Many people during these unpresentented times of isolation are realising that a car does not like being left for a prolonged amount of time without any form of maintenance being applied. After helping my son and two neighbours get their cars started after being left standing for more than two weeks, the ADT team and I thought it would be a good idea to make sure you don’t find yourself trying to make what could be an important journey and finding yourself with a car that wont start or run properly. Here are 10 simple tings you can do to help ensure your ‘trusted steed’ is ready to roll when needed, whenever that’s going to be!
1. Fuel. Pretty obvious to most I know, but the AA and RAC have reported having to attend call outs to people that have run out of fuel. Probably due to many petrol stations being closed for more hours than normal. Keep it topped up.
2. Battery failure is very common for cars being left for long time. This can be due to car alarms that require energy when the car is idle, other
electrical factors within a car also need a trickle feed from the battery that can cause drainage too. Some vehicles go into sleep mode after a few days, a bit like your computer and some will completely shut down after a few weeks and may need re-programming on start up. I don’t want to get too technical here, so to keep it simple, run your car engine for 20 minutes each week. This will keep the battery topped up. Better still; get a battery trickle charger or battery conditioner that can be plugged into your cigarette lighter or connected direct to your battery. I have both my cars on solar trickle chargers and they work really well. Auction sites sell them at around £20-£40.
3. Air con. Whilst you run your car each week, turn the air con on. This may not work until the engine is up to temperature; hence the 20 minutes run time. This will help to keep the air con working for longer. The system does not like being left unused for long periods of time as the coolant lies at the bottom of the system and tends to clog up. Air con also helps to reduce the moisture within the car too.
4. Electrics. During the 20 run time get the electrics working. Windows, fan, door mirrors etc. Electric switches can build up a residue on them that can cause failure.
5. Tyres. Keep those tyres up to the correct pressure. Natural seepage of air is common even when your car is standing still.
6. Tyre flat spots. Vehicles left for several weeks can develop what is know as ‘flat spots’ This is where the tyre forms a flat area that is on the road or driveway. This in turn can cause a vibration when driving, but will normally reduce over time, but why not prevent this by moving your car just a few centimetres each week of which will stop this from happening in the first place.
7. Brakes. Brake discs tend to go rusty if outside. This can cause the brakes to seize. Again, this is a good reason to move your car each week if you can.
8. Handbrake. Handbrakes can seize on too. If leaving you car for many weeks, I would suggest putting good strong wheel blocks to the front and back of each wheel, and not putting the handbrake on. Please ensure that this is done safely. If you are concerned that you vehicle is at risk of not having the handbrake applied then apply it and ensure you move the car every few weeks to stop handbrake seizer.
9. Washer fluid. Imagine putting a water bottle under your bonnet and leaving it there for several weeks. Yes, it would probably grow mould in it. This is the same for your windscreen washer’s bottle too. Make sure you fill it up with a good quality washer fluid as this will have an anti bacterial solution in it to help stop the build up of nasty bacteria. Give the windscreen a good wash each week to help keep those tubes free.
10. Coolant. Most people think that coolant (anti freeze) is there to stop the engine from freezing up in the winter. Coolant does 5 things. Yes it cools the engine, stops it from freezing up in the winter, lubricates the submersed water pump, but it also helps to reduce corrosion in the steel engine block and the aluminium heater matrix too. A cheap coolant tester from Halfords on-line at under £5 will tell you if your coolant is doing what it needs to and is so simple to use, a child could do it.
At a time when many of us are either clearing out garden sheds and cupboards that would have never got done before our lives changed, spare a thought for your trusted driveway hero that is feeling neglected and unloved, but may just may prove to be your ‘trusted steed’ in a time of crisis. Stay safe, stay at home and go give your car a hug.