Blog Archives

It’s Time to Book Your MOT Early

As we are beginning to see the easing of lockdown and things getting back to a new sort of normal, it’s all too easy to forget the things that have changed. Back in April 2020 many vehicles were given a six-month MOT extension to ensure that those needing their vehicle to deliver key services, were able to do so, whilst feeling safe and staying mobile.

The knock-on effects of this six month extension to MOT’s is that these MOT’s are now due in October, November, and December, on top of the vehicles that are already due to have their MOT in the same period. This, as we saw last year, will again create long lead times and high demand for MOT’s in the last three months of the year. We are also seeing that many people no longer have their Tax, MOT and motor insurance all due at the same time, making it likely that the out of sync MOT may get missed at worst, or forgotten about until the last minute at best, causing frustration and potential long delay for MOT appointments, or even vehicles not being able to be driven if their MOT expires before an appointment can be arranged.

With Brexit and the effects of COVID-19 working hand in hand, garages have experienced a delay in parts coming through from the EU and have also experienced financial and staff losses due to COVID-19.

This caused a backlog, which has then consequently clustered and caused ‘peaks’ and ‘troughs’ in MOT demand throughout the year.

But how does this affect my next MOT?

It is expected that in September, the number of vehicles needing an MOT will rise by 16% and up to 29% in October. If your car has an MOT due in the coming months, it’s worth thinking about booking your MOT test early, so your garages can meet demand and guarantee your MOT spot. You can book your MOT up to a month early while keeping your renewal date the same.

If you leave it to the last minute, you risk not being able to have your car MOT’d in time for when it is required, which consequently means your car is undrivable. Driving without a valid MOT is illegal and you could face consequences such as a fine up to £2,500, three points on your licence and of course, the obvious danger, that your car may not be roadworthy which could you, your loved one and other road users at risk.

This ‘peak’ MOT testing time could potentially last years, meaning it may become the norm to book your MOT sooner than you are typically used to, you could also re-align your vehicles MOT to its original date, making it less likely you will forget it, if it aligns to your tax and insurance renewals

Help your garages help you and your motor by booking early.

Book your MOT with Trust My Garage

Are you looking for a garage you can trust for your MOT needs? Ensure that your car is MOT’d and safe to drive with 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!

DVLA Services Online: Third Party or Not?

We all know that filling out an official form, especially online, can be something of a daunting and complicated task, but it is something we all may need to do from time to time. That is why it is important that when the need arises, we exercise caution. Below is some guidance for when you use a DVLA service online and how to make sure the site you are using is the correct one.

Did you know that since January 2020, the Driver & Vehicle Licence Agency (DVLA) has been contacted more than 1,200 times regarding customers who have paid more than they needed to for services due to using third-party websites? These websites are ones that are not linked to GOV.UK– the official UK government website.

By using the government website, you can ensure you are not paying for services that would normally be free of charge or low cost, and that your information is safe and secure.

What Does This Mean?

The DVLA has urged motorists to check which website they are logged into when using DVLA services, as using the GOV.UK website ensures they are dealing directly with the DVLA directly and are not paying more than necessary. Using websites not affiliated with the government website for certain services, such as changing your address on your driving licence or V5C certificate and renewing a driving licence from the age of 70, means being charged more for something that can done for free or at a lower cost.  

The GOV.UK website is cheaper, quicker and offers the easiest route to communicate with the DVLA. Motorists using the government website can also be assured that their application and information is safe and secure as opposed to using a third-party website.

Guy Anker, deputy editor at MoneySaving Expert noted that in the past, “we’ve spotted firms offering ‘checking services’ for driving licence renewals at a cost of £60, more than four times the £14 it costs to do it through GOV.UK” which shows how much people are being overcharged for services that cheaper on GOV.UK.

How Do You Know you are on a Third-Party Website

According to Guy Anker, there are some obvious signs that you are on a third-party website. The third-party websites are not illegal – but they do go out of their way to appear at the top of your search engine and make themselves noticeable.

  • You Know it is Free- But it is not: The first and obvious warning bell that you are not on the government website is that you are being charged for a service that you know is free. For example, if you know that changing your address on your vehicle logbook (V5C) is free but if a website is charging you to do this, then you are on a third-party website.
  • Your Web Address: Another clear and obvious sign that you are not on a government website is that the website URL will not include GOV.UK. If the website does not say this, chances are you are on a third-party website which may be about to charge you.

The above screen shot is taken from the GOV.UK website for the Driver & Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA). Highlighted at the top of the page is the GOV.UK. This is your web address and reassures you that you are on a government website.

“GOV.UK is the only site where our customers will find our official services, many of which are free” says Julie Lennard, DVLA Chief Executive. This highlights the fact that when you are using a third-party website, you may not be using official DVLA services, and you may be charged higher for using the ones that are not official. By using the government website, motorists are ensuring that there are not overpaying and that their information is safe and secure.

How Often Does This Happen?

You would not let a stranger into your home, so why let them into your personal information? It is not just DVLA services some people get wrong, there are several websites that are there to deceive you and sometimes, take more than just your money. By entering your details in websites that are not the official ones, you open yourself to the possibility of:

  • Fraudsters obtaining your Bank Details: entering your card details into an unofficial website could open your personal bank details to those running the website. According to UK Finance, an estimated £376.5 million of e-commerce fraud took place on cards in 2020 which accounts for 66% of all card fraud.

What Can You Do to Help Protect Yourself?

  • Delete suspicious emails without opening them.
  • Do not use the same password on every website.
  • If you are unsure about a text or email from your bank, make sure to call them. There are a lot of fraudulent bank detail requests.
  • Do not give out personal details to an unknown caller.

Have you ever paid for a DVLA service that you found online that was not on the government website? Have you had your card details stolen online? Comment below and tell us your story.

More about Trust My Garage

Much like the trusted website for DVLA services, there are trusted garages for your car. 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!

New Tyre Labelling – What does it mean for Motorists?

As of 1st May 2021, tyres now have a new labelling system to help motorists understand how well they perform in different conditions. Want to know more about how the system works and how it could affect drivers? The Trust My Garage blog is here to help!

What changes are being made?

According to TyreSafe.org, the changes to labelling are being made to help motorists understand the performance of different tyres in areas such as fuel efficiency, and grip in adverse weather conditions.

With the previous labelling system, concerns were raised that motorists were not fully aware of the differences between different tyre ratings displayed on the tyre label. As these labels were physically affixed to the tyres, a driver could have had a new tyre fitted by a garage without ever seeing the label to confirm the tyre’s rating, unless specifically queried.

From now on, tyre label ratings are available to retailers through their computers, and they must provide the rating details to their customers. This information is drawn from a European database holding the ratings of every tyre on sale, which will be made accessible to the public.

The rating scale for tyres has also changed, with a new, five-option rating system from “A” (best) to “E” (worst). If the tyre is classified as suitable for use on snow, it will have the Alpine peaks symbol. A symbol for tyres classified as suitable for ice (known as ‘Nordic tyres’) is also available. The ratings system and the snow/ice graphics are shown here:

© TyreSafe 2021

What details are the same as before?

There is some information which has not changed. A tyre’s fuel efficiency, braking performance in the wet and the amount of road noise it generates remain the core information of the label, and a rating is provided for each performance measure. Labels will look like this:

© TyreSafe 2021

How can I check my vehicle’s tyres?

If you think your vehicle may need new tyres, or you want to know if your tyres are over the legal tread depth limit of 1.6mm, you can test their depth yourself.

You may also want to confirm if your vehicle’s tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, or monitor key signs of wear and tear on the tyres.

Our “What to do when… you need to check your vehicle’s tyres” posts can help! From “the 20p test”, to how to use a tyre pressure gauge, we’ve put together the information you need to ensure you keep this vital part of your vehicle at its best.

What do I do when I need to change my vehicle’s tyres?

Many local independent garages offer tyre sales and fitting services, either as a standalone or as part of your MOT advisories. Often, you can ask for new tyres to be fitted while still at the garage to rectify an advisory issue. If you want to know which garages near you offer tyre services, you can pop your postcode into the handy “Find a Garage” tool on the Trust My Garage website! Give it a try here:

You can adjust the search radius depending on how far you want to travel, and check the reviews and ratings for each TMG member too! All members also have a profile page where you can read more information about the business and see what services they offer – including tyres!

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 must comply with a strict, Chartered Trading Standards Institute-approved 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 your money.

If you have any top tyre tips, be sure to leave them in the comments below!

Keep your vehicle road ready in lockdown with Trust My Garage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to know more about Trust My Garage?

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

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

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

Prepare your vehicle for the New Year with Trust My Garage

With the imminent arrival of 2021 it’s important to get your vehicle ready for the New Year – but what steps can you take to ensure you’re motoring happy over the next 12 months? The Trust My Garage blog is here to help! Read on to find out what you need to know.

MOT

This year has been an unprecedented experience for almost everyone, including motorists. For safety, the DVSA began to issue six-month MOT extensions for vehicles due an MOT between April and the end of July. The extension means that many vehicles due their MOT over the summer will now been condensed into the last few month of 2020, creating much longer waiting times for MOT appointments.

The extension was entirely optional, and you were still able take your vehicle to your local Trust My Garage member garage at its normal MOT time, which is usually in line with its registration, if you want to do so. This may be helpful if your key dates, such as MOT, tax renewal and insurance renewal, are due at the same time, as it will be easier to remember.

The DVSA have predicted a 24 per cent increase in demand for MOT’s in December and a 45 per cent increase in January, so a great way to prepare for the New Year is to ensure your test is booked in plenty of time ready for its due date and avoid your car being unusable due to an expired MOT.

To check when your vehicle’s MOT test is due, you can visit https://.gov.uk/check-mot-history. All you need is your vehicle’s registration number!

Tax

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. Your V11 will also tell you the date your current road tax period will expire.

You can check the status of your road tax or renew it online via the Gov.uk website. Driving without road tax will result in a DVLA-imposed fine of £80, which can be reduced by half if paid in 28 days. However, it could result in a fine of up to £1,000 or five times the annual road tax fee if the case goes to court. Even if your vehicle is not being driven but is parked on a public road, if you’ve forgotten to pay tax, it could be clamped or even impounded!

Insurance

It’s illegal to drive a vehicle on a road or in a public place without at least 3rd party insurance – and even if the vehicle itself is insured, if you’re not correctly insured to drive it you could get penalised. The police could give you a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points if you’re caught driving a vehicle you’re not insured to drive.

If the case goes to court you could get :

  • an unlimited fine
  • disqualified from driving

The police also have the power to seize, and in some cases, destroy the vehicle that’s being driven uninsured. You can check your vehicle insurance renewal date with your insurance provider, and you can do a quick check on whether your vehicle is insured here: https://ownvehicle.askmid.com/

Car maintenance

It’s important to make sure your vehicle is running at its best ready for the next year, so take time to ensure your motor isn’t displaying any warning lights on the dashboard, your fluid levels are topped up as needed and your lights are working clearly with no damaged or broken bulbs.

Our “What to do when… your vehicle needs some TLC” post covers the basics you need, in detail, to make sure you’re driving into 2021 with all cylinders firing.

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

Tyres

The tread of a tyre refers to the rubber on its circumference that makes contact with the road or ground. 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 of the 20p piece is visible, the tyres may be unsafe or illegal and need to be checked by a professional garage or tyre specialist.

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 or driver’s door, and sometimes inside the fuel flap, so be sure to check there if you need a quick reference point as well.

Find out more in our “What to do when… you need to check your vehicle’s tyres” blog post.

Finding a local garage

If you’re looking for a professional local garage to help you, 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:

More about Trust My Garage

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

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

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.

Trust My Garage – 5 years of Consumer Codes approval for independent garages

On 20th October, Trust My Garage celebrated its 5th anniversary of being a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved Consumer Code – but what does that mean when you visit a TMG member garage? Read on to find out!

What is Trust My Garage?

Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s best local garages – each 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. The IGA is part of the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMIF), one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations.

Trust My Garage is not a third-party web-based intermediary that comes between you and your local garage. It is a Code of Practice for independent garages, approved by the CTSI’s Consumer Code Approval Scheme. This means there are no extra costs involved for you or your garage and you will always be able to contact your garage directly, enabling you to build a trusted relationship, allowing members to maintain their high quality and standards of workmanship and service.

What is the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)?

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is a not-for-profit membership organisation founded in 1881 to support and represent trading standards professionals in the UK and abroad.

CTSI’s vision is for the United Kingdom to prosper through fair and safe trade. Their Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS) aims to improve customer service standards by:

  • The approval and promotion of codes of practice through code sponsors, approved by the CTSI
  • Protecting consumers with higher levels of customer service. By using an approved trader you will have protection above and beyond your normal consumer law rights, including access to a clear complaints procedure and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service if you have a problem
  • Allowing businesses to display the codes logo to reassure consumers

How does a Consumer Code work?

The CCAS is committed to promoting Codes of Practice, such as Trust My Garage, that meet their core criteria and have obtained CTSI approval.

By adhering to a Consumer Code, TMG members can display the CTSI Approved Code logo – which gives you confidence in the reputable standards of the business.

You should always look out for the CTSI approved code logo when searching for a local business, so you can be confident that any approved code sponsor you choose has a proven commitment to be honest and have higher consumer standards. Click here to find out more how the Consumer Code Approval Scheme can help you as a consumer.

You can read more on the official Trust My Garage CTSI code sponsor listing here.

How can I find a TMG member garage?

The easiest way to locate your nearest Consumer Code-approved TMG member is by using our “Find a Garage” map. You can simply pop in your postcode and your preferred mileage radius and all TMG members in your area will be displayed! Try it out here:

You can sort members by distance, best reviews and number of reviews so you can decide which garage you want to use. TMG member profile pages also provide contact information and tell you which services the business offers – so you can decide who is best for you and have all the information you need to contact your chosen garage at the click of a mouse!

 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!

Keep your vehicle safe and roadworthy with Trust My Garage

Rising road traffic volumes across the UK has the potential to lead to increased chances of an accident – but how can you keep yourself and your passengers safe and your vehicle roadworthy? Find out with Trust My Garage!

According to Department for Transport (DfT) statistics, in 2019 car traffic hit the highest-ever figure of vehicle miles driven  – 278.2 billion miles! Add into this recent updates on how people use public transport due to the impact of coronavirus, and it’s easy to see why mileage is at an all-time high.

With an increased number of vehicles covering more miles than ever, looking after your motor is extra important to stay safe on the UK’s road network – but how do you go about it?

Vehicle Occupant Safety

A key factor in vehicle safety is ensuring the drivers and any passengers are safe while inside the cabin. To maintain a safe and roadworthy vehicle you need to:

  • Set your driving position – Drivers should have their seat pulled far enough forward so that they can fully extend the clutch pedal while maintaining a slight bend in the knee. The backrest of the seat should be tilted back ever so slightly, and when turning the steering wheel your shoulders should remain in contact with the seat – not hunched forward. The headrest should also sit higher than the driver’s ears to keep the head secure in the case of an accident.

  • Check all seatbelts – look for any signs of damage, and fasten the seat belt and pull to check it’s secure with no looseness. Retraction should be smooth, as any noticeable slowness, hesitation or delay to the retraction rate or jerking movements could indicate an issue.

  • Check your rear-view mirror – Sit in your normal driving position and using your left hand, grip the plastic surrounds of the mirror and move it so that you can see the entire rear window and as little of the interior as possible; essentially ‘framing’ the rear window in the mirror.

  • Check your wing mirror position – Sitting in your normal driving position, adjust the right-side wing mirror so that the horizon (the point at which the road disappears into the distance) is in the centre of the mirror. Ensure there is only a very small portion of the side of your car in the left side of the mirror. Repeat with the left-side wing mirror.

  • Check any child seats – The current law states that all children travelling in a car must use the correct car seat appropriate to their weight or height, until they are either 135cm in height or 12 years in age, whichever they reach first. If a seat is required, check the vehicle seat belt is running through the correct path in the child seat and that it is not twisted; it should hold the seat securely in place and resist you pushing on the seat. If you push against the seat and it moves, reassess why the seat is not locking in securely. If you are caught with an ‘unsuitable’ or wrongly fitted car seat, you could be fined £500.

  • Restrain your pets – Rule 57 of the Highway Code states: “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.” There is no direct law that will penalise motorists for not obeying the Highway Code, but drivers could be fined £1,000 for driving without proper control of their vehicle if they’re pulled over by a police officer.

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.

By doing a little homework beforehand, you could save a lot of time and avoid frustrations – which means safer journeys!

Check your vehicle’s tax and MOT status

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.

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.

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 items 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.

Check your lights and levels

Before setting off on any journey, check your lights and levels! You can either checking them yourself or asking a friend or family member to walk around the vehicle. Make sure you check all lights – including brake lights and number plate lights – to ensure they are clear and functioning correctly.

You should also 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.

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 when applying the brakes, which could indicate a fault or imbalance with the braking system. Vibrations and temperamental pedal feel are also a sign you need to give your car some attention – so look out for the signs and don’t ignore them.

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 or driver’s door, or sometimes inside the fuel filler flap, 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 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.

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 vehicle’s Owner’s Manual or visit your local Trust My Garage member, who will be able to advise of any issues with your car. To learn all you need to know about ensuring your vehicle’s tyre are ready for the road read our “What to do when… you need to check your vehicle’s tyres” post.

Breakdown Essentials

If you do suffer the unfortunate experience of a breakdown it’s important to keep some essentials in the car – reflective or bright clothing so you and your passengers are visible to other traffic, 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. For more details, check out our winter blog post’s “Breakdown Essentials”.

More about Trust My Garage

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

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

With over 3,000 members across the UK, you’re never far away from a TMG member. We’ve even created a handy search function so you can locate your nearest TMG-approved garage with ease.

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

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

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!

Keep your vehicle germ-free with Trust My Garage

During the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of keeping clean has been highlighted in every aspect of daily life – so when it comes to your vehicle, what are the best ways to keep the germs at bay? Find out with the Trust My Garage blog by reading on!

In a survey of 1,000 drivers, 38 per cent said they only clean their car once every couple of months, 16 per cent said they did it just once a year and 9 per cent said they clean their less than once every 12 months – but why is keeping your motor clean so important?

As a vehicle is often a communal space, whether for work or personal use, motorists must be careful to ensure their car or van is kept free from as many germs as possible – especially if multiple drivers and passengers utilise the vehicle.

Before

Before getting into your vehicle, you can attempt to keep germs on your person at a minimum by washing your hands with soap and warm water or use hand sanitiser if you can’t get to a sink. As people use their hands for almost everything, they are a major point of transfer for germs to get from one point to another.

By washing or sanitising prior to getting into a vehicle, you are removing any potentially unwanted germs from your hands and stopping them coming into contact with door handles, seatbelts and seatbelt fasteners, the steering wheel and any other controls within your vehicle. If you have antiviral wipes, consider keeping them in the car to wipe down surfaces. Always read the instructions as some wipes may not be suitable for the surfaces and materials inside cars.

During

If you’re concerned about sharing your vehicle with other drivers or passengers, try to keep touching any unnecessary objects and parts of the car to a minimum – unless it is negatively affecting your driving, vision or comfort. Where possible, travel alone and only make essential trips to keep chances of germ transference as low as possible. Where you are required to carry others in your car, consider asking them to sit in the rear seats to remain within social distancing guidance as best as possible.

After

Once you have exited your vehicle at your destination, clean and sanitise any surfaces you have touched inside the car with a wipe or other cleaning product to remove any bacteria. Once done, throw the used item/s immediately into a bin and do not re-use.

Just like before you step into a vehicle, wash or sanitise your hands as soon as possible, and where possible refrain from touching any other items or surfaces until you have been able to clean your hands.

If you have arrived home from a journey, remove your shoes, coat and any other items such as a handbag and sanitise them as best as possible before touching other objects or surfaces in your house. Again, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after you’ve finished cleaning.

Vehicle Care

Regular cleaning of the exterior and interior of your vehicle may help you avoid germ-heavy spots – particularly in areas you touch frequently such as door handles, seatbelt buckles, the ignition, steering wheel and controls such as indicators and wiper stalks. Soap and water is a proven method to remove the virus, or you can use rubbing alcohol of at least 60% purity or specific car cleaning products if you prefer.

If you are looking at using cleaning product, do your research to locate one that works best for you. For example, leather interiors can require different cleaning products to cloth upholstery to avoid damage to the leather, so make sure you’re using the appropriate materials to keep your car looking great as well as staying clean.

This video also details some great ways to keep your car germ-free, so you can check out these tips:

Other, manufacturer-specific videos are also available if you’re looking for information tailored to your vehicle make too.

If you’re looking for help or guidance about cleaning and maintaining your vehicle during the lockdown, you could also call your local garage and ask for advice! Garages have been classed by the government as an essential business, so can remain open. Some may be operating on reduced hours, so check the opening times and contact details of your nearest member using the Trust My Garage website’s Find a Garage map – try it out here:

More about Trust My Garage

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

Every garage in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association, which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who must comply with a strict code of practice. Every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle. If you want to find out more about Trust My Garage, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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

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

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

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

MOT status, tax and insurance – are you covered?

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

MOT

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

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

Tax

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

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

Insurance

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

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

Tread carefully when it comes to tyres

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

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

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

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

Batteries and brakes – are they roadworthy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep things fluid

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

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

Take a long, hard look

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

Not sure how best to care for your car?

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

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

Want to know more about Trust My Garage?

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

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

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

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