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Lockdown car checks that will help avoid a breakdown

Lockdown car checks that will help avoid a breakdown

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Follow these basic maintenance checks and your car should be ready to go when required.

With lockdown procedures around the world confining people to their homes, there are thousands of cars that have been parked up and barely moved since the coronavirus pandemic really took hold.

However, with lockdowns beginning to be eased, many drivers will be thinking about taking their cars on long trips for the first time in weeks, if not months.

Unfortunately, cars don’t like to be immobile, so there’s a good chance of mechanical issues arising once you start using them again. We’ve put together some basic maintenance tips to help you prepare your car to be used again and minimise the risk of something going wrong.


Check for animals

This might sound a bit silly, but if your car has really been parked up for a long time, small animals could have taken the opportunity to make a home inside it. In spring, birds have been known to build nests inside wheel arches where it’s quiet and covered.

Mice also love the dark safety of a car’s nooks and crannies, so check fuse boxes, air filters and under boot areas in particular. If you do find something has taken up residence, call a local animal rescue centre for help moving it safely.


Brakes and tyres

Keeping your brakes and tyres in good shape is arguably the most important maintenance you can do.

Adding air into tyres

While your car is parked up, if it’s safe to do so, perform a three-point turn, then again in reverse. This helps to stop the brakes from seizing up, keeps the suspension moving freely, as well as rotating the tyres to spread the weight of the car.

Also, make sure you’re giving your tyres a visual inspection. Keep an eye out for cuts, bulges and ageing on the rubber, as well as keeping pressures correct (this can usually be found in the handbook or inside the door shuts).


Battery

If you don’t keep an eye on your battery you could find your car won’t start when you need it because cars naturally drain their batteries while parked up. One way to stop this is to start your car and run it until it gets back up to temperature every few days.

battery warning light

Another idea is to use a trickle charger, which allows you to plug the battery into the mains of your house and keep it topped up.


Cleaning

With your car parked up, it’s the perfect opportunity to give it a deep clean. However, be careful if you decide to put the keys in the ignition to listen to the radio while you do it, because this will drain the battery and you might find it won’t start afterwards.


Diesel particulate filter (DPF)

If your diesel car was made after 2007 it will have a DPF fitted. This catches soot particles from the engine to make the exhaust emissions cleaner, burning them off later using a process called regen.

exhaust pipe

If you only use the car for short journeys such as your essential weekly shop, it might not be able to complete the regen process, resulting in the DPF becoming clogged. To clear it, the car needs to be brought up to temperature and driven at higher speeds such as those on a motorway. Also, make sure your fuel is topped up, as many systems won’t ‘regen’ with less than a quarter of a tank of fuel.

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