Monday, 20 October 2014

Don't remove your Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) or you could find yourself in court

Diesel Particulate Filters or DPFs are the bane of many motorists' lives. They are fitted to most modern diesel cars to filter harmful pollutants from the exhaust gases. The filters are seen as an important environmental protection.

Unfortunately the filters can become easily blocked, particularly in cars that are driven mostly around town. They cost a fortune to replace and a blocked filter can leave a motorist with a bill of several hundred pounds.

BBCMidlands Inside Out on 20 October 2014 claims to have uncovered a number of garages in Staffordshire that will remove the workings of the filters so that they don't get blocked. Of course this solves the motorists' problems but it also stops the filters from working and pollution gets released into the air.

Remove diesel filters at your peril!

Don't be tempted by this quick fix. Firstly removal of a DPF means an automatic MoT test failure. Cars normally still pass the emissions tests even with the filters removed. That's why mechanics try to fool the system by removing the insides of the filter leaving the plastic casing intact. It won't work if it gets spotted and you will be faced with a big bill for a new filter. Secondly, and more seriously, removing the filter is a criminal offence. It could result in a fine from the magistrates' court of up to £1,000 for a car and £2,500 for a commercial vehicle. The fine is for using the vehicle but the garage owner could also be prosecuting for "aiding and abetting".

If trading standards or the police do want to investigate or issue court proceedings then a specialist motoring solicitor may be able to help. Especially for motor traders, the fine might be the least of your worries. We will want to know what the evidence is and maybe test it at court. If the prosecutor can't prove the case then you will be found not guilty.

So, if you are concerned that you may need our help, please give us a call on 08000 85 27 84 for a "no strings" chat about your case.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

National Tyre Safety Month- October 2014

Guest post - Emma Potts

 So winter is well on its way. What I hear you cry?! Where’s summer gone? Well before we know it Christmas will be here (groan,sigh I hear a few of you cry).

Well the beginning of winter is not just about going getting our new winter coats or pair of UGG boots one may be treating themselves to, or even arranging those cosy nights in front of the fire with a glass of your favourite tipple.

But before we all worry whether we will be warm enough have you thought about your car and what it needs in preparation for winter?

You know the car that will keep you warm on your daily commute when it’s still dark in the morning and when the outside temperatures are comparative to that of the Antarctic (or so it often feels).

Boring it may well seem but the importance of maintaining your vehicle's “legs” is imperative, especially in winter.
Winter weather

As we all know in winter we see some of the wettest months of the year. I know we often feel like every month is the wettest month of the year in the UK but the largest rain pour is throughout the winter months. 

A statistic recently published by the department of transport in the reported road casualties found that defective tyres areresponsible for 40% of vehicle related road deaths
**There is also the worry that if your car has defective tyres, you could face prosecution. The Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986 specify what constitutes a defective tyre.

Car tyres are listed in the law as having 7 possible defects. Most car drivers are not aware of the depth of the regulations. If you were stopped by the police and of any of these defects were found with your tyres you could end up receiving punishments for each individual defective tyre.    
Punishments for defective tyres

·        For each illegal tyre there is a penalty point risk of 3 points per tyre and a maximum possible fine of up to £2,500 for each tyre that is defective.

So if for instance you had 4 defective tyres you get actually lose your licence with the accumulation of the 12 penalty points (you would become a “totter” which could see you facing a driving ban), not to mention the serious dint in your wallet from the fine that will be imposed.
Imagine having to wait at the bus stop on a cold dark morning to get to work and all thanks to having not checked your tyres meet legal requirements.

So, what depth do your tyres need to be in order to meet legal requirements?

Firstly current UK law requires car drivers to have at least 1.6mm of tread depth on their tyres.
“How do you measure your tyre tread?” I hear you ask, we don’t all carry rulers around in our pockets! Well if you haven’t got a tyre checker or a ruler, there is a simple way of checking your tyres without these items and many refer to it as “the 20p test.”

The 20p Test
You can do a tyre check yourself by inserting a 20p coin into the main grooves on your outer tyres.

If you can't see the outer band of the 20 p when the 20p is inside the tyre groove then your tyre tread is within the legal limit.
*** Whilst doing this test also remember look out for the other possible defects ***

7 other key things to check with your tyres to avoid any prosecution
1: Is there any uneven wear and tear on your tyres
2: Are there any cuts or slashes anywhere on the tyres
3: Is there any bulging in the tyre walls
4: What about tyre pressures – ensure your tyres have the correct pressure as stated in your vehicle’s manufacturing book
5: Tread depth on your tyres must be 1.6mm at least
6: Your tyres must be fit for the purpose that the vehicle is being used
7: There should be no cord or ply exposed on any tyre

A defective tyre is therefore a tyre which is found to have one of the above defects present.

(Remember if any one of these defects are found you may be liable to prosecution.)

All of the above checks are recommended on a weekly basis and before any long journey
So think winter, think tyres!
·         Don’t become a statistic and more importantly stay safe.
·        Carry out all of the above checks on a regular basis or as it's national tyre safety month in October why not take advantage and go and get a free tyre check at your local tyre service centre.

There’s no excuse it's free and could save you a fortune in the long term.
If you are already facing a fixed penalty notice for defective tyres this could well mean you have become at risk of a totting up offence which will result in a disqualification from driving. If you are please call our expert team here at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors who will be able to have a chat with you. 08000 85 27 84
Wrap up warm folks and remember your tyres need extra TLC this winter.