Many vehicles will have been stationary, parked on driveways or roadside spaces for many weeks now as the coronavirus lockdown continues in the UK. Those which have been driven will likely have travelled only a few miles on short, essential trips to the supermarket for example. Personal vehicles as well as company cars are likely to have all been out of action.
What does this mean for car owners and even fleet managers who have a responsibility to make sure their vehicles are road worthy and safe? How do you go about maintaining your vehicle during lockdown? Here we look at some tips vehicle owners should consider.
Tips for maintaining your vehicle during lockdown
Vehicles are meant to be driven. Leaving them stationary for prolonged periods or only driving short distances can be damaging. Unfortunately, at this time we have no other option than to not use our vehicles as much as we normally would.
So, it is particularly important that you think about maintaining your vehicle during lockdown. Some areas to keep in mind include:
How to protect your car battery life
When not used regularly, car batteries can lose charge. Not driving your vehicle means your battery doesn’t have chance to charge. Potentially leaving you with a flat battery which does not have enough power to start your vehicle.
When it comes to maintaining your battery, advice includes using a ‘trickle charger’ to send a small amount of electricity to your battery to keep it healthy (refer to your manufacturer’s guidelines and charger instructions if you do go down this route). Possibly more practical for those who keep their vehicles off road on a private driveway or have a garage.
Another way to keep your battery healthy is to drive the vehicle for around 15-20 minutes to give the battery chance to charge. This could be achieved through essential travel to the supermarket for example. Just keep in mind that very short, frequent journeys can flatten your battery quicker than normal as well. Journeys need to be long enough to give the battery time to charge.
Maintaining tyres while your car is still
Tyres can develop flat spots if left in the same place whilst unused. These can unbalance the wheels and cause handling issues with the vehicle. For normal tyres, Goodyear recommend moving the vehicle at least once every 3 months to avoid this happening.
You may also consider inflating your tyres to the maximum pressure recommended to help avoid the risk of flat spots.
Others state that tyres do not like being exposed to UV light so if you can park your vehicle in a shady spot or in a garage this may be beneficial to your tyre condition.
Avoiding seized and corroded car brake discs
If left unused for a period of time, car brake discs can begin to corrode. Over time this can mean brakes seize up, requiring the attention of a mechanic. Likewise, there is also the risk of the handbrake sticking. To avoid brake disc corrosion, one recommendation is to roll your car back and forth a few metres every so often.
Regular maintenance checks
Before embarking on a long journey, or your first journey since leaving your vehicle idle for a long period, carry out the maintenance checks that should be preformed regularly:
- Oil levels
- Windscreen washer fluid
- Tyre pressure
- Tyre tread
Can I visit a garage to maintain my vehicle during lockdown?
Businesses who offer car repair and MOT services have been deemed essential businesses which can remain open during the coronavirus lockdown in the UK. So, it may be that your local garage is still operating.
It is likely that if your vehicle requires urgent repairs that you will be able to visit a garage to carry out this type of maintenance. As with all guidance issued by the government the emphasis is on essential – so think about this before you do visit a garage to limit any unnecessary contact.
Key workers who require their vehicles to travel to jobs deemed essential may be more in need of accessing a garage for any car maintenance issues than those who have been primarily staying at home and not using their vehicles.
Another thing to keep in mind is that MOT’s due from the 30th March onwards have been extended by 6 months due to Coronavirus. This will give you a little longer to get your MOT completed easing the need to get to a garage during lockdown. However, you still need to ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy if you intend to drive it.
Maintaining your vehicle and ensuring it is roadworthy is not only a legal requirement, but it should help you avoid expensive repair bills post lockdown. This is particularly true for fleet managers who may have a large number of vehicles which they are ultimately responsible for. At Anthony Jones we appreciate that this is a challenging time for many, we are still working and here to help if you have any questions about your motor or fleet insurance.