Category Archives: Young Drivers

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.

 

motorway japan

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.

stop sign

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!

girl car roof

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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Carry on caravanning with Trust My Garage

The popularity of staycations shows no signs of diminishing, as latest research from Mintel suggests that 2016 will be a record year for people choosing to holiday in the UK rather than abroad. The figures are expected to be the highest for a decade. Of all the staycation options available, the popularity of the caravan continues to grow. According to the UK motor home trade body the NCC, more than £1.8 billion is currently being spent annually on caravan holidays in the UK; equating to around 2 million holiday makers.

It is not much of a surprise that caravanning continues to be so popular. With the prospect of owning a holiday home out of reach for many of us, the option of a caravan is a great alternative, giving the freedom to set off on the road at a moment’s notice.

If you’re new to the caravan owner’s club, you’re probably excitedly planning your first trip for this summer, but before you do, let Trust My Garage guide you through the necessary requirements before setting off.

Caravan lifestyle road and landscape in vintage old style.

Trust My Garage can help you prepare for a caravan holiday

Licence requirements

First things first, when did you pass your driving test? Knowing if your driver’s licence enables you to tow a caravan can often be a source of confusion. However it is thankfully relatively simple. If you passed your driving test before the 1st January 1997, the conditions of your licence mean you are automatically entitled to tow a trailer and this is indicated by a B+E on your driving license. In practice, the conditions allow you to drive a vehicle and trailer with a total combined weight of 8.25 tonnes. The rules for pre-1997 drivers means there are few restrictions for drivers in terms of car and trailer or caravan combination, although you should always be careful to ensure that the car and caravan are correctly matched and that the caravan is not too heavy for the towing car.

Drivers who passed their test after the 1st January 1997 are subject to a few more restrictions. You can tow a vehicle and trailer combination weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, provided that the unladen weight of the towing vehicle is greater than the maximum permissible weight of the trailer.

Keeping in trim

To keep your vehicle safe, it’s recommended that the total weight of your caravan is no more than 85% of the kerb weight of your car, this is the weight minus any passengers or goods. Information can be found in the manufacturer’s handbook. Packing for your journey is an important consideration, not just what you bring along but how you pack it. Heavier items should be placed above the axis, to keep it stable, and ensuring a smoother journey.

Noseweight

The next item on your checklist is to check your caravan’s nose weight. The nose weight is the weight or force which is exerted on the car’s tow ball when your caravan is attached.

This is an important check, as it can have a significant impact on the stability of your caravan. Too light and this could cause the rear of the towcar to lift. Conversely, if it’s too heavy, this will have an adverse impact on steering, increasing your risk of having an accident.

As a simple guide in measuring this, your caravan’s nose weight should be approximately 7% of its laden weight. To measure the nose weight is straightforward if using a nose weight gauge. Simply make sure the caravan is on an even, level surface and any heavy items are in the middle of the caravan above the axis, ensuring heavy items are loaded low down in the unit.

Speed limits

If towing a caravan in the UK, the maximum speed limit is 50mph on a single carriageway and 60mph on a dual carriageways or motorways. If the combination weight of your car and caravan exceeds 7500kg, then a restriction of 50mph also applies on dual carriageways. If you need any further clarification regarding speed limits, always check the Highway Code.

Extra practice

If you’re new to the world of caravanning, maneuvering a caravan can take time to get used to. As a good way of developing your skills and confidence, it may be a good idea to enrol on a towing course. Courses can be arranged through organisations such as the Caravan Club.  And the good news is there is no formal exam at the end. Full details regarding the range of courses available can be found on the Caravan club website. (www.caravanclub.co.uk)

Trust My Garage

Whether you’re a first time caravanner or have years of experience behind you, Trust My Garage can provide expert help and advice to ensure you and your vehicle remains safe on the road this summer. If you need any help and advice regarding your caravan, your local Trust My Garage member will be more than happy to advise. Find your local trusted garage by entering your postcode into our search finder to locate your nearest member.

Or, by downloading the free Trust My Garage App, you can find services in your local area at the click of a button. Trust My Garage is the only government backed code solely for independent garages.

It’s all white for UK car sales, but what does your car say about you?

The new car market in the UK is growing, with an 8.4% increase in purchases of new models during February, the biggest increase for more than a decade. In fact, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has revealed that once again the colour white has retained its position as the most popular car colour in the UK for the third year running, a rise of 2.2% from the previous year.

So why has white become the colour of choice for British motorists? Could it be that despite a rise in car sales, as a result of the recession, the public still remains economically cautious, with white cars tending to hold their value for longer than other colours? Is this trend a reflection of the public’s financial prudence?

To discover what your car colour may say about you, Trust My Garage has teamed up with colour psychologist Lucy Curtis to look at the top ten car colours in the UK and what this could reveal about the type of driver you might be.

Top 10 car colours in the UK

Car on white

White is the most popular colour car, but what does this say about UK drivers?

White – The number of white cars on Britain’s roads have surged over the last decade, with white cars accounting for almost a quarter of cars on Britain’s roads. If you choose to purchase a white car you are most likely to be someone who is extremely focused, not wishing to be distracted by external factors and with a penchant for order and cleanliness, your car will be sparkling inside and out.

Black – if you’re an owner of a black car, you’re not likely to be someone who fades into the background. You probably carry an air of mystery and sophistication and perhaps give off the impression of being slightly ‘untouchable’.  Not keen on being a laid back driver, you won’t be reckless, but you’re someone who wants to get noticed. You’ll want to make sure your vehicle is well looked after with regular servicing from your local Trust My Garage member.

Grey – Perhaps surprisingly, grey takes the bronze position for colour popularity. In stark opposition to drivers of black cars, if you have a grey car you probably want to remain in the background, not wanting to be noticed by others. You’re unlikely to break the speed limit or creep through amber lights when you should be remaining still.

Blue – Once frequently the most popular car colour in Britain, blue has now slipped to fourth position. As an owner of a blue car it is all about the mind and intellect. Inquisitive by nature, you’ll be keen to learn about the inner workings of your car, meaning you’re not intimidated when it comes to understanding why there is a strange noise coming from your bonnet. Confident of your own abilities you’re not afraid to push your car to its limits, but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid regular servicing. On the contrary, you’re likely to be fascinated by your local Trust My Garage technician and will do all you can to learn from them.

Red – It is unsurprising that red is a popular choice when it comes to racing cars, with their highly energised and fast past nature, owners of red cars are likely to want to be noticed. This could lead to an increase in taking risks. Red car drivers are unafraid to queue jump, and typically, accelerator pedals may need a bit more attention than others as your forceful nature may lead to you being heavy footed on the pedals.

Silver – If you’re behind the wheel of a silver car, you likely to be a calm individual, not easily fazed by those around you. Keen to be seen as forward thinking and innovative, whether it’s the latest satnav or tyre pressure monitor, you’ll have all the latest gadgets and gizmos to keep you safe on the road. You’re certainly not someone who is likely to neglect regular car servicing.

Green – As a driver of a green car, it’s all about balance. You’re generally an even paced driver, on the whole, and you’ll be reluctant to take risks, but on occasion you may find yourself going against the norm.

Brown – A practical and down to earth driver, you’ll be reluctant to take risks. Any passenger jumping into your car can rest assured they’re in the hands of a safe and trustworthy driver. Your practical nature means you’re likely to ensure your car is well maintained, with regular car checks and servicing.

Orange – A vibrant outgoing personality is what you can expect of drivers of orange cars. If this is you, you’re likely to be a fun and sociable driver, who loves listening to music as you travel. For you, driving is an experience, not just a case of getting from A to B.

Purple – If purple is your colour of choice, you’ll be reluctant to fit in with the crowd. You’re an individual who likes to do things on their own terms, a trait which translates into your driving style. You have an inner confidence which means you won’t worry about fitting in.

Whatever your style, TMG are here to help

Whatever your driving traits or colour preference, regular car servicing is the key to keeping you and others safe on the road. If you need any help and advice regarding car maintenance, your local Trust My Garage member will be happy to advise. If you need to find your local trusted garage for a service, it’s now easier than ever. Enter your postcode into our search finder to locate your nearest member.

Alternatively you can now download the free Trust My Garage App, allowing you to find services in your local area. Trust My Garage is the only government backed code solely for independent garages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driving in the changes for learner drivers in 2016

The UK driving test looks set to witness the biggest changes in almost 20 years as the government plans to update the test in mid-2016 to reflect changes that have taken place in regards to both driving habits and driving technology. The plans are being introduced to help increase pass rates, which currently stand at just under 50 percent. Future driving tests will include more real life situations and conditions, it is hoped this will not only increase success rates but also prepare drivers more comprehensively for the reality of independent driving, creating more confident, proficient drivers. Trust My Garage takes a look at some of the changes learner drivers will be expected to face before they can rip up those L plates for good.

The use of satnav

One of the biggest changes to the driving test will be the inclusion of the satnav, now a commonplace navigation tool for drivers. Drivers will soon be expected to use a satnav for the first part of their test and be required to navigate their way to a specified location.

Woman Having Driving Lesson With Instructor

Driving lessons are set to change

Removal of the three point turn

The three point turn, more properly called the ‘turn in the road’, and a staple of the UK driving test, could be about to disappear. According to the DVSA, it is no longer a common procedure, and will be replaced with more challenging, everyday skills instead. In addition to the removal of the three point turn, reversing around corners could also be a thing of the past under new plans.

Additional moves

With the removal of two manoeuvres comes the inclusion of two additional moves, including the requirement to drive forwards into a car parking space and stopping, and then reversing back out to the left or right when leaving a car park. This will replace the traditional reverse bay park and is being introduced due to the increase of trolley lanes in supermarket car parks, for drivers to take their shopping to their vehicle to store in the boot. It is thought that reversing into bays makes it difficult to open the boot when a driver reverse parks in the bay opposite. Another new manoeuvre is pulling up on the right side of the road in a convenient place, and then reversing back two car lengths, and then driving on when you are ready.

Driving safely

Those who have already passed their test will be familiar with the current use of show and tell questions before the test begins, however under plans to make this more realistic, drivers will be required to answer questions on the move, including describing how they would perform basic maintenance checks, with the aim to create the feel of real life situations drivers will have to face.

happy elderly drivingRaising the age limit

Currently once a driver reaches the age of 70 they are asked to re-apply every 3 years to renew their licence. Plans are now underway to increase this to 75. Reaching 75 does not mean you should stop driving, it simply means you will have to decide if you are fit to drive by renewing your licence and every three years after that.

Tips for older drivers

Being an older driver certainly doesn’t make you an unsafe driver, in fact with the experience and knowledge that comes with many years of driving, older drivers are well equipped to face the challenges of the road. However with ageing, inevitably there does come a time when our reactions may become slower and health conditions may have an impact on our ability to drive as we once did. Monitoring your health and being realistic about how this may impact on your driving, making changes when needed, will ensure you keep yourself and others safe on the roads.

Health checks should include regular hearing and sight tests. Be aware of possible side effects of any medications you may be taking and the impact this could have on your driving abilities, if you are unsure, always seek the advice of your doctor.

If you believe your reactions are slower than they previously were, plan your routes in advance, you may also decide to avoid driving at night or during times of high congestion, such as rush hour. You may also need to change your vehicle as you get older, and opt for a car with larger mirrors and windows to improve visibility. Knowing your limitations and making changes as a result is the sign of responsible driving and will ensure you remain a safe driver.

Tips for newly qualified drivers

Research from RoSPA has reported that drivers are more likely to have an accident during the first two years after qualifying than at any other time. Passing your test is just the start of your journey, a journey which will see you build up confidence, knowledge and experience. Passing your test is an exciting time but it doesn’t mean you now know all there is to know about driving; there will still be plenty of scenarios and situations you’ll have to face for the first time. Once you’ve passed your test taking an additional qualification such as Pass Plus, while not compulsory, is a great way to build on your newly acquired skills and knowledge in a safe and controlled way. There are a total of six modules covering topics including driving at night and on the motorway.

Driving requires a huge amount of concentration, regardless of experience. As a new driver, maintaining concentration and focus is a skill that needs honing, so reducing distractions is a must. Avoid carrying other passengers if you can, as you build up your confidence, as they can be the biggest source of distraction. Leave your car stereo and mobile phone switched off, eliminating the risk of interruption from a call or your favourite song.

Whether you’re an experienced driver or newly qualified, Trust My Garage can provide expert help and support to ensure your vehicle is in its best possible condition.

 

Keeping you on the move this Easter

With only days to go until the Easter holidays, many of you will be already thinking ahead, planning a short getaway to make the most of the long weekend. Latest statistics from Visit England have revealed that short trips are the fastest growing area of domestic holidays, with nearly 30 million one to three day breaks taken during 2013; a 17 percent increase from 2008, meaning more and more of us are choosing a staycation.

This is great news, but with the number of cars on Britain’s roads increasing over this period and with forecasters predicting that the uncertain British weather looks set to surpass itself with the risk of flash flooding and even snow showers well into April, there promises to be a number of challenges for motorists to face. With this in mind what do you need to consider to ensure you keep on the move?

Breaking down

Whether it’s your own car which breaks down or you’re stranded on a motorway as a result of an incident, the motorway can be an overwhelming prospect. Just recently, drivers on the M6 were stranded for more than 24 hours after a crash whilst maintenance workers repaired sections of the road.

If you find yourself stuck on the motorway it can be tempting to keep your engine running, especially during cold weather as a means to heat your car. However, by doing this you run the risk of running out of fuel. If you find yourself stuck on the motorway with no end in sight, turn off your engine, turning it back on for ten minutes every hour, to keep your car warm. Before going on a long journey make sure you’ve packed blankets and extra clothes as well as water and food supplies, keeping you warm and hydrated in the event that you get stuck on a motorway.

TMG Tired Driver bridge

If your car shows signs of breaking down, such as making spluttering noises or the engine failing, the first thing to remember is not to panic. If possible, carry on until you come to the next exit and find a safe place to park. If this isn’t possible, move onto the hard shoulder, making sure your hazard lights are on. Once you’ve parked safely, get yourself and other passengers out of the car by the left hand doors; don’t be tempted to stay in your car as there is still a danger that your car could still be hit by passing traffic. Remove emergency items from your car and make your way to the safety barrier. Don’t be tempted to carry out repairs on a motorway, regardless of how simple or straight forward you believe them to be. Wait in a safe place and call your breakdown company. Alternatively, if you have downloaded the Trust My Garage app on your smartphone, you may be able to find a local trusted garage nearby which offers a recovery service.

It is not only the motorway than can present problems if your car breaks down, side roads and isolated areas, can also be frightening places to suffer a break down. If it does happen, if safe to do so, place a warning triangle at least 45 metres away from your car, letting any other drivers that may be passing of your presence. Get back in your car, ensuring your doors and your windows are locked and your hazard lights are on. Keep your phone well charged and call for help remaining in your car until help arrives.

Stranded

The risk of flash floods as seen across the country in recent weeks is likely to pose a threat well into April according to forecasters. In the West Midlands alone, a number of weather warnings recently resulted in drivers being stranded in flood hit roads. If you are faced with floods and heavy rain and are considering driving you should first check the depth of the water. In most vehicles you should never attempt to drive through water that is up to the centre of your wheels.

When driving through water, keep your speed to a minimum to avoid creating a large bow wave. If you find yourself stranded in flood water and your engine cuts out, don’t try to restart the engine as this could result in further damage. If possible make it safely to dry land, get out of your car and ensure all the windows and doors are locked to reduce the risk of further damage and wait for the emergency services.

Preparing ahead

There are currently an estimated 7,000 breakdowns happening every day on Britain’s roads, and many of these could be avoided as the biggest cause of car breakdowns in the UK, according to breakdown providers, is car maintenance issues. This is easy to prevent if drivers are prepared for their journey. Punctured tyres, running out of fuel and a flat battery top the list as the most common causes of vehicle breakdowns. Keeping your vehicle well looked after, not only with regular checks yourself but with regular servicing at your local Trust My Garage workshop, will keep your vehicle in good condition, reducing the risk of your vehicle breaking down.

How TMG can help

Trust My Garage has a free app which not only allows drivers to locate their nearest Trust My Garage member, but during a breakdown or an emergency, drivers can instantly find out which garage provides a recovery service, meaning you’re only a click away from getting help.

To find your local trusted garage just put your postcode in our garage finder and we will show you where your nearest Trust My Garage members can be found. And you can even submit feedback on the service you receive via the Trust My Garage website! To find details about your nearest Trust My Garage Member and the services they provide, or for more information regarding the Trust My Garage App, visit us here.

How do I ensure responsible driving on busy roads?

Latest figures from the Department for Transport has revealed that there are now more than 25.8 million cars on Britain’s roads, up from 25.2 million at the same time last year, meaning that five out of nine regions in England now have the equivalent of one car for every two people.  With car production at a high and the use of public transport declining by more than 60 percent in the last six years, the number of cars on our roads is likely to continue to grow.

With this in mind, how can you ensure you keep safe on the road? We’ve compiled the best advice to keep you and others safe when out driving.

Mind the gap

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the mantra “only fools break the two second rule”. Unfortunately, some drivers may need to repeat this a bit more often as research from the road safety charity Brake, has reported that around 14% of accidents happen as a result of tailgating and shunting. Keeping at least two seconds between you and the car in front during normal driving conditions and four seconds during bad weather, will give you sufficient time to brake if needed.

Know your limit

It may seem obvious advice to keep to the speed limit, but drivers not keeping within the limit is one of the biggest causes of accidents on the roads. Keeping to the limit is a requirement and keeping inside the target will reduce hazards and the need for heavy braking. Remember, British motorways have a maximum speed limit of 70 mph and you should only be in driving in the right lanes if you are overtaking vehicles on the left.

Timing is everything

One of the easiest things you can do to keep within the speed limit, is give yourself plenty of time for your journey. Planning ahead to make sure you have enough time, with a route plan will leave you much more relaxed, reducing your temptation to speed.

The child in a safety seat near to mother.Focus

The longer we do something the more it becomes second nature and this is just as true for driving. The benefits of being an experienced driver are obvious, however this experience has the potential to bring complacency. Before stepping into your car, make sure you are well rested, calm, alert and free from any other issues that may affect your attention.

Night driving

Driving at night is not ideal, but if you need to, there is plenty you can do to keep safe. If taking a long journey make sure you are well rested before you begin with your route planned in advance, with regular two hour breaks factored in. Don’t ignore the warning signs, if you still feel tired during your trip, find somewhere safe to stop as soon as you can. If you’re on a motorway, pull into your nearest service station – DO NOT stop on the hard shoulder and have a nap in your vehicle.

Parking

Driving responsibly doesn’t end when you stop driving, how you park can have consequences for both you and other drivers. Are you aware that UK motorists are involved in 1400 car park-prangs every day?[1] Keep your speed low when parking as this allows you greater control in a small space. Look in all directions including left, right and directly behind your vehicle as this is where a car could be backing out opposite from you and of course pedestrians could be there too!  If your car has any form of automated parking assistance – from  reversing sensors to a full blown auto parking mode remember that these are driver aids, not driver replacements!

Mirrors

Do you check your mirrors before every journey? Before setting off, make sure you check that your mirrors are in the correct position, so you can see around your vehicle. When driving you should also check them every time you change speed, or direction and before signalling

Time for a refresh

Once we’ve passed our test, unless it’s a requirement of your job, very few of us will have any additional assessments. As we become more experienced and more comfortable with driving we all have the potential to slip into bad habits. To curb this it’s a good idea to consider a refresher course every few years, ensuring you keep your knowledge and confidence up to speed.

Car maintenance

Being a responsible driver isn’t just about your behaviour and those around you. The health of your vehicle is also paramount. Beyond regular vehicle maintenance, there are various vehicle checks you can make to ensure your car is kept in good working order and reduce your risk of breakdown.  Weekly checks should become second nature, if you’re not quite sure what you should be checking, remember POWER: Petrol, Oil, Water, Electrics, Rubber.

Regular checks will help you spot any potential issues early, if you need any additional guidance, your local Trust My Garage member will be more than happy to help.

While regularly monitoring your vehicle is highly recommended it is no substitute for regular servicing from a trained professional. Trust My Garage technicians are highly skilled and will be able to spot any issues and provide you with clear advice on keeping your vehicle in top condition. To find your nearest Trust My Garage member, visit our website and simply enter your postcode into our garage finder.

You can also download the Trust My Garage app from any smartphone and it will instantly recognise your location before showing a number of trusted garages nearby. From the app, you can view garage feedback, view our educational videos and call one of our members directly to book a service, MOT, or recovery service.

[1] Accident Exchange, 2014 report

5 things younger drivers can learn from older generations

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

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

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

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

Rae Ellis

1.  Basic car knowledge

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

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

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

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

motormarque-car-garage-leeds

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

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

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

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

3.  Driving styles

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

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4.  Tolerance of other drivers

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

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

5.  Preparation

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

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

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

“Mechanics, it’s only nuts and bolts!”

We’re always chatting to our members about what’s going on in their area and thought we would share some of their quirky anecdotes with you as well. We will be inviting garages to make guest posts on our blog so you can really start to relate with the Trust My Garage community, reinforcing the message of ‘trust’ from all of our members.

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By Chris Gurney, owner of Quality Car Service   

A customer recently said to me “Mechanics, it’s only nuts and bolts”, I politely smiled and quickly moved on however it left me thinking “If only!”. I partly agree, the routine day-to-day servicing is relatively straight forward, although every make and model of car has its challenges; such as pollen filters that require half the dashboard to be removed, service lights that require a £3,000 service reset tool to turn the light off the dashboard (we’ve purchased them all), electronic handbrake controls that require programming with laptops, and firmware updates to the various ECU’s around the car (computer’s to you and me) and so on.

Statement retracted, there is nothing routine to the day-to-day servicing of a car, and it’s definitely not only nuts and bolts!

… One of my goals in 2012 was to ensure our garage was totally up-to-date with diagnostic equipment and tools to ensure we could service and repair all makes and models – job done!

This year (2013) we made a commitment to focus on training, we set a goal to give our technicians the opportunity to get right up-to-speed on all the latest technology being fitted to the modern car such as:nuts and bolts

  • DPF’s (very expensive precious metal filters within the exhaust pipe reaching temperatures of over 700 degrees, designed to catch soot to reduce our carbon foot print)
  • EGR Valves (recycling the exhaust fumes back into the engine, again to help reduce the carbon footprint)
  • Variable Geometry Turbo chargers (a device used to give an engine more power and increased fuel efficiency)

…and on it goes. So far this year we have covered five courses, we have one technician who has just completed his NVQ 2 (3 year course), we have three staff members completing NVQ 3 (additional 1 year training) and we are now looking into future car technology, these are cars being designed and built to cover Euro 6 Emissions standards.

To summarise, gone are the days of servicing a car yourself, gone are the days of checking your oil on a dipstick – dipsticks are a thing of the past, (electronic oil level sensor more like), gone are the days of entrusting the road side mechanic to check your car and gone are the days of servicing a car without a laptop with the correct software and operated by a fully trained and qualified technician!

Next time I’m told “It’s only nuts and bolts”, well we’ll see!!

quality car service

Quality Car Service is a Trust My Garage member based in Milton Keynes and offers MOTs, Servicing, and diagnostics.  The garage has been running for 5 years and carry out thousands of MOT’s a year. They pride themselves on the high quality services they provide their customers with and are always striving to improve their processes.

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