Drop in temperatures means a rise in car theft

With winter right on our doorstep, the temperatures will begin to drop even more and those early morning commutes to work will require some extra layers so you can keep warm and toasty.

On top of all that, getting into a cold car early in the morning means that your morning commute isn't going to be all that pleasant either. Many motorists are often tempted to turn their car on prior to getting into it, say maybe 5-10 minutes beforehand, so that it can warm it up and defrost if necessary. As convenient as this may sound, officials are warning drivers to avoid this practice at all costs, but why?

Unattended cars more likely to be stolen with key in ignition

It's unfortunate, but it does happen quite often in the winter. Unsuspecting drivers who simply want to warm up their vehicles before their morning commute in the cold winter months have had their cars stolen by thieves looking for an easy robbery. Because many drivers will turn their car's engine on, leave the keys in the ignition and then go back into their home while the vehicle heats up, cars become an easy and accessible target for criminals in the winter.

Claims manager Lorna Connelly, explains, "Unfortunately, we do see quite a number of our customers who have their cars stolen from right in front of their homes during the winter months as a result of leaving their keys in their car to help de-mist or heat it up. Even though some winter mornings can be quite cold and icy, we are urging all of our customers to remain with their cars anytime the engine is running or the keys are easily accessible from within."

One thing many car owners may not know is that they may not be covered by their insurance should their car be stolen when left unattended with the keys accessible from inside. In fact, more likely than not your insurance will be invalidated should you need to make a claim in this situation.

"As tempting it may be to turn your car's engine on while you're still in the house, it's important that you refrain from doing so at all costs. Should your car be stolen while left unattended with the keys left in the vehicle, there's a chance that your insurance company may not cover the claim."

Ways to stay warm in your car

So how can you make your morning commute more tolerable and less cold? Here are two ways you can stay warm while you wait for your car to heat up on a winter morning.

  • Seat heaters: Although they are becoming more of a standard feature on many new cars, you don't have to look for another car just to keep warm in the winter. There are tons of options out there for battery-operated heated seat covers that can go on top of your car seats.
  • Wear gloves and a hat: Driving with cold hands can be a nightmare, so make sure to keep them warm by wearing a good pair of gloves. Wearing a hat and even a scarf should also help keep you warm while you wait for your car's engine to heat up. Make sure you wear a pair of gloves that aren't too fluffy or slippery, as you need to be able to grip the steering wheel properly and safely.

Top tips to keep your car happy this winter

Cold and wet winters can be costly to a car's health, here's how you can keep your car running for the whole of winter:

  • Top up the coolant: It's important that you keep your coolant levels between the maximum and minimum markers. Don't forget to use coolant that has anti-freeze to avoid any damage
  • Test the lights: Since it's much darker in the winter, your lights are going to be used far more frequently. Grab a friend or family member and test your headlights, tail lights, brake lights, fog lights, indicators, sidelights and hazard lights. If any lights are beginning to look dim, it may be best to replace the bulb before it runs out
  • Keep an eye on your tyres: You can easily check the health of your tyres by using a 20p coin; if the outer edge obscured by tyre tread then it may be time for a new set. Driving a car with bald tyres can be dangerous anytime of the year, but particularly in the winter when road conditions aren't ideal
  • Test your brakes: Healthy and functioning brakes are extremely important to your safety while you're driving. If you've noticed anything odd such as a brake warning light on the dashboard, odd noises when you apply pressure to your brakes or that your car is pulling to a particular side, you'll want to immediately book an appointment with a local garage to get your brakes checked out
  • Check your car's battery: Battery issues are a common problem for drivers in the winter time. If you've noticed that your car struggles a bit when you start the engine, then it may be time for you to charge or replace the battery. It's a good idea to also keep jump leads in your car just in case your battery runs out

And don't forget to keep the following handy in case the unexpected happens while you're driving on wintry roads:

  • Ice scraper
  • Emergency warning triangle and road torch
  • Water, blankets and food (just in case you are caught stranded)
  • De-icer
  • First aid kit and warm clothing

In the unfortunate event of an incident involving your vehicle please call us immediately on 0333 220 2037 and provide us with all of the details as it's important you report all incidents to us, even if you don't need to make a claim. Our dedicated claims team can then advise you.

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