‘I’m a mechanic – Parents are making the biggest mistake driving to school’

Parents using their cars to drop off or pick up their children from school are making “the biggest mistake” and risk serious damage, according to a leading mechanic.

Short journeys to the school gates and back may cause a ”range of problems” to key components including the engine and battery.

Jason McManus, a master technician at ClickMechanic warns small journeys do not allow vital car parts to reach “optimum performance”.

He stresses this could lead to long-term issues such as failures and even rusting.

Mr McManus said: “If you asked me what the biggest mistake drivers make that causes unnecessary damage, it would be taking small trips.

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“If you only have to walk 15 minutes to the shop then skip the three-minute drive and go by foot instead.

“It causes more damage as the distance and time are not enough for the vehicle to warm up and the components are not reaching the right temperature and lubrication for optimum performance.

“This can cause a range of problems, including damage to the engine as the oil does not reach the ideal heat and density to lubricate the components it’s designed to.

“It can also shorten the battery’s lifespan as quick trips may not allow it to recharge itself and have the energy to start your vehicle the next time.

“Also, short distances can result in moisture gathering in the exhaust pipe but it doesn’t get hot enough to evaporate so it just sits there, which can lead to rusting.”

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The warning comes as school children across England return to the classrooms this week after the six-week summer holiday.

Schools in Scotland already opened in August while youngsters in Northern Ireland went back on September 1.

ClickMechanic warns vehicles were built with longer journeys in mind and key components rely on being warmed up to run efficiently.

However, Mr McManus warns that it is not just vehicles that could be harmed by shorter trips with environmental concerns to also consider.

He added: “When the car is started everything is cold and it takes more effort to ignite fuel, so the engine is fed a richer mixture of fuel, creating more emissions.

“It’s the reason fumes from the exhaust often smell stronger when a vehicle is being started than they do when it has been running for a while.

“Considering the potential damage to the vehicle and the environment that comes with short trips, I would strongly warn against journeys of less than three minutes.”

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