Our Blog

YOUR MOT – THE RULES HAVE CHANGED

09 August, 2018

New MOT rules introduced this May mean it’s going to be easier to fail. Now vehicles will have their faults judged against new ‘Dangerous’, ‘Major’ and ‘Minor’ defect categories, with ‘Major’ and ‘Dangerous’ defects causing a vehicle to automatically fail the test. Dashboard monitoring is also stricter, so if you have any warning lights on when your vehicle’s having its MOT, it will fail. There are also stricter limits for emissions from diesel cars: any diesel cars that show smoke coming from their exhaust will automatically fail and those fitted with a diesel particulate filter (DPF), which captures and stores exhaust soot, will get a ‘Major’ fault if the MOT tester can see smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust or finds evidence that the DPF has been tampered with.

Here’s the full list of new MOT checks now in force:

• reversing lights on vehicles first used from September 2009
• daytime running lights on vehicles first used from March 2018
• front fog lights on vehicles first used from March 2018
• prop shafts
• bumper security and condition
• rear drive shafts on all vehicles
• cab security
• cab steps
• floor condition
• undertray security
• noise suppression material
• emission control equipment
• engine malfunction indicator lamp
• fluid leaks posing an environmental risk

Speaking about the changes RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “It is important everyone quickly gets to grips with the changes to the MOT, and that test centres and garages do a good job of explaining the new fault categories so motorists understand correctly the severity of faults with their vehicles.

“Changes to the MOT that make vehicles using our roads safer are undoubtedly a positive step so we hope that testers everywhere interpret and apply the new rules fairly and consistently. The last thing we want to see is a lowering of MOT standards and an increase in the number of unroadworthy vehicles on our roads.

“There is rightly a lot of attention at the moment on ‘harmful to health’ nitrogen dioxide emissions from diesel vehicles so stricter rules should help to make sure vehicles aren’t emitting more than they should be. Those unlucky enough to discover their vehicle has a faulty or tampered with diesel particulate filter will, unfortunately for them, be burning a big hole in their pocket due to the very high cost of replacement.

“Drivers who have a diesel vehicle with a DPF should make sure it is regularly given a good run at motorway or dual carriageway speeds so the filter is automatically cleared of any clogged up soot. This is very important if the vehicle is predominantly used for short journeys on local roads.”

To book your service at our garage, just call 01206 21148 or email: service@johnaustin.co.uk.

Want the most reliable car on the planet? Buy a Japanese car

10 October, 2013

It’s fairly safe to say that, given a healthy lottery win, we’d buy a new car (to go with the new house) and we’d probably choose a car that came from Germany or Italy. Agree?  Something that has a satisfying clunk when you close the doors; that purrs along but can turn into a panther if you need the speed? Well just in case you don’t get that lottery win, and that you have to watch your pennies because money’s tight these days, you really ought to know what kind of car will get you from A to B reliably all the time.  And it doesn’t come from Germany or Italy or even England; it comes from Japan.  In a survey conducted by What Car? and Warranty Direct, experts examined the warranty claims of 50,000 three- to eight-year-old vehicles across 38 car marques.

For the eighth year running Honda is at the top of the list of ten most reliable cars on the road; it’s also the cheapest to fix if one did break down.  In fact seven of the top ten are Japanese, Hyundai’s from South Korea, and Ford and Chevrolet are the only two to break the dominance of the Far East.

Top 10 

1. Honda                             
2. Suzuki                             
3. Hyundai          
4. Subaru                            
5. Toyota  
6. Lexus                                               
7. Chevrolet                      
8. Mitsubishi                     
9. Ford 
10. Mazda

The highest polling British brand, coming in at 24, is Rover, which went bust in 2005! Luxury brands Bentley and Land Rover are the least reliable, so you could save yourself even more money by avoiding them.  Mind you if you can afford a Bentley, you probably aren’t too worried about the running costs involved.

Chas Hallett, editor-in-chief of What Car?, said: “Honda’s success is down to low failure rates. Manufacturers at the bottom of the table could learn from their Japanese counterparts.”

Park it at John Austin’s

24 March, 2013

Here are ten good reasons why you should park your car at our garage for a service, MOT or repair:

  1. Over 40 years’ experience repairing and servicing vehicles
  2. No-fuss reception area means you pay for our skills not the frills
  3. ‘Buy with Confidence’ accreditation from Essex County Council Trading Standards
  4. Our customer loyalty schemes (‘Pass it on’ and ‘Rewarding Service’) will save you money
  5. Free pick up and drop off service for local customers
  6. Courtesy cars available – including our very popular Audi TT!
  7. Pop in any time for a FREE health check.
  8. If you have a car related question or query, or just want a price, just call and email us; we’re here to help
  9. We welcome all makes and models
  10. We can help you save money, stay safe and keep your car on the road

Tis the season to be careful

11 December, 2012

It’s not just the TV that breaks down at Christmas, but please make sure it’s not your car.

Here are three actions you can take now to make sure you and your family can enjoy the festive season:

1.  Cover the bases.  If the weather forecast is looking bad or just uncertain and you need to drive, then make sure your tank’s full; if you get stuck in bad weather you can keep the engine running and stay warm until help arrives or conditions become less severe.  Having the right tyre pressure is vital whatever the weather, but in wintry conditions check the tread: the legal minimum is 1.6mm, but it’s better to have a deeper tread of at least 3mm, as it will be more effective at clearing water.  If you haven’t put antifreeze in your car since the summer, now’s the time to do it.

2.  See and be seen.  The combination of icy conditions and grit on the roads means you’ll use more screen wash than normal, so put a spare bottle in the boot with a can of de-icer and a plastic scraper.  Keep a second can of de-icer at home and you’ll be able to deal with frozen locks quickly first thing in the morning.  Windscreen wipers should also be checked now because worn ones won’t be effective against sleet and snow and you can’t drive blind.  If it gets misty outside, keep dipped headlights on, if it gets foggy, then turn your fog lights on; you’ll be more visible and you’ll see more too.

3.  Put the right equipment in the boot.  Take an old sleeping bag (which makes a great duvet), a hoodie and a pair of gloves; shove them in a dustbin liner, put the lot in the boot and forget about it. You may never need to use them over the winter period, but you’ve got the kit just in case.  You probably already have a torch in the glove compartment, right?  If you haven’t, put one in now.  Should the weather forecast indicate that snow is a possibility, it makes sense to keep a shovel and a couple of pieces of cardboard or old carpet in the boot too; it could help you or another motorist out of a tricky situation.

If you do set off on a journey, run out of petrol, a snow storm starts and you’ve forgotten to put warm clothing in the boot, at least you’ll be able to call for help, because you’ve kept your mobile phone fully charged.  Yes?

If you’d like more advice on making sure your vehicle is ready for winter conditions, please call us on 01206 211483 or call in: Unit 4 Prince of Wales Industrial Estate, London Road, Marks Tey, Colchester, Essex CO6 1ED.

Merry Christmas and drive safely!

Pit Stop Workshop

13 August, 2012

Four times a year for the last three years, Paul Miller, manager at the Marks Tey based John Austin garage, has been successfully running free Pit Stop Workshops on Saturday mornings to help people learn about car maintenance using a practical, hands on approach.  The third one of this year was held on Saturday 11 August.

“Cars are so complex these days, there is very little we can to do if something goes wrong, so it’s easy to become a bit complacent with more general maintenance.  This inevitably leads to problems which could have been avoided, not to mention higher repair bills,” said Paul.

The Pit Stop Workshop is designed to reduce the fear of basic car maintenance through familiarity.  It gives people the confidence to know that if they are stranded with a flat tyre and the phone’s dead or there’s no signal, they can handle the situation.  As this is not covered as part of the driving test, it’s a good opportunity for those learning to drive to come along and give themselves a head start.

After Paul had put everyone through their paces, it was time for a rest and free coffee and cake at The Food Company!

The John Austin final Pit Stop Workshop  of the year will be held on Saturday 17 November.

Pass it on!

13 July, 2012

We know from our customer surveys that over 95% of our customers have come to us through referral.  We really appreciate that, and we’d like to encourage and reward those referrals starting right now.  We are therefore delighted to announce the launch of Pass it on.  As the name suggests, this scheme will reward John Austin customers with a discount of 20% off their next service or repair and the person referred to us will receive a 10% discount.  Technically, the referred person will now be a John Austin customer, so once they refer a new customer to us, they too will be eligible for a 20% discount.

To get started, all our customers have to do is call in to the garage and pick up a Pass it on card.  They complete their details and hand the whole card to a friend, colleague or relative who isn’t currently a John Austin customer; they add their details, book their vehicle in and then hand the card to us when collecting it to receive their discount.  Our customers have up to 36 months to redeem their 20% discount and, as it CAN be used in conjunction with any other promotional scheme we may be operating, that discount could be even bigger.  There is no downside to this scheme; it really is a win-win situation!

In March this year we launched our loyalty scheme Rewarding Service, where customers receive a stamp for every £20 spent at the garage (on a service, repair, MOT and products).  Once 20 stamps are collected, they, or someone they give the car to, can have their vehicle’s air conditioning serviced for FREE.  So far we’ve had an amazing response; it’s just really sad that most of us haven’t needed to keep cool.  Here’s hoping the summer comes soon.

Want to get into the Olympic spirit of things? Read on.

05 July, 2012

Colchester will be welcoming the Olympic Torch this Friday as part of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. It is a real once in a lifetime experience where members of the local community will be running with the torch through the town.  The team at John Austin are looking forward to being there to witness the event themselves, even if it is very early in the morning!

Now we all know when the Torch will be arriving, but what route will it travel along? And where can you park? John Austin has the answers!

The Torch will arrive on Ipswich Road at approximately 7:28am. It will travel down East Street, East Hill and the High Street, then on to North Hill. At the bottom of North Hill the Torch will turn left on to Middleborough where it will leave Colchester at approximately 8:16am and continue on the next leg of its’ journey to Hatfield Peverel.

Anyone who wishes to see the Torch is advised to get there in plenty of time – the streets will fill up pretty quickly! Any traffic waiting to use the roads will be delayed for a short time and the Essex Police are asking for your patience in this matter.

So how do you get there? Of course the best plan of action would be walking or cycling, or arranging something called a ‘walking bus’ where a group of you get together and walk to your chosen viewing point. However if you live that little bit further away you can drive and take advantage of the free parking that the University of Essex are offering on their Colchester campus. From here the closest point on the Torch Relay route is East Hill – about 30 minutes’ walk from the campus, where you can see the Torch on its journey through the town. It is recommended that you arrive at the campus early to secure a parking spot, as these will fill up very quickly too!

We hope this information has helped you plan for the journey. If you want any further information you can visit the  Colchester Council website at; http://www.colchester.gov.uk/article/6300/Olympic-Torch-Relay—Travel-Advice-for-Colchester where you can also find a list of different activities that are happening on the day, including a bouncy castle, Zumba class and face painting.