How to take care of your car while you aren't using it

With the country in lockdown to help manage the coronavirus (COVID-19), it may be the case that you aren’t using your car as much or aren’t using it at all. 

While we know that key workers and those that need their car for getting essential shopping may still be using their car regularly, but for many people their car will be getting much less use than normal. 

We’ll be giving you some tips on keeping your car in check at home to make sure it’s ready to go when needed.

Will leaving my car parked up drain the battery?

This depends on the age and condition of the car, and its battery – even when the car is parked, the battery is still running for things like the alarm so will naturally lose charge if left over time. A healthy car battery should be okay to stand for 2 weeks without needing to recharge, we recommend starting your car and going for a short drive (at least 15 minutes) every 2 weeks to help keep your car’s battery charged.

If you have any doubt with the car battery you can do this once a week just to be safe or try connecting the battery to a mains-powered battery maintainer to charge.

How long can I leave my car standing for?

If you don’t need to use your car, you can leave it parked up however it’s best to get out for short trips to ensure the battery is charged and to prevent brakes from seizing. 

If you do leave your car parked up, be aware that the brakes can seize after a long period of standing still, to prevent this from happening, its best to get out and release the parking brake and take a short drive.

My service/MOT has been cancelled, what should I do to maintain my vehicle at home?

Regularly check fluid levels of engine oil, coolant level and screen wash so that you’re ready to go if needed, for more information on how to do this check out the video below.
Keep an eye on tyre pressure and condition, including a spare if fitted
Check exterior lights
Taking your car for a short drive once a fortnight should help to keep the battery charged and stop the brakes from seizing up
If you are able, we would recommend filling your fuel tank to prevent condensation while your car is not being driven. If allowed to build up over time, condensation can lead to corrosion, water in the fuel and bacterial growth.
Keep an eye on your car for signs of condensation or mould. Moisture can sit in all kinds of places like the window frame or in rubber seals. If you’re finding it an issue, and you can’t leave your window cracked open for ventilation, we would recommend using a dehumidifier to try and keep the car dry.

Storing your vehicle

If you decide not to use your vehicle at all but instead put into storage

Make sure your car is clean and dry before storing to prevent marks on the paint or rust.
Make sure there is plenty of ventilation if storing a garage
If your car is stored in a garage, do not attempt to run the engine inside the garage to charge up the battery as the exhaust fumes can be toxic. If you wish to run the engine, pull it out onto the drive first.
You may want to try and save some money on insurance and reduce cover to fire and theft only
You can make a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) and look into a refund on car tax

Electric and hybrid vehicles

Electric and Hybrid vehicles have the same 12-volt battery as a conventional car however the charging is different – pressing the start button so that the ready light comes on will initiate the charging system. Its recommended to do this once a week for 10 minutes to keep the battery level topped up. Check the handbook for your vehicle as some electric and plug-in hybrids can maintain their battery if plugged into the mains charger.

Getting back out on the road

If you haven’t been able to do the above and regularly take your car out for a run out, make sure you carry out the following checks before driving your car again:

Check the MOT and tax are still current, be aware that taxing will cancel any SORN
Check fluid levels, top up or change as required
Test your brakes for any seizing
Check the tyre pressure, click here for tips on how to check tyre pressure
Make sure there’s nothing nesting under the bonnet, in wheel arches etc and check for any bites or chewing through pipes/hoses
If your car has been stood for a long period of time its best to book in for a full service once its running again

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