AA patrolThe AA is warning motorists to check their cars ahead of the big post-Christmas return to work on Monday 5 January.

Vehicles left sitting idle over Christmas mean the motoring organisation is predicting Monday to be one of the busiest days of the year for breakdown-related callouts – so it’s putting extra patrols on duty.

Around 19,000 callouts are expected on Monday 5 January, 30 per cent more than normal.

The rush comes soon after one of the AA’s busiest days of 2014: Monday 29 December also saw a breakdown peak with 18,000 patrol callouts across the UK.

This, it said, was down to a sharp fall in temperature. It won’t be quite so cold next week but a frosty start is still forecast, which will also affect the January 2015 return to work.

Idle cars at fault

Not using cars over Christmas is the biggest cause of post-Christmas car breakdowns – but 35 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women admit they have at least one car in the household that’s unused over Christmas.

This, traditionally, leads to the AA’s busiest day of the year, largely to fix flat batteries.

AA patrol of the year Mark Spowage is advising motorists who haven’t used their car over Christmas to “take it out before Monday for at least half an hour to boost the battery.

“When starting, it helps to switch off all the electrics and dip the clutch but, if it doesn’t fire up initially, use the starter in short five-second bursts, leaving 30 seconds between attempts to allow the battery to recover.”