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Planning a summer staycation? Get your vehicle holiday-ready with Trust My Garage

This year, global circumstances are affecting many UK residents’ plans for a summer holiday. Instead of waiting until the world is turning again, some people are opting for a stay-at-home holiday this summer – often referred to as a “staycation”.

Staycations are a great opportunity to explore parts yet unknown across the UK, and with a wide range of options on our doorstep, many are, or will be, driving to a new destination to get their summer break. If you’re taking your vehicle on the road to relaxation, these top tips from Trust My Garage will help make sure you get their safely and happily – read on to find out more!

Plan your route(s)

Before setting off on any journey it is worth checking the routes to your destination. Ideally, have a main route and a back-up option prepared in case of unforeseen delays like traffic or road closures. Many internet search engines offer mapping functions, providing travel times based on time of day, traffic and road incidents, so you can prepare well ahead for your trip. By doing a little homework beforehand, you could save a lot of time and avoid frustrations – which means more time for you to enjoy your holiday.

Check your fluid levels

Prior to making your trip you should check your vehicle’s fluid levels. You can check these yourself if you are comfortable doing so, or you can take your vehicle to a local garage and ask them to check that your levels are where they should be. Key fluids to check are:

  1. Windscreen wash fluid – windscreen wiper symbol on cap
  2. Brake fluid – black with hazard triangle with “!” on cap
  3. Power steering fluid – steering wheel logo on cap
  4. Engine Oil – cap with “OIL” or oil can logo, and yellow ended dipstick for checking the oil level is correct
  5. Engine coolant level – black with hazard triangle with “!” on cap

It is important to ensure your fluids are all within their required minimum and maximum markings, which are indicated with MIN MAX marks either on the side of their respective fluid tanks or, in the case of engine oil, the marked as lines near the end of the dipstick.

If you want to learn how to check your engine oil, watch this simple guide on what to do:

If you are unsure if your car needs any more fluids, or which fluids to use, call or visit your local garage. They should be able to assist and advise on what is best for your vehicle.

Check your tyres and lights

Tyres are a crucial element of keeping your vehicle safe on the roads, so make sure yours tread depths are well within legal limits before heading out! The 20p test is a simple and effective way to check your tyres have an adequate amount of tread to keep you safe on the roads – this is how you do it:

As well as checking your tread depth, you should also ensure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure(s), as detailed in your vehicle’s Owner’s Manual. When travelling with a heavy load, such as baggage for a holiday, you may need to adjust the tyre pressures to ensure optimum tyre efficiency. Details of which weight levels require this should also be provided in your Owner’s Manual as an accompaniment to the pressure details.

While checking your running tyres, it’s good idea to also check your spare(if you have one) for any lumps, bulges or tears in case it is needed on your trip, or alternatively you can ensure you have a fully-stocked tyre  repair kit in your vehicle in case of emergency. For more information on how to check your tyres, you can check out our “What to do when… you need to check your vehicle’s tyres” blog post here.

If your vehicle does require new tyres, you can contact your local garage to arrange a convenient time for you to visit them to fit new tyres to your vehicle.

Lights are equally important too, as a dim or non-functioning light can impair your view of the road or prevent another motorist from seeing your vehicle. If you have a brake light that isn’t working, you could be subject to any of the following:

  • A £60 fine and three points on your licence
  • A Vehicle Defect Rectification Notice – 14 days to fix the fault and provide proof of the fix
  • Your car taken off the road immediately

An easy way to check your lights are functioning, while your vehicle is parked safely, is to turn them on (or depress the brake pedal) and look in any reflective surfaces around you to confirm lights are visible. Reflective surfaces can be the bodies of other nearby vehicles, shop windows or mirrors. If you are accompanied, you can also ask another person to step out and walk around the stationary vehicle to confirm all lights are functioning as normal.

If you need a lightbulb replacing and are unsure which bulb type to purchase, or do not know how to fit a lightbulb to your vehicle, you can contact your local garage and arrange for the service to be carried out by them.

Check your vehicle’s tax, MOT and insurance

Before you’ve even left the house, you may need to check these three important documents are valid and have enough time left on them, to enable you to legally complete your staycation.

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

If you are unsure of your vehicle’s MOT status you can use the Gov.uk MOT history checker to see when your vehicle last had an MOT, and the previous detailed information about that MOT. It’s worth ensuring that any advisory items noted at the last MOT are repaired, as these item may have deteriorated since the last MOT was carried out. As part of this service, you can also check if there are any outstanding recalls for your vehicle – where the manufacturer needs to investigate and potentially repair a problem with a certain batch of vehicles – and how to proceed if there is a recall problem. Find out more on the Gov.uk website here.

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.

Visit a local TMG member garage, if necessary

If you think your vehicle needs a professional touch, you can locate your nearest CTSI-approved Trust My Garage member by visiting the Trust My Garage website’s ‘Find a Garage’ map! You can even read reviews from other motorists about the members in your area to help you decide which garage is right for you. Try it out here:

Want to know more about Trust My Garage?

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

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

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!

Motoring forwards – Find out what drives your vehicle with Trust My Garage

There are many elements to driving a car, but one of the most important is how it’s propelled forwards! Find out all you need to know about which type of “wheel drive” could work best for you with the Trust My Garage blog – read on to discover more.

Front-Wheel Drive

Front-wheel drive is the most common layout for the engine and transmission set-up in the new car market and has been so for the last few decades. It works by the engine only sending power to the front two wheels of the vehicle (hence the name), effectively pulling the car along from the front.

Front-wheel drive is so popular in the car market because it is less complex and more affordable to engineer, compared to rear or four-wheel drive, and it also is better for fuel economy!

However, front-wheel drive does have certain limitations which make it less than ideal for high performance cars. Although many hot hatches do use it, front-wheel drive can’t offer the same kind of rapid acceleration you see from rear or four-wheel drive cars.

By Moebiusuibeom-en – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9684337

Rear-Wheel Drive

While most front-wheel drive cars also sport their engines in the front of the vehicle, with rear-wheel drive vehicles the engine can be located in different places (such as in the middle or rear of the vehicle). Rear-wheel drive works in the opposite manner to front-wheel drive, with the engine sending power to the rear two wheels of the vehicle and using it to push the vehicle forwards from the back.

Rear-wheel drive offers better acceleration than front-wheel drive. Unlike front-wheel drive, it is possible to achieve optimal 50/50 front/rear weight distribution with a rear-wheel drive car, which offers better balance and handling in a vehicle.

By Moebiusuibeom-en – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9684227

However, rear-wheel drive often compromises cabin practicality because the powertrain requires a driveshaft. This creates a bump in the passenger cabin, losing space for anyone sat in the vehicle. Rear-wheel drive is also less efficient than front-wheel drive and can be difficult for drivers to handle if there’s no traction control or road conditions are slippery due to the weather.

Both front- and rear-wheel drive can also be referred to as “Two-wheel drive”, as they only use two of the vehicle’s wheels to propel it forwards.

All-Wheel Drive

All-wheel drive offers a setup in which the engine’s power gets sent to a vehicle’s four wheels for maximum traction. All-wheel drive is all about varying the amount of power sent to each wheel, either mechanically or electronically.

All-wheel drive can either be offered as a part- or full-time system, depending on the model of vehicle and driver preferences. Some models now feature a system that allows the driver to disconnect the rear wheels when driving at speed, reducing drag and improving fuel economy. More expensive systems may also have a feature that engages and disengages all-wheel drive automatically based on the road conditions, detected by sensors around the vehicle and calculated by an onboard computer.

4-Wheel Drive

Sometimes referred to as 4×4, four-wheel drive powertrains are largely associated with SUV models, but can also be found on numerous family and executive cars, especially among vehicles with higher specs.

This system’s main distinction is that it’s typically used on vehicles designed and built to handle the unpaved wilderness.

Unlike all-wheel drive, it sends power to all four wheels equally and without variation, meaning each wheel will spin at the same constant rate as all the others. The equal split of power is great for manoeuvring through tough, low-traction situations, but it isn’t very friendly on the pavement.

By Moebiusuibeom-en – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9684357

Driving a four-wheel drive car on solid ground can make simple actions like turning around in a tight street very difficult, because the wheels are no longer in sync. Most modern four-wheel drive vehicles are equipped with a part-time system, meaning they operate in two-wheel drive mode in normal driving conditions. This way, the driver can engage the four-wheel drive system manually from the cabin only where necessary.

Keeping your vehicle in wheely good condition

Regardless of how your motor is propelled forwards, it’s important to keep it in a safe and legal driving condition. For a professional garage experience, you can find a local CTSI approved Trust My Garage member by visiting the Trust My Garage website’s ‘Find a Garage’ map!

Apart from finding a garage nearby, you can also 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:

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, so they can help you motor on happily and safely.

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 – and you can find out more by visiting us at TrustMyGarage.co.uk or checking out our Facebook and Twitter pages!

What to do when… a pothole damages your vehicle

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.

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!

Fuel-efficient driving – How can you make your motor’s MPG go the extra mile?

As of December 2018, BBC News’ Fuel Price Calculator revealed the price of fuel per litre across the UK stood at £1.24 and £1.34 for petrol and diesel vehicles respectively (source). With the cost of filling up the tank on the rise, Trust My Garage has some top tips on how to drive economically and make your MPG go further – check them out below!

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Condense your time on the road

Did you know that when you drive a car that has been parked for a few hours the engine is cold and it uses more fuel to power the engine for the first five miles or so? By combining your errands into one daily trip you can save your pennies and your mileage – meaning your miles will last longer between trips to the pump.

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Stick to the speed limit

This one should be a given for responsible driving, but stick to the speed limits! What Car? research shows that a vehicle going at 80mph uses up to 25% more fuel than one going at 70mph.

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Spend a minute on maintenance

One of the best ways to improve your fuel efficiency is to keep your car well maintained and serviced regularly. By ensuring your car is running optimally you can utilise your fuel and go further for your pounds, even if it’s just pumping up your tyres to the correct pressure! If you’re not sure on how best to go about maintaining your car, check out our latest maintenance blog post: “Winter driving – how to stay safe when the cold hits”.

If you think your car could be in need of a service, you need a helping hand when it comes to good maintenance practice, or you think your motor could be in need of a repair, your local Trust My Garage member can help. Not sure if there’s a member near you? Pop your post code into TMG’s ‘Find a Garage’ map and we can tell you who’s nearby!

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Air-con? Air-gone!

Car heaters don’t, in general, use up much fuel as they recycle the heat from the engine. Air conditioning, however, does. It’s definitely the case if you have an older vehicle but it’s much less noticeable with modern cars. Remember that using your air-con regularly is a good thing, as it keeps the seals in good condition. It also dries the air so that it’s as useful to you in winter as it is in summer for keeping your windscreen de-misted. But what about opening windows instead? When it comes to keeping them down it may affect fuel consumption at more than 40mph, but air conditioning marginally increases fuel use at all speeds.

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Keep F1 on the track

“Slip-streaming” behind other vehicles to help save fuel is a technique Formula 1 drivers adopt, but it is highly dangerous and frowned upon by road safety experts. Similarly, switching off the engine whilst moving and coasting to a stop is also deemed to be extremely reckless – so don’t bring racetrack habits to the road.

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Take a weight off

Just like your body, your car needs more fuel to move around more weight, which means you shouldn’t cart items around in your boot unless you absolutely need to. You can also reduce weight by filling up with less fuel, more often. You’d be surprised how much more a full tank of fuel weighs than half a tank!

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Read the road and use gravity

Use gravity to your advantage and build up momentum by pushing on downhill to power through inclines. This may sound confusing, but a good way to do this is to read the road as if you were on a pushbike and accelerate accordingly. While doing this, be sure to look far ahead while driving and keep moving where possible by anticipating obstacles. Easing off the throttle and keeping momentum is better than speeding up, braking and then starting all over again.

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What is 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. If there’s a problem that can’t be sorted out between you and your garage, the IGA takes over and helps to achieve a happy outcome.

For more information about Trust My Garage or to locate your nearest TMG member visit www.trustmygarage.co.uk.

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Vehicle Emissions: What are they and how are they measured under the new MOT Test?

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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!

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Give your car a Spring in its step with Trust My Garage

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

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If you have any tips of your own for getting ready for Spring, be sure to let us know in the comments below!

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