Blog Archives

Do you know the law regarding your in-car gadgets? Find out with Trust My Garage

Although many vehicles now offer in-built technology such as sat-nav, upgraded sound systems and changeable cabin lighting options, motorists can still opt to adapt their in-car experience to suit their needs and preferences.

The range of technology on offer for drivers to put into their vehicle is wide-reaching, but it is key for motorists to ensure they have correctly installed, positioned or integrated their add-ons to their motor – and to have notified the proper authorities where necessary.

If you’re looking to add some additional tech or equipment to your vehicle’s cabin, the Trust My Garage blog is here to help to ensure you comply with the rules of the road – read on to find out more!

Dashboard Cameras

Commonly known as “dash cams”, these in-car cameras have been popularised as a form of authenticity for recording road incidents and accidents. For proper installation, a dash cam must be fixed behind the rear-view mirror to ensure it doesn’t obstruct your view while capturing both lanes of the road ahead.

Once attached as per the manufacturer’s instructions, a power lead from the dash cam can then be carefully fitted around the edge of your windscreen to the dashboard, ensuring your view of the road remains perfectly clear of wires and cables. If your vision is impaired in any way by your dash cam, your vehicle insurer may refuse to pay out if you are involved in an accident.

As well as potential insurance issues, driving with any obstruction on your windscreen which could limit your field of vision may land you a £100 on-the-spot fine, as well as three penalty points on your driving licence. If your case goes to court, you could also be charged with a maximum fine of £1,000.

Satellite Navigation (Sat-Nav)

UK laws around sat-nav placement are not as specific as laws in place for other technology, such as mobile phones, but vehicle installation warnings advise that your sat nav shouldn’t:

  • Interfere with vehicle operating controls or obstruct a driver’s view of the road
  • Be placed in front of or above any airbag
  • Be positioned where it could distract a driver if it falls from the windscreen

If you travel abroad with a removable sat-nav, before using it you should always check local laws to see if there are specific rules in place – for example, in France it is illegal to have anything in your vehicle that warns you of traffic enforcement camera locations.

When installing a sat-nav device, you should ensure first that the driver’s seat is in the same position as it would be when driving, as placement while sitting in a different position can affect visibility while on the road. You should try to mount your sat nav low down on your windscreen to the far right to maximise your view of the road. If this isn’t possible, opt for the lowest point in the middle of the windscreen.

If you decide to use a mobile phone as a sat-nav alternative, remember you cannot touch it while the vehicle’s engine is running and the keys are in the ignition; this breaks UK laws and can leave you subject to a £200 fine and six penalty points on your licence. Some motorists find a phone holder positioned in their vehicle’s vents helpful, as they can see the screen for directions without having to touch the handset.

Air Fresheners

Much like dash cam rules, air fresheners which dangle from your vehicle’s rear-view mirror can leave you subject to a fine of up to £1,000 and three penalty points on your licence. The Highway Code outlines that “windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision.”

It may seem extreme that an air freshener could be the main factor behind a fine, but if it contributes to a lack of vision which leads to a crash, you could be charged.

Windscreen Chips or Cracks

Windscreen chips are an almost-inevitable factor of driving, and in major cases can even lead to an MOT failure if left unattended.

In the driver’s line of vision, a chip or crack more than 10mm across is enough to fail an MOT. For reference, that’s slightly less than the size of a 5p coin. In other areas of the windscreen, if the damage is larger than 40mm (4cm), the vehicle can also fail its MOT.

If you are stopped by the police with either of these issues you could get a fixed penalty notice fine. If you crash your vehicle because you couldn’t see properly through a chip or crack in your windscreen, then you can be charged with driving without due care, and attention and potentially have your insurer refuse to pay any claims.

Many insurance policies can repair windscreen chips or replace cracked windscreens at a reduced cost. If this applies to your policy, details of the service provider your insurance company uses will be provided within your policy documents. You can make a note of the number for windscreen-related claims and keep it handy in case you get a chip and need to contact the repair company.

Keeping your Vehicle Safe and Roadworthy

To ensure you’re keeping your vehicle’s cabin safe, you should evaluate for any risks to your view whenever you are in your vehicle. Always fit any new technology legally and as per the manufacturer’s instructions, do not touch your mobile phone handset while you are driving and take time to ensure your view isn’t obstructed by any items in the cabin, or chips and cracks in your windscreen.

 When it comes to technology in your vehicle, the Department for Transport (DfT) have said: “Vehicles have become inherently safer with more warning systems alerting the driver to maintenance issues and growing safety focused automation and driver assistance systems. At the same time advances in car infotainment systems and mobile phone technology mean that there are increasing sources of potential distraction for drivers.” Their concerns are that infotainment and mobile phones are leading to a failure to reduce road casualties in the UK.

If you’re concerned about any aspect of your vehicle’s safety, you can visit your local Trust My Garage member and ask them to check your vehicle is safe and roadworthy. You can even find your nearest member online and read reviews from other customers to make sure you get a service to suit your needs – try it out here:

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.

All garages in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association (IGA), 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!

What to do when… your vehicle needs some TLC

With the average UK motorist making 986 trips and covering 6536 miles per year in their car (source), it’s possible that some drivers can leave their motor in need of a little tender loving care when it comes to basic maintenance issues – but how can you make sure you give your vehicle the care it needs? Find out with the Trust My Garage blog!

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.

Engine oil

Use your dipstick (if your vehicle has one) to check oil levels every couple of weeks, when the car is warm and on level ground. Stop the engine and wait a few minutes for the oil to settle, remove the dipstick and wipe it clean.

Push the dipstick all the way in, wait a second, and then withdraw it and check the level. The oil should be between the MIN and MAX marks. If the oil is dark or dirty or underneath the minimum line (or both!) It should be topped up/changed as soon as possible.

Many modern vehicles use an electronic system to check their oil level, so if your vehicle uses this you should familiarise yourself with the system.

Screenwash

It is illegal under the Road Vehicles Regulations 1986 to not have screenwash in your vehicle. Keep it regularly topped up with a screenwash additive – one that prevents it from freezing and clears oily grime from your windscreen for clear vision.

Don’t forget to keep the inside clean too, to avoid your vision being reduced due to glare – especially when the sun gets lower in the sky during daily commutes to and from work.

Water

Every week, while your engine is cold, check your coolant level is between the MIN and MAX marks – if it’s below the minimum line, top it up as required, and check it again after your next journey.

If your coolant level regularly requires topping up you may have a leak in the vehicle’s cooling system, so get it checked out by your local garage!

Windscreen

Keep an eye out for stone damage and, if you spot any chips, get them repaired as soon as possible – as they can grow and crack if left alone. If the damage can’t be repaired, or it’s in a place where it could distract you, your windscreen may need to be replaced.

Many motor insurance policies provide discounted or free chip repairs, and detail how to proceed with your repair.

Bodywork

It’s important to give your car panels an occasional check for any damage, or signs of rust. If you notice any rusty or damaged areas, you can contact a local bodyshop to see how best to proceed with any repairs.

Lights

Take a walk around your vehicle or ask a friend to help check all your lights – including indicators, reversing lights, brake lights and fog lights – once a week. Look out for blown bulbs and cracks or dirt on the lenses.

Your vehicle can receive a Minor Defect notification on its MOT if your indicators do not “flash amber” in compliance with the requirements, so if you have any issues with fading indicator lights you should replace them or have a local garage inspect them – you may only need a new bulb!

If a bulb has broken and you don’t want to replace it yourself you can also take your vehicle to a local garage, who can fix the issue and help you avoid a penalty.

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 what we do?

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.

Each and every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle.

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