Friday 28 September 2012

Be Prepared for Autumn Driving

Low sun and dirty windscreens

Autumn is here and it’s time to prepare the car for the colder days ahead.
It might seem like there’s not much to do to prepare you and your car for the autumn. But with leafy days comes low sun. According to the Department for Transport figures, twenty-three people died in a crash because of dazzling sun in 2010. The dazzling sun is incredibly distracting so it’s important to take some precautions at this time of the year.

Good Garage Scheme sunglasses autumn drivingWhile it may seem obvious, try to make sure you keep a good pair of sunglasses in your glove compartment. If the sun makes it difficult to see, slow down. Be aware that if the sun is behind you, it’s in the eyes of oncoming drivers who may not see you. Low sun can dazzle you through your mirrors so be ready to dip the mirror and check over your shoulder for vehicles in your blind spot.
As the days get shorter, remember to turn on your headlights before sunset and keep them on for an hour after sunrise so that it’s easier for drivers to see you in twilight.
Low sun will highlight scratches and grime so clean your windows inside and out.
Clear out the tray-like area under the bonnet, below the windscreen. They can fill up with water when it gets blocked with leaves. The water then seeps into the car’s electrics, causing expensive and potentially dangerous damage.

Beautiful autumn leaves can be hazardous
Autumn dazzle  Good Garage Scheme
Remember that leaves can be slippery, especially when wet. Avoid hard acceleration or braking as it can cause skidding. Be aware that there may be a dip, pothole or other road hazards hiding under the leaves, covering the road.

Give yourself extra time to clean the windscreen
As it gets further into autumn and the temperature drops, clear your windscreens of condensation or ice before setting off. Always give yourself extra time to ensure you can see though your windows clearly before starting your journey.

Make sure your wiper blades are in good condition. If they squeak as they wipe, it’s likely that they need replacing. Make sure they are turned off before starting the ignition to save the blades and the risk of a blown motor fuse when the frost hits.
Check Windscreen wipers by Good Garage Scheme

Check your car's battery
Autumn takes its toll on car batteries. Keep the top of the battery clean and dry. Make sure the terminals are tight and free of corrosion. If a battery is more than three years old, check it now, you may start saving yourself many a frustrating start to a morning.

The Good Garage Scheme wishes to thank the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) for the above article. For more information about the IAM, please visit their website.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Packing Your Car for Uni

It’s that time of the year when 18 and 19 year olds all over the country are getting ready to take the university challenge and start what is arguably the best time of their adult life. It’s also the time when parents all over the country will be mourning their child’s departure from the family home and wondering where the last eighteen years have gone.

But as you pack up your belongings and prepare to load the car, there are a few things to think about if you want a first in road safety. Whether you’re driving 30 miles or 350 miles, remember to prepare yourself and your car for the journey ahead.

Example courtesy of IAM of how NOT to pack the car
Firstly, pack your possessions securely. Loose objects can not only be distracting to the driver, but if he or she has to brake sharply, these unsecured items could fly forward and hit people sitting in front.

Pack heavy items such as suitcases and boxes of clothes into the boot whenever possible.
Any loads in the boot should be made as small as possible and positioned to enable a clear view. Keep heavy items low down. Don’t allow your belongings to obscure your view through the rear window.

Always pack so that those in the car, especially the driver, have room to move. Feeling cramped causes stress and makes the journey less pleasant for both passengers and driver.

Remember, a full car uses more fuel so keep an eye on your fuel gauge. Be prepared and fill your engine up so you don’t have to worry about running out. Also, it is a good idea to check tyre pressures before setting off. Tyres on a full and heavy car usually require higher pressures.

Freshen up for "Freshers Week"
If your journey is more than two hours, stop off and take a break. If at all possible, share the driving especially if you intend to drive there and back in one day.

The Good Garage Scheme wishes to thank IAM (the Institute of Advanced Motoring) for this week's blog advice. For more information on the IAM, visit

If you are unsure about checking any safety aspect of your car, visit your local Good Garage Scheme member who will be happy to check for you.

Download the Good Garage Scheme app for peace of mind wherever you are in the UK.

Thursday 20 September 2012

94% Answered "YES"!

Great news! The Good Garage Scheme's most recent poll of over 1300 motorists reveals that 94% DO know where to find the dipstick in their cars. We are hoping that means that those motorists are regularly checking their oil but suspect this may not be the case.

"Do you know where the oil dipstick is located on your car?"

Oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle and checking the oil is easy and quick. If you are unsure of how to check your oil, please see the Good Garage Scheme's handy guide below.

Step 1:   With your car parked on level ground, warm your engine up to operating temperature, then  stop the engine long enough for the oil level to settle.

Step 2:   Lift the bonnet and pull out the dipstick

Step 3: Wipe the dipstick clean, then replace.

Step 4:  Remove dipstick again and read oil level - ideally the level should be between the minimum and maximum markers.

Step 5: If the oil level is close to or below the minimum marker then your oil needs topping up.

Please note: Top ups must be with the correct Grade of engine oil for your vehicle. Check your manual for further information.

If you still feel you'd like to leave it to a professional, simply visit your nearest Good Garage Scheme member garage who will be happy to check for you.

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Good Garage Scheme Advises on Back to School Driving

school crossing signOver the past few weeks, driving into work has been a delight. You will hopefully have experienced clearer roads, shorter journey times and a less stressful journey. In London, the combination of the Olympics and school holidays has meant the roads have been considerably quieter. However, September is here and it’s important to take extra care as the school run starts again.
The school run brings with it approximately 20 per cent more rush hour traffic. A little preparation beforehand can go a long way to making your journey much easier. Give yourself a bit more time for your journey – and yes, that just might mean ten minutes less spent in bed.
Take your time. Don’t compromise your concentration and the safety of other road users by being in a hurry. Leaving the house five minutes earlier changes the nature of how you make the journey. The extra time allows for any delays.
Whether you’re ferrying the kids or driving to work, your commute to work is likely to involve passing schools and residential areas. Take extra care on the roads to compensate for the fact that children won’t always be paying attention, especially when approaching the school gate.
If you’re dropping your children off to school, don’t stop on the yellow zigzags by the school gate. Try to stop in a safe place ensuring you let your passengers out on the pavement side. This makes it easier for vehicles to get past and avoids causing congestion in front of the school.
If your child has a friend nearby who attends the same school, consider sharing the driving. Arrange an informal deal with other parents to reduce the driving pressure.

Be aware that the speed limit surrounding the local school may have been reduced to 20mph, so slow down and keep an eye out for children crossing the road.
If your children are walking to school on their own, make sure they are aware of the potential hazards such as crossing busy roads and encourage them to always use the pedestrian crossing if there is one. 

The Good Garage Scheme is grateful to the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) for today's blog on back to school driving safety. For more information about the IAM visit