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The MOT Test is changing – but how will it affect your vehicle?

The MOT test is set to change on 20 May 2018, with new defect types, stricter rules for diesel car emissions, and some vehicles over 40 years old becoming exempt.

Trust My Garage has previously covered what areas of your vehicle are looked at during an MOT, but the upcoming changes will affect cars, vans, motorcycles and other light passenger vehicles – so what do you need to know?

The .Gov website specifies that there are 5 main changes that motorists need to know about. Here’s the breakdown of each change:

 

  1. Defects will be categorised differently

Defects found during the MOT will be categorised as either:

  • dangerous
  • major
  • minor

The category the MOT tester gives each item will depend on the type of problem and how serious it is.

MOT testers will still give advice about items you need to monitor. These are known as ‘advisories’.

 

  1. Stricter rules for diesel car emissions

There will be stricter limits for emissions from diesel cars with a diesel particulate filter (DPF).

A DPF captures and stores exhaust soot to reduce emissions from diesel cars. Your vehicle will get a major fault if the MOT tester:

  • can see smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust
  • finds evidence that the DPF has been tampered with

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  1. Some new things will be included in the MOT

They include checking:

  • if tyres are obviously underinflated
  • if the brake fluid has been contaminated
  • for fluid leaks posing an environmental risk
  • brake pad warning lights and if brake pads or discs are missing
  • reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009
  • headlight washers on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 (if they have them)
  • daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018 (most of these vehicles will have their first MOT in 2021 when they’re 3 years old)

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There will be other smaller changes to how some items are checked. Your MOT centre will be able to tell you about these.

 

  1. The MOT certificate will change

The design of the MOT certificate will change. It will list any defects under the new categories, so they’re clear and easy to understand. The service to check the MOT history of a vehicle will be updated to reflect the changes.

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The old MOT certificate (left) and the updated version as of May 20th (right)

 

  1. Some vehicles over 40 years old won’t need an MOT

Cars, vans, motorcycles and other light passenger vehicles won’t need to have an MOT if they’re over 40 years old and have not been substantially changed.

At the moment, only vehicles first built before 1960 are exempt from needing an MOT. When the rules change on 20 May 2018, vehicles won’t need an MOT from the 40th anniversary of when they were registered. You can check the date the vehicle was registered online.

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You won’t have to apply to stop getting an MOT for your vehicle. However, each time you tax your historic vehicle (even if you don’t pay a fee), you’ll have to declare it meets the rules for not needing an MOT.

 

More information

The maximum fees MOT centres can charge won’t change, and you can get a free MOT reminder by text message or email a month before your MOT is due via the .Gov website.

All MOT station have been issued with a special notice and will be aware of the upcoming changes to the MOT test. Most Trust My Garage members conduct MOTs, and will adhere to the new regulations when they come into force on Sunday 20th May. If you have further questions you can visit the .Gov website, call the DVSA MOT Hub on 0300 123 9000 or visit your local Trust My Garage member for face-to-face updates.

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If you’re looking to give your motor some TLC, you can take your vehicle to your nearest Trust My Garage member business. Whether it’s for an MOT, check-up, service 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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Consumer-bought parts – Are they beneficial for motorists?

In recent years there has been more evidence of consumers bringing parts they’ve purchased themselves to a garage, and asking the garage to fit them. This shake-up of garage traditions may seem like a good idea, but is it actually helpful for motorists?

model car fix

Are consumer-bought parts actually beneficial for motorists?

What are consumer-bought parts?

A consumer-bought part is any part purchased directly from a supplier by a consumer instead of by a garage. In the case of most repairs, if a replacement part is needed for a vehicle the garage  will order and fit it as part of their service. However, it is now much easier for a customer to make a diagnosis of the issue with their vehicle, purchase a part, and then take it to a garage and ask them to fit it for only the cost of labour time.

 

Why have consumer-bought parts become popular recently?

Over the past few years the massive rise in online shopping has meant that more and more ‘direct supply’ companies have been set up for vehicle parts. These kinds of companies mean that a consumer can buy a part directly for their vehicle, instead of going through a garage and potentially paying a small charge for acquiring the part. This method essentially ‘cuts out the middle man’. 

model car jacked up

Garages will provide reliable, high-quality parts for any vehicle repairs

Is it a good idea?

Buying parts yourself might seem like a good idea on paper. However, if there is an issue with the part in the future what consumer rights do you have? Unlike parts bought and fitted directly by a garage, there may be warranty issues about the part installation, leaving you with a once again broken vehicle and no way to claim your money back. It also could be the case that the part is of inferior quality if not purchased from a proper supplier, which could in turn do even more damage to your car. In the worst cases, it may even be a counterfeit part. Garages will use suppliers they trust to provide them with quality parts in order to ensure the best possible work for their customers – that is, after all, how they get business!

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If you want to ensure your car is fitted with the correct part let the garage source the part and complete the repair

Do garages mind fitting consumer-bought parts?

It may be that if you take a part to a garage and ask them to fit it, they say no. While this might seem as if they’re turning away business for no reason it can often be down to the issues stated above. If a garage fits a part you’ve purchased at your request, and then the part breaks, where does the blame lie? The legal position is very clear, the garage is responsible for the work they do but any issues with the part will be your problem. However modern cars are complex and disputes regularly arise. Many consumers fault the garage’s fitting, but it could be the case of the part just not being up to the job. Remember, the main priority for a technician is to ensure your vehicle is safe and fit to drive – so if the part seems questionable, it’s acceptable for them to decline to fit the part.

 

Overall, we at Trust My Garage think that while consumer-bought parts may seem like a good idea it’s always best to let a garage do its job and make sure your vehicle is safe and working correctly. After all, would you take a steak into a restaurant and expect them to cook it for you?  If you need to get your car repaired, MOT’ed, serviced or even just checked over, you can you use our handy Find a Garage map to locate a reputable, Chartered Trading Standards (CTSI) approved independent garage near you – and remember, happy motoring!

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In our garages, everyone is treated like a celebrity

Every independent garage that signs up to our scheme pledges to give you the very best customer service.

We have almost 2,000 members now, and they all take pride in ensuring you go home happy; whether you visit them to get your vehicle serviced, repaired, or for an MOT.

Ridgeway1And there is no finer example of this than what the team at Ridgeway Garage, in Enfield, are doing. They have recently joined Trust My Garage, reflecting the fact that they have been providing excellent customer service for almost 40 years. The garage even lists celebrities such as actresses Michelle Ryan and Linda Lusardi, cricketer Phil Tufnell, comedian Ed Ray and footballers Ray Clemence and Paul Furlong amongst its growing clientele.

The owner of Ridgeway Garage, Gary Needham, said that providing fantastic customer service was ingrained in him from an early age. “I pride myself in treating all of my customers the way I would want to be treated,” he said. “My team and I open doors for them, stand up when they come in and when speaking to them and not only will we offer to pick up their cars from their house for free, we will also give them lifts home – and sometimes even to the shops! We don’t fleece, or rip off, any of our customers.

This is the philosophy of every one of our member garages. This is enshrined in our Customer Charter, which is our commitment to providing you with the highest level of customer satisfaction.

This means that we will:

1)      Provide you with a fixed quote or an estimate, both inclusive of parts, labour and VAT

2)      Only charge you for work completed and parts supplied and fitted

3)      Follow your vehicle’s service schedule

4)      Work to high standards and continue to achieve the key industry standards set by the RMI

5)      Explain things clearly and treat you and your vehicle with respect

6)      Use up-to-date technical information, techniques and tooling

7)      Comply with the RMI ‘Code of Practice for Service & Repair’

Ridgeway2Ridgeway Garage is showing that TMG members treat everyone as a celebrity when they walk through their doors.

It doesn’t matter who you are, whether you are a high-flying celebrity or the man on the Clapham omnibus, you will all be treated to the same highest standards.

Gary added: “We pride ourselves on our ability to treat everyone the same and with the courtesy they deserve.  Whether our customers are having a tyre pumped up with air and we don’t charge them, or if they are having an engine fitted to their car – it doesn’t matter to how they are treated. That is something that is instilled in all of the staff here.”

Gary said that some of his celebrity clients have given him signed photographs of themselves, which he proudly displays in the garage’s reception area.

We are constantly getting comments and open-mouthed looks as the customers look at them for the first time,” he said. “We are delighted to be members of TMG because we believe in the good old-fashioned values of honesty, trustworthiness and getting satisfaction from helping people.”

Do you know where your nearest Trust My Garage is? If not, don’t waste another second and type in your postcode in our garage finder to find quality service you just can’t beat.

Trust My Garage member is Independent Garage of the Year!

We are always doing our best to showcase the quality and expertise offered by independent garages throughout the country. In fact, Trust My Garage was set up for this very reason – to show motorists that they don’t have to pay main dealer fees for a professional and honest service – but that an even greater service is available at their nearest independent garage.

There is no better proof of this than our Cornish member Powell’s Garage, which has  picked up a prestigious national award after being named the Independent Garage of the Year.

Powell’s Garage beat off fierce competition to be recognised as the leading independent garage in the country by Motor Trader magazine, in its annual industry awards.

A panel of judges recognised the professional and honest service provided every day by Powell’s  Garage,  rounding off an exciting year for the business after it recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.

Powell's Garage

But what sets Powell’s Garage apart from other independent garages?

Heather Powell, Joint Managing Director of Powell’s Garage, told us her aim is to always provide the highest level of customer service.

“The whole ethos within the business is all about giving the customer the best possible experience when they have any dealings with us,” she said.

“We are totally honest with our customers and they respect and appreciate that.

“We have a relationship with so many of our customers that is relaxed and pleasant, like old friends.”

Heather added: “We genuinely think about the customer experience first and profitability second.

“We look at things on a long term basis – if we look after the customer then we hope that they will stay loyal to us and recommend us to their friends and family.”

This is the second time Powell’s Garage has won this award, and highlights its commitment in providing the best possible service to vehicle owners.

Its client base runs into its thousands, including ordinary car owners to different fleet companies, including Tesco and Sainsbury’s delivery vehicles.

Powells_insideAnd not only does the garage have two MOT test bays, it also has a ‘Fast Fit’ department, with huge stocks of competitively priced tyres and facilities for testing cars, vans and motorhomes.

“Our aim is to stay ahead of the game,” said Heather. “We always look to have the best possible premises and therefore customer service.

“We want the most up to date equipment throughout the whole business, not just in the workshop.

She added: “We focus on the little things. Not just the big things. Attention to detail is important.”

Powell’s Garage prides itself on the outstanding customer service it provides. So, we asked Heather for her three top tips for customer service which demonstrate the quality of attention you can receive when you take your car to a Trust My Garage member.,

1)      Listen carefully to your customer and act on their wishes, not your own

2)      Make things as easy and stress free for your customer as possible

3)      Put yourself in their shoes, what would you think?

With a philosophy like this and such attention on the customer, it is no wonder that Powell’s Garage has once again been named the best independent garage in the country.

Do you want to know where your nearest trusted independent garage is? Simply type your postcode in our garage finder and benefit from the same kind of service offered by Powell’s Garage – near you!

Top tips to help keep older drivers safe on the road

happy elderly drivingThere are more older drivers out on our roads than ever before, according to a recent study by the RAC Foundation.

It is claimed that there are more than four million people aged 70 and over who hold a full, valid UK driving licence. And the oldest licenced driver is a 107-year-old woman.

Statistics show that drivers aged over 55 are the least likely to be involved in an accident – but the chances of being seriously injured if involved in one increases from the age of 65.

At Trust My Garage, we aim to keep all drivers safe on the road, especially if they are more vulnerable due to aged-related health deterioration.

Obviously, if you have a medical condition or disability that affects your fitness to drive then you must inform the DVLA straight away.

But, if you are still fit and safe to drive, we want to ensure that your car doesn’t let you down.

So, what can you do to help keep you safe on the road?

1)      Check your eyesight. In order to drive safely, you must be able to see properly. This may seem like common sense, but sometimes you may not realise that your eyesight has worsened over time, and if you can’t read a car number plate from 20 metres – with or without corrected vision – then you should consult your optician straight away.

2)      Don’t feel pressurised by other road users. It’s easy to feel intimidated by a driver following too closely behind you, but don’t go any faster than you feel comfortable with doing, and never above the speed limit. If you need to slow down a bit to give yourself that extra bit of time to react when coming up to a junction or other hazard, then you do that. Don’t become a reckless or dangerous driver because of feeling pressured to go that extra bit faster.

3)      Visit your doctor to resolve any niggling health complaints. So, if your neck is giving you discomfort and you may have difficulty in turning your head, visit your doctor who may be able to show you some exercises to ease it a little bit.

4)      Buy accessories and adaptations for your car to make it easier to drive. If you are worried about forgetting directions, then a Satnav will make your navigation considerably easier and can save you from unnecessary worry. If you do suffer with a stiff neck, then you can attach stick-on blind-spot mirrors to your door mirrors, so you know what’s coming up beside you. And, you can use coloured stickers to mark different speeds on your speedometer, so you can clearly see how fast you’re travelling.

There are plenty of tips we can give you on keeping safe on the roads, but nothing beats ensuring your car is properly maintained.

It goes without saying that years ago cars were designed much simpler than they are now. The days are mostly gone where you could tinker about under the bonnet and replace the oil or old spark plugs.

Now, many modern cars’ mechanics are computer controlled and diagnostics and repairs can only be carried out by a trained mechanic using the latest tools and equipment.

So, we want you to know that you can place your faith in Trust My Garage. We have around 2,000 garages signed up to our scheme across the country, all of which are committed to providing the highest quality services and repairs.

And not only will we be able to give your car the thorough inspection it deserves to keep you safe when travelling, all of our garages also adhere to our Customer Charter.

We will only charge you for work completed and parts supplied and fitted – we don’t include any hidden costs, or hike up the prices.

And we use up-to-date technical information, techniques and tooling; always following your vehicle’s service schedule.

This means that you will go home satisfied that we have treated you and your vehicle with respect.

So, if you feel that your car could do with having a good looking over – if only to give you peace of mind when travelling – then just type your postcode into our garage finder to locate your nearest member.

Why you will benefit from TRUST MY GARAGE getting Government backing

Recently, responsibility for the government’s Consumer Codes Approval Scheme has been transferred to Trading Standards Institute from the Office of Fair Trading and this means an even greater focus on the needs of the consumer.

As TRUST MY GARAGE has always demonstrated high standards in the independent service and repair sector we have now submitted an application for TRUST MY GARAGE to be an approved code.

What does this mean for you?

1. We guarantee you’re not getting scammed

In a recent survey conducted by the AA, 22% of motorists believed that items had been fitted or replaced unnecessarily during a car service. By visiting a TRUST MY GARAGE member you eliminate any chance of this scenario ever happening to you. We will be working with Trading Standards to drive out any independent garages that do not comply with the high standards we set. This way you can be sure that garages who display the TRUST MY GARAGE shield are genuinely working to provide the very best experience for the consumer – and if they don’t, we want to hear from you.  We can all play our part in raising standards across the entire independent sector.

2. You ALWAYS receive the very best service

All garages that are members of TRUST MY GARAGE work to the highest industry standards. Our members have access to the most up-to-date technical information and tools, and employ highly skilled mechanics. We have even had TRUST MY GARAGE member technicians voted among the best in the country!

3. Customer service is always outstanding

Customer service is top of the agenda for all our trusted independent garages. We ensure that our members explain work carried out clearly and treat customers and their vehicles with the upmost respect. These garages are part of the local community. They visit the same shops as their customers and their children often go to the same school as their customer’s children. They get to know you and always provide a personal and friendly service.

4. You receive REAL value for money

In the same AA survey 44% of respondents believed that the expense of a repair had been a lot higher than expected after a garage visit. One of the key benefits of a garage being in the TRUST MY GARAGE code means that you will receive an honest and loyal service every time you visit one of our members. Our garages are committed to providing motorists with a fixed quote or estimate, both inclusive of parts, labour and VAT and they only charge for the work completed and parts supplied and fitted.

5. Complaining is easy

In the unlikely event that you are displeased with any aspect of your visit to one of our member garages, you will be able to report it to Trading Standards as well as to us. This means you are backed by the support of two reputable, national associations and also have access to free advice to help address your complaint and rectify it promptly. The key to this is clear communication between the customer and garage.

6. Honest Consumer Feedback

We will soon be adding consumer feedback to the scheme via our website at www.trustmygarage.co.uk and through a TRUST MY GARAGE dedicated “app”. This means that your views will really count – all TRUST MY GARAGE members will welcome constructive feedback and other consumers will see an honest appraisal of the garage.

So remember, any garages displaying the widely recognised TRUST MY GARAGE shield can be trusted to provide an honest and professional service to all motorists.  Upon completion of the process, the TRUST MY GARAGE consumer code will be the only approved code in the UK that is exclusively open to independent garage businesses. TRUST MY GARAGE is already a household name and with European law stating that new cars can be serviced at independent garages without invalidating the warranty, the Trust My Garage consumer code will be the final piece in the independent garage jigsaw.

And don’t forget… To find your nearest TRUST MY GARAGE member you can always use the POSTCODE FINDER HERE

Make sure your driving isn’t costing the earth

We have already pointed out the things to look out for when driving abroad but if you are driving on holiday in the UK this year have you considered your carbon footprint? In 2008, the UK government unveiled its plan to cut the nation’s carbon emissions by 80% before 2050, and last year UK vehicle manufacturers were told by EU environmental regulations that they should cut their carbon emissions throughout the manufacturing process. So what can you do to make sure your driving not only saves money by reducing your fuel consumption, but you will also contribute to saving the planet by not releasing harmful emissions into the atmosphere?green driving

You can make a start by following our top ten tips for greener driving:

10. Change your car to one that is more fuel efficient

OK, it might seem an expensive thing to do if you have already had your car for a long time, but if you are due a change, make sure vehicle efficiency is something you consider. Typically, scaling down from a large vehicle to a smaller vehicle will result in less CO2 emissions.  Bear in mind that cars with electric engines emit no pollutants and charging stations are increasing across the UK.

9. Remove roof racks when not required

Vehicle manufacturers are always looking to make their products as aerodynamic as possible. Adding a roof box or rack on top of your vehicle compromises this. It increases the wind drag on your car, making your engine work harder and increasing fuel consumption, especially when driving at high speeds. If you don’t need to use it for your journey, remove it.

8. Check your tyre inflation

Tyres are often be overlooked by drivers, but one of the easiest ways to reduce carbon emissions is to make sure your tyres are properly inflated. Underinflated tyres make the engine work harder due to the surface drag and friction with the road surface. Properly inflated tyres have less contact with the road, encountering less friction and meaning that excess fuel is not wasted.  Driving on underinflated tyres also leads to potential damage to the tyre or the wheel rim which means you will have to change your tyres more frequently, resulting in a higher use of the earth’s resources.

7. Eliminate excess weight

We all put things in our boot and leave them in there, but this could be harming your green credentials. Remember your engine burns fuel for energy, so the more energy it needs to carry the unnecessary weight, the more C02 emissions are released into the atmosphere. Make sure you have only what is necessary in your boot and remove any items you don’t need to carry it around.

6. Drive in the correct gear for the road conditions

It is something you are taught when learning to drive, but remember to drive in the most appropriate gear for the road conditions.  Getting into fifth ( or even sixth in modern cars) gear during motorway driving, for example, whilst staying within the speed limits, will help with optimising your fuel consumption.  However, remember to stay in a lower gear when driving down steep hills.

5. Plan your route

Avoid getting lost. Not only does this add unnecessary time to your journey, it also increases fuel consumption and wear and tear on your car if it is something that happens regularly. Invest some time in planning your route before you begin a journey. This will ensure you conserve fuel as well as enjoying a stress free and pleasant journey. If you are a SatNav user remember that some devices offer a “green” option in the settings along with “quickest” and “shortest”

4. Avoid unnecessary shopping trips

For most people, shopping is a chore yet many of us make unnecessary trips to the supermarket or the local shops for items we’ve forgotten during our weekly shop.  This means increased fuel consumption, increased emissions and further wear and tear on the car. Minimise the number of journeys you make by planning ahead.

3. Drive at a steady speed

Driving within the speed limit is a legal requirement, but try to keep your vehicle at a steady speed when driving. Accelerating rapidly and braking harder than you need to all reduce efficiency and waste fuel. Drive at a steady speed and stay at that pace for as long as you can to ensure you only use the fuel you really need to use.

2. Turn off the engine when you are stationary

If you are stuck in a traffic jam or waiting to pick up a friend, turn your engine off. Many of us probably leave our engine running when we really could – and should – have turned it off. This is the easiest way to waste fuel and is more harmful to the environment.

1. Get your vehicle serviced regularly at a Trust My Garage member

Trust My Garage members have the professional expertise and vehicle know-how to keep you car a lean, green machine.  Regular services make sure things like your tyres and engine, are performing as they should and you are not unknowingly wasting any fuel or damaging the environment.

So what are you waiting for? Book in with your local Trust My Garage member today and enjoy a service backed by Trading Standards after we applied to become a government code. Enter your postcode into our website HERE and book your car in with a trusted technician today.

Get it right on the wrong side of the road

Every year around two million of us drive abroad (according to an RAC report), and aside from just getting used to driving on the other side of the road there are a wealth of things you need to consider when taking to the European roads.

Passport & Car KeysPassport & Car KeysIt’s not surprising that 76% (3/4) of British motorists feel nervous about driving abroad due to all the things they have to think about. We have compiled a list of things for you to think about to help put your mind at ease before you head off on your foreign road trip this summer.

Preparing your car for driving abroad…

Similarly to making long distance journeys to your UK holiday destination (read full blog here) you need to ensure that the overall condition of your vehicle is suitable and in top running condition to make the full journey. Breaking down is not just an inconvenience abroad, but it can also be very pricey!

preparation for tripDistances

In Europe you can easily end up driving much further than you might in most of the UK. This means that tiredness can be an issue. When you combine this with the much higher speeds in some parts of Europe it is important to stay alert at all times.

Many European countries have smaller, less crowded rest areas without fuel or restaurant facilities which are ideal for a quick break to stretch your legs and use the toilet.

If you are a Sat-Nav user, the ability to find off-motorway petrol is a useful tip. Not only will the fuel be cheaper, there is less likely to be long queues at the pumps. This has the added advantage of providing a break from the monotony of motorway driving.

preparation for tripDon’t overload your vehicle!

One of the perks of travelling abroad is the tax free products that we can bring back, and one of the most common things to bring back is wine. However, five cases of wine is the equivalent of another passenger in your car. The heavier the load the more you put your car at risk of damage to the suspension, burning the clutch, or wear and punctures on your tyres. So whatever delights you may be bringing back from your travels, just weigh up whether the cost savings are worth any potential damage to your car.

headlightsLights

In Europe (and other countries that drive on the right) you will need to make sure that you have adjusted your beam pattern so that the dipped beam does not dazzle oncoming drivers. Modern cars with “projector” headlamps need to have the deflectors carefully positioned so make sure you prepare in advance! Some headlights have an internal ‘shutter’, but others are less convenient and you will need to visit a specialist to adjust them.

tyreTyres

One of the most important parts of your vehicle to check before journeys is your tyres. Once they get down to a tread depth of 3mm they can wear out very quickly, so if you are making an extra long journey abroad it is worth considering replacing them entirely even though the legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm

CHECKLIST

driving abroad checklist

Did you know?

  • The phone number for the emergency services across Europe is 112.
  • In Spain the minimum driving age is 18
  • In most EU countries it’s compulsory to carry a warning triangle in your car and in Germany it is also compulsory to carry a first aid kit in your car.
  • France is the most likely country Britons will break down in, with the RAC stating that 64.33% of overseas breakdowns occur there.
  • In Switzerland pedestrians have the right of way and cars are meant to stop for them
  • In France most motorways are toll operated so keep your Euros handy!
  • In Spain, if you wear glasses you must carry a spare pair in your car when driving
  • In Germany you can be fined on the spot for running out of fuel on the autobahn (motorway.

If you have any reservations about your car being fit to make the journey abroad then it is important that you get it checked over by a trusted professional. TRUST MY GARAGE members possess the skills and expertise required to provide you with peace of mind that should you be making a trip abroad in your car this summer, you are doing it in a safe and capable vehicle. Find your nearest trusted garage HERE and book in for a service before your trip.

Motorway driving is more than middle lane morons

suitcaseMore of us are choosing a ‘staycation’ this summer according to a recent study by Travelodge, which means our motorways are destined to be busier than ever.motorway

With the new on-the-spot fines for middle-lane hogging coming into play this July there is lots to think about when cruising down the motorways at this time of year.

Two thirds of Britons are taking a summer holiday in the UK this year, which is up from 41% in 2012. When travelling abroad vehicle maintenance is the responsibility of airlines, railway executives and cruise ships providers but when you drive to a staycation, maintenance of your car is your own responsibility.  With all the excitement about getting away this year, are we all thinking about preparing our cars for long   motorway journeys?

It is vital that you check your car is safe for motorway journeys by taking it to a Trust My Garage member for a service. Over one hundred people died on UK motorways in 2011 and 740 were seriously injured. A number of these accidents were results of mechanical faults and vehicle defects, causing such things as; tyre blow-outs, brake failure, and steering mechanism failure.

“So what can I check in order to prevent inconvenient breakdowns and dangerous accidents?”

Steering

The most common type of steering problem is loss of power steering assistance due to damaged hydraulic pipes or a loose drive belt; normally indicated by heaviness in your steering. Smaller modern cars have electric power steering and any problem here may be accompanied by a warning light on the dashboard.

Unsafe Tyres

Last summer it was revealed that the number of people convicted for driving with dangerous or defective tyres was a massive 9,369. If your tyres are inflated too much or too little then you are putting yourself and your passengers at risk of a tyre blow-out, which effectively causes the tyre to explode, making you unbalanced and causing you to swerve out of your lane. This is more likely on a motorway where the tyre temperature is higher because of the sustained high speeds and you will need quick reactions in order to stop safely. It is important that you check your tyre pressures according to your handbook recommendations before you set off for a motorway journey.

Worn Brakes

Unsafe brakes can be caused by worn brake pads, leaking brake fluid, or mechanical failure. You should regularly check these, and especially when you are heading for the motorway as responsive brakes are essential when stopping suddenly at such high speeds. If you are starting to feel increased or decreased resistance when stopping then it is time to consult a trusted garage.

Low Fluids

All fluids under the bonnet should be checked regularly, but even more so if you are about to take a long journey on a motorway. These include brake fluid, oil, engine coolant – if any of these are running  low  you run the risk of breaking down on the motorway, which is  dangerous with other vehicles moving past at 70mph – so make sure you are all topped up before you set off on the motorway and don’t forget to check the temperature gauge as your journey progresses.

If you are unsure about any aspect of your car, your warning light is flashing or your engine is making a grumbling noise, that’s the time to take it to a Trust My Garage member for a professional service. You can find your nearest trusted garage by entering your postcode in our postcode finder HERE

You have got the POWER to keep your vehicle on the road!

Wherever you are heading in your car this summer, we’re helping you to remember an easy acronym by which you can prepare your motor for any long journey. – just remember, POWER.

Check out our latest video to see Terry Gibson from TRUST MY GARAGE demonstrate…

PETROL (fuel)

Do you have enough fuel for the journey you’re about to make? Not only does running out of petrol cause a huge inconvenience to your journey but it can cause other problems as an empty tank can end up picking up all the crud which accumulates in there increasing the chance of a blocked filter.

OIL

Do you have enough oil? If you run out of oil then there is no lubrication for the moving parts in your engine and they will become too hot and there is a risk that the engine will seize, ruining your car. The pictogram on the oil cap may suggest you check your manual to find out the type and quantity of oil required and the dipstick will tell you  The level of oil in the engine. Unless the manual advises otherwise, the oil should be checked with the car on level ground with the engine off – but not completely cold.

WATER (coolant)

Most modern cars require a specific coolant designed for the engine, which will be available in most petrol station forecourts. In an emergency you could top up with normal water but this is not ideal as modern coolant contains additives to prevent corrosion to maintain the waterways in the engine. It is of paramount importance that the engine is cool before removing the cap so let your engine fully cool down before you touch it.

ELECTRICS

In modern cars the only electrics we would generally check ourselves before a long journey are the lights; indicators, brake lights, headlights. If you’re going abroad make sure you deal with beam deflection, however it’s not as easy as it used to be as we don’t have a simple round head light that we can stick a black label on.  Often modern beam deflectors are silver  in colour and there will be a set of instructions with where to stick that to ensure it deflects the beam correctly.

RUBBER (tyres)

Unsafe tyres are one of the biggest causes of accidents. Before you set off for the seaside as well as checking the tyre pressures, make sure you check the depth of tread to make sure it meets the 1.6mm minimum requirement and that there is no uneven wear and also check for cracks, bulges, or splits in the sidewall. Don’t forget to look again with the wheels turned to full lock so you can check the inside of the tyres.

And remember is there’s anything you’re not sure about, that’s the time to take your car to a TRUST MY GARAGE member… CLICK HERE TO FIND YOUR NEAREST ONE