Back to school 2022

Some textbook driving advice for the return to school

31 August 2022

With the return of the school run fast approaching, the AA is advising drivers to check their car now to help avoid a back-to-school breakdown or to consider walking or cycling to save on fuel costs.

Schools and colleges in England are set to reopen later this week. While the return to school may bring welcome relief for many parents, the AA expects an increase in breakdowns as many second cars will be used for the first time in weeks and some drivers are likely to have left them parked up over the summer to avoid high fuel costs.

The AA has stressed the need to ensure cars are in a roadworthy state and is advising drivers that now is the time to check their car is up to the job, as many vehicles will need essential checks following a period of little to no use.

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Edmund King, AA president, said: “Many busy parents will welcome the news of schools reopening after a busy summer, but with that comes the return of the school run. We expect roads to be especially busy at drop-off and pick-up times, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead and allow extra time. We know the cost-of-living crisis is hitting families hard so we would also suggest, for those that can, to consider car-sharing, walking or cycling. This not only reduces costs, congestion and emissions, but can have health benefits.”

To get off to the best possible start, we recommend carrying out essential car checks before schools reopen
Sean Sidley, AA Patrol of the Year

Vehicles which have been sitting unused or little used during the summer break are more likely to encounter a fault when the time comes to get back on the road but undertaking essential checks could help avoid a false start.

Sean Sidley, AA Patrol of the Year, said: “We stress the need to ensure cars are in a road-worthy state, particularly advising drivers to check tyre pressures, batteries and brakes well before venturing out onto the school run. It’s likely that the return of the morning ‘rush hour’ will see more breakdowns than of late as parents aim to beat the school bell.

“To get off to the best possible start, we recommend carrying out essential car checks before schools reopen. This includes running the engine once a week or using a mains-powered battery maintainer; checking fluid levels such as oil, coolant and anti-freeze and topping up where necessary; and, crucially, checking the tyre conditions including tread depth and tyre pressures, inflating them if needed. If you keep your car in a garage, remember to pull it out into the open first; don’t run the engine inside a garage, and never leave your car unattended with the engine running.

“Before starting the car, make sure there’s nothing nesting under the bonnet which might have caused damage to pipes or hoses. Car engine bays can be an attractive nesting area for small rodents so it’s worth checking for stowaways and any signs of gnawed wiring or pipework.

“Maintenance checks are especially important for cars which haven’t been used much over the summer months so consider arranging a service once you’re ready to use your car again.

“You can find the cheapest fuel nearest to you by downloading the free AA app. Using the app can also help to get our patrols to you more quickly as it uses your mobile phone signal to show your exact location. Electric vehicle (EV) drivers should make sure their car has sufficient charge so features such as air-conditioning and device chargers can be used with confidence if stuck in traffic.

“As back-to-school day falls around the same time as new vehicle registration day (September 1st) we advise drivers of new cars to familiarise themselves with their vehicle’s controls and features before taking on the school run. We’re never too old to learn new things and doing so could help to avoid a simple breakdown!”