Back to work warning: five things that may spoil the return to work

New Year spoilers: five things guaranteed to give you the new year blues as you head back to work
 
So that’s it. The Christmas decorations have returned to their box in the loft, the tree - minus many of its needles - has been confined to the recycling centre and that festive jumper, which looked so good a couple of weeks ago, suddenly looks a bit past it.

And to top it all off, you have to return to work. Of course, you won’t be able to find the car keys and in some cases the car may still be parked in the pub car park after your new year’s celebrations. But assuming you can locate the keys - and indeed, the car - what else should you be looking out for as you head back to the office? Check out our guide to five new year spoilers.

1. A flat battery

Your car’s battery isn’t a big fan of the winter. Cold temperatures affect the chemical process inside the car battery, slowing it down and decreasing its ability to hold the charge. And excessive use of heaters, wipers and lights will put further strain on what is already a depleted level of performance.

Sadly, the Christmas period won’t have helped. A series of short journeys didn’t give the battery a chance to fully recharge. The worst case scenario is that the battery won’t have sufficient charge in order to start your car on the first morning back to work. Which isn’t going to improve your new year mood.

If your battery is over three years old, get it tested. If it needs replacing, call the RAC Battery Fitting Service http://www.racshop.co.uk/car-battery/car-battery-fitting-service.html - fitting is free for members.

2. Traffic

The new year brings with it a double whammy of traffic misery. Not only are you and a millions other motorists heading back to work, but so too are millions of children heading back to school. Which, put simply, means traffic chaos.

If possible, you’ll want to avoid venturing on to the roads during the school run, so time your journey accordingly. Listen to the traffic reports on the radio or use our online traffic news service. And no, staying in bed isn’t an option.
 
3. Road tax

Remember that road tax reminder that arrived through the post a couple of weeks before Christmas? The one you filed away to deal with after you’d finished the Christmas shopping? If your tax expired at the end of December and you didn’t renew it, you could be faced with an untaxed vehicle.

The tax disc may have died in 2014, but taxing your car didn’t. You will still receive a reminder from the DVLA, who will also send a warning notice before a fine is issued, but it’s not worth the risk. Failure to act after the warning could lead to an £80 fine, with this increasing to £1,000 and a court appearance for anyone refusing to pay.

Set a reminder on your phone and make sure you renew on time.
 
4. Weather

Ah yes, the good old British weather. One minute we’re in the midst of a cold snap, the next minute we’re up to our knees in rain water. If there’s one thing our weather isn’t, it’s predictable.
 
And you can bet your bottom dollar the weather will spring a nasty surprise on the day you return to work. If it’s freezing, make sure you know where your de-icer kit is. If it’s raining, make sure your car’s not surrounded by flood water. And be careful on the roads. Wind, rain, sleet or snow - it’s unlikely to be a pleasant journey to work.

5. Fix that problem

You know how it is. The car develops a fault before Christmas, but you don’t do anything about it because a) you’re too busy, b) it’s nearly Christmas and c) you won’t need the car for a couple of weeks.

The problem is, that fault didn’t go away. Worse still, what started off as a small issue may have grown into something much larger. Take the time to investigate the problem before you head back to work. A slow puncture could stop you making a quick dash to the office. And that flashing engine light may stop the car from starting at all.

If you do get stuck, you can rely on our breakdown service (http://www.rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover). But we’re sure you’d rather not see us on the first Monday back at work. Don’t worry, we won’t take it personally.

Happy New Year!