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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Got any New Year’s resolutions of your own? Let us know in the comments!
As Britain’s leading independent garage scheme with almost 2000 members, we pride ourselves on looking after our garage’s customers. This is why we have our Customer Charter, which shows our commitment in providing the best possible care to those who pay for a service, MOT or repair at any of our garages.
Unfortunately, some franchised dealers and other independent garages don’t have the same idea. Let’s take MOT tests as an example.
‘The MOT test checks that your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards. It isn’t the same as having your vehicle serviced and doesn’t check its general mechanical condition.’
This statement is taken from the government’s own website, and it appears to give a perfectly clear and straightforward message for motorists. Unfortunately, the way we treat the MOT test, both in the motor trade and as private motorists, allows commercial considerations to get in the way of safety.
What this often means is the cheapest MOT test is not necessarily the best. This point should be immediately clear to even the most cost-sensitive motorist. The tests can only be conducted by a trained and qualified individual; he or she will require sophisticated, expensive and regularly calibrated equipment and the test should take around 45 minutes to complete.
Garages charging around £20 for an MOT test – or even less in some cases – are not charities. The result is that the overall bill may be significantly higher than expected as the garage seeks to cover the cost of providing the MOT test at an unrealistic and headline-grabbing price.
And the financial pressure on motorists today means that they are not entirely innocent when it comes to their MOT test, either.
Many motorists today use the MOT as an alternative to regular maintenance and submit a car for testing to “see what it fails on” rather than presenting a properly maintained and safe car in expectation that it will pass. This means that they only deal with the failures rather than ensuring that the entire car is safe and reliable.
As an MOT test is a measure of the minimum mechanical standard of a vehicle at that time, this means cars that are between tests may be in a particularly poor state of repair – or even dangerous.
So, a lot of garages respond to this by offering a “no re-test fee” for failures and the cycle continues.
Franchised dealers, with their high labour rates, have often been known to treat the MOT as a loss-leader to retain customers with older vehicles. They also try to give the impression that their MOT test is somehow superior to ones carried out by an independent garage.
Well, this tactic is clearly not working as more than 80 per cent of MOTs are carried out in independent garages.
The UK has one of the best road-worthiness test regimes in Europe, which is reflected in the high levels of road safety compared to some of our European neighbours. But we, at Trust My Garage, are worried that the downward cost spiral for the MOT test in our ever competitive world means that this situation may not last.
So, where does all that leave you, the motorist?
The obvious answer is to place your faith in Trust My Garage. Even if the price is discounted, a motorist can take comfort in the knowledge that any one of our garages will do a proper job – and charge fairly for only those parts that need to be replaced.
In the longer term, the answer is a fixed, or minimum, price for MOTs and a mandatory re-test fee. After all, fair pricing for MOT tests is not only better for motorists, but for garages too. And it will be great news for other road users because more cars will be safer if the industry overall cleans up its act.
The Independent Garage Association will continue to lobby and campaign for the government to enforce this. It is one of the roles of Trust My Garage to educate people to the reasons behind this stance.
Do you want to know where your nearest Trust My Garage is for an honest and professional MOT? Just type your postcode into our garage finder to find your nearest member.
If you are a parent with a child under the age of 16, you may be feeling a little stressed right now. This time of year is difficult and expensive for parents preparing their children for the start of the new school term. There’s such a lot to think about; uniforms, equipment, textbooks, bags, new shoes – and that’s just for starters. The last thing you are going to need is for your car to breakdown on you during the infamous school run!
About one in five cars is driving a child or children to school in rush hour traffic and with the five million primary school children in the UK living on average of one and a half miles from their place of learning, it means there are a lot of cars on the road doing short journeys, five days a week. These driving conditions can cause much more wear and tear on your vehicle than you would imagine and no busy parent wants the stress or expense of a breakdown at this time of year.
Being aware of what causes damage to a vehicle can help reduce the risk of a breakdown or failure during the school run. Here are our top tips to shield you from unexpected repair costs as the kids go back to school.
Make sure your engine is properly lubricated.
Most school runs are quite short journeys, which means that the engine on your vehicle does not have enough time to warm up properly. Engine oil has to reach its full operating temperature in order to lubricate properly This is more likely to be achieved over faster, longer journeys.
What’s the solution?
Let your car ‘idle’ for a few minutes before you begin your journey and this will help your engine warm up ahead of your drive. It will also help to warm, your car up once the cold nights start to draw in. Remember though, don’t go back inside your house while your car warms up – it only takes a few seconds for a thief to take advantage of an empty vehicle.
Concentrate on reading the road.
Hurried braking causes greater wear on the brake pads, which will lead to more frequent trips to the garage.
What’s the solution?
Rather than stopping and starting in traffic, slow down and concentrate on reading the road. By driving more slowly and anticipating when you need to stop, especially around the school environment where young people are likely to be crossing the road, you will apply less pressure to your brakes and gears. This will also help you to save fuel.
Keep an eye on your engine warning and DPF lights
If you drive a diesel vehicle, your are more likely to find your vehicle suffering from engine management problems if you frequently go on short journeys in your car. This is because of the diesel particulate filter (DPF).
The DPF, which traps larger soot particles within the filter and allows smaller particles and gases to escape, can only operate efficiently once your vehicle is driven at 45mph for more than five minutes.
Stop/start driving and motoring at slow speeds means that the soot accumulates and the DPF cannot create sufficient heat to regenerate. Once the soot concentration reaches about 75%, it will need to be looked at by a professional to be regenerated. Don’t ignore the engine warning light if your diesel car is used mainly for short journeys!
What’s the solution?
Make sure you get your car to the nearest Trusted garage if your engine warning or DPF lights start flashing on your dashboard. This is an indication that there is something that needs attention and if ignored, could incur costly repair expenses. In fact, any warning light illuminated on your dashboard is a signal that your vehicle needs some expert attention. If it’s orange you need to contact your local Trust My Garage member as soon as possible – if it’s red, stop the car and call them IMMEDIATELY
You can find your nearest Trust My Garage member by entering your postcode on the Trust My Garage website, here.
Independent garages have access to the same technical information and training as main dealers and are fully equipped to service any type of vehicle to the highest standard, providing you with outstanding value for money.
According to a recent survey from GoCompare, over a third of UK motorists are avoiding regular car services just to save a bit of cash.
It might seem a good idea at the time but regular servicing can work out a lot cheaper than the cost of a repair, which is what you could end up paying for if you continue to put off regular maintenance.
Delaying regular servicing on your vehicle is a false economy, particularly in light of the fact you could be getting your vehicle serviced on average, twice at an independent garage for the cost of one service at a main dealer, as recent information released by the Independent Garage Association shows!
Over 10 million (36%) UK motorists have put off servicing their vehicles to save cash, and over a quarter of us are guilty of travelling more than 2000 miles over our car manufacturer’s recommended mileage before getting a service. According to the same report from GoCompare, one in ten of you could be driving illegally by delaying replacing worn out or damaged tyres! Not only can this put you at risk of losing control on the road, it can also result in a serious driving offence which carries a fine of up to £2,500 and three points on your licence!
This is what you’re saying on Facebook…
Think back to the last time you got your car serviced and ask yourself these two questions:
1. Was it a franchise or independent garage?
2. How much is their hourly labour rate?
By visiting an independent garage for a service, you could pay, on average, £40 an hour less than if you used a franchise dealer.
The IGA polled over 2,000 of its members on their labour rates and states that independent garages continue to offer motorists the very best value for money.
Since the recession officially hit around 2008, times have been tough for all of us. The total cost of running a vehicle seems to be constantly rising so it’s no surprise that people put off servicing when it’s not compulsory. BUT delaying essential servicing and repairs could render your vehicle unsafe and you can end up with much more damage in the long run. In short – preventing a problem early on can help keep car maintenance affordable in difficult times.
Let’s talk figures…
Average labour cost for independent garages = £40
Average labour cost for franchise garages = £95.94
Top 5 lowest prices by region:
1. Cambridgeshire = £34
2. Herefordshire = £35
3. Staffordshire = £36
4. Leicestershire = £36
5. Cumbria = £37
Every member of Trust My Garage (TMG) is an independent garage and provides each customer with a reliable and affordable service. By visiting a TMG member you get all the added benefits of a garage belonging to a reliable, recognised network, without the added cost of belonging to a franchise brand. SEE OUR OWN INFOGRAPHIC WITH ALL THE RESULTS HERE
What the members say:
Garage: Westfield Motors, Essex
“From our perspective skipping servicing is a false economy! Dirty or old oil will make your engine and gearbox unhealthy. If you aren’t checking your engine oil level between services and it runs too low then you could end up looking for a second-hand engine! Brakes need checking regularly for safety reasons, the same as brake fluid! For cars that have cam belts, by not servicing regularly and changing it on time this can also result in engine failure! A service will enable you to be made aware of any broken coil springs (usually caused by potholes) and this could result in cracking and piercing a tyre.
If you take your car to a Trust My Garage member for regular servicing this will help to identify when any repairs may be required and save you money in the long run. It’s a win-win situation!