Car batteries and cold weather

AdobeStock_48470325Is the recent cold snap affecting your car? Is it harder to start in the morning than usual?

There are a range of reasons why cars can be hard to start, from engine tune issues to fuel problems or simply a lack of oil.  But nothing can be affected more by cold weather than the battery.

On average the life of a car battery is 31/2 years so it’s worth asking yourself, when was the last time you replaced your battery or at least had it checked?  The good news is that new batteries use a lead-calcium-silver alloy construction which can deliver up to 20% longer service life than conventional lead acid batteries.

Unlike a noisy engine in need of a tune-up or the squeal of worn-out brakes, you often get no warning before your battery runs out.  And a car battery on its way out can cause problems to the starter motor, alternator and car electrics.

If you’re concerned about the condition of your battery, Members can call NRMA Batteries for a free health check on 13 11 22 or visit your local NRMA MotorServe.

Have you had problems starting your car in the cold weather? And was the problem the battery or was it actually something else?

Do you have The NRMA‘s legendary Road Assist? Don’t get caught without it.

- Renew your NRMA Membership
- Join the NRMA
- Find more about Membership options

The hidden costs of buying a second hand car



Buying a car is a big financial commitment, so it’s common sense that you take steps to ensure that the vehicle you’re looking at buying won’t cost you a mint down the track.

Part of a vehicle’s overall value is determined by the condition it’s in. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you may miss important repairs in places you can’t see, short of jacking the car up and having a professional take a look. Missing these prior to purchasing could see you parting with hefty sums of money, on top of the purchase price.

Did you know that you could get any prospective car inspected before going ahead with a purchase?

If you’ve found a car you would really like to purchase, having a pre-sale inspection of the vehicle conducted, will ensure that any hidden nasties are revealed before you fork over your hard-earned cash. Any discoveries can then be used to negotiate a reduction of the sale price.

Cars purchased interstate can also come with their share of risk, as interstate vehicle laws are different with regards to registration to those registered in NSW. So that nice car you purchased from someone in Queensland, it may cost you more just to get it on the road.

NRMA MotorServe pre-sale inspections are more than just a safety check. They also include:

  • A comprehensive visual check of the interior, exterior, underbody and engine compartment.
  • A driving test.
  • Test of the battery, electrics and pressure.
  • Paint gauge.
  • Fluid checks.

We’ll also check the vehicle’s compliance, log books, spare tyre, paint and panel; providing you with a comprehensive report, including photographs, which will provide information on any issues found.

We provide you with peace of mind in providing you with the knowledge of anything that may compromise the vehicle’s value or lead to ongoing costs.

For enquiries and bookings, call 1300 770 116 or check out the webpage.

Towing? Do your research

Four wheel drive with caravan

When we’re in the market for a new vehicle it’s customary to take into account its looks, level of comfort and fuel economy, as well as other factors like safety and handling, before we even contemplate signing the dotted line.

But if you intend to use it to tow a caravan, boat, trailer etc., you must do your research. Otherwise you might find out on the wrong part of your holiday that your SUV can’t tow 3000 kilograms of caravan after all. Sometimes the towing limits change with specification levels, tow bar type, engine or transmission choice and with model updates.

Before purchasing the vehicle you need to understand a few things:

  • the legal requirements for towing;
  • the manufacturer’s recommended towing specifications;
  • the vehicle’s towbar specifications – many manufacturers offer different levels of towing ability depending on the tow bar package purchased.

Did the dealer explain the towing capacity when the trailer is braked or unbraked?

Most vehicles are able to tow up to 750kg without the need for brakes to be fitted to the trailer. However, if you do want to tow a caravan, boat, horse float or trailer that weighs more, it will need to be fitted with its own brakes that activate when you press the brakes in the vehicle. We recommend an inertial or motion sensing brake controller for the best performance.

While they may assure you the car is up to the task, you can’t take their word for granted. If you’re not provided with enough information, you might feel like they just want a sale – and you could be right.

On the other hand, when buying a caravan you’ll need to shop within the limitations of your car. There’s no point buying the perfect caravan that weighs 200kg more than your vehicle can tow, or one that will put too much load on your tow ball, because you’ll never be able to tow it anywhere or you’ll have to buy a new car. Again, double-check the facts. If you’re not provided with the necessary information, don’t do the deal.

Do you have any other tips?

- For more information on towing, check out our Learning how to tow story.
- Make sure your caravan or trailer is covered next time you hit the road. NRMA Road Assist Premium Care covers up to 3.5 tonnes including trailers and caravans and Premium Plus covers anything up to 10 tonnes including up to $3,000 in breakdown benefits. 

Sydney Harbour Tunnel Fire and Evacuation Exercise 17th April

Be prepared, plan ahead during Sunday night's Sydney Harbour Tunnel fire and evacuation exercise.

Be prepared and plan ahead during Sunday night’s Sydney Harbour Tunnel fire and evacuation exercise.

APP: Motorists are being encouraged to plan ahead and take alternative routes with the Sydney Harbour Tunnel closing to traffic on Sunday night.

“The Sydney Harbour Tunnel Company will close the tunnel from 8.30pm on Sunday, a few hours earlier than the usual closure for maintenance, so we can carry out an emergency exercise to test incident management under real conditions,” a Roads and Maritime spokesperson said.

“Fire and evacuation procedures must be tested to ensure incidents can be cleared quickly for the safety of all motorists.

“As with all tunnels in NSW, it is a requirement for robust measures to be in place should a fire or evacuation occur.

“Closure of the tunnel is not taken lightly but when it comes to safety, we need to ensure our procedures are seamless.

“Sunday’s exercise will involve simulating a vehicle fire and the subsequent emergency procedures required.

“Key learnings from this exercise will be shared with other tunnel operators with the aim to advance safety in other tunnel operations,” the spokesperson said.

Northbound lanes will be closed from 9:30pm and reopen at 11pm.

Southbound lanes will be closed from 8.30pm and will remain closed until 5am to allow routine tunnel maintenance to be carried out.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge will be open but is expected to be busy. Motorists planning on travelling through the city after 8.30pm are encouraged to use the Anzac Bridge or Gladesville Bridge.

For full details of the tunnel closure, go to or call the Traffic Information Line on 132 701.

How to help your Learner Driver

SDSLearning to drive is one of the biggest things in a young person’s life. Your supervision can get them on the right track to be safe and confident on the road, but before you sit down in the passenger seat make sure you’re prepared.

Before you get on your way

  • Check your insurance policy – does it cover young drivers? Call your provider if unsure.
  • Make use of NRMA Free2Go. Free2go Membership is specifically designed for the needs of 16 to 20 year olds who are learning to drive or have their licence. Membership is free for the first year if you’re 17-20 years old or free for two years if you’re 16 years old.
  • Make use of available resources. The Learner Log Book provides an excellent overview of the right order to introduce new driving skills and experiences to your learner, along with key points that need to be covered.*

The keys2drive program is also great. Funded by the Australian government, it provides the learner and the supervising driver with a free session where both are in the vehicle. Both are able to learn from a  professional driving instructor, such as many of those from NRMA Safer Driving School.

Before you get into the car

  • Plan your trip: Sit down with your learner and discuss the drive you’re about to go on. Map out the trip and establish the learning goals and objectives. Follow a plan to reach them.
  • Supervise in all conditions and situations: Don’t be hesitant to let your learner drive when it’s raining, at night or even in fog. These are realistic situations they will face when they become a provisional driver, so the more they experience driving in these conditions the better.
  • Prepare yourself: Your mood and emotions can affect your teaching style, so never supervise when you’re tired, stressed, in a rush or anxious. It sounds simple but the best way to calm yourself down and prepare for a supervising session is to breathe. Take 10 mins to get yourself into the right headspace and maybe even think about what your fears may be. Discuss these with your learner to come up with a strategy to overcome them.

Before you head off

  • Prepare the learner: Ensure they are seated comfortably with the correct posture. This means ensuring they have a gentle bend in their knees, they are sitting up straight with the head support resting at least eye level, and that their wrists align with the top of the steering wheel, with a slight bend at the elbows. Make sure they are able to see all mirrors and adjust them if needed.

While driving

  • Coach rather than instruct: Get your learner thinking. Rather than telling them everything they should be doing, ask them and let them come up with some of the decisions. The tuition style of NRMA Safer Driving School is focused around independent learning. This can involve the instructor ‘talking forward’. For example, when approaching an intersection with a set of lights, they will ask the learner what the next step will be, ie, “We will be turning right at the next set of lights. What do you need to do to prepare for this?”
  • Give them more independence: As your learner gains more experience let them choose the route, have music on or other people in the car. Otherwise, the day they get their provisional licence will be the first time they experience this and they may not be adequately prepared.
  • Let them drive in all types of environments: Including when it’s raining, in fog and at night. They will experience these conditions once they are a provisional driver.
  • Debrief: Talk about the lesson once completed. Did you meet the learning goals and objectives? Document the outcomes and talk about what you should focus on next.

What about you? Have you ever supervised a Learner? What tips do you have to make it a good lesson?

*Other good reference tools for NSW learners are The Road User Handbook and A Guide to the Driving Test. For ACT learners, the ACT Road Rules Handbook and Supervising a Learner brochure are downloadable from

Do you have Road Assist from The NRMA? Don’t get caught without it.

- Renew your NRMA Membership
- Join the NRMA
- Find more about Membership options