With much of the world currently in lockdown you may not be using your car as much – but it’s important to keep it in a good condition ready for when everything returns to normal. Here are some simple tips ……
Of course, do not break any lockdown rules to look after your car. Some of this maintenance includes running your engine or moving your car but be cautious to make sure you are following the government guidelines here.
Keep an eye on your brakes
If your car is left untouched for a while, your brake discs could start to corrode which can lead to them completely seizing. To avoid this problem, just roll your car back and forth for a couple of metres every so often (but only if it’s safe to do so). This will also help to avoid flat spots on the tyres.
Keep your battery maintained
If possible, invest in a trickle charger or a mains-powered battery maintainer and you will find your battery in top condition when you come to use it again. An alternative is starting your car once a week and leaving it running for 15 minutes, or even better take it out for a 20-minute journey.
Looking after your fuel tank
Leaving a car un-used for weeks can be harmful as, over time, the fuel can deteriorate which can cause condensation from damp air in the fuel tank. The fuller the tank, the less air in it ,so if you can safely fill up your car this will help – but do not make a non-essential trip just to get fuel.
Other things to check
Even though MOTs have been extended for six months, if you are still driving your car you will need to make sure that your car is roadworthy.
This includes checking that:
• your tyres have the correct tread depths and are the correct pressures. Check by putting a 20p coin in the groove of the tyre. If you can see the outer band of the coin then the tread is too low. Your car manual will tell you what your tyre pressures should be.
• all lights are working for your vehicle to be road legal. You can easily check this by asking a member of your household to stand in front or behind your car and turn all your lights on.
• fluids such as oil, water, screen-wash, coolant and brake fluid are at recommended levels.
Looking after the bodywork and interior
Did you know keeping your car clean not only makes it look cool and shiny, but can also burn a surprising number of calories. Some studies have estimated a good car wash burns 250 calories, the equivalent of a 20-minute run or a 4 mile walk.
What do you need?
You don’t need to go out and buy anything fancy and will probably find you can use things you already have;
• A pressure-washer is great, but a garden hose with a spray gun attachment will do just fine.
• A bucket (or anything that will hold a reasonable quantity of water.)
• A wash mitt (sponge), car shampoo (washing up liquid will work) and a microfibre drying towel.
Avoid rainy days as it marks the finish and, if it’s sunny, try to work in the shade as car shampoo dries too quickly in the sunshine and can leave streaky marks on your paintwork.
Step One – pre-rinse
Using your hose, start at the top of the car and work down, spraying off all the loose grime and dirt. This clears the bits that could get stuck to your sponge and scratch the paintwork.
Step Two – the wash
Simply wash the car using the shampoo bucket, but, before dipping the mitt back in the shampoo bucket give it a rinse in the clean water to remove any dirt particles.
Step Three – the rinse
Use your pressure washer or hosepipe to rinse the car, and use the microfibre towel to dry the car off. If you want that extra shine you can get a post-wash wax from most car stores.
Step Four – the inside
The inside is a little easier.
Give the glass a clean with a glass cleaner; avoid furniture polish which can cause vision obscuring smears. For the interior trim use a damp microfibre cloth, or an interior cleaner which removes more dust and dirt. Finally remove any car mats, shake them off, and give them a good vacuum along with the carpet inside your car.