With the UK entering its second full lockdown of the year on November 5, the chances are that many of you will be working from home or simply avoiding leaving your house unless essential.
Of course, this will mean that a lot of vehicles that had gotten used to being back out on the roads again after the first lockdown ended in June, will not be required once more and left for at least the next couple of weeks.
As we learnt in the first lockdown, a car’s health can deteriorate if it’s left unattended for several weeks or more and it’s therefore critical that you prepare your car for when you’re ready to get back behind the wheel, even if you have no plans of driving in the interim.
With the weather turning colder as we approach winter, this could be an even bigger issue than it was back in the first lockdown when the weather was mild.
Batteries hate the cold, coupled with the car not being used for at least four weeks could spell bad news.
If you’ve ever been on a two-week (or longer) holiday, you’d have noticed the car is slower to get started than when you use it daily and that’s due to the battery discharging while it was out of use.
So there’s even more of an excuse to get out, enjoy some fresh air, and take your car for a spin once per week, even if it’s just to your local supermarket, to get the car’s juices flowing again.
Regardless of where your car is left while you endure lockdown, try to leave it on flat ground with the handbrake released and the car in gear as the handbrake could seize up which would be far from ideal when you come to use it again.
If you are to do this, however, you would need to put some blocks behind the wheels to ensure it doesn't roll away. But, if you don’t have any to support your car during this time, then a weekly drive should keep everything ticking over. Brake discs and tyre treads can also erode quickly when you don’t use the car for a period of time.
One key thing to note here is that you should under no circumstances try to hoard fuel in case of whatever emergency you are expecting to come.
Not only is it hazardous but also illegal to keep more than 30 litres without a license. Furthermore, many are unaware that fuel has an expiry date and your car will not perform to its best capabilities if that date has been met.
You can keep things fresh by brimming your tank which will prevent a build-up of air and prolong the life of your fuel. When it comes to driving again, double check your fuel lines and seals for any unusual signs such as dryness or fatigue.
If you are lucky enough to have a garage at your disposal, do try and make some space inside to keep your car while it’s out of use. Keeping it inside will reduce its chances of being covered in moss, dirt and rust as well as general day-to-day weathering and bird droppings.
If however your car will be left on the driveway or at the side of the road, that’s okay, but it may be a good idea to invest in a car cover, which is easily accessible to buy online.
If that isn’t for you though, that’s absolutely fine, but you should check both the interior and exterior every few days just to ensure everything is looking as it should, just in case.
With your car lying dormant for several weeks or more, there’s an increased security risk, particularly if your car is parked away from your house or down a dimly lit road.
It sounds obvious but always keep your car locked with your windows shut all the way up. There are thieves out there that will try to open car doors on the off-chance it hasn’t been secured, and it could be yours.
Avoid leaving valuables in the car, especially in plain sight and you could invest in a steering lock which acts as a deterrent in itself.
Always keep your car keys away from windows and the front and back door of your house too, as it makes the life of a thief that much easier if they are left in easier-to-access areas.
If you are working from home or just generally in and around your house more often during this period, it might be a good opportunity to readdress your vehicle documents, ensuring everything is in order and you haven’t lost anything.
Insurance, road tax and MOT are three obvious things to keep on top of, so just make sure everything has been paid and is still valid.
You could also look into the payment holiday scheme set up by the FCA, which we covered last week if you are looking to save yourself the extra financial stress of paying for your car finance while your vehicle is out of action.
If you follow the above then when you do go back to hitting the road to get that Christmas shopping done, your vehicle will be in the same condition as you left it.
It might be useful just to give it a quick wash to remove any dust or dirt accumulated and to check your fluids - it’s better to be safe than sorry.