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    Looking after your car in lockdown

    The UK has been in lockdown since the middle of March, which means staying at home and only travelling for essential shopping or to work if you can't work from home.

    With these measures in place, we aren't using our vehicles as much as we would usually. It's reported that traffic is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Although this is great for the environment, not driving your car for a long period of time can create problems with the battery and tyre pressure.

    From the 13th May, the lockdown measures will be easing slightly, allowing us to travel to some workplaces and outdoor areas such as parks. However, before you drive your car, if you haven't driven for a while, there are certain maintenance checks you will need to do before you go out.

    This includes fleet managers, if you manage a fleet of vehicles that aren't being used as much, you or your team will also need to do the following maintenance checks to keep your vehicles healthy.

    We have put together the following maintenance checks you will need to do during the lockdown

    Charge your battery 

    Frequent and short 5-minute journeys may do the battery more harm than good. It is advised you drive your car for at least 15 minutes every other week to help keep the battery charged. You can extend any essential journeys or trips to the park by taking a longer route than usual to allow the battery to charge.

    If your car is either hybrid or electric, you will need to leave it in "ready mode" for about 10 minutes once a week. This will help keep the 12v battery topped up. You can put the car in ready mode by pressing the start button, this will operate the charging system which will allow the battery to charge. When you are not using your car, make sure you keep the battery connected to the mains charger. You can find more specific instructions and advice in your car manual.

    Check tyre pressure and brakes

    If you haven't driven your car for a while, your tyres are likely to have lost pressure. You can pump them up by purchasing a tyre pump, or you can pump them up at a petrol station (there may be a small fee). You can find the recommended tyre pressure inside your fuel cap, charge flap, on the side of the drivers or passengers door panel or you can check your car manual.

    You will also need to check your brakes. Wet weather can cause a build-up of oxidised fluids on your brakes. You should check your brakes by gently applying pressure to them whilst driving to remove any oxidised fluid. Handbrakes are also likely to seize if they aren't used frequently. To prevent this from happening, you will need to release the handbrake and drive or move the vehicle a short distance.

    Check the lights and fluids

    As well as checking your tyre pressure and brakes, you will need to check other areas of your car to make sure it's roadworthy. You can do this by checking the lights work and that all your fluids are above the minimum line. Unused cars risk condensation building up in the fuel tank, which can cause issues in the long run. Filling up the tank with (and taking advantage of the cheaper fuel) will help reduce condensation and will keep your tank healthy.

    Keep it clean

    Although cleaning your car doesn’t directly impact the performance, it can affect the re-sell value. To prevent any damage to the paintwork, we recommend you clean any dust or grime from your car at least once every two months.

    During the coronavirus, if you have a fleet of cars (such as taxis) that are regularly used by different people, you should provide your drivers with relevant cleaning materials and even personal protective equipment to protect your staff as well as clean the car before and after someone new gets in.

    MOT’s and essential work

    Due to the lockdown, the government has added a 6-month extension for MOT's that are due after the 30th March. However, it's very important you keep your vehicle in a safe condition during the lockdown. If you drive a car that is in a dangerous condition, you can face fines of up to £2,500 and get 3 penalty points on your licence.

    Garages are still open for any emergency maintenance work, especially if your car experiences any serious issues that you can't fix. Performing these maintenance checks will help keep your car in good condition and ready for normal use when the lockdown eases. Other than safety checking your car, you should ensure other policies are up to date, such as your car insurance/fleet insurance and tax. If you haven’t already, you should consider breakdown cover for peace of mind.

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