Maintaining Your Car During Lockdown Or If Not Used
If a car sits for too long without being driven it can have issues that will affect the driving performance. Here are some issues you should be aware of and make sure proper maintenance is performed to ensure your vehicle will operate correctly when needed.
Caring For Your Battery & Brakes
If your brakes have not been used for a while, the brake discs will start to corrode. If this continues, your brakes will seize up requiring a mechanic to repair them. You can prevent this from happening by rolling your car back and forth a few metres once in a while, as long as it’s safe to do so. Also, moving your car back and forth will prevent your tyres from forming flat spots.
If the brake discs corrode, it can cause the handbrake to freeze or stick. If you are able to park your car on a flat area that is on level ground, you might consider not applying your handbrake. If you use your handbrake, keep in mind this can lead to the brake making the car immobile. Instead, consider that leaving your car in gear might be the better option. Again, just make sure your car is parked on a level flat surface. Never use this approach if you are on a slope or parked on a public road, running the risk of someone hitting the car.
Maintaining your battery is another important step you must pay attention to even specially if the vehicle is left unused for more than a week or two. Your car imobaliser and alarm can drain your battery prettty quickly. If your car is parked in a private and safe area you should consider getting a battery maintainer or trickle charger to keep your battery in good condition and maintain its charge.
If it’s not possible for you to run a lead to your car, you should start your car up at least once a week and let it run for approximately 15 minutes. This will allow your battery to totally recharge and circulate the oil and fuel around the engine. This can prevent engine flooding in petrol cars.
While your car is running, turn on the air conditioning to maintain the seals in the unit and prevent mould from developing in the system.
Never turn your car on and off in rapid succession. Keep in mind, the starter motor needs battery power each time you start the car. Starting and stopping the car quickly, will not restore the battery unless its given time to recharge.
Never leave your car unattended when it’s turned on and running.
If you allow your battery to completely drain you run the risk of permanently damaging it. The acid in the battery will form crystals on the lead, in ordanary use these are removed as the battery is used. Without regular use these crystals can remain on the lead permanently and reduce the charge the battery can hold. If your battery is a quiet old this could stop you from being able to recharge the battery at all and you will need to replace it completely with a new battery.
Keeping Your Car Roadworthy
Whether you own a car, a van or a motorcycle and have MOTs due by 30 March 2020 and have been given a six-month extension for getting the test completed, you are still expected to keep your vehicle in a safe and roadworthy condition.
If you must drive, please read the following information:
Check fluid levels including oil, engine coolants, brake fluid, and screen wash to meet any minimum recommended levels.
Always apply your brakes gently when first taking off to make sure they are working properly. If there is a build-up of corrosion, you will probably experience crunching or grinding for the first mile or so. If this continues or you experience vibration through the pedal, you might have warped brake discs. You should get it checked out as quickly as possible.
Before taking off, check your lights to ensure they are working properly. If possible, ask someone to help you. They can watch when you check the brake lights by applying the brakes. If no one is available, park in front of a reflective area, such as a window, and then watch for the lights in your rearview mirror.
Check your tyres to ensure you have the right tread depth and there are no defects. In the UK, the minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm. This is actually easy to check, just place a 20p coin into the tyre groove. If the outer band of the coin is not obscured by the tread block, your tyres are too low and not legal to drive on.
You should check your tyres for good inflation. Under-inflated tyres will use up more fuel and affect the performance of your brakes. You should look in your car’s owner handbook to make sure you set your tyres at the right pressure.
Many newer models have a tyre pressure monitor that will warn you when your tyre pressure has dropped. You can check your tyre pressure at your local petrol station or purchase a portable pressure gauge from retailers such as Amazon.
Garages are permitted to remain open for essential repairs so if you are worried about your car’s roadworthiness, get your vehicle checked out as soon as possible. For good peace of mind, many garages now offer a free vehicle health check. Take advantage of these free checks once you are back on the road to prevent any serious problems.
Make Sure To Maintain Your Tax & Insurance
While car owners have been given a 6-month MOT exemption so garages can take care of essential repairs, you are still responsible for keeping your road tax and car insurance up to date so your car will remain legal on the roads.
There is one exception to this, if you have a statutory off-road notification or SORN. Keep in mind if you do this, you will not be allowed to use your car even for essential or emergency trips. You can claim back the value of any full months of tax remaining on the car and will no longer be obligated to insure it.
The downside, this option is not available for those who do not have access to off-road parking. If you don’t have off-road parking and must leave your car on the street, make sure you park in a safe area and remember to not use your handbrake and leave your car in gear if you have a manual gearbox or your car is on a slope use the handbrake.
Are you in or around Birchwood, Warrington, Winwick, Risley, Partington, Padgate, Newton le Willows, Lymm, Lowton, or Irlam? Lowton Motor Company Birchwood is the solution your car needs for any engine issues and problems that may arise with your vehicle if it has been left standing and unused for a while. With over 25 years of experience, we will be able to find and fix the problem quickly and get your car back on the road. As the largest garage in Birchwood we provide a convenient and affordable service.