Motorists urged not to get complacent over car maintenance

The AA is urging motorists not to neglect car maintenance despite a relatively mild season last year.

Looking back over the last 12 month period, the AA reports that last December was the busiest month for their Patrols with call outs volumes tracking 26 per cent higher than June which was their quietest month. 

The AA also reports that on average each winter a third of their call outs are as a result of flat or completely exhausted batteries, a headache it says motorists can avoid with a little preventative maintenance.

“While winter temperatures in Ireland are typically closer to what you’d find in a fridge than a freezer, your car’s heater will still be in constant use.”  says Noel Keogh, Head of AA Rescue.   “Your headlights will naturally be on a lot more too placing a higher demand on your car battery than at other times of the year.  If your battery is due for replacement or in any way weak it’s very likely to struggle on a cold day.”

The AA is also quick to point out safety issues which are heightened during winter months largely due to ground frost which typically occurs as often as 100 days of the year in low land areas.

It is particularly encouraging drivers to pay attention to brake performance and their tyres.  Of a sample of 1,000 vehicles serviced by the AA within the last twelve months, 51 pefr cent were identified as requiring repairs to one or more of the components within their vehicle’s braking system either within a reasonably short interval or in the more dangerous cases, immediately.

“Slick roads can magnify brake system problems, so it’s important to have brakes inspected at least annually during your car service,” advises Keogh, Head of AA Rescue.

“Warning signs to watch out for are the need to apply more pressure than usual to your brake pedal, scraping, squeaking or chirping noises that come from the wheels when the brakes are applied or a car that pulls to the left or the right when braking.”

The AA is also advising motorist to check the tread depth and pressure of their tyres following a poll of over 12,000 motorists conducted this time last year which revealed that a third of drivers rarely, if ever, check their tyres.  This figure was slightly higher among female with 37 per cent indicating they never really remember to do it.

While the minimum legal requirement for tyre ttread depth is 1.6mm in Ireland the AA recommends replacing tyres when the tread depth falls below 3mm.  It also advises drivers to pay particular attention to their tyre pressure as cold weather can cause it to drop.

On a positive the AA reports that the country has a more than adequate supply of road salt on hand this year if the worst does happen. There are stocks of 210,000 tonnes of salt already in place, 3.5 times the amount normally required, and logistics have improved as well.