Lockdown Maintenance Tips
May 05 2020
A number of you have been in contact regarding service intervals, warranty, MOT and batteries going flat.
Below, we have put together a few tips to help you maintain your car during periods of low or non usage.
As always, if you have a problem not covered in these tips, please maintenance email
Remember that government advice is to stay at home and only venture out for specific, essential reasons.
Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.
If you leave your car unused for a prolonged period of time, then it’s likely that the battery will lose its charge. Even when it’s parked, there are some components that require a little power to keep running, like alarm systems and on-board computers. Ordinarily, batteries are kept charged with an alternator directing power from the engine, but if you’re not driving and keeping the reaction going, the battery can lose its charge fairly quickly.
Cars with petrol and diesel engines need to be run for around 20 minutes to make sure the battery has enough power in it to start, so if you’re not driving anywhere, running the engine for at least that amount once a week is advised.
If your car is not being used, you might want to invest in a trickle charger instead. These supply power to a battery at a low amperage, meaning that you don’t have to start the car to charge it. You can get trickle chargers that attach to the mains but solar-powered versions are also available which saves the need for cables. Some trickle chargers can be used for months without the need to remove them, while others can only be connected for a few days. Always read the manual to find out the specifications before using.
Servicing and Warranty:
Car manufacturers are being flexible during lockdown. All service due dates have been extended for an additional month and 1,000 miles. This extension is monitored and is likely to be increased should the advice to stay home be increased further.
When checking your engine oil, follow these simple steps:
Ensure your vehicle’s parked on level ground and your engine is cool.Open your bonnet and locate the dipstick. If you’re unsure where this is, check your user manual. Your car may not have a dipstick – some modern cars are fitted with electronic oil monitors.
Once you’ve found the dipstick, pull it out and wipe off all the oil with a clean cloth or rag. You should notice two marks on the dipstick itself, identifying the minimum and maximum oil levels.
When it’s clean, put the dipstick back into its tube, pushing it all the way back in. Let it sit and then remove it again.
If the level is halfway between the minimum and maximum levels on the dipstick you don’t need to add any oil. If it’s below halfway, you may want to add some oil. If it’s below the minimum mark, you need to add oil.
If you do need to top up, make sure you have the correct oil for your car and locate the oil cap on your engine – usually marked with the picture of an oil can. Please contact us if you are unsure which oil is recommended for your engine type.
Remove the cap and pour in the oil a little at a time, checking the level with the dipstick to ensure you don’t pour in too much, as this can also cause damage.
Replace the cap and the dipstick and clear up any oil spills before closing the bonnet.
Check that your tyres are always fully inflated to the recommended level. Many cars now have a tyre pressure monitor so it’s worth checking as you run your engine. If not, you can check them at your local petrol station while you’re out on one of your essential trips or you can even buy a portable tyre pressure monitor. Be sure your tyres are fully inflated before driving for a sustained period as low tyre pressure can seriously impact how your car handles.
Brakes and Handbrake:
There is a risk that your brakes could seize if your car doesn’t move, so take it out for a short drive to minimise the risk if you can. If that’s not possible, you can roll your car backwards and forwards a few metres if it is safe to do so. This will also help stop your tyres from developing flat spots, which could make it unsafe to drive.
It can be beneficial to leave the vehicle with the parking brake disengaged to prevent the brakes from binding, but only do this if you are certain the car is on level ground and isn’t going to move. If you drive an automatic, ensure the transmission is set to ‘P’ for park and if you have a manual car put it into first gear, and place wedges or chocks under the wheels.
Safely Store Car Keys:
If you aren’t planning to drive your car for a long time, put your car keys away in a safe place and don’t carry them around with you in your pocket. If you have smart keys, this will prevent the car waking up unnecessarily should you happen to walk near it in your garage or driveway.