Keeping Your Car Road-Ready During Lockdown
Most of us haven’t been travelling much lately! We’ve been working from home, and all those places we used to visit have been closed. With restrictions stating we shouldn’t make unnecessary journeys, our cars just haven’t been used as they normally would. While this has saved us some money on petrol, it also comes with some potential issues that you should look into now, before you start taking longer and more frequent journeys with the easing of lockdown.
The lockdown roadmap was announced last week, with many now counting down the days until they can leave their local area… With many drivers using their vehicles less (or not at all) in lockdown, what can people do to ensure their cars are road-ready in the coming months? Fingers crossed the roadmap will continue as planned, and it will only be a short time before we can begin to get out and about a bit more.
Luckily we know a thing or two about maintaining vehicles here at Tyre Runner, so here are our tips for making sure your car is ready to go and in a great condition when you need it...
1 – Keep your vehicle running for the battery
When you’re not going anywhere, it can be easy to park your car up and forget about it as the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months. But an unused car can develop problems such as a flat battery, and it would be so annoying to find your car won’t start when you’ve actually made plans to go somewhere. On the plus side, most modern car batteries can last for two or three weeks without being used, so you’re unlikely to run into problems when you go away on holiday for example, but it’s really recommended to get your car out for a run once a week for around 20-30 minutes, to keep the battery nicely topped up. This also applies if you have an electric car, because as well as the batteries that power the motors, they do also have a 12v battery that charges in the traditional manner, so whatever type of vehicle you have, it’s important to give it a run out once a week at the minimum.
2 – Check the tyres
It’s also vital to give your tyres a good look over, check the tread depth and the tyre age. When they’re sat unused, tyres can actually deteriorate faster than if they’re in regular use. The older the tyre, the older the rubber compound, and the more likely it is to become cracked or develop ‘flat spots’. Tyres simply don’t last forever, even if they’re not being used, so check for any signs of damage, and if in doubt, have them replaced - most people don't know that Tyres, like food, have a shelf life .
Checking your tyre pressure regularly is also a must, and it’s a good idea to check manually rather than relying on the car’s pressure sensors as these can sometimes be somewhat unreliable. If you would like a full guide and checklist for everything tyre related checkout how to perform a proper tyre maintenance check over here.
Stay safe, replace your tyres
If you have any concerns that your tyres are damaged, worn, or you’ve just had them on your vehicle a long while, now is a great time to have them replaced. Good quality tyres don’t have to cost a fortune when you search the market for the best deals. Our easy-to-use tyre comparison service will help you find the tyres you want, at the best price, and even find you a local fitter. Check the best local deals out now and get your car ready for all those journeys and adventures a more positive future is going to bring!
And if you don't want to be travelling too far at the moment, check out our locations page to find your nearest tyre fitter and compare the best deals on the market.
3 – Check your oil levels
You’ll also want to ensure your oil is topped up. Check your oil levels with the car on a flat surface or the results you get could be inaccurate. Some cars these days check the levels automatically via the in-car diagnostics system, or you may need to use the traditional dipstick method. If in doubt, the AA have a useful article that can help, you can find it here. It’s very important though, that you don’t overfill the oil as this can actually ruin your engine! If you’re unsure about how to do this properly, then consider an oil and filter service at a local garage. You can find garages local to you via our Locations section – just click here.
4 – Conduct some more important checks, brakes, fluids and more
In addition to tyres and oil levels, there are some other checks you should perform too. It’s important to check your brake fluid, coolant and screen wash levels every 1-2 months and before you set off on a long journey. Particular attention should be paid to your brakes when your car hasn’t been driven in a while as they can become corroded, especially if your vehicle is parked outside and the weather has been wet. Try to test your brakes as soon as you can when you’re driving, in a quiet area at a low speed.
5 – Bacteria, mould, and corrosion - Give your car a good clean - inside and out!
When you haven’t really been going anywhere, you probably haven’t given much thought to cleaning the car. Well no one is going to see that it’s filthy if it’s sat in your garage are they? So if you’ve been neglecting your car, it’s definitely time for a good, thorough clean. It’s surprising just how dirty a car can get even with minimal use. The fallen autumn leaves can get trapped under the bonnet and restrict airflow, so do check for that. Road salt used to grit the roads in icy weather can be particularly corrosive, and as we reach the spring, pollen can leave mildew on vehicles that can cause mould to form.
However the interior is where you might want to spend some time, the University of Michigan found the inside of your car can be a breeding ground for bacteria, including rather nasty strains of MRSA. The research found that surfaces like your steering wheel, door handles, window buttons, gear sticks and cup holders contained more bacteria than the standard wheelie bin or toilet seat!
After 2020/21 it's probably best to play it safe and get the disinfectant out now before your next trip...
6 – Consider the impact of the weather
The weather lately has been so variable. One day it’s been freezing cold and icy, the next the sun is shining and you feel sure spring is finally here, then it’s ice cold again the next day. This raising and lowering of the temperature is actually pretty bad for vehicles that are sat stationary, and so there are a few final checks you should probably consider. Have a good look over your vehicle and inspect all the glass and plastic for any chips or cracks. You should also check all your doors to ensure they haven’t seized shut. While you might not use your rear doors, they could be needed to rescue you in the event of an accident, and also being unable to open a door is an MOT failure, so fixing the problem now could save you a headache down the line.