Bringing Your Car Out Of Lockdown
For many of us who have been working from home and staying local, our cars might not be in the best condition when we get back out on the road for longer journeys.
Here are a few tips and checks to make sure your car is in the best condition when normality resumes.
Leaving your car for a long time is unlikely to affect the fluids too much, but it’s always worth checking in case they were low when you left the car.
Check your oil by pulling out the dipstick (it has a yellow top). Clean it, then dip it back in and check the level.
Also check windscreen washer fluid and coolant, as well as topping your fuel tank to the very top. Letting fuel run low can drag built-up dirt through the fuel system.
Diesel particulate filter
If you drive a diesel car built since 2007 – and a few before that – you’ll have a diesel particulate filter (DPF). It’s designed to catch soot particles to clean up emissions and burn them off when the exhaust is hot.
However, if the system never gets hot enough, soot can build up and block the filter, so take the car on a longer drive to let it get up to temperature. However, if the DPF warning light comes on and doesn’t go away after a long drive, you might need to visit a garage.
Over time and without use, corrosion can build on brake discs, which can cause issues if left long-term.
If you notice corrosion on the brakes, be careful for a while after you drive away. Don’t go too fast and brake earlier than normal, as braking performance might be worse. After a while the corrosion will be brushed off and the brakes will be back to normal.
While your car is parked up for long periods, occasionally roll it forwards and backwards to prevent flat spots on the tyres.
Look for cuts, bulges and cracking as these indicate oncoming failure. Check your tyre pressures are in line with what the manufacturer recommends. The figures for this are usually in the manual or on the door pillar.
When a car is left stationary for a long time, the battery can drain, so it’s worth checking it has enough charge to get going.
Go out to your car and try to turn it on at a time when you don’t need to go somewhere, because if there’s no life in it then you’re not stranded. If it works, go for a 15 minute drive to keep the levels topped up, otherwise you’ll need jump leads to get it going.
While driving to top up your charge, don’t go too far from home in case it fails. If this happens, you know your battery needs to be replaced.