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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Across the UK this week, thousands of children are heading back to school – but when it comes to the school run, how can you ensure you’re being a safe motorist? Trust My Garage has put together some top tips for keeping yourself and others secure in the car and around other road users! Read on for more.
- Be extra observant
As a driver, if you’re near a school you’ll need to keep a watchful eye for children walking and cycling, as they might be distracted and excited.
- Choose a safe place to drop your child off
It can be tough to park near to the school, but you can aim for somewhere you won’t cause congestion and danger to those walking or cycling to school. If there are zig-zag markings on the ground outside the school, motorists are banned from parking, waiting or stopping there during school hours.
- Reduce your speed
This can be a hugely important to safety where you see lots of children – especially near to schools. If you are driving at 30mph and a child runs out your stopping distance will be at least 23 metres, so keep your speeds low and your eyes peeled for hazards! Some school areas also operate a variable 20mph limit during drop-off and collection times, which is highlighted with a flashing amber light and sign indicating the lower speed limit is being enforced.
- Plan for additional traffic on the roads
The school year comes with a substantial increase in morning and evening traffic, so drivers should allow an extra 10 or 15 minutes for their morning commute – it’s better to be early than to rush and speed when travelling to and from work.
- Look out for the lollipop!
When you see a Lollipop helper start to cross the road (usually with a brightly coloured vest and sign) come to a complete stop to allow children to cross safely. Proceed with caution once the helper has returned to the path and has lowered their sign.
- Dont use your mobile phone whilst driving
Making or receiving a call, even using a ‘hands free’ phone, can distract your attention from driving and could lead to an accident – and using a device while driving is illegal and will result in a 6-point penalty and £200 fine. If you need to make a call, pull over in a safe space, turn off your engine and remove the key from the ignition. In 2017, 14% of drivers still said it was acceptable to take a call while driving (source) but it can lead to serious injury to drivers and pedestrians.
- Be aware of buses
Buses near schools are frequent and often filled with children of all ages going to and from school. If you’re driving anywhere near a bus be on the lookout for children stepping out unexpectedly, as well as the vehicle itself moving into and out of the road at bus stops.
If you’re looking to get your vehicle checked out ready for your school run and commute you can visit your nearest Trust My Garage member! All TMG garages operate to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved Code of Conduct, meaning you and your motor are set to get the best possible service.
Got any other ideas on staying safe in the car? Be sure to leave your suggestions in the comments!
2018 is upon us! The start of the new year means many people across the UK are kickstarting their January with a range of New Year’s resolutions – and motorists are no exception. This year, drivers are looking to reboot their motoring habits in a bid to revamp both their vehicles and their attitudes to driving.
A new survey has shown the variety of ways in which motorists want to put more effort into vehicle maintenance and their driving styles – but which of these resolutions will be yours?
Checking tyre pressures and oil levels regularly
In the poll, 24 per cent of drivers said they wanted to improve how frequently they check their tyre pressures and oil levels. Both of these areas are hugely important in your vehicle; as maintaining correct tyre pressure ensures good fuel efficiency, better road safety in poor weather conditions and more even wear across the tyre, reducing the likelihood of bald spots on the tyre. Correct tyre pressures should be listed in your vehicle’s owner’s manual and on the pillar when the driver’s door is open. To inflate your tyres to the correct pressure, many garages and petrol stations offer a tyre pressure inflator on site.
Having the correct levels of oil in your engine is also of vital importance for your vehicle. Any engine needs lubrication, and making sure your engine is well oiled will fight against two major engine damagers: friction and heat. Measuring your oil level on the dipstick when your vehicle is cool and on level ground will give you an accurate reading of the amount and an indication of the quality of the oil in your motor.
Learning to park properly
17 per cent of drivers also wanted to learn how to park properly. While many drivers are comfortable driving in to a parking space, some motorists – especially new and/or younger drivers – can feel daunted at the prospect of parallel parking. While practice is the best method for improvement, these tips from the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) can offer some help for understanding how to parallel park safely and effectively.
The survey found that 16 per cent of drivers were nervous or unhappy about using the motorway in their vehicle. As part of the expansive road network spanning the UK, motorways provide a fast route to almost any destination up and down the country – but the speed and heavy flow of traffic can be an intimidating prospect for a motorist. The Highway Code provides explicit rules of conduct for using the motorway network, but drivers can also use a ‘Pass Plus’ training course with a registered instructor as a practical application to help get them motoring.
Improving reversing ability
15 per cent of respondents also said they would like to improve their ability to reverse their vehicle. While reversing may seem like a common manoeuvre, some drivers can find it difficult. The Highway Code offers some helpful advice for reversing, along with its other general road use guidelines. Rule 202 states:
“Look carefully before you start reversing. You should
- use all your mirrors
- check the ‘blind spot’ behind you (the part of the road you cannot see easily in the mirrors)
- check there are no pedestrians (particularly children), cyclists, other road users or obstructions in the road behind you.
Reverse slowly while
- checking all around
- looking mainly through the rear window
- being aware that the front of your vehicle will swing out as you turn.
Get someone to guide you if you cannot see clearly.”
Not getting road rage
14 per cent of drivers in the poll admitted to succumbing to road rage when motoring, with a resolution not to give in to the red mist in 2018. While being a confident driver is a definite positive, motorists should not be over confident, as it can be a killer on the roads. The best method for combatting road rage is simply to let any issues go and not let them affect your journey, however we know how difficult that can be! Rule 147 of The Highway Code states:
“Do not allow yourself to become agitated or involved if someone is behaving badly on the road. This will only make the situation worse. Pull over, calm down and, when you feel relaxed, continue your journey.”
So, sit back, relax, and carry on driving in a calm manner for your own safety and that of other road users.
Switching off phones at the wheel
A shocking 13 per cent of drivers admitted to their resolution being to switch off their mobile phone when behind the wheel. The law states that:
“You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.”
If you’re caught using a mobile in any other motoring circumstance you’ll receive 6 penalty points on your driving licence and a £200 fine.
The simplest solution is to turn off your phone or have it in a locked compartment of your car, and if you feel you need to check your phone pull over at a safe point and switch off your car’s engine. If you need to contact someone and you know they are driving, wait until you know they have arrived at their destination to avoid being a distraction to them.
Keeping your vehicle in top condition
Maintaining your vehicle should be at the top of your New Year’s Resolutions list, so that you can keep motoring happy throughout 2018. With Trust My Garage, you know you can rely on using a nationally recognised brand, with a truly professional service for both you and your vehicle. All the garages in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who have to comply with a strict code of practice.
Got any New Year’s resolutions of your own? Let us know in the comments!
A new study of 2,000 drivers shows nine in 10 have had a symbol pop up on the dashboard which they haven’t recognised – but what can motorists do to expand their knowledge?
Here at Trust My Garage, we think you should get to know your vehicle a bit better, so we’ve created this handy breakdown of what all the lights on your dashboard mean. As always, it’s best to refer to your Owner’s Manual for the correct detailed information for your vehicle, but for some quick reference here’s what you need to know:
Check Engine Light:
Indicates the engine computer has set a fault code. Usually requires diagnosis with a professional scan tool.
Indicates voltage level is below normal level and the vehicle’s charging system is not functioning properly. Check battery terminals, alternator belt, and battery condition.
Coolant Temp Warning:
Indicates temperature has exceeded normal limits. Check coolant level, fan operation, radiator cap, coolant leaks.
Transmission is operating at higher than optimum temperature as transmission fluid is hotter than normal. Check transmission fluid level and engine coolant level.
Oil Pressure Warning:
If this light stays lit, it indicates loss of oil pressure. Immediately check oil level and pressure.
Oil Change Reminder:
Indicates that oil life has expired. The reset procedure should be listed in the owner’s manual.
Service Vehicle Soon:
Typically indicates a lighting or other electrical problem that is controlled by the body control module. Check all lights (head lights, turn signals, brake lights, and hazard lights). This symbol may also be used to warn driver of a traction control problem, or a communication problem between modules.
TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System):
Indicates the tyre pressure monitoring system has found a tyre with low air pressure or there may be a sensor malfunction. Check tyre pressure. Some vehicles will allow manual reset of TPMS warning light and others will require professional diagnosis. Refer to owner’s manual.
Indicates one of three possible conditions: the handbrake is on; there’s a problem with the braking system/brake fluid is low, or there may be an ABS problem. Check your brake fluid and make sure the handbrake is fully released. If the problem is in the ABS system, it may need a professional diagnosis.
Reduced Power Warning:
Indicates Engine Computer has limited engine power output. The ECU has many levels of reduced power depending on what component has failed in its control system. Usually requires diagnosis with a professional scan tool.
Indicates that the Anti-lock Brake system has a fault and that the ABS isn’t working – this doesn’t mean that your brakes aren’t working but it’s still important.
Indicates that cruise control is set during driving.
Traction Control or ESP:
Illuminates when the vehicle’s traction control/anti-skid or electronic stability system is in use. Usually an indicator that conditions are slippery.
Traction Control Fault:
Indicates that there is a problem with the vehicle’s traction control/anti-skid or electronic stability system.
Indicates that there is an exterior light on the vehicle that is not functioning properly.
Indicates that a door (including bonnet and boot) is not closed. Open and close all doors. If vehicle is left in this condition overnight it can drain the battery.
If this light stays illuminated after starting, it indicates that the vehicle has found a fault in the airbag system and the computer has set a code. Professional repair of the supplemental restraint system is highly recommended.
Washer Fluid Reminder:
Indicates washer fluid is low. Fill washer fluid reservoir. The cap has a symbol that looks like a windshield. Some vehicles have separate reservoirs for front and rear window washers.
Indicates that the vehicle’s front fog lamps are illuminated.
There are also dashboard lights that are only applicable to diesel vehicles. Here’s what those symbols mean:
Glow Plug (Diesel):
On diesel vehicles, this light indicates that the engine’s glow plugs are warming up and the engine should not be started until this light goes out.
DPF Light (Diesel):
There is a problem with the DPF that requires attention.
DEF Light (Diesel):
This light indicates the diesel exhaust fluid reservoir is low on fluid. If your diesel car is only a few years old, you might have spotted a second, smaller filler cap next to the main diesel filler. If that cap is marked ‘AdBlue’, then your car is fitted with clever technology designed to reduce its emissions. AdBlue is a non-toxic liquid that’s colourless in appearance and is a solution of water and urea. To comply with Euro 6 legislation, recent diesel-powered cars use SCR technology to inject microscopic quantities of this liquid into the flow of exhaust gases. It has become increasingly commonplace but isn’t standard in every diesel car, and if you’re a low-mileage driver it is unlikely to affect you between services.
Information has been provided from Autozone.com and is correct at the time of publication.
An orange light specifies a warning or something that needs your attention, a red light means stop immediately and seek advice from a professional.
If you’re concerned about any lights illuminating on your vehicle’s dashboard, you can visit your local Trust My Garage member via our Find a Garage map, where you’ll find a local, independent, Chartered Trading Standards Institute approved garage ready to provide you and your vehicle a friendly and professional service.
For further information about Trust My Garage you can visit our website here.