RAC urges motorists to check their car now to avoid 'terrible Tuesday' return to work

After an extended holiday period, RAC predicts that 4 January 2011 will be one of the busiest days in 2011 for vehicle breakdowns as millions of motorists return to work.

After a week and a half of Christmas festivities when many motorists will not have used their car, and the wintry weather conditions that hit many parts of the country, RAC is warning that motorists are at an increased risk of a breakdown - or not even getting their car off their drive.

Alan Wilcock, RAC Patrol Ambassador of the Year, comments:  “The combination of a long break and cold damp weather can be a recipe for disaster.  A car’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.”

In order to help motorists prepare for a smooth return to work, RAC is urging motorists to do some basic preparations, such as simply turning over the car engine as well as allowing extra time, to ensure they’re not caught out on 4 January.

To help motorists avoid a breakdown, RAC has put together the following tips: 

  • Start your car to ensure everything is working as it should be and allow the engine to reach operating temperatures (staying with the car while it is on)
  • Check oil and water 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.
  • Charge/top up batteries if possible – particularly if the vehicle is primarily used for short journeys
  • Check the wiper blades for damage and replace if necessary.  When wiper blades become frozen to glass it is very easy to damage them when freeing them up
  • Ensure everything is switched off when you end your journey including lights, heater, fan, heated rear windscreen, radio etc – every volt is precious first thing in the morning!
  • Keep a squeezy bottle or similar in the car filled with screenwash with additive just in case the washer system ices up whilst driving
  • In cold weather avoid frozen locks by using lock de-icer
  • Avoid queues at petrol stations by filling up the tank before the morning you go back to work
  • If the weather is icy, use a windscreen scraper or a de-icer to remove all the frost from your vehicle before setting off.  Don’t use hot water from a kettle, as this may crack the windscreen. Also use a windscreen additive to prevent washer bottle freezing and ensure clear vision of the road
  • 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.
  • Have your battery and charging system checked before it is too late - most accessory shops and garages offer free testing.
  • ·Be prepared and take a blanket, waterproof clothing, sensible footwear and a fully charged mobile phone in case of breakdown