As we’re sure you’ll be aware, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 the government has asked everyone to stay home for all but essential travel. That means using your car only for the most essential journeys like shopping for basic necessities, attending to medical needs or, if you cannot work from home, travelling to and from work.
As a consequence of this, your car may move a lot less than usual, or potentially not move at all. Like humans, cars do not cope well with being left alone. They seize up, go flat and will moan and groan when they do have to move again.
So we decided to pull together 5 essential tips to help keep your car in good shape and ready for when you need it.
5 Tips To Keep Your Vehicle Safe And Ready
Battery & Electrics
If your vehicle isn’t started periodically then the battery is likely to go flat. Despite being switched off, certain circuits like the alarm and immobiliser do take a trickle of power, and can drain the battery over time.
So, to keep your battery in good shape, once a week at least, start the engine and let it run up to temperature to give the battery a boost.
To prolong the life of your engine and reduce the chance of seizure start the engine on a weekly basis. By starting the engine, you will give the oil a chance to warm up and run around the internal components and lubricate them.
It also gives the drive belts a chance to move their position against pulleys, tensioners and guides. If you don’t do this, the belts can become weakened at the constant pressure points.
The engine coolant will also get to circulate and as it also includes a rust inhibitor it will dilute any condensation and refresh the system. Once started, all the other items such as your alternator and water pump will self lubricate their bearings, once again prolonging their life and reducing the chance of seizure.
Wheels & Tyres
If a vehicle is left standing for a period of time, the sidewalls of the tyre in that one position will take all the strain. Moving the car forwards or backwards by just half a wheel turn will shift the pressure point.
This is also a good time to check your tyre pressures as under-inflation will cause further damage to the sidewall and may even render the tyre dangerous.
Just like our joints, your car’s suspension needs to be kept supple. We are not suggesting going out for a drive but a little bit of movement can make all the difference! Even just sitting in the car will move a lot of the components enough to prevent most issues. You would be surprised by the amount of springs that break when a car is left stationary for a long period!
When you give your car its weekly warm up, dab the brakes a few times and while your feet are down there, give the clutch pedal a bit of exercise as well if it’s a manual!
If you don’t drive your vehicle, inevitably your brake discs will gain a coating of rust. This is quite normal and in most cases once the car is moving and the brakes applied a few times, this will clean off. It may be a bit noisy to start with, but it’s ok!
And finally, don’t leave the parking brake on unless really necessary!
If you leave your parking brake on for a long period, it is highly likely it will “stick on”. So although you released the handle, the brakes are still applied. You will feel the car try and move but it may drag the wheel(s) or rise up and not budge! To prevent this, leave the car in gear and release the handbrake if it is a manual, or simply leave it in P on an automatic.
If you do forget and it sticks on, do not under any circumstances simply try and keep driving it to release it as you can damage the brakes. Book a mechanic to come out and do it safely.
If you are concerned that your vehicle may have become unsafe, unreliable or something has happened to it, book a FREE phone consultation with one of our experienced in-house mechanics or you can use our new contact-free service to place a booking.