With 47% of UK drivers worried about the cost of unexpected vehicle repairs, you’re not alone if you aren’t sure what to do when you need to visit a garage! With drivers spending an average of £574 each per year on car repairs, it’s important to know the best way to go about getting your vehicle into the workshop, so find out below with Trust My Garage!
Assess the issue
If you have any vehicle knowledge it is worth taking the time to assess your suspected issue, as this can save time for the technician once your vehicle is in the workshop. If you aren’t sure of what or where the issue is, advise the garage of this so they can take the time to fully inspect your vehicle and, where possible, determine the nature of the problem.
Explaining any problems – such as a concerning noise of vibration when driving at speed/on start-up – to the garage, will give them vital information and help them find the root cause of the problem quicker.
Locate a garage that suits you
If you aren’t sure where to begin when looking for a garage, you can make it easy for yourself with Trust My Garage! By using our ‘Find a Garage’ map you can check out the garages in your area who work to a CTSI-approved Code of Conduct. You can even read reviews and request a quote for the work your vehicle needs! Try it out here:
All the garages in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association – which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. All Trust My Garage members also operate to the TMG ‘Code of Practice for Service and Repair.
IGA members are true professionals who must comply with a strict code of practice. Every customer of a Trust My Garage member can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for your money.
See what parts are needed
Should your vehicle need parts to complete the repair, these will be quoted for, along with the labour cost to fit them. If you’re looking to compare more than one garage’s prices you can ask for this information upfront before going ahead with any work to be completed.
With TMG members, you can ask for a fixed quote or estimate, inclusive of parts, labour and VAT prior to approving any work on your vehicle.
Understand your vehicle’s issues and repairs
If your vehicle has had to undertake any kind of repair work, the garage you use should be able to explain what has happened to the vehicle and how it can be/has been repaired. If you aren’t sure about any information, ask! Technicians understand that most motorists aren’t informed of the inner workings of a vehicle and should be able to explain – or even show you – where an issue has arisen or has been fixed.
It might seem silly to ask but if it helps you know what’s going on with your car, a professional should be happy to provide as much detail as they can. You can also ask to inspect any parts removed from your vehicle so you can see if there are any visible issues or differences compared to how the part should look and function.
Maintaining your vehicle
A great way to ensure your vehicle is performing at its best is by keeping up with it prescribed maintenance schedule. Remember; your yearly MOT is a check on the vehicle and not a service.
Trust My Garage members offer a range of services, which you can review on each garage’s profile page on the Trust My Garage website. You can also view photos of the garage, check opening times and see reviews from other customers.
More about Trust My Garage
Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s best local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of customer service and technical know-how. Visit TrustMyGarage.co.uk for more information – and be sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages too!
With the average UK motorist making 986 trips and covering 6536 miles per year in their car (source), it’s possible that some drivers can leave their motor in need of a little tender loving care when it comes to basic maintenance issues – but how can you make sure you give your vehicle the care it needs? Find out with the Trust My Garage blog!
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.
Use your dipstick (if your vehicle has one) to check oil levels every couple of weeks, when the car is warm and on level ground. Stop the engine and wait a few minutes for the oil to settle, remove the dipstick and wipe it clean.
Push the dipstick all the way in, wait a second, and then withdraw it and check the level. The oil should be between the MIN and MAX marks. If the oil is dark or dirty or underneath the minimum line (or both!) It should be topped up/changed as soon as possible.
Many modern vehicles use an electronic system to check their oil level, so if your vehicle uses this you should familiarise yourself with the system.
It is illegal under the Road Vehicles Regulations 1986 to not have screenwash in your vehicle. Keep it regularly topped up with a screenwash additive – one that prevents it from freezing and clears oily grime from your windscreen for clear vision.
Don’t forget to keep the inside clean too, to avoid your vision being reduced due to glare – especially when the sun gets lower in the sky during daily commutes to and from work.
Every week, while your engine is cold, check your coolant level is between the MIN and MAX marks – if it’s below the minimum line, top it up as required, and check it again after your next journey.
If your coolant level regularly requires topping up you may have a leak in the vehicle’s cooling system, so get it checked out by your local garage!
Keep an eye out for stone damage and, if you spot any chips, get them repaired as soon as possible – as they can grow and crack if left alone. If the damage can’t be repaired, or it’s in a place where it could distract you, your windscreen may need to be replaced.
Many motor insurance policies provide discounted or free chip repairs, and detail how to proceed with your repair.
It’s important to give your car panels an occasional check for any damage, or signs of rust. If you notice any rusty or damaged areas, you can contact a local bodyshop to see how best to proceed with any repairs.
Take a walk around your vehicle or ask a friend to help check all your lights – including indicators, reversing lights, brake lights and fog lights – once a week. Look out for blown bulbs and cracks or dirt on the lenses.
Your vehicle can receive a Minor Defect notification on its MOT if your indicators do not “flash amber” in compliance with the requirements, so if you have any issues with fading indicator lights you should replace them or have a local garage inspect them – you may only need a new bulb!
If a bulb has broken and you don’t want to replace it yourself you can also take your vehicle to a local garage, who can fix the issue and help you avoid a penalty.
Not sure how best to care for your car?
Our ‘What to do when…’ series can provide some further tips and insight across other areas of motoring and vehicle maintenance to help you ensure your motor is running at its best! You can check out our other posts in the series here.
If you’re looking for a professional local garage to help give your car some TLC you can find a local CTSI approved Trust My Garage member by visiting the Trust My Garage website’s ‘Find a Garage’ map! You can even read reviews from other motorists about the members in your area to help you decide which garage is right for you. Try it out here:
Want to know what we do?
Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s trusted local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.
Every garage in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association, which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who have to comply with a strict code of practice.
Each and every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle.
Don’t forget: If you can think of any more top TLC tips, leave us a comment in the box below!
Potholes are no joke when it comes to motoring in the UK, but if your vehicle is damaged due to an issue with the road surface what can you do? Trust My Garage has some handy tips for dealing with the ruin of the roads – check them out here!
If in doubt, get out
If you believe your vehicle has been damaged in any way, find a safe place to pull over and inspect the vehicle. You may want to take photos if there are any obvious areas of damage on the vehicle – and only if it is completely safe, take a photo of the pothole in question.
Vehicle problem? Solved!
If you feel there is a problem with your vehicle as a result of a pothole you can take it to your local Trust My Garage member for diagnosis, and if necessary, repair. To find your nearest member you can use our Find a Garage map, which lets you see every TMG-approved member in your area.
All Trust My Garage members operate to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Code of Conduct, meaning you and your vehicle will get the best possible service from a business dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service. If you want to claim against any costs incurred, make sure to keep all invoices and receipts to send off copies when requested.
See it, say it
If there’s a pothole problem you’re concerned about, report it to the relevant authorities. Depending on where the road is changes which organisation you need to inform – here’s what you need to know:
Motorways or major A-roads
- England: Highways England – although if you hit a pothole in London, inform Transport For London (TFL)
- Wales: Trunk Road Agents
- Scotland: Transport Scotland
If the pothole is on a smaller road, it is the responsibility of the local council, so report it to them.
The .Gov website provides information on which organisation to use based on the location of the pothole in England, and you can contact your local council via their website or telephone number to report an issue.
Making a claim
If a pothole has damaged your vehicle you can make a claim to attempt to recoup the costs of any damage incurred. Most councils and highway agencies will send you a form when you report the pothole, so fill in as much detail as possible and return this along with copies of any receipts, invoices and photographs taken.
Some authorities may also ask for a copy of a valid MOT certificate for the vehicle, so be sure to have a copy of this included with your paperwork.
However: making a claim isn’t a guarantee of reimbursement. The Highways Act 1980 allows road authorities to decline claims provided they took reasonable steps to make sure the road is maintained, and potholes dealt with quickly. If your claim is thrown out you may have to utilise your insurance policy, but this could affect your no-claims bonus.
Another option is to try to prove that the body responsible for the road did not do a good enough job of road repairs. One way of doing this is to ask the road authority for details of repairs to the road that damaged your car, or do so through the Freedom of Information Act.
The latter can take 20 working days, but if you can prove that the road has been neglected it is hard for your claim to be turned down.
Keeping up with your maintenance
Whether you’ve suffered pothole damage or not it’s important to keep your vehicle in in tip-top shape. Whether you need a check-up, service, MOT or repair, you can visit your nearest Trust My Garage member and the CTSI-approved Code of Conduct our members operate to means that you’ll get the best possible service.
At Trust My Garage, we believe that regular vehicle maintenance is vital when it comes to ensuring you and your motor get a smooth ride – but what other benefits are there to keeping your vehicle in tip-top shape? We’ve put together some handy information; check it out below!
Get regular full services
Getting your car serviced each year – and maintaining it between services – is money well spent. Problems are likely to be caught early on when they’re cheaper to fix, and your car will have a better resale value and longer life.
A well-maintained car is also more efficient, so you’ll save money on fuel as well. If you need to claim on a warranty you’ll normally have to show your car’s got a complete service record. (More)
Maintain the correct tyre pressure
Experts say up to 20% of your car’s energy consumption relates to its tyres, making them pretty much the single biggest simple-fix factor. And the most important thing you can do to minimise that consumption is ensure your tyres are inflated correctly.
You can check your tyre pressure by investing in a tyre-pressure gauge or foot pump (most have gauges built in). Alternatively, visit a petrol station forecourt where you can use their electric air pumps.
Your car will have a tyre-pressure chart displayed somewhere – usually in the door frame, inside the fuel-filler cap or in the handbook. Unscrew the dust cap off your tyre’s air valve, place the air pump nozzle over the valve, ensuring it is seated correctly. Once the tyre is inflated correctly, remove the nozzle and replace the dust cap. (More)
Utilise your local independent garage
With higher overheads and staff commission, dealerships are nearly always a more expensive choice for servicing and repairs than independent garages. The average rate for franchised dealers is £99 per hour, while independent garages typically charge £56 – saving you £43! (Source: GarageWire; May 2017.)
If you want find a reputable, local, independent garage operating to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved Code of Conduct, you can use the Trust My Garage website’s Find a Garage map here.
Our members offer a range of services across the service and repair industry, ensuring you and your vehicle get the best possible service. For more information about Trust My Garage, you can also read our ‘What Trust My Garage code status means to you’ blog post, or visit the Trust My Garage website.
As of May 20th 2018 the MOT test for vehicles in the UK changed – but what does that mean when it comes to emissions? Never fear, Trust My Garage is here with the answers!
What are emissions?
The Department for Transport (DfT) states that emissions are pollutants created by petrol, diesel and alternatively-fuelled engines. These pollutants are; carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, un-burnt hydrocarbons and particulate matter. The levels of pollutants present in each vehicle can depend on vehicle technology and the state of maintenance of the vehicle – so older cars have a tendency to produce more emissions.
Why do emissions matter?
Like all pollutants, they cause immediate and long-term effects on the environment. Car exhausts emit a wide range of gases and solid matter, which has been cited as a cause of global warming, acid rain, environmental damage and human health damage. Engine noise and fuel spills also cause pollution. Nitrous oxide emissions have also been shown to contribute to the depletion of the Ozone layer around the Earth.
How is the new MOT test combatting emissions?
The MOT test now includes updates for the amount of emissions a diesel vehicle can produce – with garages also having to update their Diesel Smoke Meters to ensure they meet requirements for testing. Find out what the .Gov website states about emissions testing here.
As well as this, if your car is new enough to have a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF), evidence that it has been tampered with – or the presence of exhaust smoke of any colour – will now constitute a ‘major’ MOT fault. This will need to be rectified before a pass can be issued.
What else is being done to help?
Over time, vehicle manufacturers have realised the importance of emissions and pollution for the environment. The ‘Euro 6’ emission standard has provided a benchmark form of legislation, and as of September 2015 all mass-produced cars sold from this date need to meet the set requirements. The aim of Euro 6 is to reduce levels of harmful car and van exhaust emissions, both in petrol and diesel cars.
Emissions of air quality pollutants from road vehicles have been reduced by improving the quality of fuels and by setting increasingly stringent emission limits for new vehicles. As an example, it would take 50 new cars to produce the same quantity of air quality pollutant emissions per kilometre as a vehicle made in 1970.
How can motorists help?
When you’re driving you may not think about the impact your vehicle could be having on the environment – but if you’re concerned about reducing the effects of pollution, there are some very simple tips to utilise:
Drive Steadily – hard acceleration and braking forces your vehicle to work harder, creating more emissions from your exhaust.
Don’t overload – the additional weight will require you to use extra power. This means that your engine is using more fuel to accommodate the extra kilos.
Have regular services – By keeping your vehicle well maintained you can ensure all its internal parts are working efficiently, putting less stress on your motor and the environment! Don’t forget, you can book a service and find your nearest Trust My Garage member here with our ‘Find a Garage’ map.
Stretch your legs – if you feel comfortable walking or cycling, then do so! Leaving your vehicle at home means it definitely can’t emit any pollutants.
Keeping up with your maintenance
If you want to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape, you can visit your nearest Trust My Garage member. Whether it’s a check-up, service, MOT or repair, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved code of conduct that our members use mean that you and you motor both get the best possible service.
The MOT test is set to change on 20 May 2018, with new defect types, stricter rules for diesel car emissions, and some vehicles over 40 years old becoming exempt.
Trust My Garage has previously covered what areas of your vehicle are looked at during an MOT, but the upcoming changes will affect cars, vans, motorcycles and other light passenger vehicles – so what do you need to know?
The .Gov website specifies that there are 5 main changes that motorists need to know about. Here’s the breakdown of each change:
- Defects will be categorised differently
Defects found during the MOT will be categorised as either:
The category the MOT tester gives each item will depend on the type of problem and how serious it is.
MOT testers will still give advice about items you need to monitor. These are known as ‘advisories’.
- Stricter rules for diesel car emissions
There will be stricter limits for emissions from diesel cars with a diesel particulate filter (DPF).
A DPF captures and stores exhaust soot to reduce emissions from diesel cars. Your vehicle will get a major fault if the MOT tester:
- can see smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust
- finds evidence that the DPF has been tampered with
- Some new things will be included in the MOT
They include checking:
- if tyres are obviously underinflated
- if the brake fluid has been contaminated
- for fluid leaks posing an environmental risk
- brake pad warning lights and if brake pads or discs are missing
- reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009
- headlight washers on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 (if they have them)
- daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018 (most of these vehicles will have their first MOT in 2021 when they’re 3 years old)
There will be other smaller changes to how some items are checked. Your MOT centre will be able to tell you about these.
- The MOT certificate will change
The design of the MOT certificate will change. It will list any defects under the new categories, so they’re clear and easy to understand. The service to check the MOT history of a vehicle will be updated to reflect the changes.
- Some vehicles over 40 years old won’t need an MOT
Cars, vans, motorcycles and other light passenger vehicles won’t need to have an MOT if they’re over 40 years old and have not been substantially changed.
At the moment, only vehicles first built before 1960 are exempt from needing an MOT. When the rules change on 20 May 2018, vehicles won’t need an MOT from the 40th anniversary of when they were registered. You can check the date the vehicle was registered online.
You won’t have to apply to stop getting an MOT for your vehicle. However, each time you tax your historic vehicle (even if you don’t pay a fee), you’ll have to declare it meets the rules for not needing an MOT.
The maximum fees MOT centres can charge won’t change, and you can get a free MOT reminder by text message or email a month before your MOT is due via the .Gov website.
All MOT station have been issued with a special notice and will be aware of the upcoming changes to the MOT test. Most Trust My Garage members conduct MOTs, and will adhere to the new regulations when they come into force on Sunday 20th May. If you have further questions you can visit the .Gov website, call the DVSA MOT Hub on 0300 123 9000 or visit your local Trust My Garage member for face-to-face updates.
If you’re looking to give your motor some TLC, you can take your vehicle to your nearest Trust My Garage member business. Whether it’s for an MOT, check-up, service or repair, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved code of conduct that our members use mean that you and you motor both get the best possible service. For more information you can visit www.TrustMyGarage.co.uk – and be sure to check out the Trust My Garage Facebook and Twitter pages too!
The end of winter is finally in sight! At Trust My Garage, we’re preparing our vehicles for the Spring season with some top maintenance and driving tips designed to see you through to the long days of Summer.
Whether you’re looking for driving, maintenance or plain cleaning tips, we’ve put together some advice to help you make the most of your motor. Take a look at our handy info list below – and be sure to let us know in the comments if you give any of our methods a try!
Give your car some love
With warmer weather on the way, people like to travel to more! It’s important that the inside of your car is a safe and clean environment for you and any passengers you may have.
Next time you get a chance to wash your car, you could also make sure your footwells are clear of any rubbish or obstructions, give your dashboard and centre console a dust and – if you have the opportunity – try to give your car a hoover out to clean out any debris that gathered over the winter months.
Beware of low Sun
Much like Autumn, the sun is still low in the sky during Spring. Having the sun shining at you while driving can not only damage your eyesight, but could lead to an accident due to poor vision. Be sure to drive with your sun visor down and/or wear quality sunglasses to improve your vision of the roads when necessary.
Check your medication
The onset on Spring can also lead to an onset of allergies for some motorists. If you take any medication and drive, please be sure to check with your pharmacist or doctor for any potentially detrimental side effects such as drowsiness. If you feel that any medication will impact your driving negatively, do not drive until you feel comfortable behind the wheel.
Watch out for other road users
Good weather can lead to a plethora of additional road users – so be sure to be a courteous driver! Cyclists, horse and riders and walkers can all become additional road hazards, so be sure to take care when driving, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar area.
Keep an eye on the road conditions
After winter, the UK’s roads can suffer from an influx of additional potholes, created by the wet and cold conditions of the chilly season. Large potholes can do serious damage to a vehicle, so where safe and possible avoid them, or drive cautiously to try and counteract any adverse effects on your motor.
Spring showers are still a definite possibility, so take care on wet roads and leave additional distance and braking time between you and any vehicles ahead. Be careful of any puddles on the road too, as water in your engine makes for neither a happy car or driver!
Get your car ready for the road
If your car is due for an MOT or service, make sure to take it in to a garage to get it ready for the road. If you’re looking for a reputable, local, independent garage you can head to the Trust My Garage website and use our handy ‘Find a Garage’ map to locate your nearest TMG member, operating to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved code of conduct.
If you have any tips of your own for getting ready for Spring, be sure to let us know in the comments below!
2018 is upon us! The start of the new year means many people across the UK are kickstarting their January with a range of New Year’s resolutions – and motorists are no exception. This year, drivers are looking to reboot their motoring habits in a bid to revamp both their vehicles and their attitudes to driving.
A new survey has shown the variety of ways in which motorists want to put more effort into vehicle maintenance and their driving styles – but which of these resolutions will be yours?
Checking tyre pressures and oil levels regularly
In the poll, 24 per cent of drivers said they wanted to improve how frequently they check their tyre pressures and oil levels. Both of these areas are hugely important in your vehicle; as maintaining correct tyre pressure ensures good fuel efficiency, better road safety in poor weather conditions and more even wear across the tyre, reducing the likelihood of bald spots on the tyre. Correct tyre pressures should be listed in your vehicle’s owner’s manual and on the pillar when the driver’s door is open. To inflate your tyres to the correct pressure, many garages and petrol stations offer a tyre pressure inflator on site.
Having the correct levels of oil in your engine is also of vital importance for your vehicle. Any engine needs lubrication, and making sure your engine is well oiled will fight against two major engine damagers: friction and heat. Measuring your oil level on the dipstick when your vehicle is cool and on level ground will give you an accurate reading of the amount and an indication of the quality of the oil in your motor.
Learning to park properly
17 per cent of drivers also wanted to learn how to park properly. While many drivers are comfortable driving in to a parking space, some motorists – especially new and/or younger drivers – can feel daunted at the prospect of parallel parking. While practice is the best method for improvement, these tips from the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) can offer some help for understanding how to parallel park safely and effectively.
The survey found that 16 per cent of drivers were nervous or unhappy about using the motorway in their vehicle. As part of the expansive road network spanning the UK, motorways provide a fast route to almost any destination up and down the country – but the speed and heavy flow of traffic can be an intimidating prospect for a motorist. The Highway Code provides explicit rules of conduct for using the motorway network, but drivers can also use a ‘Pass Plus’ training course with a registered instructor as a practical application to help get them motoring.
Improving reversing ability
15 per cent of respondents also said they would like to improve their ability to reverse their vehicle. While reversing may seem like a common manoeuvre, some drivers can find it difficult. The Highway Code offers some helpful advice for reversing, along with its other general road use guidelines. Rule 202 states:
“Look carefully before you start reversing. You should
- use all your mirrors
- check the ‘blind spot’ behind you (the part of the road you cannot see easily in the mirrors)
- check there are no pedestrians (particularly children), cyclists, other road users or obstructions in the road behind you.
Reverse slowly while
- checking all around
- looking mainly through the rear window
- being aware that the front of your vehicle will swing out as you turn.
Get someone to guide you if you cannot see clearly.”
Not getting road rage
14 per cent of drivers in the poll admitted to succumbing to road rage when motoring, with a resolution not to give in to the red mist in 2018. While being a confident driver is a definite positive, motorists should not be over confident, as it can be a killer on the roads. The best method for combatting road rage is simply to let any issues go and not let them affect your journey, however we know how difficult that can be! Rule 147 of The Highway Code states:
“Do not allow yourself to become agitated or involved if someone is behaving badly on the road. This will only make the situation worse. Pull over, calm down and, when you feel relaxed, continue your journey.”
So, sit back, relax, and carry on driving in a calm manner for your own safety and that of other road users.
Switching off phones at the wheel
A shocking 13 per cent of drivers admitted to their resolution being to switch off their mobile phone when behind the wheel. The law states that:
“You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.”
If you’re caught using a mobile in any other motoring circumstance you’ll receive 6 penalty points on your driving licence and a £200 fine.
The simplest solution is to turn off your phone or have it in a locked compartment of your car, and if you feel you need to check your phone pull over at a safe point and switch off your car’s engine. If you need to contact someone and you know they are driving, wait until you know they have arrived at their destination to avoid being a distraction to them.
Keeping your vehicle in top condition
Maintaining your vehicle should be at the top of your New Year’s Resolutions list, so that you can keep motoring happy throughout 2018. With Trust My Garage, you know you can rely on using a nationally recognised brand, with a truly professional service for both you and your vehicle. All the garages in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who have to comply with a strict code of practice.
Got any New Year’s resolutions of your own? Let us know in the comments!
The time of year is once again upon us where dark nights are drawing in and you’re considering putting the heating on to keep your toes warm. The change in seasons can also herald a change in driving habits for many motorists, and at Trust My Garage we want to keep you and your vehicle running smoothly 365 days of the year.
The clocks go back in the early hours of October 29th, meaning it’s going to be dark even earlier – but never fear! To help you ensure you stay at your best we’ve complied some handy tips for both driving and keeping your car running at its best.
Look after your car battery
The average car battery can last up to 5 years (source), but there are many reasons that require it to be changed sooner than this.
Heading into colder weather can cause strain on your battery, as can short repetitive journeys – these use up your battery’s power without giving it enough time to recharge fully. Taking your car out for a longer drive at the weekend can be a key factor in combating battery drain – as can recharging your battery at home or at a local garage.
Check your tyres
Your tyres are the key element in keeping your vehicle rolling, so make sure they’re up to scratch, especially in the slippery weather that comes with Autumn and Winter. The minimum legal tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm in a continuous band around the central three quarters of the tyre, with no tears, bulges or bald spots on any part of the tyre (source). However, most motoring organisations recommend changing at 2mm and the majority of tyre manufacturers recommend changing at 3mm (source).
You should also try to ensure your tyres are inflated correctly to the specifications of your car. Details of the correct pressure can be found in the owner’s manual and/or inside the door frame on the driver or front passenger side doors, and you can check your tyre pressure at most local petrol stations and garages.
Check your engine coolant levels
With cold weather comes the possibility of ice, so it’s important to ensure the fluids in your car don’t freeze. By keeping your engine coolant levels topped up you’ll stay safer in poor conditions, and keep your car’s internal systems running healthily.
If you aren’t sure what type of coolant your car needs, a local garage or aftermarket sales shop will be able to check what kind you require and point you in the right direction. If you’re stuck for where under the bonnet to check your engine coolant, it has a specific cap under the bonnet, circled below:
As long as your coolant is between the ‘MAX’ and ‘LOW’ level markers on the side of the reservoir it should stop any freezing happening.
Take a look at this video below for a guide on how to check your engine coolant:
REMEMBER: Don’t check your coolant levels when the engine is hot as it affects the pressure in the engine and can cause damage to your vehicle.
Here comes the sun
The sun is still a factor, even with poorer weather. Low winter sun can affect your vision when driving by causing blindness, so be sure to wear sunglasses or put down your sun visor to protect both your eyes and your driving.
As well as problems from the direct sun, drivers can also suffer when sunlight reflects off the road surface and causes glare, which can have the same adverse effects as the low sun itself. Again, wearing sunglasses or using the sun visor combats this issue, but if you still find your vision impaired it may be best to drive slowly or pull over until later on when the sun has moved.
Slow down for nature!
Around 74,000 deer are hit by cars every year (source). The risk of hitting one is highest in spring when young deer are starting to venture out , but the autumn is also a time to be wary as stags are often out rutting.
Due to the prevalence of deer across the British countryside it can become difficult in rural areas to avoid deer at this time of year, so if you’re going to an area with a known deer population plan a little extra time for your journey and drive carefully – in some areas it can be an offence to hit a deer!
Watch out for leaves
Fallen leaves aren’t just a problem on your lawn: hitting a patch of wet leaves on the road can be almost as bad as hitting black ice, so take care on country lanes and keep your speed down when you are forced to drive through them.
If your journey is achievable using main roads, try and stick to them as much as possible as they are more likely to be cleared due to high volumes of traffic and keeping motorists safe.
If you live on a street with many trees, you might want to try doing your bit and tidying up you driveway to stop leaves being blown into the road and causing a potential problem for drivers.
Remember, if you want to take your car for a check-up to get ready for autumn and winter driving, you can use Trust My Garage’s handy Find a Garage map to locate a reputable, Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved independent garage in your area to get the best possible service for both you and your vehicle.
Trust My Garage truly is the independent scheme for independent garages in the UK. They have no hidden agenda or commercial influences, which means they really do exist to ensure that independent garage standards are continuing to improve.
So, you’re flying the nest and heading for uni? For most, it’s been a hard slog getting to this point – staying up all night to revise for your exams, skipping social plans to perfect your coursework – and now you have to come to terms with the fact that you’re leaving home.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to leaving your parents behind: what will your new roomies be like? What will you eat every day? How do you stop your laundry from changing colour?
But there’s one consideration that you should probably give some greater thought into: should you bring your car with you?
It seems like the perfect idea, allowing you to have even more freedom now that you’re adjusting to independent life. Bringing your car along to your new city means you don’t have to worry about how you’ll get from A to B, especially if you find yourself living some distance from your university campus. It’ll also allow you greater opportunity to explore your new surroundings, and perhaps find some cool spots that aren’t on any bus route.
What’s more, uni digs can be a little bit cramped sometimes, and you will struggle to find space to store all of your belongings. Let’s be honest, you’ve probably brought everything you own with you, knowing full well you absolutely don’t need most of it! So, maybe having your car around could provide an extra little bit of storage – keeping your spare jackets and shoes in your boot could free up a lot essential dorm space.
Not only that, for some courses, having your car with you is almost essential to carry out your work. For example, you may need to visit patients or film on location, so your car will be handy for any extra specialist equipment you may have in tow.
Of course, there’s always the all-important fact that having your car with you will make it so much easier for you to run your dirty laundry home to your mum, because carrying bags full of dirty underwear, and dirty-pint-ridden t-shirts on a train probably isn’t the most ideal situation.
Sound good? Well, there’s slightly more to it than that.
As well as coming to terms with the fact that you almost certainly will end up becoming a personal taxi service for the rest of your flatmates, there are some other important considerations you really ought to think about:
Will you actually need it?
This is the biggest question you should ask yourself. Cars require a great deal of maintenance and upkeep, not to mention all the costs that are associated with keeping it on the roads, so, it is important to ask yourself if the extra hassle is really worth it.
Generally, most students opt to live in university halls during their first year. Typically, this accommodation is located either directly on, or extremely close to the campus. What’s more, most university’s benefit from being within a stone throw away from the life and heart of your new city, so considering everything you could possibly need will be within spitting distance of your shoebox bedroom, will you actually get the chance to give your motor a spin?
Perhaps consider all of the places you will need to get to, and have a look at the public transport links. You may find that everything you could possibly need is available an arms-width away.
Where can you park it?
It’s all well and good deciding that you need your motor with you, so you don’t have to lug bags and bags of groceries around town after a supermarket trip, but have you considered where you’ll keep your car?
Owing to their commonly centralised locations, many universities have extremely few parking facilities on campus, and the same applies for halls of residence. In most cases, parking facilities are only available for members of staff, meaning that you will probably be pushed to park your motor a few streets away. This leaves you in a difficult predicament regarding safety – can you actually trust it’ll be safe parked up on a street a mile away from where you’re living? And will you feel safe getting to your car, during the night, when you fancy a late drive to Maccies?
Why not take a day trip to your new city, before you move in, to scope out the area? Be sure to find out your hall of residence’s parking procedure (you may have to pay if they have an on-site car park), and take a wander around to find the nearest on-road parking.
Can you afford to run it?
Many Freshers light up at the prospect of their bank accounts being lined with a student loan. For most of you, this sum of money is more than your bank account has ever seen, so naturally, you’ll be inclined to splurge.
However, many forget that this ‘free’ money isn’t an excuse to buy all the latest gear that you otherwise couldn’t have afforded – it is, in fact, supposed to facilitate the extra expenses needed to live! We know, that doesn’t sound exciting, but many new students underestimate the actual cost of living.
It was recently announced that the government would be scrapping the maintenance grant, which provided an extra bit of income for students from poorer backgrounds. This means that students will now have to rely solely on their maintenance loan to fund their housing, utilities, food and books, as well as the extra bit of dollar needed to fund the nights out that you absolutely won’t want to miss.
Annoyingly, all of these add up – adulting can be cruel on the bank account- and actually, many will find that the loan just won’t be able to cover all of your outgoings.
So, how will you manage to keep your car taxed, insured, MOT’d, serviced and fuelled too? Will your weekend job cover it, as well as leaving you with enough to keep your allocated cupboard and fridge shelf full(ish)?
It sounds tedious, but it’d be wise to devise some sort of list of all your expected outgoings, and compare this to your income. This way you can weigh up how far out of pocket your car could leave you.
The bane of most motorists lives, but possibly more so for younger people, is insurance. It’s no secret that the younger generations can be hit with the highest of insurance premiums, and sometimes these figures can leave you wondering whether it’s worth being road-independent at all.
Now, different cities and areas around the country have increasing or decreasing effects on insurance premiums, mostly based on their affluence. As a general rule of thumb, ‘nicer’ more suburban areas tend to encourage ‘nicer’ lower premiums. City centres and less affluent areas tend to encourage pretty eye-watering figures. So, it’s definitely worth considering how your new address will affect your insurance costs. Could you afford to pay an increased premium? Be sure to get a quote before you make your decision
Will it be safe?
Now, we’re not trying to scare you here, but it is not unknown for student areas to be targeted for burglaries. It’s an unusual case, as most students agree that they do not keep many valuables in their university home – but it does happen, and it is worth considering.
Since you may not be able to park your car where you can keep an eye on it, you do want to be able to rest easily (albeit in a bed that won’t be as comfy as your one back home), knowing that it will be safe. For this reason, it is worth checking your alarm system is intact and investing in some sort of immobiliser or steering lock.
It probably goes without saying that, should you be forced to park some distance from your front door, avoid leaving anything valuable inside your vehicle.
What happens when something does go wrong?
We bet many of you leave it to your parents to sort out your car upkeep. Many young people like to enjoy the leisure of driving a car, without having to worry about the nuisance maintenance it needs. So, what will you do when you’re too far away from the nest for your mum and dad to sort your MOT or service?
You head to Trust My Garage!
Trust My Garage is a garage approval scheme that gives you the peace of mind that your car will be in safe hands. All Trust My Garage members abide by a strict code of conduct, meaning that your service will always be second to none.
Luckily, finding your nearest one is easy. Head to www.trustmygarage.co.uk or download the Trust My Garage app in the App store or Google Play store. From here, you can simply type in your postcode, and you’ll be directed to a selection of your nearest trusted garages.
It’s as simple as that.
We have over 2,600 members across the country, meaning that you’ll never be too far away from a Trust My Garage member.
But how will you afford to pay for your garage services?
We’ve already established that your outgoings at university will wind up being much more than you expect. So, you’re probably getting sweaty palmed at the idea of having to fork out more money in the case of an unexpected car service or repair.
But, you need not worry!
Our Car Repair Plan scheme allows you to deposit a small amount of money into an online account every month. This fund can be built up to ‘shield yourself from unexpected car repair costs’ as some Trust My Garage members around the country will allow you to pay for their services using this plan. When searching for a garage via the Trust My Garage website, you are able to refine the search filter to only show those who accept the Car Repair Plan.
Although it may be tempting, when you fancy a greasy kebab at 5am after a heavy night, you cannot withdraw any savings from your Car Repair Plan account, meaning that all the money that you do save up, can be used to pay off those annoying, but completely necessary, car services.
It gets better! The Car Repair Plan allows you to add more than one car to your account. This means you don’t personally have to be an account holder in order to take advantage of this scheme – your parents can be.
Mum and dad can deposit their chosen amount into their account every month, and, if they’ve added your car onto their account, you can use their fund to cover your car repair needs. We recommend asking their permission first though!
How does that sound? Find out more about Trust My Garage and the Car Repair Plan here.
So what will your decision be, will you be taking your motor along to uni with you? Comment below, and let us know what you decide to do! And Good Luck with your new adventure!