We revisit our recommendations, backed up by our expert partners

When the government announced the lockdown, it was a shock to hear we were only to be allowed out of the house in very specific circumstances. The news meant that a lot of our cars were going to be left unused for extended periods.

We’ve been in lockdown since 23rd March. There’s still no definite end in sight despite much speculation of our slow-release back into society. When we do start to ease back into a new way of life, we’ll need to be sure we do it safely and minimising the risk of danger. That includes every aspect of our duties—including how we travel.

For the time being, the majority of cars will remain in limited or irregular use—if any at all. So, what can we do to keep our vehicles in prime condition, and to make sure they’re ready for action when we finally get the go-ahead?

We covered some critical areas for cars out of regular operation in an article about a month ago. Since then, we’ve been lucky enough to have some of our expert partners add a little of their expertise into the mix.

Battery protection

Without regular use, many of our cars’ batteries will suffer a slow discharge, eventually rendering them flat, without the power they require to start your engine.

Some cars hold their charge over incredibly extended periods. Those drivers may not have to concern themselves with their batteries at all. The best way to check is to test your battery from time to time.

Regular checks and topping up the charge

CW Vehicles (based in Birmingham) is one of our Fixter partners happy to suggest how to keep on top of the problem.

If you think your car is likely to be affected, they advise starting your engine ideally once a week. You’ll be able to listen for obvious signs that there’s plenty of charge left on the battery as the car starts. When an engine struggles or fails to connect, it’s likely that there’s little or no charge left in the battery to do its job.

Allowing the car to run for a few minutes a couple of times a week, as well as adding a little charge to your battery, will help prevent components from becoming blocked by carbon. That’s another typical problem to occur in cars parked up over lengthy periods.

Petrol tank problems

Another issue to affect long-standing vehicles is the opportunity it provides for moisture and rust to build up inside the petrol tank.

TL Motors of London confirms that keeping a full tank or adding a stabiliser fluid can help prevent this from happening. Rust inside the petrol tank will contaminate the petrol that’s going to pass through your engine. Contamination can cause damage to components that could significantly impact your engine’s performance, condition, and operation.

If your car shows any sign of an issue when you enter back into regular use, head to your local garage and get it diagnosed professionally.

Long-term parking leading to brake issues

It’d be great if we all had access to off-street parking. That way we could put our cars in gear, release the brakes, further securing them with blocks or parking chocks. If left too long, brakes pads can seize to the discs and fail to release when back on the road.

Both Trinity Diesels in Manchester and Wimbledon Service Centre in London suggest testing brakes for stiffness during an initial test drive. Any performance issues could require a replacement or repair. Both of these experts recommend brakes and fluids should be professionally checked after long periods without operation. A build-up of moisture can contaminate brake fluid, rendering performance lower than acceptable and being potentially unsafe.

Take care where you park

There are some obvious signs and places to avoid parking your car if it’s going to be left for a while.

VSC Car Servicing of Twickenham warns us about the damage leaves can do when they penetrate our air vents. Blocking vents can cause problems with the air conditioning. Make sure to avoid leafy areas where possible, or to have a thorough clean out before turning the AC back on.

When the rubber rings of your AC dry out, it can cause leaks in the system. Rotten leaves can also cause nasty smells within your car’s interior or corrosion to the paint on the exterior. If you can’t avoid parking in a tree-lined area, be sure to keep your car clean and clear of those issues.

Lubrication leads to fewer problems

To avoid any part of our car from seizing over time, it’s worth applying a layer of lubricant to all those moving parts. Pay attention to door handles, locks and hinges.

While you’re at it, why not check your oil and its filter? Used oil becomes contaminated with use, and left stationary, will settle and congregate in one area. Dust, metal filings and sludge in your oil can all add to engine wear and eventual damage.

If you change your oil before parking up for an extended period, make sure you run the oil around your system for the best protection during the following weeks and months.

A simple health-check will save you from problems further down the line

Paisley Autocare in Glasgow hit the nail on the head with this excellent advice. A simple health-check with your local garage will outline any areas that are amiss before you finally take to the road again. It’s the best way to avoid any problems and expensive repairs before they happen.

Finally getting back in your car…

Whenever we get back to more typical driving routines, none of us should take risks with our safety or that of our passengers and other road users.

Make sure your car is safe and suitable for use. Fixter can have your car checked utilising their contact-free service, or alternatively provide a safety check to make sure every aspect of your vehicle is ready for use and in peak performance condition.