RAC warns of new year breakdowns

Article date: 29 December 2009

After an extended holiday period, RAC predicts that 4 January 2010 will be one of the busiest days in 2010 for vehicle breakdowns as millions of motorists return to work. 

The severe weather in the eight days prior to Christmas led to RAC attending almost 80,000 breakdowns. Since then many motorists have not used their cars and, given the ongoing wintry weather conditions, a breakdown is now far more likely.

David Hawes, RAC regional manager, comments: “The combination of a long break and very cold or 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.”

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:

  • Don’t leave your vehicle un-used for the whole period between Christmas and New Year. It’s a good idea to start the engine to ensure everything is working as it should be and allow the engine to reach operating temperatures – taking care that it doesn’t overheat.
  • If you have a garage, use it, or try to leave your vehicle undercover.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Have your battery and charging system checked before it is too late.
  • Wrap up warm and take a blanket, waterproof clothing, sensible footwear and a fully charged mobile phone in case of breakdown.
  • If travelling a long distance, allow extra time for your journey, ensure you have enough fuel for the journey as not all fuel stations will be open over the festive period. Let friends and relatives know of your expected journey routes and times of arrival if travelling in remote areas.

In case of a breakdown, call RAC’s helpline on 0800 82 82 82.


RAC Press office contacts:
Vicki Burn - 01603 684224 or 07800 692909
Erik Nelson - 01603 682264 or 07989427086 

Notes to editors:

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists.  Whether it's roadside assistance, insurance, vehicle inspections and checks, legal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs.

RAC is committed to providing the very highest levels of service to its members and was the top named service organisation in the July 2009 UK Customer Satisfaction Index from the Institute of Customer Service.

Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC's powerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leading position in motor insurance of Aviva UK Insurance. Aviva is the UK's largest insurer with a market share of around 15%.

RAC is part of Aviva, the world's fifth largest insurance group which operates in 28 countries.

RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at www.rac.co.uk/press-centre/

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