Blog Archives

E10 Petrol – Is your vehicle ready?

E-10 fuel – you’ve heard all about it, but do you know what it is and how it could affect your vehicle?

What is E10?

E10 is a petroleum fuel that is now the standard grade fuel across the country. It is more renewable, greener and helps to cut down the CO2 emissions from your vehicle. It is also expected that E10 petrol will be cheaper than the current E5 petrol by around 0.2 pence per litre.

The government have issued a warning, however, that E10 preserves less energy than E5 and therefore it is likely that you will find yourself topping your vehicle up more regularly. The government have highlighted that driving with under-inflated tyres or with a roof rack fitted to your car, will have more of a significant impact on your fuel top ups than E10 will.

Until now E5 petrol in the UK has contained up to 5% bioethanol, which means 5% of the mix is produced from crops and wood waste – which are renewable sources. E10 means that 10% of the fuel is renewable, which makes it more environmentally friendly.     

There are some vehicles that cannot use E10 petrol, however.

Is E10 made for my vehicle?

Not every vehicle can use E10 fuel and in fact, it is incompatible with as many as 600,000 vehicles, including classic vehicles, specific models of vehicles from the early 2000’s and some mopeds under 50cc. The good news is that all cars manufactured after 2011 are compatible with E10 petrol.

It is recommended that you check whether your vehicle can use E10 fuel. Checking is quick and easy, and not checking whether your vehicle can have E10 fuel means risking putting the wrong fuel into your vehicle, and consequently shortening your vehicle’s engine life along with that of other components.

To check, simply head over to the GOV.UK E10 online checker here.

(Photo: Screen shot of the E10 checker on the government website)

If you are still unsure on whether your vehicle can use E10 petrol or not, there are some further simple checks you can do. You can:

  • Check your vehicle owner’s manual, as the instruction booklet is specific to your vehicle
  • Look inside the fuel filler cap (as shown below)
  • Contact your vehicle manufacturer

If you are still unsure, E5 will still be available at most filling stations.

It goes without saying, but E10 fuel is not compatible with diesel engines or electric vehicles.

What if I use E10 and I Shouldn’t Have?

If your vehicle cannot use E10 fuel, simply stick to E5. However, we all know that sometimes slip ups can happen and that people put the wrong fuel in more frequently than imagined – so will this mistake affect your vehicle? Can you use E10 fuel even if your vehicle is not on the approved E10 list?

In short, using E10 fuel in your vehicle that is not compatible with E10 is not the end of the world. There is no disastrous consequence like if you put diesel into a petrol vehicle, and you do not need to request an engine drain

So, if your vehicle is not compatible with E10, yet can run off E10, why can you not use it? The answer is simple: older vehicles have older fuel systems and using E10 fuel for prolonged periods of time will damage the vehicle significantly. Continuing to use E10 whilst it is advised that your car should not use it, could damage your seals, plastics, metals in the fuel system and could make it harder for your vehicle to start. You will also risk having condensation in your fuel tank, and the strong dose of ethanol could eat through the aged rubber pipes in your vehicles fuel lines.

If your vehicle cannot use E10, don’t use E10. E5 fuel will still be available.

Of course, if you use other petrol appliances such as a lawn mower, ring the manufacturer to see whether your appliance can use E10 or not. The same applies to boats and some aircrafts too.

If you use E10 petrol continuously to the point in which your car breaks down, the Mirror have investigated and found that 46% of car insurance policies will not pay out any repair costs caused by mis-fuelling your car.  

If you wish for you vehicle to run on E10 but it is not compatible and you do not want long term damage, you will have to change components in your car. You would have to get rid of your fibreglass petrol tank and replace it with an aluminium one. Furthermore, ethanol does not like solder, so if you run a solder float in your carburettor it is advised you carry a spare as it is easy to change. Of course, these are not the only changes you would have to make to your car as E10 will eat your rubber lining and damage your seals, so you would still risk water in the fuel tank.

When will E10 be available?

E10 is expected to roll out in the UK in September 2021. Northern Ireland can be expected to have E10 introduced in early 2022.

Be sure to check whether your vehicle is E10 compatible here.

More about Trust My Garage

Whether you need to ask a professional if the petrol you are using is right for your car or locate a trusted garage to upgrade your car to make it E10 compatible, finding out whether a garage is the best of the best is easier than you think. Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s trusted local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service. Trust My Garage members are the best of Britain’s local garages – every member is dedicated to giving their customers the best of the best service. All the garages of Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association, which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. If you want to find out more about Trust My Garage, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

It’s Time to Book Your MOT Early

As we are beginning to see the easing of lockdown and things getting back to a new sort of normal, it’s all too easy to forget the things that have changed. Back in April 2020 many vehicles were given a six-month MOT extension to ensure that those needing their vehicle to deliver key services, were able to do so, whilst feeling safe and staying mobile.

The knock-on effects of this six month extension to MOT’s is that these MOT’s are now due in October, November, and December, on top of the vehicles that are already due to have their MOT in the same period. This, as we saw last year, will again create long lead times and high demand for MOT’s in the last three months of the year. We are also seeing that many people no longer have their Tax, MOT and motor insurance all due at the same time, making it likely that the out of sync MOT may get missed at worst, or forgotten about until the last minute at best, causing frustration and potential long delay for MOT appointments, or even vehicles not being able to be driven if their MOT expires before an appointment can be arranged.

With Brexit and the effects of COVID-19 working hand in hand, garages have experienced a delay in parts coming through from the EU and have also experienced financial and staff losses due to COVID-19.

This caused a backlog, which has then consequently clustered and caused ‘peaks’ and ‘troughs’ in MOT demand throughout the year.

But how does this affect my next MOT?

It is expected that in September, the number of vehicles needing an MOT will rise by 16% and up to 29% in October. If your car has an MOT due in the coming months, it’s worth thinking about booking your MOT test early, so your garages can meet demand and guarantee your MOT spot. You can book your MOT up to a month early while keeping your renewal date the same.

If you leave it to the last minute, you risk not being able to have your car MOT’d in time for when it is required, which consequently means your car is undrivable. Driving without a valid MOT is illegal and you could face consequences such as a fine up to £2,500, three points on your licence and of course, the obvious danger, that your car may not be roadworthy which could you, your loved one and other road users at risk.

This ‘peak’ MOT testing time could potentially last years, meaning it may become the norm to book your MOT sooner than you are typically used to, you could also re-align your vehicles MOT to its original date, making it less likely you will forget it, if it aligns to your tax and insurance renewals

Help your garages help you and your motor by booking early.

Book your MOT with Trust My Garage

Are you looking for a garage you can trust for your MOT needs? Ensure that your car is MOT’d and safe to drive with Trust My Garage. Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s trusted local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.

Every garage in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association, which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who must comply with a strict code of practice. Every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle. If you want to find out more about Trust My Garage, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

New Tyre Labelling – What does it mean for Motorists?

As of 1st May 2021, tyres now have a new labelling system to help motorists understand how well they perform in different conditions. Want to know more about how the system works and how it could affect drivers? The Trust My Garage blog is here to help!

What changes are being made?

According to TyreSafe.org, the changes to labelling are being made to help motorists understand the performance of different tyres in areas such as fuel efficiency, and grip in adverse weather conditions.

With the previous labelling system, concerns were raised that motorists were not fully aware of the differences between different tyre ratings displayed on the tyre label. As these labels were physically affixed to the tyres, a driver could have had a new tyre fitted by a garage without ever seeing the label to confirm the tyre’s rating, unless specifically queried.

From now on, tyre label ratings are available to retailers through their computers, and they must provide the rating details to their customers. This information is drawn from a European database holding the ratings of every tyre on sale, which will be made accessible to the public.

The rating scale for tyres has also changed, with a new, five-option rating system from “A” (best) to “E” (worst). If the tyre is classified as suitable for use on snow, it will have the Alpine peaks symbol. A symbol for tyres classified as suitable for ice (known as ‘Nordic tyres’) is also available. The ratings system and the snow/ice graphics are shown here:

© TyreSafe 2021

What details are the same as before?

There is some information which has not changed. A tyre’s fuel efficiency, braking performance in the wet and the amount of road noise it generates remain the core information of the label, and a rating is provided for each performance measure. Labels will look like this:

© TyreSafe 2021

How can I check my vehicle’s tyres?

If you think your vehicle may need new tyres, or you want to know if your tyres are over the legal tread depth limit of 1.6mm, you can test their depth yourself.

You may also want to confirm if your vehicle’s tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, or monitor key signs of wear and tear on the tyres.

Our “What to do when… you need to check your vehicle’s tyres” posts can help! From “the 20p test”, to how to use a tyre pressure gauge, we’ve put together the information you need to ensure you keep this vital part of your vehicle at its best.

What do I do when I need to change my vehicle’s tyres?

Many local independent garages offer tyre sales and fitting services, either as a standalone or as part of your MOT advisories. Often, you can ask for new tyres to be fitted while still at the garage to rectify an advisory issue. If you want to know which garages near you offer tyre services, you can pop your postcode into the handy “Find a Garage” tool on the Trust My Garage website! Give it a try here:

You can adjust the search radius depending on how far you want to travel, and check the reviews and ratings for each TMG member too! All members also have a profile page where you can read more information about the business and see what services they offer – including tyres!

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 must comply with a strict, Chartered Trading Standards Institute-approved Code of Practice.

Every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for your money.

If you have any top tyre tips, be sure to leave them in the comments below!

Prepare your vehicle for the New Year with Trust My Garage

With the imminent arrival of 2021 it’s important to get your vehicle ready for the New Year – but what steps can you take to ensure you’re motoring happy over the next 12 months? The Trust My Garage blog is here to help! Read on to find out what you need to know.

MOT

This year has been an unprecedented experience for almost everyone, including motorists. For safety, the DVSA began to issue six-month MOT extensions for vehicles due an MOT between April and the end of July. The extension means that many vehicles due their MOT over the summer will now been condensed into the last few month of 2020, creating much longer waiting times for MOT appointments.

The extension was entirely optional, and you were still able take your vehicle to your local Trust My Garage member garage at its normal MOT time, which is usually in line with its registration, if you want to do so. This may be helpful if your key dates, such as MOT, tax renewal and insurance renewal, are due at the same time, as it will be easier to remember.

The DVSA have predicted a 24 per cent increase in demand for MOT’s in December and a 45 per cent increase in January, so a great way to prepare for the New Year is to ensure your test is booked in plenty of time ready for its due date and avoid your car being unusable due to an expired MOT.

To check when your vehicle’s MOT test is due, you can visit https://.gov.uk/check-mot-history. All you need is your vehicle’s registration number!

Tax

About a month before your road tax expires the DVLA will issue you with a V11 Vehicle Tax Reminder, containing the information you need to either renew your tax online, via telephone or at a Post Office branch. Your V11 will also tell you the date your current road tax period will expire.

You can check the status of your road tax or renew it online via the Gov.uk website. Driving without road tax will result in a DVLA-imposed fine of £80, which can be reduced by half if paid in 28 days. However, it could result in a fine of up to £1,000 or five times the annual road tax fee if the case goes to court. Even if your vehicle is not being driven but is parked on a public road, if you’ve forgotten to pay tax, it could be clamped or even impounded!

Insurance

It’s illegal to drive a vehicle on a road or in a public place without at least 3rd party insurance – and even if the vehicle itself is insured, if you’re not correctly insured to drive it you could get penalised. The police could give you a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points if you’re caught driving a vehicle you’re not insured to drive.

If the case goes to court you could get :

  • an unlimited fine
  • disqualified from driving

The police also have the power to seize, and in some cases, destroy the vehicle that’s being driven uninsured. You can check your vehicle insurance renewal date with your insurance provider, and you can do a quick check on whether your vehicle is insured here: https://ownvehicle.askmid.com/

Car maintenance

It’s important to make sure your vehicle is running at its best ready for the next year, so take time to ensure your motor isn’t displaying any warning lights on the dashboard, your fluid levels are topped up as needed and your lights are working clearly with no damaged or broken bulbs.

Our “What to do when… your vehicle needs some TLC” post covers the basics you need, in detail, to make sure you’re driving into 2021 with all cylinders firing.

The other posts in our ‘What to do when…’ series can also provide some further tips and insight across many areas of motoring and vehicle maintenance to help you ensure your motor is running at its best! You can check out our posts in the series here.

Tyres

The tread of a tyre refers to the rubber on its circumference that makes contact with the road or ground. The legal limit for minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters, however it is recommended to keep your tyres at 3mm or above for optimum grip. Drivers who fail to comply with the regulations face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.

The ‘20p test’ is a quick way to check the tread depth. Place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves at three points across the tyre and then repeat around its circumference. If the outer band of the 20p piece is visible, the tyres may be unsafe or illegal and need to be checked by a professional garage or tyre specialist.

You can check and correct your tyre pressure at most UK petrol stations using a pay-per-use air and water station, or you can purchase your own tyre pressure gauge – the choice is yours.

If you aren’t sure what pressure is correct for your vehicle’s tyres you can refer to your Owner’s Manual. Details should be provided in either/both BAR and PSI, and you can adjust your pressures to the recommended figure. Often a vehicle’s tyre pressure information is also provided on the interior frame of the front passenger or driver’s door, and sometimes inside the fuel flap, so be sure to check there if you need a quick reference point as well.

Find out more in our “What to do when… you need to check your vehicle’s tyres” blog post.

Finding a local garage

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

More about Trust My Garage

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

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

Each and every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle.

How does coronavirus affect MOTs? Find out with Trust My Garage!

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the public in many aspects of daily life – whether you’re working from home, ordering take-aways instead of eating out, or exercising via a run instead of going to the gym, many people have had to make changes to their lifestyle.

Unlike the first lockdown, the MOT is one thing that hasn’t been affected by the second wave of COVID-19 restrictions; so, what can you do to ensure your car’s MOT status remains valid and roadworthy? Trust My Garage is here to help!

What is the MOT?

The MOT is a government-mandated test for vehicles to ensure they meet safety and roadworthiness standards, as well as environmental standards.

A new vehicle requires its first MOT test after three years, and then will need one every year after that. You cannot drive or park your vehicle on a public road if the MOT has run out, and you can be prosecuted if caught without a valid MOT.

The Gov.uk website states you must get an MOT for your vehicle by either:

  • the third anniversary of its registration
  • the anniversary of its last MOT, if it’s over 3 years old

The MOT checks many important parts of your vehicle, as shown here:

(source)

These checks ensure vehicles meet the minimum requirements for road safety and environmental legislation.

After a vehicle’s MOT test, it will receive a certificate stating whether it has passed or failed the MOT. You may get a list of ‘minor’ or ‘advisory’ problems to monitor or fix in the future.

If the vehicle has ‘dangerous’ or ‘major’ problems it will fail its MOT, and you will not be allowed to drive it until the problems are fixed. The fail will be noted in the vehicle’s MOT history and you will get a ‘refusal of an MOT test certificate’ from the test centre.

You can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points for driving a vehicle that has failed its MOT because of a ‘dangerous’ problem.

Why was there an MOT extension in the first lockdown?

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the national lockdown restrictions, some vehicles were granted a six-month MOT extension by the government to help protect the public and avoid the spread of COVID-19. It was also to help the many key workers that found it difficult to get their cars to a garage, to stay mobile and continue to provide the vital services they delivered.

The extension was not mandatory, and the Government still advised the public to have an MOT test for their vehicle if they felt it necessary at the original time their MOT was due. 2.1 million MOTs were still carried out in April and May, despite lockdown restrictions and the implementation of the MOT extension.

Does my car need a valid MOT during lockdown?

In short, yes. Regardless of any lockdown restrictions, your vehicle must always have a valid MOT. You can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT, and unless your MOT date has been extended by the Government you must submit your vehicle for testing before the expiry of its current MOT.


To check your vehicle’s MOT expiry date, you can use the Gov.uk MOT check service. The service also lets you set up text reminders for your MOT due date and check if there are any manufacturer recalls issued for your vehicle. If there are any recall issues, you can find out more information about them with our “Vehicle safety recalls – what are they and how can they affect motorists?” blog post.

Where can I go to get an MOT test?

To conduct MOT tests, a garage (or dealership) must be a DVSA-approved MOT testing station. You’ll know if a premises is an MOT testing station by the display of the official logo:

 Some service and repair garages also conduct MOTs, and some garages will only offer MOTs, so check which is best for you before booking in your test. If you purchased your vehicle from a branch of the manufacturer’s franchised dealerships you can also use their facilities for your MOT, depending on your preference.

Many Trust My Garage members offer MOTs as part of their range of services, so it’s always worth checking if there’s a member in your area! It’s simple to do, just head to our “Find a Garage” map and pop in your postcode! Try it out here:

You can check TMG members in your area by distance, number of reviews or star rating. You can also view their profile page to see what services they offer and even request more information directly from the garage. TMG member profile pages also provide direct contact information, so if you prefer a phone call you can contact a garage quickly and easily. 

As for pricing, there’s a maximum amount MOT test stations can charge, depending on the type of vehicle. The maximum fee for a car is £54.85 and £29.65 for a standard motorcycle, and the fee is not subject to VAT.

How can I prepare my car for an MOT?

Once you’ve booked an MOT, you may want to take extra steps to prepare your vehicle during the pandemic.

Many motorists have taken to leaving Personal Protective Equipment (PEE) in their vehicle’s for convenience, such as face coverings and/or disposable gloves; make sure these are removed in advance of your MOT test so garage staff don’t have to touch them. Some garages have taken to  reminding to customers at time of booking and again on the day of their visit to ensure any used PPE is removed from vehicles to ensure the safety of both staff and customers.

You may also want to clean your vehicle prior to it entering the garage. Our “Keep your vehicle germ-free with Trust My Garage” blog post has some great tips on how to keep the germs at bay!

Some garages are currently offering deep-cleaning services at an additional charge when you take in your vehicle, so if you’re interested in a professional clean you can discuss this with the garage to see if it’s an option they provide.

Once your garage visit is over and your MOT is passed successfully, you can put your PPE back in place and carry on motoring.

More about Trust My Garage

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

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

Every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle.

If you want to find out more about Trust My Garage, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Trust My Garage – 5 years of Consumer Codes approval for independent garages

On 20th October, Trust My Garage celebrated its 5th anniversary of being a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved Consumer Code – but what does that mean when you visit a TMG member garage? Read on to find out!

What is Trust My Garage?

Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s best local garages – each 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. The IGA is part of the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMIF), one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations.

Trust My Garage is not a third-party web-based intermediary that comes between you and your local garage. It is a Code of Practice for independent garages, approved by the CTSI’s Consumer Code Approval Scheme. This means there are no extra costs involved for you or your garage and you will always be able to contact your garage directly, enabling you to build a trusted relationship, allowing members to maintain their high quality and standards of workmanship and service.

What is the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)?

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is a not-for-profit membership organisation founded in 1881 to support and represent trading standards professionals in the UK and abroad.

CTSI’s vision is for the United Kingdom to prosper through fair and safe trade. Their Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS) aims to improve customer service standards by:

  • The approval and promotion of codes of practice through code sponsors, approved by the CTSI
  • Protecting consumers with higher levels of customer service. By using an approved trader you will have protection above and beyond your normal consumer law rights, including access to a clear complaints procedure and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service if you have a problem
  • Allowing businesses to display the codes logo to reassure consumers

How does a Consumer Code work?

The CCAS is committed to promoting Codes of Practice, such as Trust My Garage, that meet their core criteria and have obtained CTSI approval.

By adhering to a Consumer Code, TMG members can display the CTSI Approved Code logo – which gives you confidence in the reputable standards of the business.

You should always look out for the CTSI approved code logo when searching for a local business, so you can be confident that any approved code sponsor you choose has a proven commitment to be honest and have higher consumer standards. Click here to find out more how the Consumer Code Approval Scheme can help you as a consumer.

You can read more on the official Trust My Garage CTSI code sponsor listing here.

How can I find a TMG member garage?

The easiest way to locate your nearest Consumer Code-approved TMG member is by using our “Find a Garage” map. You can simply pop in your postcode and your preferred mileage radius and all TMG members in your area will be displayed! Try it out here:

You can sort members by distance, best reviews and number of reviews so you can decide which garage you want to use. TMG member profile pages also provide contact information and tell you which services the business offers – so you can decide who is best for you and have all the information you need to contact your chosen garage at the click of a mouse!

 If you’re looking for more information about Trust My Garage, you can head over to our website, TrustMyGarage.co.uk. We’re also on social media, so check out our Facebook and Twitter profiles to get the latest motoring news and updates straight into your social feeds!

Keep your vehicle safe and roadworthy with Trust My Garage

Rising road traffic volumes across the UK has the potential to lead to increased chances of an accident – but how can you keep yourself and your passengers safe and your vehicle roadworthy? Find out with Trust My Garage!

According to Department for Transport (DfT) statistics, in 2019 car traffic hit the highest-ever figure of vehicle miles driven  – 278.2 billion miles! Add into this recent updates on how people use public transport due to the impact of coronavirus, and it’s easy to see why mileage is at an all-time high.

With an increased number of vehicles covering more miles than ever, looking after your motor is extra important to stay safe on the UK’s road network – but how do you go about it?

Vehicle Occupant Safety

A key factor in vehicle safety is ensuring the drivers and any passengers are safe while inside the cabin. To maintain a safe and roadworthy vehicle you need to:

  • Set your driving position – Drivers should have their seat pulled far enough forward so that they can fully extend the clutch pedal while maintaining a slight bend in the knee. The backrest of the seat should be tilted back ever so slightly, and when turning the steering wheel your shoulders should remain in contact with the seat – not hunched forward. The headrest should also sit higher than the driver’s ears to keep the head secure in the case of an accident.

  • Check all seatbelts – look for any signs of damage, and fasten the seat belt and pull to check it’s secure with no looseness. Retraction should be smooth, as any noticeable slowness, hesitation or delay to the retraction rate or jerking movements could indicate an issue.

  • Check your rear-view mirror – Sit in your normal driving position and using your left hand, grip the plastic surrounds of the mirror and move it so that you can see the entire rear window and as little of the interior as possible; essentially ‘framing’ the rear window in the mirror.

  • Check your wing mirror position – Sitting in your normal driving position, adjust the right-side wing mirror so that the horizon (the point at which the road disappears into the distance) is in the centre of the mirror. Ensure there is only a very small portion of the side of your car in the left side of the mirror. Repeat with the left-side wing mirror.

  • Check any child seats – The current law states that all children travelling in a car must use the correct car seat appropriate to their weight or height, until they are either 135cm in height or 12 years in age, whichever they reach first. If a seat is required, check the vehicle seat belt is running through the correct path in the child seat and that it is not twisted; it should hold the seat securely in place and resist you pushing on the seat. If you push against the seat and it moves, reassess why the seat is not locking in securely. If you are caught with an ‘unsuitable’ or wrongly fitted car seat, you could be fined £500.

  • Restrain your pets – Rule 57 of the Highway Code 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.” There is no direct law that will penalise motorists for not obeying the Highway Code, but drivers could be fined £1,000 for driving without proper control of their vehicle if they’re pulled over by a police officer.

Plan your route(s)

Before setting off on any journey it is worth checking the routes to your destination. Ideally, have a main route and a back-up option prepared in case of unforeseen delays like traffic or road closures. Many internet search engines offer mapping functions, providing travel times based on time of day, traffic and road incidents, so you can prepare well ahead.

By doing a little homework beforehand, you could save a lot of time and avoid frustrations – which means safer journeys!

Check your vehicle’s tax and MOT status

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

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

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

Check your lights and levels

Before setting off on any journey, check your lights and levels! You can either checking them yourself or asking a friend or family member to walk around the vehicle. Make sure you check all lights – including brake lights and number plate lights – to ensure they are clear and functioning correctly.

You should also check your oil, screen wash and engine coolant levels at regular intervals – at least once a month depending on the age of your vehicle. If you aren’t sure of how to inspect your vehicle properly, you can always ask a local, trusted garage to see if or what levels and lights need topping up or replacing.

Brakes

Brakes are an essential part of any car and therefore should be regularly checked and well maintained. So, how can you tell your brakes are in tip top condition?

It’s a case of making sure you have them checked regularly. An easy way to test your brakes is by driving at a slow speed in an area or road with no traffic, and gently applying pressure.

Listen out for warning signs, as brakes will let you know when there is a problem – whether this is through grinding or squeaking. Sometimes your car will act like it has a mind of its own and pull you to one side when applying the brakes, which could indicate a fault or imbalance with the braking system. Vibrations and temperamental pedal feel are also a sign you need to give your car some attention – so look out for the signs and don’t ignore them.

Tyres

Checking your vehicle’s tyre pressure is easier than you might think! You can check and correct your tyre pressure at most UK petrol stations using a pay-per-use air and water station, or you can purchase your own tyre pressure gauge – the choice is yours.

If you aren’t sure what pressure is correct for your vehicle’s tyres you can refer to your Owner’s Manual. Details should be provided in either/both BAR and PSI, and you can adjust your pressures to the recommended figure. Often a vehicle’s tyre pressure information is also provided on the interior frame of the front passenger or driver’s door, or sometimes inside the fuel filler flap, so be sure to check there if you need a quick reference point as well.

Don’t forget to check all your tyres’ tread depths too. The legal minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters, however it is recommended to keep your tyres at 3mm or above for optimum grip. Drivers who fail to comply with the regulations face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.

As well as this, don’t disregard any warning lights that may appear on your dashboard! If you are unsure of their meaning either consult your vehicle’s Owner’s Manual or visit your local Trust My Garage member, who will be able to advise of any issues with your car. To learn all you need to know about ensuring your vehicle’s tyre are ready for the road read our “What to do when… you need to check your vehicle’s tyres” post.

Breakdown Essentials

If you do suffer the unfortunate experience of a breakdown it’s important to keep some essentials in the car – reflective or bright clothing so you and your passengers are visible to other traffic, 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. For more details, check out our winter blog post’s “Breakdown Essentials”.

More about Trust My Garage

If you take your vehicle for an MOT, service or repair at your local garage, how can you be sure of the quality of its work? At Trust My Garage, we believe that our members are the best independent garages in the UK, each one unique, but all skilled professionals who are dedicated to providing top quality work.

By using a TMG-approved member, you’re visiting a garage that adheres to a CTSI (Chartered Trading Standards Institute) approved Code of Conduct. Our code means that you and your vehicle get the best service possible, no matter which TMG member you visit – so excellent service is on your doorstep!

With over 3,000 members across the UK, you’re never far away from a TMG member. We’ve even created a handy search function so you can locate your nearest TMG-approved garage with ease.

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.

If you’re looking for more information about Trust My Garage, you can head over to our website, TrustMyGarage.co.uk. We’re also on social media, so check out our Facebook and Twitter profiles to get the latest motoring news and updates straight into your social feeds!

Beat the rush for MOTs this autumn with Trust My Garage

Is your motor due for an MOT in the coming months? Find out how you can beat the rush with Trust My Garage!

In March, the DVSA granted six-month MOT exemptions to vehicles due a test after 30th March 2020 and before 31st July as part of the UK government’s measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Those exemptions will begin to expire in September. Due to this, the DVSA are predicting October and November will be extremely busy for garages, as well as the usual December demand over the festive period.

Why should I book an MOT now?

Of the 9 million tests the DVSA moved, nearly 3 million vehicles have since had an MOT and passed. However, they want to help increase that number and ease the burden on the industry as demand increases in the autumn.

Autumn tends to be the busiest time of year for MOT tests under normal circumstances, but this year DVSA are expecting demand to double in September, October and November. If your MOT is due this autumn, consider getting it done as soon as possible to avoid the rush and ensure your vehicle is safe and roadworthy.

Using any vehicle with defects present on the highway, regardless of its MOT status, is an offence. You can be fined up to £2,500 – and be banned from driving and get up to 3 penalty points per defect for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

It’s worth remembering that just because your vehicle has an MOT it doesn’t mean it’s safe or roadworthy. Always carry out regular vehicle checks – you can find out which in our “What to do when… your vehicle needs some TLC” blog post. If you want more complex items, such as suspension components, to be checked you can contact your local trusted garage and request some help.

How do I check a vehicle’s MOT expiry date?

To check the MOT status and MOT expiry date for your vehicle, you can use the DVSA’s MOT History service. If your vehicle was subject to an MOT extension throughout the UK lockdown, its MOT expiry date will automatically have been moved by six months.

You can also use this webpage to check if there are any outstanding recalls on your vehicle. This service allows motorists to check for defects or problems reported by the vehicle manufacturer which can impede vehicle safety or performance. If a recall is noted within the service, it is best to contact your manufacturer’s nearest garage to arrange an inspection or repair.

How can I book an MOT?

To book an MOT, you must first locate an MOT station in your area and contact them to discuss their availability. An MOT test takes around 45 minutes, plus additional time if there are any advisories, minor or major defects which require further attention.

Some motorists opt to book an MOT along with a vehicle service within the same appointment, as this saves them a return trip to the garage at a different date. Be careful though, as not all garages are MOT stations, and not all MOT stations offer vehicle servicing!

To find a garage in your area, you can use the Trust My Garage “Find a Garage” search and locate your nearest TMG members! Each garage in our network adheres to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved Code of Conduct to ensure the highest levels of service and professionalism.  You can even read reviews from other motorists about the members in your area to help you decide which garage is right for you. Try it out here:

Why use Trust My Garage?

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

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

Every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle. If you want to find out more about Trust My Garage, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Do you know the law regarding your in-car gadgets? Find out with Trust My Garage

Although many vehicles now offer in-built technology such as sat-nav, upgraded sound systems and changeable cabin lighting options, motorists can still opt to adapt their in-car experience to suit their needs and preferences.

The range of technology on offer for drivers to put into their vehicle is wide-reaching, but it is key for motorists to ensure they have correctly installed, positioned or integrated their add-ons to their motor – and to have notified the proper authorities where necessary.

If you’re looking to add some additional tech or equipment to your vehicle’s cabin, the Trust My Garage blog is here to help to ensure you comply with the rules of the road – read on to find out more!

Dashboard Cameras

Commonly known as “dash cams”, these in-car cameras have been popularised as a form of authenticity for recording road incidents and accidents. For proper installation, a dash cam must be fixed behind the rear-view mirror to ensure it doesn’t obstruct your view while capturing both lanes of the road ahead.

Once attached as per the manufacturer’s instructions, a power lead from the dash cam can then be carefully fitted around the edge of your windscreen to the dashboard, ensuring your view of the road remains perfectly clear of wires and cables. If your vision is impaired in any way by your dash cam, your vehicle insurer may refuse to pay out if you are involved in an accident.

As well as potential insurance issues, driving with any obstruction on your windscreen which could limit your field of vision may land you a £100 on-the-spot fine, as well as three penalty points on your driving licence. If your case goes to court, you could also be charged with a maximum fine of £1,000.

Satellite Navigation (Sat-Nav)

UK laws around sat-nav placement are not as specific as laws in place for other technology, such as mobile phones, but vehicle installation warnings advise that your sat nav shouldn’t:

  • Interfere with vehicle operating controls or obstruct a driver’s view of the road
  • Be placed in front of or above any airbag
  • Be positioned where it could distract a driver if it falls from the windscreen

If you travel abroad with a removable sat-nav, before using it you should always check local laws to see if there are specific rules in place – for example, in France it is illegal to have anything in your vehicle that warns you of traffic enforcement camera locations.

When installing a sat-nav device, you should ensure first that the driver’s seat is in the same position as it would be when driving, as placement while sitting in a different position can affect visibility while on the road. You should try to mount your sat nav low down on your windscreen to the far right to maximise your view of the road. If this isn’t possible, opt for the lowest point in the middle of the windscreen.

If you decide to use a mobile phone as a sat-nav alternative, remember you cannot touch it while the vehicle’s engine is running and the keys are in the ignition; this breaks UK laws and can leave you subject to a £200 fine and six penalty points on your licence. Some motorists find a phone holder positioned in their vehicle’s vents helpful, as they can see the screen for directions without having to touch the handset.

Air Fresheners

Much like dash cam rules, air fresheners which dangle from your vehicle’s rear-view mirror can leave you subject to a fine of up to £1,000 and three penalty points on your licence. The Highway Code outlines that “windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision.”

It may seem extreme that an air freshener could be the main factor behind a fine, but if it contributes to a lack of vision which leads to a crash, you could be charged.

Windscreen Chips or Cracks

Windscreen chips are an almost-inevitable factor of driving, and in major cases can even lead to an MOT failure if left unattended.

In the driver’s line of vision, a chip or crack more than 10mm across is enough to fail an MOT. For reference, that’s slightly less than the size of a 5p coin. In other areas of the windscreen, if the damage is larger than 40mm (4cm), the vehicle can also fail its MOT.

If you are stopped by the police with either of these issues you could get a fixed penalty notice fine. If you crash your vehicle because you couldn’t see properly through a chip or crack in your windscreen, then you can be charged with driving without due care, and attention and potentially have your insurer refuse to pay any claims.

Many insurance policies can repair windscreen chips or replace cracked windscreens at a reduced cost. If this applies to your policy, details of the service provider your insurance company uses will be provided within your policy documents. You can make a note of the number for windscreen-related claims and keep it handy in case you get a chip and need to contact the repair company.

Keeping your Vehicle Safe and Roadworthy

To ensure you’re keeping your vehicle’s cabin safe, you should evaluate for any risks to your view whenever you are in your vehicle. Always fit any new technology legally and as per the manufacturer’s instructions, do not touch your mobile phone handset while you are driving and take time to ensure your view isn’t obstructed by any items in the cabin, or chips and cracks in your windscreen.

 When it comes to technology in your vehicle, the Department for Transport (DfT) have said: “Vehicles have become inherently safer with more warning systems alerting the driver to maintenance issues and growing safety focused automation and driver assistance systems. At the same time advances in car infotainment systems and mobile phone technology mean that there are increasing sources of potential distraction for drivers.” Their concerns are that infotainment and mobile phones are leading to a failure to reduce road casualties in the UK.

If you’re concerned about any aspect of your vehicle’s safety, you can visit your local Trust My Garage member and ask them to check your vehicle is safe and roadworthy. You can even find your nearest member online and read reviews from other customers to make sure you get a service to suit your needs – try it out here:

More about Trust My Garage

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

All garages in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association (IGA), 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.

Every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle. If you want to find out more about Trust My Garage, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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

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

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

Plan your route(s)

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

Check your fluid levels

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

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

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

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

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

Check your tyres and lights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check your vehicle’s tax, MOT and insurance

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

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

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

You may also need to check that your vehicle is still insured for use. Your insurance provider will send a reminder email or letter approximately a month before your policy is due for renewal, so you can choose to either renew with your current supplier, or with another provider depending on what suits you best.

If you aren’t sure when your insurance renewal is due, your existing policy documents will provide the correct date. Insurance providers often supply these via an online portal or paper format, depending on what you have requested, so you can check at your convenience.

Visit a local TMG member garage, if necessary

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

Want to know more about Trust My Garage?

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

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

Every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle. If you want to find out more about Trust My Garage, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!