How To Keep Your Car Clean (and Roadworthy) During The Coronavirus
Few of us are taking to the roads right now and for good reason. As the Coronavius approaches a much feared peak, lockdown measures ensure all but essential travel is outlawed.
These restrictions are both important and justified but could have an adverse effect on a great many of our cars.
That’s why tending to your vehicle, in as far as you can, will be vital in the coming weeks.
With this in mind we’ve shared some essential tips to keep your ride roadworthy during self-isolation and beyond. Take heed and you may just avoid a bill spiralling into the hundreds of pounds.
While inaction can negatively impact many elements of a car perhaps the greatest vulnerability lies with the battery itself.
Simply put, failure to start her up will inevitably lead to a battery running flat. Providing it’s safe to do so, you’re advised to turn the ignition and allow it to tick over, if only for a few minutes.
Stop short of driving anywhere (unless you really have to) but contemplate future journeys from behind the wheel as you listen to that engine purr. Those long, scenic drives will return...
Those motorists lucky enough to boast a trickle charger will never have a better time to put it to use. Topping up from within your own garage will pay dividends when restrictions are relaxed.
Finally it serves to clean the battery from time to time. We’re all hoping self-isolation will come to an end sooner rather than later but the longer it drags on, the greater the chance of corrosion. Inspect accordingly.
It’s not only batteries that can seize up when neglected. This is true of brakes also.
That’s why it’s important to release the handbrake from time to time. It’s a hassle – and perhaps not the best reason to leave the house – but some may choose to put the car into gear and place blocks behind the wheels in order to stop it rolling.
We’ve dedicated many a blog to tyres in the last 12 months and regular readers will know the importance of maintenance. Downtime is an opportune time to assess the state of your wheels.
Identifying wear and tear, cracking and diminished tread will allow you to draw up a To Do List for when normality is restored. It’s always preferable to spot these things yourself rather than have them pointed out by a garage or worse still police.
Similarly, it serves to keep a close eye on your oil during lockdown. Harbouring too much (or too little) can lead to engine issues further down the line. It’s well worth topping up at this point, even if you’re unlikely to venture further than your own driveway.
On a similar theme, insurance companies have advised drivers to monitor coolant levels in a bid to prevent over-heating. This is sound advice.
Anyone destined for a petrol forecourt should first ask whether they need to be. The majority of traffic should consist of key workers and supermarket assistants for at least the next month.
There is also no benefit to hoarding fuel at this time.
If however you’re running low it’s important to remember petrol stations are a prime example of where germs can be transmitted. Pumps are an obvious contamination point. That’s why it makes sense to don the plastic gloves supplied – even if you’re the kind to have dismissed or even ridiculed them in the past. Failing that, take your own but be sure to wash your hands thoroughly when you arrive home.
Elsewhere diesel drivers should be mindful that leaving their car stationary for too long may result in what’s called their Diesel Particulate Filter (or DPF) becoming clogged. Car enthusiasts have been banging this particular drum as they fear an explosion of cases of nationwide. Righting this wrong could cost in the region of £3,500 a car.
MOTs and Repairs
Some relief came in the form of the government’s decision to extend MOT’s by six months. This was welcome news for those whose motor was due the dreaded health check in spring or summertime. Now anyone due from March 30th is safe in the knowledge they have sufficient leeway.
In spite of that announcement essential repairs are still insisted upon, hence a decision to allow many garages to remain open. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has stressed the importance of keeping your car roadworthy, regardless of current working circumstances. As if to reaffirm his warning, threats of fines reaching £2,500 have been mooted.
We’re quite rightly being urged to wash our hands thoroughly during the pandemic and it’s important to remember germs can rest on cars surfaces for up to 72 hours. This necessitates the use of some good, old fashioned anti-bacterial wipes.
Apply them to all contact areas in and around the vehicle. This includes the dashboard, door handles, gear stick, handbrake, steering wheel, any touch screens and seatbelts to name just a few. Keys also warrant the same attention.
We’re living in uncertain times with little in the way of distraction. Even our cars, often a of source theoretical and literal escapism are no help. In order to saviour that first journey in what will seem like years, be sure to keep your vehicle fine tuned and roadworthy. You’ll be glad you did.