You may have read Part One of our Driving with Children article, but here are some more essential bits of information you should consider before heading off on your travels.
CHECK UP ON LAWS
Last year, the law changed regarding the suitable car seats for children of different ages and sizes. The law requires all children travelling in the front or rear seat of any car, van or goods vehicle to use the correct child car seat until they are either 135 cm tall or 12 years old. After this, they must use an adult seat belt.
For those of you who are planning on driving to and around another country, it is important to brush up on your knowledge of the local laws regarding motoring.
Did you know, in Italy you’re not allowed to drive in flip flops? Or that in France, you are required to keep at least one high-vis jacket available to hand in your car (not in the boot!) at all times, in case of an emergency?
Make sure you’re clued up on all the relevant legislations in order to keep you compliant with the law – you won’t want to scare the youngsters by being reprimanded by the police.
Driving with children is also the perfect opportunity to enforce road safety to help them to understand the importance of being extra careful on the roads.
DRIVE WITH ANOTHER ADULT OR OLDER CHILD
With RoSpa reporting that children and babies can distract driving, it may be beneficial to carry an extra responsible passenger, where possible, to tend to them while you’re driving.
On the motorway, in particular, pulling over is scarcely an option, unless there is an absolute emergency. This makes it difficult for you to check in on your backseat passengers, should they require your attention.
Having an extra pair of hands, and eyes, with you on your journey will take a great deal of stress off your shoulders, knowing that you won’t have to worry too much about the mischief they’re getting up to. This allows you to stay more attentive to the roads ahead.
COMFY CLOTHES AND SPARES
Buttons and stiff materials can be really uncomfortable at the best of time, but while stuck in the back of a car for hours on end, the discomfort can become unbearable – especially for children.
Ensure that kids are kitted out in loose, elasticated clothing to avoid digging and chafing.
It is also worth packing a spare pair of clothing for the journey. Wet wipes can clear up most stains, but when it comes to clothes stains, they may not suffice. Wearing wet, stained or sticky clothes will only make the children more irritable, which is best overcome by being prepared.
This also applies to nappies for babies. Be sure to dress your babe in a fresh nappy before the journey, and check and change at regular intervals.
Travel sickness is a burden that no one should have to bear. Where adults are much abler to tolerate such ordeals, children may not be so resilient.
It won’t always be possible to pull over, and doing so will cause frequent delays in the journey, which could lead to more restlessness.
Carrying sick bags in the car with you will save your interiors from becoming stained, and will also allow you to cut down the amount of times you have to pull over. Zip top bags are best, as these will prevent further spillages, and help to control any unwanted odours.
Wet wipes, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizers and black bags will help to clean up the area further while you’re on the move. This is also where having a spare change of clothes to hand is useful!
Of course, prevention is far better than cure. Mints, Dramamine and peppermint oils can all help to avoid car sickness.
Eating too much before a journey can also make children sick, especially if they don’t save enough to time for digestion. Avoid feeding children heavy foods before setting off, and allow adequate time between eating and setting off.
Bored children tend to fidget and play with things they shouldn’t – including door handles! Make sure you take precautions to ensure your children do not risk harm. Should your car have 5 doors, ensure the back seats are child-locked to ensure your little ones don’t try venturing astray.
Most importantly, in order to keep your children safe on the journey, you need to be confident that the vehicle you are driving is completely up to the job. Breaking down on a motorway with children is not only inconvenient but potentially dangerous too.
Top up vehicle fluids, ensure your tyres are inflated and make sure your car is roadworthy before carrying your children across, or out of, the country.
Your local Trust My Garage member will be able to prepare your car for your summer travels. Head to www.trustmygarage.co.uk to find your nearest trusted garage.
Have fun and stay safe!
With only days to go until the Easter holidays, many of you will be already thinking ahead, planning a short getaway to make the most of the long weekend. Latest statistics from Visit England have revealed that short trips are the fastest growing area of domestic holidays, with nearly 30 million one to three day breaks taken during 2013; a 17 percent increase from 2008, meaning more and more of us are choosing a staycation.
This is great news, but with the number of cars on Britain’s roads increasing over this period and with forecasters predicting that the uncertain British weather looks set to surpass itself with the risk of flash flooding and even snow showers well into April, there promises to be a number of challenges for motorists to face. With this in mind what do you need to consider to ensure you keep on the move?
Whether it’s your own car which breaks down or you’re stranded on a motorway as a result of an incident, the motorway can be an overwhelming prospect. Just recently, drivers on the M6 were stranded for more than 24 hours after a crash whilst maintenance workers repaired sections of the road.
If you find yourself stuck on the motorway it can be tempting to keep your engine running, especially during cold weather as a means to heat your car. However, by doing this you run the risk of running out of fuel. If you find yourself stuck on the motorway with no end in sight, turn off your engine, turning it back on for ten minutes every hour, to keep your car warm. Before going on a long journey make sure you’ve packed blankets and extra clothes as well as water and food supplies, keeping you warm and hydrated in the event that you get stuck on a motorway.
If your car shows signs of breaking down, such as making spluttering noises or the engine failing, the first thing to remember is not to panic. If possible, carry on until you come to the next exit and find a safe place to park. If this isn’t possible, move onto the hard shoulder, making sure your hazard lights are on. Once you’ve parked safely, get yourself and other passengers out of the car by the left hand doors; don’t be tempted to stay in your car as there is still a danger that your car could still be hit by passing traffic. Remove emergency items from your car and make your way to the safety barrier. Don’t be tempted to carry out repairs on a motorway, regardless of how simple or straight forward you believe them to be. Wait in a safe place and call your breakdown company. Alternatively, if you have downloaded the Trust My Garage app on your smartphone, you may be able to find a local trusted garage nearby which offers a recovery service.
It is not only the motorway than can present problems if your car breaks down, side roads and isolated areas, can also be frightening places to suffer a break down. If it does happen, if safe to do so, place a warning triangle at least 45 metres away from your car, letting any other drivers that may be passing of your presence. Get back in your car, ensuring your doors and your windows are locked and your hazard lights are on. Keep your phone well charged and call for help remaining in your car until help arrives.
The risk of flash floods as seen across the country in recent weeks is likely to pose a threat well into April according to forecasters. In the West Midlands alone, a number of weather warnings recently resulted in drivers being stranded in flood hit roads. If you are faced with floods and heavy rain and are considering driving you should first check the depth of the water. In most vehicles you should never attempt to drive through water that is up to the centre of your wheels.
When driving through water, keep your speed to a minimum to avoid creating a large bow wave. If you find yourself stranded in flood water and your engine cuts out, don’t try to restart the engine as this could result in further damage. If possible make it safely to dry land, get out of your car and ensure all the windows and doors are locked to reduce the risk of further damage and wait for the emergency services.
There are currently an estimated 7,000 breakdowns happening every day on Britain’s roads, and many of these could be avoided as the biggest cause of car breakdowns in the UK, according to breakdown providers, is car maintenance issues. This is easy to prevent if drivers are prepared for their journey. Punctured tyres, running out of fuel and a flat battery top the list as the most common causes of vehicle breakdowns. Keeping your vehicle well looked after, not only with regular checks yourself but with regular servicing at your local Trust My Garage workshop, will keep your vehicle in good condition, reducing the risk of your vehicle breaking down.
How TMG can help
Trust My Garage has a free app which not only allows drivers to locate their nearest Trust My Garage member, but during a breakdown or an emergency, drivers can instantly find out which garage provides a recovery service, meaning you’re only a click away from getting help.
To find your local trusted garage just put your postcode in our garage finder and we will show you where your nearest Trust My Garage members can be found. And you can even submit feedback on the service you receive via the Trust My Garage website! To find details about your nearest Trust My Garage Member and the services they provide, or for more information regarding the Trust My Garage App, visit us here.
With a whole extra day to look forward to this month, how will you spend it? You could do a spot of gardening or clear out that loft; tasks that you’ve been putting off since the last leap year. Or, you could do something a bit more exciting and really make the extra day count by leaping into your car and taking off somewhere nice for the day.
A day trip can be an exhilarating as well as a nostalgic experience as we look back fondly on long car journeys to the seaside, or for a day out in the countryside with cries of: “Are we there yet?” echoing from the kids in the back seat.
In the UK, we are lucky to have some of the most picturesque views in the world, so what better way to explore these than on four wheels? Let us guide you through five of our favourite UK road trips to inspire you to get in your car and make the most out of your extra leap year day.
Go really wild and visit a safari park
There’s nothing better than getting in your car and heading off for an adventure, especially if you have children to entertain. Travelling to far-flung destinations is, of course, not an option for a day trip. However, if it’s a taste for something exotic, how about getting up close to wildlife instead? Safari parks are a great option for a family day out and their rise in popularity over recent years means we now have a great selection to choose from in the UK. So wherever you live, you’re never too far away from a Siberian white tiger or a Chinese water buffalo.
What must you consider for a Safari Park visit?
Always make sure that your locks and windows are working correctly. We’ve all heard the tale of the monkey creeping in a car through the window. It’s rare that an animal will try and enter your vehicle but ensuring your locks and windows work properly will reduce the risk. Make sure your tyres are the recommended pressure too, there are not many things as dangerous as having to change a tyre in the lion enclosure! Ensuring your vehicle has ample fluid levels is also important.
An eye for a bargain? Visit a car boot sale
Originating from our friends across the Big Pond, the car boot sale has become a firm part of British identity over the last forty years. No two car boot sales are the same, so whether you’re a seasoned professional or a first timer, there’s one to suit most tastes and their popularity means you won’t have to look too hard. Car boots can be the perfect place to find a bargain, or maybe you could sell some of your own goods, so you may get the chance to clear out that attic after all!
What must you consider for a car boot sale visit?
The obvious thing to think about if you are driving to a car boot sale with your vehicle full of goods, is the effect that extra weight can have. Make sure you find out how much weight your vehicle can manage via the handbook. By all means fill the boot, but don’t have too many items on passenger seats and laps. These can be a health and safety hazard and can restrict visibility when driving too, particularly if you store something on the parcel shelf above the boot. Having too much weight in your vehicle can also affect the suspension and handling, not to mention your tyre pressures.
Taking the driving experience a stage further
A day out in your car doesn’t have to be a sedate experience. For those of you who have more adventurous tastes and fancy yourselves as the next Jackie Stewart or Lewis Hamilton why not head down to your nearest race track? There are ”track days” all over the country, including the haloed track of Silverstone meaning you can keep your driving dreams alive.
What must you consider for a race track experience?
Unsurprisingly, these places will not let you drive your own car round the track! Having said that, it is always a good idea to perform basic maintenance checks before you travel to the track, such as inspecting fluid levels, checking tyres and ensuring all lights and signals work correctly.
Family gatherings are always special
Everyone seems to lead such busy lives these days and we now live in a more mobile society with family members spread far and wide. If you’ve been promising your family or a special friend that you will ‘catch up soon’ then now is your chance. Why not make your extra day really count and go and see your loved ones. They will appreciate it! Everyone will have a fun day, and you will feel good that you made the effort.
What must you consider for a family get together?
If the reason you don’t visit your family as often as you should is because they live miles away, then it is always a good idea to carry out basic car maintenance checks prior to heading off. Check your fluid levels, tyres, lights and signals. Try and clear out your boot if you can, as carrying unnecessary excess weight can waste fuel. And if you still haven’t figured out where Aunty Maureen’s house is, make sure you plan your route first. Sat Navs are great but remember they are a driver aid, not a substitute for common sense and awareness.
See the sights
The road trip isn’t the sole preserve of the Americans. Great Britain has some of the most breath-taking views and a range of rich heritage to offer, meaning that if you take off on a trip in your car, you’re never far away from something special.
From the rugged views of the Peak District, the brooding cliff tops of Cornwall or the highest mountain pass in the country at Kirkstonein the Lake District, the UK has so much to offer and what better way to explore than in your car. Make the most of your extra day, pack a picnic and get out there and explore.
What must you consider before seeing the sights?
Some of these destinations introduce rugged and difficult terrains for your vehicle so make sure that you don’t try and drive through areas that your car just cannot manage. Consider parking up somewhere and taking some of the journey on foot – a bit of exercise is good for everyone.
You have the POWER to be prepared
Setting off on a road trip is an exciting prospect for the whole family but before setting off how can you make sure both you and your car are prepared to ensure the journey remains stress free and enjoyable?
Car checks will already be something you schedule on a regular basis, but are even more vital when planning a long trip. If you’re not quite sure which parts of your car you should be checking always remember POWER: Petrol, Oil, Water, Electrics, Rubber (tyres).
Ensure you have plenty of fuel and your tyres and engines are in good condition. It is also worth checking that your lights are in good working order ahead of your trip too. If you are unsure how to check any of the parts of your car, take it to your local Trust My Garage member who will be happy to checks these for you and will guide you through the process too.
You can never really know when bad weather may strike so it’s always best to take some emergency items with you on your journey just in case the worst should happen. Make sure you have the items with you before you travel:
• Food and water supplies
• Blankets and extra clothes
• Medical kit
• Fully charged mobile phone
• Warning triangle
Don’t forget if you’re travelling with children, keeping them entertained is an important consideration. Little things can make a big difference, how about preparing a travel pack for example? Collecting together inexpensive items such as colouring books, magazines or their favourite toy will ensure they remain entertained and the whole family happy has a stress-free journey.
For older children how about some in-car entertainment in the form of an iPad or digital camera, meaning they’ll never be stuck for something to do, and finally why not compile a road trip soundtrack too, get the whole family involved to ensure everyone’s favourite songs are included.
To find your nearest Trust My Garage ahead of making the most of your extra day, Find your nearest TMG member
In planning for heavy downpours of rain following the mini heat waves, police forces across the country are warning drivers to prepare in advance and steer clear of certain roads that are susceptible to flooding. Smart phones, sat navs and in car technology means we have the most up to date information to plan around adverse weather forecasts. One of these data centres is a, standard weather app integrated into most Smartphones…
BUT the climate is so fickle at the moment that we cannot always predict for certain what weather we are going to be driving in. The Environment Agency has already put out 32 flood alerts in the UK this summer and surface water flooding has caused much localised travel disruption.
If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail…
- Slow down as it takes longer for you to stop in the wet weather and if possible avoid using your brakes altogether as they can cause you to aquaplane across the water. Take your foot off the accelerator earlier than usual to gradually slow down. You will be able to tell if your steering is unresponsive which means that the water is preventing your tyres from gripping the road.
- As far as you can try and keep to middle and overtaking lanes of motorways and dual-carriageways as water is naturally drawn to the hard shoulder/inside lane because of the way the roads are built.
- The stopping distance in these conditions needs to be vastly increased. The official following distance is a 3 second rule (or 2 car rule) – make sure you increase this to at least 5 seconds (or 4 cars). It’s better to be safe than sorry!
- Turn on your lights when your visibility is limited, whether it is a heavy storm, light rain, fog, or even overcast conditions. It’s not just about what you can see, but about others being able to see you!
- It may seem like an obvious one – but as we have been lapping up the sun lately, it is likely that many people haven’t recently checked whether their windscreen wipers are up to scratch. With the warnings now in place, it is important that you replace old or brittle wiper blades to make sure you have good visibility in heavy rain swept weather.
- NEVER drive through water if you can’t see the ground at the bottom of it. And IF driving through large puddles of uncertain depth then GO SLOW. If you go fast it can cause expensive damage as the air intake on many cars is low down at the front, therefore water can become sucked into the engine and cause driveability problems and you might need to take your car to an independent garage to get it checked out! As you go slowly make sure you use a low gear and higher revs to make sure you don’t cut out or damage the catalytic convertor. Once you come out of the flooded area it is important that you test your brakes as they will be saturated with water.
- Avoid following large vehicles! The splash and spray from lorries and vans can obscure your vision on the road, so keep a wide distance from them and make sure your windscreen wipers are constantly active.
- Pull over if it gets too bad. No matter how much you need to get somewhere, being late yet ALIVE is always the more sensible option. Heavy rain can put strain on your wiper blades, and cause a sheet of water to flow over your screen restricting your vision. Find a safe spot to pull over and wait for the worst part of the storm to stop, which shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
Did you know…?
Your car will float in just two feet of standing water
If you want your vehicle wet weather proofing, you can get a ‘Trust My Garage’ member to carry out a service where they will check all the essential parts of your car to drive you through these weather warnings safely. OR in the unfortunate event of the rain damaging your car in some way, they will provide you with a loyal and affordable repair service. CLICK HERE to find your nearest one.
Driving in the sunshine can be an exhilarating experience as we wind down the windows and breath in the fresh scent of summer. But heat waves and very hot temperatures are not always good for our cars. As Britain basks in record temperatures, we are urging motorists to take extra care of their vehicles. Summer driving, particularly on long journeys and on unfamiliar routes, can not only have adverse effects on you as a driver but also on your vehicle too. The key to a safe and hassle free trip is preparation.
Our top tips will keep you from getting hot under the collar.
Consistent hot weather can exacerbate any existing minor damage to wiper blades and rubber windscreen trim. Give them a good look over to make sure any small problems are not worsened by hot temperatures.
High temperatures will also worsen any existing damage to rubber, and under-inflated tyres can be more prone to friction, leading to punctures and blow-outs. The answer? Check the condition and pressure before going anywhere! Why not do it the very next time you pass by a petrol station which has air and water facilities?
Keep your engine coolant topped up to the correct level. Engine coolant could be at risk during summer driving. Aggravated by warm weather, low engine coolant, leaking coolant hoses and broken electric cooling fans can all result in overheating and temperatures hot enough to cause severe and expensive damage.
Is your windscreen washer bottle topped up? Water evaporates more quickly in hot weather, so check that your windscreen washer bottle is full before setting off. Sudden rain showers on a dry but dirty windscreen can cause bad smearing if your washer bottle is empty – don’t get caught out. A working screen washer is a legal requirement
Loose stone chippings can cause punctures. Be extra careful driving through rural areas as summer is a popular time for the National Roads Authority and county councils to lay tar covered with loose chippings to improve roads. We tend to drive faster on rural roads as the speed limits are higher than in towns and cities. As well as the risk of skidding, the loose chips can fly up and cause damage to your paintwork.
Be on the lookout for wandering wildlife. Animals and birds are particularly active in summer as they feed their young. Larger animals such as badgers and deer are big enough to write off your car if they are hit, even at lower speeds. Please remember to report any collisions with wild animals, especially the ones that are protected such as badgers and some of the wild bird species.
It’s the busiest time of the year for farmers as they harvest their crops and move livestock. Don’t drive too closely to tractors that are fully loaded or towing agricultural machinery such as ploughing equipment. Debris often falls from these vehicles and can cause costly damage to your car’s bodywork.
8. Air conditioning
In older cars, air conditioning increases your fuel consumption as the compressor provides “drag” on the engine. If you are stuck in traffic, you might want to turn the aircon off and open a window instead to save fuel. However, this mechanical drag is much less significant on modern cars in the first place, and once moving again, the extra aerodynamic drag of an open window will cancel this out anyway. Some very modern cars, especially hybrids, have “smart” efficiency settings to absolutely maximise fuel economy, and turning on this settings reduces the aircon load on the engine to an absolute minimum.
Sun glare can cause accidents in a number of ways, but one thing you can do in preparation is keep your windscreen clean from smears inside and out to stop the sunlight catching on them and impairing your vision.
Excessive fluid evaporation can reduce the life of your battery. Check your manual to see if it needs liquid top-ups and add distilled water if needed.
If you have any doubts about the condition of your vehicle, do take it along to your nearest and trusted ‘Trust My Garage’ member for expert advice and a simple summer service. Click HERE to find your nearest one.
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.
It’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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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