo, and yellow ended dipstick for checking the oil level is correct
  5. Engine coolant level – black with hazard triangle with “!” on cap

It is important to ensure your fluids are all within their required minimum and maximum markings, which are indicated with MIN MAX marks either on the side of their respective fluid tanks or, in the case of engine oil, the marked as lines near the end of the dipstick.

If you want to learn how to check your engine oil, watch this simple guide on what to do:

If you are unsure if your car needs any more fluids, or which fluids to use, call or visit your local garage. They should be able to assist and advise on what is best for your vehicle.

Check your tyres and lights

Tyres are a crucial element of keeping your vehicle safe on the roads, so make sure yours tread depths are well within legal limits before heading out! The 20p test is a simple and effective way to check your tyres have an adequate amount of tread to keep you safe on the roads – this is how you do it:

As well as checking your tread depth, you should also ensure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure(s), as detailed in your vehicle’s Owner’s Manual. When travelling with a heavy load, such as baggage for a holiday, you may need to adjust the tyre pressures to ensure optimum tyre efficiency. Details of which weight levels require this should also be provided in your Owner’s Manual as an accompaniment to the pressure details.

While checking your running tyres, it’s good idea to also check your spare(if you have one) for any lumps, bulges or tears in case it is needed on your trip, or alternatively you can ensure you have a fully-stocked tyre  repair kit in your vehicle in case of emergency. For more information on how to check your tyres, you can check out our “What to do when… you need to check your vehicle’s tyres” blog post here.

If your vehicle does require new tyres, you can contact your local garage to arrange a convenient time for you to visit them to fit new tyres to your vehicle.

Lights are equally important too, as a dim or non-functioning light can impair your view of the road or prevent another motorist from seeing your vehicle. If you have a brake light that isn’t working, you could be subject to any of the following:

  • A £60 fine and three points on your licence
  • A Vehicle Defect Rectification Notice – 14 days to fix the fault and provide proof of the fix
  • Your car taken off the road immediately

An easy way to check your lights are functioning, while your vehicle is parked safely, is to turn them on (or depress the brake pedal) and look in any reflective surfaces around you to confirm lights are visible. Reflective surfaces can be the bodies of other nearby vehicles, shop windows or mirrors. If you are accompanied, you can also ask another person to step out and walk around the stationary vehicle to confirm all lights are functioning as normal.

If you need a lightbulb replacing and are unsure which bulb type to purchase, or do not know how to fit a lightbulb to your vehicle, you can contact your local garage and arrange for the service to be carried out by them.

Check your vehicle’s tax, MOT and insurance

Before you’ve even left the house, you may need to check these three important documents are valid and have enough time left on them, to enable you to legally complete your staycation.

About a month before your road tax expires the DVLA will issue you with a V11 Vehicle Tax Reminder, containing the information you need to either renew your tax online, via telephone or at a Post Office branch, as well as the date your current road tax period will expire. You can also check the status of your road tax or renew it online via the Gov.uk website here.

If you are unsure of your vehicle’s MOT status you can use the Gov.uk MOT history checker to see when your vehicle last had an MOT, and the previous detailed information about that MOT. It’s worth ensuring that any advisory items noted at the last MOT are repaired, as these item may have deteriorated since the last MOT was carried out. As part of this service, you can also check if there are any outstanding recalls for your vehicle – where the manufacturer needs to investigate and potentially repair a problem with a certain batch of vehicles – and how to proceed if there is a recall problem. Find out more on the Gov.uk website here.

You may also need to check that your vehicle is still insured for use. Your insurance provider will send a reminder email or letter approximately a month before your policy is due for renewal, so you can choose to either renew with your current supplier, or with another provider depending on what suits you best.

If you aren’t sure when your insurance renewal is due, your existing policy documents will provide the correct date. Insurance providers often supply these via an online portal or paper format, depending on what you have requested, so you can check at your convenience.

Visit a local TMG member garage, if necessary

If you think your vehicle needs a professional touch, you can locate your nearest CTSI-approved Trust My Garage member by visiting the Trust My Garage website’s ‘Find a Garage’ map! You can even read reviews from other motorists about the members in your area to help you decide which garage is right for you. Try it out here:

Want to know more about Trust My Garage?

Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s trusted local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.

Every garage in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association, which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who must comply with a strict code of practice.

Every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle. If you want to find out more about Trust My Garage, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

What to do when… You’re maintaining your vehicle during lockdown

With the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic affecting the UK, many motorists are making efforts to keep their vehicle in tip-top shape without breaking the social distancing measures set in place by the UK government. To help drivers, Trust My Garage has put together some advice on how you can stay within the guidelines and keep your vehicle at its best – read on to find out more!

With the implementation of a lockdown, it is best to use your car only for essential travel – such as food shopping, collecting a prescription, medical appointments or travelling to work if you are unable to work from home. By using vehicles less frequently than is the norm, many motors are left standing on driveways, in garages and parked on the roadside, leading to potential roadworthiness and safety issues.

Remember, many garages remain open for essential repairs, so if you have any concerns about your vehicle’s roadworthiness, get it checked out as soon as possible.

MOT status, tax and insurance – are you covered?

Without getting into your vehicle, you could be in violation of the UK’s motoring laws – but you can take simple steps to be sure you aren’t driving illegally.

MOT

Due to the pandemic, the UK government is extending car MOTs due from 30th March onward by six months on a 7-day rolling basis (so an MOT due on 1st April is now due on 1st October, and so on). Review dates are currently subject to a staggered implementation, and extended dates are being posted on the Gov.uk website here. To find out more on how the extension works, you can view our “The MOT Extension – how does it work and does it apply to you?” here.

Even if your vehicle’s MOT has been extended by the government, should you feel it is unsafe or unroadworthy take it to a garage as soon as possible for an MOT, repairs or maintenance. Your safety and the safety of other road users is paramount!

Tax

Although you may not be using your vehicle as regularly as normal, it is still subject to Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), commonly known as road tax. This is an annual tax that is levied as an excise duty and which must be paid for most types of vehicles which are to be driven or parked on public roads in the UK.

About a month before your road tax expires the DVLA will issue you with a V11 Vehicle Tax Reminder, containing the information you need to either renew your tax online, via telephone or at a Post Office branch, as well as the date your current road tax period will expire. You can also check the status of your road tax online via the Gov.uk website here.

Insurance

During lockdown, you may also need to check that your vehicle is still insured for use. Your insurance provider will send a reminder email or letter approximately a month before your policy is due for renewal, so you can choose to either renew with your current supplier, or with another provider depending on what suits you best.

If you aren’t sure when your insurance renewal is due, your existing policy documents will provide the correct date. Insurance providers often supply these via an online portal or paper format, depending on what you have requested, so you can check at your convenience.

Tread carefully when it comes to tyres

You should check your tyre pressures at least every two weeks – and if your vehicle has a spare, check that too! Under inflated tyres increase fuel consumption and reduce vehicle handling, and they also lead to increased tyre wear, which means your tyres may require replacing sooner than you expect.

The legal limit for minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the whole tyre, however it is recommended to keep your tyres at 3mm or above for optimum grip. Drivers who fail to comply with the regulations face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre. You should also look out for cuts or wear anywhere on the tyre and replace them if you can see tears or bulges.

If a vehicle stands for an extended period of time, flat spots may occur on your car’s tyres. These happen when a vehicle’s wheels have not rotated for a long period of time and the downward pressure from the body causes the tyres to become misshapen where they contact the road surface.

When a car has a flat spot on one of its tyres, this can lead to symptoms such as vibrations on the steering and inconsistent handling, because the wheel is unbalanced. If flat spots do occur on your tyres, they may rectify themselves as the vehicle is brought back into use; however this may take some time. If you are unsure whether the vibration you are encountering is a tyre flat spot or something more serious, contact your local garage.

Batteries and brakes – are they roadworthy?

When a vehicle is not used for a prolonged period of time there is a risk of the battery power draining to a point where there is insufficient charge to start your car. If you find your car has a flat battery you have a number of options:

  • Charge it using the correct type of external battery charger
  • Jump start the car using jumper leads connected to another vehicle or battery.

Before using either option it is always advisable to consult your vehicle handbook to ensure you connect any cables correctly, as so incorrect use could cause damage to your vehicle’s sensitive electrical systems.

If there are two cars in your household, you may want to consider alternating your essential trips in them. You should also be mindful that repeated short journeys will flatten your battery faster than usual, which is even more reason to follow the government’s guidance to shop for necessities as infrequently as possible. You should also avoid turning your engine on only to turn it off again shortly after.

Another issue that can occur when vehicles are left unused for long periods is brake seizure or sticking. This makes it difficult to get the vehicle rolling after not being used. If your brakes do stick or seize on this may not be as easy to resolve as a flat battery, so contact your local garage and arrange for a vehicle check prior to undertaking any travel after prolonged periods without use.

Working brakes should have a foot pedal that feels firm throughout its working travel, getting firmer the more you push down on the pedal. If you notice that the brakes feel spongy or slack, and perhaps the car appears to be taking longer to slow down or stop, you likely have air in the brake lines. If this is the case, take your vehicle to a garage to have it inspected!

Keep things fluid

You should check fluid levels to keep your engine well maintained and have your car ready to drive when you need it. Top up your:

  • Oil: Make sure your engine oil level is showing between the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick. If your vehicle doesn’t have a dipstick consult the handbook on how to check your engine oil level electronically. Details of the correct oil type and grade will also be noted in your handbook.
  • Coolant: The coolant level in your vehicle should be between the minimum and maximum marks on the water tank in the engine compartment. If you need to top up your coolant, you must do so as per the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Windscreen wash: A clear view of the road is vital. A dirty windscreen combined with low Spring sunshine can make visibility difficult. If your washers aren’t working correctly your view of the road ahead can be severely impaired, so top up your screen wash and check you wiper blades for dirt or trapped debris

Take a long, hard look

Prior to setting off on any journey, it’s always good to visually inspect your vehicle for any issues, such as dirty or broken lights or tyre inflation, and ensure your front and rear number plates are clearly visible.

Not sure how best to care for your car?

Our ‘What to do when…’ series can provide some further tips and insight across other areas of motoring and vehicle maintenance to help you ensure your motor is running at its best! You can check out our other posts in the series here.

If you’re looking for a professional local garage to help give your car some TLC you can find a local CTSI approved Trust My Garage member by visiting the Trust My Garage website’s ‘Find a Garage’ map! You can even read reviews from other motorists about the members in your area to help you decide which garage is right for you. Try it out here:

Want to know more about Trust My Garage?

Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s trusted local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.

Every garage in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association, which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who have to comply with a strict code of practice.

Every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle. If you want to find out more about Trust My Garage, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Don’t forget: If you can think of any more top lockdown maintenance tips, leave us a comment in the box below!

Make your motor happy this Valentine’s Day with Trust My Garage

The UK has a long-standing love affair with motoring, and has even created some of the most iconic car brands to grace our memory! With this in mind on Valentine’s Day, Trust My Garage has put together some advice on how you can show your vehicle you care – read on to discover more!

Check your lights and levels

Before setting off on any journey, show your motor some love by checking your lights and levels! By either checking yourself or asking a friend or family member to walk around the vehicle, you can test all your lights to ensure they are clear and functioning correctly.

You should also regularly check your oil, screen wash and engine coolant levels at regular intervals – at least once a month depending on the age of your vehicle. If you aren’t sure of how to inspect your vehicle properly, you can always ask a local, trusted garage to see if or what levels and lights need topping up or replacing.

If you notice a fault with your vehicle, such as a cracked windscreen, dim headlight, or poorly charged battery, it’s important to get it sorted before undertaking any driving. If you feel there is a fault but aren’t sure how to proceed, you can always take your vehicle to a local garage to have it looked at by a professional – you can even use Trust My Garage’s Find a Garage map to locate your nearest Trust My Garage member!

Check your brakes and tyres

Brakes

Brakes are an essential part of any car and therefore should be regularly checked and well maintained. So, how can you tell your brakes are in tip top condition?

It’s a case of making sure you have them checked regularly. An easy way to test your brakes is by driving at a slow speed in an area or road with no traffic, and gently applying pressure.

Listen out for warning signs, as brakes will let you know when there is a problem – whether this is through grinding or squeaking. Sometimes your car will act like it has a mind of its own and pull you to one side while driving, which could indicate a fault or imbalance with the braking system. Vibrations and temperamental pedals are also a sign you need to take give your car some attention – so look out for the signs and don’t ignore them.

As well as this, don’t disregard any warning lights that may appear on your dashboard! If you are unsure of their meaning either consult your Owner’s Manual or visit your local Trust My Garage member, who will be able to advise of any issues with your car.

Tyres

Checking your vehicle’s tyre pressure is easier than you might think! You can check and correct your tyre pressure at most UK petrol stations using a pay-per-use air and water station, or you can purchase your own tyre pressure gauge – the choice is yours.

If you aren’t sure what pressure is correct for your vehicle’s tyres you can refer to your Owner’s Manual. Details should be provided in either/both BAR and PSI, and you can adjust your pressures to the recommended figure. Often a vehicle’s tyre pressure information is also provided on the interior frame of the front passenger door, so be sure to check there if you need a quick reference point as well.

Don’t forget to check all your tyres’ tread depths too. The legal limit for minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters, however it is recommended to keep your tyres at 3mm or above for optimum grip. Drivers who fail to comply with the regulations face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.

The ‘20p test’ is a quick way to check the tread depth. Place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves at three points across the tyre and then repeat around its circumference. If the outer band is visible, the tyres may be unsafe or illegal and need to be checked by a professional garage or tyre specialist.

Give your motor a name!

According to research by the DVLA, over a quarter of motorists have given their vehicle an affectionate name – with women being twice as likely as men! 87% of respondents to the survey also said they had bought a personalised registration to match the name they give to their car too. Geographically, the largest proportion of those who said they named their car came from the East Midlands (28%), and the smallest from Northern Ireland (1%).

It may seem silly, but there are even trends of popular names; ‘Doris’, ‘Dave’, ‘Henry’, ‘Betsy’ and ‘Bumble’ were all top choices. DVLA Personalised Registrations sales manager Jody Davies said: “It’s no surprise to find that people want to say something about their car in this way – whether the name is something personal to them or a bit of fun that they want to share with others.”

More about Trust My Garage

If you’re in need of a local garage operating to the highest standards, Trust My Garage can help. With over 3090 members across the UK, you’re never far away from a TMG member. We’ve even created a handy search function so you can locate your nearest TMG-approved garage with ease!

Simply visit TrustMyGarage.co.uk and pop in your postcode, and our ‘Find a Garage’ map will show you all the TMG members in your area! You can even read reviews from other customers if you’re unsure which garage is right for your needs. Try it out here:

If you’re looking for more information about Trust My Garage, you can head over to our website, TrustMyGarage.co.uk. We’re also on social media, so check out our Facebook and Twitter profiles to get the latest motoring news and updates straight into your social feeds – and you can even check out our latest TV advert below!

Got a handy top tip help show your vehicle some love? Make sure to leave it in the comment section below!

Make unexpected car repair costs a thing of the past with Trust My Garage

With new research showing 34 percent of motorists have sacrificed travel plans to afford car repairs, planning ahead for potential vehicle issues and understanding the cost of maintenance and repairs is an important step for drivers to take.

Luckily, Trust My Garage can help you when it comes to understanding the process for vehicle servicing, maintenance and repairs – so read on to discover how you can make unexpected repair costs a thing of the past!

Find a local, reputable garage

If you’re in need of a local garage operating to the highest standards, Trust My Garage can help. With over 2,900 members across the UK, you’re never far away from a TMG member. We’ve even created a handy search function so you can locate your nearest TMG-approved garage with ease!

Simply visit TrustMyGarage.co.uk and pop in your postcode, and our ‘Find a Garage’ map will show you all the TMG members in your area! You can even read reviews from other customers if you’re unsure which garage is right for your needs. Try it out here:

This useful tool makes locating a TMG member a breeze – and you know you’re using a garage that operates to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved Consumer Code. You can also find out more about Trust My Garage by watching our TV advert!

Evaluate the costs of your vehicle’s requirements


In the same research, data showed that 27 per cent of drivers put off vehicle repairs due to cost worries – and one in four have actually scrapped or sold a car due to a repair they couldn’t afford! With any Trust My Garage member, you can ask for a cost estimate of any work undertaken and parts used on your vehicle. It’s even in our Customer Charter – which you can take a look at below!

More about Trust My Garage

If you’re looking for more information about Trust My Garage, you can head over to our website, TrustMyGarage.co.uk. We’re also on social media, so check out our Facebook and Twitter profiles and you can get the latest motoring news and updates straight into your social feeds!

Got a handy repair tip? Make sure to leave us a comment in the section below!

What to do when… You need to visit a Garage for vehicle maintenance

With 47% of UK drivers worried about the cost of unexpected vehicle repairs, you’re not alone if you aren’t sure what to do when you need to visit a garage! With drivers spending an average of £574 each per year on car repairs, it’s important to know the best way to go about getting your vehicle into the workshop, so find out below with Trust My Garage!

Assess the issue

If you have any vehicle knowledge it is worth taking the time to assess your suspected issue, as this can save time for the technician once your vehicle is in the workshop. If you aren’t sure of what or where the issue is, advise the garage of this so they can take the time to fully inspect your vehicle and, where possible, determine the nature of the problem.

Explaining any problems – such as a concerning noise of vibration when driving at speed/on start-up – to the garage, will give them vital information and help them find the root cause of the problem quicker.

Locate a garage that suits you

If you aren’t sure where to begin when looking for a garage, you can make it easy for yourself with Trust My Garage! By using our ‘Find a Garage’ map you can check out the garages in your area who work to a CTSI-approved Code of Conduct. You can even read reviews and request a quote for the work your vehicle needs! Try it out here:

All the garages in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association – which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. All Trust My Garage members also operate to the TMG ‘Code of Practice for Service and Repair.

IGA members are true professionals who must comply with a strict code of practice. Every customer of a Trust My Garage member can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for your money.

See what parts are needed

Should your vehicle need parts to complete the repair, these will be quoted for, along with the labour cost to fit them. If you’re looking to compare more than one garage’s prices you can ask for this information upfront before going ahead with any work to be completed.

With TMG members, you can ask for a fixed quote or estimate, inclusive of parts, labour and VAT prior to approving any work on your vehicle.

Understand your vehicle’s issues and repairs

If your vehicle has had to undertake any kind of repair work, the garage you use should be able to explain what has happened to the vehicle and how it can be/has been repaired. If you aren’t sure about any information, ask! Technicians understand that most motorists aren’t informed of the inner workings of a vehicle and should be able to explain – or even show you – where an issue has arisen or has been fixed.

It might seem silly to ask but if it helps you know what’s going on with your car, a professional should be happy to provide as much detail as they can. You can also ask to inspect any parts removed from your vehicle so you can see if there are any visible issues or differences compared to how the part should look and function.

Maintaining your vehicle

A great way to ensure your vehicle is performing at its best is by keeping up with it prescribed maintenance schedule. Remember; your yearly MOT is a check on the vehicle and not a service.

Trust My Garage members offer a range of services, which you can review on each garage’s profile page on the Trust My Garage website. You can also view photos of the garage, check opening times and see reviews from other customers.

More about Trust My Garage

Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s best local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of customer service and technical know-how. Visit TrustMyGarage.co.uk for more information – and be sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages too!

Road Safety Week 2019 – How you can stay safe on the UK’s roads

This week (18-24 November) is Brake’s Road Safety week – the UK’s biggest road safety event. This year, Brake want everyone to “Step up for Safe Streets” and learn about, shout about and celebrate the amazing design-led solutions that will allow us all to get around in safe and healthy ways, every day. Want to find out more? Read on!

What is Brake?

Brake are a road safety charity based in the UK, who’s ethos is improving road safety for everyone. They work with communities and organisations across the UK to stop the tragedy of road deaths and injuries, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and support people bereaved and seriously injured on roads.

Brake’s vision is a world where everyone moves without harm. They believe that mobility without danger is everyone’s human right wherever we are; in cities, towns, villages or moving between places.

What is Road Safety Week?

Road Safety Week has been running since 1997 and aims to raise awareness for all road users, including motorists, on how they can use the UK’s road network to travel safely without negatively impacting any other users.

Every year, Brake organise a week where they raise awareness about the impact of road safety and the issues carelessness on the roads can cause. Across the world:

  • Every 24 seconds someone is killed on a road
  • More than 1.3 million people die on the roads every year
  • Road crashes are the leading cause of death for young people aged 5–29

In Britain alone, someone is killed or seriously injured every 20 minutes. Motorists and other users can sign the Brake Pledge, designed to highlight how to protect themselves and the people around them on the roads. Although it’s only one week of the year, motorists should use the advice from the Pledge year-round!

How can you help?

You can sign the Brake Pledge and commit to being a safer driver! You can also donate to Brake to help them support people bereaved or seriously injured and deliver road safety activities to educate people and raise awareness about road safety in all generations.

Whilst Brake provides guidance and support for road users, an important part of avoiding accidents is ensuring your car is in good order and that’s where your local Trust My Garage member can help. Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s best local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.

If you take your vehicle for an MOT, service or repair at your local garage, how can you be sure of the quality of its work? At Trust My Garage, we believe that our members are the best independent garages in the UK, each one unique but all skilled professionals who are dedicated to providing top quality work. Find out more by watching our TV ad:

By using a TMG-approved member, you’re visiting a garage that adheres to a CTSI (Chartered Trading Standards Institute) approved Code of Conduct. Our code means that you and your vehicle get the best service possible, no matter which TMG member you visit – so excellent service is on your doorstep!

With over 2,900 members across the UK, you’re never far away from a TMG member. We’ve even created a handy search function so you can locate your nearest TMG-approved garage with ease!

Simply pop in your postcode and our ‘Find a Garage’ map will show you all the TMG members in your area – and you can even read reviews from other customers if you’re unsure which garage is right for your needs.

If you’re looking for more information about Trust My Garage, you can head over to our website, TrustMyGarage.co.uk. We’re also on social media, so check out our Facebook and Twitter profiles and you can get the latest motoring news and updates straight into your social feeds!

Got a top road safety tip? Like our TV advert? Make sure to leave us a comment in the section below!