Tuesday 30 November 2010

Good Garage Scheme asks – what measures are in place to ensure we have enough grit salt to last this winter?

Roads are at their most treacherous when the first fall of snow occurs and after it becomes compacted and refreezes overnight. This problem is exacerbated on roads that are not gritted prior to the initial snowfall. 

At the close of November, many local authorities are still awaiting delivery of road salt to cope with the onset of the wintry weather feared over the coming months. Local Government Association economy and transport board chairman Councillor Peter Box revealed last week that the fact that councils were still waiting for salt deliveries was ‘going to make a challenging time of year even more difficult.’

However there was also good news as the LGA added that councils were making “unprecedented efforts” in preparation by stockpiling significantly more salt and purchasing many more gritting vehicles which are already in service. They have also been tasked with around the clock service to ensure that public and emergency services continue operating safely.

Contingencies include setting up arrangements with neighbouring areas to share supplies and importing further supplies from overseas should local councils stocks diminish significantly.

Online assistance is also planned with nearly 25% of councils in England and Wales using Twitter and 91% planning to provide regular updates via their websites.

The main question seems to be when will the planned quantities of salt ordered arrive and will it be in time to maintain motorist safety?

Thursday 25 November 2010

Good Garage Scheme urges motorists to be prepared for the snow ahead

Snow is predicted to hit many regions by the weekend. Drivers are seeking advice about ways to ensure their safety, with last winter still in many motorists’ minds.

Here’s our guide to some of the best advice available online.

Before doing anything else, get breakdown cover. Many breakdown services will help you get home, to your destination or the nearest garage dependent upon your level of cover, if it can’t be fixed on the spot. 

Check that the windscreen wipers, your ice scraper and de-icer are in good working order. Top up the windscreen washer fluid with anti-freeze screen wash.

Leave earlier. If you’re on a schedule and are delayed by vehicle problems before setting off you are more likely to endanger yourself and others with rash driving.

Keep to main roads as they’re more likely to be gritted.

Keep more petrol in your tank in case longer journeys or alternative routes become necessary.

If your car is skidding, don’t step on the brakes, even if they’re anti-lock. Ease off the accelerator and steer slightly into the direction of the skid until you gain control. Turn with steady motions. This should help transfer the weight forward and help you to regain traction.

Use the accelerator, brakes, clutch and steering together as gently (and progressively) as possible. Stopping distances are ten times longer in ice and snow so always allow more distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead.

For up-to-date news from the Met Office, click here.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Good Garage Scheme fears higher parking fines being sought to recoup lost revenues.

Local authorities are seeking to align the parking fines of their councils with those imposed in the capital.

Currently, the Government control maximum parking fines charged outside London while parking charges are controlled by councils. The current maximum outside the capital is £70 whereas in London it is almost double at £120. 

The British Parking Association, which represents car park operators and councils are defending the proposals. They feel that current charges:

•    in some areas are barely higher than the cost of a day’s parking
•    encourage motorists to park in areas where they risk penalties
•    are an insufficient deterrent
•    will mean council taxpayers soon having to make up the shortfall
•    being increased would affect only the minority of motorists who get tickets

The new proposals have met with widespread opposition.
Paul Watters of the AA stated: 'That is in clear breach of the Secretary of State's guidelines. The guidelines state that local authorities should not view civil parking enforcement as a way of raising revenue.’

Transport minister Norman Baker said: 'I think motorists will worry that this is perhaps a covert attempt to raise money from them unfairly. That's not the Department for Transport's objective in any way, shape or form.’ Last month he said parking officials should stop treating motorists like a 'cash cow' and said that drivers must be treated with a 'softer touch'.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Missing one or more brake lights – shocking statistics revealed. Good Garage Scheme asks –how often do you check yours?

One or more brake lights are found to be missing from one in every fifteen vehicles on average, according to new research by used car website Carsite.co.uk. This is putting other road users at much greater risk due to the decreased visibility of these vehicles and making accidents far more likely.

This problem is affecting around 2.5 million vehicles including cars, motorcycles, vans and lorries. As a result these could incur penalty points on licenses plus on-the-spot fines for operating vehicles in a non-roadworthy state.

The research was conducted during peak traffic volume times and also showed that commercial vehicles were accounting for one in five of all cases and that one in fifteen vehicles were being operated with no working brake lights at all.

While very few accidents recorded are blamed primarily on defective lights or indicators, a far greater and worrying amount are as a result of speed misjudgement with brake lights making it very difficult for following motorists to gauge a rapid reduction in the speed of a car ahead. This is said to be responsible for around 26,000 accidents annually – including 224 fatalities.

John Guess of Carsite said: ‘There is no excuse for commercial vehicles not having all brake lights 100% functional, but solo-commuter car drivers should be urged to check their lights with a colleague or family member at least weekly.’

The data corresponds closely with VOSA data on MOT failures. This shows around 15% of vehicles fail the MOT test with light problems.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

What is being done to tackle rising premiums? Good Garage Scheme welcomes recent steps being taken

The Transport Select Committee recently met with various industry bodies and insurance organisations to tackle the problem of escalating car insurance premiums. Bogus or exaggerated no-win-no-fee personal injury claims, uninsured drivers and fraud were seen as the main causes for the hikes in recent years. Various sources concurred with this view.

Ashton West, Motor Insurers Bureau’s chief executive felt: ‘I think it is because of aggressive marketing on daytime TV. It is creating a view that if you are involved in an accident which is not your fault, you can collect a pot of money.’

Uninsured drivers are also seen as a big problem. Comparison website Confused.com's head of motor insurance, Will Thomas said: ‘This inquiry is not before time, with our index showing prices have risen by 37.5 per cent in the last twelve months with premiums now standing at £650 on average. The 17-20-year-old bracket has seen prices rise by a massive £616 over the last twelve months. Uninsured driving is one of the biggest consequences of the price hike.'

John Miles, Gocompare.com’s business development director said 'Insurers are having to pay out larger sums because of an increase in personal injury, fraudulent, and exaggerated claims, as well as the significant impact caused by uninsured drivers. Unfortunately, the actions of the unscrupulous few have a huge effect on insurers, who have no choice but to pass on the cost.’
Various ideas have been proposed to help ease the problem. These include:

•    Reviewing the Pass Plus scheme
•    Making the driving test harder
•    Limiting legal fees incurred by insurers in civil cases
•    Allowing insurance access to the DVLA database to validate penalty points on licences
•    Pointing young drivers to a relevant broker for help getting insurance

Premia Solutions’ sales and operations director Steve Roberts said: 'Any regulation that ensures spurious and fraudulent claims are weeded out has to be good news, especially in the light of the individual this year who was found to have staged more than ninety car accidents with the specific goal of winning personal injury compensation from insurers for the people involved. Stamping out fraud, coupled with better driver training will start to reduce premiums. It is third party liability now, rather than the value of the vehicle, that is the main driving force in the ever increasing spiral of cost.'

The introduction of 'Continuous Insurance Enforcement' was sought by the British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA). If a driver received official reminders of expiration of their insurance and chose to ignore it, they could be hit with a fine. They also advised ministers they felt the driving test needed toughening and the Pass Plus scheme revamped, as graduates no longer receive some previously available discounts. Graeme Trudgill, BIBAs head of corporate affairs said: 'We think the key priorities for the government should be to introduce Continuous Insurance Enforcement, implement changes to reduce the cost of bodily injury claims and importantly signpost customers to a source of help.'

AA spokesman Ian Crowder added: 'We think for young drivers, who suffer the brunt of the increases with unsustainable premiums, the key is for the insurance industry, road safety groups, the government and education authorities to work together to help young people start their driving careers safely and responsibly.’

Thursday 11 November 2010

Electric vehicle charging network being launched next year – Good Garage Scheme asks – when will you be switching on?

In the spring of next year, an electric vehicle charging network will be launched all over London, Mayor of London Boris Johnson has announced in his quest for London to become the "electric driving capital of Europe. He said: "Major manufacturers are gearing up to launch more affordable, practical electric cars over the next few years, whilst the costs of traditional fuels are making petrol-free driving an increasingly attractive option."

As a result, for no more than a £100 annual membership fee, members will be able to charge vehicles at any one of the public charging points set up which is expected to reach 1300 during the next 3 years. Drivers of electric vehicles are exempt from the congestion charge in central London. Other UK cities are anticipated to follow suit to enable a network of charge points nationwide under the Source London brand over the coming months.

Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond had this to say: ‘We recognise that for many people the car is an essential, not a luxury, and that is why we are prioritising spending on making the UK a world leader in ultra low emission cars. Following the first round of our Plugged-in-Places scheme, cities like London are laying the groundwork for a national charge point network.
‘And thanks to our spending review settlement which secured over £400m for measures to promote the uptake of electric and ultra-low emission vehicle technologies, more areas will soon be able to join them.’

A recent report by HSBC estimated that the global electric vehicle market could be worth up over £400 billion within the next decade with Europe seeing the highest demand.

Further information can be found at new website www.sourcelondon.net.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

New survey reveals most common component failures. Good Garage Scheme asks – have you checked your warranty to see what’s not covered?

New survey reveals most common component failures. Good Garage Scheme asks – have you checked your warranty to see what’s not covered?

Warranty Direct’s latest survey has revealed the top ten most common parts of your vehicle to fail first.

The most likely part to fail first was found to be suspension arms with an average cost of £230.60 and accounting for 5.86 % of all repairs.

The study also discovered that a third of all repairs performed on cars between three and seven years old will be as a consequence of wear and tear.

Ball joints were discovered to be the second most susceptible part to failure with steering racks following close on its heels. Ball joints are said to account for 3.89% of all repairs while faulty steering racks resulted in 3.88% of all repairs. The average repair costs of these two items was found to be £223.80 for ball joints and steering racks incurring an average £377.68 cost per repair.

Turbochargers appeared next in the list with a huge average cost of £794.78 to the motorist.

The top ten included both small and large items with both water pumps at £209.00 and automatic gearboxes at £1378.65 appearing. The full list appears below:

Top 10 car parts most likely to fail

Component                  % of all                         Average cost
repairs                         of repair

Suspension arms           5.86%                           £230.60
Ball joint                        3.89%                           £223.80
Steering rack                 3.88%                           £377.68
Turbo                            2.18%                           £794.78
Water pump                  2.07%                           £209.00
Wheel bearings              1.86%                           £150.31
Fuel pump                     1.38%                           £415.30
Flywheel                       1.05%                           £630.92
Injector                          0.86%                           £400.26
Automatic gearbox         0.38%                           £1378.65

Warranty Direct advised motorists to check what is covered and what is excluded in their policies. Their managing director Duncan McClure Fisher advised: “The statistics highlight the importance of checking the small print on longer term new car warranties and after-market policies. Those with 'wear and tear' exclusions mean the consumer is left to foot the bill for worn out parts”. He added “It's not reasonable to expect manufacturer warranties to cover parts that wear out, but motorists are not necessarily aware that as their car gets older and wear-related failures become more frequent, they won't necessarily be covered unless they have a policy that covers wear”.

Thursday 4 November 2010

Good Garage Scheme looks at how the Scrappage Incentive Scheme withdrawal has affected new car sales.

Research by the SMMT has revealed new car registrations have fallen by more than 20% in comparison with 2009 sales. This is deemed to be as a result of last year’s Scrappage Incentive Scheme having now been withdrawn.

Paul Everitt, SMMT’s chief executive said: The industry expects the coming months to be challenging with slow, but steady, economic growth feeding through to improved confidence and demand during 2011.”

With those figures excluded, the figures are comparable. However, the industry is still expected to show an increase in new car sales of around 1.5% by the end of the year.

While the recession is hitting consumers’ pockets hard, there is expected to be a boost in sales prior to the rise in VAT in January with customers aiming to benefit from the last months of sales prior to the 2.5% increase.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Good Garage Scheme launches Free Christmas Prize Draw

Looking for something to brighten up the dark nights? 

How about a Nintendo Wii in your living room, a digital camera or an iPod Nano in your pocket, or a TomTom in your car? 

Well this is your chance to win a prize of your choice with the Good Garage Scheme.

Simply visit your local Good Garage Scheme member and complete and return a Good Garage Scheme feedback card with your additional comments to gain entry into a Free Prize Draw.

Entries must be received by December 10th. Terms and conditions can be obtained from all Good Garage Scheme members.