It’s hard to think of a time when Britain’s roads have been more barren. Data from car insurance experts, Admiral, found that average number of trips taken by motorists decreased by 54% in just the first week of lockdown.

With the recent relaxation of safety measures, drivers across the UK may be tempted to get behind the wheel. However, let’s be clear. Although driving to the supermarket and pharmacy are permitted, driving to the countryside for a short spring holiday is not. We all need to stay alert, control the virus and save lives.

So, herein lie the questions: how do you look after your car during the coronavirus? What happens if you leave a car unused for a long period of time? If you’re unsure about how to keep your car in tip-top shape throughout lockdown, our simple guide should help you. Be sure to read all the tips as they’re all vital to keeping your car in good working when you’re not hitting the roads all too often, if ever.

Keeping your brake discs in good working order

When left stationary for prolonged periods, your car’s brake discs will begin to corrode. This causes two problems: a sticking handbrake, and eventually a complete seizing of your cars brakes entirely.

If your hand brake has seized, you’ll need a mechanic to fix the handbrake cable. Depending on whether you visit a local garage or a dealership service centre, this can cost you anywhere from £70 to £150.

Fortunately, preventing brake discs from corroding is reasonably easy. All you need to do is start the engine and inch your car forwards and backwards every so often. If you’re parked on a flat driveway, you shouldn’t have to worry about engaging the handbrake, however if you’re parked on a slope, make sure that you have hold of the handbrake – you don’t want to roll down a hill or hit a car behind you.

How long can you leave a car without starting it?

how long can a car sit without being drivenCar engines are designed to be used frequently. They’re not designed to be used for a bi-weekly five-minute trip to the shops, let alone be stagnant on the owner’s driveway for months at a time.

If you don’t use your car regularly you can expect to several problems to mount. Battery fluid will drain which will cause its lifespan to be drastically reduced. Engine belts and wires will corrode, cylinder and valve walls will begin to fail, and most of the liquids, like engine oil and brake fluid will break down, losing their ability to lubricate essential components.

To stop your engine failing you’ll need to bring it to operating temperature. Oil, for instance, needs to have a consistent viscosity. The colder the oil, the thicker the oil becomes the more problems you’ll have. Thicker oils do not transfer heat as effectively as thinner oils which will affect your car’s reliability. This causes an accelerated chemical breakdown which can lead to harmful sludge deposits – something that you’ll have to visit a mechanic to fix.

Rotate the essential journeys if you have more than one car

Some people think that by just starting their car, revving the engine a little and then leaving it running on the driveway for a few minutes is enough to keep it in reasonable shape whenever they’re not using it routinely.

Well, according to the RAC this could do more harm than good. Why? Just starting your car and leaving it running for five minutes every so often is a good way to drain the battery. The RAC recommend driving your vehicle for 15-20 minutes to keep the battery in tip-top shape.

If you live in a two-person household, try alternating essential journeys when you order your click and collect from the local supermarket, pick up any prescriptions or head out on an essential journey.  However, be mindful that repeated short journey’s will drain your battery, so following the government’s guidelines of shopping for necessities as infrequently as possible is good practice.

watch out for flat tyres on unused car

Keep an eye out for flat tyres

Most of us don’t remove the wheels and tyres of our cars when storing them cars on the driveway for a long time. This is a great way to preserve tyre integrity.

The weight of the car pushing down on the tyres causes them to bulge and develop flat spots. This is a common defect that afflicts cars that are left stationary for weeks or months at a time. The best way to keep your tyres in good shape when not using your car is to make sure that they’re fully inflated.

General guidelines state that tyres should be inflated to 50 psi to prevent flat spotting. So, keep your tyres inflated if you want to keep your car in tip-top shape during lockdown. If you don’t have a tyre inflator, don’t worry. You can buy one for around £20.00 – which is a whole lot cheaper than having to have your tyres replaced!

These are our four tips on how to look after your car during the coronavirus lockdown. If you’d like to learn more about how to care for your car in lockdown or have any further questions contact Duffy Motors today on 0161 834 4168. With more than thirty years’ experience, we can offer you sound car care advice, both in the short and long-term.

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