Direct Line Car Insurance has claimed UK motorists waste nearly £50m of fuel each winter by leaving their cars to idle and warm up while they defrost the windows. But it’s a hazard, too.
Nobody likes cold morning starts. The tempting option of starting the car, setting the blowers to max and leaving it to idle until the windows are clear sounds far less pain-inducing than hacking at ice-covered windows with a scraper.
But according to some rather extensive calculations by Direct Line, those who are opting to leave their cars idling are wasting extortionate amounts of money and fuel.
According to the insurer, the fuel wasted on defrosting cars in the four months from November to February equates to over 300 million road miles. That’s enough for someone to drive an average-sized car around the world more than 13,000 times.
And it appears lots of us are doing it. A survey carried out by the insurance group found four in 10 respondents said they leave their cars to idle, unattended.
Letting your car idle to defrost is risky, just ask Paul Scholes
Manchester United and former England international footballer Paul Scholes knows this all too well, after his car was stolen from his driveway in January.
A new group of offenders being referred to by police as ‘ice bandits’ are claimed to be targeting vehicles left unattended to defrost, and Paul Scholes appears to fallen foul of them.
And while the theft of a Chevrolet Captiva (possibly a freebie for Manchester United players from the club’s sponsors, Chevrolet) might not have much of a financial impact on a multi-thousand-pound-a-week professional footballer, it may be more of an issue for consumers. Especially if your car insurance cover could also be invalidated due to negligence.
Letting your car idle to defrost is dangerous, just ask my mum
A couple of winters ago, my family also felt the repercussions of letting a car idle to defrost.
One frozen January morning, my dear mother had forgotten she’d left the car in first gear with the handbrake off the night before. When she leaned into it and started it the following morning, it leapt through the front wall of the house. I will never forget eavesdropping on my dad’s phone conversation to the insurance company to explain how she’d crashed her car into the bathroom.
So how do you go about defrosting your car? Are you an early morning ice-scraper wielder, a seasoned aerosol de-icer or a frowned-upon idler?