Category Archives: vehicle repairs and servicing

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!

Beat the rush for MOTs this autumn with Trust My Garage

Is your motor due for an MOT in the coming months? Find out how you can beat the rush with Trust My Garage!

In March, the DVSA granted six-month MOT exemptions to vehicles due a test after 30th March 2020 and before 31st July as part of the UK government’s measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Those exemptions will begin to expire in September. Due to this, the DVSA are predicting October and November will be extremely busy for garages, as well as the usual December demand over the festive period.

Why should I book an MOT now?

Of the 9 million tests the DVSA moved, nearly 3 million vehicles have since had an MOT and passed. However, they want to help increase that number and ease the burden on the industry as demand increases in the autumn.

Autumn tends to be the busiest time of year for MOT tests under normal circumstances, but this year DVSA are expecting demand to double in September, October and November. If your MOT is due this autumn, consider getting it done as soon as possible to avoid the rush and ensure your vehicle is safe and roadworthy.

Using any vehicle with defects present on the highway, regardless of its MOT status, is an offence. You can be fined up to £2,500 – and be banned from driving and get up to 3 penalty points per defect for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

It’s worth remembering that just because your vehicle has an MOT it doesn’t mean it’s safe or roadworthy. Always carry out regular vehicle checks – you can find out which in our “What to do when… your vehicle needs some TLC” blog post. If you want more complex items, such as suspension components, to be checked you can contact your local trusted garage and request some help.

How do I check a vehicle’s MOT expiry date?

To check the MOT status and MOT expiry date for your vehicle, you can use the DVSA’s MOT History service. If your vehicle was subject to an MOT extension throughout the UK lockdown, its MOT expiry date will automatically have been moved by six months.

You can also use this webpage to check if there are any outstanding recalls on your vehicle. This service allows motorists to check for defects or problems reported by the vehicle manufacturer which can impede vehicle safety or performance. If a recall is noted within the service, it is best to contact your manufacturer’s nearest garage to arrange an inspection or repair.

How can I book an MOT?

To book an MOT, you must first locate an MOT station in your area and contact them to discuss their availability. An MOT test takes around 45 minutes, plus additional time if there are any advisories, minor or major defects which require further attention.

Some motorists opt to book an MOT along with a vehicle service within the same appointment, as this saves them a return trip to the garage at a different date. Be careful though, as not all garages are MOT stations, and not all MOT stations offer vehicle servicing!

To find a garage in your area, you can use the Trust My Garage “Find a Garage” search and locate your nearest TMG members! Each garage in our network adheres to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved Code of Conduct to ensure the highest levels of service and professionalism.  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:

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 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!

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!

Plan for your motor’s future with the Car Repair Plan

Most people are likely to have some sort of savings in case of an emergency to help them out with unplanned costs and problems – but have you thought about doing the same for your car?

As a driver, you need to be able to budget for the costs of regular maintenance and perhaps even a little extra for those unexpected costs.

The Car Repair Plan is the answer. It allows you to shield yourself from unexpected repair costs by providing a free, easy and flexible way to budget for car servicing and repairs. You can even set up a family fund, so more than one person can put in money, and you can use it on more than one vehicle. With the Car Repair Plan, a little bit of saving goes a long way!

You can use your Car Repair Plan fund at any participating Trust My Garage member – identifiable by the Trusty logo on our “Find a Garage” map.  Once signed up, you can transfer a little (or a lot!) every month into your account balance, so it’s ready to use when you need it. You can alter the payment or take a break at any time, or when you feel you have built up enough of a fund – it’s entirely flexible!

You can choose to use all or some of your account balance when settling your garage bill. The process is simple and straightforward, and there are no extra costs or hidden charges, making everything as simple as possible for you as a customer. Lean more with our Car Repair Plan Doodle ad:

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!

Help your motor beat the frost this winter with Trust My Garage

With frost now starting to creep across the UK, drivers should be taking steps to ensure their vehicles are safe, roadworthy and winter ready. Trust My Garage has some top tips for looking after your motor in the winter weather – read on to find out what you can do to keep rolling through the chilly season!

Do I need Antifreeze?

In short; yes! Antifreeze is clever stuff that stops the water in your engine’s cooling system from freezing! It also does several other important jobs, making it a vital car fluid to keep your engine running smoothly.

As well as preventing water from freezing, antifreeze raises the boiling point of engine coolant to prevent overheating. The stuff also protects your engine from internal corrosion, aids heat transfer, and prevents scale from building up internally.

How do you use it?

There’s the concentrated form, or the ready mixed with water kind. The latter version is commonly referred to as engine coolant and can normally be used straightaway for top-ups and replacements. The concentrated form needs to be diluted with water, usually at a level of around 50% antifreeze and 50% water. Always check the pack’s instructions for the right ratio to use, as well your vehicle’s Owner’s Manual to make sure you use the correct variety for your car, as recommended by the manufacturer.

Braking

Brakes are an essential part of any car and therefore should be regularly checked and well maintained. This is especially important during winter months, but how can you tell your brakes are in tip top condition?

It’s a case of making sure you have them checked regularly, as the winter months can be very wet and sometimes puddles can be difficult to avoid. When driving through a puddle, make sure you test your brakes afterwards by driving at a slow speed 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.

Don’t ignore 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.

Heading on a trip? Plan your route

The further the distance you’re travelling, the more chance there is for issues such as traffic to occur. We’re getting close to Christmas, which is a peak time for driving as many people visit their families over the festive period, so try and ensure you give yourself adequate travelling time.

Here are some of the routes identified by motoring organisations as traffic hotspots over Christmas:

  • The M1, A1 and A1(M) northbound
  • The M4 westbound to Wales and around Heathrow
  • The M3, A303 and M5 heading to the West Country
  • The M23 to Gatwick and the M11 to Stansted
  • The M62 over the Pennines is often affected by snow, as is the A1079 between Hull and York

It’s also worth noting that many main roads and motorways will be gritted in the case of snow and ice, but this won’t necessarily happen in areas that don’t see as much traffic. It’s worth taking some extra time by using main roads to get to your destination instead of taking shortcuts that often require drivers to travel on country lanes, as these may be more dangerous in poor weather.

With the onset of dark evenings after the clock’s go back an hour it’s important to make sure all your lights are working properly. With poorer weather conditions it’s also wise to make sure your motor’s wiper blades are in good condition and your screen wash level is topped up with a good quality fluid – this will help prevent your washers from freezing in the lower temperatures.

Check your tyres

To learn all you need to know about ensuring your vehicle’s tyre are ready for the road, regardless of the time of year, read our “What to do when… you need to check your vehicle’s tyres” post. In winter, it can also be advisable to equip winter tyres to your vehicle – but how are they beneficial to you?

Winter tyres are designed to offer optimum traction and grip in cold conditions. They have a softer compound, along with deeper grooves and narrow cuts – called sipes – built into the tread. These features help disperse water and snow, and allow the rubber to move around, which improves contact with the road. You can identify a winter tyre by the snowflake symbol on the sidewall. Tyres without the snowflake symbol but marked ‘M+S’ (Mud and Snow) are not necessarily proper winter tyres.

Winter tyres work best at temperatures below 7°C. Indeed, they outperform conventional ‘summer’ tyres for traction, cornering grip and braking in such conditions – regardless of whether there is snow or ice.

Winter tyres aren’t mandatory in the UK. Only a small percentage of drivers choose to fit them, many of whom live in more remote areas – such as the Scottish Highlands – however, it’s a different story in much of mainland Europe. If you travel abroad with your car over the winter season, check the requirements and laws for each country you visit to avoid a fine.

The price of winter tyres varies widely, dependent on your car and wheel size. On average, they are slightly more expensive than an equivalent summer tyre in the UK.

However, while the cost of four winter tyres is significant, remember that your summer tyres will last longer as a result. Thus, while you may have a fairly high initial outlay, the longer-term cost of winter tyres is relatively low.

Lights

Before setting off on a journey, turn on your vehicle’s lights and either walk around the vehicle to conduct a check or ask a passenger to check all your lights are working correctly – be sure to press the brake too and check that all three lights are working.

If any lights are dim or aren’t working, including fog lights and number plate lights, you should get them replaced as soon as possible.

Breakdown Essentials

If you do suffer the unfortunate experience of a breakdown it’s important to keep some essentials in the car – a fully charged mobile phone, a torch, warm clothes, comfortable and waterproof shoes, hot drinks and snacks (Telegraph). That way, when you’re waiting for some roadside assistance or a recovery vehicle you can stay warm, full and safe while trying to stave off the boredom.

If you’re on the motorway in the event of your vehicle developing a problem, the Highway Code says to leave at the next exit or pull into a service area. If you can’t do so, you should pull onto the hard shoulder and stop as far to the left as possible, with your vehicle’s wheels turned to the left.

Once you have safely pulled over, switched off the engine and removed the key from the vehicle, exit it as soon as possible. You should leave the vehicle by the passenger side doors if at all possible, so that you’re not at risk of oncoming traffic. Make sure all passengers do the same, and that they keep far away from the carriageway – be sure to stay behind the roadside barriers where possible.

Put the hazard lights on, and, if it’s dark, put your side lights on too. If it’s foggy, put the fog lights on if you can do so with the vehicle switched off. Generally, if you can’t see for more than 100 metres, the visibility is poor and that’s when your fog lights should be used.

Emergency snow kit

  • Warning triangle – let other drivers know your situation to avoid stress and confusion
  • Cat litter or sand – to put under the wheel to help traction in slippery conditions
  • Snow shovel or spade
  • Ice scraper
  • Warm clothes and footwear
  • Snacks and water
  • Torch
  • Mobile phone
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Jump leads
  • High visibility jacket
  • First aid kit
  • Heat pad – If you are stranded in the snow and the exhaust pipe is covered, it can be dangerous to run the engine. These help you stay warm.

TMG member garages are located all over the UK, so no matter where you are, we’re here to help you. If you want to see where your nearest garage is, pop in your post code and take a look!

Remember, you’re never far from a Trust My Garage member who can help you out with any problems that you might experience on the road. All of our members are Trading Standards approved and are here to get you back on track quickly and safely.

What is 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.

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

Don’t get spooked about vehicle maintenance this Halloween with Trust My Garage

October 31st is coming and it’s the spookiest day of the year – Halloween! Not only is it time for ghouls and ghosts to make an appearance, it’s also time to prepare your vehicle for the upcoming cold winter months. Want to know how? Find out with the Trust My Garage blog by reading on – and for a little bit of fun, don’t forget to count up our spooky puns throughout this post and leave us a comment with how many you can find!

Beware the witchy weather

The onset of autumn and winter means poorer road conditions for motorists – summer showers have given way to winter whirlwinds! Low winter sun can dazzle unprepared drivers, and heavy rain and fog can create slippery roads and reduced visibility.

In wet conditions allow additional travel time and drive at a speed appropriate to the conditions, be aware that braking distances can double on wet roads and increase tenfold on ice!

Avoid a fright at night

It’s important for drivers to take it steady when driving in the dark, especially if you’re driving in an unfamiliar area.

Broken or faulty lights can result in a £50 fine, three penalty points and even a Roadside Prohibition Notice – which means you must fix the fault before a re-inspection – so be sure to take the time to walk around your vehicle and check all your lights are functional before setting off on any trips.

If you’re new to driving it may be worth practicing your evening driving in a familiar area before heading off on longer trips – getting hours of practice under your belt may help with your confidence and help you get used to driving in poor lighting!

Don’t let your wheels be tyre-rifying

With poorer driving conditions on their way it’s important to ensure your tyres are up to the challenge – so be sure to check your tyre pressures and tread depth regularly. The legal minimum for tread depth is 1.6mm, but tyre grip can deteriorate rapidly if the depth is under 3mm.

You can use the edge of a 20p coin to check how deep your tread is – if the outer band of the coin is visible, then your tyres may be illegal and unsafe and should be checked immediately by a qualified tyre professional. Illegal tyres can earn you three penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500 per tyre!

For the correct tyre pressures for your vehicle consult your Owner’s Manual or look for a tyre information sticker which could be located on one of the door pillars or inside the fuel flap. One of these should contain the information you need for your tyres to be inflated to the correct PSI/BAR. Air and water machines are commonplace at petrol stations across the UK – or you can ask your local Trust My Garage member to check your pressure is correct, if you’re unsure of how to do this yourself.

Keep your bat-tery flying

On  average, car batteries last up to 5 years (source), but there are many reasons that a battery could require replacing  sooner than this.

Heading into colder weather can cause strain on your battery, as can short repetitive journeys – with lots of stopping and starting of the engine which can drain a battery’s power without giving it enough time to recharge fully. Also; the use of a heated rear window, lights and wipers all add to the load placed on a battery. 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. If you are concerned about the condition of your battery your friendly TMG member could always check it out for you!

Take a trip to the fuel pump-kin

Running out of fuel is one of the most common causes of breakdown on the UK’s motorway network, so check you’ve got enough fuel for your trip and take note of any available fuel stations en-route to fill up as necessary. It’s also wise to allow sufficient fuel to be able to accommodate any delays that may occur on route.

If you aren’t sure of places to fill up on y our trips, you can use an internet search engine to locate nearby fuel stations or ask a local in the area where the nearest fuel station is. Some modern sat navs also highlight close by fuel stations but you may need to turn this function on in your model’s settings where possible!

Avoid an MOT horror with Trust My Garage

If your car is due its MOT or a service, make sure to take it in to a garage to keep it roadworthy. If you’re looking for a reputable, local, independent garage you can rely on, 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.

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.

Trust My Garage truly is the independent scheme for independent garages in the UK. They have each signed up to treat customers and their vehicle with respect, which means they really do exist to ensure that independent garage standards are continuing to improve.

If you’re looking for more information or would like to contact Trust My Garage, please visit TrustMyGarage.co.uk or Contact Us here.

Motoring forwards – Find out what drives your vehicle with Trust My Garage

There are many elements to driving a car, but one of the most important is how it’s propelled forwards! Find out all you need to know about which type of “wheel drive” could work best for you with the Trust My Garage blog – read on to discover more.

Front-Wheel Drive

Front-wheel drive is the most common layout for the engine and transmission set-up in the new car market and has been so for the last few decades. It works by the engine only sending power to the front two wheels of the vehicle (hence the name), effectively pulling the car along from the front.

Front-wheel drive is so popular in the car market because it is less complex and more affordable to engineer, compared to rear or four-wheel drive, and it also is better for fuel economy!

However, front-wheel drive does have certain limitations which make it less than ideal for high performance cars. Although many hot hatches do use it, front-wheel drive can’t offer the same kind of rapid acceleration you see from rear or four-wheel drive cars.

By Moebiusuibeom-en – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9684337

Rear-Wheel Drive

While most front-wheel drive cars also sport their engines in the front of the vehicle, with rear-wheel drive vehicles the engine can be located in different places (such as in the middle or rear of the vehicle). Rear-wheel drive works in the opposite manner to front-wheel drive, with the engine sending power to the rear two wheels of the vehicle and using it to push the vehicle forwards from the back.

Rear-wheel drive offers better acceleration than front-wheel drive. Unlike front-wheel drive, it is possible to achieve optimal 50/50 front/rear weight distribution with a rear-wheel drive car, which offers better balance and handling in a vehicle.

By Moebiusuibeom-en – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9684227

However, rear-wheel drive often compromises cabin practicality because the powertrain requires a driveshaft. This creates a bump in the passenger cabin, losing space for anyone sat in the vehicle. Rear-wheel drive is also less efficient than front-wheel drive and can be difficult for drivers to handle if there’s no traction control or road conditions are slippery due to the weather.

Both front- and rear-wheel drive can also be referred to as “Two-wheel drive”, as they only use two of the vehicle’s wheels to propel it forwards.

All-Wheel Drive

All-wheel drive offers a setup in which the engine’s power gets sent to a vehicle’s four wheels for maximum traction. All-wheel drive is all about varying the amount of power sent to each wheel, either mechanically or electronically.

All-wheel drive can either be offered as a part- or full-time system, depending on the model of vehicle and driver preferences. Some models now feature a system that allows the driver to disconnect the rear wheels when driving at speed, reducing drag and improving fuel economy. More expensive systems may also have a feature that engages and disengages all-wheel drive automatically based on the road conditions, detected by sensors around the vehicle and calculated by an onboard computer.

4-Wheel Drive

Sometimes referred to as 4×4, four-wheel drive powertrains are largely associated with SUV models, but can also be found on numerous family and executive cars, especially among vehicles with higher specs.

This system’s main distinction is that it’s typically used on vehicles designed and built to handle the unpaved wilderness.

Unlike all-wheel drive, it sends power to all four wheels equally and without variation, meaning each wheel will spin at the same constant rate as all the others. The equal split of power is great for manoeuvring through tough, low-traction situations, but it isn’t very friendly on the pavement.

By Moebiusuibeom-en – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9684357

Driving a four-wheel drive car on solid ground can make simple actions like turning around in a tight street very difficult, because the wheels are no longer in sync. Most modern four-wheel drive vehicles are equipped with a part-time system, meaning they operate in two-wheel drive mode in normal driving conditions. This way, the driver can engage the four-wheel drive system manually from the cabin only where necessary.

Keeping your vehicle in wheely good condition

Regardless of how your motor is propelled forwards, it’s important to keep it in a safe and legal driving condition. For a professional garage experience, you can find a local CTSI approved Trust My Garage member by visiting the Trust My Garage website’s ‘Find a Garage’ map!

Apart from finding a garage nearby, you can also 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:

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, so they can help you motor on happily and safely.

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 – and you can find out more by visiting us at TrustMyGarage.co.uk or checking out our Facebook and Twitter pages!

What to do when… your vehicle needs some TLC

With the average UK motorist making 986 trips and covering 6536 miles per year in their car (source), it’s possible that some drivers can leave their motor in need of a little tender loving care when it comes to basic maintenance issues – but how can you make sure you give your vehicle the care it needs? Find out with the Trust My Garage blog!

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.

Engine oil

Use your dipstick (if your vehicle has one) to check oil levels every couple of weeks, when the car is warm and on level ground. Stop the engine and wait a few minutes for the oil to settle, remove the dipstick and wipe it clean.

Push the dipstick all the way in, wait a second, and then withdraw it and check the level. The oil should be between the MIN and MAX marks. If the oil is dark or dirty or underneath the minimum line (or both!) It should be topped up/changed as soon as possible.

Many modern vehicles use an electronic system to check their oil level, so if your vehicle uses this you should familiarise yourself with the system.

Screenwash

It is illegal under the Road Vehicles Regulations 1986 to not have screenwash in your vehicle. Keep it regularly topped up with a screenwash additive – one that prevents it from freezing and clears oily grime from your windscreen for clear vision.

Don’t forget to keep the inside clean too, to avoid your vision being reduced due to glare – especially when the sun gets lower in the sky during daily commutes to and from work.

Water

Every week, while your engine is cold, check your coolant level is between the MIN and MAX marks – if it’s below the minimum line, top it up as required, and check it again after your next journey.

If your coolant level regularly requires topping up you may have a leak in the vehicle’s cooling system, so get it checked out by your local garage!

Windscreen

Keep an eye out for stone damage and, if you spot any chips, get them repaired as soon as possible – as they can grow and crack if left alone. If the damage can’t be repaired, or it’s in a place where it could distract you, your windscreen may need to be replaced.

Many motor insurance policies provide discounted or free chip repairs, and detail how to proceed with your repair.

Bodywork

It’s important to give your car panels an occasional check for any damage, or signs of rust. If you notice any rusty or damaged areas, you can contact a local bodyshop to see how best to proceed with any repairs.

Lights

Take a walk around your vehicle or ask a friend to help check all your lights – including indicators, reversing lights, brake lights and fog lights – once a week. Look out for blown bulbs and cracks or dirt on the lenses.

Your vehicle can receive a Minor Defect notification on its MOT if your indicators do not “flash amber” in compliance with the requirements, so if you have any issues with fading indicator lights you should replace them or have a local garage inspect them – you may only need a new bulb!

If a bulb has broken and you don’t want to replace it yourself you can also take your vehicle to a local garage, who can fix the issue and help you avoid a penalty.

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 what we do?

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.

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