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Back to work breakdown blues - don't get caught out

1st January 2013 Print

The back to work blues could become the breakdown blues for those who find their car won't start after the Christmas break. New research reveals that January 2nd - the first day of work for many people this year - is likely to be a notoriously busy day for car breakdowns.

The research, by Green Flag, shows that requests for breakdown assistance reach a peak over the December/January festive period, increasing by 15 per cent overall on other months. The days which fall after public holidays are when most people need help with getting their car started. The most common reason for call outs is for non-starting vehicles, mainly resulting from flat batteries.

Miranda Schunke, spokesperson for Green Flag comments: "Icy conditions and wet, cold weather means cars are far more likely to break down in winter. Batteries fail more often in these conditions, and the increased use of de-misters, heaters and windscreen wipers places an extra strain on them.

"In addition, people tend to use their cars less over the holiday period while they spend more time at home. To find that your car won't start on the first day of work can really upset your plans and feel like a bad beginning to the New Year."

The top ten most common causes for call outs:

Non-starts/Flat batteries
Problems with the tyres
Problems with the drive
Electrical problems
Mechanical problems
Cooling system
Fault with the keys
Lack of fuel
Problems with the exhaust

Avoid a breakdown this winter with these tips from Green Flag:

Flat batteries account for almost 50 per cent of all requests for breakdown assistance. Most garages can test your battery for you, many of them offering this service free of charge. A sluggish start is a sign that the battery is getting old and may need replacing.

Perform some basic checks a day or two before setting out on a journey: check your brakes, lights and windscreen wipers are all working as well as checking your tyres, water and oil. Also check your exhaust and radiator for cracks or leaks.

Try to keep your fuel tank at least half full: this helps to keep the petrol line from freezing and lets you keep the heater running should you break down.

Adapt your driving style to account for the weather. Driving slower and keeping your distance from the car in front will help prevent accidents.

Keep a few essentials in the car when travelling in winter and in particular at night: a fully charged mobile phone, warm clothing, a bottle of water, torch, shovel and ice scraper.