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Why is the MOT so important for vehicles?

Every year from the age of three your car should, by law, go in for an MOT test. But what exactly does the MOT do and why are they so important?

 

What even is an MOT?

During an MOT, the most important parts of your vehicle are “checked to make sure they meet the legal standards” (Gov). By having an MOT, you’re making sure that your car is safe to drive on UK roads. It’s called an MOT because it was originally named after the original Ministry of Transport (MoT). (source)

 

But I’ve had my car serviced, isn’t that the same?

Simply put, no. The MOT does not cover the condition of the engine, clutch or gearbox, which are the parts of your car that will be looked at during a service. The MOT looks at mechanical parts of your car and emissions as well. 

 

Ok, so what parts of my car does the MOT look at?

The MOT provides you with an evaluation on the condition of most of your car, such as bodywork, fuel, seats, brakes and tyres. For a more in-depth breakdown of all the parts of your car looked at during the MOT, you can have a look at the full government list here, or take a look at the photo below.

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Car parts looked at during the MOT (source)

So why is the MOT so important for my car?

Under the current system, 27.48 million vehicles took the MOT test last year and 4 out of 10 of them were found to be unroadworthy when examined. (DVSA, 2015) Even with a regular test every year, that’s still just under 11 million vehicles that aren’t fit to drive on UK roads.

With the Government opening their new consultation about extending the time before a car’s first MOT, it’s important to think about how many more dangerous vehicles – which could be over 3 and a half million! – that could be around in just one extra year’s time. 

 

 

Wait, the government want to do what?

Yes, you read that right. The government have opened a public consultation asking for opinions on whether a car should be able to wait 4 years for its first MOT, instead of 3. It’s being called the 4-1-1 system, and while it might seem like a good idea, the facts say otherwise. There is a belief that because modern cars are more reliable, they do not need to be tested so strictly. In practice this is incorrect. Not only is the current MOT failure rate higher than it was in 2008 (when vehicles were less reliable), components designed to wear out – like tyres and brakes – are far more likely to have become dangerous by the time the vehicle is four years old. 

 

But an extra year with no MOT would save me money, right?

Well, that isn’t exactly the case. Extending the time allowed before the first MOT of a car or motorcycle’s life from three years to four would likely prove more expensive for motorists, as it would raise the likelihood that minor problems become more serious defects – which then triggers in turn further defects which require more significant and more costly repairs later. It may also be the case that defects associated with one component due to excessive wear could then result in defects in different but associated components which would otherwise have remained serviceable. The defects are therefore cumulative – which could cost you even more money. 

 

But my car looks fine, so why would it even need an MOT?

While it’s true that your car may look fine at a glance, when was the last time you checked the tread on your tyres? Do you know the proper depth it needs to be at to be road safe? Do you think your brakes are as responsive as when you first got your car? Are the electrics still safe and functioning properly? The MOT is designed to ensure your vehicle is as safe as possible when you drive it, and lets you know if there are any problems before they become a real danger to you and other road users. 

rusty-car

 

Surely it can’t be that much of a problem though?

That’s where you’re wrong. In 2013/14 there were more than 770,000 vehicles discovered during MOT tests with a dangerous defect. Nearly 2,200 EVERY day. The problems ranged from brakes, steering, tyres, suspension, seatbelts, lights and signalling equipment (DfT, ‘MOT Scheme Evidence base’, 2008). Now, when you go out on to the roads, do you want over 2,000 chances of being in an accident due to a dangerous car?

 

You’re right, that’s bad! But what can I do to stop it happening?

For a start, you can take your vehicle for its yearly MOT, to make sure it’s in the best possible condition. If you’re looking for a garage that will carry out a thorough, DVSA standard MOT you can find your nearest trusted independent garage on the Trust My Garage website. All the garages are Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved and are ready to do the best work for you and your vehicle. 

You can also head over proMOTe’s website if you’re looking for some more facts, or you can to the Government website and take a look at the MOT consultation yourself. It’s open for response from all members of the public, so if you think it’s a bad idea, like we do, let the government know!

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Proposed MOT changes: Why the 4-1-1 system is dangerous

The Government has announced a proposal to consult on extending the time allowed before the first MOT of a vehicle’s life from three years to four – known as the 4-1-1 system (Summer Budget, 2015).

While many motorists may think this is a good idea, there is ever-growing evidence that the increase of faulty and potentially dangerous cars on UK roads would result in extra injuries and possibly even deaths. 

The Department for transport (DfT) released a report that stated that the addition of an extra year before a car’s first MOT could mean injuries rise by 2,000 a year, with an estimated 71 of those injuries being fatal.

Evidently any move to extend the time allowed before the first MOT of a car or motorcycle’s life from three years to four years would seriously endanger road safety for all road users.

Not only would the changes be dangerous, but they mean that there would also be an increase in repair costs for drivers and an inevitable increase in harmful emissions due to the additional time that vehicles had been active on the roads without the essential checks carried out during an MOT. 

 There have been previous attempts in government to introduce an extended first MOT period – in 2008 and 2011 – both of which considered the 4-1-1 as a structure for MOT frequency, and both at both of these times the government decided that no changes should take place. There have been no changes in the MOT design or car safety that would then mean that the 4-1-1 structure is now viable. 

Under the current system, 27.48 million vehicles took the MOT test in 2015 and 4 out of 10 of them were found to be unroadworthy when examined.(DVSA, 2015)  Along with this, more than 770,000 vehicles were discovered to have a dangerous defect in 2013/14, equating to nearly 2,200 every day. The problems ranged from brakes, steering, tyres, suspension, seatbelts, lights and signalling equipment.(DfT, ‘MOT Scheme Evidence base’, 2008)

 Currently many vehicles are found to be unroadworthy at three years old; therefore it stands to reason that extending the MOT to four years will mean there are even more vehicles on the roads in a potentially dangerous condition. There is a belief that because modern cars are more reliable, they do not need to be tested so strictly. In practice this is incorrect. Not only is the current MOT failure rate higher than it was in 2008 (when vehicles were less reliable), components designed to wear out – like tyres and brakes – are likely to have become dangerous by the time the vehicle is four years old.

If a vehicle has a defect by its third year of use, then extending the MOT for a further year will also have the effect of increasing the number of defects the vehicle carries, because defects associated with one component due to excessive wear could then snowball and cause defects with the related components in the vehicle. Not only is this dangerous for motorists, but it could also be costly as minor repairs that could be fixed in the third year could become major defects by the fourth. 

Not only is the proposed system dangerous to vehicle safety and public safety, it is also dangerous for the environment. Air quality and reducing emissions is a high Government priority, but extending the time allowed before a vehicle’s first MOT allows polluting vehicles (which would have been detected when they were three years old) to go undetected for a further year. This makes them far more likely to increase their polluting emissions as the engine condition further deteriorates. 

The 4-1-1 system paves the way for vehicles to be a source of danger on the roads. You can have your say about it by visiting the government consultation, designed to give people a platform for their opinions before any changes are debated by the government . It is open until Sunday 16th April, 11:45pm. To get have your say click here.

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To find out more about why the proposed changes to MOT frequency are a danger to both vehicles and road users, take a look at the ProMOTe website here.

If you think that your vehicle is due for an MOT or you feel it needs a bit of maintenance, why not visit the Trust My Garage website and find a trusted independent garage in your area? Click here to find your nearest garage

Road safety and Cyclists: How everyone can stay safe

Why are there more cyclists using the roads?

The numbers of people choosing to cycle for fun, fitness or to get to work has increased by more than a quarter in twenty years and an incredible 3.2 billion miles are cycled on our roads every year. (Think!) Add this to the ever-increasing amount of cars on UK roads and all of a sudden, there isn’t much space to share.

Although cycling-related deaths are at an all-time-low since 2010, there were still 3,337 cyclists killed on the road in 2015 (source), and figures released by the Department for Transport last year suggested cyclists are 17 times more likely to be killed on the road than those travelling in vehicles. While charities such as THINK! are helping to raise awareness and remind motorists about the safest ways to travel, there is still a lot that can be done to ensure that drivers and cyclists can use our roads in harmony.

 

THINK!’s basic tips for drivers about cyclist safety

 

We are Cycling states that cycling is essentially a safe activity, causing little risk either to cyclists themselves or to other road users. Moreover, there is good evidence that cyclists gain from ‘safety in numbers’, with cycling becoming safer as cycle use increases. However, fear of road traffic is a major deterrent, despite the health, environmental and other benefits of cycling.

They also say that cycle safety in the UK lags behind many of our continental neighbours, because of poorly designed roads and junctions, traffic volumes and speeds, irresponsible driving, and a legal system that fails to respond adequately to road danger. National and local government should therefore aim for more as well as safer cycling. These two aims can and should go hand-in-hand.

What can I do to stay safe as a driver?

Sustrans are a charity that is trying to encourage the UK to use more sustainable methods of transport, in order to help ease congestion and other problems on the roads. Their top tips for drivers are:

To make roads as safe as they can be, motorists need to be aware of cyclists too.

  • When turning left watch for cyclists coming up on your near side and don’t cut them up;
  • Give cyclists a wide berth when overtaking;
  • At night, dip your headlights when approaching cyclists;
  • In wet weather, allow cyclists extra room as surfaces may be slippery.

Remember, cyclists and motorists are equally entitled to use and share the same road space. Respecting all road users helps everyone to benefit from travelling by road. (source)

The Highway Code also has specific information for both cyclists and drivers about how to safely and properly use the roads.

Rule 211: Look out for motorcyclists and cyclists at junctions

Highway Code rule 211: Look out for motorcyclists and cyclists at junctions

What can I do to stay safe as a cyclist?

When cycling, there are also rules listed in the Highway Code that road users must obey, just like motorists. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have also created a handy PDF that outlines some of the easy things that cyclists and motorists can do in order to work better together on the roads. Some of their best tips are:

  • Sometimes motorists can find it difficult to predict what a cyclist is going to do, so try and clearly signal any movements that could be seen as unusual to a driver.
  • When driving large vehicles, motorists can find it very difficult to see cyclists on their nearside, even with all their extra mirrors, so maintain a safe distance.
  • Failing to look properly is also a common mistake made by cyclists, and contributes to 42% of cyclist collisions at junctions.
  • NEVER be tempted to ride down the inside of any vehicle (especially a bus or lorry) that is waiting at a junction. Hold back and stay behind where the driver can see you in their mirrors. Be patient and don’t squeeze down the inside by the gutter.
  • If a vehicle overtakes you close to a left turn junction, keep a safe gap behind the vehicle in case the driver cuts in front of you to turn left.
  • When overtaking a parked car, remember to leave enough room in case a door opens (‘leave a door and a bit more’) and be ready for someone to open a door as you pass.
  • In normal conditions, ride in the ‘secondary position’, approximately 1/3 into the carriageway – avoiding debris and grid covers in the gutter. If you need to improve your visibility in poor conditions you can ride in the ‘primary position’, in the middle of the road. However, try not to hold drivers up unnecessarily.
  • When riding together never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends.
  • The Highway Code says: At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen.

Remember: BE SAFE BE SEEN.

source: RoSPA.

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RoSPA diagram for maintaining a safe distance from HGVs.

What’s being done to improve road safety?

It isn’t only the public that are noticing the importance of safety for both drivers and cyclists. In June 2016 the government proposed implementing a fine of £5,000 for motorists that drove carelessly or too close around cyclists.

The idea was discussed after similar rules were created in Australia and Europe to help keep cyclists safe from dangerous driving. At the time, the Transport Minister Robert Goodwill stated: “As with other changes of this type introduced overseas, we remain interested in the change and are keeping it under review.”

While it’s true that nobody wants to get into an accident, they still happen. If your car hasn’t been running as smoothly as you like why not book it into your local Trust My Garage approved independent garage and get it back to tip-top condition?

If you’d like to learn more about staying safe on the road with cyclists – whether you’re a driver or a cyclist – you can find plenty advice on websites such as Highway Code, Brake & Think!.

 

So, should you bring your car to uni?

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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!

 

 

Driving with Children – Part Two

You may have read Part One of our Driving with Children article, but here are some more essential bits of information you should consider before heading off on your travels.

CHECK UP ON LAWS

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Last year, the law changed regarding the suitable car seats for children of different ages and sizes. The law requires all children travelling in the front or rear seat of any car, van or goods vehicle to use the correct child car seat until they are either 135 cm tall or 12 years old. After this, they must use an adult seat belt.

For those of you who are planning on driving to and around another country, it is important to brush up on your knowledge of the local laws regarding motoring.

Did you know, in Italy you’re not allowed to drive in flip flops? Or that in France, you are required to keep at least one high-vis jacket available to hand in your car (not in the boot!) at all times, in case of an emergency?

Make sure you’re clued up on all the relevant legislations in order to keep you compliant with the law – you won’t want to scare the youngsters by being reprimanded by the police.

Driving with children is also the perfect opportunity to enforce road safety to help them to understand the importance of being extra careful on the roads.

 

DRIVE WITH ANOTHER ADULT OR OLDER CHILD

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With RoSpa reporting that children and babies can distract driving, it may be beneficial to carry an extra responsible passenger, where possible, to tend to them while you’re driving.

On the motorway, in particular, pulling over is scarcely an option, unless there is an absolute emergency. This makes it difficult for you to check in on your backseat passengers, should they require your attention.

Having an extra pair of hands, and eyes, with you on your journey will take a great deal of stress off your shoulders, knowing that you won’t have to worry too much about the mischief they’re getting up to. This allows you to stay more attentive to the roads ahead.

 

COMFY CLOTHES AND SPARES

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Buttons and stiff materials can be really uncomfortable at the best of time, but while stuck in the back of a car for hours on end, the discomfort can become unbearable – especially for children.

Ensure that kids are kitted out in loose, elasticated clothing to avoid digging and chafing.

It is also worth packing a spare pair of clothing for the journey. Wet wipes can clear up most stains, but when it comes to clothes stains, they may not suffice. Wearing wet, stained or sticky clothes will only make the children more irritable, which is best overcome by being prepared.

This also applies to nappies for babies. Be sure to dress your babe in a fresh nappy before the journey, and check and change at regular intervals.

 

SICK BAGS

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Travel sickness is a burden that no one should have to bear. Where adults are much abler to tolerate such ordeals, children may not be so resilient.

It won’t always be possible to pull over, and doing so will cause frequent delays in the journey, which could lead to more restlessness.

Carrying sick bags in the car with you will save your interiors from becoming stained, and will also allow you to cut down the amount of times you have to pull over. Zip top bags are best, as these will prevent further spillages, and help to control any unwanted odours.

Wet wipes, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizers and black bags will help to clean up the area further while you’re on the move. This is also where having a spare change of clothes to hand is useful!

Of course, prevention is far better than cure. Mints, Dramamine and peppermint oils can all help to avoid car sickness.

Eating too much before a journey can also make children sick, especially if they don’t save enough to time for digestion. Avoid feeding children heavy foods before setting off, and allow adequate time between eating and setting off.

 

CHILD LOCK

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Bored children tend to fidget and play with things they shouldn’t – including door handles! Make sure you take precautions to ensure your children do not risk harm. Should your car have 5 doors, ensure the back seats are child-locked to ensure your little ones don’t try venturing astray.

 

CAR CHECKS

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Most importantly, in order to keep your children safe on the journey, you need to be confident that the vehicle you are driving is completely up to the job. Breaking down on a motorway with children is not only inconvenient but potentially dangerous too.

Top up vehicle fluids, ensure your tyres are inflated and make sure your car is roadworthy before carrying your children across, or out of, the country.

Your local Trust My Garage member will be able to prepare your car for your summer travels. Head to www.trustmygarage.co.uk to find your nearest trusted garage.

 

Have fun and stay safe!

Get your motor’s body summer ready

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Over the past few months, Britain has faced a juxtaposition of weathers. The UK has seen some extreme rains and flooding, but dotted between the downpours has been cameo appearances of blue skies, blazing sunshine and highs of 24 degrees. While some choose to work up buckets of sweat in the gym, pining for the perfect summer figure; many forget that there’s another body that ought to be prepared for the summer, should it make an appearance.

Just like you, your car needs extra care to make sure that they don’t go into overdrive during the summer season. Where we accept it’s entirely unnecessary to slather your car in SPF40, there are some quick and easy ways of making sure your motor doesn’t burn out this summer. Not quite sure how? Luckily, Trust My Garage has put together your guide to keeping fit during summer driving:

Stay cool

During spells of heat, keeping cool is vital. Too much heat can have detrimental and damaging effects on your body which can restrict you from really enjoying the sunshine. To name a few, heat stroke and dehydration are both common problems during this time of year. These issues are not too dissimilar to one risk your car is open to this summer: overheating.

If you have a long journey planned, make sure your car’s cooling system is working efficiently, and your coolant level is optimum. Where keeping windows open is also a suitable alternative, as well as burning more petrol due to the extra drag, open windows can open you up to a world of greater evils in the form of bugs and pollen.

Save yourself some pennies and sneezes by having your air conditioning system checked at your local Trust My Garage member.

Keep Hydrated

Like you, your car can face extra pressures if it isn’t kept hydrated. During summer, cars face a higher risk of overheating which can cause damage to your engine. Due to the extra work your car faces, trying to keep you cool through cooling systems, there is always the potential risk that your motor can go into overdrive and overwork itself so much that irreversible, and expensive, damage is caused.

As a precaution, make a habit of keeping fluid levels checked and topped up regularly. Low coolant level is one of the most common causes of overheating. Coolant, more commonly known as antifreeze, is needed to keep your motor’s engine working within normal temperatures. Keeping coolant checked and topped up will help minimise your chances of overheating. However, this process can be dangerous if you are unfamiliar with it – even when working properly, the coolant circulating in your engine will be scalding hot as the system is pressurised. If in doubt, seek assistance from your local Trust My Garage member.

Don’t forget the oil level either. Although the primary function of the oil is to lubricate the moving parts, this helps to keep the engine cool as reduced friction means lower temperatures.

In order to be extra safe, if you feel your car is showing signs of overheating (smoke pouring out of the bonnet, the temperature gauge sitting above the normal limit, an unusual smell coming from your engine), give it a break to cool itself down. Your nearest Trust My Garage member can help you spot more signs of overheating, and suggest extra ways to avoid it.

Keep on track

The sun can bring out the Beyoncé in every driver. Blue skies are the perfect backdrop for a gutsy singalong to tunes and rhythms of summer. While this can make a long journey much more enjoyable, it’s important to make sure that the road gets your full attention. While channelling your inner diva, it is essential to stay focussed on the roads in order to avoid accidents.

According to the Department of Transport, road accidents are more commonplace during the summer months, with young people being the involved the most. Have a read of our Summer Driving Distractions blog post to help keep you safe on the road this summer.

Accessorise

Where this may not be a fashion blog, it is still recommended that accessorising well can prepare you well for summer cruising. Kitting yourself out with a good pair of glasses can be beneficial when the glaring sun restricts your vision. During long stretches of road, a bright sun can hinder your ability to see in the distance. This means it becomes increasingly harder to prepare for any obstacles further along in your path. Where glasses won’t absorb all of the sunlight, they’ll certainly improve your vision. Stay prepared by keeping a pair to hand.

Check your equipment

If a long route is on the itinerary, checking the state of your tyres is essential. Your local garage will be able to advise you of the acceptable tread, pressure and condition of your tyre, to help you avoid them becoming a hazard to drive on. As a general rule, you should check your tyre pressures at least once a month as driving on poorly inflated tyres can poorly affect your grip, and increase your braking distance, which could lead to fatalities.

tyre check

In more fatal incidences, too much pressure on a worn out tyre could lead you in more serious trouble, causing your tyres to fail completely. Excessive contact with the road surface increases friction, which produces heat; this heat can lead to tread separation, blow outs and, as a result, a terrible accident.

It is important to remember that overinflated tyres can also be just as damaging.

Make sure your journey isn’t a blowout by keeping your tyres in a good state, avoiding damaged road surfaces, and keeping your tyre pressure to the correct level.

Take breaks

Warm weather can be draining, with many suffering from lethargy after just a few hours in the sun. With long drives, feeling awake and attentive is the key to avoiding dangerous situations. If you feel your eyes becoming a little too heavy, be sure to take a break from your journey to refresh and revitalise.

Where you may believe you can power through the drowsiness, staying awake doesn’t necessary keep you attentive. Whilst drowsy, your mind is far more focussed on the need for rest, that any sense of hazard perception is drastically minimalised. Utilise service stations to give you a break from the road; it could prove a life saver.

There are plenty more ways to keep you and your motor healthy this summer. Fortunately, there is a wealth of Trust My Garage approved specialists all around the country with a whole range of knowledge to keep you from burning out in the heat. Visit your local member for more help and advice on how to get your body summer ready.

Don’t Be A Distracted Driver This Summer

phone

 

According to a recent report by Yahoo!, young drivers have admitted to being guilty of driving when distracted. 23% of young drivers said they’d nearly had an accident through carelessness behind the wheel, and 18% suggested that driving distractions have led them to driving through a red light.

In the UK, it is illegal to use a mobile phone at the wheel; this includes instances where a car is stationery but has the motor running. Drivers who are caught using a hand-held device behind the wheel risk being issued an automatic fixed penalty notice, 3 penalty points on their licence, and a £100 fine. At the moment, there is also talks of increasing the fine for those caught with a phone behind the wheel to £450. However, reports show that 42% of young people still use their hand-held devises at the wheel. Although a staggering result, surprisingly it didn’t top the charts as the most distracting thing drivers get up to while driving-  eating and drinking did! According to Yahoo!’s reports, 47% of young drivers agreed that their driving had been poorly affected through them eating and drinking at the wheel.

So what are the effects of being a distracted driver? Safecar have reported that distracted driving can lead to more than just a bump. Other consequences include poor lane discipline, inability to make quick decision, reduced situational awareness, inability to execute emergency manoeuvres and an inability to recognise and obey traffic signals and signs; all of which can be potentially dangerous to other motorists and pedestrians.

 

With RoSpa claiming drivers partake in at least one distracting activity per journey, here is a list of potential distractions you may face while driving this summer:

 

Loud music

car speaker

Summer always comes with a soundtrack of anthems that make you want to sing and dance. When the sun’s out, drivers often get tempted to crank up the volume and belt their hearts out to the roads ahead. However fun this may be, it can increase a driver’s risk of collision. Studies show that overuse of one sensory organ can result in the others underperforming. When it comes to loud music and driving, the overworking of the sound organs can lead to a decreased sense for spotting a hazard and, as a result, a delayed stopping time. As well as this, loud music will cover other sounds from your surroundings, including sirens from emergency vehicles and potentially any concerning noises your car makes. Stay safe by keeping your volume low enough to be aware of other sounds in your environment.

 

Glaring sun

sun

An unwelcomed distraction, sometimes the sun can be hard to avoid. On occasion, it may be possible to take an alternative route, with a clearer vision field, but this isn’t always an available option. It’s beneficial to utilise sun visors and perhaps invest in a pair of sunglasses. Decreasing your speed and using extra caution is recommended while driving in the sun, especially on routes prone to greater hazards, such as pedestrian and school zones. Where this won’t completely avoid the distraction of sun, it can minimise any potential dangers.

 

Bugs in the car

insects

It’s no secret that the warm weather brings out all of God’s creatures. Unfortunately, insects aren’t so polite, so find no qualms in trespassing in motorist’s cars. Where some proportion of drivers are happy to accommodate these bugs by ignoring them, for most, instinct dictates an attack of some sort. Swatting, spraying, brushing and flinching can all lead to jerking or drifting while driving, which can lead a driver into greater danger. Whilst bug-phobes are using up all their efforts to flick the creatures away, they’re not giving the roads their full attention, leading to delayed reactions. Avoid bug-mishaps by opting for the air con, instead of opening your windows.

 

Moving objects (taking kids/pets on a drive)

kids in car

Driving or not, it is only human to become distracted by things that just won’t sit still.
Parents and pet owners may know this all too well, and when it comes to driving with fidgets, they could be decreasing the driver’s attentiveness. Where it is wholly inappropriate to keep children and pets tied up, there are some ways to keep their movements to a minimal. Keeping children and pets fed and hydrated and making sure they have activities to keep them occupied are both ways to keep them from distracting drivers.

 

Friends and talking

friends

No summer road trip is complete without a good crowd of friends to enjoy the time with. In some cases, the drive is the perfect opportunity to have a laugh and a good old catch up. However, being caught up in all the laughs and jokes can distract drivers from the important task of keeping their friends safe along the journey. Social Media is now, for the most part, disallowing any part of an individual’s life from being undocumented. In a group, it is almost unheard of to not share adventures with the rest of the world via platforms such as Twitter and, most commonly, Snapchat. However, performing for the world, while behind the wheel is risky business, and not worth the potential destruction it may cause. Keep you and your friends safe during a road trip by sitting out on the mischief throughout the journey, and keeping your full attention on the roads.

 

Day dreaming and Scenic views

scenic

When driving down long stretches of road on a summery day, it’s easy to get lost in thoughts of bliss. While zooming through scenic routes, it’s easy to imagine yourself in the set of a glamourous film. But having your heads in the clouds, can lead to your reactions becoming delayed, should you face a hazard. Reports state that daydreaming cannot be eliminated completely; only decreased. The problem with daydreaming behind the wheel is that you can feel completely in control of your surroundings, when in reality you are barely conscious to it. Decrease the chances of a wandering mind by keeping your eyes active. Glaring at the same stretch of road can make you lose focus; however, changing your gaze every few seconds will disallow your mind to roam too far off. Staying self-aware is key to avoid daydreaming distractions, and could be a life saver.

 

Following from Yahoo!’s report, here’s the complete list of driving distractions that young people admitted to committing:

  • Mobile phones – 42%
  • Food and drink – 48%
  • Looking at something outside of car – 44%
  • Changing CD/radio station – 1/3
  • Music streaming apps – 27%
  • Applying make-up or skin care products – 13%
  • Styling hair – 12%

Other distractions noted by RoSPA included:  driving when drowsy, listening to an audiobook, lack of familiarity with a vehicle, reading, and smoking; all of which can be easily avoided. Before setting off on a journey of any length, it is important to make sure you and your car are both fit for purpose. This will not only allow for a more enjoyable journey, but also a safe one. Remember, you are risking more than your own life when driving inattentively; you are also responsible for the safety of other road users and pedestrians. Stay safe by steering clear of any tempting distractions, and taking extra precautions when experiencing the unavoidable ones.

Drive safe during summer downpours

Flood

Britain has experienced flooding during recent weeks

Driving in wet weather

Over the past few weeks, Britain has experienced heavy out-of-season showers. In some cities, these downfalls have proven too much for drainage systems, as flooding has been seen throughout the country. Although 20 June marked the official first day of summer, weather reports suggest that it may not be time to pack away the umbrellas and wellies just yet. When it comes to driving, too, extra precautions ought to be taken.

As most will remember from the theory driving test, rain can severely impair driving conditions. Aside from the splutters and splats of raindrops obscuring windscreens, stopping distances and visibility are also affected. Lack of care, when driving in the rain, can lead to lack of control, collision, and, in extreme cases, fatalities – so keeping safe during downfalls is essential. Acting as further solution, it has been suggested that drivers ought to avoid driving during extreme weather conditions, if possible.

Richard Gladman, Head of Driving Standards, said: “Only travel in extreme adverse weather conditions if it is really necessary.”

For most, avoiding the weather can be impractical, but there are easy ways to ensure greater safety when driving during the current weather conditions.

Here’s a list of things to consider during your summer downpour driving:

Car checks

The last thing you want, when caught up in a spell of heavy rains, is to have your vision restricted due to damaged or dirty windscreen wipers. With the current unforgiving conditions, it is important to make sure that your senses, as well as your motor, are fully functional. During extreme downfall, it can become near impossible to see more than the stampede of raindrops on your windscreen, which makes it increasingly difficult to spot a potential hazard. What’s more, excess water decreases the amount of grip your tyres have on the road, which could lead to slipping and sliding, should your breaks be pressed too abruptly. Avoid potential casualties by ensuring your lights, windscreen wipers and tyre pressures are all present and correct, and be sure to stay attentive. Contact your local Trust My Garage to carry out all your essential car checks.

Route plan

Planning is key when it comes to driving in extreme weather conditions. Where it is best to avoid travelling altogether, if this is unavoidable, forward-thinking is important. Gladman said: “Before setting off, check for any weather alerts, traffic updates or planned road closures that may affect your journey.” It is beneficial to clue yourself up on any roads in your area that are prone to flooding; this will allow you to avoid potentially dangerous routes. What’s more, it is best to allow more time to reach your destination, as the current weather can lead to longer routes, more diversions and lengthier traffic queues. These circumstances could lead to stress behind the wheel which can poorly affect your driving. Stay safe by planning your journey in advance, and leaving out earlier than usual.

 Road surfaces

It’s no secret that some road surfaces around the country are a little worse for wear; what’s more, heavy rains often lead to them becoming even more damaged. As well as leading to a slightly bumpier journey, damaged road surfaces can also be detrimental to your tyres, causing excessive wear and tear. In clear weathers, it is far easier to avoid potholes or chips in the road; however, during the rain, puddles make them increasingly difficult to spot. A tip for spotting potentially impaired surfaces is to look out for any loose chunks of tarmac, as these are signs of damaged road surfaces.

Visibility

With heavy rains deterring vision, it is important for motorists to stay visible. Switching on your dipped headlights will allow other drivers to see you easily – without overwhelming them with the glare of your full beams. When driving an unfamiliar car, it is important to make sure you are aware of how buttons and switches work before setting off on your journey. In extreme weather conditions, familiarise yourself with the light switches and settings before revving off.

Speed

It is a fact that stopping distance increases during wet weather. Due to the excess water on the roads, your tyres grip is far less efficient, so slips and skids can be unavoidable. During extreme weathers, it is essential to consider your speed, as the physics of driving in the rain dictates that the higher the speed, the greater the stopping distance. Stay safe by sticking to the speed limit and keeping a safe space between you and the car ahead.

Reduced speed will also provide a smoother ride when driving through large puddles. When driving through excess waters, or at high speeds on wet roads, your car faces the risk of building up a layer of water between the vehicle’s wheels and the road which cannot be cleared by the tread on the tyres. If this becomes too much for the car to handle, your vehicle could lose traction which prevents the car from responding to your controls, and gaining a mind of its own. This is called aquaplaning, and gives you the feeling that your car is on water-skis. You may also notice the car becoming much quieter, as the noise of tyres on tarmac will disappear.

In this event, although instinct may dictate it, it’s best to avoid slamming on the brakes or jerking as these can lead to skidding. Should this happen, allow the vehicle to follow the path that it wants to and ease your foot off the accelerator until you can feel friction and traction coming back to your wheels. At this point, it is safe for you to gently nudge your steering wheel and use your brakes lightly (if your car has ABS, at this point, you can brake normally). More preventatively, keeping a steady pace will allow for a more streamlined approach to the water, decreasing your chances of aquaplaning, or spraying other road users.

Aquaplaning is much more likely if your tyres are worn, so be sure to check your tread depth regularly.

Emergencies

In extreme circumstances, torrential rain can interfere with the electrics of your vehicle, leading to a breakdown. Plan ahead for any emergencies by keeping your mobile phone charged, so you can call for recovery. It is also recommended that you are familiar with your local garage for any repairs that may be needed. Be sure to download the Trust My Garage app or head to the website to locate your nearest trusted garage. While you wait for your recovery service, ensure your bonnet is closed to avoid further complications.

 

Most importantly, during the extreme weather conditions, it’s important to stay warm and dry – ensure your car is kitted out with emergency supplies such as blankets, first-aid kits and extra food and drink.

 

For more information on how to keep you and your car safe during the summer flooding, seek advice from your local Trust My Garage member.

Which car maintenance tasks are becoming a thing of the past?

Vehicle technology is evolving at a rapid pace. Modern cars are more sophisticated, intelligent and responsive than ever. As a result, vehicle technicians who are a part of Trust My Garage have to continue to complete training courses and invest in the latest equipment in order to successfully service and maintain your car to the highest standards. But where does that leave you as the owner?

Cleevely010Decades ago if your car had a problem and money was tight you’d probably invest in a cheap manual and socket set, and patch over the cracks yourself. But with vehicles becoming more and more complicated, largely through having a lot more on-board technology, this isn’t an easy thing to do. Indeed, the AA recently stated that half of the 3.4 million call-outs it attends every year are caused by poor maintenance. Of course, there are still some basic maintenance tasks you can carry out yourself, such as checking fluid levels, tyres, mirrors, etc, but many of the maintenance tasks we performed ourselves a few decades ago have been consigned to the toolboxes of history. To illustrate how the modern vehicle is evolving, we look at a few of the maintenance tasks that have become a thing of the past.

Antifreeze

Hands up if you remember standing outside, wearing more layers than the Michelin man on a cold, frosty winter night, and pouring antifreeze into the car to ensure that the water in your engine was not frozen the next morning? These days are long gone now, because most cars manufactured post-1998 use organic acid technology – or OAT – which acts as an extended life coolant. OAT consists of different chemicals than traditional engine coolants, meaning that antifreeze only has to be replaced every six years or 600,000 miles, negating the need to check levels every single winter night.

Battery

Remember having to top up the water levels in your car battery? Vehicle batteries were not as sophisticated years ago as they are today, and had to have their water levels checked regularly to reduce the risk of them overheating. Drivers used to have remove the vent cap and look down into individual cells to check water levels, topping them up with distilled water when necessary.  For modern cars this is no longer necessary. Batteries are now sealed units and in most cases are maintenance free, meaning that any battery issues are best left to highly trained professionals, such as the vehicle technicians who are a part of Trust My Garage.

Engine protection

If you own a vintage car, or an electric lawnmower, there’s a chance you’ll  be purchasing non-alcohol fuel stabiliser, to protect replace the lead that’s no longer in the fuel and protect it from the ethanol that’s now in modern fuels.  However, if you own a modern car (and live nowhere near grass), you probably haven’t even heard of the stuff. That’s because vehicle engines are a lot more robust, durable and rust-free today than they used to be, brought about largely by the availability of new materials that can be used to manufacture engines. Engines today live a lot longer than they used to, and engine maintenance is always best left to a qualified expert.

 Keep on motoring

Ever wondered why, when driving down a country road on a hot summer day, there’s always someone taking their vintage car out for a drive? Not only does it look good, but it’s also an essential part of maintenance. Many years ago cars had to be driven regularly in order to keep them in tip-top condition. Of course, it still helps to use your car regularly now; keeping it dormant still runs down the battery a very low level as there are so many systems in the car that are “live” and protecting the car when switched off – even though they draw very small amounts of electrical current. But modern cars are more robust than their predecessors and do not require quite as much driving to stay in shape.

Confused by your motor?

tmgPut down that spanner, and get your car maintained in a professional manner. The best way to keep your car in tip top condition is by having it regularly serviced and maintained with your local Trust My Garage member. Our members can service all types of vehicle to the highest standard and can even advise you on some of the checks that you can still carry out yourself today.

And just like the motor vehicle, Trust My Garage has come a long way over the last few years. Today, we are the only truly independent code exclusively for independent garages. Want to find your nearest member? Enter your details in our postcode finder.

Boost your child car seat knowledge with Trust My Garage

baby seats in the car seat

When purchasing a car seat for your child or baby, ensuring you have the correct size can be something of a complicated process, especially in light of changing regulations. The rules around car seats are set to change over the next two to three years as a result of both UK and EU legislation. With this in mind, Trust My Garage take a closer look at everything you need to know in order to keep your child safe and to ensure you’re not breaking the law.

Booster seats

The current laws in place stipulates that a child travelling in a car must use a child car seat until the age of 12 years old or until they reach the height of 135 cm. Under new rules which are set to come into force later this year, backless booster seats are set to be restricted, resulting in them only to  be used for children who are taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kgs. The results have come about due to concerns regarding the safety of the booster seats, especially in regards to younger children. Experts are recommending that parents should instead high backed booster seats, as they provide a greater level of protection, guiding the seatbelt across a child’s body properly. In addition, tests have shown they offer a greater level of protection in the event of side on crashes in comparison to their backless counterparts. The new rules are expected to come into force by the end of the year, meaning the rules will be applied to all new products released from 2017.

Making it simpler

In addition to UK regulations in regards to booster seats, the EU has also announced the introduction of the the European standard i-Size car seats. The new seat plans were announced in 2013, with the aim of making the process of buying a car seat simpler and safer, with the changes in legislation set to come in force in the UK by 2018.

The i-Size seats are to be fitted into cars using a system referred to as Isofix, a system whereby metal bar connectors built into the chassis of the car are used to connect the child car seat, making the connection much more secure. Additional security is provided either a support leg which will be built into the seat or a top tether, which will ensure the car seat does not move forward in the event of an accident. All cars manufactured today will be Isofix equipped, however you should bear in mind that not every car comes with Isofix, it was first introduced in 1997 in the Volkswagen Golf IV and more widely introduced from 2004 onwards.

The other significant change we will see as a result of i-Size car seats, will be that the correct seat will be identified by a child’s height, rather than weight, making it much easier for parents to identify the right seat for their child.

The perfect fit

The importance of fitting a child seat correctly cannot be overstated, with worrying statistics from RoSPA revealing that an estimated two thirds of all child seats are fitted incorrectly. As such an important factor in keeping children safe on the road, parents need to get the right advice and support during their purchase and installation.

Currently legislation in the UK requires the following seats to be fitted:

From birth to fifteen months, with a height of 40 to 80 cm, a rear facing seat should be fitted, with a five point harness.

Aged fifteen months to four years, with a height of 80cm to 105cm, either a rear or forward facing seat can be installed, also with a five point harness.

Aged four plus and with a height of 105cm to 135cm, a forward facing seat with a three point seatbelt should be installed.

Once you have purchased your car seat, especially if this is your first one, it is recommended that you get it fitted by an expert. You can make an appointment with a qualified fitter at your store of purchase who will guide you through the process or alternatively, local council may sometimes run a car seat fitting clinic, so it’s always a good idea to contact your local council for more information and advice.

Booster seat for a car

For additional peace of mind, get to know your car seat really well, study the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and keep them somewhere safe, so you can refer to it should you need to switch the seat to a new vehicle.

When installing a seat for a baby, the ideal position should be in a rear facing position on the back seat, ideally in the middle rear.  Once a child is fifteen months old or they can hold their head up on their own, then this can be exchanged for a forward facing seat.

The car’s headrest should not cause interference with the seat when installed, allowing the seat to be flush against the back of the car. The head rest shouldn’t touch the seat and it shouldn’t stop the car seat touching the car fabric.

When the seat has been fitted it should firmly in place and should have minimal movement with plenty of resistance. Before setting off, ensure that the buckle is secure and locked into place, making sure the material part of the belt is touching the car seat frame.

Trust My Garage

If you need additional advice on support in regards to child seats and restraints to ensure you remain safe on the roads, your local Trust My Garage member will be more than happy to advise. Find your local trusted garage by entering your postcode into our search finder to locate your nearest member.

Or, by downloading the free Trust My Garage App, you can find services in your local area at the click of a button. Trust My Garage is the only government backed code solely for independent garages.