As the country exits its second national lockdown and exits Level 5 restrictions this week, motorists across the country are being advised to ensure their cars are winter ready before undertaking any lengthy journeys in the days and weeks ahead.
With travel for non-essential purposes within your home county allowed from Tuesday, AA Ireland is urging motorists to carry out a check of their vehicle to ensure their lights and tyres are in satisfactory condition before they travel.
Following a dip in temperatures in recent days, the AA is highlighting the importance of ensuring your tyres have a satisfactory tread depth and are in good condition to reduce the risk of losing control of your car in icy areas.
While the minimum legal requirement for tyre tread depth is 1.6mm in Ireland, the AA recommends replacing your tyre when the tread depth falls below 2mm.
“Many people will have been using their cars significantly less in recent weeks, as they no longer had to commute to work during the Level 5 restrictions. When you’re not using the car as much, it can be easy to let the service history slip a little or overlook an issue with your lights or a worn tyre.
"As we start to travel around a little more in the weeks ahead, and particularly before we get into the Christmas travel period, now is the time to check that the lights and tyres are in satisfactory condition” Conor Faughnan, AA Director of Consumer Affairs stated. “If your tyres are worn, you run an increased risk of losing control of the vehicle when driving in icy conditions and as a result put yourself and other road users, especially cyclists and pedestrians, in danger unnecessarily.”
For those who have been rarely using their cars in recently, the AA is also highlighting the impact that cold weather conditions can have on older or faulty batteries.
In recent days, as temperatures have fallen, AA Rescue – the organisation’s breakdown assistance service – has been dealing with over 300 breakdowns per day, despite reduced travel during Level 5 restrictions. Among the main reasons for the high number of breakdowns is an increase in cars not starting as a result of the combination of significantly reduced usage along with the colder weather.
“The winter months are always a bust period for our roadside patrols and, despite reductions in traffic volumes of 30% on major routes, this winter doesn’t look to be any different. Cold weather always leads to an increase in battery-related issues, as once the temperature drops it can be more difficult for an older or weaker battery to start efficiently,” Faughnan added.
“This year that issue is cropping up even more as a result of many people either not using their car as regularly as they normally would or only using their car for very short journeys. Even if you’re not travelling, it can be a good idea during colder weather to start your car for 20 minutes in an open space every few days, just to give reduce the risk of your battery failing to start when you do need to travel.”