Monday 6 January 2014 may be busiest breakdown day of year
06 Jan 2014 at 16:16
RAC warns motorists to make sure their vehicles are ready for manic Monday
With many people returning to work on Monday 6 January having taken an extended festive break the RAC is preparing for one of the busiest mornings of the year for breakdowns.
The motoring organisation is gearing itself up to deal with in the region of 11,000 ‘manic Monday morning’ breakdowns – 40% more than a normal January Monday – as people everywhere begrudgingly get back into the work routine only to find a vehicle that won’t start.
The shorter break this Christmas meant Thursday 2 January 2014 wasn’t as busy as it has been in previous years with the RAC attending over 10,000 breakdowns. On the return to work in January 2011 RAC patrols dealt with nearly 60% more breakdowns than normal, but this was nothing compared to snowy 2010 when they call-outs doubled to 15,000.
However, people who have made the break longer by taking holidays may be at risk of finding a vehicle that won’t start, particularly if they have second cars that haven’t been left unused for long periods.
RAC technical director David Bizley says: “The majority of breakdowns we attend on the return to work after the Christmas holidays are for vehicles that won’t start. The combination of a long break where vehicles aren’t used much, if at all, and cold damp weather is a recipe for battery trouble. A vehicle’s electrical system has to work a lot harder at this time of year as drivers are more likely to use their lights, heated windows as well as the heater fan. The starter motor also has to work harder to start the engine on these cold mornings making a battery failure more likely.”
The RAC believes much of the stress of Monday 6 January can be avoided if motorists take a little time to prepare for a smooth return to work by giving their battery some tender loving care during this festive season.
Park your vehicle in a garage whenever possible
Ensure everything is switched off when you end your journey including lights, heater, fan, heated rear windscreen, radio etc. Some sat-navs, in-car DVD players and iPods can also drain the battery if left connected – every volt is precious first thing in the morning
Check the battery connections, ensuring that they are tight and free from any corrosion and don’t forget that battery acid is highly corrosive to skin and paint work
It’s worth getting your battery tested, particularly if it is over four years old
Run your vehicle before you really need it – ideally the day before – to ensure everything is working as it should be and allow the engine to reach operating temperatures (staying with the vehicle while it is on)
If your battery does need replacing, the RAC Battery Fitting Service is the answer. Offering free delivery for all, and free fitting for RAC members, the service provides low cost, high quality RAC Exide batteries delivered to your home or work, seven days a week.
Visit www.racshop.co.uk/car-battery to find out which battery you need or call us on – 0800 096 2968.
David Bizley adds: “It’s also a good idea to top up with fuel a day or two before you have to go back to work so you avoid the queues at filling stations. If it’s a few miles away this will also give your battery a little bit of a boost too.
“And even if you have a full tank it’s still worth going for a drive a day or so before you need to go back to work after the holiday, especially if you don’t have a battery charger yourself. However, don’t just start the vehicle and then switch it off because that may do more harm than good. Go for a short run to recharge the battery.”
Here are some general winter checks the RAC recommends carrying out to ensure your vehicle is ready if the temperature drops over the festive period:
Check oil and coolant levels – ensure they are topped up correctly. Pay particular attention to the anti-freeze content of the cooling system. Check your owner's handbook for information on the recommended anti-freeze or consult your local dealer
Fluid levels – windscreen washer fluid and anti-freeze are more crucial during the winter, so ensure that this is well topped-up before the cold weather arrives. Use a good quality windscreen wash that protects down to at least -10C – or -20C if you live in an area that experiences extremes of weather – to prevent the water from freezing. If you don’t your windscreen wipers could be rendered useless in extreme conditions. As at any time of year, checking your oil level regularly is an easy way to reduce your risk of engine problems
Lights – some vehicles will be driven for much of the summer without using the lights at all, so any problems may go undetected until they are needed. Therefore, a thorough check of all the lights (including indicators, fog lights and full beams) is advised before winter sets in
Wiper blades – check that your windscreen wiper blades are up to the task of dealing with heavy rain or snow before setting off on your journey. Replacing them is cheap and simple and could prove vital in getting you to your destination during poor conditions. One tip to keep your wiper blades in good condition is to never turn your wipers on before removing ice from the windscreen, as this can damage the blades
Tyres – fitting winter tyres will make your vehicle much better-equipped to cope with hazardous driving conditions. However, even if you stick with your regular tyres, you must make sure they’re up to scratch. As well as looking for any obvious signs of wear or damage, check the pressure of each tyre regularly and also ensure that the tread depth is at least 3mm. And don’t forget to check the spare as well – if your vehicle has one.
For more winter driving advice, visit www.rac.co.uk/advice/winter-driving.
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