Luckily the milder weather this time of year should reduce the likelihood of harm to laid-up vehicles but as the country remains in lockdown, you may need to take some precautions so as to avoid any unforeseen problems down the line. Leaving cars parked for long periods of time can impact on both the reliability and safety of your vehicle.
The last thing you would want is a car not to start when you need it.
There are some common issues to watch out for and some simple tips to follow to keep your car moving:
The biggest concern with tyres is flat-spotting, which is when the weight of the vehicle sitting on one spot flattens out a portion of the rubber on the tyre. While flat-spotting isn’t likely to happen in a week or two, a month of being stationary might be enough to cause problems. Low tyre pressure and very cold weather can both contribute to the development of flat spots. When your vehicle is being used regularly again it’s recommended to check your tyre pressure and inflate your tyres to factory specification. You can find manufacturer recommendations for tyre pressures either on the driver’s door or in your car’s manual.
When left unused, brakes can begin to develop rust on the surface of the rotors. If you leave your parking brake engaged for a long period of time, it can cause the brake pads to bind to the rotors. While this shouldn’t be a concern over a few weeks, if you know your car will be parked for a month or more it’s recommended to leave the parking brake off. Obviously, you should always put safety first and only do so on a level surface.
Over time, your car’s battery can discharge and leave you needing to jump-start your car. You can plug your vehicle into a battery tender if you have one. Or if you know your car will be sitting for a long time, you can always disconnect the battery. Another idea to keep vehicle batteries in good condition is to put a trickle charger on the battery, these cost approx. £20 and can be purchased online.
Your local car wash is more than likely closed, and if your vehicle is parked outside it’s likely to accumulate dust, bird droppings, and other contaminants such as tree sap. Over time, exposure to the elements can damage your vehicle’s paint. If you can, it’s recommended to park in a garage, protected area or use a weatherproof car cover. If droppings or other localised contaminants do get on your paint, you can use a spot cleaner and a soft cloth if hand washing your vehicle.
Fuel can separate, and water vapor can accumulate in your fuel tank. Gaskets and hoses that aren’t kept lubricated can dry out and become brittle, however this is less likely to occur during the current weather temperatures.
Start your car
There’s a simple solution to mechanical troubles facing your car as it is parked in the drive way and that is to regularly start your car!
It would be advisable to start your vehicle at least once a week if it is not going to be driven for long periods of time. It’s also recommended driving your car a short distance (this could be in your driveway or in the street) once a week. That’s enough time to warm up your tyres, protect from flat spots, return some charge to your battery, wear surface rust off your brake disks, keep the fluids in your car moving and everything properly lubricated.