Blog Archives

Want your motor to have no tricks, just treats this Hallowe’en? This is how you can – with Trust My Garage!

Something dark is just around the corner – it’s Hallowe’en across the world! For drivers in the UK this Samhain, it’s best to make sure your vehicle is running smoothly before the dark nights and cold mornings creep into view. With these handy ‘tricks’ from Trust My Garage your motor should be running like a ‘treat’ all through the Winter!

 

Prepare for driving at night

While we know how nice it is to drive in the light summer evenings, it isn’t that way all year round! It’s important for drivers to take it steady when driving in the dark – especially if you’re driving in an unfamiliar area.

 

Be sure to take the time to check all the lights on your vehicle before setting off on a trip, as nobody wants to be caught out in the dark. If you need help with checking a light you can’t see, you can ask a friend or family member to help. Broken lights can result in a £50 fine, three penalty points and even a Roadside Prohibition Notice – which means you must fix the fault before a re-inspection.

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If you’re new to driving it may be worth practicing your evening driving in a familiar area before heading off on a trip – getting hours of practice under your belt may help with your confidence and help you get used to driving in poor lighting!

 

Check your tyres

With poorer conditions on their way it’s important to ensure your tyres are up to the challenge – so be sure check your tyre pressures and tread depth regularly. The legal minimum for tread depth is 1.6mm, but tyre grip can deteriorate rapidly if the depth is under 3mm. You can use the edge of a 20p piece to check how deep your tread is – if the outer band of the coin is visible, then your tyres may be illegal and unsafe and should be checked immediately by a qualified tyre professional. Illegal tyres can earn you three penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500 per tyre!

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For checking your tyre pressures, your vehicle’s Owner’s Manual should contain the information you need for your tyre to be inflated to the correct PSI/BAR. Air and water machines are commonplace at petrol stations across the UK – or you can ask your local garage to check your pressure is correct if you’re unsure how to do it yourself.

 

Under-inflated tyres affect handling and grip, potentially causing irregular or unpredictable vehicle behaviour. They are also much more likely to suffer from a dangerous sudden rapid deflation, especially on high-speed motorway journeys.

 

Beware of the weather

The turn of the seasons brings a scary array of weather conditions, all of which can affect how you drive. Low Winter sun can dazzle unprepared drivers, and heavy rain and fog can create slippery roads that affect how you handle your vehicle.

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To combat the sun, keep a spare pair of sunglasses in your vehicle, and if it has a sun visor ensure it blocks the sun from your view while in your driving position.

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In wet conditions allow additional travel time and keep speeds steady – with plenty of time for slow braking as braking distances double when wet and increase ten times on ice!

 

How Trust My Garage can help you

Remember, if you want to take your car for a check-up to get ready for autumn and winter driving, you can use Trust My Garage’s handy Find a Garage map to locate a reputable independent garage that follows the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved Trust My Garage Code of Practice to get the best possible service for both you and your vehicle.

 

Trust My Garage truly is the independent scheme for independent garages in the UK. They have no hidden agenda or commercial influences, which means they really do exist to ensure that independent garage standards are continuing to improve.

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Little-known ways to get penalty points on your driving licence

At Trust My Garage, we’re committed to keeping motorists across the nation safe – and that means not breaking driving laws! We’ve put together a list of little-known ways that you could get penalty points on your driving licence, and how to avoid them. Take a look at our list below.

 

  1. Distracted driving. Eating, drinking, applying make-up, or changing CDs while driving can rack up between three to nine penalty points – as well as the potential for a £100 fine! These acts are not illegal, but they can severely distract a motorist – and distracted driving is against the law.

How to avoid it: Stay focused on the roads, and if you need to take your hands off the wheel, find a place to pull over safely and adjust yourself and your vehicle accordingly before setting off again.

Think twice before eating, drinking while driving

 

  1. Parking poorly. Parking can strike fear into the hearts of many drivers – nobody wants to get it wrong in front of a queue of impatient drivers! However; if you have parked in a way that obstructs the road, pavement or any other inappropriate location, you could be charged with leaving a vehicle in a dangerous position.

How to avoid it: Look around before parking and consider whether the area you wish to park in is safe – if it isn’t, move on! It will be safer and cheaper than a fine.

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  1. Not keeping your licence up-to-date. Every 10 years you must renew the photograph on your photo card driving licence – you will usually receive a reminder from the DVLA. If you don’t update your information when instructed, your licence will be revoked.

How to avoid it: Pay attention to when your driving licence is due to be renewed and be sure to keep any address information up-to-date with the DVLA.

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  1. S-no-w joke in Winter. Failing too clear snow from your vehicle’s roof can land you with a £60 fine and three penalty points. Snow and ice can obscure a driver’s view – and even fall off and obstruct the view of other drivers.

How to avoid it: Before setting off, be sure your vehicle is clear of snow and ice, and that it cannot obstruct any other drivers.

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  1. Splashing a pedestrian. Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 specifies it is an offence to ‘drive without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road’. This includes driving through a puddle on the road that could cause a pedestrian to be splashed. With 63 such incidents reported from 2009-2014, soaking a passer-by is not the way to go to keep a clean licence!

How to avoid it: Try to avoid any puddles in the road, but if impossible slow down to avoid any heavy splash onto the pavement – it’ll be better for your car too!

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  1. Paws on the loose. Motorists must restrain their pets appropriately when driving. Having an unsecured animal in the car could be hazardous to your safety and your wallet! If police decide you’ve been driving without proper control due to a pet you can be hit with a fine from £200 – £2,500, and receive up to nine penalty points.

How to avoid it: Ensure any pets that you travel with have appropriate restraints and cannot distract you while driving – it may be better to keep animals in the rear of your vehicle to help avoid issues.

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  1. Keep your speed low. Unless signposted, most streetlamp-lit roads operate a 30mph policy. Breaking this speed limit can lead to a £100 fine and three penalty points, minimum.

How to avoid it: Be speed aware! Drive carefully and stay under the speed limit. If you’re not sure what it is and the road is streetlamp lit, assume it is 30mph to be safe.

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  1. Keep your eyes peeled. Is your eyesight up to scratch? As a driver, it’s vital you keep up to date with sight checks. If poor eyesight leads to careless driving you could face a fine of up to £1,000 and three penalty points on your licence.

How to avoid it: Schedule regular appointments with an optician, and if you feel any eyestrain beginning to occur – whether driving or not – book an appointment sooner to catch any potential issues early on.

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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. 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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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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Motoring scams – how can you stay safe?

When it comes to motoring, we at Trust My Garage want to make sure drivers stay as safe as possible on the roads. That’s why we’ve created our ever-growing network of trusted independent garages, to keep your vehicle running in optimum condition and keep you as happy as possible.

 

However, there are others who wish to ruin your motoring experience by submitting drivers to a variety of scams, which can damage both your vehicle and your bank account – and we don’t think that’s fair to you. In order to help you stay aware of potential dangers, we’ve put together information about some recent scams that have affected unfortunate motorists.

 

The speeding fine email

As recently as October 2017, scam emails have been circulated to motorists advising them of ‘Notice of Intended Prosecution’ or ‘NIP’ for a speeding offence. These emails have been supposedly sent from the Government or police and can even claim to have ‘photographic evidence’ of the offence, however they are completely false.

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The only way legitimate notices of intended prosecution are sent is via Royal Mail to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) registered address, so anyone who receives this email is advised to report it to Action Fraud, the national Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, and delete it without clicking any links or attachments.

 

The whiplash accident

According to ABI figures, the national cost of whiplash claims makes up 20 per cent of the average insurance premium, while insurer Aviva claims that a staggering 94 per cent of all its compensation claims for motor accidents relate to minor whiplash. (source)

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Minor whiplash is very hard to prove or disprove, but if you suspect someone is fraudulently claiming whiplash against you after a small collision, seek the advice of a solicitor to see if you can fight it.

There have been recent attempts to clamp down on false whiplash claims, however the difficulty in verifying the claims have led to new legislation, known as the ‘2015 dishonestly laws’, being put into place in order to correctly punish fraudulent claimants.

 

The ‘cash for crash’ scheme

‘Cash for crash’ is the nickname given to schemes where a scammer intentionally crashes into another driver in order to make a fraudulent claim on their insurance. Often tied in with whiplash claims, ‘crash for cash’ costs the UK £340m every year, with profits frequently funding other criminal activities such as firearms and drug dealing. The BBC states:

“Crash for cash scammers choose their victims carefully – they keep an eye out for drivers who look like they would be fully insured but be less likely to cause a fuss. Mothers with children on board and the elderly are favoured victims. If you’ve been a victim, the circumstances are likely to be as follows:

The accident

A car in front of you slams on the brakes for no obvious reason, and you have no time to react and collide with the car in front. Another scenario (known as ‘flash for cash’) happens when a driver flashes their lights at a junction to let you out, then crashes into you deliberately.

The blame

The other driver will insist the accident is your fault. The scammer will then hand over their insurance details – sometimes already prepared and written down.

 The claim

A few weeks after the accident your insurers will write to you with details of the other driver’s claim which will be exaggerated with costs like car hire, recovery and whiplash injuries.” (source)

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So how can you avoid this scam? It helps to pay attention to the driver and passengers of other cars around you – people frequently looking backwards or driving erratically can be a giveaway of a ‘cash for crash’ scheme in process. Try and keep a safe braking distance away from other vehicles and be sure to watch for cars turning and manoeuvring around you. Fraudsters may even try and disable their brake lights to try and cause an accident, so make sure to pay attention to your surroundings.

 

The online car-buying con

Not content with damaging your existing car, there has even been a scam designed to trap motorists purchasing cars online, via sites such as eBay. Cons like these use cloned cars – which is like automobile identity theft – to sell illegal vehicles under legal details, leaving buyers out of pocket with an illegal vehicle. The stolen vehicle is given the identity of a similar legitimate car, including licence plates, chassis numbers and accompanying documentation. Prospective buyers can run a background check on the car and the details will appear to be correct.

One victim lost £17,000 after paying in cash for a Mercedes later discovered to be cloned and was left with no way to regain their lost money due to no proof of transaction.

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How can you avoid this scam? The best method is to purchase via authorised sellers, like garages and dealerships, but viewing a car in person is always beneficial and ensuring you pay for your purchase via a traceable, secure method means there is evidence of your purchase and the recipient of your money should anything go awry.

 

What should you do if you think you’ve been a scam victim?

The first steps in reporting a scam, especially one where you have lost money, should be to report it to Action Fraud. If you wish to get in contact with your local authorities for a crime number, you can also call or visit your local police station. For further information and for other types of scam advice, Citizens Advice can provide more information, viewable here.

Action Fraud

Telephone: 0300 123 2040

Textphone: 0300 123 2050

Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm

Website: www.actionfraud.police.uk

 

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. 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.tmg_ctsi_long

The clocks are falling back – so make sure your car can spring forward with Trust My Garage

The time of year is once again upon us where dark nights are drawing in and you’re considering putting the heating on to keep your toes warm. The change in seasons can also herald a change in driving habits for many motorists, and at Trust My Garage we want to keep you and your vehicle running smoothly 365 days of the year.

The clocks go back in the early hours of October 29th, meaning it’s going to be dark even earlier – but never fear! To help you ensure you stay at your best we’ve complied some handy tips for both driving and keeping your car running at its best.

Look after your car battery

The average car battery can last up to 5 years (source), but there are many reasons that require it to be changed sooner than this.

Heading into colder weather can cause strain on your battery, as can short repetitive journeys – these use up your battery’s power without giving it enough time to recharge fully. Taking your car out for a longer drive at the weekend can be a key factor in combating battery drain – as can recharging your battery at home or at a local garage.

Check your tyres

Your tyres are the key element in keeping your vehicle rolling, so make sure they’re up to scratch, especially in the slippery weather that comes with Autumn and Winter. The minimum legal tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm in a continuous band around the central three quarters of the tyre, with no tears, bulges or bald spots on any part of the tyre (source). However, most motoring organisations recommend changing at 2mm and the majority of tyre manufacturers recommend changing at 3mm (source).

You should also try to ensure your tyres are inflated correctly to the specifications of your car. Details of the correct pressure can be found in the owner’s manual and/or inside the door frame on the driver or front passenger side doors, and you can check your tyre pressure at most local petrol stations and garages.

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Check your engine coolant levels

With cold weather comes the possibility of ice, so it’s important to ensure the fluids in your car don’t freeze. By keeping your engine coolant levels topped up you’ll stay safer in poor conditions, and keep your car’s internal systems running healthily.

If you aren’t sure what type of coolant your car needs, a local garage or aftermarket sales shop will be able to check what kind you require and point you in the right direction. If you’re stuck for where under the bonnet to check your engine coolant, it has a specific cap under the bonnet, circled below:

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As long as your coolant is between the ‘MAX’ and ‘LOW’ level markers on the side of the reservoir it should stop any freezing happening.

Take a look at this video below for a guide on how to check your engine coolant:

REMEMBER: Don’t check your coolant levels when the engine is hot as it affects the pressure in the engine and can cause damage to your vehicle. 

Here comes the sun

The sun is still a factor, even with poorer weather. Low winter sun can affect your vision when driving by causing blindness, so be sure to wear sunglasses or put down your sun visor to protect both your eyes and your driving.

As well as problems from the direct sun, drivers can also suffer when sunlight reflects off the road surface and causes glare, which can have the same adverse effects as the low sun itself. Again, wearing sunglasses or using the sun visor combats this issue, but if you still find your vision impaired it may be best to drive slowly or pull over until later on when the sun has moved.

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Slow down for nature!

Around 74,000 deer are hit by cars every year (source). The risk of hitting one is highest in spring when young deer are starting to venture out , but the autumn is also a time to be wary as stags are often out rutting.

Due to the prevalence of deer across the British countryside it can become difficult in rural areas to avoid deer at this time of year, so if you’re going to an area with a known deer population plan a little extra time for your journey and drive carefully – in some areas it can be an offence to hit a deer!

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Watch out for leaves

Fallen leaves aren’t just a problem on your lawn: hitting a patch of wet leaves on the road can be almost as bad as hitting black ice, so take care on country lanes and keep your speed down when you are forced to drive through them.

If your journey is achievable using main roads, try and stick to them as much as possible as they are more likely to be cleared due to high volumes of traffic and keeping motorists safe.

If you live on a street with many trees, you might want to try doing your bit and tidying up you driveway to stop leaves being blown into the road and causing a potential problem for drivers.

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Remember, if you want to take your car for a check-up to get ready for autumn and winter driving, you can use Trust My Garage’s handy Find a Garage map to locate a reputable, Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved independent garage in your area to get the best possible service for both you and your vehicle.

Trust My Garage truly is the independent scheme for independent garages in the UK. They have no hidden agenda or commercial influences, which means they really do exist to ensure that independent garage standards are continuing to improve.

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The best driving roads in Europe

The best driving roads in Europe

Looking for the perfect stretch of road to cruise along this summer? Well prepare to get some serious travel fever with some Trust My Garage favourites, as well as getting prepared with our best foreign driving tips! Don’t forget – if you’re looking for some general summer driving tips you can always check out our What to do when… driving in Summer blog post.

The Stelvio Pass, Italy

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The Stelvio Pass is Italy’s hidden secret in the Alps. Topping out at 2757 metres high, this twisting, hairpin bend-filled route is located just before the Swiss border in the province of Sondrio.

Open to both motorists and cyclists, the pass provides unmatchable views of the surrounding mountainous landscape. The road offers a total of 48 switchback turns along its North face, offering a real challenge for the adventurous driver. The best approach to tackle the pass is from the North West side, allowing you to drive up through the turns and rewarding you with lush Alpine scenery. After heading through the pass’ tight turns, you can also either continue on to the town of Bormio or head North to the Umbrail Pass, which leads back into the Swiss National Park. This tends to be far less busy than the now ultra-popular Stelvio, but we guess that’s what you get when you visit Top Gear’s World’s Best Driving Road (2008)!

 

The Military Road, Isle of Wight

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If you’re looking for a drive somewhere closer to home, the Isle of Wight has some stunning coastal views on offer. As you drive down the A3055, known locally as The Military Road, you curve above Blackgang Chine, and then are suddenly faced with a panorama of the south-west coast of the Island, curving stretching ahead and below you.

As the road is in a protected National Trust area, there are few buildings – but you can still make out the turrets of the famous novelist J.B. Priestley’s former home, if you keep your eyes peeled. The stretch of road is roughly 12 miles long, and is perfect for a cruise in summer when the roadside wildflowers are in bloom.

 

The Cat and Fiddle, Derbyshire

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Named after the pub located at the peak of this road, this is a 12 mile journey between Buxton and Macclesfield, using the A54-A537. With Derbyshire often described as the ‘gateway to the Peak District’, this route has been coveted by car and motorbike enthusiasts alike for its challenging corners and enjoyable scenic views. To ensure motorists are kept safe the route is entirely covered with average speed cameras of 50mph, but even at that speed some of the hairpin corners will provide a thrill – mediated with a refreshing lime and soda at the finish!

 

A44, West Wales

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This stretch of A road travels between Aberystwyth and Llangurig, providing 25 miles of untamed Welsh landscape for drivers. Setting out as a simple drive away from the Welsh coast at Aberystwyth, the road rises and transforms into scenery more at home in an Alpine setting than a sleepy corner of Wales. As you travel on to Llangurig the road offers sweeping curves and chicanes, giving motorists a chance to really enjoy the drive as well ads the stunning scenery.

 

The Cheddar Gorge, Cheddar (Somerset)

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Starting on the B3135 east of Cheddar, 14 glorious miles of Somerset countryside lie between you and your destination at Ashwick. As you head East, you visit Priddy, then Plummers Loan, then continue on along the A37 towards your final destination.

The route can be taken in 3 sections. The first area demands full concentration from the driver, working through the twisting corners of the gorge itself.

The second, about four miles in, opens up the road greatly. Hairpins give way to sweeping curves, and the sharp face of the gorge is replaced by trees.

 

The final section provides a few miles of long straights and gentle gradient changes making for a quick conclusion to this short route.

 

The road can become busy as it is a tourist travel route for anyone visiting the Cheddar Gorge caves, but it’s still an excellent drive providing unparalleled close-up views of some unique landscapes.

 

The Romantic Road, Germany

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Heading back out to Europe, one of the most scenic routes in the Germany is the ‘Romantic Road’ (Romantischen Straße). Running roughly 190 miles from the River Main to the Alps, the road was designed in the 1950’s to provide a sense of being transported back in time to Medieval Europe. With tiny historic villages and grand fairytale castles placed between long stretches of river, forests, meadows and agricultural lands, the Romantic Road offers tourism of a different kind for the keen motorist.

Due to the length of the trip, stopping off in one of the 16 towns along route for a bite to eat and a rest is advised, with many spots offering an authentic German dining experience. We definitely suggest bringing a camera for this one too, as the stunning variety of locations along the road will definitely be a sight to share with friends back home.

 

Trollstigen, Norway

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We’re rounding off our top roads with a good’un. Starting in the town of Andalsnes in Rauma and finishing at the village of Valldal in the Norddal Municipality,  Trollstigen, or Troll’s Ladder/ Troll’s Path in English, is a four mile drive of epic proportions. Taking Country Road 63, drivers’ eyes are spoiled for choice with breathtaking views. Some of the best are actually located in the visitor centre car park, which at 2,300ft high offers a soaring panorama of the route below.

Along the whole route are specifically-designed viewing platform, allowing motorists to stop and enjoy some stunning photo opportunities. One such view is the 1,050ft-high Stigfossen waterfall, which drivers can also traverse via stone bridge. You may not believe it, but within the route lie small houses dotted about the landscape – imagine those views on your daily drive!

Foreign driving tips

Here are some of our best tips for staying on top of your game when it comes to driving in Europe:

Drive on the correct side of the road

In Europe, motorists use the right-hand side of the road. It may seem silly, it’s worth checking before you arrive into a country and cause an accident! There are usually signs upon arrival at the borders letting you know which side of the road to use, but if you’re unsure, ask a member of border staff and of course do some research before you set off.

 

Take regular rest stops

Even though you’re in a car driving for long periods can be exhausting, especially due to concentrating on unfamiliar roads. The Highway Code recommends taking a break (of at least 15 minutes) every two hours – you don’t want to cause an accident due to lack of concentration. If that means a nap at a service station, a nap it is!

 

Stay hydrated

Make sure to bring plenty of water with you for your trip to stay hydrated and help you concentrate when driving on new roads. If you don’t want to buy bottled water, fill up an old bottle or two before you set off. If there’s a group in the vehicle ensure there’s enough to go around, or stop regularly for drinks breaks – you could even combine this with your rest stop.

 

Check what you’re required to have in your car

Did you know that in Spain it’s mandatory for glasses-wearing drivers to carry a spare pair of specs in their vehicle at all times? There are certain rules and regulations for what you need in your car for many countries – do your research and find out what you must and mustn’t carry in your vehicle before setting off.

 

Bring some entertainment

This one’s important – especially if you’ve got kids in the car. Bored children can lead to irritable bickering and loss of concentration, and nobody wants that! Even if you aren’t travelling with a car full of family,  a game of I Spy or some music on the radio keeps you awake and helps you stay focused on your driving – and it can be the difference between a happy or a tantrum-filled journey!

 

If you’re looking to set off on one of these adventures, or even stay somewhere a little closer to home, ensuring your vehicle is in tip-top condition should be a priority. If you want to make sure your motor is running at its best, why not take it to your local Trust My Garage member? If you’re in need of an MOT, service, repair or tune up, our CTSI approved code of conduct means that you and your vehicle both get the service you deserve – ready for the drive of a lifetime!

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New drivers – How to avoid easy motoring mistakes

It’s a great feeling when you pass your driving test. Ahead lies opportunity – and plenty of open road. But, as they say, you never really start to learn until after you pass, so until you’ve settled in to your newfound freedom here are some top tips to help you make the best of your new start to the world of motoring.

 

1. Research your car

While it may seem like a good idea to get the coolest, fastest car possible, the reality is that many new drivers suffer in a car that overpowers their abilities. If you start with something small, you can then build up your power as you build up your skill and experience. We know it might be a bit boring, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Once you’re sure you’ve got the right car for you, make sure you keep it in good running condition, with tax and insurance. If you have a second-hand vehicle, find out when it last had an MOT and service and make a note of the dates – that way, you’ll know exactly when it’s due again, and when to call your local Trust My Garage member for Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) consumer code approved service. You’ll also want some breakdown cover – but depending on which insurance provider you use, you may be able to get this as part of your cover.

new car

Try and find a car that suits you and makes you feel comfortable

 

2. Don’t be too confident

Once you’ve passed your test you no longer have an instructor, friend, or family member watching over you as you drive.Naturally, most people will test their confidence while driving as it helps build skill and experience, but try not to push yourself too hard!

A prime example of this is motorway driving. As a learner you aren’t allowed to drive on the motorway, so unless you enroll in additional, post-test motorway lessons, your first time on these fast paced roads is as a fully-fledged driver. It’s a good idea to have a more experienced driver in the car with you for your first few attempts – even if you’re only driving from one junction to another, any practice is good practice ready for longer journeys in the future.

 

motorway japan

Busy roads can be dangerous if you aren’t careful

 

3. Remember your theoretical knowledge

The driving theory test is there for a reason. It can be difficult once you’ve passed your test to remember all of the information at the drop of a hat, but it’s always good to keep the most important rules clear in your head. If you aren’t sure about a certain piece of information, you can always refer to The Highway Code for more details and a clear explanation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It doesn’t hurt to keep studying!

 

4. Stick to speed limits

You’re finally allowed to let your hair down and drive freely – and that’s great! But remember, speed limits have been designed to keep drivers and other road users safe, so stick to them. With the new changes to speeding penalties, which you can read more about here, a new driver could have their licence revoked and a big fine after being caught over the speed limit just once.

To help combat this if you’re travelling in an unfamiliar area, keep your eyes peeled for any speed limit signs, and if possible do some research beforehand so you know what kind of speed limits to expect.

stop sign

Speed limits are there for a reason – if you’re going too fast, slow down!

 

5. Have a good time!

Driving is a great experience, so take it easy, follow our top tips and have lots of fun exploring the world in your car!

girl car roof

Have a great time driving!

 

Remember, if you want to keep your car in tip-top condition you can take it to your nearest Trust My Garage member using our handy Find a Garage map. Our Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved consumer code means that you can put your trust in our members to do a great job, and ensure you have the best experience on the roads – Just keep an eye out for the Trust My Garage shield!

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What to do when… driving with pets

It’s that time of year again! Everyone in the UK is gearing up for their summer holiday. You wouldn’t leave the kids at home, but what about your furry, four-legged friends? If you decide you want to take your animal companion along with you to your holiday destination, what are the best ways to make their trip as comfortable as yours? Well fear not, Trust My Garage is here with some top tips for driving with pets.

pawprint trail

Safety

First things first, you’ll need to know the law about driving with your animals in the vehicle. The Highway Code’s Rule 57 states:

“When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”

So you’re in the clear to take your animal with you! The Code is very clear about what to do for both animals and drivers, as it’s the best way to ensure that everyone makes the safest possible journeys. While a carrier or caged boot is probably the safest option, if your dog is well behaved and clipped to a seat harness you’re okay to let them feel the fresh air through your windows. If you don’t want to restrain your pet in any way, take this advice from Rachael Kilroy, Senior Veterinary Surgeon at Vets for Life:

“If a dog is not secured safely then sharp braking or a collision could result in them being catapulted sharply forwards, potentially causing life-threatening internal injuries, as well as trauma to people in the car.”

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If your dog is in the car, they should be wearing a seat belt harness or be in a carrier.

 

Animal Happiness

If your pet isn’t used to being in a car, then a long journey shouldn’t be their first real experience. Prior to travelling, you should slowly let your animal into the vehicle to help them get used to their surroundings. Starting out with a very short trip – nipping to the shop, for example – and the building up the length of time in the vehicle is a great way to do this. Even if the first couple of times in the car are when it’s stationary, a good sniff and look around can go a long way to making your pet happier when travelling.

 

Planning

It’s always important to plan a trip, but our furry friends require a little extra attention when it comes to longer journeys!

You should take a regular break every 1-2 hours, depending on how restless your animal is, and pack plenty of water and treats – If you’re feeling thirsty or hungry, your pet probably is too! For longer journeys, you may want to think about planning a route that includes a stop near a park or wooded area to let your animal – especially dogs – stretch their legs and have a run around. When it comes to animals like cats, you might want to bring some toilet training pads too – accidents happen!

dog map

Make sure you plan your drive with your furry pal in mind! (image source)

Your Destination

This might seem silly, but check your destination’s rules on pets! If you’re off to see family or friends, make sure they know in advance that you’re bringing your pet, and if you’re going to a hotel, camp site or similar location, check if – and which – animals are allowed. A quick internet search or phone call to your desired venue should do the trick, as many hotels etc. clearly state their pet policy. It’s no good getting all the way to your lovely summer holiday, only to be turned away at the sight of a wagging tail!

dog at house

Check your destination’s rules about pets before booking to avoid disappointment!

As well at your venue, many people research the area they go to stay at beforehand to see if it appeals to them. With a pet, you may want to take into consideration if the surrounding area is also animal friendly. Some beaches in the UK require dogs to be kept on leads for the duration of their walk, and some allow them to run free, whereas some don’t allow dogs at all. Some quick internet browsing should help you locate the best pet-friendly activities to fill up your holiday and keep your pets involved too.

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If you’re headed to the seaside check the local beaches are animal-friendly.

Car checks

Long journeys can take their toll on a vehicle, so if you’re planning a road trip then you don’t want to create stress for your family and pets with a breakdown – or worse, broken air con! If you visit your local Trust My Garage approved member, you can check your car is running at its best and take away any concerns before you travel, and make sure you, your family and your pets get the best possible summer holiday.

If you’ve got any other top tips, feel free to leave them in the comments! If you’re looking for some more general summer driving tips, check out our post on What to do when…driving in Summer!

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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:

bad parking

bad parking block junction

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!

bad parking cycle lane

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!

 

What to do when… Driving home for Christmas

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is right around the corner! Some of us may be a bit more excited than others, but with all the festive cheer in the air, have you thought about the practicalities of driving this Christmastime? If not, then buckle up! We’re about to tell you just how you can make the most when you’re driving this Christmas. (Song optional, but very festive.)

When you’re driving your top priority should always be your safety. Regardless of the destination or the time it takes you to get there, your number one thought should be about your own safety, and that of any passengers in the vehicle with you.

Plan your route

The further the distance you’re travelling, the more chance there is for issues like traffic to occur. Christmas is a peak time for driving, as many people visit their families over the festive period, so try and ensure you give yourself adequate travelling time.

Here are some of the routes identified by motoring organisations as traffic hotspots over Christmas:

  • The M1, A1 and A1(M) northboundcar-map
  • The M4 westbound to Wales and around Heathrow
  • The M3, A303 and M5 heading to the West Country
  • The M23 to Gatwick and the M11 to Stansted
  • The M62 over the Pennines is often affected by snow, as is the A1079 between Hull and York.

(Telegraph)

It’s also worth noting that many main roads and motorways will be gritted in the case of snow and ice, but this won’t necessarily happen in areas that don’t see as much traffic. It’s worth taking some extra time by using main roads to get to your destination instead of taking shortcuts that often require drivers to travel on country lanes, as these may be more dangerous in poor weather.

snowy-road-tracks

Try not to get caught out driving in dangerous conditions

If you’re interested in more ways to ensure you’re driving in a safe and responsible manner, you can look at the charity Brake’s ABC pledge. Drivers can promise to follow the rules Brake have set out for being as safe as possible in winter conditions, to help both themselves and other motorists on the roads.

 

 

Prepare your car

The UK suffers from a yearly big freeze, so we’re sure you’ve got some great tips on how to help get started in the cold. However, if you’re looking for some ideas about how to get the wheels rolling, here are some of the best we’ve found:

  • Tyres: If possible, considering buying winter tyres. If this is not an option, ensure your standard tyres are inflated correctly and that you have a minimum of 3mm of tread on your tyres to cope with wet and slippery conditions.
  • Battery: In winter, the battery will run down quicker than in warmer weather. Make sure you do a regular long journey to top it up or trickle-charge the battery.
  • Engine: Modern engines are more robust than older ones. All the same, depress the clutch when starting as this will reduce drag on the engine when starting, and preserve the battery.
  • Screen wash: Keep this topped up and use a proper additive at the right concentration to prevent it freezing.
  • Fuel: Keep your tank topped up – that way if you are caught out, you’ll have enough fuel to make it home or run the engine to keep warm. However, it’s essential to keep snow from blocking the exhaust as noxious fumes can leak into the vehicle.
  • Windows: Clear all snow and ice from the windscreen and the roof of the car before driving off. Do not use water to de-ice windscreens. Hot water can crack the glass, and the water will only freeze again on the screen or on the ground where you are standing.
  • Locks: A squirt of WD-40 will prevent your door locks freezing up. If they do, apply a heat source to your car key to melt the ice.
  • Warm clothing: Your car may be warm on the inside but if you have to step outside, you could be in trouble if you have not got any warm clothing with you.
wheels-snow

Try to avoid being stuck in bad weather!

Breakdown Essentials 

If you do suffer the unfortunate experience of a breakdown it’s important to keep some essentials in the car – a fully charged mobile phone, a torch, warm clothes, comfortable and waterproof shoes, hot drinks and snacks (Telegraph). That way, when you’re waiting for some roadside assistance or a recovery vehicle you can stay warm, full and safe while trying to stave off the boredom.

Emergency snow kit

  • Warning triangle – let other drivers know your situation to avoid stress and confusion
  • Cat litter or sand
  • Snow shovel or spade
  • Ice scraper
  • Warm clothes and footwear
  • Snacks and water
  • Torch
  • Mobile phone
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Jump leads
  • High visibility jacket
  • First aid kit
  • Heat pad – If you are stranded in the snow and the exhaust pipe is covered, it can be dangerous to run the engine. These help you stay warm.

Remember, you’re never far from a Trust My Garage member who can help you out with any problems that you might experience on the road. All of our members are Trading Standards approved, and are here to get you back on track quickly & safely. Garages are located all over the UK, so no matter where you are, we’re here to help you. If you want to see where your nearest garage is, you can search with your post code on the Trust My Garage map.

 

 

Getting Home Safely

Don’t Drink Drive.

This is the most important advice we can offer if you want to stay safe. There’s often more alcohol offered at Christmas and New Year’s than any other time, so the temptation can be strong.

The golden rule is that if you plan to have a drink, don’t drive.

drink-driving.jpgCarbuyer suggest that you leave your car parked up, get a cab home or let someone who’s sober drive – as long as they’re insured to drive your car, of course.

The effect of alcohol on driving is profound and so are the penalties if you’re caught doing so. Anyone convicted in the UK of ‘driving or attempting to drive through drink or drugs’ faces anything up to the maximum possible of penalty  of a £5,000 fine, a six month prison sentence and up to 11 points on their driving licence, as well as an obligatory 12 month disqualification from driving (Drinkdriving.org). There’s no defence for being caught over the drink-drive limit the following morning, either.

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

This year, THINK! have launched a new anti drink-driving campaign for December – FOMO.

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The FOMO campaign runs through December

The campaign is specifically targeting young males, as figures show they account for almost two thirds of drink drivers killed on our roads.

It will target young men through Facebook, Twitter and Spotify, with 5.4 million British males aged 25 to 34 on Facebook alone – the highest single demographic.

The campaign involves adverts that aim to make it clear to young men that they have plenty to live for the following day, which they may not see if they choose to have a second drink.

Research carried out for the Department for Transport found 20% of young men have had 2 or more drinks before driving and an extra 11% say they have considered it – with a third of adults telling researchers they felt it wouldn’t impact on their driving. However, research from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) shows a second drink doubles a driver’s chances of being involved in a fatality. (Gov.uk)

So let’s be safe, and don’t drink and drive.

 

Most importantly – Have a Merry Christmas!

We at Trust My Garage all hope you have a wonderful and safe Christmas, and spend lots of time doing whatever you like. If you’re worried that your car isn’t up to the challenge of the British winter, don’t forget you can pop in to your local Trust My Garage member and get booked in for a service. That way we can all motor happy!

If you found this post helpful, why not take a look at our ways to make your Christmas commute better, or leave us a comment with your best winter driving tips!