Top Tips for Post-Lockdown Car Use

Posted on 24 March 2021 by CarTakeBack

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As Covid restrictions ease and you need and want to make journeys in your car, it’s important to make sure it’s ready for safe use. Here’s our top tips to get your car back on the road safely…

Don’t put it off!

If you literally haven’t started your car in months or even several weeks, you’ll be lucky to avoid some typical problems caused when a car is stationary for too long. But every day will make a difference, so don’t waste any more time before checking it – you might just be able to avoid another problem or a hefty mechanic bill! 

Flat battery?

This is probably the most common problem for cars that have been under-used as batteries need to be regularly, fully re-charged. But before you go to the cost of replacing it, make sure it’s definitely the battery causing the problem! It might sound obvious, but ensure you have fuel in the tank and that your key battery hasn’t died. You can also try jump-starting your battery first, if you can find someone that is able to help you. Make sure their car’s battery is fully charged, has the same voltage as yours, and that their car can be safely parked near enough to yours to connect safely. The AA has a comprehensive guide to jump-start a car

Keep it clean – inside and out!

Naturally we’ve all been more conscious of hygiene over recent months and it’s always worth giving the inside of your car a good clean. Keeping a small bottle of hand sanitiser handy will be useful once you’re making more journeys (although remember it isn’t safe to store it in hot cars when the weather improves!).
Your car’s air conditioning system may well be due a check too.
The outside of your car may well have suffered if it’s been parked up for a long time, whether that’s a result of tree debris, road salt, birds or simply the weather! Hopefully your paintwork was protected with a wax or at least the odd lockdown wash, but it’s probably time for a thorough clean-up and some protective treatments.

It may seem unlikely, but particularly if you live in the countryside, you should check if there are any small animals taking shelter under your bonnet! If there are, it's important to check for chewed wires.

Photo of dirty car with 'wash me' written on the screen

Lighting the way

It may be that even if you’ve used your car, it’s only been for the odd essential trip in the day. Your car’s lights are vital, so before you get back behind the wheel, make sure your headlights and indicators are in full working order. Remember to ask a friend, family member or helpful neighbour to help you check your brake lights. 

Healthy Tyres?

Your tyres may not have suffered the normal wear and tear, but having them sat in the same position isn’t healthy either! To avoid flat spots it’s worth rolling your car backwards or forwards when you can. Before taking that first trip, or if you just haven’t paid your car as much attention while using it less, be sure to check their pressure. Most petrol stations have air available for quick top-ups.

Fuel and Fluids

You may be surprised to learn that fuel actually goes off, particularly diesel, but within six months you’re not likely to have any problems. Within this time, the sensible advice widely given, is to simply top up your tank with fresh fuel. However, if your car has been completely out of use for a significantly longer period of time, you may need to have your tank drained at a garage.

As well as considering your fuel, it’s really important to check and top-up your oil, windscreen washer and brake fluids. 

Photo of car being fuelled

Put on the Brakes

Obviously brakes are essential for a safe car. Hopefully you’ll have kept your car active enough for rust not to build up, but if a little has, which you can usually identify by a squeak coming from your breaks, the good news is that it should wear off after a little use. Any other issues with your brakes really need to be seen by a professional as they could indicate dangerous wear or other problems. So, if your brakes aren’t working effectively; they are vibrating; the car is pulling to one side when you break or any other unusual problems, be sure to book in with a professional straight away.

A tip to stop your brakes seizing if the car is still going to be stationary for a long time, is to take off your handbrake (if the car is on level ground of course)! You can use wheel chocks to be sure it won’t roll. 

Stay confident

You may be desperate to get back behind the wheel, but if you’re not a confident driver and you’re setting off for your first drive in a while, it’s a good idea to stick to a route you know well. Also, if you can, travel at a quieter time of the day to ease yourself back into motoring.

If you’ve used your car now and again over lockdown, then just keep making sure that you take it out for a minimum of a 30 minute drive at least once a week. That should keep your car literally ‘ticking over’!

Whatever use your car has had, remember you need to stick to your regular car maintenance schedule and keep a valid MOT. Mechanics, garages and MOT centres have mostly remained open throughout the pandemic and all have safety procedures in place.

Of course, if you can’t get your car running safely again then we can buy it off you! You can get an instant quote which we guarantee for seven days, and if it’s really at the end of the road we’ll recycle it responsibly.