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Top Ten Tips for Safe Winter Driving and Avoiding Accidents

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You can keep yourself safe and your mind at ease by following a few simple winter time driving safety protocols. They can be particularly useful in icy and snowy environments. Driving in the snow can daunt most drivers and can be a harrowing experience. The surprising fact is that most people remain unprepared to drive during hostile conditions. Here is a list of top ten tips for safe winter driving, that you should stick to:

Top Tips for Holiday Travel

Are you going away with the family this summer? At Carmaster we know how important it is that you and your loved ones stay safe on the roads, so we’ve put together a useful checklist of safety tips for long car journeys:

  1. Always check the depth of your tyre tread before setting off on a long journey. Having worn tyres is not only illegal but adversely affects the level of grip and control you have on the roads. The legal limit is 1.6mm minimum across the central three-quarters of the tyre around its entire circumference. Also see (link to tyre article)
  2. Make sure you have a spare tyre, first aid kit and breakdown kit handy in case of a breakdown or other emergency – it’s always best to be prepared. It’s also a good idea to join a breakdown service so you know help is at hand if you need it.
  3. If you’ve got kids in the back, pack some games or prepare a list of activities to keep them occupied during long journeys – if they get bored, they can become a dangerous distraction to the driver. If they’re old enough, games and videos on an iPhone, iPad or other handheld console – such as Nintendo DS or Sony PSP – will usually be enough. Peppa Pig is always a good one!
  4. Always make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressures before setting out. Driving with under-inflated tyres increases the risk of a blow-out, while correct pressure can increase the life of the tyres and improve fuel economy. Consult your manufacturer’s handbook to find out the tyre pressures for your vehicle.
  5. Tyre pressure should be checked when they are cold – an inaccurate reading is likely if you do it straight after driving as tyres heat up when they’re being used.
  6. Don’t forget to take regular breaks on long journeys to stop the driver becoming sleepy – pull into a service station and have a drink or just stretch your legs.

Feel free to pop in and see us before your journey – we’re happy to check your car over free of charge and it leaves you free to focus on more important issues – like the packing. Happy holidays!

20mph Speed Limits – Good or Bad?

Local councils are to have the power to introduce 20mph maximum speed zones in towns. They will also be able to reduce rural speed limits from 60mph to as low as 40mph.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said: “It's vital that speed limits are suitable for local conditions and councils are best placed to determine what these limits are, based on local knowledge and the views of the community.

“To help, we are publishing updated guidance for consultation. This includes a number of initiatives introduced to improve road safety, including making it easier for local authorities and communities to put in place 20mph schemes or to use common-sense measures such as variable speed limits outside schools.”

He added: “Road safety is a top priority and the guidance, along with the speed limit appraisal web tool, will help councils make evidence-based decisions to introduce local speed limits that reflect the needs of all road users.”

While sensibly-targeted 20mph zones in urban areas are unlikely to cause controversy – although some proposals do seem to defy common sense – the idea of a 40mph limit on some rural roads is likely to ignite fierce arguments. Rural roads with houses are already subject to lower limits than the national 60mph restriction – so which will have the lower speed limit imposed?

While there are certainly some rural roads where 60mph is too fast to be safe, there are also sections where even 40mph is too much. So the question is – where will this stop? Will every stretch of road be given its own speed limit, with motorists subsequently spending more time looking for road signs than concentrating on road conditions or hazards?

When Did You Last Check Your Tyres?

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A total of 9,639 people were convicted in England and Wales last year for driving with dangerous or defective tyres,according to research by TyreSafe, one of the UK's leading tyre safety organisations.

Current UK law states that there should be a 1.6mm tread-depth across the central three-quarters of the tyre around its entire circumference. Drivers who fail to comply with the regulations face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points on their licence for each illegal tyre.

Given the recent wet weather conditions, driving with defective or unsafe tyres poses a very real risk – there are few things scarier than realising your tyres have lost contact with the road as you drive at speed along a wet motorway. Suddenly, you are no longer the driver – you're a passenger.

We'll happily examine your tyres to make sure they meet legal requirements, and advise you on their present condition – just pop in to see us.

Greener Cars Exempt from Road Tax? Think Again

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Have you recently bought an eco-friendly vehicle on the premise it’s exempt from road tax? Well – we hate to break it to you, but by 2016 you’ll be paying over the odds like the rest of us.

 

The government plans to reduce the road tax exemption threshold from <100g/km to <85g/km, meaning the current wave of Ecomotive and Econetic vehicles will all be within the taxable threshold.

 

The idea came after talks at Westminster centred on meeting tough EU targets of cutting average car CO₂ emissions from last year’s 138.1g/km to 95g/km by 2020. It’s been made clear that the road tax exemption band must also be slashed in order to maintain revenue.

 

Industry insiders suggest that, by 2016, only vehicles recording values under 85g/km will be exempt from road tax.

Top Tips To Extend the Life of Your Car

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Take a look at these top tips to extend the life of your car

1. Change oil frequently 

Your dad knew that frequent oil changes were key to keeping his car on the road another year. And while owner’s manuals for today’s cars recommend increasing long intervals between oil changes, the fact remains — frequent changes flush abrasive dirt and metal particles out of the engine, prolonging its life. Most owner’s manuals recommend a more frequent interval for “severe conditions.” To maximize the life of your engine, follow the severe intervals recommendations, especially if drive regularly in stop-and-go traffic.

2. Spark plugs do need changing 

The advent of electronic ignition and on-board computers has eliminated the need for regular tune-ups, but you still need to change your spark plugs. Many manufacturers recommend changing plugs every 30,000 or 40,000 miles (48,000 or 64,000 km) to ensure good fuel mileage and engine performance. Some new cars come with long-life plugs (sometimes called double platinum plugs) that can last for 100,000 miles (160,000 km). If your car isn’t so equipped, make the switch after 30,000 miles. The extra cost is only a few pounds per spark plug. While you’re at it, change your spark plug wires as well. Their typical life is 50,000 miles (80,000 km). Deteriorated wires can cause those high-tech new spark plugs to foul.

3. Don’t forget the timing belt
On many cars, it’s the belt you can’t see that is the most critical. If your manual says, as many do, that you should replace the timing belt at 50,000 miles, do it! A failed timing belt can, depending on engine type, cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to your engine.

4. Have wheel alignment checked
Have your car’s wheel alignment checked every 30,000 miles, or as recommended in your owner’s manual. Also have it checked after buying new tyres. Improper tire alignment will shorten the life of your tyres as well as cause poor handling. If your steering is stiffer than normal or the vehicle pulls to one side, you probably have an alignment problem.
 

5. Top off your brake fluid 

Check brake fluid monthly. Wipe dirt from the master cylinder lid before you open it. If you need fluid, add the type recommended by your car’s maker. Never substitute other fluids, such as transmission or power-steering fluid. And don’t use brake fluid from a previously opened container. Once exposed to air, brake fluid absorbs moisture and contaminates easily.

6. Run your AC in winter

 
To keep your car’s air-conditioning system fit for the next warm season, run it a few times throughout the winter. This will prevent moving parts in the compressor from seizing. Also, circulating the refrigerant will help keep the seals soft and pliant.

7. Maintain your car’s battery

 
Maybe the manufacturer says your battery is maintenance free, but don’t you believe it! Check your battery regularly to extend its life and avoid the hassle of being stranded with a dead battery.

8. Protect car paint from the sun 

Of course, the best way to protect the paint is to park the car in a garage. If that is not possible, park in the shade or purchase a car cover. The sun’s ultraviolet rays break down paint and cause it to fade. Some car covers protect your car from more than sun, moisture, bird droppings, and dust — they also have a thin layer of cushioning that will guard against light impact, such as from a tipped bicycle or small falling tree branch.

9. Touch up nicks sooner rather than later 

Paint does more than make your vehicle look great. It’s also the first line of defence against rusted body panels. Touch-up paint won’t adhere well to rust. So be sure to keep some matching touch-up paint on hand so you can touch up any minor nicks, often found around door edges, before rust has a chance to form.

Contact Us

Carmaster Garage Harrogate

Units 1-4 Kindon Court, Camwal Road,
Harrogate, HG1 4PT
Directions

Tel 01423 881213

Email reception@carmastergarage.com

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