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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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Behind the wheel: top tips for older drivers

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. 

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Eyesight

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. 

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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. 

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Medication management

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.

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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. 

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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. 

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Stay safe

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. 

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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.

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Bad parking and how to avoid it

It’s inevitable – sometimes there are people that are bad at parking. Often there isn’t much you can do in a situation where other people have parked improperly or illegally, but how can you avoid doing it yourself? Take a look at our handy tips on how to be good at parking – and some examples of what not to do!

 

The Highway Code has some clear rules about what a motorist can and can’t do when it comes to parking. For example, Rule 239 advises that motorists should:

  • Use off-street parking areas, or bays marked out with white lines on the road as parking places, wherever possible.
  • You MUST switch off the engine, headlights and fog lights
  • You MUST apply the handbrake before leaving the vehicle
  • You MUST ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door. Check for cyclists or other traffic
  • it is safer for your passengers (especially children) to get out of the vehicle on the side next to the kerb
  • put all valuables out of sight and make sure your vehicle is secure
  • lock your vehicle.

And it also states what you should avoid doing too:

  • Do not park facing against the traffic flow
  • Stop as close as you can to the side
  • Do not stop too close to a vehicle displaying a Blue Badge: remember, the occupant may need more room to get in or out

You MUST NOT stop or park on:

  • the carriageway or the hard shoulder of a motorway except in an emergency (see Rule 270)
  • a pedestrian crossing, including the area marked by the zig-zag lines (see Rule 191)
  • taxi bays as indicated by upright signs and markings
  • an Urban Clearway within its hours of operation, except to pick up or set down passengers (see ‘Traffic signs’)
  • a road marked with double white lines, even when a broken white line is on your side of the road, except to pick up or set down passengers, or to load or unload goods
  • a tram or cycle lane during its period of operation
  • a cycle track

So when you see cars parked like this, you know they aren’t complying with the Highway Code:

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Both of these vehicles are in violation – the top car is too far from the kerb and the bottom car is completely blocking a junction! (sources: top, bottom)

 

As well as following the instructions laid out by Rule 239, motorists are also subject to other parking rules, like these:

  • You MUST NOT park in parking spaces reserved for specific users, such as Blue Badge holders, residents or motorcycles, unless entitled to do so. (Rule 241)
  • You MUST NOT leave your vehicle or trailer in a dangerous position or where it causes any unnecessary obstruction of the road. (Rule 242)

Here’s an example – can you guess what this driver did?

Yep, you guessed it – the car was parked in a space reserved for Blue Badge holders. While we aren’t suggesting that this is how to deal with bad parking, we have to admit it’s quite funny (and artistic!)

 

That isn’t all when it comes to avoiding bad parking. Drivers must also remember the details of Rule 243, listed below:

DO NOT stop or park:

  • near a school entrance
  • anywhere you would prevent access for Emergency Services
  • at or near a bus or tram stop or taxi rank
  • on the approach to a level crossing/tramway crossing
  • opposite or within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction, except in an authorised parking space
  • near the brow of a hill or hump bridge
  • opposite a traffic island or (if this would cause an obstruction) another parked vehicle
  • where you would force other traffic to enter a tram lane
  • where the kerb has been lowered to help wheelchair users and powered mobility vehicles
  • in front of an entrance to a property
  • on a bend
  • where you would obstruct cyclists’ use of cycle facilities

except when forced to do so by stationary traffic.

So, if there are any of those obstructions around you need to try and avoid them – unlike the Nissan Micra below!

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Parking in a cycle lane is a no-no. (source)

Of course, if traffic is stationary then, as the rule explains, it’s ok to stop in these places because there isn’t anywhere for your car to go! Rule 243 applies to when your car is parked -that means that the vehicle is stationary, with the handbrake applied, and no key in the ignition.

 

We all park every day of our motoring lives, so we should be considerate to other drivers and road users, as we expect them to be towards us. If you want a garage to treat your car with the same consideration, head to the Trust My Garage website to find your nearest TMG independent garage, operating under our Chartered Trading Standards (CTSI) approved code of conduct, and see how they can help your car run at its best!

 

Proposed MOT changes: Why the 4-1-1 system is dangerous

The Government has announced a proposal to consult on extending the time allowed before the first MOT of a vehicle’s life from three years to four – known as the 4-1-1 system (Summer Budget, 2015).

While many motorists may think this is a good idea, there is ever-growing evidence that the increase of faulty and potentially dangerous cars on UK roads would result in extra injuries and possibly even deaths. 

The Department for transport (DfT) released a report that stated that the addition of an extra year before a car’s first MOT could mean injuries rise by 2,000 a year, with an estimated 71 of those injuries being fatal.

Evidently any move to extend the time allowed before the first MOT of a car or motorcycle’s life from three years to four years would seriously endanger road safety for all road users.

Not only would the changes be dangerous, but they mean that there would also be an increase in repair costs for drivers and an inevitable increase in harmful emissions due to the additional time that vehicles had been active on the roads without the essential checks carried out during an MOT. 

 There have been previous attempts in government to introduce an extended first MOT period – in 2008 and 2011 – both of which considered the 4-1-1 as a structure for MOT frequency, and both at both of these times the government decided that no changes should take place. There have been no changes in the MOT design or car safety that would then mean that the 4-1-1 structure is now viable. 

Under the current system, 27.48 million vehicles took the MOT test in 2015 and 4 out of 10 of them were found to be unroadworthy when examined.(DVSA, 2015)  Along with this, more than 770,000 vehicles were discovered to have a dangerous defect in 2013/14, equating to nearly 2,200 every day. The problems ranged from brakes, steering, tyres, suspension, seatbelts, lights and signalling equipment.(DfT, ‘MOT Scheme Evidence base’, 2008)

 Currently many vehicles are found to be unroadworthy at three years old; therefore it stands to reason that extending the MOT to four years will mean there are even more vehicles on the roads in a potentially dangerous condition. There is a belief that because modern cars are more reliable, they do not need to be tested so strictly. In practice this is incorrect. Not only is the current MOT failure rate higher than it was in 2008 (when vehicles were less reliable), components designed to wear out – like tyres and brakes – are likely to have become dangerous by the time the vehicle is four years old.

If a vehicle has a defect by its third year of use, then extending the MOT for a further year will also have the effect of increasing the number of defects the vehicle carries, because defects associated with one component due to excessive wear could then snowball and cause defects with the related components in the vehicle. Not only is this dangerous for motorists, but it could also be costly as minor repairs that could be fixed in the third year could become major defects by the fourth. 

Not only is the proposed system dangerous to vehicle safety and public safety, it is also dangerous for the environment. Air quality and reducing emissions is a high Government priority, but extending the time allowed before a vehicle’s first MOT allows polluting vehicles (which would have been detected when they were three years old) to go undetected for a further year. This makes them far more likely to increase their polluting emissions as the engine condition further deteriorates. 

The 4-1-1 system paves the way for vehicles to be a source of danger on the roads. You can have your say about it by visiting the government consultation, designed to give people a platform for their opinions before any changes are debated by the government . It is open until Sunday 16th April, 11:45pm. To get have your say click here.

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To find out more about why the proposed changes to MOT frequency are a danger to both vehicles and road users, take a look at the ProMOTe website here.

If you think that your vehicle is due for an MOT or you feel it needs a bit of maintenance, why not visit the Trust My Garage website and find a trusted independent garage in your area? Click here to find your nearest garage

Road safety and Cyclists: How everyone can stay safe

Why are there more cyclists using the roads?

The numbers of people choosing to cycle for fun, fitness or to get to work has increased by more than a quarter in twenty years and an incredible 3.2 billion miles are cycled on our roads every year. (Think!) Add this to the ever-increasing amount of cars on UK roads and all of a sudden, there isn’t much space to share.

Although cycling-related deaths are at an all-time-low since 2010, there were still 3,337 cyclists killed on the road in 2015 (source), and figures released by the Department for Transport last year suggested cyclists are 17 times more likely to be killed on the road than those travelling in vehicles. While charities such as THINK! are helping to raise awareness and remind motorists about the safest ways to travel, there is still a lot that can be done to ensure that drivers and cyclists can use our roads in harmony.

 

THINK!’s basic tips for drivers about cyclist safety

 

We are Cycling states that cycling is essentially a safe activity, causing little risk either to cyclists themselves or to other road users. Moreover, there is good evidence that cyclists gain from ‘safety in numbers’, with cycling becoming safer as cycle use increases. However, fear of road traffic is a major deterrent, despite the health, environmental and other benefits of cycling.

They also say that cycle safety in the UK lags behind many of our continental neighbours, because of poorly designed roads and junctions, traffic volumes and speeds, irresponsible driving, and a legal system that fails to respond adequately to road danger. National and local government should therefore aim for more as well as safer cycling. These two aims can and should go hand-in-hand.

What can I do to stay safe as a driver?

Sustrans are a charity that is trying to encourage the UK to use more sustainable methods of transport, in order to help ease congestion and other problems on the roads. Their top tips for drivers are:

To make roads as safe as they can be, motorists need to be aware of cyclists too.

  • When turning left watch for cyclists coming up on your near side and don’t cut them up;
  • Give cyclists a wide berth when overtaking;
  • At night, dip your headlights when approaching cyclists;
  • In wet weather, allow cyclists extra room as surfaces may be slippery.

Remember, cyclists and motorists are equally entitled to use and share the same road space. Respecting all road users helps everyone to benefit from travelling by road. (source)

The Highway Code also has specific information for both cyclists and drivers about how to safely and properly use the roads.

Rule 211: Look out for motorcyclists and cyclists at junctions

Highway Code rule 211: Look out for motorcyclists and cyclists at junctions

What can I do to stay safe as a cyclist?

When cycling, there are also rules listed in the Highway Code that road users must obey, just like motorists. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have also created a handy PDF that outlines some of the easy things that cyclists and motorists can do in order to work better together on the roads. Some of their best tips are:

  • Sometimes motorists can find it difficult to predict what a cyclist is going to do, so try and clearly signal any movements that could be seen as unusual to a driver.
  • When driving large vehicles, motorists can find it very difficult to see cyclists on their nearside, even with all their extra mirrors, so maintain a safe distance.
  • Failing to look properly is also a common mistake made by cyclists, and contributes to 42% of cyclist collisions at junctions.
  • NEVER be tempted to ride down the inside of any vehicle (especially a bus or lorry) that is waiting at a junction. Hold back and stay behind where the driver can see you in their mirrors. Be patient and don’t squeeze down the inside by the gutter.
  • If a vehicle overtakes you close to a left turn junction, keep a safe gap behind the vehicle in case the driver cuts in front of you to turn left.
  • When overtaking a parked car, remember to leave enough room in case a door opens (‘leave a door and a bit more’) and be ready for someone to open a door as you pass.
  • In normal conditions, ride in the ‘secondary position’, approximately 1/3 into the carriageway – avoiding debris and grid covers in the gutter. If you need to improve your visibility in poor conditions you can ride in the ‘primary position’, in the middle of the road. However, try not to hold drivers up unnecessarily.
  • When riding together never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends.
  • The Highway Code says: At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen.

Remember: BE SAFE BE SEEN.

source: RoSPA.

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RoSPA diagram for maintaining a safe distance from HGVs.

What’s being done to improve road safety?

It isn’t only the public that are noticing the importance of safety for both drivers and cyclists. In June 2016 the government proposed implementing a fine of £5,000 for motorists that drove carelessly or too close around cyclists.

The idea was discussed after similar rules were created in Australia and Europe to help keep cyclists safe from dangerous driving. At the time, the Transport Minister Robert Goodwill stated: “As with other changes of this type introduced overseas, we remain interested in the change and are keeping it under review.”

While it’s true that nobody wants to get into an accident, they still happen. If your car hasn’t been running as smoothly as you like why not book it into your local Trust My Garage approved independent garage and get it back to tip-top condition?

If you’d like to learn more about staying safe on the road with cyclists – whether you’re a driver or a cyclist – you can find plenty advice on websites such as Highway Code, Brake & Think!.