How to maintain your vehicle whilst using it less during lockdown
We find ourselves in weird times. We have seen some industries come to a standstill whilst others work hard to keep our communities going. Many of us are having to live differently and abide by the strict restrictions put in place to help preserve lives during the Covid-19 crisis.
This means that we are only to travel for essential journeys, such as travelling to work if you are a key worker or to collect groceries as little as possible. For some who are in complete isolation, it may mean not being able to leave the house at all! So your once frequently used car or van is now sat on the driveway or parked outside your home, hardly being used and this can cause a few potential issues depending on the type of vehicle you have.
We wanted to offer some helpful advice on staying safe and how to ensure that your car keeps running well despite being seldom used, to avoid costly bills getting things fixed when the lockdown due to coronavirus eventually comes to an end.
Our Top Tips
Storing Your Vehicle During Lockdown
Firstly, if you are able to, it may be worth storing your vehicle somewhere safe and undercover to avoid the chances of it being damaged or stolen whilst you are not using it. On a ‘normal’ basis, this is always recommended and also can help to bring your insurance premiums down in some cases, but we realise this is not possible for everyone depending on where you live.
At the very least, try to make sure that there are no valuables left in your car and that your alarm is working. You may wish to cover the car with a fabric or tarpaulin cover to also protect from the weather, where the car is not being used frequently. If you are storing the car in a garage, make sure it is completely dry before putting it away to avoid damp spots forming.
Advice on Keeping Your Car Keys Safe
It is best not to carry your car keys with you when you are not using them, to avoid loss or theft. Some cars also have a key function which automatically unlocks the car when you are near it, which you also do not want.
If your vehicle has a start button and smart entry, your car may have a battery saving feature which initiates after not being used for a while – check with your manufacturer to see if your model has this feature. You should also ensure that wherever you store your car keys, they are not visible through windows or placed near doors in your home to prevent the risk of theft.
Save Money on Your Car Tax
If you know that you are not going to be using your vehicle at all during lock down because you don’t need to, you could mark your vehicle as SORN with the DVLA and not pay tax for the period that you are not using it. To do this, you will need to keep your vehicle ‘off the road’ – including parking it on the street outside your house.
Should I Start My Car Regularly When I Am Not Using It?
You may have heard that it is good to regularly start a vehicle whilst it is not in frequent use to help maintain it – this is true. Starting your engine regularly helps to keep the battery from going flat and recharges the energy used to start the car. It is thought that the car will need to be run for around 20 minutes to replace the charge used to start it.
It is a good idea to run your car around once per week to help charge the battery and warm up the engine. Be sure not to leave your car unattended whilst it is running and if you are parked in a place where there are likely to be people, make sure you abide by the social distancing measures put in place.
What if I have a Hybrid Car?
Hybrid cars have a regular 12-volt battery like a petrol or diesel vehicle, but they also have a high voltage hybrid battery. You can treat this type of car similarly to a regular petrol or diesel car by starting it normally once per week or so and letting it run in ‘Ready’ mode or the manufacturer equivalent for 60 minutes. This may vary depending on the type of vehicle you have – check with your manufacturer.
Check Your Tyre Pressure When You Are Not Using the Car
We always recommend checking your tyre pressure before embarking on any types of journeys. But when your vehicle has been stationary for a while, your tyre pressure could change due to many factors like temperature – make sure that they are also not damaged.
If you need to top up the air pressure, you could still take it to your local petrol station or use your home equivalent pump. If you must go out to do this, be sure to abide by the government guidelines on social distancing and be aware of cleaning your hands well after using the equipment and attending the petrol station.
Preserve Your Brakes
In some cases, you may be able to disengage your parking brake to stop them from binding. You should only do this if your car is stored on level ground and you should also be extra careful in ensuring that you have enough blocks either side of your wheels to prevent the car from moving. It can be beneficial to do this but is not essential so don’t worry if you are not able to.
Keeping Your Car Clean
Now is the perfect time to give your vehicle that all-important wash that you have been meaning to do for a while. If you do not have right materials for the job – why not order them online and get them delivered, rather than take a non-essential journey to a store. Try to plan your car wash on a day when rain is less likely, as this will allow you time for the car to dry fully after you have cleaned it and avoid any water marks being left by the weather.
What If My Car has a Fault During Lockdown?
Queens Park Garage remains open with restrictions and measures in pace to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and help to support the people of our community that need their vehicles maintained during this time. We are operating a pick up and delivery service and contactless customer service, so if you need us to take a look at your car or van, please give us a call on 01202 216104 to speak to a member of our friendly team. Contact us via the website too.