Photo Courtesy: AdmiralUK

We recently came across an interesting article sponsored by Admiral Insurance of the UK concerning proper (and improper) means to de-ice your windshield when needed. In an article written by Matthew Siggins, he explains some legal factors affecting UK drivers, but we believe it has some benefit for wintertime drivers here in the US as well. He wrote:

"Did you know that de-icing your car could leave you out of pocket?"

As the temperature drops and the mornings grow colder this winter, many motorists leave their homes each day to find their car windscreen and windows covered in ice.

Although it’s important to ensure you’ve got a clear view when driving, here’s why you shouldn’t leave your vehicle unattended as you get your car ready for your morning’s journey.

If you leave the key in the ignition and ‘warm up’ your car in a morning then you’re actually breaking the law and you could be slapped with a £20 fine. According to Rule 123 of the Highway Code:

“You MUST NOT leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road.”

As well as being against the law, leaving a vehicle unattended with the engine running is making things easy for opportunistic criminals. As ex-footballer Paul Scholes discovered in 2013, it only takes a couple of minutes to have your car stolen if you leave it unattended as you’re waiting for it to defrost.

On top of this, some insurance companies may not pay out if your vehicle is stolen in this way and considering it’s something that can easily be prevented, it’s simply not worth the risk.

Leaving your car engine to run before you drive also has a negative impact on the engine too. Before your car has properly warmed up, the engine will wear out faster and driving lightly when the engine is cold is actually the best way to ‘warm up’ your car. There are plenty of other ways to prepare your vehicle for icy mornings instead.

Admiral's top tips for preparing your car on winter mornings

• Don’t leave your car engine running and unattended with the keys in the ignition

• Make sure your car’s windscreen and windows are clear before you start your journey in the morning, as driving without clear visibility is illegal and you could be putting yourself and others at risk

• Make sure you have de-icing resources in your vehicle when winter comes around

• If you have a garage, leave your car inside on colder nights to keep your car frost-free and also out of sight from any potential thieves

• If you know frost has been forecast, getting up a few minutes earlier will give you more time to effectively defrost your car before you set off to work

• Check that your windscreen wipers are in good condition and that you have enough washer fluid to help clear your view as you drive

• Don’t use boiling hot water to clear ice from your windscreen as it risks damaging the glass and water can build up on the wipers and then freeze, potentially damaging the rubber on the wipers too

• It’s always best to allow extra journey time in the winter; snow, sleet, fog and cold weather means you may need to drive more slowly.

As mentioned, the legal specifics referenced pertain to UK laws. But, based on experience with some US insurance companies, we wonder if you'd likely have the same problems claiming a loss for auto theft of you left your car running, but unoccupied, waiting for things to warm up.

This has us ask what IS the policy of auto insurance companies concerning unoccupied running vehicles when auto theft is involved. Especially with the introduction of remote-starter technology for many vehicles, it would be good to know...

Speaking with a major US insurance company's Customer Service, we were told that typically insurance coverage is provided referencing a policy owner's Comprehensive Coverage, minus any deductible. Humorously, they added the comment, "but we'd certainly rethink unoccupied remote starting in a high-crime area..." Really???

Drive safe this winter - slow down and enjoy your trip!

The Garagistry Team