With a bitter start to summer, Covid-19 has shattered all of our plans for the foreseeable future. With our holidays cancelled, social events postponed, and work life disrupted, millions of us are using our cars far less than we normally would — according to RAC, one in 10 of us have stopped using our cars altogether.
Out of sight, out of mind, right? But have you considered the effect that not driving your car can have on your vehicle? Going weeks without using your used Ford Focus for example, can have detrimental effects. Of course, you should only use your car for essential travel and avoid breaking government regulations, so here, we’ll take a look at how you can keep your car healthy during lockdown.
Give your car some exercise
Like you, stuck in the house yearning to be out breathing fresh air and stretching your legs, your car needs to exercise. It is recommended to drive your car every two weeks if possible, driving for around 10 miles and reaching speeds over 50mph. Driving for a few minutes around built up areas at 30mph will have little benefit on your vehicle apart from heating the engine up. Drive for several miles to wake up the brakes, fluids, gaskets, power steering, seal, suspension, and transmission, among other components.
Additionally, batteries can lose their power when left idle and turning on the engine will drain the power even more. Driving for several miles allows the battery a chance to recharge. However, if your car has been sitting for a month or more, so much power could be lost that it will need jump starting. If your battery has run flat or you’re unable to drive long enough, consider purchasing a trickle charger or battery conditioner, the most effective method for to keep your battery healthy for a long period of time with little to no use.
Maintaining the health of your tyres
Regardless of lockdown, you should be maintaining the health of your tyres. Don’t neglect them — they’re the most important yet typically overlooked element of vehicles. Regularly check your tyre pressure with a pressure gauge or at your nearest petrol station, as not only do underinflated tyres use more fuel, but they can be dangerous when on the roads. Also, check for any sidewall cracks or visible damage to the tyres. Roll your car back and forth a few metres every so often to prevent flat spots and your tyre losing shape by spreading the pressure out.
Keeping your tyres in good condition will ensure that you’re ready to go when lockdown restrictions are lifted, a win-win for you!
Caring for your brakes
When your car is stationary, try to keep it on a flat road rather than on a hill, and if possible, keep your handbrake off and hold the tyres with tyre blocks to remove strain from your brakes and prevent them seizing up. You should also regularly get in your car, remove the handbrake, and apply the foot break to prevent it sticking.
Prevent rust developing
You probably haven’t considered how storing fuel in your car can have an effect. Your car certainly won’t thank you for being woken up after a long hibernation and running on old fuel that’s past its use-by date.
To prevent moisture accruing and rust and corrosion developing in the fuel system, adding fuel stabiliser to your fuel will extend its lifespan by preventing oxidation and chemical breakdown, as well as lubricating valves to keep everything running smoothly. Fuel stabiliser can keep your fuel fresh for around 12 months — hopefully more than enough time for lockdown! Keep your car safe as well as healthy and consider buying a steering wheel or handbrake lock. You should also use this time to review your car documents and find out when your next MOT is due. Stay safe and keep your car healthy!