National lockdowns enforced throughout the coronavirus pandemic have inevitably meant less people getting in their car and driving on the roads.
The RAC says there were 22 per cent less cars on Britain’s roads at the start of February when compared to the same period in 2020.
And while that does have environmental benefits, it can cause problems for cars which have been stationary for a little too long.
So experts at vehicle leasing company, Leasing Option’s, have come up with ten lockdown car maintenance hacks that they say could save drivers thousands of pounds.
Below are the best tips and how much each one could save you:
1. Clean the car (Saves You £350+)
Tree sap and bird droppings can damage your paintwork. Bird droppings have acid that can burn through the clear coat of your car’s paint in as little as 48 hours.
To repair bodywork, you often have to repaint an entire panel which can cost upwards of £350, or up to £1000 for a full new coat.
2. Beware of the battery (Saves You £40)
It’s recommended that you run the car’s engine for at least 15 minutes, once a week.
Not only will this give your battery enough time to charge but it will also circulate the oil and fuel around the engine, which can prevent engine flooding in petrol cars.
While your car is running, it’s also worth firing up the air conditioning. This will reduce the chance of mould developing in the circulation system and also helps to maintain the seals too.
According to Green Flag, during the first lockdown in April 2020, more than 60 per cent of their callouts were for battery-based issues.
That was a 36 per cent rise from the previous year.
3. Top up your liquid levels
When your car is inactive for long durations, there’s a chance the liquids and lubricants within the car have separated or have sunk to the bottom of reservoirs.
Windscreen washer fluid can also freeze if left over winter, so check this before you drive next.
4. Look out for pests (Saves You £220)
If your car has been stationary for a long time, animals may think that it’s a safe place to nest and/or take shelter, so it’s important to give your car a scan now and then, to make sure no animals have taken refuge.
Pay particular attention to wires and belts under the bonnet in case any little critters have got in there to chew on them.
5. Feel the pressure in your tyres
Air is likely to have escaped from tyres during inactivity and colder temperatures will cause your tyre pressure to drop slightly.
A rule of thumb is that pressure drops around 1 psi for every 10°F drop in temperature.
6. Flat spots prevention (Saves You £180)
When a car is sat in one place for a long time, the tyres can produce flat spots where the tyre is touching the ground.
To prevent this, move the car forwards or backwards slightly so that a different part of the tyre is touching the ground.
If you have a flat spot, first make sure that the tyre/s are pumped up to their optimal pressure, then simply go for a drive.
During the journey the tyres will heat up and reshape back into their original form.
7. Rusty brakes (Saves You £80)
Inactivity can rust to build up on your brakes. To prevent this, make sure they’re as clean as possible.
This will wash away things such as road salt which can be one of the most common causes of rust. Another way to prevent rust is to take the car out for a spin now and then.
8. Hands off the handbrake (Saves You £30)
When the handbrake is applied for a long time it can become stuck. This is likely due to a build-up of rust and/or corrosion.
If you know that your car will be inactive for a long period, and your car is parked in a flat location, meaning it doesn’t move when the handbrake is released, it’s beneficial to leave the handbrake off to prevent it seizing up.
9. Fill up the tank (Saves You £100)
If a car is left inactive for longer than 30 days, and hasn’t much fuel in the tank, moisture can accumulate inside the tank.
Having water in the tank can cause the car stutter or jolt as a result of the water moving into the engine.
In this case it would need to be removed as it can damage the fuel injectors and can cause rust through the fuel system.
By filling the tank prior to inactivity this will be prevented, will also keep the seals from drying out and will also slow the rate at which the fuel degrades due to oxidation.
10. Take the car for a spin
The best way to prevent your car from many of the issues listed above is to simply take it out for a spin.
Doing so will allow the car’s lubricants to circulate through the system, rust will be reduced and flat spots prevented amongst many other benefits.