Essential Car Garage FAQs

An affordable, high quality garage providing MoT testing, servicing, air-con refresh and more.

MOT

1. What is an MOT?

MOT test stands for ‘Ministry of Transport’ test, and it is a legal requirement for all vehicles that use the UK roads to have one carried out each year. An MOT is conducted by a qualified vehicle technician. They typically examine and test various aspects of the vehicle, making sure that it meets safety and environmental requirements and standards.

2. Do I need an MOT?

Yes – it is a legal requirement to have your vehicle inspected and an MOT test carried out annually. Every vehicle that drives on UK roads must be deemed in roadworthy condition, both for the safety of the owner/ driver and for other road users.

Getting your vehicle MOT’d is different from having your car serviced, it is important that you note the difference between these two. An MOT is there to ensure that a vehicle is safe to drive on the road, while a car service involves looking at the general mechanical health and condition of the vehicle.

3. How often does an MOT test need to be carried out?

Wondering when your vehicle needs to have an MOT test carried out? You must make sure that your vehicle’s first MOT test is carried out on the third anniversary of its registration, and then every year thereafter. 

For example, if you bought a brand new vehicle on 1st April 2016, its very first MOT would be due on 1st April 2019, and then it would need an MOT annually on this date.

Vehicles less than 3 years do not need to be MOT tested.

4. What does an MOT include?

MOT testing is set out by the DVSA to determine whether your car or vehicle is fit for purpose and in a roadworthy condition. A wide range of checks and inspections are carried out when you bring your vehicle in for an MOT. During the inspection, a range of safety checks are completed by DVSA-approved examiners at an MOT garage. Checks include lights, tyres, seatbelts and emissions. For a full list of what is included in an MOT inspection when you have your test at FRM Automotive Ltd, please scroll further down this page.

During the MOT test, a comprehensive inspection is carried out to the vehicle. This is not the same as having your car serviced. 

If your car passes the MOT test, you will be provided with a pass certificate. Alongside this, you will receive a separate list that details any minor or advisory points that will require attention in the near future.

5. What if my car fails its MOT?

If your car fails to meet the minimum safety and environmental criteria, then you will have to have a re-test. If your car has failed its MOT, you will not be able to use the vehicle on public roads. Motorists will have to have work carried out to bring the car up to the correct standard and then retake the test.

6. Can I improve the chances of my car passing its MOT?

When you hear the words, “unfortunately, your vehicle failed its MOT”, you get that sinking feeling and it’s incredibly inconvenient. This is a situation many motorists find themselves in each year. 

Oftentimes, the failure of a car’s MOT is due to simple, easily fixable things such as blown light bulbs, illegal tyre treads or empty windscreen washer fluid bottles. If you take a moment or two before your MOT test and correct these faults yourself, you can save time and money.

7. I can’t remember when my MOT is due – How can I find out when my MOT test is due?

We offer an MOT reminder service – Here at FRM Automotive Ltd, we understand that it’s easy to forget when your next MOT is due so why not fill in our MOT Reminder form, and we will remind you within 3 weeks of your next MOT date.

8. What do I do if I’ve lost my certificate?

Firstly, don’t panic. Your chosen MOT testing garage can supply you with a paper replacement – all you need to do is provide them with the vehicle registration number, and either the original MOT test number or your vehicle’s V5C number.

When you lose your certificate, don’t worry, you can easily get another certificate reissued and you don’t need to go through the process of getting the vehicle retested – phew!

9. What if my MOT has already expired?

Driving a vehicle that does not have a valid MOT certificate is against the law. When it comes to the law, ignorance is not a valid excuse. If the car doesn’t have an MOT certificate, it can’t be driven on the road. Simple as – unless of course, you’re driving the vehicle directly to an MOT test centre or car garage. If you are stopped by the police, you must be able to prove that you have a pre-booked test. 

An MOT certificate is valid for 12 months from the date of expiry from your previous MOT certificate. It is important that you remember this so that you aren’t driving your car when the MOT has expired. On your existing MOT certificate, you can find the expiration date.

10. Are any vehicles exempted from needing an MOT?

Technically, yes, some are. If the car was built more than 40 years ago, then it does not need an annual MOT test. However, owners of these elderly vehicles do still have a legal requirement to maintain them and ensure its safe and in a roadworthy condition. Other exempt vehicles include electric-powered goods vehicles and tractors.

Car Service

1. What type of service does your car need?

All new cars include a car service schedule, often in the form of a booklet (or most recently, in a digital format. Your car service booklet can typically be found with the car user manual in the glove box.

Inside the service book, it details a series of mileages or time spans when the car will need to be serviced. Every time you take your vehicle in for a car service, the garage should stamp or sign the relevant section in the schedule.

2. What if the service book is missing, or isn’t stamped?

Unfortunately, not all drivers are diligent about getting their vehicle serviced. Some wait till things go wrong, and others aren’t bothered at all. This subsequently means that the car service book can go unstamped, or depending on the driver, the booklet can go missing completely. If this is the case then you are unable to check when the car was last serviced. 

If there’s no evidence of a service book or it being stamped, then it’s always advisable to assume the worst and book the vehicle into a local car garage for a full service.

3. What does a car service entail?

There are two levels of service: major and minor. A minor service will usually involve having the oil changed and a new oil filter. Depending on the car garage, the tyres may also be checked and the screenwash topped up. 

A major service will also include the above, as well as adding new brake fluid, a new air filter and a replacement pollen filter. They will also check the wheel alignment. If you’d like more detail about what is involved in a car service, your car user manual should explain it further.

Tyres

1. How often should my tyres be checked?

It is recommended that you should check your vehicle’s tyre pressure every couple of weeks. In an ideal scenario, you should check your tyre tread depth every two weeks, but more realistically, it should be done at least every month. When left unchecked, tyres can quickly become deflated; this can result in uneven wearing of the tread.

2. What should I look out for when checking my car tyres?

The main thing to look out for is the condition and age of the tyres. When checking your tyres, take a look at the tread and sidewalls. Observe whether they have any cuts, scrapes, punctures, bulges, bumps or cracks. It is also important to keep an eye on the tyre’s age.

If you see anything usual or suspicious, it is always advisable to get your tyres checked over by a professional who can take a closer inspection. 

3. What is the minimum legal tread depth?

The law requires you to have a minimum car tyre tread depth of roughly 1.6mm in a continuous band around the central three-quarters of the tyre. You can check your tread depth by placing a 20p coin into several of the tread grooves across the tyre. If your tyre tread depth is below the legal limit then you won’t be able to insert the coin into the grooves. If you can, and part of the ‘20’ on the coin is not visible, then this means that your tread depth is well above the legal limit.

4. What is a treadwear indicator?

The treadwear indicator is a narrow elevation that can be found on the tyre if you look across the longitudinal grooves of the tyre’s tread pattern. When the tyre tread depth is down to 1.6mm, the tread will be level in height with the tread wear indicators.

5. Why are tyre pressures important?

There are a number of reasons why tyre pressure is important. Tyres that have the correct tyre pressure can improve our vehicles steering, stopping and grip. When tyres are under-inflated this can increase the stopping distances by up to 8 metres or even more. In heavier vehicles, the stopping distance can double, particularly in bad weather conditions. Therefore, under-inflated tyres are really not worth the risk.

6. How long will my tyres last?

The length of time in which tyres last depends on how your car is driven and stored. In normal driving conditions, you should get a minimum of 20,000 miles out of the front tyres on a front-wheel-drive car; real tyres may last longer than this, up to 40,000 miles.

7. What causes irregular tyre wear?

Irregular or uneven tyre wear is usually caused by improper alignment, overinflation, underinflation, or worn out suspension. Regardless of the time of year, the effect of winter may linger on your tyres, from snow, salt and grit, the cold or fluctuating temperatures as well as winter potholes that often affect the roadways and cause wear and tear. 

8. How far can I drive with a flat tyre?

Driving on a flat or punctured tyre is not just unsafe but it can also cause damage to the wheel the longer you drive on it when your tyre is in this condition. If you leave a flat tyre on a car whilst it’s not moving, this should not cause any significant or major damage, but it is a good idea to sort the tyre out as soon as possible.

9. Do I have to fit winter tyres in the winter?

In the UK, it is not a legal requirement to fit winter tyres during the cold winter months. However, in many other Northern European countries such as Germany, drivers are compelled by law to remove their summer tyres during the winter months; the law also applies to visitors.

When the temperature drops below 7°C over a 24-hour period, then ideally winter tyres should be fitted. But, as the weather in the UK fluctuates and there is typically no specific date when this could happen, and it is not on a consistent basis, it is not a legal requirement, only a recommendation.

Air Conditioning

1. How often does my air conditioning need to be serviced?

As a general guideline, you should get your air conditioning serviced once every 2 to 3 years, at a minimum. It is estimated that a car’s air conditioning system will lose about 10% of its refrigerant every year.

2. What happens if I don’t get my air conditioning system serviced regularly? 

If your car air conditioning system does not receive regular servicing then dust and dirt will get deposited in its filters. Arguably, an air conditioning unit is one of the best features in a car; often it is the topmost priority for people when buying a new car. 

If after a few months or a year you feel like your air con is not as effective as it once was. 

3. What are the most common air conditioning system failures?

Is your A/C not cooling? Troubleshoot your car air conditioning with the most common system problems.

The most common car A/C issues range from leaking refrigerant, blocked/ clogged/ broken condenser, electrical issues, faulty cooling fans and a bad compressor.

Leaking Refrigerant – this can occur at any point in the air conditioning process, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the leak. However, it is commonplace to find leaks in the unit hose connections. 

Blocked condenser – A blocked condenser can be due to some type of debris from the road and it affects the correct functioning of the system. This means that it will be unable to properly cool the refrigerant, meaning your car’s air conditioning will operate with overheated refrigerant. This causes the A/C unit to only expel hot air.

Broken condenser – this can be caused by a puncture from debris on the road (going through the grill and damaging this part) or due to equipment failure. 

Electrical issues – this is typically the most difficult problem to diagnose when it comes to the A/C unit in your car. Begin with a visual inspection of all the wiring to check if any are broken or frayed. If damaged wires are found, then these should be replaced or fixed with electrical tape. 

Faulty cooling fans – if the fan isn’t working then the condenser will not be receiving proper cooling, causing your system to emit hot air. You can check if it’s broken by doing a visual inspection, looking for cracks, or blown fuses.

Bad compressor – if there are long periods without use, this can cause the compressor to turn bad. The lack of use can shock the whole system when it’s finally used again in the spring or summer after a dormant winter. To prevent this, it is recommended that you blast the A/C system for at least 15 minutes once every 3 weeks, regardless of the outside temperature.

4. Does my car use more fuel when using air conditioning?

When driving and having your air conditioning turned on this can increase your fuel consumption by up to 10%. However, using your air-con during a long journey won’t be as harmful as using it on a shorter journey.


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