With only days to go until the Easter holidays, many of you will be already thinking ahead, planning a short getaway to make the most of the long weekend. Latest statistics from Visit England have revealed that short trips are the fastest growing area of domestic holidays, with nearly 30 million one to three day breaks taken during 2013; a 17 percent increase from 2008, meaning more and more of us are choosing a staycation.
This is great news, but with the number of cars on Britain’s roads increasing over this period and with forecasters predicting that the uncertain British weather looks set to surpass itself with the risk of flash flooding and even snow showers well into April, there promises to be a number of challenges for motorists to face. With this in mind what do you need to consider to ensure you keep on the move?
Whether it’s your own car which breaks down or you’re stranded on a motorway as a result of an incident, the motorway can be an overwhelming prospect. Just recently, drivers on the M6 were stranded for more than 24 hours after a crash whilst maintenance workers repaired sections of the road.
If you find yourself stuck on the motorway it can be tempting to keep your engine running, especially during cold weather as a means to heat your car. However, by doing this you run the risk of running out of fuel. If you find yourself stuck on the motorway with no end in sight, turn off your engine, turning it back on for ten minutes every hour, to keep your car warm. Before going on a long journey make sure you’ve packed blankets and extra clothes as well as water and food supplies, keeping you warm and hydrated in the event that you get stuck on a motorway.
If your car shows signs of breaking down, such as making spluttering noises or the engine failing, the first thing to remember is not to panic. If possible, carry on until you come to the next exit and find a safe place to park. If this isn’t possible, move onto the hard shoulder, making sure your hazard lights are on. Once you’ve parked safely, get yourself and other passengers out of the car by the left hand doors; don’t be tempted to stay in your car as there is still a danger that your car could still be hit by passing traffic. Remove emergency items from your car and make your way to the safety barrier. Don’t be tempted to carry out repairs on a motorway, regardless of how simple or straight forward you believe them to be. Wait in a safe place and call your breakdown company. Alternatively, if you have downloaded the Trust My Garage app on your smartphone, you may be able to find a local trusted garage nearby which offers a recovery service.
It is not only the motorway than can present problems if your car breaks down, side roads and isolated areas, can also be frightening places to suffer a break down. If it does happen, if safe to do so, place a warning triangle at least 45 metres away from your car, letting any other drivers that may be passing of your presence. Get back in your car, ensuring your doors and your windows are locked and your hazard lights are on. Keep your phone well charged and call for help remaining in your car until help arrives.
The risk of flash floods as seen across the country in recent weeks is likely to pose a threat well into April according to forecasters. In the West Midlands alone, a number of weather warnings recently resulted in drivers being stranded in flood hit roads. If you are faced with floods and heavy rain and are considering driving you should first check the depth of the water. In most vehicles you should never attempt to drive through water that is up to the centre of your wheels.
When driving through water, keep your speed to a minimum to avoid creating a large bow wave. If you find yourself stranded in flood water and your engine cuts out, don’t try to restart the engine as this could result in further damage. If possible make it safely to dry land, get out of your car and ensure all the windows and doors are locked to reduce the risk of further damage and wait for the emergency services.
There are currently an estimated 7,000 breakdowns happening every day on Britain’s roads, and many of these could be avoided as the biggest cause of car breakdowns in the UK, according to breakdown providers, is car maintenance issues. This is easy to prevent if drivers are prepared for their journey. Punctured tyres, running out of fuel and a flat battery top the list as the most common causes of vehicle breakdowns. Keeping your vehicle well looked after, not only with regular checks yourself but with regular servicing at your local Trust My Garage workshop, will keep your vehicle in good condition, reducing the risk of your vehicle breaking down.
How TMG can help
Trust My Garage has a free app which not only allows drivers to locate their nearest Trust My Garage member, but during a breakdown or an emergency, drivers can instantly find out which garage provides a recovery service, meaning you’re only a click away from getting help.
To find your local trusted garage just put your postcode in our garage finder and we will show you where your nearest Trust My Garage members can be found. And you can even submit feedback on the service you receive via the Trust My Garage website! To find details about your nearest Trust My Garage Member and the services they provide, or for more information regarding the Trust My Garage App, visit us here.
As Britain’s leading independent garage scheme with almost 2000 members, we pride ourselves on looking after our garage’s customers. This is why we have our Customer Charter, which shows our commitment in providing the best possible care to those who pay for a service, MOT or repair at any of our garages.
Unfortunately, some franchised dealers and other independent garages don’t have the same idea. Let’s take MOT tests as an example.
‘The MOT test checks that your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards. It isn’t the same as having your vehicle serviced and doesn’t check its general mechanical condition.’
This statement is taken from the government’s own website, and it appears to give a perfectly clear and straightforward message for motorists. Unfortunately, the way we treat the MOT test, both in the motor trade and as private motorists, allows commercial considerations to get in the way of safety.
What this often means is the cheapest MOT test is not necessarily the best. This point should be immediately clear to even the most cost-sensitive motorist. The tests can only be conducted by a trained and qualified individual; he or she will require sophisticated, expensive and regularly calibrated equipment and the test should take around 45 minutes to complete.
Garages charging around £20 for an MOT test – or even less in some cases – are not charities. The result is that the overall bill may be significantly higher than expected as the garage seeks to cover the cost of providing the MOT test at an unrealistic and headline-grabbing price.
And the financial pressure on motorists today means that they are not entirely innocent when it comes to their MOT test, either.
Many motorists today use the MOT as an alternative to regular maintenance and submit a car for testing to “see what it fails on” rather than presenting a properly maintained and safe car in expectation that it will pass. This means that they only deal with the failures rather than ensuring that the entire car is safe and reliable.
As an MOT test is a measure of the minimum mechanical standard of a vehicle at that time, this means cars that are between tests may be in a particularly poor state of repair – or even dangerous.
So, a lot of garages respond to this by offering a “no re-test fee” for failures and the cycle continues.
Franchised dealers, with their high labour rates, have often been known to treat the MOT as a loss-leader to retain customers with older vehicles. They also try to give the impression that their MOT test is somehow superior to ones carried out by an independent garage.
Well, this tactic is clearly not working as more than 80 per cent of MOTs are carried out in independent garages.
The UK has one of the best road-worthiness test regimes in Europe, which is reflected in the high levels of road safety compared to some of our European neighbours. But we, at Trust My Garage, are worried that the downward cost spiral for the MOT test in our ever competitive world means that this situation may not last.
So, where does all that leave you, the motorist?
The obvious answer is to place your faith in Trust My Garage. Even if the price is discounted, a motorist can take comfort in the knowledge that any one of our garages will do a proper job – and charge fairly for only those parts that need to be replaced.
In the longer term, the answer is a fixed, or minimum, price for MOTs and a mandatory re-test fee. After all, fair pricing for MOT tests is not only better for motorists, but for garages too. And it will be great news for other road users because more cars will be safer if the industry overall cleans up its act.
The Independent Garage Association will continue to lobby and campaign for the government to enforce this. It is one of the roles of Trust My Garage to educate people to the reasons behind this stance.
Do you want to know where your nearest Trust My Garage is for an honest and professional MOT? Just type your postcode into our garage finder to find your nearest member.
Driving in the sunshine can be an exhilarating experience as we wind down the windows and breath in the fresh scent of summer. But heat waves and very hot temperatures are not always good for our cars. As Britain basks in record temperatures, we are urging motorists to take extra care of their vehicles. Summer driving, particularly on long journeys and on unfamiliar routes, can not only have adverse effects on you as a driver but also on your vehicle too. The key to a safe and hassle free trip is preparation.
Our top tips will keep you from getting hot under the collar.
Consistent hot weather can exacerbate any existing minor damage to wiper blades and rubber windscreen trim. Give them a good look over to make sure any small problems are not worsened by hot temperatures.
High temperatures will also worsen any existing damage to rubber, and under-inflated tyres can be more prone to friction, leading to punctures and blow-outs. The answer? Check the condition and pressure before going anywhere! Why not do it the very next time you pass by a petrol station which has air and water facilities?
Keep your engine coolant topped up to the correct level. Engine coolant could be at risk during summer driving. Aggravated by warm weather, low engine coolant, leaking coolant hoses and broken electric cooling fans can all result in overheating and temperatures hot enough to cause severe and expensive damage.
Is your windscreen washer bottle topped up? Water evaporates more quickly in hot weather, so check that your windscreen washer bottle is full before setting off. Sudden rain showers on a dry but dirty windscreen can cause bad smearing if your washer bottle is empty – don’t get caught out. A working screen washer is a legal requirement
Loose stone chippings can cause punctures. Be extra careful driving through rural areas as summer is a popular time for the National Roads Authority and county councils to lay tar covered with loose chippings to improve roads. We tend to drive faster on rural roads as the speed limits are higher than in towns and cities. As well as the risk of skidding, the loose chips can fly up and cause damage to your paintwork.
Be on the lookout for wandering wildlife. Animals and birds are particularly active in summer as they feed their young. Larger animals such as badgers and deer are big enough to write off your car if they are hit, even at lower speeds. Please remember to report any collisions with wild animals, especially the ones that are protected such as badgers and some of the wild bird species.
It’s the busiest time of the year for farmers as they harvest their crops and move livestock. Don’t drive too closely to tractors that are fully loaded or towing agricultural machinery such as ploughing equipment. Debris often falls from these vehicles and can cause costly damage to your car’s bodywork.
8. Air conditioning
In older cars, air conditioning increases your fuel consumption as the compressor provides “drag” on the engine. If you are stuck in traffic, you might want to turn the aircon off and open a window instead to save fuel. However, this mechanical drag is much less significant on modern cars in the first place, and once moving again, the extra aerodynamic drag of an open window will cancel this out anyway. Some very modern cars, especially hybrids, have “smart” efficiency settings to absolutely maximise fuel economy, and turning on this settings reduces the aircon load on the engine to an absolute minimum.
Sun glare can cause accidents in a number of ways, but one thing you can do in preparation is keep your windscreen clean from smears inside and out to stop the sunlight catching on them and impairing your vision.
Excessive fluid evaporation can reduce the life of your battery. Check your manual to see if it needs liquid top-ups and add distilled water if needed.
If you have any doubts about the condition of your vehicle, do take it along to your nearest and trusted ‘Trust My Garage’ member for expert advice and a simple summer service. Click HERE to find your nearest one.
Recently, responsibility for the government’s Consumer Codes Approval Scheme has been transferred to Trading Standards Institute from the Office of Fair Trading and this means an even greater focus on the needs of the consumer.
As TRUST MY GARAGE has always demonstrated high standards in the independent service and repair sector we have now submitted an application for TRUST MY GARAGE to be an approved code.
What does this mean for you?
1. We guarantee you’re not getting scammed
In a recent survey conducted by the AA, 22% of motorists believed that items had been fitted or replaced unnecessarily during a car service. By visiting a TRUST MY GARAGE member you eliminate any chance of this scenario ever happening to you. We will be working with Trading Standards to drive out any independent garages that do not comply with the high standards we set. This way you can be sure that garages who display the TRUST MY GARAGE shield are genuinely working to provide the very best experience for the consumer – and if they don’t, we want to hear from you. We can all play our part in raising standards across the entire independent sector.
2. You ALWAYS receive the very best service
All garages that are members of TRUST MY GARAGE work to the highest industry standards. Our members have access to the most up-to-date technical information and tools, and employ highly skilled mechanics. We have even had TRUST MY GARAGE member technicians voted among the best in the country!
3. Customer service is always outstanding
Customer service is top of the agenda for all our trusted independent garages. We ensure that our members explain work carried out clearly and treat customers and their vehicles with the upmost respect. These garages are part of the local community. They visit the same shops as their customers and their children often go to the same school as their customer’s children. They get to know you and always provide a personal and friendly service.
4. You receive REAL value for money
In the same AA survey 44% of respondents believed that the expense of a repair had been a lot higher than expected after a garage visit. One of the key benefits of a garage being in the TRUST MY GARAGE code means that you will receive an honest and loyal service every time you visit one of our members. Our garages are committed to providing motorists with a fixed quote or estimate, both inclusive of parts, labour and VAT and they only charge for the work completed and parts supplied and fitted.
5. Complaining is easy
In the unlikely event that you are displeased with any aspect of your visit to one of our member garages, you will be able to report it to Trading Standards as well as to us. This means you are backed by the support of two reputable, national associations and also have access to free advice to help address your complaint and rectify it promptly. The key to this is clear communication between the customer and garage.
6. Honest Consumer Feedback
We will soon be adding consumer feedback to the scheme via our website at www.trustmygarage.co.uk and through a TRUST MY GARAGE dedicated “app”. This means that your views will really count – all TRUST MY GARAGE members will welcome constructive feedback and other consumers will see an honest appraisal of the garage.
So remember, any garages displaying the widely recognised TRUST MY GARAGE shield can be trusted to provide an honest and professional service to all motorists. Upon completion of the process, the TRUST MY GARAGE consumer code will be the only approved code in the UK that is exclusively open to independent garage businesses. TRUST MY GARAGE is already a household name and with European law stating that new cars can be serviced at independent garages without invalidating the warranty, the Trust My Garage consumer code will be the final piece in the independent garage jigsaw.
And don’t forget… To find your nearest TRUST MY GARAGE member you can always use the POSTCODE FINDER HERE
Are you the proud new owner of a 63 plate? A new car is a significant investment so you will want to make sure that it is properly maintained. But where is the best place to get quality regular servicing at value for money prices?
The proud owner may ask themselves…
“If I buy a new car I can only use the main dealer for servicing and repairs so that I don’t infringe my warranty”
Wrong! Under European Law the Block Exemption Regulations give you the right to have your vehicle serviced, maintained, and repaired at an independent garage of your choice without invalidating your warranty – TRUTH!
Also, did you know that recent research undertaken by the Independent Garage Association revealed that Main Dealers can be up to £40 an hour more expensive than independent garages.
So, having experienced the joys of your new driving machine and all the latest innovative technology and gadgetry that the manufacturers have designed to make your motoring safer, more comfortable and even more enjoyable, you want the same quality support when it comes to vehicle servicing.
Although taking your car to a Main Dealer might be the normal thing to do, you can equally get a professional and honest service and pay a reasonable price for parts and labour from a good independent garage.
There are thousands of quality independent garages that are perfectly competent to service newly manufactured cars. They have full access to manufacturer information and operate equipment and tools that can analyse faults on your vehicle and with quality parts and trained staff, independent garages are able to offer you safe and clean mobility throughout the entire life cycle of your car. Taking your brand new car to an independent garage will not invalidate your warranty as long as the garage services the vehicle according to the manufacturer’s schedule using parts which are of “equivalent quality”.
Most of the parts which are fitted to a modern car during routine servicing are not made by the vehicle manufacturer themselves anyway. Parts such as brakes pads and oil and air filters which are supplied to vehicle manufacturers for OE (“Original Equipment”) fitment are usually available with the actual makers branding at significantly lower cost – so they are not just “equivalent quality” , they are identical apart from the box they come in.
How am I affected?
As a consumer you are no longer forced to rely on the vehicle manufacturer as the exclusive supply source for parts and repair services for the aftermarket care of your vehicle. Your car is your property and the law enables you to choose exactly who carries out the work on your car.
Even if your car has an electronic service record held digitally in the vehicle manufacturer’s systems, the same rules give the independent garage the right to access and update the record to keep your vitally important service history intact.
Why go to a TRUST MY GARAGE approved independent garage?
The Independent Garage Association recently polled over 2000 of its members on their labour rates and results concluded, that independent garages ‘continue to offer motorists the very best value for money.’ Figures from the poll show that the average labour cost is slightly over £40 for independent garages, and the most recent Warranty Direct annual Labour Rates survey demonstrates that average labour rates for franchise garages stand at a national average of £95.94, with some franchised dealers charging a staggering £55.94 an hour more than independents.
Access to technical information and quality parts
Although independents cost a significant amount less that main dealers there is no compromise on the level of expertise and parts. All TRUST MY GARAGE members have access to the same level of technical information and quality parts. Training is also no different and most independent garages train their staff to the same levels as main dealers.
No car is a challenge
TRUST MY GARAGE members are specialists in all makes and models and work to very high standards continuing to achieve key industry standards set by TRUST MY GARAGE.
A more personal service
Independent garages are renowned for their friendly faces and high customer retention levels. All TRUST MY GARAGE members pride themselves on the personal service that they provide their customers with, in order to increase the level of trust between them. The TRUST MY GARAGE customer charter states that all garages must explain the work they do clearly and treat customers and their vehicles with respect.
So if you’re now thinking again about where to take your new car for a service, find your local TRUST MY GARAGE member HERE without worrying about invalidating your warranty!
We have already pointed out the things to look out for when driving abroad but if you are driving on holiday in the UK this year have you considered your carbon footprint? In 2008, the UK government unveiled its plan to cut the nation’s carbon emissions by 80% before 2050, and last year UK vehicle manufacturers were told by EU environmental regulations that they should cut their carbon emissions throughout the manufacturing process. So what can you do to make sure your driving not only saves money by reducing your fuel consumption, but you will also contribute to saving the planet by not releasing harmful emissions into the atmosphere?
You can make a start by following our top ten tips for greener driving:
10. Change your car to one that is more fuel efficient
OK, it might seem an expensive thing to do if you have already had your car for a long time, but if you are due a change, make sure vehicle efficiency is something you consider. Typically, scaling down from a large vehicle to a smaller vehicle will result in less CO2 emissions. Bear in mind that cars with electric engines emit no pollutants and charging stations are increasing across the UK.
9. Remove roof racks when not required
Vehicle manufacturers are always looking to make their products as aerodynamic as possible. Adding a roof box or rack on top of your vehicle compromises this. It increases the wind drag on your car, making your engine work harder and increasing fuel consumption, especially when driving at high speeds. If you don’t need to use it for your journey, remove it.
8. Check your tyre inflation
Tyres are often be overlooked by drivers, but one of the easiest ways to reduce carbon emissions is to make sure your tyres are properly inflated. Underinflated tyres make the engine work harder due to the surface drag and friction with the road surface. Properly inflated tyres have less contact with the road, encountering less friction and meaning that excess fuel is not wasted. Driving on underinflated tyres also leads to potential damage to the tyre or the wheel rim which means you will have to change your tyres more frequently, resulting in a higher use of the earth’s resources.
7. Eliminate excess weight
We all put things in our boot and leave them in there, but this could be harming your green credentials. Remember your engine burns fuel for energy, so the more energy it needs to carry the unnecessary weight, the more C02 emissions are released into the atmosphere. Make sure you have only what is necessary in your boot and remove any items you don’t need to carry it around.
6. Drive in the correct gear for the road conditions
It is something you are taught when learning to drive, but remember to drive in the most appropriate gear for the road conditions. Getting into fifth ( or even sixth in modern cars) gear during motorway driving, for example, whilst staying within the speed limits, will help with optimising your fuel consumption. However, remember to stay in a lower gear when driving down steep hills.
5. Plan your route
Avoid getting lost. Not only does this add unnecessary time to your journey, it also increases fuel consumption and wear and tear on your car if it is something that happens regularly. Invest some time in planning your route before you begin a journey. This will ensure you conserve fuel as well as enjoying a stress free and pleasant journey. If you are a SatNav user remember that some devices offer a “green” option in the settings along with “quickest” and “shortest”
4. Avoid unnecessary shopping trips
For most people, shopping is a chore yet many of us make unnecessary trips to the supermarket or the local shops for items we’ve forgotten during our weekly shop. This means increased fuel consumption, increased emissions and further wear and tear on the car. Minimise the number of journeys you make by planning ahead.
3. Drive at a steady speed
Driving within the speed limit is a legal requirement, but try to keep your vehicle at a steady speed when driving. Accelerating rapidly and braking harder than you need to all reduce efficiency and waste fuel. Drive at a steady speed and stay at that pace for as long as you can to ensure you only use the fuel you really need to use.
2. Turn off the engine when you are stationary
If you are stuck in a traffic jam or waiting to pick up a friend, turn your engine off. Many of us probably leave our engine running when we really could – and should – have turned it off. This is the easiest way to waste fuel and is more harmful to the environment.
1. Get your vehicle serviced regularly at a Trust My Garage member
Trust My Garage members have the professional expertise and vehicle know-how to keep you car a lean, green machine. Regular services make sure things like your tyres and engine, are performing as they should and you are not unknowingly wasting any fuel or damaging the environment.
So what are you waiting for? Book in with your local Trust My Garage member today and enjoy a service backed by Trading Standards after we applied to become a government code. Enter your postcode into our website HERE and book your car in with a trusted technician today.
With the new on-the-spot fines for middle-lane hogging coming into play this July there is lots to think about when cruising down the motorways at this time of year.
Two thirds of Britons are taking a summer holiday in the UK this year, which is up from 41% in 2012. When travelling abroad vehicle maintenance is the responsibility of airlines, railway executives and cruise ships providers but when you drive to a staycation, maintenance of your car is your own responsibility. With all the excitement about getting away this year, are we all thinking about preparing our cars for long motorway journeys?
It is vital that you check your car is safe for motorway journeys by taking it to a Trust My Garage member for a service. Over one hundred people died on UK motorways in 2011 and 740 were seriously injured. A number of these accidents were results of mechanical faults and vehicle defects, causing such things as; tyre blow-outs, brake failure, and steering mechanism failure.
“So what can I check in order to prevent inconvenient breakdowns and dangerous accidents?”
The most common type of steering problem is loss of power steering assistance due to damaged hydraulic pipes or a loose drive belt; normally indicated by heaviness in your steering. Smaller modern cars have electric power steering and any problem here may be accompanied by a warning light on the dashboard.
Last summer it was revealed that the number of people convicted for driving with dangerous or defective tyres was a massive 9,369. If your tyres are inflated too much or too little then you are putting yourself and your passengers at risk of a tyre blow-out, which effectively causes the tyre to explode, making you unbalanced and causing you to swerve out of your lane. This is more likely on a motorway where the tyre temperature is higher because of the sustained high speeds and you will need quick reactions in order to stop safely. It is important that you check your tyre pressures according to your handbook recommendations before you set off for a motorway journey.
Unsafe brakes can be caused by worn brake pads, leaking brake fluid, or mechanical failure. You should regularly check these, and especially when you are heading for the motorway as responsive brakes are essential when stopping suddenly at such high speeds. If you are starting to feel increased or decreased resistance when stopping then it is time to consult a trusted garage.
All fluids under the bonnet should be checked regularly, but even more so if you are about to take a long journey on a motorway. These include brake fluid, oil, engine coolant – if any of these are running low you run the risk of breaking down on the motorway, which is dangerous with other vehicles moving past at 70mph – so make sure you are all topped up before you set off on the motorway and don’t forget to check the temperature gauge as your journey progresses.
If you are unsure about any aspect of your car, your warning light is flashing or your engine is making a grumbling noise, that’s the time to take it to a Trust My Garage member for a professional service. You can find your nearest trusted garage by entering your postcode in our postcode finder HERE
Wherever you are heading in your car this summer, we’re helping you to remember an easy acronym by which you can prepare your motor for any long journey. – just remember, POWER.
Check out our latest video to see Terry Gibson from TRUST MY GARAGE demonstrate…
Do you have enough fuel for the journey you’re about to make? Not only does running out of petrol cause a huge inconvenience to your journey but it can cause other problems as an empty tank can end up picking up all the crud which accumulates in there increasing the chance of a blocked filter.
Do you have enough oil? If you run out of oil then there is no lubrication for the moving parts in your engine and they will become too hot and there is a risk that the engine will seize, ruining your car. The pictogram on the oil cap may suggest you check your manual to find out the type and quantity of oil required and the dipstick will tell you The level of oil in the engine. Unless the manual advises otherwise, the oil should be checked with the car on level ground with the engine off – but not completely cold.
Most modern cars require a specific coolant designed for the engine, which will be available in most petrol station forecourts. In an emergency you could top up with normal water but this is not ideal as modern coolant contains additives to prevent corrosion to maintain the waterways in the engine. It is of paramount importance that the engine is cool before removing the cap so let your engine fully cool down before you touch it.
In modern cars the only electrics we would generally check ourselves before a long journey are the lights; indicators, brake lights, headlights. If you’re going abroad make sure you deal with beam deflection, however it’s not as easy as it used to be as we don’t have a simple round head light that we can stick a black label on. Often modern beam deflectors are silver in colour and there will be a set of instructions with where to stick that to ensure it deflects the beam correctly.
Unsafe tyres are one of the biggest causes of accidents. Before you set off for the seaside as well as checking the tyre pressures, make sure you check the depth of tread to make sure it meets the 1.6mm minimum requirement and that there is no uneven wear and also check for cracks, bulges, or splits in the sidewall. Don’t forget to look again with the wheels turned to full lock so you can check the inside of the tyres.
And remember is there’s anything you’re not sure about, that’s the time to take your car to a TRUST MY GARAGE member… CLICK HERE TO FIND YOUR NEAREST ONE
Are you a female driver? Are you carrying out basic maintenance checks on your car? A recent survey that we conducted found a staggering 67% of female drivers do not do something as simple as check their brake fluid levels and just under half don’t check their oil levels as often as they should.
One of our members in Ashton is doing its bit to help women better understand their vehicles, and is offering vital training to female drivers, demonstrating how to carry out basic car maintenance checks.
GuideBridge MOT & Service Centre has been a TRUST MY GARAGE member since we launched the independent scheme. A family-run garage, it has earned a reputation as the most ‘female friendly garage in Ashton,’ thanks to the extra care and considered approach it takes towards making female drivers feel at home when they take their vehicle in for a service, repair or MOT.
Jan Lord, Business Development Manager at GuideBridge tells us more…..
“Guide Bridge MOT & Service Centre is managed by three ladies who each have a different role to play. We are all drivers ourselves so we understand the issues that female drivers face. I work behind the scenes on marketing and Fleet Management, Nicola is our Garage Manager, and we also have our receptionist, Lauren.
A large proportion of our customers are women; there is around a 70:30 split and I think this is because we have female faces in the garage which makes female drivers feel more at ease when entering a garage environment.
As women, we understand that it can be bewildering when it comes to car maintenance and repairs. This is exactly why we have developed a process of educating and supporting female motorists in our area – to make them feel relaxed and confident with their own cars.
We hold regular workshops for women to teach them the basics about car maintenance. It’s hugely popular and we have helped women from all walks of life. We’ve had women from 17 years-old all the way to 79 years-old, and a group of women from the Women’s Institute also attend regularly. We encourage the female drivers who join our course to imagine what it would be like when faced with a real life breakdown and teach them how to react in these situations. We had one lady attend once in a tight short skirt and stiletto heels. Why? Because this is what she would likely be wearing in the event of a breakdown as she uses her car to travel to social events!
We usually teach around three ladies at a time, and advise them to come in with their own cars so that we can go over everything that they need to know to keep their cars in good condition. This includes; what certain buttons do on their dashboard, why there are different lights on a dashboard, how to change wheels and windscreen blades, and checking all fluids. They always go away feeling more confident should they ever experience a break down because they have learned how to act in these situations.
Because of our considered and educational approach to female drivers, more of our female customers are pro-active in addressing any initial problems with their cars, which is saving them money in the long term. They only visit us when they are due a regular service, need a repair or for their MOT. I think women tend to worry about situations where something goes wrong, out of their control, which is why a proper education is essential. We are providing this education to give them peace of mind on the road.”
GuideBridge is a family-run business providing MOTs, car servicing, and vehicle repairs in Tameside, for both private motorists and fleet operators. It was established in 2003, and is lead by Derek Lord who has over 40 years experience in the motor trade.
As a proud TRUST MY GARAGE member, GuideBridge will be attending the annual Greater Manchester Business Expo on 16th July at the Hilton Hotel on Deansgate. If you are attending, pop along to see them – they will be handing out goody bags to visitors of the stand and helping to educate garages and motorists about the great work we are doing at TRUST MY GARAGE.
Many of us drive around in our cars blissfully unaware of the useful colour coded guides that are often under the bonnet. This came to light recently as we were filming at one of our member garages. The non-mechanics among us were surprised to be shown that the fluids you are able to check yourself under the bonnet are often colour coded, particularly in modern cars where the things you can check yourself may be less obvious than on older vehicles.
Keeping on top of a few simple checks yourself means you are less likely to have something go wrong with your car, and it may even help you avoid expensive repair bills.
After reading this blog, make sure you go out to your car and take a look under your bonnet to see if your model colour codes the things you can check yourself…
Oil lubricates and cleans all the moving parts of your engine. In most cases, where you check the oil (the dipstick) is separate from where you put the oil – although everyone who has ever worked in the motor trade will be able to tell a story about cleaning up the mess after people have tried to top up the oil through the dipstick hole. There are always exceptions to this rule and some Renault and Peugeot cars have a combined dipstick and oil filler. Oil filler caps and dipstick handles are often yellow and may have information or pictograms embossed into them.
Unless the handbook indicates otherwise, oil should be checked after the engine has been running for a while then switched off and left for a few minutes. It should not be checked with a completely cold engine. Make sure the car is parked on level ground before attempting to check the oil.
Step 1 – Pull the dipstick out and wipe clean
Step 2 – Put it back into the oil well and pull it back out
Step 3 – Oil mark should be between the minimum and maximum levels
Modern oils are carefully refined to suit the characteristics of today’s engines and you should be careful to ensure that you are using the correct oil. Consult your car’s handbook to confirm the correct type and viscosity rating.
Brake fluid transfers from the master cylinder behind the brake pedal to the brake calipers located at each wheel when you apply your brakes. The brake fluid cap may also be colour coded and again may have information or pictograms embossed into it. It will and look something like this:
Step 1 – Check that the level is between the minimum and maximum levels
Step 2 – If it is too low then add the correct grade of brake fluid to the maximum level
If you need to add a significant amount of brake fluid or need to top up fluid regularly, you should seek assistance from your nearest TRUST MY GARAGE member.
Engines work very hard and the coolant is what stops it from overheating. The tank is semi-transparent and will probably have a colour coded cap. Unlike older cars, it is very unlikely that you will be adding coolant to the radiator itself. Again, the cap for the engine coolant may be yellow, or blue and looks like this:
Step 1 – Make sure the engine is cold. The cooling system in a car is usually pressurised to allow the engine to run at higher temperatures without boiling. If you release this pressure by opening the cap when the engine is hot there is a significant risk of scalding
Step 2 – The level should be between the ‘low’ and ‘high’ levels
Step 3 – Like your brake fluid, if it looks too low then top it up to a higher level
Modern engines may require a specific coolant fluid rather than plain water although it is OK to top up with plain water in an emergency. Once again, excessive or ongoing loss of coolant is a warning to take your car to your nearest TRUST MY GARAGE member to be checked.
Step 1 – Open the lid
Step 2 – Check if the level of fluid is sitting in the neck of the reservoir
Step 3 – If it is too low then fill it to the neck
Gary Lillistone is a senior driver from Coventry and has experienced for himself how cars have become more advanced since he started driving decades ago. He reflects on the maintenance of his vehicles over the years:
“Thirty to forty years ago, you would check over a car before making a reasonable journey. You would typically lift the bonnet and take the radiator cap off to see if the water level was OK, or check the battery. There have beenmany times when I’ve had to recharge a battery of a night. I would also listen to the engine to see if it purred or was running on one or two cylinder. If it was lumpy, I checked the spark plugs and maybe took off the distributor cap to look at the points. Motorists got into the way of tinkering with cars. Today, they tend to be more reliable and many of us don’t bother even looking at water levels, or checking the dipstick. Car owners really should check their oil levels on a regular basis. Some models do use a fair bit of oil and you could potentially seize the engine by running it dry. Can you really rely on an oil light coming on to warn you? It could be an expensive mistake!”
Now you know exactly why these things are colour coded – and there will usually be a selection of warning and instructional labels located under the bonnet. There will also be more information in the car’s handbook including information about the types and capacities of the various fluids. But if you suspect you still have a problem with your car after checking each of these areas, then you may need some specialist help. You can use the postcode finder on our website to find the most trusted garages in your area. FIND ONE HERE