SNEAK car thieves think it is Christmas as soon as the chill sets in - but a Wigan firm has come up with a device to foil them.
Frosty mornings mean some drivers de-mist windscreens by starting their car engines outside homes then leaving them to warm up only to discover the vehicle has then been pinched.
Now a Wigan company has developed a novel device that allows car owners to crank up their engines with the doors locked and the key in your pocket rather than the ignition.
Go-head vehicle technology company K&M Acoustics of Seven Stars Road in Wallgate has spent the last two years developing its WarmStart product in conjunction with an existing long time supplier.
Bosses say the system, believed to be unique, takes just half a day to fit but will give drivers a lifetime’s peace of mind.
The system includes a start button hidden inside the dashboard which bypasses the ignition key to allow the engine to fire, allowing the keys to be then used to safely lock the car with the engine running in neutral.
As a safety measure the engine cuts automatically as soon as the break pedal is pressed.
The firm also sells a proprietary Smart mobile phone application called SmartStart that allows car engines to be started remotely and GPS tracking ... the sole dealers for this in the North West.
Partner Keith Stockley said the device was developed in the light of his own personal experience.
He lives less than one and a half miles from his workshops at Wigan Pier so in cold weather the car’s de-misting system was only just beginning to take effect as he was pulling into the forecourt.
His wife faced a similar short journey with her car and the same problems on icy mornings.
Keith is delighted with the success of WarmStart and said that it can be fitted to all makes of cars.
He has a special introductory price offer for WarmStart sales before Christmas.
Mr Stockley said: “WarmStart gives you all the benefits of the remote engine start but without the costs of the app system.
“Basically, as soon as you get up and see it has been frosty and the windscreen is covered in ice, you go out there and then, let yourself into the car with your key but start the engine normally.
“But then you press the button which we normally mount discretely out of sight and that allows you to withdraw the key but leave the engine still running and then you can leave the car, with the steering lock still on, lock it up from outside and return to the warmth of your home safe in the knowledge that nothing can happen to it.
“It runs as standard for 15 minutes and then cuts the engine, although that is adjustable by us.
“It was my idea because my wife works very early mornings and I would find myself having to scrape the windows of her car before she could set off safely and then have to do the same thing with mine.
“A couple of years ago we hit some pretty crazy temperatures of -15C or so and I thought to myself, there must be an easier way and 18 months later, here it is.”