With Highways England predicting an additional 700 breakdowns on the UK’s roads in July and August, it’s more important than ever for motorists to be prepared for the Summer! Read on for our top tips on how you can stay safe this season with Trust My Garage.
Keep it cool
With a little bit of luck, in the summer temperatures heat up, giving you plenty of chance to get out and about in your car! On hot days motorists should keep a cool, circulating air current in their vehicles, as this helps keep you comfortable from the heat and alert while driving.
You should also pack bottles of water for any longer trips or days out to help keep heatstroke and dehydration issues at bay, as these can impair your driving abilities.
Many modern cars now have air conditioning, and this will help keep you cool whilst driving, but it’s wise to makes sure your air conditioning is working efficiently. To help with this, many garages offer air con “re-gas” services, where your motor’s refrigerant gas levels can be checked and topped up to ensure it works at its best.
Take a walk around your vehicle
Before setting out on any trip some basic vehicle checks could save you trouble once your journey has started. Particularly for longer travels you should, as a minimum, check:
- Engine oil – Long travel times can cause friction and damage to your engine, so be sure to keep it properly lubricated.
- Coolant – Traffic jams can cause your engine to overheat if your coolant levels are low, so keep it topped up to keep on moving!
- Screen wash – Dirty windscreens can be amplified by bright sunlight, so make sure yours can be clean both inside and out
- Tyre pressures and treads – Tyres should meet the legal minimum requirement of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre in a continuous band around the whole of the tyre with no bulges, bubbles, cuts or tears, or you risk a £2500 fine and three penalty points per tyre – or worse! Tyre pressures should match the BAR/PSI indicated in your vehicle’s Owners’ Manual.
- Fuel level – 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 on any available fuel stations en-route to fill up as necessary.
- It’s also recommended that you check your lights and wipers just to makes sure they too are in working order and good condition.
- Don’t forget, this is the UK and we can have a down pour at any time and after a dry spell – the first rainfall can result in a slippery road surface, so be prepared to adjust your speed and driving style to match any changes in driving conditions.
Consider your allergies and medication
The NHS estimates that there are 10 million people with hay fever in England alone, and in summer symptoms can be severe. While driving with your windows open is a nice way to enjoy a summer breeze, it can also lead to streaming eyes and sneezing fits for hay fever sufferers!
Medication is available to combat these symptoms, but you should always check labels prior to driving to make sure any side-effects, such as blurred vision and drowsiness, won’t affect your driving ability. If you are ever unsure of any medication’s side effects, you should always check with your doctor.
Check your routes (and alternatives!)
Heavy traffic can ruin a summer trip, so research your route before you set off! By checking routes before you leave you can help alleviate the stress of being stuck in a traffic jam. If you do get caught out on the road look for diversion signs, or ask a passenger to try a find a suitable alternative route. If you want to avoid peak traffic, avoid travelling on Sunday evening before school terms start and steer clear of rush hour motoring.
Most of us use satnavs to find our way around these days but it’s always a good idea to have a map book in your car too, just in case. You never know, switching off the sat nav and finding a interesting place to take a break from driving might just help you relax a little and enhance your trip.
Remember: rule 149 of the Highway Code states that you MUST NOT use a hand-held mobile phone or similar device when you’re driving. Make sure that you check the travel news before you leave, or use the live traffic function if you own a sat-nav with traffic update features.
Take the time to Trust My Garage
If your car is due its MOT or a service, make sure to take it in to a garage to get it ready for the road. If you’re looking for a reputable, local, independent garage you can 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.
You can also check out our latest TV advert 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!
Over the last few years, traffic on the UK’s roads has been increasing. Drivers of commercial vehicles have become a ubiquitous sight, from delivery vans laden with parcels to heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). These vehicles haul goods and services across the nation, delivering to millions of companies and households every day. Trade across Europe has also developed, creating an influx of foreign goods vehicles on UK roads – but which countries are they coming from?
To help you identify goods vehicles in the future, Trust My Garage has designed a test for all the savvy spotters out there, helping you expand your geographical knowledge by number plate – and even impress a passenger or two in the future! Take our quiz below and let us know how you fare in the comments.
The rules are simple – we show you a number plate, with its country identifier, and you guess where that vehicle originated. Simple! So, let’s get started…
- We’ll start you off with an easy one – where does the ‘F’ on this number plate relate to?
- Ok, this one is a bit tougher – what country is ‘LT’?
- Try this – where is ‘GBZ’?
- Here’s another to test your knowledge – what country does ‘SK’ refer to?
- Getting harder – where does ‘LV’ refer to?
- Is your brain working yet? Try this one – where is ‘CZ’?
- Time to test you – what country is ‘E’?
- Try this one – where is ‘CY’?
- How about this – which country does ‘DK’ refer to?
- Ok, last one – what country is ‘HR’?
You’re all done, so it’s time to look below for the answers!
- Czech Republic
So, how well did you do? Was it better or worse than you thought? Either way, let us know! Spotting number plates is always a fun way to pass time when travelling, and now you can show off your impressive skills to friends and family alike.
Don’t forget, if you’re planning a road trip this summer, you can visit your local Trust My Garage member to ensure your car is running at its best. You can find your nearest member garage by using our handy Find a Garage map and see what services they have on offer, and any reviews left by other customers too! All Trust My Garage members adhere to our Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved code of conduct, so you and your vehicle get the best possible service.
As well as this fun quiz, if you’re looking for some other tips, check out our post on what to do when driving in summer, or if you’re feeling continental you can take a look at some of the best driving roads in Europe – and remember, happy motoring!
Roadworks are the bane of any motorist’s life, ranking up there with drivers who fail to indicate, and rush hour traffic. While roadworks are necessary, as councils and the Highways Agency maintain the undoubtedly complex infrastructure of our roads, they are at best a bit of a nuisance and at worst, capable of ruining your whole day.
We’ve rounded up some of the main issues that motorists face when it comes to the dreaded ‘R’ word.
5. You’re left wondering why no work is being done…
There’s nothing more frustrating than crawling through a maze of traffic cones and temporary traffic lights when absolutely no work is being carried out. ‘Where are all the workers?’ ‘Where are all the hard hats?’ ‘Why is that digger not being used?’ These are all unanswerable questions that you’ll ask yourself fruitlessly. It’s incredibly annoying when your journey is disrupted for seemingly no reason, especially when you know that these problems won’t disappear anytime soon because the roadworks are scheduled to drag on, month after month.
What should I do?: Just grin and bear it, and remember that it probably isn’t the workers simply deciding not to turn up to work, it’s more likely to be a case of poor management and planning.
4. You’re sent down an unfamiliar route
Diversion signs are likely to send an anxious shiver down your spine as you prepare to embark on a potentially alien route, particularly if you’re in an unfamiliar area. This feeling of panic can be alleviated if you have a sat-nav but if you haven’t got one and you haven’t got time to pull over and look at a map, then you might find yourself entering a world of the unknown – a world full of nightmarish traffic cones, flashing lights and empty portable buildings.
What should I do?: It’s a good idea to do some research ahead of your journey to see if any roadworks are in place or planned, and which diversions are available. You should also invest in a sat-nav or an up-to-date map, especially if you’re driving around an area you’ve never been to before.
3. Your journey grinds down to a halt
Roadwork traffic jams are like normal traffic jams, except that you’ve something obvious to aim your anger towards instead of sitting, slowly fuming as you wonder what stupid thing someone has done up ahead to cause the tailbacks.
What should I do?: Again, research your route to see if there are any roadworks, and if there are, leave early so you can reach your destination on time. Try to make the most of your unavoidable snail’s pace by listening to an interesting podcast or audiobook or even a CD that you haven’t listened to in years. It’s vital to keep your cool in these situations and whatever you do, don’t take your frustration out on other drivers, who are in the same boat as you, or the people carrying out the works, who are simply doing their job.
2. Damage to exterior
Loose stones and other debris are unavoidable when roadworks are being carried out, and while they might seem small and insignificant, these small fragments can cause serious damage to the exterior of your car, including the windscreen and paintwork.
What should I do?: Check your vehicle’s exterior regularly to identify any chips or cracks – they might appear to be minor problems at first but if they’re not looked at and fixed they’re likely to worsen and result in costly repairs down the line.
1. Damage to steering and suspension
As you drive through roadworks you may encounter ramps where the Tarmac or upper layer of the road surface has been removed. This can damage both your vehicle’s steering and suspension systems, and the alignment of your tyres. Symptoms of steering and suspension or wheel alignment problems include uneven tyre wear, your vehicle pulling to one side as you’re driving, noise and vibration while cornering, and even loss of control of your vehicle.
What should I do?: Steering and suspension systems are key safety-related components of a vehicle and largely determine its handling. Regardless of road conditions, these systems should be checked regularly, while wheel alignment should be checked every 6,000 miles or six months.
Visit the Trust My Garage website to find your nearest independent member. Each Trust My Garage member has all the skills and technical expertise required to give your vehicle a thorough service. Members of Trust My Garage are true professionals, complying with a strictly code of practice. What more, all members of Trust My Garage are independent garages – local independent businesses which are part of the community. Trust My Garage is the truly independent scheme for independent garages.