Paul Scholes makes daftest winter motoring mistake
And he's far from the only one. So how can you protect yourself?
MistakeThe Manchester United footballer apparently left the engine running in his grey Chevrolet 4x4 on Monday morning. It was on the drive of his home in Greenfield, Oldham, so he thought it was safe to leave for a second. However, the thieves acted fast, and his car was taken at around 8am.
According to AA AutoWindshields, around 40% of all drivers in the UK risk having exactly the same thing happen to them, because they let their car's engine clear the windscreen - which means that popping inside just for a second leaves them wide open to losing their car.
TargetsThe AA says that thieves will tour densely populated areas, looking for unattended cars on cold mornings. Dean Hill, AA AutoWindshields' technician of the year, says: "To car thieves, frosty mornings are a Christmas gift. Keys are the weakest link in the car security chain and organised criminals are known to cruise suburbs looking for the telltale plume of steam rising from an exhaust and if the car is unattended, it takes only a few seconds for it to vanish."
To make matters worse, by leaving their cars vulnerable, they are also invalidating their insurance. Hill says: "Unfortunately, car owners will also get a cold reception from their insurance company as loss by leaving keys in an unattended vehicle is specifically excluded from motor insurance policies." It means that split-second decision to leave your car could end up costing you thousands of pounds.
Clear it upThe AA warns that while this is a real danger, failing to clear frost or ice from your car is a much worse risk. Some 12% of motorists admit that they don't bother to fully clear the ice off or to fully de-mist (including a fifth of drivers under the age of 25).
This means they are far more likely to be involved in an accident. Even if they escape unscathed, they can be stopped and fined by police.
Hill says that the answer is to clear your car effectively and quickly, and he has five tips.
- While you use a scraper and de-icer on the outside of your car, starting the engine, switching on heated rear screen and mirrors and allowing air-conditioned air to circulate to gently warm the glass is the most effective way to clear frosted glass. Stay with the car all the time. Do not drive off until the glass is clear. If you must go back indoors switch off and lock the car. Insurance claims for cars stolen while left unattended with the engine running will not be met
- Methodically work round the car with a plastic (not metal) scraper and de-icer spray, using de-icer from the bottom upwards. Clear all glass to give all-round visibility. Pay particular attention to the wipers - don't try to force them off the glass
- Assemble a 'winter war chest' and keep it in your car including concentrated windscreen wash; a can or bottle of de-icer, a couple of effective plastic ice scrapers, can of WD-40 to use on locks before frost is expected, spare scarf and gloves, torch, spare car bulbs, container of road salt crystals, shovel
- Never use just-boiled water to clear glass - it could crack the glass, freezes quickly and could ice your wipers to the glass
- If the inside of your screen mists up, stop and allow the air conditioning to do its job: never drive if you can't see properly. Don't use your hand - a diamond ring will scratch the glass and your skin will simply disperse the water resulting in greasy smears. Use a lint-free absorbent cloth if necessary