Like many of us you may not have been driving your car much during lockdown. Having said that, it should be noted that cars don’t like to sit, they like to be driven. It’s what they’re made for. It’s naïve of us to think that because we’re not driving our cars things can’t go wrong. Even if your car is sitting ‘safely’ in your garage or driveway, if will still need some love and attention if it’s not being driven for periods of time.
Here are some things you can do to protect your car while you’re both waiting to come out of lockdown.
GOING INTO LOCKDOWN
Wash Your Car
Not driving your car is no excuse to allow it so sit under a layer of dust or, god forbid, under a tree. But keeping your car clean isn't just for show—it actually protects your paint and prevents harmful contaminants from accumulating on your paint. Whether its dust, bird droppings or tree sap, it’s not doing your paint any good. Refer to our Blog “The 7 Biggest Mistakes You Can Make When Washing Your Own Car” for some great tips on how to keep your pride and joy in tip top shape whilst it’s off the road.
Cover Your Car
If you’re not driving your car for an extended period of time, like during lockdown, it is good practice to cover your car once you’ve washed it to avoid unnecessary build-up of dust and dirt. A well-fitting car cover is one of the best investments you can make to prevent your car from avoidable paint damage that can be expensive to correct. Car covers come in many shapes and sizes and some are even purpose built for whether you’re storing your car indoors or outdoors. Outdoor covers will also help prevent harmful UV rays from damaging your paint and fading or cracking your interior dashboard and upholstery. As car covers come in all types of fabric, shapes and sizes it’s a good idea to shop around to find the best one to suit your car size and shape and the purpose for protection.
Top Up Your Fuel
Fuels can go stale if left for long periods of time. This is known as "loss of volatility." Volatility refers to how easily a fuel vaporizes. When a car is left to sit for long periods of time the volatile compounds in the fuel tank evaporate, reducing its overall effectiveness. It affects how easily you can start your car, warm it up, and how well it runs. One of the easiest ways to prevent this is to top up with fresh fuel before storing it. With more fuel in the tank, there's less air volume meaning less space for these volatile compounds to evaporate.
Another benefit of topping up the fuel and creating less air volume is that you can help to avoid condensation build up in the tank. Condensation leads to rust and rust in a fuel system can be expensive to fix, especially for older cars. This is why most modern cars today come with plastic fuel tanks.
Add A Fuel Stabiliser
Fuel stabilisers protect your fuel through long periods of storage, giving you better mileage and power as well as a smoother running engine when your bring your car out of storage. A fuel stabiliser acts as a fuel combustion catalyst which means your fuel will burn more efficiently and leave a much smaller amount of residue in the combustion process. Fuel stabilizers keep fuel fresh and effective. Chemical reactions within stored fuel, plus the evaporation of some volatile components, can leave liquid fuels less likely to ignite properly in an engine of a car that has been stored.
Increase Your Tyre Pressure By 3psi
Flat-spotting is a condition that occurs when a tyre has been stationary under vehicle load for a prolonged period such as during lockdown. The tyre generates a flat spot in the area where it has been in contact with the ground. One quick and easy method to help prevent flat spots is to increase your tyre pressure by 3 psi before you leave your vehicle. The extra pressure will help the tyre to hold its shape reducing the risk of flat-spotting when you came back to drive your car. Be mindful that you should never exceed the maximum recommended inflation pressure for your tyres.
Maintain Your Battery
Allowing your battery to drain below a certain threshold is detrimental to its overall lifespan of the battery and can cause irreparable damage if left long enough. Batteries left without sufficient charge for long periods of time will no longer be able to take the same charge they should. A good battery charger is a great way to easily help maintain the quality and life of your battery. Investing in a good quality battery charger means you can rest assured that when lockdown ends your car is as ready to go as you are. Battery chargers are easy to use and can be attached to the battery in situ in the car, or you can remove the battery and charge it separately from the car. Whatever suits you. This is an investment you wont regret purchasing when it’s time to spark up the engine and get your car back out on the road.
Drive Your Car
Probably one of the best tips here is to simply drive your car. There are countless benefits achieved from regularly driving your car — fluids stay fresh, tires don't flat spot and the battery stays charged. So even if you’re under a 5km travel restriction and you’re just going to the shops for groceries, try to take your car. It will love you for it.
COMING OUT OF LOCKDOWN
Use a Fuel Cleaner Or Fuel Conditioner
When you’re ready to get your car back on the road it is good practice to run a fuel cleaner or conditioner through the system. Fuel deteriorates over time, so these products can alleviate a number of problems that result from a car sitting idle, such as poor starting behaviour, irregular idling, poor throttle response, high fuel consumption and high exhaust emissions values. Do your research prior to purchasing any products so that you can be sure you are purchasing the correct product for your vehicle and always follow the manufacturers instructions for use.