Not using your car as much in lockdown? Here are some top tips to keep your car in check

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Not using your car as much in lockdown? Here are some top tips to keep your car in check

Lockdown restrictions have been in place for a lot longer than initially anticipated, leaving many Irish cars feeling neglected. It’s important that cars are properly cared for while they’re immobile or this can lead to bigger problems down the line.

Carzone, Ireland’s motoring marketplace, has put together some helpful tips for motorists to keep their cars in top condition during this time.

How to care for your car during lockdown tips:

Keep it covered

Leaving a car outside to battle the elements can cause long term damage to a car’s bodywork, making it crucial that you keep your car covered. If you have a garage on your property you can park it inside to protect it from the weather. If you don’t have a garage on your property you can invest in a car cover, this will protect your car from the wind, rain, and snow even when it’s outside, keeping the car in good condition.

Wash it regularly

If you are keeping your car outside, it’s important that you wash it regularly to avoid a build-up of grime or salt that could eat into the paintwork and metal, bringing on pricey lacquer-coat and corrosion issues. If left in the drainage gutters too long, things like leaves can mulch down on the paintwork, leading to damage to the paintwork or water ingress in the cabin caused by blocked water channels. The best thing you can do to avoid these issues is make sure that you are regularly cleaning your car after use.

Clean it out

Keeping the inside of your car clean and tidy can be just as important as taking care of the exterior. Any rubbish left in the interior of a car could start to decompose, leaving strong odours that are hard to eradicate in the long term. Now that we’re using our cars less than ever, it’s easy to forget if we have left something inside that could start to rot, so it’s crucial to check in and make sure that the inside of your car is cleaned out.

Top up the fluids

Oil, washer fluid and other vital liquids such as brake and power steering fluids, should be checked regularly and topped up if necessary. Leaving any empty spaces or air pockets in these fluid systems can cause a build-up of mould or fungus, which could potentially clog various lines and feed systems. For cars with air conditioning, it is vital to occasionally fire up the engine and let the air-con run on full power, this stops the build of germs in the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) that could make you ill.

Top up the fuel

Air in a car’s fuel tank can lead to a build-up of condensation over time, which can cause a leakage of water into the fuel and then your engine, leading to extensive and expensive damage. This can be avoided by keeping your fuel tank full when the car is not in use, saving you money on repairs overtime.

Maintain the battery

The best way to maintain your car’s battery is to invest in a trickle charger/conditioner which are widely available online and cost about €100. These chargers can be attached to your car’s battery terminals via crocodile clips and plugged into the mains, keeping your car battery at optimum levels. These chargers can even recondition a worn-down battery to a degree and are worth investing in to avoid longer term damage to a car that isn’t in constant use.

If you can’t purchase a trickle charger/conditioner, it is crucial that you commit to getting into your car and turning the engine over on a regular basis. Every couple of weeks for 15-20 minutes should keep the car in good condition and allow the car’s alternator to replenish the battery’s charge. Although this option will work, letting a combustion-powered car idle for 20 minutes can be harmful for the environment which is why the trickle charger is the best option.

Jack it up or pump them up

If you can afford them, axle stands are a great option for a car that is going to stand for a long period of time without moving. Letting a car sit in one position for an extended period of time can flat-spot the tyres which will then need replacement, this can be avoided by getting the wheels off the floor using axle stands.

If this is not an option for you, you can marginally over-inflate the tyres (check the pressures for your car’s tyres either in the owner’s handbook or the panel in the door jamb that provides the pressures required for inflation) before you store the car, this should prevent flat-spotting. Ideally, you should roll the car backwards and forward under its own power occasionally during longer storage periods. If you have a private driveway, this can be done by slowly manoeuvring the car backwards and forward on the driveway frequently, helping to prevent the car from seizing up, flat-spotting its tyres, and draining the battery beyond recovery.