Drive It Day 2018

Drive it daySunday April 22nd April is Drive It Day 2018, as designated by The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs.  It helps raise awareness of the UK’s classic vehicle movement and is held on the last Sunday in April (as close to the 1000 Mile Trial anniversary).

Who are The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs?

The Federation is comprised of some 540 organisations (over 450 of which are clubs and museums) with a total membership of 250,000 plus 1500 trade and individual supporters.

The FBHVC’s motto is “Yesterday’s vehicles on tomorrow’s roads” and they exist to uphold the freedom to use historic vehicles on the road without any restrictions and to support its member organisations.

What happens on Drive It Day?

Hagerty International (classic car insurers) will be holding a Drive It Day Tour for 100 classic cars with aims of raising money for charity and also to increase historic vehicle exposure, running from the Jaguar Land Rover showroom in Ryton-on-Dunsmore to Bicester Heritage via a beautiful 2.5 hour journey through the Warwickshire and Oxfordshire countryside.  If your car is registered before 1st January 1990, you may apply for a space (subject to availability).

The Classic & Historic Motor Club will be planning a scatter rally around Somerset – open to all cars over 30 years old.

The Brooklands Museum are hosting their own Drive It Day with pre-1983 vehicles able to park onsite.

If you are involved in an event, do make sure you post it on the FBHVC’s Facebook page.

How MEB the Motor Centre help Classic Car Owners

At MEB we like to help keep classic cars on the road.  We do this by keeping car owners aware of the change in legislations.  For example we were able to share the news that:

  • from January 2015 the cut off for VED (Vehicle Excise Duty) was going to roll at 40 years which means that any car built before 1st January 1978 (current year) will eligible for a zero-rated road tax.
  • in May 2018, classic cars will be exempt from MOTs.  Cars over 40 years old will not have to take the yearly road test (that amounts to around 1.5% of cars on the road)

As an independent garage, we are far more likely to service and repair classic cars.  What Car? Servicing Satisfaction survey of 2017 shows that of the 90% of motorists who choose a franchised dealership for the first year’s service would switch to independents as the cars age. In fact once cars reach 7 years old, almost 50% have shifted to using an independent garage.  One customer even left us a lovely review:

Excellent service, they went out of their way to fix my old ford – something that another garage didn’t even want to take on! happily driving to the airport today.

If you have a classic car which needs some TLC then bring her to us at MEB the Motor Centre.

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What is the fate of the diesel car?

dieselThe fate of the diesel car is in question and seems to have been for some time:

  • The Government’s emission policies are set to reduce emissions by promoting the use of bicycles, public transport and supporting newer forms of cleaner, lower carbon vehicles such as electric cars;
  • Volvo recently announced they will exclusively produce electric or hybrid vehicles from 2019 with the aim to sell 1 million vehicles by 2025. We wrote an article about this last year which you can read here;
  • The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan introduced the Toxicity Charge, or the “T Charge” to those cars in London which exceed certain emissions. He plans to scrap the most polluting diesel vehicles and introduce only hybrid or zero emission vehicles from this year. Again, we recently wrote about this and you can read it here;
  • In 4 major global cities diesel vehicles are to be banned from 2025 seeing Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City pushing to address concerns over air quality. (source Autocar)

But why?

We recently wrote an article about whether to choose a petrol or a diesel car which you can read here.

Drivers who tend to put in the miles have traditionally opted for diesel cars. They may have higher upfront costs but fuel for mileage is far better than petrol.

But diesels can cause higher emissions if they are not maintained properly. The matter emitted from the incomplete combustion of diesel fuel produces the particles which are harmful to health. In fact, it is reported that 9,400 die a year due to polluted air in London.

New MOT rules are coming into force this May which will automatically fail any diesel which has a faulty diesel particulate filter, or has one removed. A diesel particulate filter (DPF) works to remove the soot from the exhaust gas of a diesel engine –  the dirty part of the emissions that causes damage to health.

Due to the upkeep of DPFs in diesel cars (they become clogged easily and are expensive to replace) some drivers do choose to remove them. This is already a criminal offence punishable with a financial penalty but until the new rules come into force it was always just a visual inspection. The smoke test will also change – slashing the limit so that diesels with dirty emissions will face an immediate fail not meeting the required standards. The new automatic fail is certainly a drive to dissuade people from removing DPFs – and may even be pushing drivers to choose other types of vehicle.

So does this mean the end for diesel cars?

According to a recent article in Autocar there hasn’t been an effect on the price of diesels.  James Dower, the senior editor of Cap HPI’s Black Book. “It seems that consumer and fleet appetite for diesel vehicle has held up,” he says. “There is no waning in demand for diesel vehicles in the new or used market. Values have moved broadly in line with petrol engine equivalents through 2016, with little visible impact from negative headlines through the year” – sourced from Autocar article.

So diesel may not have had its day yet, but it certainly looks like it will do in the future.

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MOT Changes

MOTThe MOT test is due for a shake up in 2018. The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is  making the changes that will come into force on the 20th May 2018.

An updated inspection manual will be introduced for all MOT testers across the UK. But what changes will it include?

New MOT fault categories

The new fault categories will be minor, major and dangerous. Major and dangerous defects will mean an automatic MOT fail. Major faults will require the vehicle to be fixed and retested and a dangerous defect will mean the car is dangerous, making it a criminal offence to drive on the road. A minor fault would be flagged up on the MOT certificate with other advisory notes about what needs to be done.

The DVSA say these have been put in place to help drivers do right thing, as in not simply drive away from the garage.

Other checks

Emission testing will get tougher, especially for Diesel cars. If a diesel car’s exhaust emits ‘visible smoke of any colour’ it will be deemed a major fault and fail the test.

Steering locks will be tested.

There will be a check on the reverse lights, and will result in a fail if they aren’t working.

Brake discs will be tested for significant wear and will also be considered a major or even dangerous fault if found to be obviously worn.

Why?

The test is changing to bring it into line with an EU Directive called the EU Roadworthiness Package.

What can you, the driver do?

Before taking your car for an MOT it is always worth doing some basic checks. So check your windscreen for cracks or chips, check the wipers are still working well.

Tyre tread is something that often leads to a fail so it is worth checking these before the test. And of course any blown lightbulbs, and replace if necessary.

Check your horn works. This is a very common fail item.

Check for any leaks around the vehicle.

Ensure your fuel is at a decent level before taking it for the test. An MOT can’t be carried out on an empty or nearly empty fuel tank.

Make sure the seatbelts work smoothly and correctly.

For diesel car owners (or if you’re considering buying a diesel) check the DPF (diesel particulate filter) if you have one. If your dash light is flashing orange then it may be becoming blocked, which could cost a lot of money.

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New Driving Test Rules

driving testIn December 2017 the driving test as we know it changed.  The DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) wanted to bring the test into line with the skills new drivers need to have on today’s roads. Such as driving with a satnav and driving on high speed roads.  The major changes are as follows:

  1. Following directions from a Satnav

We recently wrote an article about the law in relation to satnavs in cars. Many people use them nowadays and they can be a distraction. So, the new test will incorporate it as part of the possible skills examined in order to train new drivers to use them safely. The driving instructor will set the route on their own satnav and the driver will be expected to follow the route. They can ask questions if they need to and if they take a wrong turn it won’t be a fail, unless they make a fault.

  1. Independent driving

This has always been part of the test but will now be for up to 20 minutes. The DVSA say that research shows new drivers find independent driving useful once they go on to pass their test and drive alone.

  1. Answering a vehicle safety question while you’re driving

There will be two different types of safety question. A ‘tell me’ and a ‘show me’ question.

The first will be asked at the start – before you drive. You will be asked to tell the examiner how you would carry out a safety task, such as operating the windscreen wipers.

The show me question would be asked during the examination. You will be asked to show the  examiner how you would carry out a safety task during driving.

  1. Finally, the reversing manoeuvres have changed.

There will no longer be a reverse around the corner or turn in the road manoeuvre. Instead they will be replaced by these 3 possible reversing manoeuvres:

  1. Parallel parking
  2. Reverse in and drive out, or drive in and reverse out of a parking bay
  3. Pull up on the right-hand side of the road (against the flow of traffic), reverse for 2 car lengths and then rejoin the traffic

The cost of the driving test will remain the same for now.

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Spring: Time to get out and about and enjoy your car

get out SpringSpring is almost here (hoorah!).  If you’ve not been out and about much during the winter, now is time to dust off the driving gloves, take your car out of storage and get out and enjoy the beautiful countryside.

Advice to those who have not used their car in Winter

If you didn’t use your car in Winter because it was either under a pile of snow, or you just didn’t fancy getting out and about, now is the time to carry out a few basic checks before your first Spring outing.

  • Batteries tend to go flat if they are unused for a long time. If you have access to electricity you could use a smart charger which will charge your battery when it needs it and this device can be left on without the risk of overcharging.  If your battery is totally dead then you can try jump starting it, follow our steps.
  • Anti-freeze – check the concentration levels (it should be 50/50 anti-freeze/water) either by buying a kit and following these instructions or have your local garage do it for you.
  • Tyre pressures – check them as the winter weather may have caused them to under inflate.
  • Tyres that haven’t been used for a long time may also develop flat spots. This means that when you first use your car you might hear “thump, thump, thump” for the first 20 or so miles.  If it continues after this then you will need new tyres.
  • Check when your next MOT and service are due (if your car has been out of your mind for Winter then so may this practical information).
  • Check that your car tax and insurance is also valid – there would be nothing worse than driving down the road and remembering it expired last month.
  • Check that nothing has made its home under the bonnet or chewed through a pipe or hose –read about the various ways animals can damage your car.
  • Check all fluid levels (oil, screenwash etc)
  • Check all brakes including the handbrake – it may have seized if you had stored your car with the handbrake on over winter. You can try putting your car into gear and driving slowly.

MEB the Motor Centre Advice

Over the previous years, we have also shared the following advice with you:

We look forward to seeing you for your next service or MOT.

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Potholes

potholesAhhhh don’t you just love winter weather!  One minute it is snowing, the next minute it is raining.  What is more depressing on a February morning is spotting the potholes that appear overnight.

How potholes are formed

Potholes are likely to appear in winter and spring when ice and running water disrupt the soil layer beneath the road surface.  Cars driving over these weak spots in the road cause the top layer to deform, crack and chip away. The holes in the road surface start off small but can potentially grow deep or large enough to cause damage to cars.

Pothole damage to cars

If you are unlucky enough to hit a pothole then you will need to check over your car for the following areas of damage:

  • Tyres – sidewall bulges, tread separation or flat tyres
  • Wheels – chips, cracks or bends caused by the hard angles of the hole
  • Suspension – misalignment (your steering wheel may be off centre), broken ball joints, damage to shots or struts
  • Exhaust – dents or holes in your exhaust pipe, muffler or catalytic converter

How to report them

If you do hit a pothole then do make sure you report it.  If it is around a town then you can find the contact details on the GOV.UK website. However if it is on a main UK road or motorway then you will need to phone 0300 123 5000 or email info@highwaysengland.co.uk.

How to claim for pothole damage

If your car does suffer damage from a pothole then you should be able to claim for compensation although this does depend on the following factors:

  • If the council are aware of the pothole in question – this is why it is important to report them (as they are under no obligation to award compensation for ones that aren’t reported)
  • If you have fully comprehensive insurance

Follow these steps to make your claim:

  • Take comprehensive notes about the size, location and depth of the pothole. Do a sketch or take a photograph
  • Get details of any witnesses
  • Get quotes for repairs and keep these along with garage receipts and repair bills
  • Make your claim
  • If your claim is rejected then do take a look at the comprehensive advice on Money Saving Expert website

Tips to avoid potholes or drive safely over them

The best way to avoid pothole damage to your car is to avoid driving over them.  However this is not always possible so here are some tips to make your drive as smooth as possible:

  • Keep your tyres inflated properly as they hold up much better than ones which are under or over inflated
  • Slow down if you see a pothole but don’t break directly over it as this is likely to cause your car damage
  • Drive straight with a firm grip so as not to lose control
  • When driving over water, use caution as it might be hiding a pothole (remember Dr Foster when he went to Gloucester!)

 

MEB the Motor Centre have been repairing and servicing all makes of cars in Crouch End for over 40 years. Contact us on 020 3322 2426 to talk about how potholes may have damaged your car.

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Three Driving Law Changes for 2018

law changes for 2018 A new year brings new legislation into force.  At MEB the Motor Centre, we’ve taken a look at the biggest motoring law changes for 2018 so that you know where you stand.

Driving Test

Perhaps the most publicised and controversial changes are around the driving test.  There are four changes which will affect you if you are taking your test in 2018:

  • Increased independent driving – from 10 to 20 minutes
  • New satnav section – candidates must follow directions from a satnav
  • Reversing manoeuvres
    • “reverse around a corner” and “turn in the road” have both been scrapped
    • You may be asked to:
      • Parallel park
      • Reverse in and drive out, or drive in and reverse out of a parking bay
      • Pull up on the right hand side of the road (against the flow of traffic), reverse for 2 car lengths and then rejoin the traffic
    • Safety questions
      • “tell me” questions will happen before you set off – for example how to find the correct air pressure for a car’s tyres and how to check them
      • “show m”e questions will happen on the move like how to operate the windscreen wipers

MOTs

In May 2018, classic cars will be exempt from MOTs.  Cars over 40 years old will not have to take the yearly road test. Around 1.5% of cars on the road will be driving legally without an MOT.

Drones

Ok, not strictly a vehicle but someone still has to pilot/drive it… The UK government is introducing new laws so that users will have to not only register their drones but take a basic online safety test in order to use it.  These changes come into play because of the health and safety fears surrounding these unmanned aircraft.

A look back at 2017 laws

2017 saw many changes in motoring laws, here’s a rundown on what laws were introduced in 2017:

  • March 2017 saw the introduction of new legislation in relation to using mobile phones behind the wheel.  It is now illegal to use your mobile phone whilst driving or riding a motorbike, unless you have hands-free access.
  • April 2017 saw the introduction of new speeding laws in the UK and they are much tougher than they were before.
  • Road tax changes – The old system was largely scrapped in 2017.  It was replaced by a three band system and will applied to vehicles registered after 1st April 2017, so essentially new cars.  The aim of the changes is to make it fairer to for drivers with older or second hand cars.
  • There were new laws surround booster seats

MEB the Motor Centre is a local independent garage in Crouch End offering MOTs, repairs and services to all makes of car.

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Winter Driving Conditions

Winter At MEB the Motor Centre, your driving experience is one of our foremost thoughts. We have already discussed in previous articles about winter driving checks and what should be in your winter breakdown kit, this article focuses on the type of weather you might encounter in winter and how best to cope.

Fog

Fog is the most dangerous driving hazard in existence (statistically speaking):

  • Make sure you know where your fog lights are and when to use them
  • Drive at a safe speed and check your mirrors before entering a fog patch
  • Use dipped headlights, windscreen wipers and demisters

Do take a look at our longer article on how to drive safely in fog for more tips.

Sleet and Snow

If you know it is going to sleet or snow before you set off then the best thing to do is to get prepared:

  • Give the car the once over (antifreeze topped up, windscreen wipers working, do any of your bulbs need replacing, the tyre tread passes the 20p test)
  • Check over your winter survival kit (should contain a shovel, de-icer, spare food and drinks etc)
  • Plan your journey and listen to local weather warnings and traffic updates

If it has snowed already then do make sure you clear the snow off the car fully before setting off.

We have a dedicated article for tips on driving in the snow here.

Rain

If you get caught in heavy rain this winter then beware of the following:

  • Avoid using the brakes as much as possible to avoid skidding or aquaplaning
  • Turn on your headlights, even in light rain. It will not only help you see the road but also for others to see you
  • Wipe the soles of your shoes before setting off so you get a good grip on the pedals (wet shoes could slip)
  • Make sure your windscreen wipers work properly – they should be replaced at least once a year

Ice

If the forecast for ice then you need to think about if your journey is really necessary.  If it is then be prepared:

  • Tyre grip is hugely reduced on icy roads so get your tyres checked over for the correct tread
  • Brakes need to be fully working as well since distances will be a lot longer
  • Drive as smoothly as possible
  • Look out for potential hazards and keep your speed down
  • A higher gear can aid grip on packed ice

Hail

Hail is extremely dangerous to drive in and should be avoided at all costs.  If you are caught in a storm whilst driving, do the following:

  • Stay in your vehicle as hail falls fast and can cause injuries
  • If the storm is severe, pull over so that you minimise the risk of your windscreen shattering. Find a space under a bridge to wait for example.
  • Avoid ditches as water can rise fast
  • Angle your car so that the windscreen faces the storm – your windscreen is reinforced but not the side and back windows

We hope you don’t have to experience too many of these types of weather this winter but if you do then be prepared.

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Motoring New Year Resolutions

New YearWe’ve raced through yet another year of car repairs, services and MOTs at MEB the Motor Centre.  Time to take stock of what went well in 2017 and how you can improve your motoring experience in 2018.  In addition to reminding you of our 2017 practical resolutions for car owners, here’s a few more suggestions for 2018.

#SpeedDown

Brake’s Road Safety Week campaign for 2017 was all about keeping your speed down.  We think this is a good resolution to stick to, especially in built up areas.  We know that 20mph does at times feel a little bit slow but it is the only safe speed to drive at in heavily built-up areas used by pedestrians and cyclists.  20mph gives you a better stopping time.

Supporting More Local Businesses

We’ve also been reminded to “shop local” in December around the time of Small Business Saturday.  According to a survey carried out by What Car in September 2017, once cars reach 7 years old, they have moved over to an independent garage.  Our garage prides itself in being able to repair cars which have been turned down by franchised dealerships.  So, if you aren’t already using a local garage, why not book in with one for an MOT or service in 2018.

Brush Up On Your Car Insurance

Are you one for driving in flipflops?  You might think twice about doing this if you knew that your car insurance provider thought of it as inappropriate footwear.  Take a look at our article that runs through 9 car insurance validations that you might not have known about.

Buy and Use a Dashcam

Did you get a dashcam for Christmas?  You might get a discount for using one when you are out and about driving.  For example the RAC are offering a £30 off their premium if you use one, as you are considered a more careful driver.  Dashcam footage can be used to help reduce scams (eg cash for crash) and report dangerous driving.

Common Car Problems        

Familiarise yourself with the signs of common car problems you may have overlooked to save yourself expensive repair bills. Learn the signs of brakes not performing well, keep on suspicious drips from your car, educate yourself about spark plugs, keep an eye on transmission controls and find out about what happens if your wheels aren’t aligned.

Happy New Year and happy driving!

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Christmas Gifts for Car Owners

giftsAre you struggling to think of gifts for your loved one?  If they spend as much time with their car as they do with you then check out our alternative car owners’ gift list.

Map

In an age of sat-navs and other map-related technology, have you thought about what happens if your device fails?  There might be the rare occasion that batteries get flat, the signal drops or the whole system crashes.  If this happens, do you have a trusty map of the UK in your car?  We advise having one as a backup.  Auto Express have done the hard work for us, reviewing a number of UK road maps.  Their choice is A-Z Great Britain and Northern Ireland Super Scale 2018.

Power Bank for Phone

Have you thought about what would happen if you broke down on a country lane?  It’s ok (kind of) to break down on the motorway as you will have access to phones, giving you a hotline to recovery vehicles.  However, if you are in the middle of the countryside, you will be heavily reliant on your mobile.  If your child has drained the battery playing games then what do you do?  Having an external portable charger or power bank could be the solution.  Just plug your phone in and your phone will transfer the power stored in this device.  Expert Reviews have reviewed the best power banks for 2017.

Jump Leads

Be the knight in shining armour and be the one to help those stranded with flat batteries (quite common in winter).  Jump leads are an invaluable piece of kit so ideal for those motoring mad in your life.  Don’t forget to brush up on how to use them safely.

De-icer kit

This could be the perfect stocking filler for your other half.  Having a de-icer spray and ice-scraper to hand will discourage the use of credit cards and hands.  The last thing you want is ring scratches all over your windscreen.  Invest in a decent de-icer kit to save your windscreen! Halfords 6 piece winter essentials set comes with lots of goodies including a chamois demister.

Our Gift to You

If you are a Picturehouse member, we are offering 10% off the cost of service labour.  Just show your membership card at the time of booking.

To book in for a MOT or service, please call 020 3322 2426.

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