October 31st is coming and it’s the spookiest day of the year – Halloween! Not only is it time for ghouls and ghosts to make an appearance, it’s also time to prepare your vehicle for the upcoming cold winter months. Want to know how? Find out with the Trust My Garage blog by reading on – and for a little bit of fun, don’t forget to count up our spooky puns throughout this post and leave us a comment with how many you can find!
Beware the witchy weather
The onset of autumn and winter means poorer road conditions for motorists – summer showers have given way to winter whirlwinds! Low winter sun can dazzle unprepared drivers, and heavy rain and fog can create slippery roads and reduced visibility.
In wet conditions allow additional travel time and drive at a speed appropriate to the conditions, be aware that braking distances can double on wet roads and increase tenfold on ice!
Avoid a fright at night
It’s important for drivers to take it steady when driving in the dark, especially if you’re driving in an unfamiliar area.
Broken or faulty lights can result in a £50 fine, three penalty points and even a Roadside Prohibition Notice – which means you must fix the fault before a re-inspection – so be sure to take the time to walk around your vehicle and check all your lights are functional before setting off on any trips.
If you’re new to driving it may be worth practicing your evening driving in a familiar area before heading off on longer trips – getting hours of practice under your belt may help with your confidence and help you get used to driving in poor lighting!
Don’t let your wheels be tyre-rifying
With poorer driving conditions on their way it’s important to ensure your tyres are up to the challenge – so be sure to check your tyre pressures and tread depth regularly. The legal minimum for tread depth is 1.6mm, but tyre grip can deteriorate rapidly if the depth is under 3mm.
You can use the edge of a 20p coin to check how deep your tread is – if the outer band of the coin is visible, then your tyres may be illegal and unsafe and should be checked immediately by a qualified tyre professional. Illegal tyres can earn you three penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500 per tyre!
For the correct tyre pressures for your vehicle consult your Owner’s Manual or look for a tyre information sticker which could be located on one of the door pillars or inside the fuel flap. One of these should contain the information you need for your tyres to be inflated to the correct PSI/BAR. Air and water machines are commonplace at petrol stations across the UK – or you can ask your local Trust My Garage member to check your pressure is correct, if you’re unsure of how to do this yourself.
Keep your bat-tery flying
On average, car batteries last up to 5 years (source), but there are many reasons that a battery could require replacing sooner than this.
Heading into colder weather can cause strain on your battery, as can short repetitive journeys – with lots of stopping and starting of the engine which can drain a battery’s power without giving it enough time to recharge fully. Also; the use of a heated rear window, lights and wipers all add to the load placed on a battery. Taking your car out for a longer drive at the weekend can be a key factor in combating battery drain, as can recharging your battery at home or at a local garage. If you are concerned about the condition of your battery your friendly TMG member could always check it out for you!
Take a trip to the fuel pump-kin
Running out of fuel is one of the most common causes of breakdown on the UK’s motorway network, so check you’ve got enough fuel for your trip and take note of any available fuel stations en-route to fill up as necessary. It’s also wise to allow sufficient fuel to be able to accommodate any delays that may occur on route.
If you aren’t sure of places to fill up on y our trips, you can use an internet search engine to locate nearby fuel stations or ask a local in the area where the nearest fuel station is. Some modern sat navs also highlight close by fuel stations but you may need to turn this function on in your model’s settings where possible!
Avoid an MOT horror with Trust My Garage
If your car is due its MOT or a service, make sure to take it in to a garage to keep it roadworthy. If you’re looking for a reputable, local, independent garage you can rely on, head to the Trust My Garage website and use our handy ‘Find a Garage’ map to locate your nearest TMG member, operating to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved code of conduct.
Simply pop in your postcode and our ‘Find a Garage’ map will show you all the TMG members in your area – and you can even read reviews from other customers if you’re unsure which garage is right for your needs.
Trust My Garage truly is the independent scheme for independent garages in the UK. They have each signed up to treat customers and their vehicle with respect, which means they really do exist to ensure that independent garage standards are continuing to improve.
With nights drawing in for Winter, drivers can often overlook small but important details on their vehicles – but Trust My Garage is here to help! These top tips can help motorists when it comes to the ever-important tyre maintenance; check them out below.
Checking your vehicle’s tyre pressure is easier than you might think! You can check and correct your tyre pressure at most UK petrol stations using a pay-per-use air and water station, or you can purchase your own tyre pressure gauge – the choice is yours.
If you aren’t sure what pressure is correct for your vehicle’s tyres you can refer to your Owner’s Manual. Details should be provided in either/both BAR and PSI, and you can adjust your pressures to the recommended figure. Often a vehicle’s tyre pressure information is also provided on the interior frame of the front passenger door, so be sure to check there if you need a quick reference point as well.
The required tyre pressure for your vehicle can also depend on the load weight when travelling, so if your vehicle is needed for some heavy lifting it’s best to check your tyre pressures beforehand – as the incorrect pressure could cause a blowout or additional tyre wear. It’s also best to check your tyres when ‘cold’ – preferably when you haven’t driven at all, or have driven under 2 miles’ distance.
The tread of a tyre refers to the rubber on its circumference that makes contact with the road or ground. The legal limit for minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters, however it is recommended to keep your tyres at 3mm or above for optimum grip. Drivers who fail to comply with the regulations face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.
Tread depth is important to maintain good grip on wet roads but, as the tread wears down, the tyres will lose the ability to grip well. The ‘20p test’ is a quick way to check the tread depth. Place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves at three points across the tyre and then repeat around its circumference. If the outer band is visible, the tyres may be unsafe or illegal and need to be checked by a professional garage or tyre specialist.
Tyre damage such as cuts, lumps and bumps are often caused by an impact between the tyre and a kerb, pothole or object in the road. If your tyre has any of these symptoms then you must have the tyre checked as quickly as possible by a tyre specialist, as this sort of damage can result in sudden tyre failure.
Why is tyre maintenance so important?
Correct tyre pressure is important in order to stay safe on the road. If tyres are under/over inflated then handling and grip will worsen, potentially causing irregular or unpredictable car behaviour. Tyres that aren’t fully inflated are also more likely to suffer from a sudden rapid deflation and will suffer premature wear on the outside edges of the tyre, meaning the wheel rim and tyre will be more susceptible to impact damage. It can also impact the environment, as your car will create more emissions by working harder against the impact of improperly inflated tyres.
Ensuring your tyres have tread above the legal limit can help you remain safe on the roads by maintaining adequate grip on the surface of the road. This can help you when travelling at speed, or during sharp turns and emergency braking manoeuvres by helping the car keep a level grip across the road surface.
So to benefit from lower fuel bills, longer tyre life, increased safety and reduced CO2 emissions, make sure you check your tyre pressures and tread depth across all wheels at least once a month and before a long journey.
Our ‘What to do when…’ series can provide some further tips and insight across other areas of motoring and vehicle maintenance to help you ensure your motor is running at its best! You can check out our other posts in the series here.
More about Trust My Garage
Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s best local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.
All the garages in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who have to comply with a strict code of practice.
Each and every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for your money.
Visit www.TRUSTMYGARAGE.co.uk and type in your postcode to find your nearest trusted independent garage.
With a whole extra day to look forward to this month, how will you spend it? You could do a spot of gardening or clear out that loft; tasks that you’ve been putting off since the last leap year. Or, you could do something a bit more exciting and really make the extra day count by leaping into your car and taking off somewhere nice for the day.
A day trip can be an exhilarating as well as a nostalgic experience as we look back fondly on long car journeys to the seaside, or for a day out in the countryside with cries of: “Are we there yet?” echoing from the kids in the back seat.
In the UK, we are lucky to have some of the most picturesque views in the world, so what better way to explore these than on four wheels? Let us guide you through five of our favourite UK road trips to inspire you to get in your car and make the most out of your extra leap year day.
Go really wild and visit a safari park
There’s nothing better than getting in your car and heading off for an adventure, especially if you have children to entertain. Travelling to far-flung destinations is, of course, not an option for a day trip. However, if it’s a taste for something exotic, how about getting up close to wildlife instead? Safari parks are a great option for a family day out and their rise in popularity over recent years means we now have a great selection to choose from in the UK. So wherever you live, you’re never too far away from a Siberian white tiger or a Chinese water buffalo.
What must you consider for a Safari Park visit?
Always make sure that your locks and windows are working correctly. We’ve all heard the tale of the monkey creeping in a car through the window. It’s rare that an animal will try and enter your vehicle but ensuring your locks and windows work properly will reduce the risk. Make sure your tyres are the recommended pressure too, there are not many things as dangerous as having to change a tyre in the lion enclosure! Ensuring your vehicle has ample fluid levels is also important.
An eye for a bargain? Visit a car boot sale
Originating from our friends across the Big Pond, the car boot sale has become a firm part of British identity over the last forty years. No two car boot sales are the same, so whether you’re a seasoned professional or a first timer, there’s one to suit most tastes and their popularity means you won’t have to look too hard. Car boots can be the perfect place to find a bargain, or maybe you could sell some of your own goods, so you may get the chance to clear out that attic after all!
What must you consider for a car boot sale visit?
The obvious thing to think about if you are driving to a car boot sale with your vehicle full of goods, is the effect that extra weight can have. Make sure you find out how much weight your vehicle can manage via the handbook. By all means fill the boot, but don’t have too many items on passenger seats and laps. These can be a health and safety hazard and can restrict visibility when driving too, particularly if you store something on the parcel shelf above the boot. Having too much weight in your vehicle can also affect the suspension and handling, not to mention your tyre pressures.
Taking the driving experience a stage further
A day out in your car doesn’t have to be a sedate experience. For those of you who have more adventurous tastes and fancy yourselves as the next Jackie Stewart or Lewis Hamilton why not head down to your nearest race track? There are ”track days” all over the country, including the haloed track of Silverstone meaning you can keep your driving dreams alive.
What must you consider for a race track experience?
Unsurprisingly, these places will not let you drive your own car round the track! Having said that, it is always a good idea to perform basic maintenance checks before you travel to the track, such as inspecting fluid levels, checking tyres and ensuring all lights and signals work correctly.
Family gatherings are always special
Everyone seems to lead such busy lives these days and we now live in a more mobile society with family members spread far and wide. If you’ve been promising your family or a special friend that you will ‘catch up soon’ then now is your chance. Why not make your extra day really count and go and see your loved ones. They will appreciate it! Everyone will have a fun day, and you will feel good that you made the effort.
What must you consider for a family get together?
If the reason you don’t visit your family as often as you should is because they live miles away, then it is always a good idea to carry out basic car maintenance checks prior to heading off. Check your fluid levels, tyres, lights and signals. Try and clear out your boot if you can, as carrying unnecessary excess weight can waste fuel. And if you still haven’t figured out where Aunty Maureen’s house is, make sure you plan your route first. Sat Navs are great but remember they are a driver aid, not a substitute for common sense and awareness.
See the sights
The road trip isn’t the sole preserve of the Americans. Great Britain has some of the most breath-taking views and a range of rich heritage to offer, meaning that if you take off on a trip in your car, you’re never far away from something special.
From the rugged views of the Peak District, the brooding cliff tops of Cornwall or the highest mountain pass in the country at Kirkstonein the Lake District, the UK has so much to offer and what better way to explore than in your car. Make the most of your extra day, pack a picnic and get out there and explore.
What must you consider before seeing the sights?
Some of these destinations introduce rugged and difficult terrains for your vehicle so make sure that you don’t try and drive through areas that your car just cannot manage. Consider parking up somewhere and taking some of the journey on foot – a bit of exercise is good for everyone.
You have the POWER to be prepared
Setting off on a road trip is an exciting prospect for the whole family but before setting off how can you make sure both you and your car are prepared to ensure the journey remains stress free and enjoyable?
Car checks will already be something you schedule on a regular basis, but are even more vital when planning a long trip. If you’re not quite sure which parts of your car you should be checking always remember POWER: Petrol, Oil, Water, Electrics, Rubber (tyres).
Ensure you have plenty of fuel and your tyres and engines are in good condition. It is also worth checking that your lights are in good working order ahead of your trip too. If you are unsure how to check any of the parts of your car, take it to your local Trust My Garage member who will be happy to checks these for you and will guide you through the process too.
You can never really know when bad weather may strike so it’s always best to take some emergency items with you on your journey just in case the worst should happen. Make sure you have the items with you before you travel:
• Food and water supplies
• Blankets and extra clothes
• Medical kit
• Fully charged mobile phone
• Warning triangle
Don’t forget if you’re travelling with children, keeping them entertained is an important consideration. Little things can make a big difference, how about preparing a travel pack for example? Collecting together inexpensive items such as colouring books, magazines or their favourite toy will ensure they remain entertained and the whole family happy has a stress-free journey.
For older children how about some in-car entertainment in the form of an iPad or digital camera, meaning they’ll never be stuck for something to do, and finally why not compile a road trip soundtrack too, get the whole family involved to ensure everyone’s favourite songs are included.
To find your nearest Trust My Garage ahead of making the most of your extra day, Find your nearest TMG member
Winter is upon us once again. And while we may not be certain of a flurry of snow every year, you can be certain that the Great British weather will throw a combination of wintery gifts our way, bringing difficulties for all of us, especially car drivers. It’s the time of year when you don’t just need to start making changes to the way you drive, but also to the way you look after your vehicle. Breakdowns are far more likely at this time of year due to poor weather conditions. So what can you do yourself to ensure this doesn’t happen and you have a hassle free winter?
Let there be light
Now that the nights have drawn in and it’s dark from mid-afternoon, visibility is a key consideration when driving. Not only are lights essential for you to be able see when driving, but also to ensure other drivers can see you. Regularly check that all the lights on your vehicle are in working order, this includes brake and reversing lights. Ensure that they are clean, especially after wet weather when the roads are muddy, and that the lights are aimed in the right direction and if you find any bulbs that are discoloured, they should be immediately replaced.
Stop right there
Brakes are an essential part of any car and therefore should be serviced regularly. This is especially important during winter months, but how can you tell your brakes are in tip top condition?
It’s a case of making sure you check them regularly. The winter months can be very wet and sometimes puddles can be difficult to avoid. When driving through a puddle, make sure you test your brakes afterwards by driving at a slow speed and gently applying pressure.
Listen out for warning signs, brakes will let you know when there is a problem whether this is through grinding or squeaking. Sometimes your car will act like it has a mind of its own and pull you to one side while driving, which could indicate a fault with the braking system. Look out for the signs and don’t ignore them. Vibrations and temperamental pedals are also a sign you need to take give your car some attention. Remember, that you can always take your car to a Trust My Garage member to get the brakes checked. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
A well-oiled machine?
A basic consideration for any car owner when carrying out maintenance checks is to understand the importance of keeping your vehicle well lubricated to ensure it remains in optimum condition and working order. Falling temperatures mean that car fluids will thicken, making it difficult for your vehicle to get the right fluids it needs to run properly.
Make sure you regularly check your oil levels, coolant and brake fluid. If you’re not sure how, visit your local TMG member. You can find them using the search function on our website or by using the Trust My Garage app.
The importance of robust car tyres cannot be understated, as they are the only part of your vehicle that grips the road; they play a vital part in keeping you and your vehicle safe. Wintery conditions and low tread depth can be a disastrous combination, reducing both your speed and grip. Without sufficient tread depth in wet conditions you may experience a particularly dangerous occurrence called aquaplaning. This is where tyres lose contact with the road surface and travel on top of the water’s surface. With no contact with the road, comes the inability to accelerate, brake or steer properly, and you are likely to lose control of your vehicle, thus significant increasing your risk of accident.
When checking tyre tread it is best to use a tread depth gauge rather than relying on intuition. With this implement to hand, measuring tread depth is not difficult and will take up only minutes of your time. For passenger cars, the European legal minimum tread depth is 1.6 mm, across 75% of the tyre, although the deeper the depth the better grip you will have – we recommend that you consider changing your tyres when the tread depth reaches 3mm. Check the depth of the main tread grooves in several places across and around the tyre, using the gauge. In addition, tyres have tread wear indicators in the base of the main grooves. When the tread surface is worn to the same level as these indicators, the tyre is at the legal limit and should be replaced. As a temporary alternative there is also a quick test with a 20p coin if you do not have a gauge to hand. Place the coin in the groove of the tyre and if you can see the inner edge of the border of the coin, it means your tread depth is less than 3mm and you should consider replacing that tyre.
Don’t let the pressure get to you
In addition to tread, checking tyre pressure regularly is vital, even more so during cold weather. Whether using your own pump, or a supermarket garage air pump, here’s how you can do it:-
Check what the tyre pressures should be before you start the pump, you will find this information in your user manual and often on a sticker on the hidden side of the driver or passenger door. Remember that your front and rear tyres may need different pressures. Go round the vehicle with the pump, checking the pressure on each wheel and inflating/deflating as required.
Regularly inspect the condition of the tyres and make sure there are no cracks or bulges, make sure there are no obvious cuts or tears which could lead to a blow-out or puncture and of course don’t forget that spare!
And if you ever find yourself in the event of having to change a tyre on the road, make sure you watch our video:
If you are unsure about your tyres, a visit to your local Trust My Garage member will give you peace of mind and keep you safe on the roads.
Such checks shouldn’t replace regular visits to your local Trust My Garage member for some expert advice; but being aware and prepared for all eventualities will give you peace of mind and a stress free winter.