Category Archives: Trust My Garage

Common sense has prevailed: The 3-1-1 MOT is to remain unchanged!

In January last year, the UK government announced it was creating a consultation which could possibly extend the time allowed before the first MOT of a vehicle’s life from three years to four then annually thereafter – known as the 4-1-1 system.

 

At the time, Trust My Garage wrote extensively on why the 4-1-1 system was dangerous in a blog post, viewable here.

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We are now happy to announce that as of January 18th 2018, the outcome of the consultation – based upon public and automotive industry opinion – was that the government has cancelled any plans to extend the time before a vehicle’s first MOT.

Upon the announcement of the consultation last year, Trust My Garage stated:

“If a vehicle has a defect by its third year of use, then extending the MOT for a further year will also have the effect of increasing the number of defects the vehicle carries, because defects associated with one component due to excessive wear could then snowball and cause defects with the related components in the vehicle. Not only is this dangerous for motorists, but it could also be costly as minor repairs that could be fixed in the third year could become major defects by the fourth.”

 

According to the consultation’s respondents, much of the public agreed. Most respondents were against the proposals on safety grounds, arguing that the savings to motorists were outweighed by the risk to road users and the test often highlights upcoming issues affecting the vehicle. A public survey for the Department for Transport by Populus also showed fewer than half of people were in favour of the change.

 

Jesse Norman, Roads Minister, said: “Although modern cars are better built and safer than when the MOT test was last changed 50 years ago, there has been a clear public concern that any further changes don’t put people’s lives at risk. We are looking at further research to ensure the MOT test evolves with the demands of modern motoring.”

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Under the current system, 27.48 million vehicles took the MOT test in 2015 and 4 out of 10 of them were found to be unroadworthy when examined. (DVSA, 2015) Along with this, more than 770,000 vehicles were discovered to have a dangerous defect in 2013/14, equating to nearly 2,200 every day. The problems ranged from brakes, steering, tyres, suspension, seatbelts, lights and signalling equipment. (DfT, ‘MOT Scheme Evidence base’, 2008)

 

To read the full results of the consultation click here.

To find out more about why changes to an MOT’s frequency would be a danger to both vehicles and road users, take a look at the ProMOTe website here.

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If your vehicle is due for an MOT or you feel it needs a bit of maintenance, why not visit the Trust My Garage website and find a trusted independent garage in your area? Click here to use our handy Find a Garage map to find your nearest member. If you aren’t when your vehicle’s MOT is due, The DVSA have created a new MOT Reminder Service. To arrange your e-mail reminder, click here.

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New Year, New Motoring Resolutions

2018 is upon us! The start of the new year means many people across the UK are kickstarting their January with a range of New Year’s resolutions – and motorists are no exception. This year, drivers are looking to reboot their motoring habits in a bid to revamp both their vehicles and their attitudes to driving.

 

A new survey has shown the variety of ways in which motorists want to put more effort into vehicle maintenance and their driving styles – but which of these resolutions will be yours?

 

Checking tyre pressures and oil levels regularly

In the poll, 24 per cent of drivers said they wanted to improve how frequently they check their tyre pressures and oil levels. Both of these areas are hugely important in your vehicle; as maintaining correct tyre pressure ensures good fuel efficiency, better road safety in poor weather conditions and more even wear across the tyre, reducing the likelihood of bald spots on the tyre. Correct tyre pressures should be listed in your vehicle’s owner’s manual and on the pillar when the driver’s door is open. To inflate your tyres to the correct pressure, many garages and petrol stations offer a tyre pressure inflator on site.

tyre checl

Having the correct levels of oil in your engine is also of vital importance for your vehicle. Any engine needs lubrication, and making sure your engine is well oiled will fight against two major engine damagers: friction and heat. Measuring your oil level on the dipstick when your vehicle is cool and on level ground will give you an accurate reading of the amount and an indication of the quality of the oil in your motor.

engine oil check

Learning to park properly

17 per cent of drivers also wanted to learn how to park properly. While many drivers are comfortable driving in to a parking space, some motorists – especially new and/or younger drivers – can feel daunted at the prospect of parallel parking. While practice is the best method for improvement, these tips from the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) can offer some help for understanding how to parallel park safely and effectively.

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Conquering motorways

The survey found that 16 per cent of drivers were nervous or unhappy about using the motorway in their vehicle. As part of the expansive road network spanning the UK, motorways provide a fast route to almost any destination up and down the country – but the speed and heavy flow of traffic can be an intimidating prospect for a motorist. The Highway Code provides explicit rules of conduct for using the motorway network, but drivers can also use a ‘Pass Plus’ training course with a registered instructor as a practical application to help get them motoring.

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Improving reversing ability

15 per cent of respondents also said they would like to improve their ability to reverse their vehicle. While reversing may seem like a common manoeuvre, some drivers can find it difficult. The Highway Code offers some helpful advice for reversing, along with its other general road use guidelines. Rule 202 states:

 

“Look carefully before you start reversing. You should

  • use all your mirrors
  • check the ‘blind spot’ behind you (the part of the road you cannot see easily in the mirrors)
  • check there are no pedestrians (particularly children), cyclists, other road users or obstructions in the road behind you.

Reverse slowly while

  • checking all around
  • looking mainly through the rear window
  • being aware that the front of your vehicle will swing out as you turn.

Get someone to guide you if you cannot see clearly.”

reverse lights

Not getting road rage

14 per cent of drivers in the poll admitted to succumbing to road rage when motoring, with a resolution not to give in to the red mist in 2018. While being a confident driver is a definite positive, motorists should not be over confident, as it can be a killer on the roads. The best method for combatting road rage is simply to let any issues go and not let them affect your journey, however we know how difficult that can be! Rule 147 of The Highway Code states:

“Do not allow yourself to become agitated or involved if someone is behaving badly on the road. This will only make the situation worse. Pull over, calm down and, when you feel relaxed, continue your journey.”

So, sit back, relax, and carry on driving in a calm manner for your own safety and that of other road users.

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Switching off phones at the wheel

A shocking 13 per cent of drivers admitted to their resolution being to switch off their mobile phone when behind the wheel. The law states that:

“You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.”

If you’re caught using a mobile in any other motoring circumstance you’ll receive 6 penalty points on your driving licence and a £200 fine.

 

The simplest solution is to turn off your phone or have it in a locked compartment of your car, and if you feel you need to check your phone pull over at a safe point and switch off your car’s engine. If you need to contact someone and you know they are driving, wait until you know they have arrived at their destination to avoid being a distraction to them.

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Keeping your vehicle in top condition

Maintaining your vehicle should be at the top of your New Year’s Resolutions list, so that you can keep motoring happy throughout 2018. With Trust My Garage, you know you can rely on using a nationally recognised brand, with a truly professional service for both you and your vehicle. 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. IGA members are true professionals who have to comply with a strict code of practice.

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For more information about Trust My Garage you can visit www.trustmygarage.co.uk and to find your nearest Trust My Garage member you can use our handy Find a Garage map.

Got any New Year’s resolutions of your own? Let us know in the comments!

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What to do when… Driving in Winter

Winter is here! With a chill in the air and crunch of frost underfoot, there can be no doubting the harshest season of the year is upon us. When it comes to driving, Winter weather can lead to accidents and issues on the road, so here at Trust My Garage we’ve put together some advice for helping you to stay safe during the cold season.

 

Plan your travel

Before setting off, be sure to check ahead that your route is clear of accidents and other issues that can cause delays, and that the roads haven’t been shut due to poor conditions.

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Check your tyres

If you have the opportunity and need, winter tyres could be a viable option for your vehicle. If you use your normal tyres, ensure they are inflated to the recommended pressure and have a minimum tread depth of 3mm across the width and circumference of the tyre in order to cope with the slippery and wet conditions.

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Check for faults

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 winter 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 the TMG Find a Garage map to locate your nearest Trust My Garage member.

 

Check the dashboard

If your car is displaying a warning light on the dashboard it’s important to get it checked – the systems are there to keep you safe! If your vehicle isn’t performing at its best it could lead to breakdowns or accidents, so be sure to keep it in the best possible condition. If you aren’t sure what the lights on your dashboard mean you can take a look at our Getting to know your vehicle’s dashboard blog post to give you a breakdown of what you need to know.

 

Dress appropriately

Even though most of us have the luxury of heating in our vehicles, if we break down or have an accident we can often be at the mercy of the Winter chill. By dressing warmly and layering up you can keep warm – and you could even save money on your fuel consumption!

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Keep supplies in your car

In the case of a real emergency it’s important to keep supplies in your vehicle. Items such as a torch, blanket, biscuits, water, a hot drink, a hat, scarf and gloves, and a mobile phone charger or battery pack are always helpful to keep you safe and warm. You should also keep something to put under your tyres if you get stuck, and a shovel to clear any snow.

 

Control your speed

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) recommends:

“When driving in snow, get your speed right – not too fast so that you risk losing control, but not so slow that you risk losing momentum when you need it – and brake, steer and accelerate as smoothly as possible. Start gently in second gear, avoiding high revs. Stay in a higher gear for better control. Only use the brake if you cannot steer out of trouble.”

 

Your stopping distances also increase tenfold on ice, so be sure to leave ample room between any surrounding vehicles to stay safe on the road.

 

Read road signs

While you may use familiar roads while driving, any changes to the surface or temporary problems should be highlighted by road signs – so keep an eye out for any updates. Signs will also post any road closures or other issues, so be sure to look around for any information possible.

snow hazard sign

If you’re driving on unfamiliar roads then it’s even more important to check road signs – nobody wants to get lost in the snow and ice! By employing careful, steady driving, you can give yourself enough time to read and process any information you need to know.

 

Know when not to drive

If conditions are too dangerous, the safest option is simply to not drive. Although it will delay you, it’s the safest option – and no drive is worth injury, no matter how small. It’s important to keep an eye on weather forecasts, so you don’t plan a journey when the weather is going to be particularly bad. Driving safe means that you can drive happy.

 

If you’re looking to embark on some winter travels, you can take your vehicle to your local Trust My Garage member. Whether it’s for a check-up, service or repair, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved code of conduct that our members use mean that you and you motor both get the best possible service – no matter the weather!tmg_ctsi_long

Motoring scams – how can you stay safe?

When it comes to motoring, we at Trust My Garage want to make sure drivers stay as safe as possible on the roads. That’s why we’ve created our ever-growing network of trusted independent garages, to keep your vehicle running in optimum condition and keep you as happy as possible.

 

However, there are others who wish to ruin your motoring experience by submitting drivers to a variety of scams, which can damage both your vehicle and your bank account – and we don’t think that’s fair to you. In order to help you stay aware of potential dangers, we’ve put together information about some recent scams that have affected unfortunate motorists.

 

The speeding fine email

As recently as October 2017, scam emails have been circulated to motorists advising them of ‘Notice of Intended Prosecution’ or ‘NIP’ for a speeding offence. These emails have been supposedly sent from the Government or police and can even claim to have ‘photographic evidence’ of the offence, however they are completely false.

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The only way legitimate notices of intended prosecution are sent is via Royal Mail to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) registered address, so anyone who receives this email is advised to report it to Action Fraud, the national Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, and delete it without clicking any links or attachments.

 

The whiplash accident

According to ABI figures, the national cost of whiplash claims makes up 20 per cent of the average insurance premium, while insurer Aviva claims that a staggering 94 per cent of all its compensation claims for motor accidents relate to minor whiplash. (source)

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Minor whiplash is very hard to prove or disprove, but if you suspect someone is fraudulently claiming whiplash against you after a small collision, seek the advice of a solicitor to see if you can fight it.

There have been recent attempts to clamp down on false whiplash claims, however the difficulty in verifying the claims have led to new legislation, known as the ‘2015 dishonestly laws’, being put into place in order to correctly punish fraudulent claimants.

 

The ‘cash for crash’ scheme

‘Cash for crash’ is the nickname given to schemes where a scammer intentionally crashes into another driver in order to make a fraudulent claim on their insurance. Often tied in with whiplash claims, ‘crash for cash’ costs the UK £340m every year, with profits frequently funding other criminal activities such as firearms and drug dealing. The BBC states:

“Crash for cash scammers choose their victims carefully – they keep an eye out for drivers who look like they would be fully insured but be less likely to cause a fuss. Mothers with children on board and the elderly are favoured victims. If you’ve been a victim, the circumstances are likely to be as follows:

The accident

A car in front of you slams on the brakes for no obvious reason, and you have no time to react and collide with the car in front. Another scenario (known as ‘flash for cash’) happens when a driver flashes their lights at a junction to let you out, then crashes into you deliberately.

The blame

The other driver will insist the accident is your fault. The scammer will then hand over their insurance details – sometimes already prepared and written down.

 The claim

A few weeks after the accident your insurers will write to you with details of the other driver’s claim which will be exaggerated with costs like car hire, recovery and whiplash injuries.” (source)

cash crash

So how can you avoid this scam? It helps to pay attention to the driver and passengers of other cars around you – people frequently looking backwards or driving erratically can be a giveaway of a ‘cash for crash’ scheme in process. Try and keep a safe braking distance away from other vehicles and be sure to watch for cars turning and manoeuvring around you. Fraudsters may even try and disable their brake lights to try and cause an accident, so make sure to pay attention to your surroundings.

 

The online car-buying con

Not content with damaging your existing car, there has even been a scam designed to trap motorists purchasing cars online, via sites such as eBay. Cons like these use cloned cars – which is like automobile identity theft – to sell illegal vehicles under legal details, leaving buyers out of pocket with an illegal vehicle. The stolen vehicle is given the identity of a similar legitimate car, including licence plates, chassis numbers and accompanying documentation. Prospective buyers can run a background check on the car and the details will appear to be correct.

One victim lost £17,000 after paying in cash for a Mercedes later discovered to be cloned and was left with no way to regain their lost money due to no proof of transaction.

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How can you avoid this scam? The best method is to purchase via authorised sellers, like garages and dealerships, but viewing a car in person is always beneficial and ensuring you pay for your purchase via a traceable, secure method means there is evidence of your purchase and the recipient of your money should anything go awry.

 

What should you do if you think you’ve been a scam victim?

The first steps in reporting a scam, especially one where you have lost money, should be to report it to Action Fraud. If you wish to get in contact with your local authorities for a crime number, you can also call or visit your local police station. For further information and for other types of scam advice, Citizens Advice can provide more information, viewable here.

Action Fraud

Telephone: 0300 123 2040

Textphone: 0300 123 2050

Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm

Website: www.actionfraud.police.uk

 

About Trust My Garage

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

 

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. 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. If there’s a problem that can’t be sorted out between you and your garage, the IGA takes over and helps to achieve a happy outcome.

 

For more information about Trust My Garage or to locate your nearest TMG member visit www.trustmygarage.co.uk.tmg_ctsi_long

The clocks are falling back – so make sure your car can spring forward with Trust My Garage

The time of year is once again upon us where dark nights are drawing in and you’re considering putting the heating on to keep your toes warm. The change in seasons can also herald a change in driving habits for many motorists, and at Trust My Garage we want to keep you and your vehicle running smoothly 365 days of the year.

The clocks go back in the early hours of October 29th, meaning it’s going to be dark even earlier – but never fear! To help you ensure you stay at your best we’ve complied some handy tips for both driving and keeping your car running at its best.

Look after your car battery

The average car battery can last up to 5 years (source), but there are many reasons that require it to be changed sooner than this.

Heading into colder weather can cause strain on your battery, as can short repetitive journeys – these use up your battery’s power without giving it enough time to recharge fully. Taking your car out for a longer drive at the weekend can be a key factor in combating battery drain – as can recharging your battery at home or at a local garage.

Check your tyres

Your tyres are the key element in keeping your vehicle rolling, so make sure they’re up to scratch, especially in the slippery weather that comes with Autumn and Winter. The minimum legal tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm in a continuous band around the central three quarters of the tyre, with no tears, bulges or bald spots on any part of the tyre (source). However, most motoring organisations recommend changing at 2mm and the majority of tyre manufacturers recommend changing at 3mm (source).

You should also try to ensure your tyres are inflated correctly to the specifications of your car. Details of the correct pressure can be found in the owner’s manual and/or inside the door frame on the driver or front passenger side doors, and you can check your tyre pressure at most local petrol stations and garages.

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Check your engine coolant levels

With cold weather comes the possibility of ice, so it’s important to ensure the fluids in your car don’t freeze. By keeping your engine coolant levels topped up you’ll stay safer in poor conditions, and keep your car’s internal systems running healthily.

If you aren’t sure what type of coolant your car needs, a local garage or aftermarket sales shop will be able to check what kind you require and point you in the right direction. If you’re stuck for where under the bonnet to check your engine coolant, it has a specific cap under the bonnet, circled below:

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As long as your coolant is between the ‘MAX’ and ‘LOW’ level markers on the side of the reservoir it should stop any freezing happening.

Take a look at this video below for a guide on how to check your engine coolant:

REMEMBER: Don’t check your coolant levels when the engine is hot as it affects the pressure in the engine and can cause damage to your vehicle. 

Here comes the sun

The sun is still a factor, even with poorer weather. Low winter sun can affect your vision when driving by causing blindness, so be sure to wear sunglasses or put down your sun visor to protect both your eyes and your driving.

As well as problems from the direct sun, drivers can also suffer when sunlight reflects off the road surface and causes glare, which can have the same adverse effects as the low sun itself. Again, wearing sunglasses or using the sun visor combats this issue, but if you still find your vision impaired it may be best to drive slowly or pull over until later on when the sun has moved.

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Slow down for nature!

Around 74,000 deer are hit by cars every year (source). The risk of hitting one is highest in spring when young deer are starting to venture out , but the autumn is also a time to be wary as stags are often out rutting.

Due to the prevalence of deer across the British countryside it can become difficult in rural areas to avoid deer at this time of year, so if you’re going to an area with a known deer population plan a little extra time for your journey and drive carefully – in some areas it can be an offence to hit a deer!

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Watch out for leaves

Fallen leaves aren’t just a problem on your lawn: hitting a patch of wet leaves on the road can be almost as bad as hitting black ice, so take care on country lanes and keep your speed down when you are forced to drive through them.

If your journey is achievable using main roads, try and stick to them as much as possible as they are more likely to be cleared due to high volumes of traffic and keeping motorists safe.

If you live on a street with many trees, you might want to try doing your bit and tidying up you driveway to stop leaves being blown into the road and causing a potential problem for drivers.

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Remember, if you want to take your car for a check-up to get ready for autumn and winter driving, you can use Trust My Garage’s handy Find a Garage map to locate a reputable, Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved independent garage in your area to get the best possible service for both you and your vehicle.

Trust My Garage truly is the independent scheme for independent garages in the UK. They have no hidden agenda or commercial influences, which means they really do exist to ensure that independent garage standards are continuing to improve.

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Number plate spotting – Can you guess the country of origin?

Over the last few years, traffic on the UK’s roads has been increasing. Drivers of commercial vehicles have become a ubiquitous sight, from delivery vans laden with parcels to heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). These vehicles haul goods and services across the nation, delivering to millions of companies and households every day. Trade across Europe has also developed, creating an influx of foreign goods vehicles on UK roads – but which countries are they coming from?

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Lorries and other goods vehicles are more prevalent than ever on UK roads

 

To help you identify goods vehicles in the future, Trust My Garage has designed a test for all the savvy spotters out there, helping you expand your geographical knowledge by number plate – and even impress a passenger or two in the future! Take our quiz below and let us know how you fare in the comments.

 

The rules are simple – we show you a number plate, with its country identifier, and you guess where that vehicle originated. Simple! So, let’s get started…

 

  1. We’ll start you off with an easy one – where does the ‘F’ on this number plate relate to?

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  1. Ok, this one is a bit tougher – what country is ‘LT’?

Lithuania plate

  1. Try this – where is ‘GBZ’?

Gibraltar-plate

  1. Here’s another to test your knowledge – what country does ‘SK’ refer to?

Slovakia plate

  1. Getting harder – where does ‘LV’ refer to?

Latvia plate

  1. Is your brain working yet? Try this one – where is ‘CZ’?

Czech plate

  1. Time to test you – what country is ‘E’?

Spain plate

  1. Try this one – where is ‘CY’?

Cyprus Plate

  1. How about this – which country does ‘DK’ refer to?

Denmark plate

  1. Ok, last one – what country is ‘HR’?

Croatia plate

You’re all done, so it’s time to look below for the answers!

 

Answers:

  1. France
  2. Lithuania
  3. Gibraltar
  4. Slovakia
  5. Latvia
  6. Czech Republic
  7. Spain
  8. Cyprus
  9. Denmark
  10. Croatia

So, how well did you do? Was it better or worse than you thought? Either way, let us know! Spotting number plates is always a fun way to pass time when travelling, and now you can show off your impressive skills to friends and family alike.

 

Don’t forget, if you’re planning a road trip this summer, you can visit your local Trust My Garage member to ensure your car is running at its best. You can find your nearest member garage by using our handy Find a Garage map and see what services they have on offer, and any reviews left by other customers too! All Trust My Garage members adhere to our Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved code of conduct, so you and your vehicle get the best possible service.

 

As well as this fun quiz, if you’re looking for some other tips, check out our post on what to do when driving in summer, or if you’re feeling continental you can take a look at some of the best driving roads in Europe – and remember, happy motoring!

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Consumer-bought parts – Are they beneficial for motorists?

In recent years there has been more evidence of consumers bringing parts they’ve purchased themselves to a garage, and asking the garage to fit them. This shake-up of garage traditions may seem like a good idea, but is it actually helpful for motorists?

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Are consumer-bought parts actually beneficial for motorists?

What are consumer-bought parts?

A consumer-bought part is any part purchased directly from a supplier by a consumer instead of by a garage. In the case of most repairs, if a replacement part is needed for a vehicle the garage  will order and fit it as part of their service. However, it is now much easier for a customer to make a diagnosis of the issue with their vehicle, purchase a part, and then take it to a garage and ask them to fit it for only the cost of labour time.

 

Why have consumer-bought parts become popular recently?

Over the past few years the massive rise in online shopping has meant that more and more ‘direct supply’ companies have been set up for vehicle parts. These kinds of companies mean that a consumer can buy a part directly for their vehicle, instead of going through a garage and potentially paying a small charge for acquiring the part. This method essentially ‘cuts out the middle man’. 

model car jacked up

Garages will provide reliable, high-quality parts for any vehicle repairs

Is it a good idea?

Buying parts yourself might seem like a good idea on paper. However, if there is an issue with the part in the future what consumer rights do you have? Unlike parts bought and fitted directly by a garage, there may be warranty issues about the part installation, leaving you with a once again broken vehicle and no way to claim your money back. It also could be the case that the part is of inferior quality if not purchased from a proper supplier, which could in turn do even more damage to your car. In the worst cases, it may even be a counterfeit part. Garages will use suppliers they trust to provide them with quality parts in order to ensure the best possible work for their customers – that is, after all, how they get business!

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If you want to ensure your car is fitted with the correct part let the garage source the part and complete the repair

Do garages mind fitting consumer-bought parts?

It may be that if you take a part to a garage and ask them to fit it, they say no. While this might seem as if they’re turning away business for no reason it can often be down to the issues stated above. If a garage fits a part you’ve purchased at your request, and then the part breaks, where does the blame lie? The legal position is very clear, the garage is responsible for the work they do but any issues with the part will be your problem. However modern cars are complex and disputes regularly arise. Many consumers fault the garage’s fitting, but it could be the case of the part just not being up to the job. Remember, the main priority for a technician is to ensure your vehicle is safe and fit to drive – so if the part seems questionable, it’s acceptable for them to decline to fit the part.

 

Overall, we at Trust My Garage think that while consumer-bought parts may seem like a good idea it’s always best to let a garage do its job and make sure your vehicle is safe and working correctly. After all, would you take a steak into a restaurant and expect them to cook it for you?  If you need to get your car repaired, MOT’ed, serviced or even just checked over, you can you use our handy Find a Garage map to locate a reputable, Chartered Trading Standards (CTSI) approved independent garage near you – and remember, happy motoring!

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The best driving roads in Europe

The best driving roads in Europe

Looking for the perfect stretch of road to cruise along this summer? Well prepare to get some serious travel fever with some Trust My Garage favourites, as well as getting prepared with our best foreign driving tips! Don’t forget – if you’re looking for some general summer driving tips you can always check out our What to do when… driving in Summer blog post.

The Stelvio Pass, Italy

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The Stelvio Pass is Italy’s hidden secret in the Alps. Topping out at 2757 metres high, this twisting, hairpin bend-filled route is located just before the Swiss border in the province of Sondrio.

Open to both motorists and cyclists, the pass provides unmatchable views of the surrounding mountainous landscape. The road offers a total of 48 switchback turns along its North face, offering a real challenge for the adventurous driver. The best approach to tackle the pass is from the North West side, allowing you to drive up through the turns and rewarding you with lush Alpine scenery. After heading through the pass’ tight turns, you can also either continue on to the town of Bormio or head North to the Umbrail Pass, which leads back into the Swiss National Park. This tends to be far less busy than the now ultra-popular Stelvio, but we guess that’s what you get when you visit Top Gear’s World’s Best Driving Road (2008)!

 

The Military Road, Isle of Wight

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If you’re looking for a drive somewhere closer to home, the Isle of Wight has some stunning coastal views on offer. As you drive down the A3055, known locally as The Military Road, you curve above Blackgang Chine, and then are suddenly faced with a panorama of the south-west coast of the Island, curving stretching ahead and below you.

As the road is in a protected National Trust area, there are few buildings – but you can still make out the turrets of the famous novelist J.B. Priestley’s former home, if you keep your eyes peeled. The stretch of road is roughly 12 miles long, and is perfect for a cruise in summer when the roadside wildflowers are in bloom.

 

The Cat and Fiddle, Derbyshire

cat and fiddle road

Named after the pub located at the peak of this road, this is a 12 mile journey between Buxton and Macclesfield, using the A54-A537. With Derbyshire often described as the ‘gateway to the Peak District’, this route has been coveted by car and motorbike enthusiasts alike for its challenging corners and enjoyable scenic views. To ensure motorists are kept safe the route is entirely covered with average speed cameras of 50mph, but even at that speed some of the hairpin corners will provide a thrill – mediated with a refreshing lime and soda at the finish!

 

A44, West Wales

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This stretch of A road travels between Aberystwyth and Llangurig, providing 25 miles of untamed Welsh landscape for drivers. Setting out as a simple drive away from the Welsh coast at Aberystwyth, the road rises and transforms into scenery more at home in an Alpine setting than a sleepy corner of Wales. As you travel on to Llangurig the road offers sweeping curves and chicanes, giving motorists a chance to really enjoy the drive as well ads the stunning scenery.

 

The Cheddar Gorge, Cheddar (Somerset)

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Starting on the B3135 east of Cheddar, 14 glorious miles of Somerset countryside lie between you and your destination at Ashwick. As you head East, you visit Priddy, then Plummers Loan, then continue on along the A37 towards your final destination.

The route can be taken in 3 sections. The first area demands full concentration from the driver, working through the twisting corners of the gorge itself.

The second, about four miles in, opens up the road greatly. Hairpins give way to sweeping curves, and the sharp face of the gorge is replaced by trees.

 

The final section provides a few miles of long straights and gentle gradient changes making for a quick conclusion to this short route.

 

The road can become busy as it is a tourist travel route for anyone visiting the Cheddar Gorge caves, but it’s still an excellent drive providing unparalleled close-up views of some unique landscapes.

 

The Romantic Road, Germany

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Heading back out to Europe, one of the most scenic routes in the Germany is the ‘Romantic Road’ (Romantischen Straße). Running roughly 190 miles from the River Main to the Alps, the road was designed in the 1950’s to provide a sense of being transported back in time to Medieval Europe. With tiny historic villages and grand fairytale castles placed between long stretches of river, forests, meadows and agricultural lands, the Romantic Road offers tourism of a different kind for the keen motorist.

Due to the length of the trip, stopping off in one of the 16 towns along route for a bite to eat and a rest is advised, with many spots offering an authentic German dining experience. We definitely suggest bringing a camera for this one too, as the stunning variety of locations along the road will definitely be a sight to share with friends back home.

 

Trollstigen, Norway

Trollstigen

We’re rounding off our top roads with a good’un. Starting in the town of Andalsnes in Rauma and finishing at the village of Valldal in the Norddal Municipality,  Trollstigen, or Troll’s Ladder/ Troll’s Path in English, is a four mile drive of epic proportions. Taking Country Road 63, drivers’ eyes are spoiled for choice with breathtaking views. Some of the best are actually located in the visitor centre car park, which at 2,300ft high offers a soaring panorama of the route below.

Along the whole route are specifically-designed viewing platform, allowing motorists to stop and enjoy some stunning photo opportunities. One such view is the 1,050ft-high Stigfossen waterfall, which drivers can also traverse via stone bridge. You may not believe it, but within the route lie small houses dotted about the landscape – imagine those views on your daily drive!

Foreign driving tips

Here are some of our best tips for staying on top of your game when it comes to driving in Europe:

Drive on the correct side of the road

In Europe, motorists use the right-hand side of the road. It may seem silly, it’s worth checking before you arrive into a country and cause an accident! There are usually signs upon arrival at the borders letting you know which side of the road to use, but if you’re unsure, ask a member of border staff and of course do some research before you set off.

 

Take regular rest stops

Even though you’re in a car driving for long periods can be exhausting, especially due to concentrating on unfamiliar roads. The Highway Code recommends taking a break (of at least 15 minutes) every two hours – you don’t want to cause an accident due to lack of concentration. If that means a nap at a service station, a nap it is!

 

Stay hydrated

Make sure to bring plenty of water with you for your trip to stay hydrated and help you concentrate when driving on new roads. If you don’t want to buy bottled water, fill up an old bottle or two before you set off. If there’s a group in the vehicle ensure there’s enough to go around, or stop regularly for drinks breaks – you could even combine this with your rest stop.

 

Check what you’re required to have in your car

Did you know that in Spain it’s mandatory for glasses-wearing drivers to carry a spare pair of specs in their vehicle at all times? There are certain rules and regulations for what you need in your car for many countries – do your research and find out what you must and mustn’t carry in your vehicle before setting off.

 

Bring some entertainment

This one’s important – especially if you’ve got kids in the car. Bored children can lead to irritable bickering and loss of concentration, and nobody wants that! Even if you aren’t travelling with a car full of family,  a game of I Spy or some music on the radio keeps you awake and helps you stay focused on your driving – and it can be the difference between a happy or a tantrum-filled journey!

 

If you’re looking to set off on one of these adventures, or even stay somewhere a little closer to home, ensuring your vehicle is in tip-top condition should be a priority. If you want to make sure your motor is running at its best, why not take it to your local Trust My Garage member? If you’re in need of an MOT, service, repair or tune up, our CTSI approved code of conduct means that you and your vehicle both get the service you deserve – ready for the drive of a lifetime!

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New drivers – How to avoid easy motoring mistakes

It’s a great feeling when you pass your driving test. Ahead lies opportunity – and plenty of open road. But, as they say, you never really start to learn until after you pass, so until you’ve settled in to your newfound freedom here are some top tips to help you make the best of your new start to the world of motoring.

 

1. Research your car

While it may seem like a good idea to get the coolest, fastest car possible, the reality is that many new drivers suffer in a car that overpowers their abilities. If you start with something small, you can then build up your power as you build up your skill and experience. We know it might be a bit boring, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Once you’re sure you’ve got the right car for you, make sure you keep it in good running condition, with tax and insurance. If you have a second-hand vehicle, find out when it last had an MOT and service and make a note of the dates – that way, you’ll know exactly when it’s due again, and when to call your local Trust My Garage member for Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) consumer code approved service. You’ll also want some breakdown cover – but depending on which insurance provider you use, you may be able to get this as part of your cover.

new car

Try and find a car that suits you and makes you feel comfortable

 

2. Don’t be too confident

Once you’ve passed your test you no longer have an instructor, friend, or family member watching over you as you drive.Naturally, most people will test their confidence while driving as it helps build skill and experience, but try not to push yourself too hard!

A prime example of this is motorway driving. As a learner you aren’t allowed to drive on the motorway, so unless you enroll in additional, post-test motorway lessons, your first time on these fast paced roads is as a fully-fledged driver. It’s a good idea to have a more experienced driver in the car with you for your first few attempts – even if you’re only driving from one junction to another, any practice is good practice ready for longer journeys in the future.

 

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Busy roads can be dangerous if you aren’t careful

 

3. Remember your theoretical knowledge

The driving theory test is there for a reason. It can be difficult once you’ve passed your test to remember all of the information at the drop of a hat, but it’s always good to keep the most important rules clear in your head. If you aren’t sure about a certain piece of information, you can always refer to The Highway Code for more details and a clear explanation.

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It doesn’t hurt to keep studying!

 

4. Stick to speed limits

You’re finally allowed to let your hair down and drive freely – and that’s great! But remember, speed limits have been designed to keep drivers and other road users safe, so stick to them. With the new changes to speeding penalties, which you can read more about here, a new driver could have their licence revoked and a big fine after being caught over the speed limit just once.

To help combat this if you’re travelling in an unfamiliar area, keep your eyes peeled for any speed limit signs, and if possible do some research beforehand so you know what kind of speed limits to expect.

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Speed limits are there for a reason – if you’re going too fast, slow down!

 

5. Have a good time!

Driving is a great experience, so take it easy, follow our top tips and have lots of fun exploring the world in your car!

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Have a great time driving!

 

Remember, if you want to keep your car in tip-top condition you can take it to your nearest Trust My Garage member using our handy Find a Garage map. Our Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved consumer code means that you can put your trust in our members to do a great job, and ensure you have the best experience on the roads – Just keep an eye out for the Trust My Garage shield!

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Diesel Scrappage: What is it all about?

In recent weeks there has been much talk about diesel emissions and how they are affecting pollution levels around the globe. Diesel engine vehicles are one of the main causes of concern for pollution levels, especially on the back of the Dieselgate scandal, where Volkswagen pleaded guilty in the US to allegations they hid true vehicle emission levels during emissions testing.

Despite the new technology being used in electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as average petrol cars, hundreds of thousands of daily use vehicles are powered by diesel engines, as they are seen to be the most fuel efficient. So, in the face of a potential oncoming vendetta against diesel as a fuel, what can UK motorists do?

diesel ex

Diesel emissions are a real problem when it comes to pollution

 

Government Plans

The British government are currently drafting plans to try and reduce the amount of emissions in cities around the UK. Their ‘Clean Air Plan’ aims to tackle dirty and polluted air, reducing overall pollution. Clean air zones could be set up in dozens of cities and towns, according to the document.

Unsurprisingly, London has the highest levels of air pollution in the UK. According to a 2014 Public Health England report, poor air quality in inner London alone is responsible for 7.2 per cent of deaths in the capital, while previous studies have linked air pollution to 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK. (Auto Express)

The plans to try and reduce emissions have become necessary as the UK has struggled to keep within EU limits on some pollutants, particularly nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is produced by diesel engines and is linked to a range of respiratory diseases, including asthma. Some 37 of the 43 regions of the UK are in breach of NO2 limits. (BBC)

 

How would the ‘Clean Air Plan’ affect motorists?

The series of documents on a clean air strategy cover a wide variety of options, the most radical measure being considered is what’s termed a “targeted” car scrappage scheme. In its technical documents supporting the plan, modellers estimate that such a scheme could take 15,000 diesel and older petrol cars off the road.

“Under this scheme, 15,000 Euro 1-5 diesel cars/Euro 1-3 petrol cars are replaced with electric cars. The grant level that has been assumed for this option is £8,000,” the documentation states. (BBC)

The suggestion is that a scheme could be brought in within two years.

In a statement, The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said: “Local authorities are already responsible for improving air quality in their area, but will now be expected to develop new and creative solutions to reduce emissions as quickly as possible, while avoiding undue impact on the motorist.” (Auto Express)

diesel fuel pump

The Clean Air Plan suggests a grant of up to £8,000 for diesel scrappage

 

The UK Government previously introduced a £300million vehicle scrappage scheme in 2009 that applied to all old vehicles. In return for scrapping their old car or van, owners were given £1,000 from the Government towards a new vehicle. However, it seems the incentive to choose a more eco-friendly car will require a larger grant to get motorists to give up their long-serving diesel vehicles.

While there are benefits to embracing a diesel scrappage scheme, it has been reported that motorists could also face a ‘triple whammy’ when it comes to costs, in order to ensure the grants provided to those taking part in the scheme are cost effective. Parking charges, pollution charges, and a new tax increase are all potential dangers for a driver’s wallet.

 

Is my car eligible for the diesel scrappage scheme?

It’s expected that the scrappage scheme will target the oldest diesel vehicles on the road, which also tend to be the dirtiest. Any diesel car or van that’s more than 10 years old is likely to be eligible for the scheme, while more modern diesels will be exempt.

Initially, it’s believed that the scheme will only apply to the 10 most polluted cities in the UK, with London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool all on the list. However, it’s possible that if the initial trial is a success then the scheme could be rolled out nationwide. (Car Keys)

diesel fuel cap

Diesel has fallen out of favour as other, less polluting, fuels have been utilised

 

At present, the Clean Air Plan has only been through a first draft, and will likely take some time to be completed. If you’d like to read more about the plan and the results of the consultation that inspired it, you can take a look at the .Gov website here.

If you’re looking to check your car or motorcycle’s emissions, book it in for an MOT, service, or just a bit of a tune-up, you can find your nearest CTSI Consumer Code approved Trust My Garage member using our handy ‘Find a Garage’ map. Once your car is ready to hit the road you can also check out our top tips for driving in summer here, too!