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Summer motoring – How you can stay safe on the roads with Trust My Garage

With Highways England predicting an additional 700 breakdowns on the UK’s roads in July and August, it’s more important than ever for motorists to be prepared for the Summer! Read on for our top tips on how you can stay safe this season with Trust My Garage.

Keep it cool

With a little bit of luck, in the summer temperatures heat up, giving you plenty of chance to get out and about in your car! On hot days motorists should keep a cool, circulating air current in their vehicles, as this helps keep you comfortable from the heat and alert while driving.

You should also pack bottles of water for any longer trips or days out to help keep heatstroke and dehydration issues at bay, as these can impair your driving abilities.

Many modern cars now have air conditioning, and this will help keep you cool whilst driving, but it’s wise to makes sure your air conditioning is working efficiently. To help with this, many garages offer air con “re-gas” services, where your motor’s refrigerant gas levels can be checked and topped up to ensure it works at its best.

Take a walk around your vehicle

Before setting out on any trip some basic vehicle checks could save you trouble once your journey has started. Particularly for longer travels you should, as a minimum, check:

  • Engine oil – Long travel times can cause friction and damage to your engine, so be sure to keep it properly lubricated.
  • Coolant – Traffic jams can cause your engine to overheat if your coolant levels are low, so keep it topped up to keep on moving!
  • Screen wash – Dirty windscreens can be amplified by bright sunlight, so make sure yours can be clean both inside and out
  • Tyre pressures and treads – Tyres should meet the legal minimum requirement of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre in a continuous band around the whole of the tyre with no bulges, bubbles, cuts or tears, or you risk a £2500 fine and three penalty points per tyre – or worse! Tyre pressures should match the BAR/PSI indicated in your vehicle’s Owners’ Manual.
  • Fuel level – Running out of fuel is one of the most common causes of breakdown on the UK’s motorway network, so check you’ve got enough fuel for your trip and take note on any available fuel stations en-route to fill up as necessary.
  • It’s also recommended that you check your lights and wipers just to makes sure they too are in working order and good condition.
  • Don’t forget, this is the UK and we can have a down pour at any time and after a dry spell – the first rainfall can result in a slippery road surface, so be prepared to adjust your speed and driving style to match any changes in driving conditions.

Consider your allergies and medication

The NHS estimates that there are 10 million people with hay fever in England alone, and in summer symptoms can be severe. While driving with your windows open is a nice way to enjoy a summer breeze, it can also lead to streaming eyes and sneezing fits for hay fever sufferers!

Medication is available to combat these symptoms, but you should always check labels prior to driving to make sure any side-effects, such as blurred vision and drowsiness, won’t affect your driving ability. If you are ever unsure of any medication’s side effects, you should always check with your doctor.

Check your routes (and alternatives!)

Heavy traffic can ruin a summer trip, so research your route before you set off! By checking routes before you leave you can help alleviate the stress of being stuck in a traffic jam. If you do get caught out on the road look for diversion signs, or ask a passenger to try a find a suitable alternative route. If you want to avoid peak traffic, avoid travelling on Sunday evening before school terms start and steer clear of rush hour motoring.

Most of us use satnavs to find our way around these days but it’s always a good idea to have a map book in your car too, just in case. You never know, switching off the sat nav and finding a interesting place to take a break from driving might just help you relax a little and enhance your trip.

Remember: rule 149 of the Highway Code states that you MUST NOT use a hand-held mobile phone or similar device when you’re driving. Make sure that you check the travel news before you leave, or use the live traffic function if you own a sat-nav with traffic update features.

Take the time to Trust My Garage

If your car is due its MOT or a service, make sure to take it in to a garage to get it ready for the road. If you’re looking for a reputable, local, independent garage you can head to the Trust My Garage website and use our handy ‘Find a Garage’ map to locate your nearest TMG member, operating to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved code of conduct.

Simply pop in your postcode and our ‘Find a Garage’ map will show you all the TMG members in your area – and you can even read reviews from other customers if you’re unsure which garage is right for your needs.

You can also check out our latest TV advert below:

If you’re looking for more information or would like to contact Trust My Garage, please visit TrustMyGarage.co.uk or Contact Us here.

If you’re looking for more information or would like to contact Trust My Garage, please visit TrustMyGarage.co.uk or Contact Us here.

What to do when… you’re driving in wet weather conditions

The British Summer can be a challenging time for motorists, with changeable weather meaning drivers must be adaptable to a variety of driving conditions. While we all hold out for sunshine, rain is far more likely – but the Trust My Garage blog can help you make sure you drive safely in wet weather!

Why can rain be dangerous for motorists?

Rain is not only an inconvenience for motorists; it can also be a dangerous problem. The Highway Code states that in wet weather vehicle stopping distances are double those required for dry conditions, as tyres have less grip on the road.

Drivers should always take additional precautions when on the road in wet conditions, such as:

  • Maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you
  • Ensuring your vehicle’s steering is responsive – if it becomes unresponsive you should ease off the accelerator and gradually slow down
  • Keeping lights on where appropriate to be visible, as the rain and spray from vehicles may make it difficult to see and be seen
  • Being aware of the dangers of spilt diesel that will make the surface very slippery
  • Taking extra care around pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders

A major issue on very wet roads is aquaplaning – an issue caused when a layer of water is allowed to build up between a vehicle’s tyres and the surface of the road beneath. At this point, the tyres cannot grip on the road and this causes a lack of traction which means the driver loses control and is unable to steer, brake or accelerate.

To avoid aquaplaning it’s important to check your tyres (read on for more tyre tips!), not drive too quickly and don’t make sudden manoeuvres that enable water to build up between your vehicle’s tyres and the road. If you’re following a vehicle you can also follow their “tracks” from a safe distance to remain on the part of the road where water has already been displaced, providing more grip.

How can I prepare myself?

Before setting off on any trip be sure to plan the route you’re going to take, and an alternative if you think there could be issues due to poor weather. Using a sat-nav with traffic updates can also help you adjust your route if there are long delays or hazards ahead, but it’s worth keeping traffic alerts on your vehicle’s radio system too, in case there are any sudden changes to the road conditions.

If a problem occurs once your trip is underway you can also find a safe place to pull over – such as a roadside refuge area or lay-by – park up and turn off the engine completely, remove your keys from the vehicle ignition and use your mobile phone to calculate an alternative route.

If you have concerns about your driving ability in poor conditions, it’s always better to wait until you feel safe on the roads. Although it may seem inconvenient your safety and the safety of any passengers you may also have is of utmost importance – as well as that of other road users.

How can I prepare my vehicle?

Prior to setting off it’s important to check your vehicle is in a safe and roadworthy condition. One of the most crucial things to check is tyres, so this is what you need to know:

  • Make sure your tyre pressures are correct. It’s 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.
  • Tyres should meet the legal minimum requirement of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre and in a continuous band around the whole of the tyre,  or risk a £2,500 fine and three penalty points per tyre – or worse!
  • For optimum safety it is recommended tyres have a minimum of 3mm depth of tread across the central three-quarters of the tyre and in a continuous band around the whole of the tyre.
  • There should be no cuts or bulges in the side wall of the tyre, as these can increase the chances of blowouts while on the road – if any bulges, bubbles, cuts and tears are visible you should speak to a professional to arrange a replacement
  • You should also check for punctures prior to setting off – they can either be repaired or the tyre can be replaced, but it’s important to identify any issues and have a professional assess the best course of action.

Wipers play a huge role in ensuring good visibility in inclement weather, so checking their function is a must before driving in wet weather. While they should ideally be replaced six-monthly to yearly, if you notice a decline in visibility you should change them sooner. Factors such as streaking, smearing, skipping and squeaking indicate that your blades should be changed to retain good vision of the road – and don’t forget to check your rear wiper too!

Another area that should always be thoroughly checked is your vehicle’s lights. A sudden heavy downpour can cause quickly darkening road conditions, so functioning lights play an important role in keeping your visibility levels up and keeping you easily identifiable to other motorists.

Before setting off on a journey, turn on your vehicle’s lights and either walk around the vehicle to conduct a check or ask a passenger to check all your lights are working correctly – be sure to press the brake too and check that all three lights are working. If any lights are dim or aren’t working, including fog lights and number plate lights, you should get them replaced as soon as possible.

If you are stopped by police for having faulty brake lights, you could receive:

  • A verbal warning
  • A Roadside Prohibition Notice – which gives you 10 days to get it fixed
  • A £60 fine and 3 points on your licence
  • Worst case scenario – they could tow your car away!

It’s also a good idea to familiarise yourself with your car’s ventilation system. Wet conditions can cause a car to steam up, making visibility difficult and driving hazardous. Many people think air conditioning is only for hot days, but this is not the case! Using your car’s air conditioning in conjunction with the heater may seem an odd thing to do, but it can actually remove moisture from the air, helping to demist your vehicle quicker than using the heater alone.

Most importantly during extreme weather conditions it’s important to stay warm and dry, so it’s a good idea to ensure your car is kitted out with emergency supplies such as blankets, first-aid kits and extra food and drink if you’re undertaking longer trips.

In need of a professional?

If your car is due its MOT or a service, make sure to take it in to a garage to get it ready for the road. If you’re looking for a reputable, local, independent garage you can head to the Trust My Garage website and use our handy ‘Find a Garage’ map to locate your nearest TMG member, operating to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved code of conduct. You can also check out our latest TV advert below:

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.

Winter driving – how to stay safe when the cold hits

The UK is well into winter, so motorists should be keeping safe on our roads – but new research has shown drivers are unprepared for motoring in the chilly season!

 

Halfords, which commissioned a survey of 2,000 motorists, has found nearly half of all drivers surveyed admitted they have not conducted any maintenance checks on their vehicle – so how can you make sure you’re ready to face the cold? The Trust My Garage blog is here to help! Check out our top tips below.

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Antifreeze – keeping the chill at bay

Antifreeze is clever stuff that stops the water in your engine’s cooling system from freezing! It also does several other important jobs, making it a vital car fluid to keep your engine running smoothly.

 

As well as preventing water from freezing up, antifreeze raises the boiling point of engine coolant to prevent overheating. The stuff also protects your engine from corrosion, aids heat transfer, and prevents scale from building up internally.

 

How do you use it? There’s the concentrated form, or the ready mixed with water kind. The latter version is commonly referred to as engine coolant and can normally be used straightaway for top-ups and replacements. The concentrated form needs to be diluted with water, usually at a level of around 50% antifreeze and 50% water. Always check the pack’s instructions for the right ratio to use.

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Tyres – putting rubber to the roads

Tyre pressure and tread can be crucially important during winter, as poor tyres can cause your vehicle to slip across wet and icy roads.

 

To keep your tyres at optimum performance you’ll need to make sure your tyres are correctly inflated and have adequate tread across the circumference of the tyre – you’ll find the BAR/PSI you need in your vehicle’s Owners Manual or inside front door frame, and it’s recommended to keep your tyres at 3mm or above for optimum grip.

 

If you aren’t sure how to check your tread depth, you can employ ‘the 20p test’, which you can find out more about here. If your tyres fall under the 1.6mm legal limit you could face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre!

 

If you’re looking for more information about checking your tyres you call also check out our “What to do when… you need to check your vehicle’s tyres” post for all your tyre-based needs.

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Brakes – stop the ride!

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, as 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, as brakes will let you know when there is a problem – whether this is through grinding or squeaking. Sometimes your car will act like it has a mind of its own and pull you to one side while driving, which could indicate a fault with the braking system. Vibrations and temperamental pedals are also a sign you need to take give your car some attention -so look out for the signs and don’t ignore them.

 

Remember, that you can always take your car to your nearest Trust My Garage member to get the brakes checked – it’s better to be safe than sorry!

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Faults – how can you steer clear?

If you notice a fault with your vehicle, such as a cracked windscreen, dim headlight, or poorly charged battery, it’s important to get it sorted before undertaking any winter driving. If you feel there is a fault but aren’t sure how to proceed, you can always take your vehicle to a local garage to have it looked at by a professional – you can even use the TMG Find a Garage map to locate your nearest Trust My Garage member.

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If you’re looking to hit the road this winter, you can take your vehicle to your local Trust My Garage member. Whether it’s for a check-up, service or repair, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved code of conduct that our members use mean that you and you motor both get the best possible service – no matter the weather!

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What to do when… you need to check your vehicle’s tyres

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.

 

Tyre Pressures

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.

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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.

 

Tyre Tread

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.

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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.

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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.

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How can regular vehicle maintenance save you money?

At Trust My Garage, we believe that regular vehicle maintenance is vital when it comes to ensuring you and your motor get a smooth ride – but what other benefits are there to keeping your vehicle in tip-top shape? We’ve put together some handy information; check it out below!

 

Get regular full services

Getting your car serviced each year – and maintaining it between services – is money well spent. Problems are likely to be caught early on when they’re cheaper to fix, and your car will have a better resale value and longer life.

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A well-maintained car is also more efficient, so you’ll save money on fuel as well. If you need to claim on a warranty you’ll normally have to show your car’s got a complete service record. (More)

 

Maintain the correct tyre pressure

Experts say up to 20% of your car’s energy consumption relates to its tyres, making them pretty much the single biggest simple-fix factor. And the most important thing you can do to minimise that consumption is ensure your tyres are inflated correctly.

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You can check your tyre pressure by investing in a tyre-pressure gauge or foot pump (most have gauges built in). Alternatively, visit a petrol station forecourt where you can use their electric air pumps.

Your car will have a tyre-pressure chart displayed somewhere – usually in the door frame, inside the fuel-filler cap or in the handbook. Unscrew the dust cap off your tyre’s air valve, place the air pump nozzle over the valve, ensuring it is seated correctly. Once the tyre is inflated correctly, remove the nozzle and replace the dust cap. (More)

 

Utilise your local independent garage

With higher overheads and staff commission, dealerships are nearly always a more expensive choice for servicing and repairs than independent garages. The average rate for franchised dealers is £99 per hour, while independent garages typically charge £56 – saving you £43! (Source: GarageWire; May 2017.)

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If you want find a reputable, local, independent garage operating to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved Code of Conduct, you can use the Trust My Garage website’s Find a Garage map here.

Our members offer a range of services across the service and repair industry, ensuring you and your vehicle get the best possible service. For more information about Trust My Garage, you can also read our ‘What Trust My Garage code status means to you’ blog post, or visit the Trust My Garage website.

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New Year, New Motoring Resolutions

2018 is upon us! The start of the new year means many people across the UK are kickstarting their January with a range of New Year’s resolutions – and motorists are no exception. This year, drivers are looking to reboot their motoring habits in a bid to revamp both their vehicles and their attitudes to driving.

 

A new survey has shown the variety of ways in which motorists want to put more effort into vehicle maintenance and their driving styles – but which of these resolutions will be yours?

 

Checking tyre pressures and oil levels regularly

In the poll, 24 per cent of drivers said they wanted to improve how frequently they check their tyre pressures and oil levels. Both of these areas are hugely important in your vehicle; as maintaining correct tyre pressure ensures good fuel efficiency, better road safety in poor weather conditions and more even wear across the tyre, reducing the likelihood of bald spots on the tyre. Correct tyre pressures should be listed in your vehicle’s owner’s manual and on the pillar when the driver’s door is open. To inflate your tyres to the correct pressure, many garages and petrol stations offer a tyre pressure inflator on site.

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Having the correct levels of oil in your engine is also of vital importance for your vehicle. Any engine needs lubrication, and making sure your engine is well oiled will fight against two major engine damagers: friction and heat. Measuring your oil level on the dipstick when your vehicle is cool and on level ground will give you an accurate reading of the amount and an indication of the quality of the oil in your motor.

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Learning to park properly

17 per cent of drivers also wanted to learn how to park properly. While many drivers are comfortable driving in to a parking space, some motorists – especially new and/or younger drivers – can feel daunted at the prospect of parallel parking. While practice is the best method for improvement, these tips from the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) can offer some help for understanding how to parallel park safely and effectively.

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Conquering motorways

The survey found that 16 per cent of drivers were nervous or unhappy about using the motorway in their vehicle. As part of the expansive road network spanning the UK, motorways provide a fast route to almost any destination up and down the country – but the speed and heavy flow of traffic can be an intimidating prospect for a motorist. The Highway Code provides explicit rules of conduct for using the motorway network, but drivers can also use a ‘Pass Plus’ training course with a registered instructor as a practical application to help get them motoring.

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Improving reversing ability

15 per cent of respondents also said they would like to improve their ability to reverse their vehicle. While reversing may seem like a common manoeuvre, some drivers can find it difficult. The Highway Code offers some helpful advice for reversing, along with its other general road use guidelines. Rule 202 states:

 

“Look carefully before you start reversing. You should

  • use all your mirrors
  • check the ‘blind spot’ behind you (the part of the road you cannot see easily in the mirrors)
  • check there are no pedestrians (particularly children), cyclists, other road users or obstructions in the road behind you.

Reverse slowly while

  • checking all around
  • looking mainly through the rear window
  • being aware that the front of your vehicle will swing out as you turn.

Get someone to guide you if you cannot see clearly.”

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Not getting road rage

14 per cent of drivers in the poll admitted to succumbing to road rage when motoring, with a resolution not to give in to the red mist in 2018. While being a confident driver is a definite positive, motorists should not be over confident, as it can be a killer on the roads. The best method for combatting road rage is simply to let any issues go and not let them affect your journey, however we know how difficult that can be! Rule 147 of The Highway Code states:

“Do not allow yourself to become agitated or involved if someone is behaving badly on the road. This will only make the situation worse. Pull over, calm down and, when you feel relaxed, continue your journey.”

So, sit back, relax, and carry on driving in a calm manner for your own safety and that of other road users.

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Switching off phones at the wheel

A shocking 13 per cent of drivers admitted to their resolution being to switch off their mobile phone when behind the wheel. The law states that:

“You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.”

If you’re caught using a mobile in any other motoring circumstance you’ll receive 6 penalty points on your driving licence and a £200 fine.

 

The simplest solution is to turn off your phone or have it in a locked compartment of your car, and if you feel you need to check your phone pull over at a safe point and switch off your car’s engine. If you need to contact someone and you know they are driving, wait until you know they have arrived at their destination to avoid being a distraction to them.

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Keeping your vehicle in top condition

Maintaining your vehicle should be at the top of your New Year’s Resolutions list, so that you can keep motoring happy throughout 2018. With Trust My Garage, you know you can rely on using a nationally recognised brand, with a truly professional service for both you and your vehicle. All the garages in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who have to comply with a strict code of practice.

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For more information about Trust My Garage you can visit www.trustmygarage.co.uk and to find your nearest Trust My Garage member you can use our handy Find a Garage map.

Got any New Year’s resolutions of your own? Let us know in the comments!

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What to do when… Driving in Winter

Winter is here! With a chill in the air and crunch of frost underfoot, there can be no doubting the harshest season of the year is upon us. When it comes to driving, Winter weather can lead to accidents and issues on the road, so here at Trust My Garage we’ve put together some advice for helping you to stay safe during the cold season.

 

Plan your travel

Before setting off, be sure to check ahead that your route is clear of accidents and other issues that can cause delays, and that the roads haven’t been shut due to poor conditions.

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Check your tyres

If you have the opportunity and need, winter tyres could be a viable option for your vehicle. If you use your normal tyres, ensure they are inflated to the recommended pressure and have a minimum tread depth of 3mm across the width and circumference of the tyre in order to cope with the slippery and wet conditions.

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Check for faults

If you notice a fault with your vehicle, such as a cracked windscreen, dim headlight, or poorly charged battery, it’s important to get it sorted before undertaking any winter driving. If you feel there is a fault but aren’t sure how to proceed, you can always take your vehicle to a local garage to have it looked at by a professional – you can even use the TMG Find a Garage map to locate your nearest Trust My Garage member.

 

Check the dashboard

If your car is displaying a warning light on the dashboard it’s important to get it checked – the systems are there to keep you safe! If your vehicle isn’t performing at its best it could lead to breakdowns or accidents, so be sure to keep it in the best possible condition. If you aren’t sure what the lights on your dashboard mean you can take a look at our Getting to know your vehicle’s dashboard blog post to give you a breakdown of what you need to know.

 

Dress appropriately

Even though most of us have the luxury of heating in our vehicles, if we break down or have an accident we can often be at the mercy of the Winter chill. By dressing warmly and layering up you can keep warm – and you could even save money on your fuel consumption!

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Keep supplies in your car

In the case of a real emergency it’s important to keep supplies in your vehicle. Items such as a torch, blanket, biscuits, water, a hot drink, a hat, scarf and gloves, and a mobile phone charger or battery pack are always helpful to keep you safe and warm. You should also keep something to put under your tyres if you get stuck, and a shovel to clear any snow.

 

Control your speed

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) recommends:

“When driving in snow, get your speed right – not too fast so that you risk losing control, but not so slow that you risk losing momentum when you need it – and brake, steer and accelerate as smoothly as possible. Start gently in second gear, avoiding high revs. Stay in a higher gear for better control. Only use the brake if you cannot steer out of trouble.”

 

Your stopping distances also increase tenfold on ice, so be sure to leave ample room between any surrounding vehicles to stay safe on the road.

 

Read road signs

While you may use familiar roads while driving, any changes to the surface or temporary problems should be highlighted by road signs – so keep an eye out for any updates. Signs will also post any road closures or other issues, so be sure to look around for any information possible.

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If you’re driving on unfamiliar roads then it’s even more important to check road signs – nobody wants to get lost in the snow and ice! By employing careful, steady driving, you can give yourself enough time to read and process any information you need to know.

 

Know when not to drive

If conditions are too dangerous, the safest option is simply to not drive. Although it will delay you, it’s the safest option – and no drive is worth injury, no matter how small. It’s important to keep an eye on weather forecasts, so you don’t plan a journey when the weather is going to be particularly bad. Driving safe means that you can drive happy.

 

If you’re looking to embark on some winter travels, you can take your vehicle to your local Trust My Garage member. Whether it’s for a check-up, service or repair, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved code of conduct that our members use mean that you and you motor both get the best possible service – no matter the weather!tmg_ctsi_long

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.

Get a grip driving in icy conditions

Winter is well and truly upon us, and as the early nights draw in so does the weather, which never seems to fail to grind the UK’s roads to a halt.

Snow, rain and freezing temperatures combine to make getting from A to B about as challenging as taking part in a World Rally Championship race.

This winter is expected to break records for snowfall, with forecasters claiming it’s likely to be the worst winter for more than 100 years.   And in the light of this grim news, we’re offering our five top tips to stay safe on the roads when driving in snowy and icy conditions.

5. Check your tyres. You need to make sure your tread depth and tyre pressures are right for winter motoring. At least 3mm of tread is correct for winter driving and certainly nothing less than 2mm. Reducing tyre pressures to get more grip on the road doesn’t work, and in fact reduces stability. If grip is a problem, you might want to consider using winter tyres. They have a higher silica content in the tread which prevents them from hardening at lower temperatures; providing you with greater grip on the roads. For more information about checking tyres and the things you can do yourself, visit the Tyresafe website here.

Driving in snow and ice4. What is your vision like? Make sure your windscreen and roof are completely clear of snow as you will need as much visibility as you can get with driving conditions becoming darker over winter. Make sure all your bulbs are working correctly and that the lenses are clean. Remember that your number plates need to be legible too – you risk a heavy fine if they can’t be seen by other motorists and pedestrians.

3. Energise battery levels. Lights, heaters and wipers put high demands on your car battery. Batteries rarely last longer than five years anyway, but their life will be shortened if you use your car mainly for dark rush-hour trips. Avoid running electrical systems longer than necessary, turn off non-essential electrical loads like heaters and wipers when you don’t need them.

2. Stay calm. Winter driving conditions can be treacherous. Reduce your speed when it is icy and prepare for your journey well in advance. Remain calm in your car and stay alert for signs of danger, which could cause you to slow down or brake. Make sure you are wearing comfortable, dry shoes for driving, and try to stick to main roads as much as you can as side roads won’t always have been gritted in icy weather.

1. Get your car serviced at a Trust My Garage member. The best way to make sure your car is prepared for winter conditions is with a winter service at a Trust My Garage member. There are things you can do yourself but to be sure we always recommend you take your car to your nearest trusted independent garage and let the experts have a look over it. Braking in particular can become a real issue when roads are icy or snow-covered so it is imperative you have your brakes looked at by a professional, and whilst you can roughly gauge your tyre tread depth yourself with the old coin trick, it is far safer to trust a professional.

For the ultimate peace of mind when driving this winter, find a garage you can trust for an honest and professional winter service. Just put your postcode in our garage finder and we will show you where your nearest Trust My Garage members can be found.

Trust My Garage member is Independent Garage of the Year!

We are always doing our best to showcase the quality and expertise offered by independent garages throughout the country. In fact, Trust My Garage was set up for this very reason – to show motorists that they don’t have to pay main dealer fees for a professional and honest service – but that an even greater service is available at their nearest independent garage.

There is no better proof of this than our Cornish member Powell’s Garage, which has  picked up a prestigious national award after being named the Independent Garage of the Year.

Powell’s Garage beat off fierce competition to be recognised as the leading independent garage in the country by Motor Trader magazine, in its annual industry awards.

A panel of judges recognised the professional and honest service provided every day by Powell’s  Garage,  rounding off an exciting year for the business after it recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.

Powell's Garage

But what sets Powell’s Garage apart from other independent garages?

Heather Powell, Joint Managing Director of Powell’s Garage, told us her aim is to always provide the highest level of customer service.

“The whole ethos within the business is all about giving the customer the best possible experience when they have any dealings with us,” she said.

“We are totally honest with our customers and they respect and appreciate that.

“We have a relationship with so many of our customers that is relaxed and pleasant, like old friends.”

Heather added: “We genuinely think about the customer experience first and profitability second.

“We look at things on a long term basis – if we look after the customer then we hope that they will stay loyal to us and recommend us to their friends and family.”

This is the second time Powell’s Garage has won this award, and highlights its commitment in providing the best possible service to vehicle owners.

Its client base runs into its thousands, including ordinary car owners to different fleet companies, including Tesco and Sainsbury’s delivery vehicles.

Powells_insideAnd not only does the garage have two MOT test bays, it also has a ‘Fast Fit’ department, with huge stocks of competitively priced tyres and facilities for testing cars, vans and motorhomes.

“Our aim is to stay ahead of the game,” said Heather. “We always look to have the best possible premises and therefore customer service.

“We want the most up to date equipment throughout the whole business, not just in the workshop.

She added: “We focus on the little things. Not just the big things. Attention to detail is important.”

Powell’s Garage prides itself on the outstanding customer service it provides. So, we asked Heather for her three top tips for customer service which demonstrate the quality of attention you can receive when you take your car to a Trust My Garage member.,

1)      Listen carefully to your customer and act on their wishes, not your own

2)      Make things as easy and stress free for your customer as possible

3)      Put yourself in their shoes, what would you think?

With a philosophy like this and such attention on the customer, it is no wonder that Powell’s Garage has once again been named the best independent garage in the country.

Do you want to know where your nearest trusted independent garage is? Simply type your postcode in our garage finder and benefit from the same kind of service offered by Powell’s Garage – near you!