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So, should you bring your car to uni?

heading fr uni.jpg

So, you’re flying the nest and heading for uni? For most, it’s been a hard slog getting to this point – staying up all night to revise for your exams, skipping social plans to perfect your coursework – and now you have to come to terms with the fact that you’re leaving home.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to leaving your parents behind: what will your new roomies be like? What will you eat every day? How do you stop your laundry from changing colour?

But there’s one consideration that you should probably give some greater thought into: should you bring your car with you?

It seems like the perfect idea, allowing you to have even more freedom now that you’re adjusting to independent life. Bringing your car along to your new city means you don’t have to worry about how you’ll get from A to B, especially if you find yourself living some distance from your university campus. It’ll also allow you greater opportunity to explore your new surroundings, and perhaps find some cool spots that aren’t on any bus route.

What’s more, uni digs can be a little bit cramped sometimes, and you will struggle to find space to store all of your belongings. Let’s be honest, you’ve probably brought everything you own with you, knowing full well you absolutely don’t need most of it! So, maybe having your car around could provide an extra little bit of storage – keeping your spare jackets and shoes in your boot could free up a lot essential dorm space.

Not only that, for some courses, having your car with you is almost essential to carry out your work. For example, you may need to visit patients or film on location, so your car will be handy for any extra specialist equipment you may have in tow.

Of course, there’s always the all-important fact that having your car with you will make it so much easier for you to run your dirty laundry home to your mum, because carrying bags full of dirty underwear, and dirty-pint-ridden t-shirts on a train probably isn’t the most ideal situation.

Sound good? Well, there’s slightly more to it than that.

As well as coming to terms with the fact that you almost certainly will end up becoming a personal taxi service for the rest of your flatmates, there are some other important considerations you really ought to think about:

Will you actually need it?

This is the biggest question you should ask yourself. Cars require a great deal of maintenance and upkeep, not to mention all the costs that are associated with keeping it on the roads, so, it is important to ask yourself if the extra hassle is really worth it.

Generally, most students opt to live in university halls during their first year. Typically, this accommodation is located either directly on, or extremely close to the campus. What’s more, most university’s benefit from being within a stone throw away from the life and heart of your new city, so considering everything you could possibly need will be within spitting distance of your shoebox bedroom, will you actually get the chance to give your motor a spin?

Perhaps consider all of the places you will need to get to, and have a look at the public transport links. You may find that everything you could possibly need is available an arms-width away.

Where can you park it?

It’s all well and good deciding that you need your motor with you, so you don’t have to lug bags and bags of groceries around town after a supermarket trip, but have you considered where you’ll keep your car?

Owing to their commonly centralised locations, many universities have extremely few parking facilities on campus, and the same applies for halls of residence. In most cases, parking facilities are only available for members of staff, meaning that you will probably be pushed to park your motor a few streets away. This leaves you in a difficult predicament regarding safety – can you actually trust it’ll be safe parked up on a street a mile away from where you’re living? And will you feel safe getting to your car, during the night, when you fancy a late drive to Maccies?

Why not take a day trip to your new city, before you move in, to scope out the area? Be sure to find out your hall of residence’s parking procedure (you may have to pay if they have an on-site car park), and take a wander around to find the nearest on-road parking.

Can you afford to run it?

Many Freshers light up at the prospect of their bank accounts being lined with a student loan. For most of you, this sum of money is more than your bank account has ever seen, so naturally, you’ll be inclined to splurge.

However, many forget that this ‘free’ money isn’t an excuse to buy all the latest gear that you otherwise couldn’t have afforded – it is, in fact, supposed to facilitate the extra expenses needed to live! We know, that doesn’t sound exciting, but many new students underestimate the actual cost of living.

It was recently announced that the government would be scrapping the maintenance grant, which provided an extra bit of income for students from poorer backgrounds. This means that students will now have to rely solely on their maintenance loan to fund their housing, utilities, food and books, as well as the extra bit of dollar needed to fund the nights out that you absolutely won’t want to miss.

Annoyingly, all of these add up – adulting can be cruel on the bank account-  and actually, many will find that the loan just won’t be able to cover all of your outgoings.

So, how will you manage to keep your car taxed, insured, MOT’d, serviced and fuelled too? Will your weekend job cover it, as well as leaving you with enough to keep your allocated cupboard and fridge shelf full(ish)?

It sounds tedious, but it’d be wise to devise some sort of list of all your expected outgoings, and compare this to your income. This way you can weigh up how far out of pocket your car could leave you.

Insurance

The bane of most motorists lives, but possibly more so for younger people, is insurance. It’s no secret that the younger generations can be hit with the highest of insurance premiums, and sometimes these figures can leave you wondering whether it’s worth being road-independent at all.

Now, different cities and areas around the country have increasing or decreasing effects on insurance premiums, mostly based on their affluence. As a general rule of thumb, ‘nicer’ more suburban areas tend to encourage ‘nicer’ lower premiums. City centres and less affluent areas tend to encourage pretty eye-watering figures. So, it’s definitely worth considering how your new address will affect your insurance costs. Could you afford to pay an increased premium? Be sure to get a quote before you make your decisionuni.png

Will it be safe?

Now, we’re not trying to scare you here, but it is not unknown for student areas to be targeted for burglaries. It’s an unusual case, as most students agree that they do not keep many valuables in their university home – but it does happen, and it is worth considering.

Since you may not be able to park your car where you can keep an eye on it, you do want to be able to rest easily (albeit in a bed that won’t be as comfy as your one back home), knowing that it will be safe. For this reason, it is worth checking your alarm system is intact and investing in some sort of immobiliser or steering lock.

It probably goes without saying that, should you be forced to park some distance from your front door, avoid leaving anything valuable inside your vehicle.

What happens when something does go wrong?

We bet many of you leave it to your parents to sort out your car upkeep. Many young people like to enjoy the leisure of driving a car, without having to worry about the nuisance maintenance it needs. So, what will you do when you’re too far away from the nest for your mum and dad to sort your MOT or service?

 Yotmgu head to Trust My Garage!

Trust My Garage is a garage approval scheme that gives you the peace of mind that your car will be in safe hands. All Trust My Garage members abide by a strict code of conduct, meaning that your service will always be second to none.

Luckily, finding your nearest one is easy. Head to www.trustmygarage.co.uk or download the Trust My Garage app in the App store or Google Play store. From here, you can simply type in your postcode, and you’ll be directed to a selection of your nearest trusted garages.

It’s as simple as that.

We have over 2,600 members across the country, meaning that you’ll never be too far away from a Trust My Garage member.

But how will you afford to pay for your garage services?crp TRUSTY

We’ve already established that your outgoings at university will wind up being much more than you expect. So, you’re probably getting sweaty palmed at the idea of having to fork out more money in the case of an unexpected car service or repair.

But, you need not worry!

Our Car Repair Plan scheme allows you to deposit a small amount of money into an online account every month. This fund can be built up to ‘shield yourself from unexpected car repair costs’ as some Trust My Garage members around the country will allow you to pay for their services using this plan. When searching for a garage via the Trust My Garage website, you are able to refine the search filter to only show those who accept the Car Repair Plan.

Although it may be tempting, when you fancy a greasy kebab at 5am after a heavy night, you cannot withdraw any savings from your Car Repair Plan account, meaning that all the money that you do save up, can be used to pay off those annoying, but completely necessary, car services.

It gets better! The Car Repair Plan allows you to add more than one car to your account. This means you don’t personally have to be an account holder in order to take advantage of this scheme – your parents can be.

Mum and dad can deposit their chosen amount into their account every month, and, if they’ve added your car onto their account, you can use their fund to cover your car repair needs. We recommend asking their permission first though!

How does that sound? Find out more about Trust My Garage and the Car Repair Plan here.

So what will your decision be, will you be taking your motor along to uni with you? Comment below, and let us know what you decide to do! And Good Luck with your new adventure!

 

 

Top 10 tips to take the heat out of summer driving

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.

Young adults taking road trip in vintage car.

Young adults taking road trip in vintage car.

1. Rubber
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.

2. Tyres
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?

3. Coolant
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.

4. Washer
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

5. Chippings
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.

6. Wildlife

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.

7. Farmers
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.

9. Glare
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.

10. Battery
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.

You have the RIGHT to choose Independent value

Are you the proud new owner of a 63 plate? A new car is a significant investment so you will want to make sure that it is Right to Repairproperly maintained. But where is the best place to get quality regular servicing at value for money prices?

The proud owner may ask themselves

“If I buy a new car I can only use the main dealer for servicing and repairs so that I don’t infringe my warranty”
MYTH!

Wrong! Under European Law the Block Exemption Regulations give you the  right to have your vehicle serviced, maintained, and repaired at an independent garage of your choice without invalidating your warranty TRUTH!

Also, did you know that recent research undertaken by the Independent Garage Association revealed that Main Dealers can be up to £40 an hour more expensive than independent garages. Driver woman showing new car keys

So, having experienced the joys of your new driving machine and all the latest innovative technology and gadgetry that the manufacturers have designed  to make your motoring safer, more comfortable and even more enjoyable, you want the same quality support when it comes to vehicle servicing.

Although taking your car to a Main Dealer might be the normal thing to do, you can equally get a professional and honest service and pay  a reasonable price for parts and labour from a good independent garage.

There are thousands of quality independent garages that are perfectly competent to service newly manufactured cars. They have full access to manufacturer information and operate equipment and tools that can analyse faults on your vehicle and with quality parts and trained staff, independent garages are able to offer you safe and clean mobility throughout the entire life cycle of your car. Taking your brand new car to an independent garage will not invalidate your warranty  as long as the garage services the vehicle according to the manufacturer’s schedule using parts which are of “equivalent quality”.

Most of the parts which are fitted to a modern car during routine servicing are not made by the vehicle manufacturer themselves anyway.  Parts such as brakes pads and oil and air filters which are supplied to vehicle manufacturers for OE (“Original Equipment”) fitment are usually available with the actual makers branding at significantly lower cost –  so they are not just “equivalent quality” , they are identical apart from the box they come in.

How am I affected?

As a consumer you are no longer forced to rely on the vehicle manufacturer as the exclusive supply source for parts and repair services for the aftermarket care of your vehicle. Your car is your property and the law enables you to choose exactly who carries out the work on your car.

Even if your car has an electronic service record held digitally in the vehicle manufacturer’s systems, the same rules give the independent garage the right to access and update the record to keep your vitally important service history intact.

Why go to a TRUST MY GARAGE approved independent garage?

Cost

The Independent Garage Association recently polled over 2000 of its members on their labour rates and results concluded, that independent garages ‘continue to offer motorists the very best value for money.’ Figures from the poll show that the average labour cost is slightly over £40 for independent garages, and the most recent Warranty Direct annual Labour Rates survey demonstrates that average labour rates for franchise garages stand at a national average of £95.94, with some franchised dealers charging a staggering £55.94 an hour more than independents.

Access to technical information and quality parts

Although independents cost a significant amount less that main dealers there is no compromise on the level of expertise and parts. All TRUST MY GARAGE members have access to the same level of technical information and  quality parts. Training is also no different and most independent garages train their staff to the same levels as main dealers.

No car is a challenge

TRUST MY GARAGE members are specialists in all makes and models and work to very high standards continuing to achieve key industry standards set by TRUST MY GARAGE.

A more personal service

Independent garages are renowned for their friendly faces and high customer retention levels. All TRUST MY GARAGE members pride themselves on the personal service that they provide their customers with, in order to increase the level of trust between them. The TRUST MY GARAGE customer charter states that all garages must explain the work they do clearly and treat customers and their vehicles with respect.

So if you’re now thinking again about where to take your new car for a service, find your local TRUST MY GARAGE member HERE without worrying about invalidating your warranty!

Motorway driving is more than middle lane morons

suitcaseMore of us are choosing a ‘staycation’ this summer according to a recent study by Travelodge, which means our motorways are destined to be busier than ever.motorway

With the new on-the-spot fines for middle-lane hogging coming into play this July there is lots to think about when cruising down the motorways at this time of year.

Two thirds of Britons are taking a summer holiday in the UK this year, which is up from 41% in 2012. When travelling abroad vehicle maintenance is the responsibility of airlines, railway executives and cruise ships providers but when you drive to a staycation, maintenance of your car is your own responsibility.  With all the excitement about getting away this year, are we all thinking about preparing our cars for long   motorway journeys?

It is vital that you check your car is safe for motorway journeys by taking it to a Trust My Garage member for a service. Over one hundred people died on UK motorways in 2011 and 740 were seriously injured. A number of these accidents were results of mechanical faults and vehicle defects, causing such things as; tyre blow-outs, brake failure, and steering mechanism failure.

“So what can I check in order to prevent inconvenient breakdowns and dangerous accidents?”

Steering

The most common type of steering problem is loss of power steering assistance due to damaged hydraulic pipes or a loose drive belt; normally indicated by heaviness in your steering. Smaller modern cars have electric power steering and any problem here may be accompanied by a warning light on the dashboard.

Unsafe Tyres

Last summer it was revealed that the number of people convicted for driving with dangerous or defective tyres was a massive 9,369. If your tyres are inflated too much or too little then you are putting yourself and your passengers at risk of a tyre blow-out, which effectively causes the tyre to explode, making you unbalanced and causing you to swerve out of your lane. This is more likely on a motorway where the tyre temperature is higher because of the sustained high speeds and you will need quick reactions in order to stop safely. It is important that you check your tyre pressures according to your handbook recommendations before you set off for a motorway journey.

Worn Brakes

Unsafe brakes can be caused by worn brake pads, leaking brake fluid, or mechanical failure. You should regularly check these, and especially when you are heading for the motorway as responsive brakes are essential when stopping suddenly at such high speeds. If you are starting to feel increased or decreased resistance when stopping then it is time to consult a trusted garage.

Low Fluids

All fluids under the bonnet should be checked regularly, but even more so if you are about to take a long journey on a motorway. These include brake fluid, oil, engine coolant – if any of these are running  low  you run the risk of breaking down on the motorway, which is  dangerous with other vehicles moving past at 70mph – so make sure you are all topped up before you set off on the motorway and don’t forget to check the temperature gauge as your journey progresses.

If you are unsure about any aspect of your car, your warning light is flashing or your engine is making a grumbling noise, that’s the time to take it to a Trust My Garage member for a professional service. You can find your nearest trusted garage by entering your postcode in our postcode finder HERE

Over 50s can trust independent garages for tricky maintenance

These days peering under the bonnet can be a daunting task – especially for those used to seeing older engines.????????????????????????????????????????????????????

The number of over 50s carrying out basic car maintenance, such as changing the battery, has almost halved over the last five years (17% compared to 10%); instead they are using garages to carry out these basic tasks according to a report from Saga Car Insurance.

Technology is the heart of the modern car which means we are now able to enjoy a smoother ride with added luxury. However, a more advanced level of expertise is needed when something needs altering or repairing. As cars have become more complex, over 50s have become less confident about car maintenance.

Old vs New

A history lesson in brief… Back in the 1970s car manufacturers started using electronic equipment to control vehicle functions and systematically regulate vehicle emissions. This subsequently increased the complexity of the vehicle functions, which improved performance, safety, reliability and fuel efficiency. These increasingly complex systems needed to be controlled and gradually the number of “computers” (or ECUs) in the vehicle grew until we have the modern motor car with its own network of interconnected systems. Although the car can even store and report faults, access to this information is unlikely to be available to the home mechanic.

These ‘on board diagnostics’, are coded, which means you require the technical expertise of a trained mechanic  – who has access to technical data as well as sophisticated and expensive equipment to generate an accurate diagnosis of the car’s problem.

What else do the stats say?

Saga report… TMG says…
One in six (16%)   men take their car to a garage after failing to make basic repairs   themselves. Rather than make a problem worse by taking a DIY   approach, use a trusted independent garage that will get it right first time.   It’s what they are there for! 
DIY car repairs:

  •   15% of over 50s will attempt their own repairs if their car is over 10   years old
  •   8% of over 50s will attempt their own repairs if their car is under   one year old
Whatever the age of your car, using a professional   is always the safest bet, even if you think you can do it yourself.   Sometimes, the upfront cost savings in DIY repairs can end up costing you   much more in larger repair work down the road, or in the loss of insurance   coverage because you didn’t go to a professional. 
Only 2% of women   are likely to attempt making repairs to their car compared with 15% of men. Women are making a wise move here. TMG members pride   themselves on being ‘female’ friendly, as they try to stub out the old stigma   attached to the industry.  They explain   all their costs in a transparent manner and offer a professional and personal   service to everyone.

 

A different report from Saga last month found that over a third of drivers over 50 are also trying to reduce their motoring spend. When it comes to taking your car for a service or repair, using an independent garage is the most cost efficient way to do it.

See our very own Infographic (infographic link) highlighting research from the Independent Garage Association (IGA). It shows that by visiting an independent garage you could be spending on average, £40 an hour less than if you visited a main dealer.

If you can relate to this post, then make sure you find your most local TMG member to make sure a professional and friendly mechanic is looking at your car and making it roadworthy… first time round!

How to avoid getting in too deep with too low a tyre tread

service
Trust My Garage was set up to ensure that motorists always receive an honest and trustworthy service every time they visit an independent garage for a service, MOT or repair. However, we know that there are a number of rogue traders out there that do not adhere to the strict customer service regulations that our member garages comply to.

Typically men are more confident when going to a garage than women. A recent report from car insurance company Sheila’s Wheels stated that more than four million female drivers admit to putting their lives at risk by continuing to drive faulty and potentially un-roadworthy cars because they dislike the experience of visiting a garage. It’s a common feeling among women and many female drivers will likely identify with this statement.

This is an experience of a young female driver who feels she was taken advantage of by her local garage, who is not a TMG member.

Motorist, Natalie Hunt, from Nuneaton told us: “Last summer I returned from my holiday abroad to find that I had a flat tyre on my car. Much to my dismay I had just spent every last Euro in the Duty Free section of Palma airport in order to shade the blues of having to return to England. Forking out for a new tyre was the last thing I wanted to do!

“Regardless, I needed to drive to work the next day so I visited my nearest garage, which I have since found out is not a TMG member. It was already an unsettling feeling visiting such a masculine environment. Much to my expectation I was informed that I needed to replace the tyre, which I agreed to. The mechanic started looking around my car and said I also needed to replace the other three tyres as they were going bald and could be a danger to me. The cost of my repairs had just risen in excess of £300 within 30 seconds! I had my doubts to this man’s claim as I had only purchased my car two months prior to this, but I just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible, and trusted him as the expert in this matter.

“I can remember learning about tyre tread in my driving lessons, and was pretty sure that these tyres weren’t on their way out, but was worried that I could be driving around in a potential death trap. Subsequently I had to borrow some money to afford to pay for these tyre replacements.

“I can totally understand why other women would feel vulnerable when getting their cars repaired, particularly if they lack knowledge of car maintenance. Next time I need a service or repair I will definitely be looking for my local Trust My Garage member so I can feel assured that I am receiving a high quality, honest service.”

Tyre3A penny for your tyres

The legal minimum tread depth for passenger cars in most of Europe is 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tread width and round its entire circumference. However it is generally recommended that car tyres should be changed when the tread depth reaches 3mm.

Different rules apply to different vehicle types and there is some variation in a few countries. You should also be aware that different rules apply to winter tyres. Make sure you check the rules if you are planning to travel in Europe.

Place a coin in the groove of your tyre tread which runs right round the circumference. Then roll it along the groove until it reaches a bump in the bottom. This bump is the tread wear indicator. If this bump is still within the depth of the tread then it is still legal. If it is worn down and there is no depth of groove above the indicator then it is NOT legal.
If your tread depth is not legal, you should visit your local Trust My Garage member to have your tyres replaced. You can find your local member here.

Have you answered our survey about women drivers?