The number of cars on UK roads reached a record low during the Covid-19 lockdown, with weekday journeys initially falling by around 60%. For the most part, key workers were the only drivers that could be seen on roads when lockdown restrictions were first introduced, with many drivers hanging up their car keys in favour of walking, cycling or simply staying at home.
However, with restrictions now being eased, car journeys are increasing once again. For those drivers heading back to the workplace, or resuming the daily school run, it is important to check your car for maintenance issues brought on by inactivity.
During the winter months, we often check paintwork for damage caused by the wet weather, however, your car is equally at risk from the summer elements too. While a private garage is the best place to keep a parked car for a prolonged period, this isn’t always possible. A shaded area is the next best place, but if you are repeatedly parking under trees make sure to clean off any tree sap or bird droppings which can cause damage to the paint.
While there are a few reasons why a car battery might not start, the most likely cause during lockdown is that it has not had a chance to recharge. Driving your car for 15-20 minutes is normally enough to top it up, so an essential trip to the shop may be all it needs to keep it ticking along.
Older tyres especially can lose their shape or develop flat spots if the car is left sitting for a long time. Check all tyres for sufficient air pressure, including the spare if you have one. It is vital to check the condition of tyres too. Look out for any visual cracks or damage and have these fixed before embarking on any journeys.
Lights and wipers
While you will want to check that your wipers are working before setting off on a journey, it is important to ensure that the windows are wet. Dry wipers can cause damage to the windscreen if there is any dirt or grit present. It is also essential to check that all lights are working correctly before setting off on any length of journey.
Oil, coolant, washer fluid, fuel
Make sure to check the levels of your oil, coolant, fuel, and washer fluid and top up if needed. When starting your car for the first time in a while, leave it running for a minute or two to give the oil time to circulate.
If you still plan on using your car less, it may be a good idea to release the handbrake every now and then. If your car has been parked for a while, the handbrake may become stuck, but it is important to release it on a flat, even surface to prevent the car from rolling.