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Motor Lockdown!

During lockdown it's pretty tough on everyone who likes a nice drive out.

Fortunately, there has been some relaxing of the rules but it does beg the question of how to look after a car when it is unused for lengthy periods of time. Whether kept in a garage or left outside in all weathers, cars don't appreciate neglect. To get the best from them requires regular professional garage servicing and maintenance and, most importantly of all, that they are used.

A good run out charges the battery, keeps oil circulating and, in the case of diesel powered vehicles, a half-hour at good road speed helps burn off excessive deposits in the catalytic converter as well as carbon deposits in the combustion chambers and engine valves. The trouble is, that cannot be achieved if the car is in lock down for any reason; so here's our tips for ensuring a car is maintained, ready for use, at all times:

The Battery

This is the electric heart of a car. Without it, that motor isn't moving, at least under its own power. If the car can't go out then try starting the engine once a week and allowing it to run for fifteen minutes, outside the garage, not in it to avoid build-up of fumes. Don't leave it unattended either. This can help keep the battery charged. The snag is, with an older battery that's beginning to lose its edge, this may do more harm than good and actually discharge it. The solution is to use a trickle charger if possible. Another alternative is to remove the battery from the vehicle thus saving any drain. It's not a hard job but owners should make sure they know the routine. It is electricity after all. If in doubt, consult a local garage.

Tyres

Use helps to keep tyres supple, so if a car left sitting for a long time without moving, the rubber can start to deteriorate and allow for flat spots to develop. They'll develop flat spots because the car's weight over time weakens the structure and can cause cracking in the side-walls. Shifting a car backwards and forwards; reversing it in and out of the garage under power or by hand, can help relieve strain. It also makes sense to ensure that correct pressures are maintained, as always.

Brakes

On modern vehicles the chances of brakes seizing during relatively short periods is unlikely but corrosion can start to build up between the brake pads and discs which can potentially lead to them getting stuck. It has also been known, for cars with cable operated handbrakes, for them to lock up due to moisture ingress. Again, moving the car can help ensure this doesn't happen. Don't worry if a little surface rust appears on the discs; when the car is used it will soon be cleared, although initially the brakes may be a bit noisy.

Fuel Tanks

A car would have to be left for a very long time for this to become an issue but nevertheless petrol and diesel fuels can and do deteriorate over time, which can cause problems. This is caused by condensation that comes from air in the fuel tank. The solution is to ensure the tank is full when the vehicle is stored. It will also be ready to go when released back into the wild.

Electric Cars

The idea is to not leave an EV with a virtually empty battery. The AA recommend putting an electric car into 'ready' mode for ten minutes or so, once a week. Of course, using the home charging system to keep it topped up and road ready will be straightforward.


Modern cars are on the whole very reliable and don't need a lot of attention between garage servicing and MOT testing. Thus, over the space of just a few months, simply paying attention to the above tips will be all that's needed until the day when we can once again enjoy the freedom of the road.

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