Blog Archives

Planning a summer staycation? Get your vehicle holiday-ready with Trust My Garage

This year, global circumstances are affecting many UK residents’ plans for a summer holiday. Instead of waiting until the world is turning again, some people are opting for a stay-at-home holiday this summer – often referred to as a “staycation”.

Staycations are a great opportunity to explore parts yet unknown across the UK, and with a wide range of options on our doorstep, many are, or will be, driving to a new destination to get their summer break. If you’re taking your vehicle on the road to relaxation, these top tips from Trust My Garage will help make sure you get their safely and happily – read on to find out more!

Plan your route(s)

Before setting off on any journey it is worth checking the routes to your destination. Ideally, have a main route and a back-up option prepared in case of unforeseen delays like traffic or road closures. Many internet search engines offer mapping functions, providing travel times based on time of day, traffic and road incidents, so you can prepare well ahead for your trip. By doing a little homework beforehand, you could save a lot of time and avoid frustrations – which means more time for you to enjoy your holiday.

Check your fluid levels

Prior to making your trip you should check your vehicle’s fluid levels. You can check these yourself if you are comfortable doing so, or you can take your vehicle to a local garage and ask them to check that your levels are where they should be. Key fluids to check are:

  1. Windscreen wash fluid – windscreen wiper symbol on cap
  2. Brake fluid – black with hazard triangle with “!” on cap
  3. Power steering fluid – steering wheel logo on cap
  4. Engine Oil – cap with “OIL” or oil can logo, and yellow ended dipstick for checking the oil level is correct
  5. Engine coolant level – black with hazard triangle with “!” on cap

It is important to ensure your fluids are all within their required minimum and maximum markings, which are indicated with MIN MAX marks either on the side of their respective fluid tanks or, in the case of engine oil, the marked as lines near the end of the dipstick.

If you want to learn how to check your engine oil, watch this simple guide on what to do:

If you are unsure if your car needs any more fluids, or which fluids to use, call or visit your local garage. They should be able to assist and advise on what is best for your vehicle.

Check your tyres and lights

Tyres are a crucial element of keeping your vehicle safe on the roads, so make sure yours tread depths are well within legal limits before heading out! The 20p test is a simple and effective way to check your tyres have an adequate amount of tread to keep you safe on the roads – this is how you do it:

As well as checking your tread depth, you should also ensure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure(s), as detailed in your vehicle’s Owner’s Manual. When travelling with a heavy load, such as baggage for a holiday, you may need to adjust the tyre pressures to ensure optimum tyre efficiency. Details of which weight levels require this should also be provided in your Owner’s Manual as an accompaniment to the pressure details.

While checking your running tyres, it’s good idea to also check your spare(if you have one) for any lumps, bulges or tears in case it is needed on your trip, or alternatively you can ensure you have a fully-stocked tyre  repair kit in your vehicle in case of emergency. For more information on how to check your tyres, you can check out our “What to do when… you need to check your vehicle’s tyres” blog post here.

If your vehicle does require new tyres, you can contact your local garage to arrange a convenient time for you to visit them to fit new tyres to your vehicle.

Lights are equally important too, as a dim or non-functioning light can impair your view of the road or prevent another motorist from seeing your vehicle. If you have a brake light that isn’t working, you could be subject to any of the following:

  • A £60 fine and three points on your licence
  • A Vehicle Defect Rectification Notice – 14 days to fix the fault and provide proof of the fix
  • Your car taken off the road immediately

An easy way to check your lights are functioning, while your vehicle is parked safely, is to turn them on (or depress the brake pedal) and look in any reflective surfaces around you to confirm lights are visible. Reflective surfaces can be the bodies of other nearby vehicles, shop windows or mirrors. If you are accompanied, you can also ask another person to step out and walk around the stationary vehicle to confirm all lights are functioning as normal.

If you need a lightbulb replacing and are unsure which bulb type to purchase, or do not know how to fit a lightbulb to your vehicle, you can contact your local garage and arrange for the service to be carried out by them.

Check your vehicle’s tax, MOT and insurance

Before you’ve even left the house, you may need to check these three important documents are valid and have enough time left on them, to enable you to legally complete your staycation.

About a month before your road tax expires the DVLA will issue you with a V11 Vehicle Tax Reminder, containing the information you need to either renew your tax online, via telephone or at a Post Office branch, as well as the date your current road tax period will expire. You can also check the status of your road tax or renew it online via the Gov.uk website here.

If you are unsure of your vehicle’s MOT status you can use the Gov.uk MOT history checker to see when your vehicle last had an MOT, and the previous detailed information about that MOT. It’s worth ensuring that any advisory items noted at the last MOT are repaired, as these item may have deteriorated since the last MOT was carried out. As part of this service, you can also check if there are any outstanding recalls for your vehicle – where the manufacturer needs to investigate and potentially repair a problem with a certain batch of vehicles – and how to proceed if there is a recall problem. Find out more on the Gov.uk website here.

You may also need to check that your vehicle is still insured for use. Your insurance provider will send a reminder email or letter approximately a month before your policy is due for renewal, so you can choose to either renew with your current supplier, or with another provider depending on what suits you best.

If you aren’t sure when your insurance renewal is due, your existing policy documents will provide the correct date. Insurance providers often supply these via an online portal or paper format, depending on what you have requested, so you can check at your convenience.

Visit a local TMG member garage, if necessary

If you think your vehicle needs a professional touch, you can locate your nearest CTSI-approved Trust My Garage member by visiting the Trust My Garage website’s ‘Find a Garage’ map! You can even read reviews from other motorists about the members in your area to help you decide which garage is right for you. Try it out here:

Want to know more about Trust My Garage?

Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s trusted local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.

Every garage 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 must comply with a strict code of practice.

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 you and your vehicle. If you want to find out more about Trust My Garage, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

What to do when… You’re maintaining your vehicle during lockdown

With the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic affecting the UK, many motorists are making efforts to keep their vehicle in tip-top shape without breaking the social distancing measures set in place by the UK government. To help drivers, Trust My Garage has put together some advice on how you can stay within the guidelines and keep your vehicle at its best – read on to find out more!

With the implementation of a lockdown, it is best to use your car only for essential travel – such as food shopping, collecting a prescription, medical appointments or travelling to work if you are unable to work from home. By using vehicles less frequently than is the norm, many motors are left standing on driveways, in garages and parked on the roadside, leading to potential roadworthiness and safety issues.

Remember, many garages remain open for essential repairs, so if you have any concerns about your vehicle’s roadworthiness, get it checked out as soon as possible.

MOT status, tax and insurance – are you covered?

Without getting into your vehicle, you could be in violation of the UK’s motoring laws – but you can take simple steps to be sure you aren’t driving illegally.

MOT

Due to the pandemic, the UK government is extending car MOTs due from 30th March onward by six months on a 7-day rolling basis (so an MOT due on 1st April is now due on 1st October, and so on). Review dates are currently subject to a staggered implementation, and extended dates are being posted on the Gov.uk website here. To find out more on how the extension works, you can view our “The MOT Extension – how does it work and does it apply to you?” here.

Even if your vehicle’s MOT has been extended by the government, should you feel it is unsafe or unroadworthy take it to a garage as soon as possible for an MOT, repairs or maintenance. Your safety and the safety of other road users is paramount!

Tax

Although you may not be using your vehicle as regularly as normal, it is still subject to Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), commonly known as road tax. This is an annual tax that is levied as an excise duty and which must be paid for most types of vehicles which are to be driven or parked on public roads in the UK.

About a month before your road tax expires the DVLA will issue you with a V11 Vehicle Tax Reminder, containing the information you need to either renew your tax online, via telephone or at a Post Office branch, as well as the date your current road tax period will expire. You can also check the status of your road tax online via the Gov.uk website here.

Insurance

During lockdown, you may also need to check that your vehicle is still insured for use. Your insurance provider will send a reminder email or letter approximately a month before your policy is due for renewal, so you can choose to either renew with your current supplier, or with another provider depending on what suits you best.

If you aren’t sure when your insurance renewal is due, your existing policy documents will provide the correct date. Insurance providers often supply these via an online portal or paper format, depending on what you have requested, so you can check at your convenience.

Tread carefully when it comes to tyres

You should check your tyre pressures at least every two weeks – and if your vehicle has a spare, check that too! Under inflated tyres increase fuel consumption and reduce vehicle handling, and they also lead to increased tyre wear, which means your tyres may require replacing sooner than you expect.

The legal limit for minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the whole tyre, 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. You should also look out for cuts or wear anywhere on the tyre and replace them if you can see tears or bulges.

If a vehicle stands for an extended period of time, flat spots may occur on your car’s tyres. These happen when a vehicle’s wheels have not rotated for a long period of time and the downward pressure from the body causes the tyres to become misshapen where they contact the road surface.

When a car has a flat spot on one of its tyres, this can lead to symptoms such as vibrations on the steering and inconsistent handling, because the wheel is unbalanced. If flat spots do occur on your tyres, they may rectify themselves as the vehicle is brought back into use; however this may take some time. If you are unsure whether the vibration you are encountering is a tyre flat spot or something more serious, contact your local garage.

Batteries and brakes – are they roadworthy?

When a vehicle is not used for a prolonged period of time there is a risk of the battery power draining to a point where there is insufficient charge to start your car. If you find your car has a flat battery you have a number of options:

  • Charge it using the correct type of external battery charger
  • Jump start the car using jumper leads connected to another vehicle or battery.

Before using either option it is always advisable to consult your vehicle handbook to ensure you connect any cables correctly, as so incorrect use could cause damage to your vehicle’s sensitive electrical systems.

If there are two cars in your household, you may want to consider alternating your essential trips in them. You should also be mindful that repeated short journeys will flatten your battery faster than usual, which is even more reason to follow the government’s guidance to shop for necessities as infrequently as possible. You should also avoid turning your engine on only to turn it off again shortly after.

Another issue that can occur when vehicles are left unused for long periods is brake seizure or sticking. This makes it difficult to get the vehicle rolling after not being used. If your brakes do stick or seize on this may not be as easy to resolve as a flat battery, so contact your local garage and arrange for a vehicle check prior to undertaking any travel after prolonged periods without use.

Working brakes should have a foot pedal that feels firm throughout its working travel, getting firmer the more you push down on the pedal. If you notice that the brakes feel spongy or slack, and perhaps the car appears to be taking longer to slow down or stop, you likely have air in the brake lines. If this is the case, take your vehicle to a garage to have it inspected!

Keep things fluid

You should check fluid levels to keep your engine well maintained and have your car ready to drive when you need it. Top up your:

  • Oil: Make sure your engine oil level is showing between the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick. If your vehicle doesn’t have a dipstick consult the handbook on how to check your engine oil level electronically. Details of the correct oil type and grade will also be noted in your handbook.
  • Coolant: The coolant level in your vehicle should be between the minimum and maximum marks on the water tank in the engine compartment. If you need to top up your coolant, you must do so as per the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Windscreen wash: A clear view of the road is vital. A dirty windscreen combined with low Spring sunshine can make visibility difficult. If your washers aren’t working correctly your view of the road ahead can be severely impaired, so top up your screen wash and check you wiper blades for dirt or trapped debris

Take a long, hard look

Prior to setting off on any journey, it’s always good to visually inspect your vehicle for any issues, such as dirty or broken lights or tyre inflation, and ensure your front and rear number plates are clearly visible.

Not sure how best to care for your car?

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.

If you’re looking for a professional local garage to help give your car some TLC you can find a local CTSI approved Trust My Garage member by visiting the Trust My Garage website’s ‘Find a Garage’ map! You can even read reviews from other motorists about the members in your area to help you decide which garage is right for you. Try it out here:

Want to know more about Trust My Garage?

Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s trusted local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.

Every garage 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.

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 you and your vehicle. If you want to find out more about Trust My Garage, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Don’t forget: If you can think of any more top lockdown maintenance tips, leave us a comment in the box below!

The Highway Code – How well do you know the rules of the road?

The Highway Code – How well do you know the rules of the road?

The Highway Code is a set of information, advice, guides and mandatory rules for all road users in the United Kingdom. It operates as a tool to promote road safety – but how well do you know the rules laid out in it? Find out on the Trust My Garage blog!

We’ve put together a quiz to test your knowledge across different areas of the Code, so you can find out if you know enough to write the book – or need to read it cover to cover! Try your hand at our questions below and be sure to leave a comment if you’re pleased with your score.

If a rule in the Highway Code is a legal requirement, it is identified by the use of which phrase?

  1. ‘Do/do not’
  2. ‘Should/should not’
  3. ‘Must/must not’
  4. ‘Never/always’

When passing an animal on or near the road, you should:

  1. Sound your horn
  2. Rev your engine
  3. Accelerate rapidly
  4. Drive slowly, give them plenty of room and be ready to stop

Where lanes are restricted due to roadworks, you should:

  1. Merge in turn with other traffic
  2. Slow down to a stop and turn off your engine
  3. Accelerate rapidly to get away from traffic
  4. Allow drivers from other lanes to pass but hold up vehicles behind you

When visibility is seriously reduced due to adverse weather, you must:

  1. Switch on your fog lights immediately
  2. Use your headlights when you cannot see for more than 100 metres
  3. Keep your headlights switched off to avoid dazzling other drivers
  4. Stay inside and not drive at all

What does the below arm signal mean when used to inform other road users:

  1. I intend to move out to the right or turn right
  2. I intend to slow down or stop
  3. I intend to move in to the left or turn left
  4. I intend to reverse

What is the maximum penalty fine for speeding?

  1. £1,000 fine (£2,500 for motorway offences)/Discretionary disqualification
  2. £2,500 fine (£3,000 for motorway offences)/Discretionary disqualification
  3. £500 fine (£1,000 for motorway offences)
  4. £1,000 fine (£2,500 for motorway offences)

If you have to stop your vehicle on the roadside you must:

  1. Open the door without checking for pedestrians
  2. Park facing against the traffic flow
  3. Only apply the handbrake if you are on a hill
  4. Switch off the engine, headlights and fog lights

If your vehicle breaks down, think first of all other road users and:

  1. Wear dark clothing and try to avoid being seen by other drivers
  2. Warn other traffic by using your hazard warning lights if your vehicle is causing an obstruction
  3. Leave the vehicle in the road for as long as possible
  4. Do not call for help

How do you think you did? Check out the answers below to see how well you scored!

ANSWERS

1 – C, 2 – D, 3 – A, 4 – B, 5 – C, 6 – A, 7 – D, 8 – B

If you scored well, congratulations! You know your stuff when it comes to the Highway Code. If you need to brush up on the correct answers you can read the Code in full here.

Test your motor as well as your mind

Before heading out on to the road, it’s important to make sure your knowledge is up to scratch – but you should also make sure your vehicle is safe and roadworthy too! With Trust My Garage, it’s simple to find a reputable local garage to help you with your motor’s servicing, MOT and maintenance.

With over 2,900 members across the UK, you’re never far away from a TMG member. We’ve even created a handy search function so you can locate your nearest TMG-approved garage with ease!

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. Try it out below:

Since 2016 Trust My Garage members have all operated to a strict Code of Conduct, which has been approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) – the national body for trading standards professionals. Trust My Garage is currently the only CTSI backed code exclusively for independent garages, so you can rest assured that you are dealing with a firm that is determined to deliver the highest levels of customer satisfaction.

Want to know more about TMG? To get more information or to contact Trust My Garage, please visit TrustMyGarage.co.uk or Contact Us here.

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.

What is ADAS and how does it affect motorists?

Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) have been the talk of the motor industry of late – but what does ADAS actually do and how does it affect motorists? Trust My Garage has the answers!

What is ADAS?

Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), are electronic systems that aid a vehicle driver while driving – so they’re designed to help minimize human error, often the cause of road accidents, and therefore increase safety on the roads.

They’re one of the fastest-growing areas in automotive electronics – and future iterations are likely to include wireless vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity to help further increase safety measures. However, at the moment this is still far off in the future.

What does it do?

ADAS safety features are designed to mitigate the likelihood of a collision and reduce the effects in the event of an unavoidable collision by offering technologies that alert drivers to potential problems, or to avoid collisions by implementing safety measures and taking over control of the vehicle.

Features of ADAS vary from vehicle to vehicle, but can include:

  • Automated lighting & wipers
  • Adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance
  • Pedestrian Crash Avoidance Mitigation (PCAM)
  • Incorporated sat nav/traffic warnings
  • Alerting of a driver to other cars or dangers
  • Lane departure warning system
  • Automatic lane centring
  • Blind spot display
  • Smartphone connection for navigation
  • Road sign recognition
  • Stability control systems
  • Park distance control
  • High beam assist

Why do motorists want ADAS?

In short, ADAS is beneficial because it helps improve road safety. As previously mentioned, they’re designed to aid drivers and implement safeguarding procedures as errors happen – helping to keep road users safe.

The evidence of ADAS’s effectiveness is clear enough that many functions have become mandatory on new cars sold in various regions around the world. Currently, the EU has announced 19 vehicle safety measures that it would like to see on all new cars.

Euro NCAP (The European New Car Assessment Programme) is the UK and Europe’s car safety assessment program – establishing a 5-star rating system occupant safety in the case of a vehicle collision. Euro NCAP has embraced ADAS, and it continues to adapt its assessment procedures to address the growing number of systems and technologies.

This support of road user protection over the past few years has led to widespread consumer awareness of the benefits of safer cars. It’s also expected that Euro NCAP and its testing and rating system will play a similar role in encouraging ADAS to be adopted across the motor industry.

How could ADAS affect day-to-day driving?

ADAS technology has already begun to enhance driving for many motorists as manufacturers have begun to create and adapt their own systems. There are a number of ways in which it could affect motorists day-today, such as:

  • Reduced the amount of damage to vehicles due to anti-collision features
  • Lower repair costs due to less damage
  • Less severe accidents, reducing the amount of time a vehicle spends off the road
  • Improved road safety
  • Potential insurance discounts for vehicles fitted with ADAS
  • Fewer claims, helping to improve insurance premiums

Do motorists need to take additional care of ADAS-equipped vehicles?

In the future, ADAS checks may be incorporated into a ‘Periodical Technical Inspection’, proposed in the EU as a replacement for the MOT – however, this would still be far in the future, or possibly not happen at all.

The current iteration of ADAS can be maintained with calibration; a service that ensures the sensors and other equipment on a vehicle are working correctly individually and in co-ordination with one another. A typical ADAS calibration processes and thus the time required to undertake will vary from vehicle to vehicle. Calibration is required when the following occurs:

  • Front windscreen is replaced
  • A bumper is repaired or replaced
  • A front-end collision occurs
  • Steering geometry is adjusted
  • Suspension components replaced

A calibration is preformed to correct misalignment, so that your vehicle’s ADAS system is working as intended. If a calibration is missed, an ADAS component may not function as it should and could cause a potential risk to you and others on the road.

How can I see if a garage provides ADAS services?

Garages across the UK now offer ADAS calibration services as part of their menu – but if you’re looking for a garage that goes the extra mile, you can use Trust My Garage’s “Find a Garage” map to locate you’re nearest Trust My Garage-approved member, so why not try it out below?

If you’re unsure whether a garage offers ADAS calibration, each TMG member has their own profile page where you can read about their services on offer – and easily find contact information if you’d rather call or visit the garage yourself! You can even request a price estimate if you know what work you need.

As well as being part of the IGA, the largest and most prominent representative body in the Independent garage sector, every Trust My Garage member operates to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved Code of Conduct – meaning you and your motor get the quality service you deserve every time you visit a TMG-approved garage.

For more information about how TMG can help you – no matter what services you need – you can visit TrustMyGarage.co.uk, or check out our Facebook and Twitter pages here!

Vehicle safety recalls – what are they and how can they affect motorists?

Motoring in the UK requires drivers to meet a variety of rules and regulations – but what happens when a manufacturer discovers an issue with your vehicle? Trust My Garage has all the information you need when it comes to ensuring your vehicle is safe; check it out below!

 

What is a vehicle safety recall?

A vehicle recall happens when a manufacturer identifies an issue with a particular make or model of vehicle – sometimes they affect a small number of vehicles, and sometimes it’s a much wider range depending on the issue.

In the UK alone, it’s not unusual for a single recall to apply to 100,000 cars or more, sometimes from more than one manufacturer. Worldwide, the biggest ever recall was for 14 million vehicles (carried out by Ford in 2009).

The DVSA estimates around 2.39 million UK cars – around one in 13 – currently in use have unresolved safety recalls that have been issued jointly by the government department and manufacturers.

While there are some instances that will cause owners concern – such as the Vauxhall Zafira fires or Toyota and Lexus airbags, for the most part recalls are for smaller fixes to ensure reliability or, in the case of the VW emissions scandal, create compliance with emissions regulations.

 

How can I be made aware of a recall?

After determining what needs recalling, the manufacturer registers the issue with the DVSA, who then authorise the DVLA to provide contact details of all current owners.

From these, manufacturers can then write, email or call vehicle owners to make them aware of an outstanding recall on their vehicle and advise them on how to proceed.

 

What if I want to check for a recall myself?

The DVSA website has a function where motorists can check their car’s MOT history, and they have now added a “Recall Checker” function to their service. All you need is the vehicle registration – test it out at https://www.check-mot.service.gov.uk/.

If there is an outstanding recall on the vehicle you are searching for the information below will be provided and you will be advised to contact your nearest dealership to conduct an assessment:

If there is no recall on your vehicle, the checker will display the below message:

If there isn’t a recall for your vehicle, you don’t have to do anything!

 

If there’s a recall for my vehicle what do I do?

You can book in an appointment with the manufacturer franchised dealer of your choice – just tell them you need an appointment for a recall and provide them with your vehicle’s details at a time convenient for you.

Depending on the severity of the recall, your car could be back to you within five minutes or across the span of several hours, but your chosen garage should be able to advise you on an approximate timescale so you can plan accordingly.

At the most extreme end of the scale, the manufacturer might instruct you not to drive your car until the work has been completed, but this is rare. Porsche took this decision when two of its £100,000 911 GT3 models caught fire. After telling owners not to use their cars, it traced the problem and set about fitting every car it sold with a new engine. This is, however, a highly unlikely possibility for most motorists.

 

How much could a recall cost me?

As recalls are issues identified by a manufacturer any work should be carried out free of charge, no matter how much time has passed since the recall was initially issued.

 

What happens if I don’t fix the issue?

There is currently no legal mandate for owners to have recalls resolved, but the DVSA has been discussing the option of including vehicle recall checks as part of the mandatory annual MOT, with failures for vehicles that are subject to outstanding recalls that haven’t been addressed.

Owners are also responsible for the condition of their vehicle and can be subject to fines and the invalidation of their insurance if found to be driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

 

What can I do about general maintenance for my car?

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 visit the Trust My Garage website – and  be sure to check out the Trust My Garage Facebook and Twitter pages too!

What to do when… a pothole damages your vehicle

Potholes are no joke when it comes to motoring in the UK, but if your vehicle is damaged due to an issue with the road surface what can you do? Trust My Garage has some handy tips for dealing with the ruin of the roads – check them out here!

If in doubt, get out

If you believe your vehicle has been damaged in any way, find a safe place to pull over and inspect the vehicle. You may want to take photos if there are any obvious areas of damage on the vehicle – and only if it is completely safe, take a photo of the pothole in question.

Vehicle problem? Solved!

If you feel there is a problem with your vehicle as a result of a pothole you can take it to your local Trust My Garage member for diagnosis, and if necessary, repair. To find your nearest member you can use our Find a Garage map, which lets you see every TMG-approved member in your area.

All Trust My Garage members operate to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Code of Conduct, meaning you and your vehicle will get the best possible service from a business dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service. If you want to claim against any costs incurred, make sure to keep all invoices and receipts to send off copies when requested.

See it, say it

If there’s a pothole problem you’re concerned about, report it to the relevant authorities. Depending on where the road is changes which organisation you need to inform – here’s what you need to know:

Motorways or major A-roads

  • England: Highways England – although if you hit a pothole in London, inform Transport For London (TFL)
  • Wales: Trunk Road Agents
  • Scotland: Transport Scotland

If the pothole is on a smaller road, it is the responsibility of the local council, so report it to them.

The .Gov website provides information on which organisation to use based on the location of the pothole in England, and you can contact your local council via their website or telephone number to report an issue.

Making a claim

If a pothole has damaged your vehicle you can make a claim to attempt to recoup the costs of any damage incurred. Most councils and highway agencies will send you a form when you report the pothole, so fill in as much detail as possible and return this along with copies of any receipts, invoices and photographs taken.

Some authorities may also ask for a copy of a valid MOT certificate for the vehicle, so be sure to have a copy of this included with your paperwork.

However: making a claim isn’t a guarantee of reimbursement. The Highways Act 1980 allows road authorities to decline claims provided they took reasonable steps to make sure the road is maintained, and potholes dealt with quickly. If your claim is thrown out you may have to utilise your insurance policy, but this could affect your no-claims bonus.

Another option is to try to prove that the body responsible for the road did not do a good enough job of road repairs. One way of doing this is to ask the road authority for details of repairs to the road that damaged your car, or do so through the Freedom of Information Act.

The latter can take 20 working days, but if you can prove that the road has been neglected it is hard for your claim to be turned down.

Keeping up with your maintenance

Whether you’ve suffered pothole damage or not it’s important to keep your vehicle in in tip-top shape. Whether you need a check-up, service, MOT or repair, you can visit your nearest Trust My Garage member and the CTSI-approved Code of Conduct our members operate to means that you’ll get the best possible service.

For more information you can visit www.TrustMyGarage.co.uk – and be sure to check out the Trust My Garage Facebook and Twitter pages too!

Fuel-efficient driving – How can you make your motor’s MPG go the extra mile?

As of December 2018, BBC News’ Fuel Price Calculator revealed the price of fuel per litre across the UK stood at £1.24 and £1.34 for petrol and diesel vehicles respectively (source). With the cost of filling up the tank on the rise, Trust My Garage has some top tips on how to drive economically and make your MPG go further – check them out below!

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Condense your time on the road

Did you know that when you drive a car that has been parked for a few hours the engine is cold and it uses more fuel to power the engine for the first five miles or so? By combining your errands into one daily trip you can save your pennies and your mileage – meaning your miles will last longer between trips to the pump.

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Stick to the speed limit

This one should be a given for responsible driving, but stick to the speed limits! What Car? research shows that a vehicle going at 80mph uses up to 25% more fuel than one going at 70mph.

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Spend a minute on maintenance

One of the best ways to improve your fuel efficiency is to keep your car well maintained and serviced regularly. By ensuring your car is running optimally you can utilise your fuel and go further for your pounds, even if it’s just pumping up your tyres to the correct pressure! If you’re not sure on how best to go about maintaining your car, check out our latest maintenance blog post: “Winter driving – how to stay safe when the cold hits”.

If you think your car could be in need of a service, you need a helping hand when it comes to good maintenance practice, or you think your motor could be in need of a repair, your local Trust My Garage member can help. Not sure if there’s a member near you? Pop your post code into TMG’s ‘Find a Garage’ map and we can tell you who’s nearby!

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Air-con? Air-gone!

Car heaters don’t, in general, use up much fuel as they recycle the heat from the engine. Air conditioning, however, does. It’s definitely the case if you have an older vehicle but it’s much less noticeable with modern cars. Remember that using your air-con regularly is a good thing, as it keeps the seals in good condition. It also dries the air so that it’s as useful to you in winter as it is in summer for keeping your windscreen de-misted. But what about opening windows instead? When it comes to keeping them down it may affect fuel consumption at more than 40mph, but air conditioning marginally increases fuel use at all speeds.

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Keep F1 on the track

“Slip-streaming” behind other vehicles to help save fuel is a technique Formula 1 drivers adopt, but it is highly dangerous and frowned upon by road safety experts. Similarly, switching off the engine whilst moving and coasting to a stop is also deemed to be extremely reckless – so don’t bring racetrack habits to the road.

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Take a weight off

Just like your body, your car needs more fuel to move around more weight, which means you shouldn’t cart items around in your boot unless you absolutely need to. You can also reduce weight by filling up with less fuel, more often. You’d be surprised how much more a full tank of fuel weighs than half a tank!

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Read the road and use gravity

Use gravity to your advantage and build up momentum by pushing on downhill to power through inclines. This may sound confusing, but a good way to do this is to read the road as if you were on a pushbike and accelerate accordingly. While doing this, be sure to look far ahead while driving and keep moving where possible by anticipating obstacles. Easing off the throttle and keeping momentum is better than speeding up, braking and then starting all over again.

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What is Trust My Garage?

Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s best local garages – every one different and every one 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. If there’s a problem that can’t be sorted out between you and your garage, the IGA takes over and helps to achieve a happy outcome.

For more information about Trust My Garage or to locate your nearest TMG member visit www.trustmygarage.co.uk.

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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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