Tyre Safety Month – October 2017

Tyre Safety MonthIt seems like only a few months ago we were writing about Tyre Safety Month 2016.  Anyway it is October again so time to support the guys at Tyre Safe.  So what’s in store for Tyre Safety Month 2017?

Well this year, Tyre Safety Month is all about correct tyre pressure: Are you having a Good or a Bad Air Day?  Regular tyre checks should be part of your monthly maintenance but there are a large number of owners who are only replacing tyres when they’ve become illegal and dangerous.  Regular tyre checks could avoid them being a danger on the road.

Here are some facts and figures provided by Tyre Safe:

  • 3% more fuel used when pressure is 6 psi below recommended inflation
  • For every 10% a tyre is under-inflated. Its wear can increase by 10%
  • £600 million wasted yearly on fuel costs by British motorists driving with under-inflated tyres
  • 8% of car tyres in the UK are at least 4 psi below recommended pressures

How to check your tyre pressure

Firstly you need to know what your correct tyre pressure should be.  This can be found in your vehicle’s handbook, inside the fuel cap and also stamped into the sill of the driver’s side door.

Secondly you will need a tyre pressure gauge or you can use the gauge at garages and petrol stations (on the inflation equipment).

There are two different sets of pressures to check – One for “normal” driving conditions and the other for loaded vehicles (ie with extra people or heavy items). 

If you are checking your tyres with a tyre pressure gauge, you can check each tyre pressure individually.  Just remove the valve cap and attach the pressure gauge to it.  You can then verify what the reading is.  Air can be then added if you are underinflated at most petrol stations.  Tyres which are overinflated (ie too much air), use the tyre gauge/inflator (at the garage) and press the equipment in half way to let a little air out so that the tyre pressure is back to the recommended level.  Once you have the correct air pressure level, just remove the air hose and reattach the tyre valve cap.

You can always watch a video to make sure you are getting it right.

For more information on tyre pressures, do take a look at our article on 6 facts about tyre pressure.

So make sure you check or get your tyre pressure checked this October (we will happily carry this out for you at MEB).

 

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Autumn Driving Conditions

autumn drivingGoodbye Summer, Hello Autumn.  There is certainly a change in the air so time to get used to new driving conditions and autumn weather hazards.

Leaves

Who’d have thought that leaves could cause so much damage?  Well they can.

Dry leaves – these can get stuck in tight places in your vehicle’s undercarriage. Dry leaves can also be a fire hazard, so don’t park near a pile in case your car’s catalytic converter ignites them!

Wet leaves – Did you know that wet leaves could be as dangerous as hitting standing water so reduce your speed before driving onto a patch. Wet leaves are slippery so avoid skidding by not braking or accelerating hard.

Leaves can also hide other road hazards such as a pothole so go easy when driving over them.  Also make sure that your windscreen is leaf-free as they can get stuck under the wipers causing a smeary mess if you are trying to clean your screen.

Driving in the Dark

Part of your evening’s commute will most likely now be in the dark.  If you are driving on an unfamiliar route, take extra care on windy roads or on hills, plus be super-vigilant for other motorists, pedestrians (including school children), cyclists and animals.

If the weather is turning chilly then there is a risk of ice.  If you are crossing a bridge then this will most likely ice over before the rest of the road.  Little puddles of water could also contain black ice.

Make sure you get your lights tested and you know how they work.

Road Trip Prep

As we always advise, do ensure that you have either booked your car in for a basic inspection (see our Autumn checks article) or that you give the following a good once over: the fluids, tyre pressure, windscreen wipers, brakes and engine.

Headlights should be cleaned, in good working order and aligned correctly. Also keep an emergency car safety kit in your boot.

Despite the change in weather, sunrises and sunsets can be spectacular but rather dazzling.  A pair of sunglasses kept in the car can help you drive in comfort and avoid that glare caused by bright sun.

If there is fog, ensure your headlight beam is set on low which aims the light down towards the road so as not to dazzle oncoming drivers.

So get out there and enjoy the autumnal colours before the leaves drop off altogether!

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Car Insurance Invalidations

car insuranceIt is the law in this country to have valid insurance for your car. But did you know, even if you have the correct insurance in place there are things you could be doing to invalidate it? According to uSwitch, there are many common mistakes we make as drivers. Take a look at our list to see if you have committed any of these car insurance clangers.

1. Wearing inappropriate footwear. It’s summer, it’s hot, you step outside in your shorts and flip flops and get into the car to drive. Or maybe you’re headed out in a lovely pair of high heels. These shoes can be quite difficult to drive in and therefore fairly dangerous. If you have an accident your insurance could be invalidated by wearing these items.

2. Leaving the car unlocked. Sounds simple – you park and lock the car. But many people forget or just think they’ll nip inside quickly while the car is running. Don’t. If your car is stolen you won’t be covered.

3. Not maintaining your car. Sounds obvious again but if you ignore problems and they then turn into bigger problems it may be that your car insurance policy won’t pay out. Your car should be kept in a safe condition.

4. Out of date MOT – forgetting to renew your MOT invalidates your insurance. Not having the relevant MOT is also an offence punishable by a fine. The same goes for tax. You must have up-to-date car tax.

5. Mileage – when you take out your policy you give the insurance company an estimate of your likely mileage. Although it is accepted by the insurance companies that it is an estimate, it could invalidate your policy if you go over the mileage limit.

6. Report all accidents, even minor ones. People are often reluctant to report an accident in order to avoid losing their no claims discount. However, it could invalidate any future claims if you don’t report. You don’t need to make a claim, just inform the insurance company that your car has been in an accident, albeit minor.

7. Do you have fluffy dice or anything else hanging from your rear view mirror? Did you know it could invalidate your insurance. It’s because it’s considered an obstruction to your view so best to take those fluffy dice down and keep the view clear.

8. Inform your insurer of any change in circumstances – a house move, change of use for your car (ie, if you start to use it for a commute), change in parking position (garage to road). If they aren’t kept up to date then claims on the policy could be considered invalid.

9. Who is the named driver? There was a practice where people would declare themselves as the main driver on the policy of insurance for another driver. It’s known as fronting and insurers are on to it. It was used to reduce the premiums, for example, parents placing their names as main drivers for their children’s cars. It’s actually considered fraudulent so is illegal. So be upfront and honest about the main driver.

So these things do seem obvious but according to the uSwitch survey these are the things drivers are most likely to do to invalidate their insurance policies.

Stay insured and happy driving .

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Beware of Servicing Stop Enfield Ltd

Servicing StopIt was recently brought to our attention that a company called Servicing Stop Enfield Ltd are rogue traders.  The company which acts as an intermediary between the car owner and garage, on paper sounds ideal but from watching Watchdog and reading Google reviews this is far from the case.

Who are Servicing Stop Enfield Ltd?

A seemingly hassle-free way to book in a service or MOT, operating nationwide and promising to undercut main dealer prices by 60%.  In fact, Servicing Stop went on Dragon’s Den in 2009 asking for a £100,000 cash investment but rather dramatically turned down Deborah Meaden’s offer, opting for a private investor outside the programme. 

Busy and budget-conscious car owners contact Servicing Stop to book in a service or MOT, the company then collect the car and drop it off at a local networked garage where the work is carried out and then the car is dropped back with the owner on the same day.  The owners then pay Servicing Stop for the works carried out.

What went wrong?

According to Watchdog, the company have been misleading the public with “special offers” and deals.  It turns out that “Special Summer Offer up to 60% off main dealer prices” is not really an offer as the company is always offering 60% off main dealer prices.

The price starts cheap, with MOTs starting at just £24 (£19 if booked in with a service) and services at less than £100.  However, in the Watchdog episode, once Servicing Stop received the car, the company recommended to the car owner to have extra, unnecessary works: a fuel treatment and the fuel filter to be changed (at £77 this is twice as expensive as a garage would charge).  Normal car service basic checks were missed (wheel nuts remained loose for example) and they carried out extra works they didn’t need.

Furthermore, when you search for a quote, there is small print which states “specialist Oil may be required for your vehicle this is a set cost of £24.00 + VAT.” Specialist oil is a bit of a grey area as all modern cars use specialist or specific oil that the manufacturers specify for their cars. At MEB we always use the oil that the manufacturer recommends, however the cost of this is included in the service!

MEB the Motor Centre’s Advice

It’s all well and good to go for a cheap offer (who doesn’t like a bargain) but when it comes to your car, it is best to check out the garage (or website acting as the broker) first.  Five star reviews on the garage’s website is one thing but do check out external review sites such as Google Local, Trust My Garage or Good Garage Scheme.

An independent body such as Which? should also be consulted.  Check out if they are part of their Trusted Traders programme.  You can read more tips here.

For peace of mind, MEB Motors are accredited by Good Garage Scheme and are also a Which Trusted Trader.

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Best Free Car Apps

car appsWe were recently inspired to write a blog on the best car apps when a Facebook friend bragged about “being able to switch the aircon in the car on 5 minutes before you get in, from your phone.”*  Here are our top 5 free car apps, including one for air conditioning!

AIR CON APP

We quickly realised that the average car either has no use for an air conditioning app (it only takes a few minutes to hop in the car and adjust the temperature or it isn’t geared up to the technology).  Aside from forking out for an all-singing-and-dancing Tesla, the other option is to go for a brand like Volkswagen which has a whole range of e-vehicles which can be installed with Car-Net, allowing you to set the temperature and ensure your car is cool before hopping in.

PETROL PRICES

If you are looking for the best petrol prices in the UK, then an app like PetrolPrices does the trick.  Perhaps not as popular as the US version Gas Buddy, it is still pretty handy if you are driving around in an unfamiliar town. It also helps you find the cheapest fuel along a journey, so you avoid overpriced pumps when you run low.

WAZE

If you want an alternative to a Sat-Nav then Waze is our pick (over 50 million users can’t be wrong).  The app updates you on live traffic situations (crowdsourced from other Waze users), maps, road hazards and lets you know if a Facebook friend is driving in the same direction!  The app also has the added bonus of enabling Spotify so you can stream the music you love whilst avoiding all that congestion.

DRIVESAFE.LY

With new fines introduced for those caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel of car, we think an app like DriveSafe.ly is the way to go.  You can listen to incoming text messages, emails, Twitter updates, Facebook messages and Google text messages.  You don’t need to press any buttons to listen to anything, the app takes care of that itself, leaving you to the ideal hands-free driving experience.

CARCORDER

Ok, not technically free but for £1.49 it is so much cheaper than a DashcamCarcorder turns your phone into a Dashcam, giving drivers the ability to record your journeys thus providing hard evidence in the event of an accident. Users are able to record locations via GPS and switch between different resolutions.  A perfect choice until you are willing to commit to a Dashcam.

MEB love technology so want to know what your favourite car app is.  Do let us know.

 

*He had just bought a Tesla

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Volvo Goes Electric

volvoVolvo have recently announced that they will exclusively produce electric or hybrid cars from 2019.  Their aim is to sell 1 million electric vehicles by 2025 – including plug-ins, hybrids and purely battery-powered cars. (source the Guardian). 

It has long been believed that the electric car was the future. In 2015 the Guardian posted this article.  It would seem over estimations were made about the number of electric cars that would be on the road. And the technology and infrastructure wasn’t in place to support them. So what’s changed, and are electric and hybrid cars really a more environmentally sound choice?

INFRASTRUCTURE

As electric cars run on batteries, they need charging.  One concern has been the lack of charge points around the country – that as a whole the UK hasn’t been ready for the electric car revolution. But is that the case? A great website, Zap Map shows all the charging points around the UK which are being added to daily. According the website stats there are currently 13,041 connectors in the UK and these have gradually increased from 9,125 in February 2016 to nearly 12,000 in January 2017.  So it would appear the UK electric car infrastructure is certainly improving. Volvo must feel confident enough in it to have made their announcement.

ELECTRICTY

But with all this charging required, is there enough electricity? According to a report from the Green Alliance, the National Grid is not yet prepared for the surge in requirements from electric cars. Changes in Vehicle Excise Duty recently means that drivers may be more likely to purchase ultra-low emission vehicles in the future so the ability to provide electricity needs to be in place. And it would appear it is not yet in place.

ENVIRONMENT

Finally, what is the environmental impact? According to the EPA, transportation accounts for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions – not just cars. Trains, planes and ships all use petrol and diesel. But if the entire motoring industry followed Volvo’s suit it could certainly make a huge difference in emissions and demand for oil.

So with Volvo’s announcement it is likely other manufacturers will follow suit.

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Our Top Tips on Car Hire this Holiday Season

car hireThe summer holidays are nearly here. If you’ve booked a holiday and are looking at car hire, now is the time to start thinking about it.  Rules vary from country to country so it’s good to be aware and be prepared.  Here are our top tips for avoiding any hire car hiccups this holiday season:

  • BOOK EARLY

To avoid disappointment book in advance. Take time to look around for the best deals. Generally hiring at the airport as you land can be very expensive. If you do your online research you may find vouchers and discounts available. Give yourself time to look for the best deal.

  • DRIVING LICENSE

You may remember when the DVLA did away with the paper copy, there was a slight panic in the car hire world.  To streamline things, they moved their checking systems online.  Essentially this means you need to remember to apply for a check code which allows the car hire company to check your license record. The code will be valid for 21 days. This applies to those who also hold the old style pre-1998 paper licences.

Other handy advice for driving abroad on the government’s website

  • INSURANCE

Most car hire companies will expect you to pay for any accident or damage claim. You can buy the hire companies super insurance but that can prove to be expensive. If you plan in advance you could find your own cheaper car hire excess reimbursement insurance.

  • FUEL

Generally there are two options, as follows:

Supplied full and returned full

Supplied full and return empty

The choice will depend on the amount of driving you will be doing. And keep receipts of fuel bought.

  • CHECK THE STATE OF THE CAR

Do a proper check of the car and make your own checklist so you know that you’re returning the car in the same state you hired it in.  Check for any damage and take photos if necessary. Ensure any scratches or minor damage is noted in the rental agreement. A quick five minute video (or photos) at the beginning of your holiday could save you lots of money if there is a disagreement at a later date.

  • HOW THE CAR WORKS

All cars are different. Check you understand how the controls work and if there is anything you don’t know then ask.

  • PAPERWORK

Check the paperwork carefully. Check for any hidden costs you don’t understand and query them before signing the documents. Sometimes hire companies charge extra for car seats, sat nav, tolls for crossing international borders, cleaning charges and also VAT.

  • RETURNING THE CAR

Check the fuel gauge and make sure they hire company notes it down.  If in doubt take a photo of it.  Do the same with any damage to the car.

Finally, if you’re driving in Europe its best to use a hire company that is a member of the European Car Rental Conciliation Service Scheme. 

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What to do in a Car Accident

car accidentBeing in a car accident can be devastating. Even if it is a minor one. The damage to the car, possible injuries, insurance claims. There is so much to think about at a time when emotions are probably running high.  So be prepared, have a list in your mind of what you would need to do if you did find yourself in this situation.

LAW

If you are driving and a person other than yourself is injured, there is damage caused to another vehicle or property or an animal has been killed which belongs to another then the law states you must stop and remain at the scene for a reasonable amount of time, give your vehicle registration and personal details to anyone who can take them, and if you don’t exchange details at the scene you must report it to a police station as soon as possible but within 24 hours.

SAFETY

Of course, your first priority at the scene of an accident will be yours and your passengers safety. Before assisting others, or leaving your vehicle if possible you should ensure you can do so safely.  It is best to call the emergency services as soon as possible. 

DETAILS

Once everyone is safe, and if you can do so you should collect names and contact details of those involved in order to make insurance claims. Additionally, you could collect details of witnesses and take down any information about the accident they may have. Of course, if it is a serious accident the police will do this. 

It is also advisable to take pictures of all damage to ensure no fraud or exaggerated claims (better to be safe than sorry).

We recently posted an article on dashcams. These can prove invaluable in an accident for capturing exactly what happened and therefore who is at fault. 

INSURANCE

Check the details of your insurance.  You should know this already. It is important to see what sort of cover you have, whether you have legal cover and what you will need to do in the case of an accident.

REPAIRS

Hopefully your vehicle is repairable.  If you have comprehensive insurance then any damage should be covered by the policy. 

At MEB we will carry out any accident repair work to the highest standards, using the latest technology to ensure the highest quality finish.  Our skilled and experienced in-house body shop technicians will ensure any damage or deterioration to your vehicle will be dealt with.  

Hopefully you will never find yourself involved in an accident, but it is always better to be prepared in case you do so.                     

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How to Reduce Crime with a Dashcam

dashcamSo, what is a dashcam?

A dashcam or dashboard camera is a camera that sits in the car and continuously records through a vehicles windscreen. It can be attached to the dashboard or to the window.

It can provide evidence in the event of an accident or even a criminal offence by providing first hand evidence of events.

Are dashcams legal?

Yes they are. You simply buy one, attach it, plug it in and you are ready to go. The only proviso is that you attach it correctly and so it does not obstruct your view.  If it is deemed to be an obstruction then the police could stop you and fine you. 

What are the positives of a dashcam?

Well, as well as providing a first hand eye-witness account of what happened in an accident, it can also serve as evidence in criminal offences taking place on the road. In 2015 the UK Courts saw their first jail sentence handed down as a result of dashcam footage.

Here are some ways in which dashcam footage can prove useful:

SCAMS

Scams such as crash for cash claims are on the rise, where criminals brake suddenly in front of another car, causing it to crash and then claiming it on their insurance. In cases such as this both front and rear dashcams could prove invaluable in proving liability. 

DANGEROUS DRIVING

Even if your vehicle is not involved in a hit and run, the evidence from the dashcam could prove invaluable in proving a case that might otherwise be unsolvable.

Road rage is sadly on the rise with as many as nine out of ten drivers saying they have been subject to some form of it.  A dashcam could provide the police with essential information on drivers and licence plates.

Effects on Insurance

Some car insurance companies believe those with dashcams are more likely to be careful drivers. And as such will offer lower premiums on car insurance policies. The RAC for example offer a £30 discount on car insurance for drivers with a dashcam. 

So have you used a dashcam? What are your experiences of driving with one? Let us know by tweeting us @MEBMotors

 

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Five Common Car Problems That You May Have Overlooked

common car problemsThere are many top ten common car problem lists out there, take your pick from: AA, Auto Express and Honest John just to name three.  Our article though is slightly different and focuses on five common car problems that may get overlooked.

Brakes

Are you finding it more difficult to brake quickly or an increase in braking distance? Get your brakes looked at immediately as any lowered performance could be critical.

Other signs your brakes might not be performing well:

  • Brake light on – a red or yellow light may just mean it is due an inspection but could also be alerting you to a problem
  • Noises such as squealing, grinding or squeaking are tell-tale signs
  • When you brake there is a wobbling or vibration
  • Brake fluid is leaking
  • The car pulls to one side when you brake
  • There’s a burning smell when you drive

Fluid Leaks

Keep an eye on where you park your car (driveway, garage, road) for fluid drips or leaks.  Leaks are common in older cars but watch out for them on newer cars too.  Spill marks could be oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and others.  We’ve also mentioned in a previous article that foxes have a penchant for chewing brake cables and drinking the fluid. Other fluid lines can be easily ruptured in a minor collision.

Any suspicious drips, bring your car in for a check-up!

Spark Plugs

Spark plugs may be small but they are an essential part of your car, making sure your car starts when you turn on the ignition.  Spark plugs which misfire mean your engine power and fuel economy may be affected, or even worse you could damage your catalytic converter.

A misfiring spark plug causes your engine to sound “rough” when idling or you might experience problems to start your car.

Transmissions

Definitely one to keep an eye on as could be the most costly repair if it goes unchecked. Transmissions controls the application of power ensuring timely, efficient and complete gear changes.  Keep an eye out for the following to avoid a hefty bill:

  • Clutch slipping (when it revs) or sticking
  • Trouble getting into gear

Wheel alignment

Misalignment can affect the wear and tear of tyres, decrease your ability to steer properly and sometimes cause slow leaks in the cases where there is severe damage.

The main causes for wheel misalignment are pot holes, bumps and other obstacles in the road.  As a check-up is fairly inexpensive, do get your garage to do the once over every year.

MEB are here to help you with any car problem, no matter how common!

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