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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.

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!

Autumn Budget 2017 – How will it affect motorists?

Wednesday 22nd November saw Chancellor of the Exchequer announce his Autumn budget speech to the House of Commons.

The Budget is the Government’s yearly announcement about how it will use nation’s money to fund services such as schools, the NHS, policing, housing and more. Taxpayers provide money for the Government, which then translates into the budget’s funding. Motoring taxes such as VAT, charged at the current rate of 20%, Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax), and fuel duty are some of the types of funding coming from vehicle owners that the budget utilises.

Philip Hammond Budget 2017

Trust My Garage believes that keeping you in the loop as a vehicle owner is of vital importance, so we’ve created a breakdown on how the changes announced in the budget could affect the UK’s motorists and the future of driving.

Fuel Duty

After much speculation, fuel duty has remained frozen for another year – meaning drivers of diesel vehicles will not be subject to increased costs for their fuel.

Road Tax

However, vehicle excise duty for diesel cars that do not meet the latest emission standards will rise by one band in April 2018 to crack down on the increasing levels of air pollution – so you could be paying anything from £15 to £500 more a year depending on how polluting your diesel vehicle is. As well as this, existing diesel supplements in company car tax will rise by 1%.

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The Chancellor also reassured “white van men, and women” that company taxes on diesel vehicles will not hit them –  The changes to company car tax for diesel vehicles are designed for cars only.

Electric Cars

As a benefit to motorists, Mr Hammond unveiled extra funding and tax incentives for electric car drivers in order to initiate further take up of electric vehicles (EVs). An extra £100 million is set to go towards helping people buy battery electric cars. The Government has also pledged to make sure all new homes are built with the right cables for electric car charge points.

In addition to the extra investments, electric cars charged at work will not incur benefit in kind, meaning they aren’t subject to taxation as fossil fuel-run vehicles are. This should encourage businesses to install charging points on their premises for employees – making it easier to charge your car at a convenient time.

EVs

The Government is also investing more funding into a cohesive electric vehicle charging infrastructure, once again ensuring you can stay charged up and ready to go no matter where you are if you choose to run an EV.

Driverless Technology

Thinking even further ahead, the Government has pledged to devote funding to driverless cars, considering them as the ‘next step’ after electric vehicles. The Chancellor announced that the UK will set out rules so that self-driving cars can be tested without a safety operator.

In Summary

Overall, the latest budget has been of mixed quality for motorists. Fuel duty prices have unexpectedly been frozen again to save you money, and the investment into electric vehicles will make it easier than ever to make the switch to a greener car and reduce air pollution for the next generation. However, the rise in costs for diesel vehicles is still set to affect many thousands of drivers across the UK.

No matter what the budget – be it yours or the UK’s – Trust My Garage is here to help you ensure your car is running at its best! If you’re looking for any kind of  service or repair, you can use our handy Find a Garage map to locate your nearest Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) code of conduct approved member.

For more information about Trust My Garage you can also visit our website at www.TrustMyGarage.co.uk.

Got any thoughts or comments about how the Autumn budget could affect you? Tell us in the comments below!

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