Sunday, February 5News For London

London car owners brace for harsh winters

Westminster World looks at how Londoners are dealing with keeping their cars warm and running this winter

Image Credits: Titus D’souza

The city of London and its neighbouring areas experienced the first fall of snow on the 11th of December 2022. The snowfall, an indication of what could potentially be a harsh winter, seemed to have caught many Londoners unaware. 

Car owners in the city seemed to have been affected by the spell of snow. Many woke up to find their vehicles covered in snow, with owners spending extra time getting their cars warm and ready for their commute.

With many more spells of snowfall predicted in the coming weeks, Westminster World met with car owners in London to learn what they were doing to prepare themselves and their vehicles for the rough conditions.

Steve, a Baptist minister from Kenton, drives a decade-old Mercedes ML320. He resorts to driving his wife’s car because of his own car’s high fuel consumption figures. He said: “I’m using my wife’s car far more in the winter. It is smaller and far cheaper to run.” He further added that he also uses a cover to keep snow off his car at night. 

For some car owners, however, the extra cost of fuel spent on warming a car does not seem like much. Peter, a dental equipment courier agent from West London said: “It’s not really a cost issue for me because I own my car outright. Financially, it isn’t a big burden for me.” He also claimed to drive slowly or sensibly at times to save money whenever possible.

Steve echoed a similar sentiment by telling us how he only fills fuel worth £20 every now and then, as opposed to filling up the tank outright.

While owners of conventionally-powered cars are feeling the pinch of high fuel costs, drivers of hybrid cars are finding themselves avoiding spending the big bucks, if only slightly. Ramji, the owner of a hybrid Toyota Camry, said: “Yes, I save some money on fuel compared to petrol or diesel cars. But, you need to watch out for battery consumption too. Keeping the heater on in the car can drain the batteries if you are not careful.”

When asked if the likes of YouTube and TikTok helped in finding unique ways to warm cars, Ramji responded by telling us how YouTube made him aware of the dangers of splashing hot water on a car’s windshield.

It’s not always a rosy picture for those referring to social media for quick car-warming hacks though. Social media platforms have been rife with ill-informed viewers unknowingly damaging their vehicles by attempting to take shortcuts after watching ‘tips and tricks’ themed videos.

Rising fuel prices, an increased cost of living, and a cold winter on the horizon mean that car owners will need to watch how they defrost their vehicles before using them. Idling a car engine during defrosting can be a big drain on fuel consumption figures, along with a strain on the vehicle’s electrics.

The multi-pronged combination of these factors means that most drivers in the city will need to shell out extra money to maintain their cars in the winter and keep them warm.

With the days only set to get colder, it remains to be seen how London’s drivers cope with the conditions to come.