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!
January can be quite a miserable month – you’re well and truly back to reality after an extended break over the Christmas period, money is tight and dreadful weather makes driving incredibly difficult.
Rejoice though, because the start of a new year gives you the chance to set yourself aspirational targets for the year ahead as you try and make 2014 one to remember.
The main problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they’re often unrealistic as people set themselves life-changing goals. We’re offering you advice on how to make manageable New Year’s resolutions that relate to your car and your driving.
5. Keep your car clean
Appearances are everything and driving around in a filthy car will not reflect positively on you. During the winter months it is admittedly difficult to keep your vehicle in pristine condition as one journey down the motorway can see it caked in mud and battered with rain water, but if you keep on top of it you’ll prevent your vehicle resembling a rally car. It’s important to keep the inside of your car tidy as well, because it doesn’t serve for a great first impression if you pick someone up and they have to navigate their way around fast food bags and empty cans of fizzy drink, just to sit down.
At the end of each day make sure you remove all of the rubbish out of your car and every two weeks take your hoover to task. Driving around in a clean car will make your journeys far more enjoyable and rewarding.
Once the weather starts to improve and heavy rain showers cease to be a routine part of your day you should look to get your car cleaned every two weeks.
4. Improve your patience and tolerance
Do you suffer from a short fuse when driving on the roads? 2014 can be the year you curb that anger and develop more patience towards your fellow drivers. It’s important to note that road rage, like footballers arguing with referees, will not get you anywhere, and will only serve to wind you up and negatively affect your driving and mood.
Remember that other drivers aren’t there for your annoyance and they’re in exactly the same boat as you – getting from A to B. There are a number of things you can do to stay calm and collected when driving, including ensuring you’re comfortable in your seated position, taking breaks every two hours and getting your car regularly serviced to prevent frustration breakdowns.
Being courteous will go a long way and you should always acknowledge other drivers letting you pass and apologise if you’ve made a mistake – this will make you feel better as well, and remember that we’re all human and we all make mistakes.
By staying positive in your car you’ll notice the effect it has on the rest of your day – there’s nothing worse than turning up at work red-faced after berating the driver of a Ford KA that had the nerve to cut you up.
3. Understand your insurance policy
Although car insurance is undoubtedly very important, many people are guilty of not fully understanding what they’re covered against. Set a bit of time aside so you can really get to grips with your policy.
Do you know what would happen if someone breaks into your car and steals something? Can you drive someone else’s car with their permission? Do you know how much your excess is? Will you receive a courtesy car if you breakdown? If you don’t know then consult your policy or ring your insurance provider.
2. Carry out regular maintenance checks
Get in the habit of carrying out weekly or fortnightly checks on your car. Whilst we’re all aware of the importance of checking tyres, oil levels, wipers etc. we conducted a survey last year that showed a whopping 84% of drivers neglect to carry out regular checks!
So what do you need to be checking? Tyres are very important, especially as driving conditions in the winter becoming challenging. Check their pressure, tread and overall condition to ensure you’re as safe as possible on the road. Oil, water, windscreen washer fluid and anti-freeze levels all need to looked at on a weekly basis too.
It might be the last thing you want to do after a long day at work, but a quick check can save your life and in the long-run save you money as you’ll benefit from less costly breakdowns and repairs.
1. Regular servicing
Why should you get your car regularly serviced? By taking your vehicle in for checks at a trusted independent garage you’ll prevent nasty repair bills because problems will be detected before they cause further damage. As mentioned in the first paragraph there are things you can do yourself, but to be sure we always recommend you take your car to your nearest trusted independent garage and let the experts have a look over it. Whilst you can roughly gauge your tyre tread depth yourself with the old coin trick, it is far safer to trust a professional.
To find a garage you can trust for an honest and professional service 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!