Monday 26 July 2010

Good Garage Scheme member MECA services holds free vehicle awareness day for motorists

MECA Services, based in Exeter, is closing their doors to normal business on Friday, 30th July to offer a free vehicle awareness day, aimed at ladies and new drivers.

The garages proprietor, Jennifer Riach, is giving motorists in the Devon area the unique opportunity to learn how to look after their car in a relaxed environment, with her friendly professional mechanics offering advice and demonstrations on all areas of safety and car maintenance.

The day will include free car health checks which cover the condition of tyres, tyre pressures, exhaust, brakes, batteries, lights, windscreen, washers and wipers, as well as oil and coolant levels. Ladies and new/young drivers are invited to observe the mechanics whilst they check over the vehicles and will be shown how to carry out these basic checks themselves.

All motorists are welcome, including men, women and new/young drivers. New and existing customers are fee to call into MECA Services without an appointment and all attending will be given a free goody bag.

Vehicle inspections commence at 8:00am and will be available on a first come first serve basis, with the last inspection taking place at 5:30pm.

MECA Services have been part of the Good Garage Scheme since 2007, and is an excellent example of an independent garage using a customer focused approach whilst working to generate vehicle awareness and clarity within the motoring market.

MECA Services Website
MECA Services Good Garage Scheme Page

Thursday 22 July 2010

Government to review MOT rules to increase time between garage safety checks; the Good Garage Scheme warns move could put motorists at risk

Last week it was announced by Lord Attlee of the Transport Department that the need for annual MOT tests for vehicles more than three years old is to be reviewed.

The current system in Britain is amongst the strictest, but safest, in Europe. Cars face their first MOT test after three years and annually after that to ensure that cars on British roads are roadworthy and safe.

The government has also hinted that drivers could be allowed to wait four years, rather than three, before the car will need to undergo it’s first MOT test, then tests every two years after that. With a 37 per cent failure rate on annual MOTs recorded in 2009 and 18 per cent failing to meet the required standard on the first inspection, this increased time between safety checks could be detrimental to the safety of Britain’s drivers.

It is estimated that if tests were every other year, rather than annually, the saving in fees could reach £465 million a year. However appealing the savings sound, it is a false economy to the driver. Problems left unchecked for a further year could end up costing significantly more to repair if allowed to develop.

Garages could also see a change in business, with routine MOT work effectively cut in half, and a shift towards more work on repairing advanced problems rather than preventive work.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

What does the light on my dashboard mean? Top up your knowledge with the Good Garage Scheme's dashboard guide

If you've got a warning light illuminated on your dashboard, would you know what to do? Here are some of the more common warning lights shown together with advice on what to do if they're displayed on your car.

Engine Warning Light
If this light illuminates with the engine running, it indicates a malfunction with the engine management system. If it flashes, avoid heavy acceleration and high engine speed, stop the vehicle and have it checked immediately. With the light illuminated, the vehicle is still safe to drive as long as no other faults are apparent with the engine, but  have the vehicle checked as soon as possible.

Battery Charge Warning Light
If the battery light comes on and stays on, it means the alternator is not charging the battery. This may be due to a slack battery or starter terminals, a broken or loose alternator drive belt or an alternator failure. Immediately move the vehicle to a safe location and switch off the engine and seek assistance.

Coolant Warning Light
If the coolant warning light illuminates, it means the engine temperature has exceeded the safe maximum, and a further increase could cause major engine damage. Stop as soon as possible.Wait for the engine to cool and then check the coolant level and top up if necessary. If the light comes on again soon, stop and call for assistance.

Oil Pressure Warning Light
If the light stays on after starting or illuminates during a journey your oil pressure is too low. You should stop immediately, switch off the engine and check the engine oil level when cool. Top up straight away if the level is low. If the warning lamp illuminates, even though the oil level is correct, do not start the engine and seek assistance.

Brake Warning Light
Illumination after releasing the handbrake may indicate low brake fluid level. Add the correct brake fluid at once to bring the level up to the MAX mark. If the brake fluid is too low and brake pedal travel is distinctly longer than usual, one of the two hydraulic brake circuits may have failed.  If the light remains illuminated, even though the brake fluid level is correct, this may indicate a sensor fault. Do not continue your journey and seek assistance.

ABS Warning Light
If this ABS light comes on while driving it means the ABS computer has diagnosed that something is amiss in the anti-lock breaking system. Normal braking (without ABS) will be generally be maintained and many cars will be safe to drive on, but some will not - check the handbook for advice and get your vehicle checked by a garage as soon as possible.

Brake System and ABS Warning Lights
If both warning lights illuminate at the same time when driving, stop the vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so.
Reduce vehicle speed gradually and immediately move the vehicle to a safe location. Use the brakes with great care. Do not step on the brake pedal abruptly and seek assistance.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Good Garage Scheme finds motorists could be hit with digital switch-off cost

As the country is nearing the end of the TV switchover to digital broadcasting, motorists could be hit with further digital switch-off costs.

Last week it was announced by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey that a provisional target of 2015 has been set for the country’s radio switchover from FM to digital. However, an official switchover date won’t be announced until more than half of all digital radio listening is digital, currently only at around 24 per cent. It is also likely to be phased out region by region, following the television model.

Around 20 per cent of all radio listening happens in cars, but only one percent of all cars currently have the capability to receive digital stations. So what does the radio switchover mean for motorists? It is estimated that around 20 million car radios will become useless, leaving you with little option other than to buy new equipment or upgrade existing systems for your car.

The cost of installing new digital radios is estimated now at around £300, while conversion kits that must be attached to the windscreen similar to a Satnav also cost more than £100.

Despite digital radio being more economical, there are concerns over quality of reception and area coverage. An action plan building up towards the provisional target includes building digital coverage, which only covers about 90 per cent of the population, a cost-benefit analysis of the changeover and proposals to help poorer people to switch to digital. FM will remain available for local and community stations.

Monday 12 July 2010

Nearly 700,000 Motorists Check Emails Whilst Driving – The Good Garage Scheme Finds Mobile Use Trend Alarming

Despite being illegal for nearly six years, the number of motorists using mobile phones has increased dramatically, casting serious doubt on the effectiveness of enforcement against law-breakers.

A survey by the RAC revealed 28% of motorists use their phone without a hands free kit. People aged 25-44 were the worst offenders with 13% taking calls when driving and 26% while stationary. Some 46% of those receiving calls claim not to be distracted by this. Last year only 8% admitted to using a mobile without a hands free kit.

A further 31% of motorists admit to texting on the road – and 6% while actually driving. Last year 11% of motorists admitted to texting on the road. With internet enabled phones becoming widely available, almost 700,000 motorists have been found surfing the net and check emails while driving.

In 2009 drivers ignoring the mobile phone laws caused 31 fatal crashes, 70 crashes where one or more of the people involved were seriously injured and there were 534 casualties in total. In-car distraction, such as mobiles, changing music, drinking and eating, was identified as having led to 65 deaths, 469 serious injuries and a total of 4,763 casualties.

Reaction times dramatically slow even whilst using Bluetooth, so it is advisable to not use mobile phones at all. Even if you are using a hands-free set and are found to be not in total control of the car you can still be fined £60 and receive three penalty points.


Direct Line Press Release
RAC Report on Motoring 2010

Friday 9 July 2010

Are you a garage looking to take on an apprentice this summer? Good Garage Scheme recommends great website

Are you a garage looking to take on an apprentice this summer? The Good Garage Scheme has teamed up with Skillnet to encourage garages to employ apprentices, ensuring that future technicians are highly qualified with hands on experience and expert knowledge.

Skillnet work’s with hundreds of garages, dealerships and body-shops to recruit the best apprentices for your business by helping you to train them in all of the skills they will need to become fully qualified technicians. Each apprentice receives support from Skillnet to build knowledge, skills, and earn qualifications through an organised training programme whilst working in your garage. For garage technicians looking to gain further accreditation, Skillnet also offer a range of technical courses to suit adult members of staff.

This is a fantastic opportunity for garages to benefit from young adults with a passion for motor vehicles and a way to give back to the community. With young people getting ready to leave school in July, make sure you register your interest with Skillnet to ensure you can have an apprentice with you to start this summer.

For further details
Skillnet recruitment team: 01923 216165
Skillnet website:

Thursday 8 July 2010

Good Garage Scheme member X L Autos robbed of £60,000 worth of equipment – are you able to help?

Martin Hooper and Tony Webber of X L Autos have been trading successfully from the premises in Exeter for nine years with no problems at all. But on Tuesday night a devastating robbery took place, stripping the garage of £60,000 worth of equipment.

Martin explained: “Myself and my partner got here at quarter to eight. We were in total disbelief; two grown men in tears. It was a lifetime of equipment and tools gone in a hit. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. It’s effectively closed the business until we buy new tools.

The robbery took place on the evening of 6th July, some time after 10:30pm. A large white van was used, but little else is known as each camera was obscured with spray paint. Speaking about the thieves Martin commented: “they knew exactly the equipment they could take – they were professional. The only things left were bolted down.”

Some of the items stolen
• Snap-On Heritage, blue limited edition tool box with motor sports stickers all over and lots of tools inside
• Several Snap-On diagnostic tools
• A red roll cab tool box
• Snap-On digital camera
• A black V-Tech multi scan diagnostic unit designed only for Asian cars
• Several Sykes-Pickavant pressure kits
• Oil pressure and cooling kits
• Two brand new bottles of refrigerant gas which a require licence to purchase
• Computer tower and monitor

Martin urged all garages and businesses to prepare for events like this. He advised: “make sure you have alarm systems installed that alerts a call centre even if they are knocked off the wall. It might be expensive but it’s worth it. The police would have been here in minutes if we had them”.

Police are investigating the robbery, but you can do your part also by looking out for these items. If you are offered to buy second hand equipment matching the description of X L Autos please call Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111 and quote X L Autos crime reference number DE/10/69/77.

Crime Stoppers website
X L Autos website

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Which Gender is the Better Driver? The Good Garage Scheme Finds Insurance Study an Interesting Insight

The ongoing battle of who the better driver is of the two sexes appears never-ending, or is it?

A study by insurance company Diamond has discovered male motorists are more likely to collide head-on in a collision, whereas female motorists are more likely to claim for bumps and scrapes.

The study of over two million accidents revealed that men tend to drive much faster and more aggressively than women, resulting in claims for high speed accidents where loss of control is a key factor. Women claimed more frequently for slower speed collisions where cars are closer together, such as roundabouts and hitting cars from behind.

Trends over the past five years showed male motorists are also the bigger risk takers, being more likely to drive into crash barriers, up and down embankments, drive through floods, hit trees and experience car fires.

The study also revealed that women are more likely to have their possessions stolen, whereas men are more likely to have their cars stolen outright.

Monday 5 July 2010

Holidaying in the UK this summer? Make sure you avoid ‘staycation’ frustration with the Good Garage Scheme

Volcanic ash clouds! Airport chaos! Stress and anxiety! Yes, it can only mean one thing; UK holiday season is here again. This year instead of heading for foreign shores for a vacation, thousands of holidaymakers are favouring a ‘staycation’ in the UK. But with many more motorists hitting the UK’s roads this summer, holiday happiness could turn to ‘staycation’ frustration if cars aren’t in tip top condition.

Why bother checking my car?
You wouldn’t pack your suitcase without double checking everything. But for thousands of holidaymakers staying in the UK this year, many will be taking to the roads at some point without giving the condition of their cars a second thought. But avoiding simple checks before setting off could leave the wheels coming off a holiday before it even starts.

What should I be checking for?
Some of the most common problems are caused by failing to make simple checks. Checks should be made on:

• Coolant levels to avoid engines overheating.
• Tyre pressure to cope with the increased weight of luggage and passengers.
• Brakes, clutches, power steering, fluids and oil.
• Air conditioning systems.
• Tyre tread, windscreens and wipers.

There’s never a good time for your car to break down but these simple checks can be made quickly and play a part in preventing motorists running into trouble on the roads.

Need some help? The Good Garage Scheme is here!
If you need help to give yourself peace of mind for holiday motoring in the UK the Good Garage Scheme’s own squad of 2900 independent garage experts are on hand to identify any problems before your holiday starts and help ensure trouble-free motoring.

Friday 2 July 2010

Good Garage Scheme Reveals Most Dangerous Roads in Britain

A report examining 28,000 miles of road across Britain has revealed that half of all fatal road crashes occur on one-tenth of Britain’s roads, calling for government spending to be targeted at improving safety on the most dangerous roads.

Carried out by the Road Safety Foundation, the survey suggests that the high cost of emergency services and hospitals could be avoided by spending small sums in accident blackspots. Simple, well planned measures at relatively little expense could help Britain reduce road deaths with good economic returns.

It revealed that Scotland has the highest-risk highways, followed by parts of northern England, with the West Midlands being the safest region for motorists. Britain's most-dangerous road was revealed as the Cat and Fiddle Pass section of the A537 between Macclesfield and Buxton in Cheshire which has been the scene of 43 fatal or serious collisions since 2001.

The most improved road was named as the A40 between Llandovery and Carmarthen. Improved junctions and markings, along with resurfacing with high friction, anti-skid treatments, saw the number of serious accidents fall from 27 between 2003 and 2005 to seven in the following three years.

A537 Macclesfield to Buxton - Cheshire/Derbyshire
A5012 Pikehall to Matlock – Derbyshire
A621 Baslow to Totley - Derbyshire/South Yorkshire
A625 Calver to Sheffield - South Yorkshire
A54 Congleton to Buxton – Derbyshire
A581 Rufford to Chorley – Lancashire
A5004 Whaley Bridge to Buxton – Derbyshire
A675 Blackburn to Preston – Lancashire
A61 Barnsley to Wakefield - South/West Yorkshire
A285 Chichester to Petworth - West Sussex

Source: Road Safety Foundation