Leaving your car idling in the driveway with the keys in the ignition can just be that golden opportunity a car thief is always after.
At the height of winter, many drivers may feel warming up vehicles before they drive off is necessary on cold mornings.
However, new technology dictates that the need to do a car warm-up is not necessary in newer cars. Older models may still require it, but be careful.
The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, said while the debate over whether to warm up a car or not is valid and worth discussion, the focus today is on the risks motorists face when warming up cars. “In 2019 in the UK, over 84 000 cars were stolen and 11% of these were due to the driver leaving the keys in the car. In the UK, in particular, the reason this is done is to warm up vehicles in winter.
“While it is highly unlikely the same can be said of South African statistics, due to our higher crime levels and the greater awareness of motorists, which means not many drivers will leave keys in an unattended vehicle, it is still important to pay some attention to these stats. If you do warm up your vehicle in the morning, there are safer ways to do it than leaving your car running in your driveway or outside your flat or at the petrol station down the road, because there are people around.”
It is important not to be lulled into complacency by the potential safety of your yard or of having people around. “Most of us would be surprised by the efficiency and speed that criminals can operate with to get what they want. While there are no stats in South Africa about how often this happens, it is likely at least a few motorists have fallen prey to this exact situation. Furthermore, most insurance providers will not cover theft of a vehicle where the keys have been left in the ignition and the driver is not present.
“Additionally, if you do feel it is important to warm up your vehicle, leaving it to idle for a few minutes is not the best way to do this. Starting your car and driving slowly for the first kilometres is a much more efficient way to warm up the vehicle. It uses less fuel and, as mentioned, carries a much lower safety risk than leaving your car to idle unattended.”
The commonality of this crime is probably much lower in South Africa than in the UK because of crime-wary South Africans. “Yet, if you do warm up your vehicle, choose to do this in a way that is safer and carries less risk, particularly when it comes to your finances. Thus, the answer as to whether to warm up a vehicle, for now, is to do it in a way that is less risky,” said Herbert.