We are living in crucial times right now. The coronavirus pandemic is gripping the nation and the strict social distancing lockdown has resulted in many of us having to stay at home, virtually all the time.
The impact of the lockdown and current travel restrictions means there is a lot less traffic on the road. As we stay home to keep ourselves and others safe, our cars are sitting idle for longer periods of time, sometimes days or even weeks.
If left unused, cars can develop problems, and these will only become evident once you get behind the wheel and start driving again.
So to avoid the frustration and inconvenience of having a car problem once you can finally get out and about again, we have pulled together some Top Tips on how to look after your car during lockdown.
1. Keep your car battery charged
A car battery will lose its charge if the car is stationary for long periods. The amount of charge it holds will depend on the age of the battery, how often you are able to drive it, and other factors, such as climate.
Electronic systems such as alarms and on-board computers can drain a battery whilst the car is not being used, so keeping it topped up is essential to prevent the battery going completely dead.
The battery will benefit from being left on trickle charge overnight, once a week, or if you have a smart charger this can be left plugged in all the time and will draw current when required.
If you don’t have a battery charger, the next best thing is to leave the engine running for at least 15 minutes a week. If you can drive your car locally, then driving for this amount of time will also help top up the charge.
If you leave the engine running or go for a short drive, also give your air con a quick burst as this will help to blow out any dust or foreign particles that may have accumulated on the battery.
If you know you aren’t likely to use the car for weeks or months, it is best to disconnect the battery altogether as it will prevent it getting discharged whilst standing idle.
Electric Vehicles and plug-in hybrids
EVs and PHEVs will still go flat when left sitting idle, just like conventional cars. Maintaining an EVs battery will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so it is best to check the manual to find out what is recommended, but it may involve putting the vehicle into ‘ready mode’ for a period of time to recharge it.
2. Release the hand brake each week
If you leave your handbrake on for a long period, it could cause the brakes to seize up. If you are not using your car at least once a week, we recommend releasing the handbrake each week and moving the car a short distance. Even if you can only push the car to and fro, this is better than not moving it at all. If you are parked on a hill and can’t use your car, you could use wheel chocks to prevent the car from rolling, or a brick or large piece of wood will also do the job.
3. Keep the fuel topped up
It is best to keep the tank as full as possible as any air in the tank above the fuel will cause condensation to form, which isn’t good for the car as it can cause rust to form.
4. Check your tyres
Moving the car at least once a week will also help to relieve the stress on the sidewall of tyres, which is another issue that can manifest when a vehicle is stationary for long periods. Tyre pressures can also go down if the car hasn’t been used for some time. You can check your tyre pressures easily at home with a tyre pressure gauge, or at your nearest petrol station.
5. Protecting the bodywork
Strong sunlight can take its toll on car bodywork, especially if the car is not in shade for any time of day, and if it is in the same position, not moved for an extended period of time. Bird droppings if left on paintwork, can be corrosive. Tree sap can be a devil to remove if left on the glass and bodywork for a long time. If your car is in an exposed position, it is best to cover it up.
We hope you find these tips useful in helping to keep your car healthy and safe to drive when you are able to get back behind the wheel again.
Foster & Heanes are, as always, here to help you with any maintenance, service, repair and MOT requirements you may have. Please call on 01252 615657 if you have any enquiries or would like to book your car in.
F&H is open in Dogmersfield only at the moment. We are operating a free collection and delivery service if you are self-isolating or unable to drive your car. For further information, please visit www.fosterandheanesltd.co.uk
Until the time comes that we can all begin travelling again with freedom, keep safe and keep well, and stay home.