Blog Archives

Keep your vehicle road ready in lockdown with Trust My Garage

A new survey of the nation’s drivers has revealed more than half (54%) don’t know when their next service is due – so how can you keep your vehicle in top condition all year round? Find out with Trust My Garage!

Every year Highways England’s traffic officers deal with more than 85,000 breakdowns. 40 per cent of these breakdowns are caused by vehicles running out of fuel, poor tyre maintenance, power loss and engine trouble. These basic checks and maintenance can prevent many breakdowns:

  • Check tyres – check your tyre pressures are suitable for the load and their condition, including the spare. Always look out for cuts or wear and make sure tyres are comfortably over the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm.
  • Check fuel – before every journey, check your fuel levels and make sure you have enough to get to your destination. Always keep your tank at least one quarter full.
  • Check engine oil – use your dipstick to check oil regularly, if your vehicle has one.Alternatively, you can use your vehicle’s information system. Top up if needed, making sure you use the correct oil. Take your car to a garage if it is requiring frequent top ups.
  • Engine coolant – check your coolant is within the minimum and maximum markings.
  • Check screen wash – Always keep your screen wash level topped up so you can clear debris or dirt off your windscreen.
  • Check lights – look at whether indicators, hazard lights, headlights, fog lights, reverse lights and brake lights are functioning properly and that your lights are clean.
  • Windscreen wipers – check your wiper blades for cuts, nicks and wear. Replace them if they are not clearing your windscreen properly – and if they judder during use it’s a sign they may need replacing.

For more in-depth details on how to conduct basic checks and maintenance, take a look at our “What to do when… your vehicle needs some TLC” blog post!

If you’re looking for further help, Highways England has prepared a guide showing road users how to carry out the five most important vehicle checks: tyres, engine oil, water, lights and fuel. The guide has written details and helpful videos showing you how you can make sure your vehicle is always safe and roadworthy.

According to Highways England, knowing the benefits of regular checks and maintenance before getting on the road is key to travelling safely – but so is maintaining your vehicle’s regular servicing and maintenance schedule!

If you’re looking for a professional local garage to help with your servicing, repair or MOT needs, 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:

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. That way, 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 quality and value of service.

Have you got any top vehicle care tips? Let us know in the comments below!

What to do when… you’re learning about UK road speed limits

The UK’s road network has a range of road categories with different widths, rules and speeds – so how can you ensure you’re abiding by the speed laws in each? Trust My Garage is here to help, so read on to learn more about speed limits across the UK.

How many speed limits are there?

Depending on the type of vehicle you’re driving, different speed limits are applicable. Gov.uk provides clear details on accepted speed limits depending on the type of road and vehicle you’re driving, which you can read here.

For cars, motorcycles, car-derived vans and dual-purpose vehicles, the limits are:

  • Built up areas – 30mph
  • Single carriageways – 60mph
  • Dual carriageways – 70mph
  • Motorways – 70mph

You can also encounter locally-set speed limits. These are limits set by local councils in certain areas, and will be clearly signposted. Examples of locally-set speed limits are:

  • 20 mph zone in a built-up area near a school
  • 50 mph (rather than 60 mph) limit on a stretch of road with sharp bends

How can I stay aware of speed limits?

There are basic rules to help remember which speed limits apply on which roads. As a default, in areas of street lighting (other than on motorways) a 30mph limit applies unless another limit is specifically signed.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has released a guide for all road users called “Know Your Traffic Signs”. Pages 20-21 of the guide provide clear, simple information detailing all the speed limit signs on the road network, as well as details on all other traffic signs that can affect motorists. Read it here.

How are speed limits monitored?

Speed limits are monitored by speed cameras, of which there are several varieties. Some of these cameras are in fixed locations, some work out an average of a vehicle’s travel speed between two camera points and some are handheld, operated by members of normal or traffic police forces.

The most common type of speed camera in the UK is the yellow Gatsometer unit, commonly known as the “Gatso” camera. These cameras were introduced in 1991, and operate as rear-facing cameras. This means the camera unit faces up the road and takes a picture of the rear of a speeding vehicle, so it can catch motorcycles as well as cars, vans and trucks.

How many speed cameras are there on the UK’s roads?

According to Speed Camera Database, there are currently 4016 Gatso camera units operational in Great Britain.

Speed cameras are spread across the country, and according to Highways England’s response to an October 2020 Freedom of Information (FOI) request, on smart motorways alone there are 168 fixed speed cameras:

Smart MotorwayCameras
M147
M2534
M624
M6211
M427
M510
M6010
M312
M204
M237
M42
TOTAL168

On smart motorways in 2010 there were 49 fixed cameras, and in 2015 there were 105, but according to the FOI a breakdown of their distribution is not available. However, Highways England note: “Primarily, the smart motorway network was the M25, M1 and M42.”

Speed cameras on smart motorways are also being utilised for other traffic offences; in the FOI, Highways England stated: “Currently, we are upgrading all our cameras to also record drivers that do not comply with a ‘Red X’, to indicate a closed lane.”

What happens if I’m caught speeding?

According to Gov.uk, if you are caught by a speed camera committing an offence the following will happen:

Within 14 days of your car being caught speeding you’ll be sent a:

  • Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP)
  • Section 172 notice

You must return the Section 172 notice within 28 days, telling the police who was driving the car. After you’ve sent the Section 172 notice back, you’ll be sent either a:

  • Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN)
  • letter telling you to go to court

If you get an FPN you can choose to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, you’ll have to pay a £100 fine and have 3 points added to your licence, unless you’re given the option to attend a speed awareness course. As well as this, your driving licence will have a code on it for 4 years.

You may be given the option of attending a speed awareness course if:

  • the police decide it’s appropriate for your offence
  • you have not been on a speed awareness course in the past 3 years

You’ll have to go to court if you plead not guilty.

You can be fined more and get more penalty points if the court decides you’re guilty of speeding.

The amount you’re fined depends on what the speed limit was and how much over it you were driving. It’s usually a percentage of your weekly income, up to a maximum of £1,000 (£2,500 if you were driving on a motorway).

You could also be disqualified from driving or have your licence suspended.

Penalties can affect new drivers more severely as well; if you’re still within 2 years of passing your driving test, your driving licence will be revoked (withdrawn) if you build up 6 or more penalty points.

Staying safe on the road

As well as speeding fine penalties for motorists breaking the law, DVSA have also published “The top 10 prohibition defects as a percentage of all cars inspected at roadside”.

With a total of 38,712 serious defects and traffic offences in 2019, and the most common defect being the condition of a vehicle’s tyres, it’s important to ensure you and your vehicle don’t get caught out by any defect risks. If you’re looking to stay safe and motor happy, you can contact your local Trust My Garage Member garage for your servicing, repair and MOT needs.

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 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.

 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!

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.

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!

Keep your vehicle germ-free with Trust My Garage

During the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of keeping clean has been highlighted in every aspect of daily life – so when it comes to your vehicle, what are the best ways to keep the germs at bay? Find out with the Trust My Garage blog by reading on!

In a survey of 1,000 drivers, 38 per cent said they only clean their car once every couple of months, 16 per cent said they did it just once a year and 9 per cent said they clean their less than once every 12 months – but why is keeping your motor clean so important?

As a vehicle is often a communal space, whether for work or personal use, motorists must be careful to ensure their car or van is kept free from as many germs as possible – especially if multiple drivers and passengers utilise the vehicle.

Before

Before getting into your vehicle, you can attempt to keep germs on your person at a minimum by washing your hands with soap and warm water or use hand sanitiser if you can’t get to a sink. As people use their hands for almost everything, they are a major point of transfer for germs to get from one point to another.

By washing or sanitising prior to getting into a vehicle, you are removing any potentially unwanted germs from your hands and stopping them coming into contact with door handles, seatbelts and seatbelt fasteners, the steering wheel and any other controls within your vehicle. If you have antiviral wipes, consider keeping them in the car to wipe down surfaces. Always read the instructions as some wipes may not be suitable for the surfaces and materials inside cars.

During

If you’re concerned about sharing your vehicle with other drivers or passengers, try to keep touching any unnecessary objects and parts of the car to a minimum – unless it is negatively affecting your driving, vision or comfort. Where possible, travel alone and only make essential trips to keep chances of germ transference as low as possible. Where you are required to carry others in your car, consider asking them to sit in the rear seats to remain within social distancing guidance as best as possible.

After

Once you have exited your vehicle at your destination, clean and sanitise any surfaces you have touched inside the car with a wipe or other cleaning product to remove any bacteria. Once done, throw the used item/s immediately into a bin and do not re-use.

Just like before you step into a vehicle, wash or sanitise your hands as soon as possible, and where possible refrain from touching any other items or surfaces until you have been able to clean your hands.

If you have arrived home from a journey, remove your shoes, coat and any other items such as a handbag and sanitise them as best as possible before touching other objects or surfaces in your house. Again, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after you’ve finished cleaning.

Vehicle Care

Regular cleaning of the exterior and interior of your vehicle may help you avoid germ-heavy spots – particularly in areas you touch frequently such as door handles, seatbelt buckles, the ignition, steering wheel and controls such as indicators and wiper stalks. Soap and water is a proven method to remove the virus, or you can use rubbing alcohol of at least 60% purity or specific car cleaning products if you prefer.

If you are looking at using cleaning product, do your research to locate one that works best for you. For example, leather interiors can require different cleaning products to cloth upholstery to avoid damage to the leather, so make sure you’re using the appropriate materials to keep your car looking great as well as staying clean.

This video also details some great ways to keep your car germ-free, so you can check out these tips:

Other, manufacturer-specific videos are also available if you’re looking for information tailored to your vehicle make too.

If you’re looking for help or guidance about cleaning and maintaining your vehicle during the lockdown, you could also call your local garage and ask for advice! Garages have been classed by the government as an essential business, so can remain open. Some may be operating on reduced hours, so check the opening times and contact details of your nearest member using the Trust My Garage website’s Find a Garage map – 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 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!

What to do when… You’re maintaining your vehicle during lockdown

With the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic affecting the UK, many motorists are making efforts to keep their vehicle in tip-top shape without breaking the social distancing measures set in place by the UK government. To help drivers, Trust My Garage has put together some advice on how you can stay within the guidelines and keep your vehicle at its best – read on to find out more!

With the implementation of a lockdown, it is best to use your car only for essential travel – such as food shopping, collecting a prescription, medical appointments or travelling to work if you are unable to work from home. By using vehicles less frequently than is the norm, many motors are left standing on driveways, in garages and parked on the roadside, leading to potential roadworthiness and safety issues.

Remember, many garages remain open for essential repairs, so if you have any concerns about your vehicle’s roadworthiness, get it checked out as soon as possible.

MOT status, tax and insurance – are you covered?

Without getting into your vehicle, you could be in violation of the UK’s motoring laws – but you can take simple steps to be sure you aren’t driving illegally.

MOT

Due to the pandemic, the UK government is extending car MOTs due from 30th March onward by six months on a 7-day rolling basis (so an MOT due on 1st April is now due on 1st October, and so on). Review dates are currently subject to a staggered implementation, and extended dates are being posted on the Gov.uk website here. To find out more on how the extension works, you can view our “The MOT Extension – how does it work and does it apply to you?” here.

Even if your vehicle’s MOT has been extended by the government, should you feel it is unsafe or unroadworthy take it to a garage as soon as possible for an MOT, repairs or maintenance. Your safety and the safety of other road users is paramount!

Tax

Although you may not be using your vehicle as regularly as normal, it is still subject to Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), commonly known as road tax. This is an annual tax that is levied as an excise duty and which must be paid for most types of vehicles which are to be driven or parked on public roads in the UK.

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 online via the Gov.uk website here.

Insurance

During lockdown, 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.

Tread carefully when it comes to tyres

You should check your tyre pressures at least every two weeks – and if your vehicle has a spare, check that too! Under inflated tyres increase fuel consumption and reduce vehicle handling, and they also lead to increased tyre wear, which means your tyres may require replacing sooner than you expect.

The legal limit for minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the whole tyre, 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. You should also look out for cuts or wear anywhere on the tyre and replace them if you can see tears or bulges.

If a vehicle stands for an extended period of time, flat spots may occur on your car’s tyres. These happen when a vehicle’s wheels have not rotated for a long period of time and the downward pressure from the body causes the tyres to become misshapen where they contact the road surface.

When a car has a flat spot on one of its tyres, this can lead to symptoms such as vibrations on the steering and inconsistent handling, because the wheel is unbalanced. If flat spots do occur on your tyres, they may rectify themselves as the vehicle is brought back into use; however this may take some time. If you are unsure whether the vibration you are encountering is a tyre flat spot or something more serious, contact your local garage.

Batteries and brakes – are they roadworthy?

When a vehicle is not used for a prolonged period of time there is a risk of the battery power draining to a point where there is insufficient charge to start your car. If you find your car has a flat battery you have a number of options:

  • Charge it using the correct type of external battery charger
  • Jump start the car using jumper leads connected to another vehicle or battery.

Before using either option it is always advisable to consult your vehicle handbook to ensure you connect any cables correctly, as so incorrect use could cause damage to your vehicle’s sensitive electrical systems.

If there are two cars in your household, you may want to consider alternating your essential trips in them. You should also be mindful that repeated short journeys will flatten your battery faster than usual, which is even more reason to follow the government’s guidance to shop for necessities as infrequently as possible. You should also avoid turning your engine on only to turn it off again shortly after.

Another issue that can occur when vehicles are left unused for long periods is brake seizure or sticking. This makes it difficult to get the vehicle rolling after not being used. If your brakes do stick or seize on this may not be as easy to resolve as a flat battery, so contact your local garage and arrange for a vehicle check prior to undertaking any travel after prolonged periods without use.

Working brakes should have a foot pedal that feels firm throughout its working travel, getting firmer the more you push down on the pedal. If you notice that the brakes feel spongy or slack, and perhaps the car appears to be taking longer to slow down or stop, you likely have air in the brake lines. If this is the case, take your vehicle to a garage to have it inspected!

Keep things fluid

You should check fluid levels to keep your engine well maintained and have your car ready to drive when you need it. Top up your:

  • Oil: Make sure your engine oil level is showing between the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick. If your vehicle doesn’t have a dipstick consult the handbook on how to check your engine oil level electronically. Details of the correct oil type and grade will also be noted in your handbook.
  • Coolant: The coolant level in your vehicle should be between the minimum and maximum marks on the water tank in the engine compartment. If you need to top up your coolant, you must do so as per the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Windscreen wash: A clear view of the road is vital. A dirty windscreen combined with low Spring sunshine can make visibility difficult. If your washers aren’t working correctly your view of the road ahead can be severely impaired, so top up your screen wash and check you wiper blades for dirt or trapped debris

Take a long, hard look

Prior to setting off on any journey, it’s always good to visually inspect your vehicle for any issues, such as dirty or broken lights or tyre inflation, and ensure your front and rear number plates are clearly visible.

Not sure how best to care for your car?

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

If you’re looking for a professional local garage to help give your car some TLC 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:

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 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!

Don’t forget: If you can think of any more top lockdown maintenance tips, leave us a comment in the box below!

Make your motor happy this Valentine’s Day with Trust My Garage

The UK has a long-standing love affair with motoring, and has even created some of the most iconic car brands to grace our memory! With this in mind on Valentine’s Day, Trust My Garage has put together some advice on how you can show your vehicle you care – read on to discover more!

Check your lights and levels

Before setting off on any journey, show your motor some love by checking your lights and levels! By either checking yourself or asking a friend or family member to walk around the vehicle, you can test all your lights to ensure they are clear and functioning correctly.

You should also regularly 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.

If you notice a fault with your vehicle, such as a cracked windscreen, dim headlight, or poorly charged battery, it’s important to get it sorted before undertaking any driving. If you feel there is a fault but aren’t sure how to proceed, you can always take your vehicle to a local garage to have it looked at by a professional – you can even use Trust My Garage’s Find a Garage map to locate your nearest Trust My Garage member!

Check your brakes and tyres

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 while driving, which could indicate a fault or imbalance with the braking system. Vibrations and temperamental pedals are also a sign you need to take give your car some attention – so look out for the signs and don’t ignore them.

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 Owner’s Manual or visit your local Trust My Garage member, who will be able to advise of any issues with your car.

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 door, 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 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 is visible, the tyres may be unsafe or illegal and need to be checked by a professional garage or tyre specialist.

Give your motor a name!

According to research by the DVLA, over a quarter of motorists have given their vehicle an affectionate name – with women being twice as likely as men! 87% of respondents to the survey also said they had bought a personalised registration to match the name they give to their car too. Geographically, the largest proportion of those who said they named their car came from the East Midlands (28%), and the smallest from Northern Ireland (1%).

It may seem silly, but there are even trends of popular names; ‘Doris’, ‘Dave’, ‘Henry’, ‘Betsy’ and ‘Bumble’ were all top choices. DVLA Personalised Registrations sales manager Jody Davies said: “It’s no surprise to find that people want to say something about their car in this way – whether the name is something personal to them or a bit of fun that they want to share with others.”

More about Trust My Garage

If you’re in need of a local garage operating to the highest standards, Trust My Garage can help. With over 3090 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 visit TrustMyGarage.co.uk and pop in your postcode, and our ‘Find a Garage’ map will show you all the TMG members in your area! You can even read reviews from other customers if you’re unsure which garage is right for your needs. Try it out here:

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 – and you can even check out our latest TV advert below!

Got a handy top tip help show your vehicle some love? Make sure to leave it in the comment section below!

Don’t get spooked about vehicle maintenance this Halloween with Trust My Garage

October 31st is coming and it’s the spookiest day of the year – Halloween! Not only is it time for ghouls and ghosts to make an appearance, it’s also time to prepare your vehicle for the upcoming cold winter months. Want to know how? Find out with the Trust My Garage blog by reading on – and for a little bit of fun, don’t forget to count up our spooky puns throughout this post and leave us a comment with how many you can find!

Beware the witchy weather

The onset of autumn and winter means poorer road conditions for motorists – summer showers have given way to winter whirlwinds! Low winter sun can dazzle unprepared drivers, and heavy rain and fog can create slippery roads and reduced visibility.

In wet conditions allow additional travel time and drive at a speed appropriate to the conditions, be aware that braking distances can double on wet roads and increase tenfold on ice!

Avoid a fright at night

It’s important for drivers to take it steady when driving in the dark, especially if you’re driving in an unfamiliar area.

Broken or faulty lights can result in a £50 fine, three penalty points and even a Roadside Prohibition Notice – which means you must fix the fault before a re-inspection – so be sure to take the time to walk around your vehicle and check all your lights are functional before setting off on any trips.

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

Don’t let your wheels be tyre-rifying

With poorer driving conditions on their way it’s important to ensure your tyres are up to the challenge – so be sure to check your tyre pressures and tread depth regularly. The legal minimum for tread depth is 1.6mm, but tyre grip can deteriorate rapidly if the depth is under 3mm.

You can use the edge of a 20p coin to check how deep your tread is – if the outer band of the coin is visible, then your tyres may be illegal and unsafe and should be checked immediately by a qualified tyre professional. Illegal tyres can earn you three penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500 per tyre!

For the correct tyre pressures for your vehicle consult your Owner’s Manual or look for a tyre information sticker which could be located on one of the door pillars or inside the fuel flap. One of these should contain the information you need for your tyres to be inflated to the correct PSI/BAR. Air and water machines are commonplace at petrol stations across the UK – or you can ask your local Trust My Garage member to check your pressure is correct, if you’re unsure of how to do this yourself.

Keep your bat-tery flying

On  average, car batteries last up to 5 years (source), but there are many reasons that a battery could require replacing  sooner than this.

Heading into colder weather can cause strain on your battery, as can short repetitive journeys – with lots of stopping and starting of the engine which can drain a battery’s power without giving it enough time to recharge fully. Also; the use of a heated rear window, lights and wipers all add to the load placed on a battery. Taking your car out for a longer drive at the weekend can be a key factor in combating battery drain, as can recharging your battery at home or at a local garage. If you are concerned about the condition of your battery your friendly TMG member could always check it out for you!

Take a trip to the fuel pump-kin

Running out of fuel is one of the most common causes of breakdown on the UK’s motorway network, so check you’ve got enough fuel for your trip and take note of any available fuel stations en-route to fill up as necessary. It’s also wise to allow sufficient fuel to be able to accommodate any delays that may occur on route.

If you aren’t sure of places to fill up on y our trips, you can use an internet search engine to locate nearby fuel stations or ask a local in the area where the nearest fuel station is. Some modern sat navs also highlight close by fuel stations but you may need to turn this function on in your model’s settings where possible!

Avoid an MOT horror with Trust My Garage

If your car is due its MOT or a service, make sure to take it in to a garage to keep it roadworthy. If you’re looking for a reputable, local, independent garage you can rely on, head to the Trust My Garage website and use our handy ‘Find a Garage’ map to locate your nearest TMG member, operating to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved code of conduct.

Simply pop in your postcode and our ‘Find a Garage’ map will show you all the TMG members in your area – and you can even read reviews from other customers if you’re unsure which garage is right for your needs.

Trust My Garage truly is the independent scheme for independent garages in the UK. They have each signed up to treat customers and their vehicle with respect, which means they really do exist to ensure that independent garage standards are continuing to improve.

If you’re looking for more information or would like to contact Trust My Garage, please visit TrustMyGarage.co.uk or Contact Us here.

What to do when… your vehicle needs some TLC

With the average UK motorist making 986 trips and covering 6536 miles per year in their car (source), it’s possible that some drivers can leave their motor in need of a little tender loving care when it comes to basic maintenance issues – but how can you make sure you give your vehicle the care it needs? Find out with the Trust My Garage blog!

Tyres

You should check your tyre pressures at least every two weeks – and if your vehicle has a spare, check that too! Under inflated tyres increase fuel consumption and reduce vehicle handling, and they also lead to increased tyre wear, which means your tyres may require replacing sooner than you expect.

The legal limit for minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the whole tyre, 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. You should also look out for cuts or wear anywhere on the tyre and replace them if you can see tears or bulges.

Engine oil

Use your dipstick (if your vehicle has one) to check oil levels every couple of weeks, when the car is warm and on level ground. Stop the engine and wait a few minutes for the oil to settle, remove the dipstick and wipe it clean.

Push the dipstick all the way in, wait a second, and then withdraw it and check the level. The oil should be between the MIN and MAX marks. If the oil is dark or dirty or underneath the minimum line (or both!) It should be topped up/changed as soon as possible.

Many modern vehicles use an electronic system to check their oil level, so if your vehicle uses this you should familiarise yourself with the system.

Screenwash

It is illegal under the Road Vehicles Regulations 1986 to not have screenwash in your vehicle. Keep it regularly topped up with a screenwash additive – one that prevents it from freezing and clears oily grime from your windscreen for clear vision.

Don’t forget to keep the inside clean too, to avoid your vision being reduced due to glare – especially when the sun gets lower in the sky during daily commutes to and from work.

Water

Every week, while your engine is cold, check your coolant level is between the MIN and MAX marks – if it’s below the minimum line, top it up as required, and check it again after your next journey.

If your coolant level regularly requires topping up you may have a leak in the vehicle’s cooling system, so get it checked out by your local garage!

Windscreen

Keep an eye out for stone damage and, if you spot any chips, get them repaired as soon as possible – as they can grow and crack if left alone. If the damage can’t be repaired, or it’s in a place where it could distract you, your windscreen may need to be replaced.

Many motor insurance policies provide discounted or free chip repairs, and detail how to proceed with your repair.

Bodywork

It’s important to give your car panels an occasional check for any damage, or signs of rust. If you notice any rusty or damaged areas, you can contact a local bodyshop to see how best to proceed with any repairs.

Lights

Take a walk around your vehicle or ask a friend to help check all your lights – including indicators, reversing lights, brake lights and fog lights – once a week. Look out for blown bulbs and cracks or dirt on the lenses.

Your vehicle can receive a Minor Defect notification on its MOT if your indicators do not “flash amber” in compliance with the requirements, so if you have any issues with fading indicator lights you should replace them or have a local garage inspect them – you may only need a new bulb!

If a bulb has broken and you don’t want to replace it yourself you can also take your vehicle to a local garage, who can fix the issue and help you avoid a penalty.

Not sure how best to care for your car?

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

If you’re looking for a professional local garage to help give your car some TLC 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:

Want to know what we do?

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.

Don’t forget: If you can think of any more top TLC tips, leave us a comment in the box below!