Car won’t start – common breakdowns

Will your car be hungover this New Year?

The leftovers are finished (thankfully), the decorations are down (sadly) and the recycling bin is overflowing (ugh, let’s sort that out later). The first day back to work is tough for all of us – but it’s much, much harder if the car won’t start. And that’s a problem for thousands of us.

It’s not an easy day for the AA either. In 2016, we received more callouts on 4 January than any other day of the year. You could put it down to bad luck, but actually leaving the car parked too long over the holidays is the real issue. So, how can we avoid a New Year car hangover?

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Give your car some love over the holidays

A third of households have more than one car, and over Christmas only one tends to get used for visiting friends and family or to hit the Boxing Day sales. Since the commuter car is often left unloved on the street or driveway, problems can go unnoticed until it’s time to go to work or do the school run.

That’s why on the first day back to work, over 7,000 people called the AA for help with a car that wouldn’t start or had a flat battery. On an average day in 2016, about 1 in 5 breakdowns were for starting problems, on the first day back to work though, this went up to 1 in 3.

We provide 24/7 roadside assistance.

Winter is here – keep watch over your battery

Your car battery doesn’t like the cold any more than you do. If you don’t use your car, especially in winter when the battery needs to work harder to get the engine going, it may struggle to start because of reduced power and slower charging. This makes older, weaker batteries less likely to survive the cold.

And that’s why calls for battery problems rise by 80% at this time of year. AA patrol of the year, John Snowling, has this advice. “Shorter journeys tend to drain your battery’s energy faster, especially in the cold. To get a good charge over the holidays try to drive your car a couple of times for at least half an hour each trip.”

“Shorter journeys tend to drain your battery’s energy faster - John Snowling, AA patrol of the year

If you’re not around or can’t take the car out for a quick spin but have access to mains power where you park it, you can get a car battery charger and maintainer, sometimes called a smart charger. These can be left connected to your battery for long periods without risk of damaging the battery by overcharging it.

Tyres go flat over the holidays

We all feel a bit flat after the holidays. And your tyres are no different. There were 34% more flat tyres or punctures at the start of the year than any other day on average. Check on them over the holidays and get any punctures repaired before the rush back to work.

Winter car hacks

Believe it or not, common household items can protect your car against cold weather. So with a couple of easy cheats, you could prevent an embarrassing call to the AA (or your boss):

  • De-ice frozen car door handles with a little bit of hand sanitiser. The alcohol in the gel melts the ice in no time. If your lock is frozen, you can also try warming your key gently with a lighter.
  • Frozen doors can be prevented by wiping a bit of cooking oil or WD-40 on the rubber door seals. This helps to stop the water that runs around the seal of your door from freezing at night.
  • Stop windows fogging with shaving cream. The ingredients in shaving cream are similar to those in defoggers. So give your windshield a once over with the cream and then wipe it off to prevent fogging for clear vision of the road.

These tips and tricks should help winter-proof your vehicle and avoid a car hangover this New Year. If you do find your car a little worse for wear when you go back to work, AA breakdown cover is there to help get you off to a proper start.

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We get more people back on the road than anyone else