Blog Archives

DVLA Services Online: Third Party or Not?

We all know that filling out an official form, especially online, can be something of a daunting and complicated task, but it is something we all may need to do from time to time. That is why it is important that when the need arises, we exercise caution. Below is some guidance for when you use a DVLA service online and how to make sure the site you are using is the correct one.

Did you know that since January 2020, the Driver & Vehicle Licence Agency (DVLA) has been contacted more than 1,200 times regarding customers who have paid more than they needed to for services due to using third-party websites? These websites are ones that are not linked to GOV.UK– the official UK government website.

By using the government website, you can ensure you are not paying for services that would normally be free of charge or low cost, and that your information is safe and secure.

What Does This Mean?

The DVLA has urged motorists to check which website they are logged into when using DVLA services, as using the GOV.UK website ensures they are dealing directly with the DVLA directly and are not paying more than necessary. Using websites not affiliated with the government website for certain services, such as changing your address on your driving licence or V5C certificate and renewing a driving licence from the age of 70, means being charged more for something that can done for free or at a lower cost.  

The GOV.UK website is cheaper, quicker and offers the easiest route to communicate with the DVLA. Motorists using the government website can also be assured that their application and information is safe and secure as opposed to using a third-party website.

Guy Anker, deputy editor at MoneySaving Expert noted that in the past, “we’ve spotted firms offering ‘checking services’ for driving licence renewals at a cost of £60, more than four times the £14 it costs to do it through GOV.UK” which shows how much people are being overcharged for services that cheaper on GOV.UK.

How Do You Know you are on a Third-Party Website

According to Guy Anker, there are some obvious signs that you are on a third-party website. The third-party websites are not illegal – but they do go out of their way to appear at the top of your search engine and make themselves noticeable.

  • You Know it is Free- But it is not: The first and obvious warning bell that you are not on the government website is that you are being charged for a service that you know is free. For example, if you know that changing your address on your vehicle logbook (V5C) is free but if a website is charging you to do this, then you are on a third-party website.
  • Your Web Address: Another clear and obvious sign that you are not on a government website is that the website URL will not include GOV.UK. If the website does not say this, chances are you are on a third-party website which may be about to charge you.

The above screen shot is taken from the GOV.UK website for the Driver & Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA). Highlighted at the top of the page is the GOV.UK. This is your web address and reassures you that you are on a government website.

“GOV.UK is the only site where our customers will find our official services, many of which are free” says Julie Lennard, DVLA Chief Executive. This highlights the fact that when you are using a third-party website, you may not be using official DVLA services, and you may be charged higher for using the ones that are not official. By using the government website, motorists are ensuring that there are not overpaying and that their information is safe and secure.

How Often Does This Happen?

You would not let a stranger into your home, so why let them into your personal information? It is not just DVLA services some people get wrong, there are several websites that are there to deceive you and sometimes, take more than just your money. By entering your details in websites that are not the official ones, you open yourself to the possibility of:

  • Fraudsters obtaining your Bank Details: entering your card details into an unofficial website could open your personal bank details to those running the website. According to UK Finance, an estimated £376.5 million of e-commerce fraud took place on cards in 2020 which accounts for 66% of all card fraud.

What Can You Do to Help Protect Yourself?

  • Delete suspicious emails without opening them.
  • Do not use the same password on every website.
  • If you are unsure about a text or email from your bank, make sure to call them. There are a lot of fraudulent bank detail requests.
  • Do not give out personal details to an unknown caller.

Have you ever paid for a DVLA service that you found online that was not on the government website? Have you had your card details stolen online? Comment below and tell us your story.

More about Trust My Garage

Much like the trusted website for DVLA services, there are trusted garages for your car. 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!

New Tyre Labelling – What does it mean for Motorists?

As of 1st May 2021, tyres now have a new labelling system to help motorists understand how well they perform in different conditions. Want to know more about how the system works and how it could affect drivers? The Trust My Garage blog is here to help!

What changes are being made?

According to TyreSafe.org, the changes to labelling are being made to help motorists understand the performance of different tyres in areas such as fuel efficiency, and grip in adverse weather conditions.

With the previous labelling system, concerns were raised that motorists were not fully aware of the differences between different tyre ratings displayed on the tyre label. As these labels were physically affixed to the tyres, a driver could have had a new tyre fitted by a garage without ever seeing the label to confirm the tyre’s rating, unless specifically queried.

From now on, tyre label ratings are available to retailers through their computers, and they must provide the rating details to their customers. This information is drawn from a European database holding the ratings of every tyre on sale, which will be made accessible to the public.

The rating scale for tyres has also changed, with a new, five-option rating system from “A” (best) to “E” (worst). If the tyre is classified as suitable for use on snow, it will have the Alpine peaks symbol. A symbol for tyres classified as suitable for ice (known as ‘Nordic tyres’) is also available. The ratings system and the snow/ice graphics are shown here:

© TyreSafe 2021

What details are the same as before?

There is some information which has not changed. A tyre’s fuel efficiency, braking performance in the wet and the amount of road noise it generates remain the core information of the label, and a rating is provided for each performance measure. Labels will look like this:

© TyreSafe 2021

How can I check my vehicle’s tyres?

If you think your vehicle may need new tyres, or you want to know if your tyres are over the legal tread depth limit of 1.6mm, you can test their depth yourself.

You may also want to confirm if your vehicle’s tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, or monitor key signs of wear and tear on the tyres.

Our “What to do when… you need to check your vehicle’s tyres” posts can help! From “the 20p test”, to how to use a tyre pressure gauge, we’ve put together the information you need to ensure you keep this vital part of your vehicle at its best.

What do I do when I need to change my vehicle’s tyres?

Many local independent garages offer tyre sales and fitting services, either as a standalone or as part of your MOT advisories. Often, you can ask for new tyres to be fitted while still at the garage to rectify an advisory issue. If you want to know which garages near you offer tyre services, you can pop your postcode into the handy “Find a Garage” tool on the Trust My Garage website! Give it a try here:

You can adjust the search radius depending on how far you want to travel, and check the reviews and ratings for each TMG member too! All members also have a profile page where you can read more information about the business and see what services they offer – including tyres!

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 must comply with a strict, Chartered Trading Standards Institute-approved 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 your money.

If you have any top tyre tips, be sure to leave them in the comments below!

Spring driving – Keeping safe in your motor with Trust My Garage

Spring is well on its way across the UK, but it can lead to changeable weather conditions – so how can you ensure you’re driving at your best for the conditions? The Trust My Garage blog is here to help!

Clear Out

Before setting off your journey – be it short or long – take time to clear out any accumulated items in your vehicle, such as winter coats, scarves or bags that kept you warm during the coldest period. By reducing additional weight in the vehicle, you may be able to help improve your fuel economy, which will put a spring in your step!

Pay Attention

With the weather getting slightly warmer, once you’re on the road you will find more people will begin to either walk or bike to work, so be sure to be alert for passing pedestrians and cyclists while driving.

If you want to brush up on the rules of the road, you can read the Highway Code in full here – or read our “Highway Code – How well do you know the rules of the road?” blog post!

Wear some Shades

If you’re driving to and from work, you’re probably going to encounter a very low sun. This means glare and reduced visibility, so be sure to take your time and try to spot any potential road hazards well in advance.

If you know it’s going to be a sunny journey, try to position your vehicle’s sun visor to keep your eyes in the shade. You can also wear sunglasses if you feel they’re necessary – but if you wear prescription glasses, make sure your sun lenses have an up-to-date prescription!

Keep an Eye on the Weather

Although it may be getting warmer, there is still a chance of some inclement weather! April showers are no joke, so don’t let them make a fool of you. Check out our “What to do when… you’re driving in wet weather conditions” blog post for some great tips on making sure you’re driving safely when it’s wet outside.

Stay Cool

Air conditioning is a boon as the temperature rises, but it contains a special gas which can slowly leak away. If you want to keep cool when it’s warm, you’ll need to ensure your air conditioning system has plenty of gas, with no holes in the pipework.

Many local garages offer air conditioning re-gas services – and many Trust My Garage members even list the service on their online profile! Type in your postcode here to find your nearest member and see what they offer:

Visit a TMG member

After the government’s MOT extension during the coronavirus pandemic ‘lockdown’ in 2020, it may be a good idea to re-align your vehicle’s regular MOT schedule by booking in an MOT at your original time. – so if your vehicle normally has an MOT in May but didn’t until October 2020, book an MOT in May 2021 to re-adjust the yearly schedule.

This can help you avoid the onset of extra MOT tests in September, due to other motorists who utilised the extension – and help ensure your vehicle is in a safe and roadworthy condition! If you need an MOT or a service this spring, make sure to take it in to your local TMG member or other nearby 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. You can also check out our latest TV advert below:

Since 2016 Trust My Garage members have all operated to a strict Code of Conduct, which has been approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) – the national body for trading standards professionals. Trust My Garage is currently the only CTSI backed code exclusively for independent garages, so you can rest assured that you are dealing with a firm that is determined to deliver the highest levels of customer satisfaction.

Want to know more about TMG? To get more information or to contact Trust My Garage, please visit TrustMyGarage.co.uk or Contact Us here.

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!

Do you know the law regarding your in-car gadgets? Find out with Trust My Garage

Although many vehicles now offer in-built technology such as sat-nav, upgraded sound systems and changeable cabin lighting options, motorists can still opt to adapt their in-car experience to suit their needs and preferences.

The range of technology on offer for drivers to put into their vehicle is wide-reaching, but it is key for motorists to ensure they have correctly installed, positioned or integrated their add-ons to their motor – and to have notified the proper authorities where necessary.

If you’re looking to add some additional tech or equipment to your vehicle’s cabin, the Trust My Garage blog is here to help to ensure you comply with the rules of the road – read on to find out more!

Dashboard Cameras

Commonly known as “dash cams”, these in-car cameras have been popularised as a form of authenticity for recording road incidents and accidents. For proper installation, a dash cam must be fixed behind the rear-view mirror to ensure it doesn’t obstruct your view while capturing both lanes of the road ahead.

Once attached as per the manufacturer’s instructions, a power lead from the dash cam can then be carefully fitted around the edge of your windscreen to the dashboard, ensuring your view of the road remains perfectly clear of wires and cables. If your vision is impaired in any way by your dash cam, your vehicle insurer may refuse to pay out if you are involved in an accident.

As well as potential insurance issues, driving with any obstruction on your windscreen which could limit your field of vision may land you a £100 on-the-spot fine, as well as three penalty points on your driving licence. If your case goes to court, you could also be charged with a maximum fine of £1,000.

Satellite Navigation (Sat-Nav)

UK laws around sat-nav placement are not as specific as laws in place for other technology, such as mobile phones, but vehicle installation warnings advise that your sat nav shouldn’t:

  • Interfere with vehicle operating controls or obstruct a driver’s view of the road
  • Be placed in front of or above any airbag
  • Be positioned where it could distract a driver if it falls from the windscreen

If you travel abroad with a removable sat-nav, before using it you should always check local laws to see if there are specific rules in place – for example, in France it is illegal to have anything in your vehicle that warns you of traffic enforcement camera locations.

When installing a sat-nav device, you should ensure first that the driver’s seat is in the same position as it would be when driving, as placement while sitting in a different position can affect visibility while on the road. You should try to mount your sat nav low down on your windscreen to the far right to maximise your view of the road. If this isn’t possible, opt for the lowest point in the middle of the windscreen.

If you decide to use a mobile phone as a sat-nav alternative, remember you cannot touch it while the vehicle’s engine is running and the keys are in the ignition; this breaks UK laws and can leave you subject to a £200 fine and six penalty points on your licence. Some motorists find a phone holder positioned in their vehicle’s vents helpful, as they can see the screen for directions without having to touch the handset.

Air Fresheners

Much like dash cam rules, air fresheners which dangle from your vehicle’s rear-view mirror can leave you subject to a fine of up to £1,000 and three penalty points on your licence. The Highway Code outlines that “windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision.”

It may seem extreme that an air freshener could be the main factor behind a fine, but if it contributes to a lack of vision which leads to a crash, you could be charged.

Windscreen Chips or Cracks

Windscreen chips are an almost-inevitable factor of driving, and in major cases can even lead to an MOT failure if left unattended.

In the driver’s line of vision, a chip or crack more than 10mm across is enough to fail an MOT. For reference, that’s slightly less than the size of a 5p coin. In other areas of the windscreen, if the damage is larger than 40mm (4cm), the vehicle can also fail its MOT.

If you are stopped by the police with either of these issues you could get a fixed penalty notice fine. If you crash your vehicle because you couldn’t see properly through a chip or crack in your windscreen, then you can be charged with driving without due care, and attention and potentially have your insurer refuse to pay any claims.

Many insurance policies can repair windscreen chips or replace cracked windscreens at a reduced cost. If this applies to your policy, details of the service provider your insurance company uses will be provided within your policy documents. You can make a note of the number for windscreen-related claims and keep it handy in case you get a chip and need to contact the repair company.

Keeping your Vehicle Safe and Roadworthy

To ensure you’re keeping your vehicle’s cabin safe, you should evaluate for any risks to your view whenever you are in your vehicle. Always fit any new technology legally and as per the manufacturer’s instructions, do not touch your mobile phone handset while you are driving and take time to ensure your view isn’t obstructed by any items in the cabin, or chips and cracks in your windscreen.

 When it comes to technology in your vehicle, the Department for Transport (DfT) have said: “Vehicles have become inherently safer with more warning systems alerting the driver to maintenance issues and growing safety focused automation and driver assistance systems. At the same time advances in car infotainment systems and mobile phone technology mean that there are increasing sources of potential distraction for drivers.” Their concerns are that infotainment and mobile phones are leading to a failure to reduce road casualties in the UK.

If you’re concerned about any aspect of your vehicle’s safety, you can visit your local Trust My Garage member and ask them to check your vehicle is safe and roadworthy. You can even find your nearest member online and read reviews from other customers to make sure you get a service to suit your needs – 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.

All garages in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association (IGA), 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!

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!