Blog Archives

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.

snow traffic.jpg

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.

vw snow tyre.jpg

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!

warm clothes.jpg

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

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Motoring scams – how can you stay safe?

When it comes to motoring, we at Trust My Garage want to make sure drivers stay as safe as possible on the roads. That’s why we’ve created our ever-growing network of trusted independent garages, to keep your vehicle running in optimum condition and keep you as happy as possible.

 

However, there are others who wish to ruin your motoring experience by submitting drivers to a variety of scams, which can damage both your vehicle and your bank account – and we don’t think that’s fair to you. In order to help you stay aware of potential dangers, we’ve put together information about some recent scams that have affected unfortunate motorists.

 

The speeding fine email

As recently as October 2017, scam emails have been circulated to motorists advising them of ‘Notice of Intended Prosecution’ or ‘NIP’ for a speeding offence. These emails have been supposedly sent from the Government or police and can even claim to have ‘photographic evidence’ of the offence, however they are completely false.

fake-speeding-email2

The only way legitimate notices of intended prosecution are sent is via Royal Mail to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) registered address, so anyone who receives this email is advised to report it to Action Fraud, the national Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, and delete it without clicking any links or attachments.

 

The whiplash accident

According to ABI figures, the national cost of whiplash claims makes up 20 per cent of the average insurance premium, while insurer Aviva claims that a staggering 94 per cent of all its compensation claims for motor accidents relate to minor whiplash. (source)

whiplash stretcher

Minor whiplash is very hard to prove or disprove, but if you suspect someone is fraudulently claiming whiplash against you after a small collision, seek the advice of a solicitor to see if you can fight it.

There have been recent attempts to clamp down on false whiplash claims, however the difficulty in verifying the claims have led to new legislation, known as the ‘2015 dishonestly laws’, being put into place in order to correctly punish fraudulent claimants.

 

The ‘cash for crash’ scheme

‘Cash for crash’ is the nickname given to schemes where a scammer intentionally crashes into another driver in order to make a fraudulent claim on their insurance. Often tied in with whiplash claims, ‘crash for cash’ costs the UK £340m every year, with profits frequently funding other criminal activities such as firearms and drug dealing. The BBC states:

“Crash for cash scammers choose their victims carefully – they keep an eye out for drivers who look like they would be fully insured but be less likely to cause a fuss. Mothers with children on board and the elderly are favoured victims. If you’ve been a victim, the circumstances are likely to be as follows:

The accident

A car in front of you slams on the brakes for no obvious reason, and you have no time to react and collide with the car in front. Another scenario (known as ‘flash for cash’) happens when a driver flashes their lights at a junction to let you out, then crashes into you deliberately.

The blame

The other driver will insist the accident is your fault. The scammer will then hand over their insurance details – sometimes already prepared and written down.

 The claim

A few weeks after the accident your insurers will write to you with details of the other driver’s claim which will be exaggerated with costs like car hire, recovery and whiplash injuries.” (source)

cash crash

So how can you avoid this scam? It helps to pay attention to the driver and passengers of other cars around you – people frequently looking backwards or driving erratically can be a giveaway of a ‘cash for crash’ scheme in process. Try and keep a safe braking distance away from other vehicles and be sure to watch for cars turning and manoeuvring around you. Fraudsters may even try and disable their brake lights to try and cause an accident, so make sure to pay attention to your surroundings.

 

The online car-buying con

Not content with damaging your existing car, there has even been a scam designed to trap motorists purchasing cars online, via sites such as eBay. Cons like these use cloned cars – which is like automobile identity theft – to sell illegal vehicles under legal details, leaving buyers out of pocket with an illegal vehicle. The stolen vehicle is given the identity of a similar legitimate car, including licence plates, chassis numbers and accompanying documentation. Prospective buyers can run a background check on the car and the details will appear to be correct.

One victim lost £17,000 after paying in cash for a Mercedes later discovered to be cloned and was left with no way to regain their lost money due to no proof of transaction.

eBay-car-scam-online-801778

How can you avoid this scam? The best method is to purchase via authorised sellers, like garages and dealerships, but viewing a car in person is always beneficial and ensuring you pay for your purchase via a traceable, secure method means there is evidence of your purchase and the recipient of your money should anything go awry.

 

What should you do if you think you’ve been a scam victim?

The first steps in reporting a scam, especially one where you have lost money, should be to report it to Action Fraud. If you wish to get in contact with your local authorities for a crime number, you can also call or visit your local police station. For further information and for other types of scam advice, Citizens Advice can provide more information, viewable here.

Action Fraud

Telephone: 0300 123 2040

Textphone: 0300 123 2050

Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm

Website: www.actionfraud.police.uk

 

About 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.tmg_ctsi_long

Getting to know your vehicle’s dashboard

A new study of 2,000 drivers shows nine in 10 have had a symbol pop up on the dashboard which they haven’t recognised – but what can motorists do to expand their knowledge?

Here at Trust My Garage, we think you should get to know your vehicle a bit better, so we’ve created this handy breakdown of what all the lights on your dashboard mean. As always, it’s best to refer to your Owner’s Manual for the correct detailed information for your vehicle, but for some quick reference here’s what you need to know:

 check-engine-light Check Engine Light:

Indicates the engine computer has set a fault code. Usually requires diagnosis with a professional scan tool.

 

battery-charge-light Battery/Charging Alert:

Indicates voltage level is below normal level and the vehicle’s charging system is not functioning properly. Check battery terminals, alternator belt, and battery condition.

 

coolant-temp-light Coolant Temp Warning:

Indicates temperature has exceeded normal limits. Check coolant level, fan operation, radiator cap, coolant leaks.

 

 Transmission-Light Transmission Temperature:

Transmission is operating at higher than optimum temperature as transmission fluid is hotter than normal. Check transmission fluid level and engine coolant level.

 

oil-pressure-warning-light Oil Pressure Warning:

If this light stays lit, it indicates loss of oil pressure. Immediately check oil level and pressure.

 

Oil_change_words_amber Oil Change Reminder:

Indicates that oil life has expired. The reset procedure should be listed in the owner’s manual.

 

service vehicle light Service Vehicle Soon:

Typically indicates a lighting or other electrical problem that is controlled by the body control module. Check all lights (head lights, turn signals, brake lights, and hazard lights). This symbol may also be used to warn driver of a traction control problem, or a communication problem between modules.

 

tpms-light TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System):

Indicates the tyre pressure monitoring system has found a tyre with low air pressure or there may be a sensor malfunction. Check tyre pressure. Some vehicles will allow manual reset of TPMS warning light and others will require professional diagnosis. Refer to owner’s manual.

 

brake-warning-light Brake System:

Indicates one of three possible conditions: the handbrake is on; there’s a problem with the braking system/brake fluid is low, or there may be an ABS problem. Check your brake fluid and make sure the handbrake is fully released. If the problem is in the ABS system, it may need a professional diagnosis.

 

 reducedpowerlight Reduced Power Warning:

Indicates Engine Computer has limited engine power output. The ECU has many levels of reduced power depending on what component has failed in its control system. Usually requires diagnosis with a professional scan tool.

 

abs-warning-light ABS Light:

Indicates that the Anti-lock Brake system has a fault and that the ABS isn’t working – this doesn’t mean that your brakes aren’t working but it’s still important.

 

cruise-control-light Cruise Control:

Indicates that cruise control is set during driving.

 

traction-control-warning-light Traction Control or ESP:

Illuminates when the vehicle’s traction control/anti-skid or electronic stability system is in use. Usually an indicator that conditions are slippery.

 

esp-fault-light Traction Control Fault:

Indicates that there is a problem with the vehicle’s traction control/anti-skid or electronic stability system.

 

bulb-monitoring-icon Bulb Failure:

Indicates that there is an exterior light on the vehicle that is not functioning properly.

 

door-bonnet-boot-warning-lights Door Ajar:

Indicates that a door (including bonnet and boot) is not closed. Open and close all doors. If vehicle is left in this condition overnight it can drain the battery.

 

airbag-light  Airbag Fault:

If this light stays illuminated after starting, it indicates that the vehicle has found a fault in the airbag system and the computer has set a code. Professional repair of the supplemental restraint system is highly recommended.

 

washer-fluid-light Washer Fluid Reminder:

Indicates washer fluid is low. Fill washer fluid reservoir. The cap has a symbol that looks like a windshield. Some vehicles have separate reservoirs for front and rear window washers.

 

fog-lamp-light Fog Lamp:

Indicates that the vehicle’s front fog lamps are illuminated.

 

There are also dashboard lights that are only applicable to diesel vehicles. Here’s what those symbols mean:

glow-plug-warning-light Glow Plug (Diesel):

On diesel vehicles, this light indicates that the engine’s glow plugs are warming up and the engine should not be started until this light goes out.

 

DPF_Warning_light DPF Light (Diesel):

There is a problem with the DPF that requires attention.

 

def-light DEF Light (Diesel):

This light indicates the diesel exhaust fluid reservoir is low on fluid. If your diesel car is only a few years old, you might have spotted a second, smaller filler cap next to the main diesel filler. If that cap is marked ‘AdBlue’, then your car is fitted with clever technology designed to reduce its emissions. AdBlue is a non-toxic liquid that’s colourless in appearance and is a solution of water and urea. To comply with Euro 6 legislation, recent diesel-powered cars use SCR technology to inject microscopic quantities of this liquid into the flow of exhaust gases. It has become increasingly commonplace but isn’t standard in every diesel car, and if you’re a low-mileage driver it is unlikely to affect you between services.

Information has been provided from Autozone.com and is correct at the time of publication.

General Advice:

An orange light specifies a warning or something that needs your attention, a red light means stop immediately and seek advice from a professional.

If you’re concerned about any lights illuminating on your vehicle’s dashboard, you can visit your local Trust My Garage member via our Find a Garage map, where you’ll find a local, independent, Chartered Trading Standards Institute approved garage ready to provide you and your vehicle a friendly and professional service.

For further information about Trust My Garage you can visit our website here.

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Number plate spotting – Can you guess the country of origin?

Over the last few years, traffic on the UK’s roads has been increasing. Drivers of commercial vehicles have become a ubiquitous sight, from delivery vans laden with parcels to heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). These vehicles haul goods and services across the nation, delivering to millions of companies and households every day. Trade across Europe has also developed, creating an influx of foreign goods vehicles on UK roads – but which countries are they coming from?

lorry traffic

Lorries and other goods vehicles are more prevalent than ever on UK roads

 

To help you identify goods vehicles in the future, Trust My Garage has designed a test for all the savvy spotters out there, helping you expand your geographical knowledge by number plate – and even impress a passenger or two in the future! Take our quiz below and let us know how you fare in the comments.

 

The rules are simple – we show you a number plate, with its country identifier, and you guess where that vehicle originated. Simple! So, let’s get started…

 

  1. We’ll start you off with an easy one – where does the ‘F’ on this number plate relate to?

france plate.png

  1. Ok, this one is a bit tougher – what country is ‘LT’?

Lithuania plate

  1. Try this – where is ‘GBZ’?

Gibraltar-plate

  1. Here’s another to test your knowledge – what country does ‘SK’ refer to?

Slovakia plate

  1. Getting harder – where does ‘LV’ refer to?

Latvia plate

  1. Is your brain working yet? Try this one – where is ‘CZ’?

Czech plate

  1. Time to test you – what country is ‘E’?

Spain plate

  1. Try this one – where is ‘CY’?

Cyprus Plate

  1. How about this – which country does ‘DK’ refer to?

Denmark plate

  1. Ok, last one – what country is ‘HR’?

Croatia plate

You’re all done, so it’s time to look below for the answers!

 

Answers:

  1. France
  2. Lithuania
  3. Gibraltar
  4. Slovakia
  5. Latvia
  6. Czech Republic
  7. Spain
  8. Cyprus
  9. Denmark
  10. Croatia

So, how well did you do? Was it better or worse than you thought? Either way, let us know! Spotting number plates is always a fun way to pass time when travelling, and now you can show off your impressive skills to friends and family alike.

 

Don’t forget, if you’re planning a road trip this summer, you can visit your local Trust My Garage member to ensure your car is running at its best. You can find your nearest member garage by using our handy Find a Garage map and see what services they have on offer, and any reviews left by other customers too! All Trust My Garage members adhere to our Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved code of conduct, so you and your vehicle get the best possible service.

 

As well as this fun quiz, if you’re looking for some other tips, check out our post on what to do when driving in summer, or if you’re feeling continental you can take a look at some of the best driving roads in Europe – and remember, happy motoring!

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UK speeding law changes: How do they affect you?

As of Monday 24th April 2017, the UK speeding sentencing guidelines have undergone some changes, increasing the severity of penalties for anyone caught committing a speeding offence.

The Sentencing Council have published their revised guidelines for 2017 onward in a report, which you can have a look at here. We’ve broken down the most important parts of the report for you below.

 

How the fines are calculated

Fines will be calculated using the Band system. Offences are broken down into categories, known as bands, based on their severity. This is then used to gauge an approximate fine. Bands A, B, and C are shown here with their penalties:

Sentencing range 

Band C fine
150% of relevant weekly income

Band B fine
100% of relevant weekly income

Band A fine
50% of relevant weekly income

 Disqualification

Points

Disqualification for 7-56 days OR
6 points on your licence

Disqualification for 7-28 days OR
4-6 points on your licence

3 points on your licence

  • Must endorse and may disqualify. If no disqualification impose 3 – 6 points
  • Where an offender is driving grossly in excess of the speed limit the court should consider a disqualification in excess of 56 days.

 

What happens if someone commits a speeding offence?

The penalty received for speeding depends on the speed the offence was committed at and the speed limit of the road used. The table below shows which speeds fall under which bands comparative to the speed limit.

Speed limit (mph)  Recorded speed (mph)
20 41 and above 31 – 40 21 – 30
30 51 and above 41 – 50 31 – 40
40 66 and above 56 – 65 41 – 55
50 76 and above 66 – 75 51 – 65
60 91 and above 81 – 90 61 – 80
70 101 and above 91 – 100 71 – 90
Sentencing Range Band C Band B Band A

For example, if you were driving at 42mph in a 20mph speed limit area your offence would fall into Band C, but doing the same speed in a 30mph speed limit area would mean your offence falls into Band B.

 

Is there any real change from the previous rules?

The Band system has changed how drivers are fined, as this is now worked out on a percentage of weekly income and the severity of the offence. There has also been an increase in severity of penalty when speeding in low-speed limit areas. The maximum fines for speeding have not changed. These are:

  • £1,000 on a normal UK road
  • £2,500 on a UK motorway.

 

Remember, the easiest way to avoid being caught speeding is by not speeding! If you want to make sure your car is running smoothly you can pop into your nearest Chartered Trading Standards approved Trust My Garage member for all your motoring needs. You can find your closest garage with our handy Find a Garage map. If you want to know more about why Trust My Garage members are the best, take a look at our blog post explaining the benefits of visiting a TMG member.

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Why is the MOT so important for vehicles?

Every year from the age of three your car should, by law, go in for an MOT test. But what exactly does the MOT do and why are they so important?

 

What even is an MOT?

During an MOT, the most important parts of your vehicle are “checked to make sure they meet the legal standards” (Gov). By having an MOT, you’re making sure that your car is safe to drive on UK roads. It’s called an MOT because it was originally named after the original Ministry of Transport (MoT). (source)

 

But I’ve had my car serviced, isn’t that the same?

Simply put, no. The MOT does not cover the condition of the engine, clutch or gearbox, which are the parts of your car that will be looked at during a service. The MOT looks at mechanical parts of your car and emissions as well. 

 

Ok, so what parts of my car does the MOT look at?

The MOT provides you with an evaluation on the condition of most of your car, such as bodywork, fuel, seats, brakes and tyres. For a more in-depth breakdown of all the parts of your car looked at during the MOT, you can have a look at the full government list here, or take a look at the photo below.

car-mot-whats-included

Car parts looked at during the MOT (source)

So why is the MOT so important for my car?

Under the current system, 27.48 million vehicles took the MOT test last year and 4 out of 10 of them were found to be unroadworthy when examined. (DVSA, 2015) Even with a regular test every year, that’s still just under 11 million vehicles that aren’t fit to drive on UK roads.

With the Government opening their new consultation about extending the time before a car’s first MOT, it’s important to think about how many more dangerous vehicles – which could be over 3 and a half million! – that could be around in just one extra year’s time. 

 

 

Wait, the government want to do what?

Yes, you read that right. The government have opened a public consultation asking for opinions on whether a car should be able to wait 4 years for its first MOT, instead of 3. It’s being called the 4-1-1 system, and while it might seem like a good idea, the facts say otherwise. There is a belief that because modern cars are more reliable, they do not need to be tested so strictly. In practice this is incorrect. Not only is the current MOT failure rate higher than it was in 2008 (when vehicles were less reliable), components designed to wear out – like tyres and brakes – are far more likely to have become dangerous by the time the vehicle is four years old. 

 

But an extra year with no MOT would save me money, right?

Well, that isn’t exactly the case. Extending the time allowed before the first MOT of a car or motorcycle’s life from three years to four would likely prove more expensive for motorists, as it would raise the likelihood that minor problems become more serious defects – which then triggers in turn further defects which require more significant and more costly repairs later. It may also be the case that defects associated with one component due to excessive wear could then result in defects in different but associated components which would otherwise have remained serviceable. The defects are therefore cumulative – which could cost you even more money. 

 

But my car looks fine, so why would it even need an MOT?

While it’s true that your car may look fine at a glance, when was the last time you checked the tread on your tyres? Do you know the proper depth it needs to be at to be road safe? Do you think your brakes are as responsive as when you first got your car? Are the electrics still safe and functioning properly? The MOT is designed to ensure your vehicle is as safe as possible when you drive it, and lets you know if there are any problems before they become a real danger to you and other road users. 

rusty-car

 

Surely it can’t be that much of a problem though?

That’s where you’re wrong. In 2013/14 there were more than 770,000 vehicles discovered during MOT tests with a dangerous defect. Nearly 2,200 EVERY day. The problems ranged from brakes, steering, tyres, suspension, seatbelts, lights and signalling equipment (DfT, ‘MOT Scheme Evidence base’, 2008). Now, when you go out on to the roads, do you want over 2,000 chances of being in an accident due to a dangerous car?

 

You’re right, that’s bad! But what can I do to stop it happening?

For a start, you can take your vehicle for its yearly MOT, to make sure it’s in the best possible condition. If you’re looking for a garage that will carry out a thorough, DVSA standard MOT you can find your nearest trusted independent garage on the Trust My Garage website. All the garages are Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved and are ready to do the best work for you and your vehicle. 

You can also head over proMOTe’s website if you’re looking for some more facts, or you can to the Government website and take a look at the MOT consultation yourself. It’s open for response from all members of the public, so if you think it’s a bad idea, like we do, let the government know!

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