With Highways England predicting an additional 700 breakdowns on the UK’s roads in July and August, it’s more important than ever for motorists to be prepared for the Summer! Read on for our top tips on how you can stay safe this season with Trust My Garage.
Keep it cool
With a little bit of luck, in the summer temperatures heat up, giving you plenty of chance to get out and about in your car! On hot days motorists should keep a cool, circulating air current in their vehicles, as this helps keep you comfortable from the heat and alert while driving.
You should also pack bottles of water for any longer trips or days out to help keep heatstroke and dehydration issues at bay, as these can impair your driving abilities.
Many modern cars now have air conditioning, and this will help keep you cool whilst driving, but it’s wise to makes sure your air conditioning is working efficiently. To help with this, many garages offer air con “re-gas” services, where your motor’s refrigerant gas levels can be checked and topped up to ensure it works at its best.
Take a walk around your vehicle
Before setting out on any trip some basic vehicle checks could save you trouble once your journey has started. Particularly for longer travels you should, as a minimum, check:
- Engine oil – Long travel times can cause friction and damage to your engine, so be sure to keep it properly lubricated.
- Coolant – Traffic jams can cause your engine to overheat if your coolant levels are low, so keep it topped up to keep on moving!
- Screen wash – Dirty windscreens can be amplified by bright sunlight, so make sure yours can be clean both inside and out
- Tyre pressures and treads – Tyres should meet the legal minimum requirement of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre in a continuous band around the whole of the tyre with no bulges, bubbles, cuts or tears, or you risk a £2500 fine and three penalty points per tyre – or worse! Tyre pressures should match the BAR/PSI indicated in your vehicle’s Owners’ Manual.
- Fuel level – Running out of fuel is one of the most common causes of breakdown on the UK’s motorway network, so check you’ve got enough fuel for your trip and take note on any available fuel stations en-route to fill up as necessary.
- It’s also recommended that you check your lights and wipers just to makes sure they too are in working order and good condition.
- Don’t forget, this is the UK and we can have a down pour at any time and after a dry spell – the first rainfall can result in a slippery road surface, so be prepared to adjust your speed and driving style to match any changes in driving conditions.
Consider your allergies and medication
The NHS estimates that there are 10 million people with hay fever in England alone, and in summer symptoms can be severe. While driving with your windows open is a nice way to enjoy a summer breeze, it can also lead to streaming eyes and sneezing fits for hay fever sufferers!
Medication is available to combat these symptoms, but you should always check labels prior to driving to make sure any side-effects, such as blurred vision and drowsiness, won’t affect your driving ability. If you are ever unsure of any medication’s side effects, you should always check with your doctor.
Check your routes (and alternatives!)
Heavy traffic can ruin a summer trip, so research your route before you set off! By checking routes before you leave you can help alleviate the stress of being stuck in a traffic jam. If you do get caught out on the road look for diversion signs, or ask a passenger to try a find a suitable alternative route. If you want to avoid peak traffic, avoid travelling on Sunday evening before school terms start and steer clear of rush hour motoring.
Most of us use satnavs to find our way around these days but it’s always a good idea to have a map book in your car too, just in case. You never know, switching off the sat nav and finding a interesting place to take a break from driving might just help you relax a little and enhance your trip.
Remember: rule 149 of the Highway Code states that you MUST NOT use a hand-held mobile phone or similar device when you’re driving. Make sure that you check the travel news before you leave, or use the live traffic function if you own a sat-nav with traffic update features.
Take the time to Trust My Garage
If your car is due its MOT or a 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.
Simply pop in your postcode and our ‘Find a Garage’ map will show you all the TMG members in your area – and you can even read reviews from other customers if you’re unsure which garage is right for your needs.
You can also check out our latest TV advert below:
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
A new study of 2,000 drivers shows nine in 10 have had a symbol pop up on the dashboard which they haven’t recognised – but what can motorists do to expand their knowledge?
Here at Trust My Garage, we think you should get to know your vehicle a bit better, so we’ve created this handy breakdown of what all the lights on your dashboard mean. As always, it’s best to refer to your Owner’s Manual for the correct detailed information for your vehicle, but for some quick reference here’s what you need to know:
Check Engine Light:
Indicates the engine computer has set a fault code. Usually requires diagnosis with a professional scan tool.
Indicates voltage level is below normal level and the vehicle’s charging system is not functioning properly. Check battery terminals, alternator belt, and battery condition.
Coolant Temp Warning:
Indicates temperature has exceeded normal limits. Check coolant level, fan operation, radiator cap, coolant leaks.
Transmission is operating at higher than optimum temperature as transmission fluid is hotter than normal. Check transmission fluid level and engine coolant level.
Oil Pressure Warning:
If this light stays lit, it indicates loss of oil pressure. Immediately check oil level and pressure.
Oil Change Reminder:
Indicates that oil life has expired. The reset procedure should be listed in the owner’s manual.
Service Vehicle Soon:
Typically indicates a lighting or other electrical problem that is controlled by the body control module. Check all lights (head lights, turn signals, brake lights, and hazard lights). This symbol may also be used to warn driver of a traction control problem, or a communication problem between modules.
TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System):
Indicates the tyre pressure monitoring system has found a tyre with low air pressure or there may be a sensor malfunction. Check tyre pressure. Some vehicles will allow manual reset of TPMS warning light and others will require professional diagnosis. Refer to owner’s manual.
Indicates one of three possible conditions: the handbrake is on; there’s a problem with the braking system/brake fluid is low, or there may be an ABS problem. Check your brake fluid and make sure the handbrake is fully released. If the problem is in the ABS system, it may need a professional diagnosis.
Reduced Power Warning:
Indicates Engine Computer has limited engine power output. The ECU has many levels of reduced power depending on what component has failed in its control system. Usually requires diagnosis with a professional scan tool.
Indicates that the Anti-lock Brake system has a fault and that the ABS isn’t working – this doesn’t mean that your brakes aren’t working but it’s still important.
Indicates that cruise control is set during driving.
Traction Control or ESP:
Illuminates when the vehicle’s traction control/anti-skid or electronic stability system is in use. Usually an indicator that conditions are slippery.
Traction Control Fault:
Indicates that there is a problem with the vehicle’s traction control/anti-skid or electronic stability system.
Indicates that there is an exterior light on the vehicle that is not functioning properly.
Indicates that a door (including bonnet and boot) is not closed. Open and close all doors. If vehicle is left in this condition overnight it can drain the battery.
If this light stays illuminated after starting, it indicates that the vehicle has found a fault in the airbag system and the computer has set a code. Professional repair of the supplemental restraint system is highly recommended.
Washer Fluid Reminder:
Indicates washer fluid is low. Fill washer fluid reservoir. The cap has a symbol that looks like a windshield. Some vehicles have separate reservoirs for front and rear window washers.
Indicates that the vehicle’s front fog lamps are illuminated.
There are also dashboard lights that are only applicable to diesel vehicles. Here’s what those symbols mean:
Glow Plug (Diesel):
On diesel vehicles, this light indicates that the engine’s glow plugs are warming up and the engine should not be started until this light goes out.
DPF Light (Diesel):
There is a problem with the DPF that requires attention.
DEF Light (Diesel):
This light indicates the diesel exhaust fluid reservoir is low on fluid. If your diesel car is only a few years old, you might have spotted a second, smaller filler cap next to the main diesel filler. If that cap is marked ‘AdBlue’, then your car is fitted with clever technology designed to reduce its emissions. AdBlue is a non-toxic liquid that’s colourless in appearance and is a solution of water and urea. To comply with Euro 6 legislation, recent diesel-powered cars use SCR technology to inject microscopic quantities of this liquid into the flow of exhaust gases. It has become increasingly commonplace but isn’t standard in every diesel car, and if you’re a low-mileage driver it is unlikely to affect you between services.
Information has been provided from Autozone.com and is correct at the time of publication.
An orange light specifies a warning or something that needs your attention, a red light means stop immediately and seek advice from a professional.
If you’re concerned about any lights illuminating on your vehicle’s dashboard, you can visit your local Trust My Garage member via our Find a Garage map, where you’ll find a local, independent, Chartered Trading Standards Institute approved garage ready to provide you and your vehicle a friendly and professional service.
For further information about Trust My Garage you can visit our website here.
All motorists know that petrol or diesel are the energy supplies to their car and that without one or the other, their vehicle will quite simply not move.
Petrol and diesel both fundamentally work the same way by burning inside the combustion chamber of the car’s engine. This explosion pushes the pistons down , which results in motion – in other words, the car moves. The only real difference is how the fuel is ignited – in a petrol engine the spark plugs start the combustion process and in a diesel, the compression of the fuel creates the heat which causes the combustion.
The fuel level detection in almost all cars is automatic. Whether it’s a flashing light or a persistent beep every time the car’s engine is switched on, all cars alert, (or annoy) their owner to the fact that more fuel is required.
While most motorists experience low fuel levels, there is a great deal of uncertainty over just how much petrol there is left and how many miles that equates to. The response to how we react to the low fuel light/beep also divides us; there are those who head straight for the nearest petrol station as soon as they are alerted to the low fuel situation, convinced that their car is working on fumes alone. At the other end of the spectrum is the driver who sees the low fuel warning sign as a challenge – a challenge to stretch the last drops of fuel as far as they will possibly go, perhaps for that one last trip to the shops, or to work.
So, just how much fuel is left when the low fuel light or beep comes on? The answer to this is specific to your model of car, and how you drive it.
Most car manufacturers’ handbooks state that once the low fuel alert has come on, there are typically between 1 to 2 gallons remaining. Of course, translating this into miles depends on your car’s fuel efficiency, but if your car gets on average 40 miles to the gallon, then you have 40 miles left, providing you drive sensibly.
You should be checking your fuel levels regularly and making sure that you have enough fuel for any journey you are about to embark on. An empty fuel tank can end up picking up all the crud which accumulates in there increasing the chance of a blocked filter and leading to potentially costly repairs.
If you do notice you are low on fuel while in the middle of a journey, make sure you visit your nearest petrol station. When you arrive at the petrol station – do be careful because there are some important issues to be noted if you ‘miss-fuel’ your car, which means accidentally adding diesel to your petrol engine, or vice versa.
Should you fall victim to ‘miss-fuelling’, you won’t be alone: the AA reports that every year in the UK, 150,000 people ‘miss-fuel’ –that’s one driver every 3½ minutes. And many of them will end up having to fork out for costly repairs.
You may not realise that filling a petrol engine with diesel is more difficult to do than the other way round because diesel nozzles are bigger than their petrol counterparts. However, it’s not impossible.
Adding the wrong fuel to your car causes a range of damage, including affecting fuel injectors, pistons, fuel pumps and engine filters. All of these can be expensive to repair or replace.
So, what should you do if you realise that you have ‘miss-fuelled’?
It is absolutely vital that you DO NOT start your engine. If you do this the fuel circulates around the car’s engine system, making it far more difficult to remove easily and cheaply.
However, if you have started the engine, it is important to stop as soon as possible, pull over safely into a suitable spot, and turn off your engine.
You should then call a trained mechanic, who can help you by draining the incorrect fuel, repairing the damage and refilling with the correct fuel. You can find the nearest Trust My Garage approved workshops which do offer roadside maintenance, at our website at www.trustmygarage.co.uk.
Petrol is just one element of your car that you should be checking at regular intervals. An easy way to remember what maintenance checks you should carry out on your car, is the acronym POWER. In this acronym, P stands for petrol, O stands for oil, W means water, or coolant levels, E is for electrics and R stands for rubber, or in other words, your tyres.