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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.

tyre checl

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.

engine oil check

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.”

reverse lights

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.

snow hazard sign

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!

Motorway driving is more than middle lane morons

suitcaseMore of us are choosing a ‘staycation’ this summer according to a recent study by Travelodge, which means our motorways are destined to be busier than ever.motorway

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?”

Steering

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.

Unsafe Tyres

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.

Worn Brakes

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.

Low Fluids

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

Help cut crime by using a Responsible Retailer Garage

So you’ve just had a set of new tyres fitted ready for the summer, or maybe you recently had one replaced due to a blow out on the motorway? Your brand new tread is the maximum depth and you hit the road a satisfied motorist. At what point did you think about what happened to the worn out, lifeless tyres that had served your motor so well over the past months?old tyres

It is actually illegal to keep waste tyres without a licence and if they are not properly reused, recycled, or disposed of correctly, they can have a detrimental effect on our communities and environment, let alone undermining legitimate businesses.

How? If illegally kept tyres catch fire, they burn toxic smoke and pollute the water which has a damaging effect on the communities in the vicinity.

Now there is an industry partnership which restores confidence in consumers about where their used tyres are going, and assures them that their tyres are being removed correctly, and reprocessed in a legal and environmentally friendly manner.

EACH YEAR THE UK GENERATES SOME 40 MILLION END-OF-LIFE CAR AND VAN TYRES OF WHICH 80% ARE COLLECTED AND REPROCESSED THROUGH THE INDUSTRY’S RESPONSIBLE RECYCLER SCHEME.

We are doing our bit today to encourage tyre retailers and garages everywhere to dispose of tyres the right way. Our Operations Manager will be presenting at the official launch of the Responsible Retailer Initiative, which recognises tyre retailers using the scheme as Responsible Retailers. We will speak on the synergies between the scheme and Trust My Garage and how we are working to communicate this message to consumers.

How can waste tyres be used?

  • They can provide fuel for cement kilns.
  • They can be transformed into various products like flooring, road surfaces, furniture, and shoes.
  • Bales of tyres can be used in the construction of modern engineered landfill sites and flood defences.

TIF Responsible Recycler Scheme members are subject to a rigorous annual audit process conducted regularly by independent environmental audit specialists. Garages that use an RRS member will be able to guarantee that tyres collected from their premises are reused, recycled or otherwise disposed of in ways which comply with UK and European statutory regulations. They will receive an annual certificate of compliance which you as a motorist can view in the workshops to be ensured that your tyres will be dealt with correctly.Responsible Retailer logo

5 reasons why you need to straighten your car out

Ideally you should be checking your wheel alignment as often as you get your car serviced and every time you have a tyre change!

OK- how many of you just winced because you never check your wheel alignment, or have never even thought about getting it checked?wheel alignment

If it has never seemed important, here are the top 5 reasons why you should be checking regularly that the wheels of your car are perpendicular to the road and parallel to one another.

1. SAFETY for you and your passengers

Badly aligned wheels will result in your car being pulled to one side of the road ultimately putting everyone in the car at unnecessary risk. Think of it like driving in wet or icy conditions. By not regularly getting your wheel alignment checked you are unintentionally making driving an unsafe practice.

2. Save fuel and costs

You wouldn’t initially think it, but when your wheels are not properly aligned it adds extra pressure on your tyres and they push against each other. This then creates higher resistance between your tyres and the road, making it harder for your car to move forward, and consequently using up more fuel. In addition to this the extra fuel usage means you are burning more fossil fuels which significantly harm the environment.

3. Reduce your carbon footprint

These days, everybody is trying to reduce their own carbon footprint and by making sure your wheels are correctly aligned, you can manage your emissions. The extra fuel usage needed to move your car forward when poor alignment is causing your wheels to fall under extra pressure, means that more fossil fuels are being burned and you are inadvertently contributing to global emissions. By having your wheel alignment regularly checked, you can help to improve your own carbon footprint.

4. Extend the lifespan of your tyres

New tyres can be a real drain on your bank account, and the price of wheel alignment at a garage is likely to be a fraction of the cost of brand new tyres. As mentioned, badly aligned wheels add more pressure onto your tyres – and this burns the rubber much faster. If you read our previous blog HERE on tyre depth, you will see that bald tyres are extremely dangerous and costly – so you need to keep an eye on these for both your safety and to save money.

5. Avoid knock on effects

Not addressing your wheel alignment can take its toll on other parts of your vehicle. Wheel alignment is carefully defined by the vehicle manufacturers to ensure that the car will always handle in a safe and secure manner. Misaligned wheels , which can often be caused by the poor state of our roads – not helped by the proliferation of traffic calming measures – can literally have a “knock-on” effect on other components such as brakes, steering and suspension.”

What should you do next?
Trust My Garage advises that you get your wheel alignment checked every 6,000 miles or every six months. Get your nearest Trust My Garage member to cast their expert eye over your tyres for peace of mind. You can find your nearest member HERE.