North West motorists may be en route to New Year blues today, according to the AA.
The motoring organisation predicts that this is likely to be one of the busiest days for breakdowns.
The AA is on stand-by for 17 per cent more calls than usual as commuters begin their back to work journeys.
It predicts some 15,000 call outs nationally – depending on the weather – and says there is likely to be a surge in flat batteries as up to a third of households will have at least one car unused over the holiday period.
Max Holdstock, AA patrol manager of the year, said: “The first working day back in January is traditionally one of the busiest days of the year for breakdowns with flat batteries the main culprit.
“The issue is that many cars get left unused for up to a fortnight in often cold conditions, which causes the power output of the battery to drop.”
His timely advice is: “If your car has been left sitting idle or done mostly short, stop-start journeys, ideally trickle charge the battery.
“Or, if weather conditions permit, take it out before Monday for at least half an hour to boost the battery.
“When starting, it helps to switch off all the electrics and dip the clutch but, if it doesn’t fire up initially, use the starter in short five-second bursts, leaving thirty seconds between attempts to allow the battery to recover.
“If your car has been struggling to start, get the battery tested, as they only have an effective life of around five years. Many garages offer free or reduced price winter car checks.”
There was a particular alert for drivers returning to work in flooded areas.
John Dickinson is co-owner of Bee Mill garage in Ribchester where sudden flooding on Boxing Day did see a few cars written off.
He said his garage was also repairing cars where flood damage had caused electrical problems.
His advice was to the point if there are floods: “Don’t drive through them.
“Only drive through if absolutely necessary and think about the other people in the (neighbouring ) houses – it’s going to cause damage when it causes a wave effect.”
He said he had seen at first hand how inconsiderate 4X4 drivers had ploughed through floods in the village.
John also warned that damage to a vehicle’s electrical parts could impact in the years ahead: “If it doesn’t dry out it can cause damage in years to come.”
An AA spokesman added: “There’s a chance that many drivers who have not seen flooding where they live will encounter flooded roads on their return to work.”
It s top tips are :
· Don’t enter flood water that is moving or more than 10cm (4 inches) deep.
· Allow oncoming traffic to pass first and drive slowly and steadily to avoid creating a bow wave. Test your brakes as soon as you can after leaving the water.
·Don’t try driving through fast-moving water, such as at a flooded bridge approach – your car could be swept away.
Further advice on safe driving can be found at www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/seasonal/floods-and-wet-weather.html