Many of us are using our cars less, with working from home a fact of life in this Covid pandemic. We look into what that is doing to your car?
Well, the longer your car sits neglected, the greater the chance of damage and a repair bill. Fortunately, we’re here to prevent both of those from happening. By following our six simple steps, your car will stay in tip top condition and be raring to go at the turn of a key or push of a button.
1. Drive your car at least once a week
Your car’s battery may become flat if you don’t drive your car. Taking your car for a spin at least once a week will prevent this from happening, and ensure you have enough juice for future journeys. Depending on your vehicle and the battery age it can take at least 30 minutes of driving to charge the battery.
However during lockdown there are only very specific reasons we are allowed to leave home, so please check the government guidelines before driving your car.
Driving your car keeps other components in good working order, too. When your car is in motion, fluid cycles through the engine to the components that need it most. This won’t happen when your car isn’t in use and sat on a driveway.
2. Give your car a good clean (inside and out)
If you can’t drive your car, at least set aside some time to give it a good clean. Cleaning your car will keep its paintwork looking fresh, and prevent grime settling in hard-to-reach places that will need a professional valet to get rid of. If you park near a tree, tree sap and bird droppings can cause permanent damage to your car’s paintwork
Keeping the inside of your car clean is about making it a more pleasant place to be. You don’t want to be stepping in your car for the first time in weeks and find a takeout cup with mouldy coffee in it, do you? More importantly, you don’t want to be looking through a smeared windscreen on your first drive in a while.
3. Choose your parking spot wisely
If you have a driveway, feel free to skip to the next point. Choosing to park your car on tarmac or cobble can help keep your car in better condition when you’re not using it. Soft surfaces like grass and dirt allow moisture to travel into your car’s undercarriage. Over time, this can lead to rust which can spread and seriously harm your vehicle.
4. Check oil and fluids
The oil and coolant in your car play a crucial role in keeping your vehicle running smoothly. Oil is one of the main fluids that every car needs, and ensures all the parts work together effortlessly as they should. Old oil can damage your car, which is why you should change it every 12 months or 10,000 miles — whichever comes first. Throughout the year, however, you must keep it topped up.
Checking and topping up your engine oil is a simple car maintenance jobs but it can be daunting. Same goes for your coolant fluid, which is usually stored in a clear overflow plastic container near the radiator. If you’re having trouble locating what fluids go where, don’t worry we are here to help, you’re local First Stop garage can top up your oil for you. They can also help with specialist jobs such as topping up your brake fluid.
The last thing to check that you can do yourself is your windscreen washer fluid. Also under the bonnet, it’s located near the top of the engine bay and is clearly marked with a windscreen wiper icon. Believe it or not, but it’s actually illegal to have an empty windscreen washer reservoir while driving, so top it up as soon as you can if yours is running low! And with winter coming the anti-freeze in the formula of screen wash will prevent freezing in colder temperatures.
5. Keep your tyres inflated
If you’re not driving your car or keeping your tyres inflated they can actually get flat spots! The last thing you want after not driving your car for a while is a bill for four new tyres.
Flat spots are common in cars that sit for a long while without being driven. I’m sure you’ve seen at some point an old car that’s been sitting in the same place for a long time with sorry-looking tyres, right? But while not all cases are severe, it can take just a month for a flat spot to form that could potentially ruin a tyre.
If you know your car is going to be sitting in the same place for more than 30 days, increase your tyre pressure by 3 psi before you park it. The extra tyre pressure will hold the tyre’s shape and prevent flat spots. Remember, never over-inflate your tyres more than its safe maximum.
6. Fill up the tank
I know what you’re thinking: “Why, if I’m not driving anywhere?”. Granted, it seems redundant to fill up your car with fuel when it’s going to sit on your driveway, but it’s essential to keeping it healthy!
Filling up your tank helps prevent a build-up of condensation in the fuel lines that can cause rust. Over time, rust can worsen and cause lasting damage to your vehicle. Filling up your tank also stops gasoline fumes building up to a hazardous level.
Your car will be ready and waiting when you need it
If you’ve followed our advice and completed all the checks then you can be confident knowing your car will be raring to go at the turn of a key — even after a long layoff. For greater peace of mind, why not treat your car to a free vehicle safety inspection? Our experienced technicians will check your tyres, battery, wiper blades, lights, brakes and more to ensure your car is prepared for when you need it!