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From Our Blog
If your business runs a fleet of vehicles then there is likely one individual responsible for maintaining the roadworthiness of them – perhaps that individual is you.
Not only is maintaining fleet quality important for increasing the usable lifespan of key business assets, but it also supports your duty of care by ensuring that employees and anyone else who may be nearby your vehicles is kept safe.
Doing this is so important that the UK government have outlined guidance for ensuring the ongoing roadworthiness of HGVs, including trucks. This guidance is invaluable to those responsible and becomes increasingly applicable as the age of the vehicle increases.
Daily Walkaround Checks
When operating large, potentially dangers machinery like a truck, it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure a general level of awareness and assessment on a use-by-use basis. Practically, this means that any individual using a truck in your fleet should undertake a walk around check before that vehicle is used.
It is recommended that the driver undertakes this check before a vehicle is used on the road each day.
Ongoing Driver Monitoring
Of course, ensuring road safety is not as simple as once a day walk-around of the vehicle. Drivers should also remain aware of the roadworthiness of their vehicle whilst it is in use. This means being alert to any indication of an issue such as unusual noises, vibrations, warning lights and anything else that seems out of the ordinary.
If any cause for concern appears, then the driver should pull over where safe and assess their vehicle. They may also need to make other necessary arrangements for support if required.
If the driver spots an issue with their vehicle, whether before or during use, then there needs to be a clear and simple process for them to follow.
The process followed may differ depending on the structure of the business. In all cases, the defect, symptom or safety concern must be recorded and reported to a suitably qualified and authorised individual. To limit confusion and to keep potentially unsafe vehicles off the road, the defect reporting process should highlight where further action should be taken.
Regular Safety Inspections
Besides walk-around inspections and consistent awareness by the driver, regular specialist safety checks should also be undertaken.
The UK government guidelines highlight the importance of an initial ‘first use’ inspection to ensure that the vehicle is roadworthy before it is introduced to your fleet. For example, if your business invested in a new fleet of hook loaders, a specialist should undertake a detailed inspection of each vehicle before they are deemed to be roadworthy and ready for use by your drivers.
In addition to this, the responsible individual should ensure that ongoing, consistent inspections are scheduled regularly. How often these are executed depends widely on the nature of the vehicle and how it is used, but should be aligned with a mileage or time milestones (or a combination of the two).
Any suitably qualified individual who is responsible for inspecting vehicles should either report to or be personally authorised to remove a vehicle for use if there is any cause for concern.
Keeping your fleet roadworthy is beneficial both from a financial and ethical point of view. By following the guidelines outlined by the UK government on fleet maintenance, you put yourself in the best position to spot any potential issues and remedy them before they become more serious.
Any vehicle that is more than three years old will be required by law to undertake a MOT (Ministry of Transport) test. This must be carried out annually to ensure the vehicle is roadworthy.
In this guide, we’ll briefly cover a number of frequently asked questions on what drivers need to know before booking a MOT test. Garages that are licensed to provide these tests must make sure that they have the relevant motor trade insurance policy in place, as they will be handling a customer’s car, van or motorbike etc. Here’s what you need to know as a driver.
At what point do I need a MOT test?
Your car will need its first MOT test once it becomes three years old, this is calculated from the date of registration. From this point onwards, it will need to be tested annually to make sure it’s still meeting the necessary standards.
Once your car passes this, you will receive a MOT test certificate. This will include the issue date and the expiry date, helping you remember when the next test is due. If your vehicle fails the necessary checks, you’re allowed to take the car away if the current certificate is still valid and if there are no dangerous problems listed within the updated report. If there are major problems, you will need to undergo repairs before being allowed to drive it.
Regardless of which garage you take it to, the car must meet the minimum roadworthiness standards at all times, failure to do this could result in a fine.
How do I know when my MOT is due?
Anyone who’s lost their most recent MOT certificate can use a tool on the GOV.UK website. Simply enter your vehicle make, model and registration number, and your current MOT and tax status will be shown. Additionally, you can also request a free MOT certificate to replace the one you have lost.
What if I’m passed the expiration date?
MOTs do not come with a grace period. If your certificate has expired, you will not be legally allowed to drive your car on a public road. Anyone not abiding by these laws may face prosecution. Furthermore, a vehicle cannot be taxed without a valid MOT certificate.
Can I drive without a MOT?
As mentioned previously, you will be unable to drive without the necessary certification. However, there is one exception to the rule – you will be able to drive the vehicle to its MOT test, as long as you have pre-booked this. Anyone that does own a vehicle and has no intention of driving it, must keep it off the road and declare it SORN.
Will I fail the test if my car has been recalled?
It is estimated that there are around 2.3 million vehicles in the UK that are subject to outstanding recall notices. There is no legal requirement on your part as an owner to fix a vehicle that has been recalled. However, it is illegal to knowingly sell a vehicle that has a recall notice attached to it.
Anyone who is concerned that their car has been subject to a recall should check the database on the GOV.UK site for further clarification on the matter.
How do I prepare my vehicle for the MOT test?
A number of vehicles will fail the test due to the smallest of issues. Fortunately, these can be prevented before the big day. Many minor problems that result in failure may surprise vehicle owners. It’s highly recommended to carry out your own MOT checklist around 14 days before the inspection is due to take place. This will help you ensure your car is in the best condition it can be in before the testing process begins. It’s also worth noting that should the vehicle fail the test; your original renewal date will have to be changed.
Here’s a checklist for drivers before the MOT:
- Make sure your car is clean on both the inside and outside.
- Clean your number plates as these must be readable to pass the test.
- Check to see if the windscreen wipers are in good condition.
- Check to see if all lights are functioning correctly. A friend or family member can help you check the outside lights.
- Check tyre tread and tyre pressure.
- Top up all fluid levels, this includes engine oil, brake fluid and screen wash.
- Ensure that mirrors are secure and can be used safely.
- Check that the horn is functioning.
- The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in the car’s V5C logbook must match that marked on the car’s bodywork.
To summarise, this guide should give you a brief understanding on the importance of MOTs as well as the steps you need to take as a driver to prepare your vehicle for the examination. Hopefully your car passes the test with flying colours.
Preparing for the apocalypse, what vehicle do you choose? Of course it’s the powerful, off road capable, multi purpose SUVs and Pick up Trucks. How else would you transport your five year supply of toilet paper? In all seriousness though, during the Coronavirus pandemic sales have gone up for SUVs and Pick up Trucks more than any other vehicle type.
Although the whole auto sales industry has dropped over the last month, the drop has not affected the sale of Trucks and SUVs as much. They’ve come out on top as clear favourites for this time period of less sales and more uncertainty of the future, and possibly longer term too.
Why the Increase?
Ok so it’s probably not just to fit more toilet paper in. They do of course fit more in than other vehicle types though. Let’s look at the possible reasons for their popularity:
- Power for Practicality. Great for towing, transporting goods and work tools etc.
- Off Road Experiences and tougher terrains. Great for driving along the beach or through the farm on a nice sunny day, or even a muddy one.
- SUVs are great family vehicles especially when road tripping or moving house. Even to put your dog in the back along with the picnic basket and drinks to visit the beach.
- Image matters. For some, these two are personality type vehicles. They can lift you (literally) above the other vehicles on the road. Good visibility too.
- They’re also great for running a small business. Can be used for deliveries, storing cleaning or building supplies, and even car boot sales or a coffee truck type business.
- You are simply able to do more, and fit more with these two types of vehicle.
Which SUV’s and Pick up Trucks are the Best to Buy Right Now?
Autocar recently released their top 10 lists for 2020, we will narrow it down to the top 5 for you. If you’re in the market for a new SUV or Pick Up Truck here are your best options.
These are the Top 5 SUVs Out Right Now.
In no particular order, as each has their merits. All are the 2020 or latest models.
The F Pace is surprisingly practical, and fun to drive. It is a luxury compact SUV, and has more cabin and cargo space than most in it’s category.
This is a well thought out all rounder. With a mix of practical features, quiet smooth driving and great handling this SUV is easily one of the best. It’s classy and has a nice finish and trim, with a mid range price tag. There’s even a hybrid version available.
Land Rover Discovery Sport
The Discovery Sport is easy to drive. It drives comfortably on the motorway and is very capable off road too. This Land Rover features a large panoramic sun roof which both the front and back seat passengers can enjoy.
This is the cheapest option on the list but still offers great value and features for the price. The Kodiaq has low running costs for both the petrol and diesel models and features handsome styling inside and out.
Driver appeal is the biggest draw card for the BMW X3. It is lighter than previous models and more efficient. This BMW is armed with the latest gadgets to impress and amuse.
Top 5 Pick Up Trucks of 2020
The Amarok is the company’s first purpose built pick up truck. The 8 speed auto with V6 engines is very enjoyable to drive. Boasting an SUV like interior with 5 seats, it also has a large load bed for practicality.
This truck is a versatile all rounder. The Hilux is reliable, comfortable, great off road and able to tow up to 3,500kgs.
Mercedes X Class
The X Class features advanced suspension with plenty of power, and is excellent for towing. It is a quiet, comfortable truck that handles well.
You will be pleased with the nicely finished interior. This is sharper than your average pick up to drive, and offers class-leading fuel economy.
The Ranger is a hugely capable workhorse. Featuring smooth, powerful engines and massive load capacity, as well as being tough and dependable.
Or if you’re not sure which you prefer between an SUV or Pick Up Truck, there is the option of a combination. Check out the new Jeep Gladiator, with the features we love from both SUVs and Pick Up Trucks. Enough room for the family in the front and a decent sized cargo bed at the back, great for an even wider variety of tasks and needs than just one or the other. Whichever you choose, owning an SUV or Pick Up Truck will be a great investment.
MOT (Ministry of Transport) is responsible for your road safety. They conduct annual tests for your vehicles to make sure that they are safe for the roads. The MOT tests involve checking of all the fundamentals of your car, which you require to run your car at its best state. The MOT tests service centres are independent of any car manufacturers, which makes them totally unbiased for any car or company. No matter what car or vehicle you have, you will need to clear the MOT tests once in a year to ensure the safety of your family as well as others.
A normal MOT test can last for 45 minutes. During this time, the mechanics check the important parts of your vehicle to make sure they fit the legal standards of MOT. If any component is found faulty, you vehicle will fail the test. You will either need to replace the parts then and there or pay an additional fine if the repair can take longer. Some of the important components include lights, oils, tyres, steering, suspension, and mirrors. The price for the tests differ in different regions, but the prices can add up if you car needs replacements and repairs.
Check your car lights
The car lights, including your headlights, rear lights, sidelights, indicators, fog lights, hazard lights, and brake lights, need to work properly to clear the MOT test. It is one of the reasons why people fail the test as they forget to check their indicators and warning lights before the test. You can either do it yourself or take the help of a mechanic.
Check the tyres
The tyres need to have the right grip and tread to clear the tests. Failing the tyre test can result in a penalty for each tyre. Bad tyres are dangerous in poor weather conditions. If you feel the need for replacing them do it before the MOT test as it can cost you double the price once you fail the test.
Check the oils
Make sure that all the oil components of your car are clean and have sufficient fuel. Keep a full tank before you visit the MOT centre as the mechanic will need to rev up your car for a long time to complete the test. The safest way is to fill every fuel to the top before you give the test. Having a little knowledge about the car oils can benefit better.
Keep your car clean
The first impression of your car can alter the mood of the mechanic who will check your car. If it is too dusty and poorly maintained, the mechanic will preassume that your car is not safe and will start looking for faults. But if you keep cleaning your car interiors and exteriors before going for the test, the mechanic will be happier to check your car and provide a good review.
Ministry of Transport(MOT) test is an annual safety check to ensure that your car fulfils the minimum criteria for road safety standards. During the MOT test, your car will get a complete checkup for all its components. Here are the fundamental things that you should check before taking your car for an MOT test.
Open your car’s bonnet and access your master cylinder when the engine is cool. You will find the min and max markings on the cylinder, make sure that the liquid is between the two markings. You can fill the brake fluid yourself but make sure that you purchase the right one for your model.
Check all your rearview mirrors before heading for the MOT test as it can put a red cross on the form. The mirror that provides a rearview along with the offside vehicles, a mirror that provides the view of nearside vehicles, and an interior mirror that provides the back view. Check for the cracks and any fades on the mirror that can affect your view.
Make sure all your car’s warning lights are working fine. If the MOT picks up any damaged warning lights, you will fail the test. You can visit a garage to get this checked before you move to the MOT garage. Take the help of a professional if you have not done it before.
Ensure that your car tyres have enough grip and tread. If you are still using old tyres on your car, the MOT will mark your car unsafe for the roads. You can face a fine and three penalty points for every tyre. You can check the tread of the type with a coin, and if you can see the coin after inserting, it is unsafe for driving.
Make sure all your main front and rear lights are working fine. Check the positions of all the lamps and whether they are lost or out of their positions. Even though it is not necessary for the lamps to be in their place, it will help you clear your MOT as it shows you maintain event he smallest things in your car.
Another thing that can become a problem in the MOT test is your horn. Make sure that the horn is not too loud or too soft. Fix the switch if it does not work on all occasions.
Check all oils
MOT will also test your emission levels. Make sure that you have all your oils renewed recently. Make sure the filters in your engine work fine and does not clog due to old oil.
Get your vehicle cleaned
It is obvious to say that you should be maintaining your vehicle all year round. Keeping it clean and checking all the parts time to time is a part of maintaining your car’s performance. Keep up your car’s performance, especially when you are using it every day.
When keyless entry to cars was introduced, everyone who has ever lost their key deep in their handbag or been carrying precarious stacks of packages breathed a sigh of relief. But it turns out that keyless entry might not be that secure.
Fourteen major car brands have been told they aren’t doing enough to stop keyless car theft. A German study showed that more than 200 new cars could be broken into by what is called a relay attack. This is when thieves trick a car into thinking the key is nearby.
33 car brands were asked what they had done to address this security issue. Disappointingly, only two brands have fixed this across their entire range. 12 had started taking steps on selected models, upgrading systems as they went. But astoundingly, 14 brands had done absolutely nothing.
How does car keyless entry work?
The key has a transmitter and a controller chip in it. A good controller chip uses a hopping/ rolling code which is about 40 bits long. This has the ability to have about 1 trillion different possible codes. This chip holds your special 40 bit code. When you push the button on the remote or are in proximity, that code is sent to the car from the transmitter using RFID radio waves, along with the function you want to do—open the doors, or the boot, etc.
If the car receiver gets the wrong code, it does nothing.
Both the receiver unit and the transmitter use the same random number generator. Once the transmitter has sent a 40 bit code, it chooses a new code, which is stores for next time. This happens at both ends, so the car’s unlock system is synchronised.
So how does a relay attack circumvent this?
A relay attack on car remotes uses radio amplifying equipment to increase the signal to the fob. So your key could be inside, hanging on the hook by the kitchen, the thief boosts the signal, the car thinks the key is close, and the car opens. And then they do the same thing again to start the engine.
There are few statistics available for this type of theft, but it seems to be increasing. A UK vehicle tracking company said that 80% of all the cars stolen in 2017 were taken without using the actual key.
Major security flaw that manufacturers are ignoring
Some car brands are implementing changes. The fixes they are introducing include:
- Motion sensitive fobs. If not moved in a certain time frame, the fobs deactivate.
- Fobs which can be turned off by the owner
- Using ultra-wide-band signals which aren’t tricked by relay equipment.
Tesla and Mercedes-Benz have pushed their security changes throughout all their keyless models. This is a mix of a fix being applied to newer models or disabling the feature on older model cars.
The fourteen brands who have not implemented resolutions include:
- Opel/ Vauxhall
While these brands all say they take security seriously, how can they when this is a known way to break into cars and they are doing very little about it?
There are five brands that did not respond to the questions at all, including Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet and Jeep, Fiat and Infiniti.
What’s next for the car industry?
More car brands need to take responsibility, not only for re-designing keyless entry in their new model cars, but also offering the ability to retrofit or change the system on older model cars.
The motion sensor fob is a good short-term fix, but it does not solve the vulnerability altogether. It will still allow thieves to steal in a parking lot after you’ve parked and moved away, or in the 20 minutes after you’ve parked the car in the driveway.
More changes are needed to keep the industry, and keyless systems, safe.
What can you do?
If you have a keyless unlocking system for your car (or even your home), there are no guarantees that your car is safe. Having great car insurance and storing your car in a locked garage helps, but that’s not an option available for everyone. If you are looking to renew your insurance have a look at State NZ. They have a number of different policies and you can get an online quote.
A simple, quick, and cheap fix is to buy a Faraday pouch. These are available online, and they are a small pouch that blocks radio transmissions. While it seems counter-intuitive to have to put your keyless entry key into a pouch which requires you to remove it every time you want to drive your car, it may be the only way to keep your car safe from relay attacks.
It’s also worth making sure that your car insurance is up to date. If it needs renewing have a look at State.