The best way to make sure your car makes it through long-term storage or significantly reduced usage is to keep its battery healthy.
- Using a battery conditioner, or trickle charger, is the most effective way to do this. It will keep immobilisers and other energy-sapping components from draining your battery completely.
Just keep in mind that using these devices could be impractical if your car is parked on the street as you may need to drape cables across the pavement, which can become a tripping hazard for passers-by.
If there are two cars in your household you may want to consider alternating your essential trips in them. You should also be mindful that repeated short journeys will flatten your battery faster than usual, which is even more reason to follow the government’s guidance to shop for necessities as infrequently as possible.
Most importantly, you should avoid turning your engine on, only to turn it off again shortly after.
- If you can’t realistically run a lead to your car, simply start it up once a week and let it run for around 15 minutes. Not only will this give the battery time to increase its charge, but will also circulate oil and fuel around the engine, which can prevent engine flooding in petrol cars.
- While the car is running, turn the air conditioning on. This will help maintain the seals in the air conditioning system and reduce the chance of mould developing in your car’s air circulation system.
Avoid turning your car on and off again in quick succession. The starter motor requires battery power each time, which won’t be replenished unless the battery is given time to charge.
Never leave your car unattended when it’s switched on.
You’ll need to inflate your tyres to the maximum recommended pressure found on their sidewall, as they will lose pressure over time, even if they’re not being used in motion.
If left for a long period of time this can lead to flat spots and your tyres losing their round shape, especially on older tyres.
If you think you may be leaving your car idle for a number of months, rolling it (very carefully) every so often can ensure the tyres won’t get worn unevenly.
Scrubbing your car before storing or when using it less frequently will not only help keep it looking its best, but could prevent damage further down the road.
Waxing your car can stop tree sap, bird droppings and harsh weather leaving its mark on your paintwork, but make sure you give the car a thorough clean before applying a coat.
Paying attention to your tyres will ensure brake shavings, mud and grease are removed, which can help to prevent corrosion later on.
Cleaning the inside of the car is now more important than ever. If you’re concerned about the risk of spreading coronavirus, you should disinfect your interior according to our advice.
Cleaning the inside of your car is also the only way to make sure crumbs, other pieces of food and mud don’t decay or dry into the upholstery.
If your interior is left particularly dirty, it may even attract insects and vermin, leading to further damage from these unwanted tenants.
It’s a good idea to keep spare bulbs at all times. But as more shops face staff shortages and closures you might struggle to find the correct bulbs for your car at short notice.
Make sure your vehicle is roadworthy for those essential journeys by picking up spares while you have the chance.
Although the coronavirus outbreak has prompted MOT exemptions, you may still be prosecuted if your car is deemed unsafe, which it will if you don’t have properly working lights.
Top up vital liquids
You should check fluid levels to keep your engine well maintained and have your car ready to drive when you need it. Top up your:
If you’re not planning on using your car for a while you’ll need to leave it parked somewhere safe and sheltered from the elements.
A private garage is the best choice, as it could help deter would-be thieves and vandals, while also protecting your paintwork from adverse weather and other outdoor threats. You should make sure your car is dry and the garage is well ventilated too.
The secure location means you can even leave your car in gear with chocks behind the wheels instead of the handbrake to save the handbrake cable from stretching.
If a garage isn’t an option, try to park somewhere shaded during the day and well-lit at night. Trees offer protection from some types of weather but will leave your car more vulnerable to bird droppings and tree sap, which you’ll have to clean up later.
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