2021 is here and we’re faced with another national lockdown. Many of us are continuing to limit the distance we travel on the roads and are avoiding using our vehicles where we can. Working from home is the new normal, taking a walk locally for our daily exercise is what we do and only travelling out for essentials is how life is right now. We are all doing our bit to ensure we are limiting social contact, keeping each other safe and protecting our NHS.
For many of us, the past year of local and national restrictions has meant that our cars have never seen such little use. And, although the fuel savings may be an unexpected bonus, you may be concerned about the effects of only using your car from time to time.
Thankfully, there are several things you can do to keep your car in good working order even when you’re not using it as much as usual . These simple maintenance tips can help make sure your car works as it should when you next get behind the wheel.
1. Move it periodically to keep the battery charged
The biggest issue caused by vehicle inactivity is a flat battery. Car batteries naturally lose their charge over time but driving your car for just five to ten minutes every two weeks or so should keep the battery healthy. You don’t have to go far, simply driving once or twice around the block should help if you’re not using your car otherwise .
There are other benefits to moving your car every so often too. Getting the engine to operating temperature helps fluids circulate around the car, which helps to prevent them from deteriorating and keeps gaskets and rubber parts lubricated. It also keeps the drivetrain in good condition and protects against tyres flattening on the bottom under the car’s weight.
If you can’t move your car, or would rather not during lockdown, simply starting the engine and letting it run for a few minutes can help give the battery a boost. You don’t have to move it, you can just turn on the ignition and let the engine run without the car in gear and the handbrake on.
Has your battery gone flat? Read our helpful guide on how to jump start a car.
2. Care for your brakes
When a car isn’t used for a while, its brake discs can begin to rust. In some cases, this can lead to the brakes seizing up altogether which will require the attentions of a trusty mechanic.
To keep your brakes well maintained, we recommend rolling your vehicle back and forth ever so slightly, just a few metres where possible, to keep the discs moving.
3. Keep up with general maintenance
It’s important to keep your car’s engine healthy by topping up vital fluids, including engine oil, coolant, brake fluid and screen wash. Your vehicle handbook will tell you more and explain how often to do this for your car.
You may wish to also check your tyre pressures and correcting this yourself if you can. Your vehicle handbook should tell you the right pressure for your vehicle, and you can correct the pressure of under or over-filled tyres with a compressor.
4. MOT extensions
Many of us have had our MOT expiry dates extended in 2020. However, if your vehicle’s MOT is due from 1st August 2020, it must be booked in for its MOT as normal. For the latest guidance on getting an MOT, read the Gov.uk information.
If you are found driving a car in a dangerous condition, you could be fined up to £2,500 and receive penalty points or a potential driving ban, even if your MOT expiry date has been extended.
5. Keep it clean
Washing and waxing your car will do more than keeping it looking its best; it will also prevent damage to the paintwork from weather, bird droppings and tree sap over time. A good manual car wash is a great task to keep kids busy with, or why not turn it into a fun family activity?
When it comes to protecting your car from nature and the elements, think about where it’s parked too. If you park it on the street, avoid leaving it under a tree and remember to remove any valuables. And don’t forget to fold your wingmirrors in, especially those facing the road.
Ultimately, taking the time to give your car a little TLC should help to ensure it’s in good condition when you need it next. However, if your car is beyond lockdown maintenance, there’s no need to hang on to it.
Read our useful guide on how to keep your car safe during COVID-19 and find out the top 30 areas you should be cleaning.
Our network of vetted and trusted scrap and salvage car buyers is still hard at work collecting and recycling old vehicles, and all through a strict no-contact service. To find out what your scrap car is worth, get a scrap car quote now.