Jan 8 2010 Ian Johnson
Old tricks on a cold morning
AUTOMOTIVE technology may have accelerated to a state in which few drivers never lift the bonnet except for fluid checks, but when it comes to winter, the old tricks are always the best to ensure crisis-free driving.
Breakdown services had a hectic period as people returned to work after the Festive season on snowy and icy roads.
The RAC had a taster of it the week before Christmas when it attended almost 80,000 breakdowns. Since then many motorists have not used their cars and, given the ongoing wintry conditions, a breakdown is now far more likely.
Most vulnerable is the car's battery which can lose a lot of its power in sub-zero temperatures if it is getting near the end of its life or if the terminals are caked with grime.
Batteries are always hammered in winter because a car's electrical system has to work a lot harder as drivers are more likely to use their lights, heated windows as well as the heater fan. The starter motor also has to work harder to start the engine on these cold mornings. Just the basics of renewing old batteries, or if the car has a serviceable one, simply turning the engine over in cold weather if the car has been standing can help a lot.
Making sure that the right mix of coolant inhibitor or anti-freeze is in the engine's system can save a disaster. And also do not forget the oil level - probably the most important ingredient for trouble free driving.
One important point is never pour boiling water on a frozen windscreen. Because there is a good chance that the glass will crack. Stick to a scraper and a de-icer spray which is also useful for freeing frozen locks and door seals.
Simple things that many drivers forget until they witness their wheels giving up the ghost on a freezing morning.