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New Year...

As I puzzle the question of New Year’s resolutions I am quite smug in the fact that I normally make about ten, yes ten - why do you do that you may ask? Well truth be known I know that I’ll keep most of them as at least half are the same each year which gives me some feelings of positivity in those dark days when all seems doom and gloom around me but my attentions this year turn to the bigger picture. The economy and the car business. In pondering the subject my thoughts start off very positive as I know we’ll be exiting Europe on schedule, yes very topical I know. Some may argue that we should have remained but let’s face it we’ve all complained about something the politicians have decided upon that effect us in some small way. No what I mean is that in exiting Europe lots of clever people will be thinking about how to fill the gaps created by the loss of something we used to take for granted and do something about it so I believe there will be some jobs created from the break. On a less positive note I know the car industry is really going through a tough time though and there’s lots of chatter about the things to come. There’s also lots of things causing concern for the buying public in the form of electric / diesel / petrol / hybrid... There is no easy answer to the question as there are so many factors. The Government will have us believe that electric is good and diesel is bad but as in the George Orwell story Animal Farm the truth is one of ‘perspective’. In order to make sense of it you need to consider your own needs. Answering some simple questions will make it easier, how many miles do you do each year? What are your every day journeys like? How many times each year do you travel a distance? How much do you budget for fuel, insurance and road fund licence? It really doesn’t mean you’ll come up with the right answer but it does mean you’ll get perspective before you set off shopping for a new car. There’s no doubt when the majority goes electric and the infrastructure is finally in place to be able to charge each vehicle we’ll have power cuts so we’ll all be stranded anyway! So back to my list of resolutions.... Happy New Year!

29/12/2019

Christmas & New Year...

Well the season of goodwill and festive cheer is upon us; it crept up on me all of a sudden and certainly caught me by surprise - why you ask? Well it’s been a whirl wind of a year for Rob and I. Whilst starting a business was certainly on my New Year’s Resolutions list, where it’s been for the last 3 years or so, but I genuinely didn’t think Staverton Garage would be the result. Yes, I’ve watched the Garage for many years with envious eyes from the windows of the Countryman whilst enjoying a pint of Church End. Yes I’d pondered what I would do if it were mine and yes I’ve carefully plotted the strategy but when the opportunity arrived I sat firmly on the edge, splinters pressing into my rear end whilst I played the chance down. Rob called to say let’s do something together and I casually looked at a few things with him but honestly I dismissed all as nothing more than a pipe dream. Corporate life is hard, unrelenting but there is a regular income and despite the pressure I actually liked it - sad I know! Nope when the chance arose I resisted so what made me take the plunge and scratch the itch I had fantasised about - my wife is the answer. Yes I can hear the cliches now, behind every good man... nope I think the real answer is being given permission to take the chance. “What if it doesn’t work?” I asked her, “What if it does?” she answered; well she certainly had her eyes on the prize. So from the evening of April 5th until now there hasn’t been a day with nothing to do so yes it’s all crept up on me. The Garage is full of decorations, the tree full of twinkly lights and we’re all really looking forward to the Turkey this year so with that in mind I just wanted to say thank you - to you our valued customers and now firm friends (And hopefully some more in the years to come), to our colleagues that support us in our Workshop, to Rob for sharing the load but mostly to my family for having my back and believing in the dream. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

16/12/2019

Travelling...

I never considered myself a traveller, I’m not being derogatory about the travelling community I’m talking about the pure enjoyment of travelling. Let me explain... last week we’d sold a lovely Mazda to a fantastic customer down in Somerset but when the question was asked ‘How do I get to see it?’ Without hesitation I suggested I took it down. You’re mad I hear you muttering under your breath, well yes and no, the Mazda was just beautiful so I wasn’t worried it would be a wasted journey and the customer just lovely so unless something bad happened it was worth the trip. But that’s what happened, an early morning start and as I watched the sun come up the world seemed alright with me. In my Corporate days I’d spend 2 - 3 hours each day driving back and forth to work but strangely never saw it as a chore. The drive down, the fab Customer and journey back was truly enjoyable and it totally made my week, so reflecting upon it I’ve decided I’m a traveller so if you thought ‘I’d like that car’ don’t worry I’m sure it’ll be a pleasure to see you and another day out for me!

28/11/2019

Clocks...

So as we move into the Autumnal equinox, which occurs on Sept 23rd this year, and some say marks the start of Autumn we celebrate that rare moment when our clocks ‘fall’ backwards and for those of you without children you gain the extra hour in bed on Sunday morning. This does actually mean you’ll get an extra hour before the Wales vs. South Africa game starts at 9am! For us motorists out there it marks a couple of things that we have to do... Well firstly check that your lights are working as you’re going to need them, yes it may not be just yet but still it’s worth ensuring all four corners have one and that they all work. It’s better to see and be seen as I was always taught. Secondly check you’re anti-freeze levels, you can get a simple dropper test from Halfords or pop in to your local friendly dealer. While you’re messing around with your cooling system, feel the radiator hoses, too. They’re the big hoses that go into the top and come out of the bottom of the radiator. If they’re leaking, cracked, bulgy, or squishy, they should be replaced. And thirdly change your clock for the winter time mode. Now there will no doubt be some of you whose cars do this automatically, lucky you, but for the rest of us this now either becomes an easy task or, in the case of the Renault Fuego owner, becomes impossible; so much so that some will say ‘I’ll put up with it until Spring’. How hard can it be I hear you ask... Trust me as you drive past on Sunday morning if you fancy a giggle come and see. One of us will be sat manual in hand scratching our heads trying to figure out how to change all of the buggers on the pitch...

23/10/2019

Grass...

It’s now been almost 8 months since I lost it… running a large Main Dealer you deal with the idiosyncratic issues the team throw at you indiscriminately. “I’m running late as there are leaves on the line…” (Yes I’ve unceremoniously stolen that one from the Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin but you get the point.) It’s always the same people with a new excuse isn’t it? So I cannot understand why when my Business Partner parked, as usual, some of our unusual vehicles on the grass outside the Garage (Strangely you do notice this diverse activity) I flipped! properly flipped I mean lost it… When I sit back and think about it I can only rationalise it as pride. Pride you’re asking; what does he mean? Well as part of the beautiful village of Staverton I see the garage as part of the community, my wife is the floral expert and we’ve posted pictures of Honey Bees etc. feeding from the hanging baskets and tubs we tend on the site so when I saw the twin tyres tracks running off the grass of mud lines I flipped. Having tenderly mowed the grass and taken care of our frontage my overwhelming thought was the injustice of it, ruining the look of the grass but stop and give this a moments thought… we all spend time looking after our gardens, the foliage and the way we look to others so it’s not unusual to spend time making sure we’re looking sharp is it? So… I find myself asking for advice of how I restore the grass and encourage growth over the coming Autumn months to restore that look of well maintained grass… or as my Business Partner asked ‘It’s just your OCD again Phipps! Oh well back to cleaning cars then.

04/10/2019

Tyres...

“Why bother checking your tyres” I hear you ask? “My garage always does it for me…” that’s what we hear every time someone winces when we say those treads are low or a tyre is damaged. So how can you become an expert today sitting at home in Daventry, Woodford Halse or wherever you are… well lets give you some tips.

Tyres wear out, pot holes in poorly maintained roads (Especially in the Northamptonshire area…) can cause major damage to tyre walls, kerb damage can creates bulges and tyres actually degrade as they age - did you know this?

Lets start with the obvious stuff - minimum tyre depths. The law in the UK states that a tyre will be deemed illegal if the tyre depth is below a minimum depth of 1.6mm (One 16th of an inch in old money) across 3/4 of the overall width of any tyre. This means that if at any point on a tyre the tread is less than 1.6mm then it will deemed illegal. The law then states you may be fined up to £1,000.00 per tyre and if that isn’t enough you gain 3 points per tyre… You could therefore lose your licence over night for being the driver of a car with 4 illegal tyres. Oh yes you can, no point arguing with me I’m just letting you know where you stand. If you let your tyres go to the minimums you also risk much longer stopping distances and as the great British weather turns wet (Yes even in the micro climate of Flecknoe) you stand a great chance of collision due to not changing those tyres. Bulges in the side walls from kerb collision are also a major problem as you risk a blowout at motorway speeds, this can be catastrophic especially if you do not have Roadside Assistance with a fifth Emergency Service as you face many hours waiting for help. Age damage is the silent assassin here as if your tyres begin to crack and lose pressure you may find your vehicle doing some strange things whilst under inflated. So what can you do?

Check them! I don’t know what I’m looking for I hear you shout…

Try this… the rim around a 2p coin is 1.6mm so by presenting one against your tyre tread depth will give you a great guide. There are raised ares within the tyre grooves called ‘wear bars’ cleverly set at 1.6mm so if you can draw a biro line across a tyre without the ball dipping at the tread separation the chances are its an illegal tyre. Run your hands around the outside and inside tyre walls to look for bulges, inner ones are less likely but sometimes do happen. The last one is the age of a tyre… so being the owner of a caravan and having served within the motor trade for over 35 years I learned a valuable lesson only last year… When my poorly caravan was set to be collected by a bodyshop the driver announced that he could not tow our pride and joy away due to the tyres being ‘out of a date’. “What rubbish?” I exclaimed, the poor driver was actually correct, the Caravan Club advise that a tyre will be unsafe over 7 years of age. How can you check this? - well there will be a box with 4 numbers stamped on the side wall of each tyre - the first 2 numbers relate to a week in the year and yes you’ve guessed it the last two numbers relate to the year so for example if you see 3812 then they are now out of date as that states Week 38 in 2012. Whilst there is no mandated change date for a motor vehicle its a great one to watch as rubber does perish over a period of time. Don’t get caught out waiting for the garage to tell you, take a minute to check your tyres yourself then at least you can tell your partner you saved time and an important life today - yours! Be safe.

25/09/2019

Seasonal Changes...

If like me you enjoy your Summer sun you will have noticed a move in recent years back towards more defined seasons. The Winter months have been dreary, the Spring very bright and full of promise and Summers warm. So what does the impending Autumn have in store for us? Well if the last few years are anything to go by then we'll see a cooler but sunny start and as we break into October the Wind will catch us by surprise as it strips those beautifully coloured trees and sets us up for dark mornings and early evenings. Make the most of planning your days out and last minute holidays as I feel this year will give us some glorious Indian Summer days, hopefully our Cricket scores will improve with the mood... So what should we expect for our cars? Make sure you have any bodywork needs attended to early as the changing conditions will speed up rust escalation and do have your suspension items attended to as the road conditions deteriorate and you notice the handling changes as the roads do; this helps keep you safe. Finally check those tyres, typically we lose a huge percentage of our grip with worn tyres and by the time the inclement conditions set in you'll be less likely to want to be under your car checking!

08/09/2019

Looking after you car in the rainy Season...

As I look out of my office this morning I'm minded as cyclist that I'm glad I'm indoors then I look at the cars that should have been cleaned this morning and begin to feel guilty, cleaning has been a routine three times a week, as well as our Sales Manager on a Saturday morning, so it begs the question why do we do it? Well there's nothing like a well cleaned car is there? - the thought that the person that owned it before you has taken the time to wax it and treat those lovely seats does make you feel that you're buying a treasured possession but then so does a Service History; to care about the workings of our cars is just as important on how it looks... Now I'm getting annoyed because I know how much money you spend over the years in Service and maintenance bills and when Dealers forget to stamp that very important book you have nothing to show for your hard earned. Where is this going I ask myself - well here it is, we always try to present our cars in the way we expect to buy them and we pay more to know we are buying properly looked after carriages. If you get the chance to protect your paintwork against the inclement weather we now seem to get in the rainy season (our Summer) then do it because its just as important in getting your Service Book stamped!

14/08/2019

Lawn Mowers

Why is it your lawn mower aways blows up when you've done half the job and leaves you looking like you've packed up early as the sun's shining and gone to the pub....

22/06/2019