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AA AutoWindshields warns of ‘frosting’ car thefts
As some forecasters suggest a winter matching 2009’s ice and snow, AA Autowindshields has warned that the season’s first sharp frosts have already led to cars being spirited away.*
Thieves look out for unattended cars being defrosted with the engine left running, the AA’s mobile windscreen fitting and glass repair service says.
Research for AA AutoWindshields has shown that two-fifths (40%) of drivers let their car’s engine clear icy screens before they drive off. But they are at serious risk of losing their car if they pop back indoors and leave the engine running, even for a moment.
To car thieves, frosty mornings are a Christmas gift
Dean Hill, AA AutoWindshields technician
Dean Hill, AA AutoWindshields’ technician of the year, points out that modern cars are almost impossible to steal without the keys. “To car thieves, frosty mornings are a Christmas gift,” he says.
“Keys are the weakest link in the car security chain and organised criminals are known to cruise suburbs looking for the telltale plume of steam rising from an exhaust and if the car is unattended, it takes only a few seconds for it to vanish."
Unfortunately, car owners will also get a cold reception from their insurance company as loss by leaving keys in an unattended vehicle is specifically excluded from motor insurance policies.
The AA/Populus study of over 22,700 AA members also found that although two-thirds (66%) of drivers also use a scraper and 45% de-icer, or a combination of both, 12% admit that they don’t bother to fully clear the ice off.
Young drivers (aged 18-24) are least likely to completely defrost the glass, a fifth (20%) admitting they drive away with some or most of their car’s windows still opaque with frost, dangerously reducing all-round visibility.
Another 13% of drivers say they use hot water to clear ice: women being more likely to do so (15%) than men (12%).
Dean Hill says that using hot water brings a real risk of damaging a screen. Sudden expansion caused by hot water followed by contraction as it cools can cause the glass to crack, especially if it already has chips or small cracks.
On very cold days this method is ineffective, as the hot water will rapidly cool and almost instantly turn to ice. Worse, it will accumulate on the wipers and freeze them to the screen, risking damage to the wiper motor or ripping off the rubber if you switch them on.
12 December 2012
* AA Insurance reports that cars disappear off drives while left with the engines running every winter and over the past few days several AA-insured cars have been stolen in this way
** AA/Populus study conducted for AA AutoWindshields October 2012, 22,713 AA members responded. Populus www.populus.co.uk is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
We can repair most small chips rather than replace the whole windscreen. These repairs would normally be free of charge, as your insurance company will often cover the costs. It shouldn't affect your no-claims bonus either.