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!
How old were you when you first got your driving licence? How many years have you been on the road – and do you think you could still pass your test now? With age comes experience, as they say, but is there a point where age can become a deteriorating factor in your driving? Figures show that a record 100,000 people number of people aged over 90 holding a driving licence in Britain, so ensuring that you’re a sound and competent driver is a priority for staying safe on the roads.
At Trust My Garage, we want to ensure drivers of all ages have a safe and happy driving experience, so we’ve put together some advice to help older drivers stay at the top of their game when it comes to getting behind the wheel.
It’s paramount for all motorists to ensure their eyesight is good enough to operate a vehicle on the road, but for older drivers it can be difficult to determine if there’s an issue with your sight. DVLA standards of vision for driving rules state: “You must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.” If a driver needs glasses or contact lenses in order to read a number plate at this distance, then they “must wear glasses or contact lenses every time you drive if you need them to meet the ‘standards of vision for driving’.”
The best way to make sure you’re still safe to drive is with regular eye tests. If you already wear glasses, your optician will advise you on how frequently an eye test is needed, depending on the severity of your visual impairment. If you don’t wear glasses, you can visit a local optician and ask for an appointment. If you’re aged 60 or over and a UK resident, you should qualify for an NHS funded eye test. You can enquire at your optician about redeeming this free test.
If you find yourself struggling to read traffic signs when out on the road, along with number plates or other important road details such as potential hazards, you should book an eye test with your optician as soon as possible. Eyesight deterioration can sometimes be a symptom of other effects of ill health, so any issues should be checked by a professional.
Not only can poor eye health affect you, it can also affect other drivers if you’re involved in an accident. If you don’t see a hazard until it’s too late, it will affect your reaction time to the hazard and potentially cause a dangerous accident – which could also involve other drivers! For the safety of yourself and other drivers, it’s better to be cautious and check that your eyes are working as best they can.
Tiredness and rest periods
As you age, it’s important to let your body rest and catch up with your mind. After all, we aren’t all lucky enough to stay 16 forever! In many older people, they are often “only as old as they feel”, but when it comes to driving, older motorists must acknowledge that their bodies change with age.
Tiredness plays a key factor for any driver, but it can be especially prevalent among older motorists. Giving yourself a break on longer drives is imperative to letting your brain rest, as concentrating for long periods of time can really cause your driving to suffer. Even younger drivers can fall prey to tiredness! It’s often a mistake that drivers overlook, but one that can cause real issues. If you’re driving for over two hours you should break for at least fifteen minutes, and as you get older you can increase the amount of your rest stops to suit your needs. If you aren’t used to driving long distances you should also factor in more rest stops, and take time to have a break and stretch your legs or get some refreshments where you can.
Did you know that it’s illegal to drive with legal drugs in your body if it impairs your driving? From hayfever to headaches, it’s important to check packaging for any potential side effects and issues, as often many motorists don’t realise how significantly medication can affect your driving. This is especially true for prescribed medication, as it is usually stronger than anything purchased over-the-counter. If you’re unsure about the effects of any medications you take, you can check with your GP for their professional opinion.
Refresh your driving
If you find that you’re struggling with driving as you get older, it’s possible that some refresher driving lessons may help. It’s important that you know the rules of the road, and in some cases a piece of forgotten knowledge could come in handy! Many driving schools offer refresher lessons on areas of motoring that you feel less certain about, and you can take as many lessons as you need – even if it’s only one!
If you’d like more of a theoretical refresher, you can also re-read The Highway Code, either in print or online via the .Gov website. It’s easily divided into different sections so you can clearly see which sort of information is relevant to you. As well as rules for the road, it also contains road user etiquette tips to make being on the road easier for everybody, including pedestrians and cyclists.
Equip your vehicle
Sometimes, as our bodies change, we suffer from issues that can affect our driving. If you’re struggling with any part of your body it can prohibit your ability to drive – especially issues with your eyes, as stated above. However, if your arms and/or legs are affected, it can take longer for you to manoeuver a vehicle and also react to hazards. If necessary – and within your costs – you can have your car outfitted with extra aids in order to make driving easier, or you can see what other kind of help is available in order to ensure you remain safe if you stay on the roads.
It’s also the case that you may want to stick to routes you find easier to drive – but if it any point you begin to feel unsafe, even on familiar roads, you should consider what you need to do in order to best suit your needs.
At Trust My Garage, we believe the most important rule of all when it comes to driving – no matter your age – is to stay safe. If everyone uses the road in a safe manner, it should be much easier and more agreeable when it comes to driving.
It’s also paramount that your vehicle is safe too, and if you want to ensure your motor is running in great condition, you can take it to your local Trust My Garage member, operating as part of our Chartered Trading Standards approved consumer code. They can help you keep your car running as smoothly as your driving, and keep you motoring ahead for the future.
More about Trust My Garage
Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s best local garages – every one different and every one dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.
All the garages in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who have to comply with a strict code of practice.
Each and every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for your money.
Visit www.TRUSTMYGARAGE.co.uk and type in your postcode to find your nearest trusted independent garage.
Driving in wet weather
Over the past few weeks, Britain has experienced heavy out-of-season showers. In some cities, these downfalls have proven too much for drainage systems, as flooding has been seen throughout the country. Although 20 June marked the official first day of summer, weather reports suggest that it may not be time to pack away the umbrellas and wellies just yet. When it comes to driving, too, extra precautions ought to be taken.
As most will remember from the theory driving test, rain can severely impair driving conditions. Aside from the splutters and splats of raindrops obscuring windscreens, stopping distances and visibility are also affected. Lack of care, when driving in the rain, can lead to lack of control, collision, and, in extreme cases, fatalities – so keeping safe during downfalls is essential. Acting as further solution, it has been suggested that drivers ought to avoid driving during extreme weather conditions, if possible.
Richard Gladman, Head of Driving Standards, said: “Only travel in extreme adverse weather conditions if it is really necessary.”
For most, avoiding the weather can be impractical, but there are easy ways to ensure greater safety when driving during the current weather conditions.
Here’s a list of things to consider during your summer downpour driving:
The last thing you want, when caught up in a spell of heavy rains, is to have your vision restricted due to damaged or dirty windscreen wipers. With the current unforgiving conditions, it is important to make sure that your senses, as well as your motor, are fully functional. During extreme downfall, it can become near impossible to see more than the stampede of raindrops on your windscreen, which makes it increasingly difficult to spot a potential hazard. What’s more, excess water decreases the amount of grip your tyres have on the road, which could lead to slipping and sliding, should your breaks be pressed too abruptly. Avoid potential casualties by ensuring your lights, windscreen wipers and tyre pressures are all present and correct, and be sure to stay attentive. Contact your local Trust My Garage to carry out all your essential car checks.
Planning is key when it comes to driving in extreme weather conditions. Where it is best to avoid travelling altogether, if this is unavoidable, forward-thinking is important. Gladman said: “Before setting off, check for any weather alerts, traffic updates or planned road closures that may affect your journey.” It is beneficial to clue yourself up on any roads in your area that are prone to flooding; this will allow you to avoid potentially dangerous routes. What’s more, it is best to allow more time to reach your destination, as the current weather can lead to longer routes, more diversions and lengthier traffic queues. These circumstances could lead to stress behind the wheel which can poorly affect your driving. Stay safe by planning your journey in advance, and leaving out earlier than usual.
It’s no secret that some road surfaces around the country are a little worse for wear; what’s more, heavy rains often lead to them becoming even more damaged. As well as leading to a slightly bumpier journey, damaged road surfaces can also be detrimental to your tyres, causing excessive wear and tear. In clear weathers, it is far easier to avoid potholes or chips in the road; however, during the rain, puddles make them increasingly difficult to spot. A tip for spotting potentially impaired surfaces is to look out for any loose chunks of tarmac, as these are signs of damaged road surfaces.
With heavy rains deterring vision, it is important for motorists to stay visible. Switching on your dipped headlights will allow other drivers to see you easily – without overwhelming them with the glare of your full beams. When driving an unfamiliar car, it is important to make sure you are aware of how buttons and switches work before setting off on your journey. In extreme weather conditions, familiarise yourself with the light switches and settings before revving off.
It is a fact that stopping distance increases during wet weather. Due to the excess water on the roads, your tyres grip is far less efficient, so slips and skids can be unavoidable. During extreme weathers, it is essential to consider your speed, as the physics of driving in the rain dictates that the higher the speed, the greater the stopping distance. Stay safe by sticking to the speed limit and keeping a safe space between you and the car ahead.
Reduced speed will also provide a smoother ride when driving through large puddles. When driving through excess waters, or at high speeds on wet roads, your car faces the risk of building up a layer of water between the vehicle’s wheels and the road which cannot be cleared by the tread on the tyres. If this becomes too much for the car to handle, your vehicle could lose traction which prevents the car from responding to your controls, and gaining a mind of its own. This is called aquaplaning, and gives you the feeling that your car is on water-skis. You may also notice the car becoming much quieter, as the noise of tyres on tarmac will disappear.
In this event, although instinct may dictate it, it’s best to avoid slamming on the brakes or jerking as these can lead to skidding. Should this happen, allow the vehicle to follow the path that it wants to and ease your foot off the accelerator until you can feel friction and traction coming back to your wheels. At this point, it is safe for you to gently nudge your steering wheel and use your brakes lightly (if your car has ABS, at this point, you can brake normally). More preventatively, keeping a steady pace will allow for a more streamlined approach to the water, decreasing your chances of aquaplaning, or spraying other road users.
Aquaplaning is much more likely if your tyres are worn, so be sure to check your tread depth regularly.
In extreme circumstances, torrential rain can interfere with the electrics of your vehicle, leading to a breakdown. Plan ahead for any emergencies by keeping your mobile phone charged, so you can call for recovery. It is also recommended that you are familiar with your local garage for any repairs that may be needed. Be sure to download the Trust My Garage app or head to the website to locate your nearest trusted garage. While you wait for your recovery service, ensure your bonnet is closed to avoid further complications.
Most importantly, during the extreme weather conditions, it’s important to stay warm and dry – ensure your car is kitted out with emergency supplies such as blankets, first-aid kits and extra food and drink.
For more information on how to keep you and your car safe during the summer flooding, seek advice from your local Trust My Garage member.
With the new on-the-spot fines for middle-lane hogging coming into play this July there is lots to think about when cruising down the motorways at this time of year.
Two thirds of Britons are taking a summer holiday in the UK this year, which is up from 41% in 2012. When travelling abroad vehicle maintenance is the responsibility of airlines, railway executives and cruise ships providers but when you drive to a staycation, maintenance of your car is your own responsibility. With all the excitement about getting away this year, are we all thinking about preparing our cars for long motorway journeys?
It is vital that you check your car is safe for motorway journeys by taking it to a Trust My Garage member for a service. Over one hundred people died on UK motorways in 2011 and 740 were seriously injured. A number of these accidents were results of mechanical faults and vehicle defects, causing such things as; tyre blow-outs, brake failure, and steering mechanism failure.
“So what can I check in order to prevent inconvenient breakdowns and dangerous accidents?”
The most common type of steering problem is loss of power steering assistance due to damaged hydraulic pipes or a loose drive belt; normally indicated by heaviness in your steering. Smaller modern cars have electric power steering and any problem here may be accompanied by a warning light on the dashboard.
Last summer it was revealed that the number of people convicted for driving with dangerous or defective tyres was a massive 9,369. If your tyres are inflated too much or too little then you are putting yourself and your passengers at risk of a tyre blow-out, which effectively causes the tyre to explode, making you unbalanced and causing you to swerve out of your lane. This is more likely on a motorway where the tyre temperature is higher because of the sustained high speeds and you will need quick reactions in order to stop safely. It is important that you check your tyre pressures according to your handbook recommendations before you set off for a motorway journey.
Unsafe brakes can be caused by worn brake pads, leaking brake fluid, or mechanical failure. You should regularly check these, and especially when you are heading for the motorway as responsive brakes are essential when stopping suddenly at such high speeds. If you are starting to feel increased or decreased resistance when stopping then it is time to consult a trusted garage.
All fluids under the bonnet should be checked regularly, but even more so if you are about to take a long journey on a motorway. These include brake fluid, oil, engine coolant – if any of these are running low you run the risk of breaking down on the motorway, which is dangerous with other vehicles moving past at 70mph – so make sure you are all topped up before you set off on the motorway and don’t forget to check the temperature gauge as your journey progresses.
If you are unsure about any aspect of your car, your warning light is flashing or your engine is making a grumbling noise, that’s the time to take it to a Trust My Garage member for a professional service. You can find your nearest trusted garage by entering your postcode in our postcode finder HERE
Are you a female driver? Are you carrying out basic maintenance checks on your car? A recent survey that we conducted found a staggering 67% of female drivers do not do something as simple as check their brake fluid levels and just under half don’t check their oil levels as often as they should.
One of our members in Ashton is doing its bit to help women better understand their vehicles, and is offering vital training to female drivers, demonstrating how to carry out basic car maintenance checks.
GuideBridge MOT & Service Centre has been a TRUST MY GARAGE member since we launched the independent scheme. A family-run garage, it has earned a reputation as the most ‘female friendly garage in Ashton,’ thanks to the extra care and considered approach it takes towards making female drivers feel at home when they take their vehicle in for a service, repair or MOT.
Jan Lord, Business Development Manager at GuideBridge tells us more…..
“Guide Bridge MOT & Service Centre is managed by three ladies who each have a different role to play. We are all drivers ourselves so we understand the issues that female drivers face. I work behind the scenes on marketing and Fleet Management, Nicola is our Garage Manager, and we also have our receptionist, Lauren.
A large proportion of our customers are women; there is around a 70:30 split and I think this is because we have female faces in the garage which makes female drivers feel more at ease when entering a garage environment.
As women, we understand that it can be bewildering when it comes to car maintenance and repairs. This is exactly why we have developed a process of educating and supporting female motorists in our area – to make them feel relaxed and confident with their own cars.
We hold regular workshops for women to teach them the basics about car maintenance. It’s hugely popular and we have helped women from all walks of life. We’ve had women from 17 years-old all the way to 79 years-old, and a group of women from the Women’s Institute also attend regularly. We encourage the female drivers who join our course to imagine what it would be like when faced with a real life breakdown and teach them how to react in these situations. We had one lady attend once in a tight short skirt and stiletto heels. Why? Because this is what she would likely be wearing in the event of a breakdown as she uses her car to travel to social events!
We usually teach around three ladies at a time, and advise them to come in with their own cars so that we can go over everything that they need to know to keep their cars in good condition. This includes; what certain buttons do on their dashboard, why there are different lights on a dashboard, how to change wheels and windscreen blades, and checking all fluids. They always go away feeling more confident should they ever experience a break down because they have learned how to act in these situations.
Because of our considered and educational approach to female drivers, more of our female customers are pro-active in addressing any initial problems with their cars, which is saving them money in the long term. They only visit us when they are due a regular service, need a repair or for their MOT. I think women tend to worry about situations where something goes wrong, out of their control, which is why a proper education is essential. We are providing this education to give them peace of mind on the road.”
GuideBridge is a family-run business providing MOTs, car servicing, and vehicle repairs in Tameside, for both private motorists and fleet operators. It was established in 2003, and is lead by Derek Lord who has over 40 years experience in the motor trade.
As a proud TRUST MY GARAGE member, GuideBridge will be attending the annual Greater Manchester Business Expo on 16th July at the Hilton Hotel on Deansgate. If you are attending, pop along to see them – they will be handing out goody bags to visitors of the stand and helping to educate garages and motorists about the great work we are doing at TRUST MY GARAGE.
The number of over 50s carrying out basic car maintenance, such as changing the battery, has almost halved over the last five years (17% compared to 10%); instead they are using garages to carry out these basic tasks according to a report from Saga Car Insurance.
Technology is the heart of the modern car which means we are now able to enjoy a smoother ride with added luxury. However, a more advanced level of expertise is needed when something needs altering or repairing. As cars have become more complex, over 50s have become less confident about car maintenance.
Old vs New
A history lesson in brief… Back in the 1970s car manufacturers started using electronic equipment to control vehicle functions and systematically regulate vehicle emissions. This subsequently increased the complexity of the vehicle functions, which improved performance, safety, reliability and fuel efficiency. These increasingly complex systems needed to be controlled and gradually the number of “computers” (or ECUs) in the vehicle grew until we have the modern motor car with its own network of interconnected systems. Although the car can even store and report faults, access to this information is unlikely to be available to the home mechanic.
These ‘on board diagnostics’, are coded, which means you require the technical expertise of a trained mechanic – who has access to technical data as well as sophisticated and expensive equipment to generate an accurate diagnosis of the car’s problem.
What else do the stats say?
|Saga report…||TMG says…|
|One in six (16%) men take their car to a garage after failing to make basic repairs themselves.||Rather than make a problem worse by taking a DIY approach, use a trusted independent garage that will get it right first time. It’s what they are there for!|
|DIY car repairs:
||Whatever the age of your car, using a professional is always the safest bet, even if you think you can do it yourself. Sometimes, the upfront cost savings in DIY repairs can end up costing you much more in larger repair work down the road, or in the loss of insurance coverage because you didn’t go to a professional.|
|Only 2% of women are likely to attempt making repairs to their car compared with 15% of men.||Women are making a wise move here. TMG members pride themselves on being ‘female’ friendly, as they try to stub out the old stigma attached to the industry. They explain all their costs in a transparent manner and offer a professional and personal service to everyone.|
A different report from Saga last month found that over a third of drivers over 50 are also trying to reduce their motoring spend. When it comes to taking your car for a service or repair, using an independent garage is the most cost efficient way to do it.
See our very own Infographic (infographic link) highlighting research from the Independent Garage Association (IGA). It shows that by visiting an independent garage you could be spending on average, £40 an hour less than if you visited a main dealer.
If you can relate to this post, then make sure you find your most local TMG member to make sure a professional and friendly mechanic is looking at your car and making it roadworthy… first time round!
Ideally you should be checking your wheel alignment as often as you get your car serviced and every time you have a tyre change!
If it has never seemed important, here are the top 5 reasons why you should be checking regularly that the wheels of your car are perpendicular to the road and parallel to one another.
1. SAFETY for you and your passengers
Badly aligned wheels will result in your car being pulled to one side of the road ultimately putting everyone in the car at unnecessary risk. Think of it like driving in wet or icy conditions. By not regularly getting your wheel alignment checked you are unintentionally making driving an unsafe practice.
2. Save fuel and costs
You wouldn’t initially think it, but when your wheels are not properly aligned it adds extra pressure on your tyres and they push against each other. This then creates higher resistance between your tyres and the road, making it harder for your car to move forward, and consequently using up more fuel. In addition to this the extra fuel usage means you are burning more fossil fuels which significantly harm the environment.
3. Reduce your carbon footprint
These days, everybody is trying to reduce their own carbon footprint and by making sure your wheels are correctly aligned, you can manage your emissions. The extra fuel usage needed to move your car forward when poor alignment is causing your wheels to fall under extra pressure, means that more fossil fuels are being burned and you are inadvertently contributing to global emissions. By having your wheel alignment regularly checked, you can help to improve your own carbon footprint.
4. Extend the lifespan of your tyres
New tyres can be a real drain on your bank account, and the price of wheel alignment at a garage is likely to be a fraction of the cost of brand new tyres. As mentioned, badly aligned wheels add more pressure onto your tyres – and this burns the rubber much faster. If you read our previous blog HERE on tyre depth, you will see that bald tyres are extremely dangerous and costly – so you need to keep an eye on these for both your safety and to save money.
5. Avoid knock on effects
Not addressing your wheel alignment can take its toll on other parts of your vehicle. Wheel alignment is carefully defined by the vehicle manufacturers to ensure that the car will always handle in a safe and secure manner. Misaligned wheels , which can often be caused by the poor state of our roads – not helped by the proliferation of traffic calming measures – can literally have a “knock-on” effect on other components such as brakes, steering and suspension.”
What should you do next?
Trust My Garage advises that you get your wheel alignment checked every 6,000 miles or every six months. Get your nearest Trust My Garage member to cast their expert eye over your tyres for peace of mind. You can find your nearest member HERE.