Tuesday 26 January 2010

Good Garage Scheme tip to reduce servicing costs - Look after your tyres

The rubber contact patch between your car's tyres and the tarmac is arguably the most important few inches of the car, so you need to make sure your tyres are in good fettle. Unevenly inflated tyres can cause uneven tyre wear, which can affect the handling and braking of you car. Looking after your tyres is as easy as finding out the correct pressures and keeping them inflated. Cheap tyres are a false economy. Top-quality rubber will grip better and wear down slower, the Good Garage Scheme suggests go with the best you can afford.

Thursday 21 January 2010

Good Garage Scheme customer lands a bonus

Sandy Kellagher, a customer of Chichester-based Good Garage Scheme member Motorforce Ltd, won the top prize, a Nintendo Wii, after taking part in the national feedback competition.

Motorforce currently has a five-star customer rating on the Good Garage Scheme website www.goodgaragescheme.com, based on nearly 1,400 feedbacks.

Good Garage Scheme customers are encouraged by member garages and workshops to fill in feedback forms to help maintain high standards.

Nationally, the Good Garage Scheme receives around 12,000 customer feedbacks every month while member garages that fail to submit any feedbacks are investigated and potentially removed from the scheme.

Monday 18 January 2010

Good Garage Scheme Advice - Reduce salt corrosion with basic car care

Heavily salted roads mean that checking your car for salt corrosion is more important than ever for safety and maintaining its value.
Salt and grit are essential on the roads at this time of year to help prevent lethal ice forming, and help prevent snow from settling on road surfaces.
But road salt is less welcome for motorists in terms of the damage it causes to cars; it speeds the corrosion of vehicles because it is hydroscopic; it attracts water.
In a second vehicle-damaging process, salt increases the electrical conductivity of water, accelerating corrosion.
This is why car care experts advise motorists to combat the problem by washing their cars regularly during the winter, especially around the wheel arches and sills.
The AA says that mud, stuck to the underside of a car, soaks up salt-laden spray and speeds up corrosion.
For this reason it recommends hosing down the entire underside of the car if possible. And when conditions are dry, says the AA, motorists should inspect underneath for any signs of damage to the underbody sealing compound and have it treated, if necessary. If the vehicle is under long-term corrosion warranty the terms might specify how this is carried out.
The motoring organisation also recommends car owners touching up any minor bodywork scratches to keep them waterproof and corrosion-resistant.
The motoring organisation also recommends the use of a polish to help protect bodywork.

By David Williams www.telegraph.co.uk

Wednesday 13 January 2010

MOT failure rates released

The government agency which oversees the MOT system has backed down after 18 months and released data which shows how often different makes and models of cars and small vans fail MOTs.

The data has now been placed on the VOSA website, although only in the form of a pdf file of 1,200 pages, which is a format difficult to analyse.

The agency insisted, for reasons that are unclear, that it would be several more days before it could supply the material in a more useful format such as a spreadsheet.

However The BBC’s Martin Rosenbaum converted the pdf into an Excel spreadsheet which he posted here, so that motorists can analyse it themselves if they want to do so.

The information relates to MOTs in 2007, since that was the latest annual data when the BBC's FOI request was made in July 2008. VOSA now says it will issue the 2008 and 2009 statistics later this year, and will publish this material routinely in future on an annual basis.

The figures give average MOT failure rates for individual models of cars and small vans, as well as breaking them down by year of manufacture.

Not surprisingly older vehicles fail more often, and older models therefore tend to have higher average failure rates. However Martin Rosenbaum has used the spreadsheet to examine vehicles first used in 2004, which were therefore all three years old in 2007 at the time generally of their first MOT.

Limiting this to the most popular models - those with over 20,000 MOTs in 2007 - produces the following table for these vehicles made in 2004:

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders stresses that the roadworthiness of vehicles is influenced by how their drivers treat them. A spokesman said:
"Pass rates will be determined by a wide range of factors, but particularly the level of use, ownership profile and the frequency of servicing or regular maintenance."

A Vauxhall Motors spokesman commented:
"Many of the failed items highlighted in this report, such as brakes, driver's view of the road, reg plates and tyres, are directly attributable to vehicles that have covered above average mileages. Since Vauxhall was one of the largest suppliers of fleet vehicles during the period surveyed (2004-2007), and fleet vehicles typically cover higher mileages than most, it comes as no surprise that some of our cars appear in this list."

There is clearly an enormous wealth of information in the 1,200 pages now available. It's possible to examine all sorts of angles - how less popular models fare, the records of individual manufacturers, how failure rates for various models change over time, the different kinds of reasons (brakes, lights, steering, and so on) which different models are most likely to have problems with.

One small point to note: it's rare for a data set as large as this not to contain some errors and you can see this one isn't perfect. For example, one MOT testing station seems to think there's an Audi 80 out there which was first used in 1883.

Monday 11 January 2010

Helping employees avoid hitting the skids!

It’s not only the recession that bites. We are in the grip of the coldest winter for 30 years and motorists are at risk more than ever in perilous sub-zero temperatures. In biting economic and weather conditions, it’s vital that motorists who use their cars for work keep their vehicles in tip-top condition to avoid hitting the skids.

Danger of driving in arctic conditions?
Driving in arctic conditions presents many challenges and the best way to meet those challenges is to be prepared. Identifying any potential defects with your car as early as possible can help avoid problems that can not only hit you hard in the pocket, but can also risk your health on the roads. Many checks can seem like common sense like oil, tyre pressure and tread, wipers, windscreens and lights.

So what’s the answer?
The Good Garage Scheme’s re-launched comprehensive 20-point winter check-up is the perfect solution to help you avoid hitting the skids this winter. The essential winter motoring package includes checking:

• The condition and levels of antifreeze.
• Engine oil.
• Brakes and tyres.
• Windscreens.
• Wipers and lights.

It is also recommended that coolant systems are drained and cleansed thoroughly using a Cooling System Flush, which is designed to remove rust and lime scale build up. With these contaminants removed, the coolant will perform more efficiently and will flow freely throughout the system.

After flushing, the system can be refilled with fresh coolant plus a Cooling System Conditioner. This important treatment ensures smooth running of the system by preventing further corrosion and erosion, overheating and scale formation. Using a Conditioner is particularly important for cars equipped with aluminium engine blocks and cylinder heads as these are more susceptible to corrosion and erosion problems than their cast iron counterparts.

What to do next?
Simply logon to www.goodgaragescheme.com and type in your postcode to find your nearest Good Garage Scheme member garage. A self-regulatory body for independent workshops and MOT centres, the Scheme ensures the best industry standards are maintained by its 2,811 members.

Friday 8 January 2010

Driving tips for bad weather conditions

Once temperatures start to fall and there is the hazard of ice and snow on our roads, our driving skills are pushed to the limit. So do you know how to drive properly in adverse conditions?
A few moments thought and some small preparations before setting out could save you from problems on the road. According to the Highways Agency even when drivers are aware that severe weather is expected, almost half of road users do not take proper precautions.
Despite severe weather warnings many will continue to make journeys which are not even necessary. The advice is STAY AT HOME unless you really do have to travel. You could delay your journey for a couple of hours until conditions improve and keep checking the latest forecasts from the Met Office.
If you do decide to travel, carry a winter weather kit consisting of a mobile phone, boots, blanket, spade, extra clothing, food and a hot drink. Make sure you de mist and de ice your car fully before starting off. Check your car has anti freeze and lots of screen wash.
Once on the road, drive more slowly than usual and keep your distance from the vehicle in front. Be prepared to take more time than usual and let someone at your destination know that you have set off and your route and estimated time of arrival, so that they can alert the emergency services if you don’t turn up.
If you do get stuck, don’t run your engine all the time and keep a window open a little bit for ventilation. Raise your feet off the floor to avoid cold spreading through your body.

Driving tips for bad weather are as follows.
• Check both local and national weather forecasts.
• Only travel if absolutely essential.
• Take a bad weather kit with you.
• Keep your distance when following other vehicles.
• If you skid, ease off the accelerator, but do not brake suddenly.
• Brake gently, accelerate gently and turn the steering wheel gently.
• If climbing a slippery hill, use as high a gear as possible.
• Dazzle from low winter sun can be dangerous - carry a pair of sunglasses.
• Inform other people of your plans.