Return of the School Run: AA Advice

Check your car now to help avoid a back-to-school-breakdown

1 March 2019

  • Check your car now to avoid a back to school breakdown, AA says
  • Rise in won’t-starts expected as many cars have been left unused
  • Busy traffic predicted at peak times

With the return of the school run in sight, the AA is advising drivers to check their car now to help avoid a back-to-school breakdown.

The Government’s announcement that schools and colleges will reopen on 8 March as Stage 1 of the ‘roadmap’ will be welcome relief to many parents, but the AA expects an increase in breakdowns as many cars will be used for the first time in weeks.

We stress the need to ensure cars are in a road-worthy state
Edmund King, AA president

The motoring organisation is advising drivers that now is the time to check their car is up to the job, as many vehicles will need essential maintenance following a period of little to no use.

Edmund King, AA president, 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. It is also likely that the later breakdown ‘rush hour’ in lockdown, which has been peaking at lunchtime, will start much earlier as parents aim to beat the school bell.”

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

Topping up oil

Ben Sheridan, AA Patrol of the Year, said: “Many busy parents will welcome the news of schools reopening, but with that comes the return of the school run. With more people avoiding public transport roads could be especially busy at drop-off and pick-up times, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead and allow extra time.

“To get off to the best possible start, we recommend carrying out essential car checks over the next week. 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 last few months, as this coupled with the cold weather can take its toll. If your car has been standing unused for a long time, consider arranging a service once you’re ready to use it again.”

Drivers can find a local AA-approved garage, select a date and book their service online via AA Smart Care.

More information on maintenance checks can be found here