Manchester is plagued by traffic. Roadworks on Regent Road, Deansgate, Chester Road and Chorlton Road are a source of endless frustration for commuting motorists.
The traffic problems came to a head in October when a Manchester United Home game brought the city centre to a standstill Jose Mourinho had to walk the final few-hundred yards to Old Trafford.
Yes, traffic is annoying. But it may also be doing invisible damage to your car. In this blog post, we look at how stop-start driving can affect your motor and explain how to minimise the damage.
Using more fuel
When stuck in gridlocked traffic, cars will usually be idling (unless they have modern stop-start systems). As well causing pollution, your car also uses fuel while it’s idling.
If you don’t have automatic stop-start engine technology, then you can manually switch your engine off to save fuel. But experts disagree on the benefits of this.
Some experts say you should switch your car off if you are going to be stopped for 10 or 20 seconds. Others say it is only worth it for one or two-minute stoppages. Manually shutting down your engine can put extra strain on your battery, so older car drivers should beware.
Cars are also less fuel-efficient in stop-start city centre driving conditions because they are constantly accelerating.
Cars that constantly accelerate from zero to 10 or 20mph need more force than cars travelling at a constant speed. The most efficient driving speed is about 55mph, but you’re unlikely to get near this in Manchester.
Engine idling can also leave uncombusted fuel and other particles on sensitive engine components. Because engine ventilation is reduced, piston rings, cylinders and spark plugs can all be damaged and may need replacing.
Overtime, these engine deposits can reduce fuel efficiency even further by blocking fuel injectors. Regularly changing your oil and using special chemicals to clean engine components can help avert any long-term engine damage.
If you regularly drive in heavy traffic or take many short trips, then you should change your oil more frequently. Look in your owner’s manual for ‘severe condition’ oil change recommendations.
You expect your brakes to stop you no matter what. And they will, mostly, but constant repetitive braking can damage your brake pads. Particularly if you brake late and sharply.
If you want to replace your brakes less frequently, you can avoid steep braking, keep back from other motorists and try to anticipate hazards before you encounter them. This is the most efficient way to drive.
Tyre and pothole damage
Although not usually a hazard main roads in the city, potholes can be ruthless on your car. And Greater Manchester roads are not without their fair-share of potholes.
By some estimates, pothole damage accounts for about a third of all car damage. The holes in the road – which are more prolific in the winter – can wreak havoc on your car’s tyres and suspension.
Bad for your health
As well as potentially damaging your car, prolonged city centre driving can also damage your health.
When you are stuck in traffic, cars around you are puffing out a cocktail of harmful gases including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons linked to asthma and other long disease.
Pollution levels inside cars are 40% higher in traffic jams and at traffic lights compared with free-flowing traffic. And the World Health Organisation has said that outdoor air pollution is one of the top ten health risks faced by humans.
Fortunately, there is a good way of tackling in-car pollution. UK researchers found that if you close windows and close vents in your car you can reduce in-car pollutants by up to 76%.