Look after you and your car during Covid-19!
Keep your car in top condition with help from Logbook Loans
Your poor car!
If you are working from home at the moment, are on furlough or are unable to work, then one of the side effects of this is that you are not using your car to travel to work any more. And because we’re on lockdown you’re hardly using it for anything else either. Maybe just once or twice a week for essential shopping and that’s it.
To be honest, many of us probably see our car as the least of our worries at the moment. There’s so much else going on.
But unless you make the effort to look after your car during this difficult time, it could start to bring you yet another set of problems to deal with.
Many of us tend to not bother too much about car maintenance and just get an annual service done at the same time as the MOT. But because of Covid-19, if your MOT is due any time after 30 March 2020, its expiry date will now be extended by 6 months.
However, you must keep your vehicle safe to drive during this time. So as from today, why not allocate a regular portion of time to look after your car? Even if you spend just one hour a week either maintaining it or cleaning it, that will be time well spent.
Here’s our checklist of the ten most important things you need to do to look after your car during Covid-19:
- Keep your battery charged
One of the dangers about not using a car much is that the battery may lose charge. This could get to the point where the battery no longer has enough energy to start the engine. So if you are not using your car much, make sure you regularly start it up and let it idle for 10-15 minutes.
If that doesn’t seem to be enough, and the car feels sluggish or struggles to start, then another alternative is to get a battery charger. Check with your car instruction manual or the battery supplier which is the right type for your car. For example, if you have a car with a Stop/Start mechanism it will use an AGM battery which needs a smart charger. You also have the choice of different size and strength chargers, including a trickle charger, which you can leave on the car for a longer period of time to let the battery recharge slowly.
- Check your tyres
When you are using your car regularly it’s important to check your tyre pressures every couple of weeks. But it’s still worth doing this even when you are not using the car much. They can deflate even through the little use they are getting, and you also need to check for slow punctures. It is a legal requirement to maintain tyre pressures at, or very close to, the recommended pressures.
Also check the condition of your tyres to make sure there is no damage such as bulges or cuts, and that your tyre tread is within the legal limit of 1.6mm throughout the whole of the circumference of the tyre.
- Check your fluids
It is important to check all the fluids in your car to make sure there are no problems such as leaks or damage. So make sure you check the levels of any of the following that apply to your car:
- Engine oil
- Radiator fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Air conditioning coolant
Follow the guidance in your car instruction manual, and top up as needed.
- Check your lights
Make sure that all your lights are working as they should be. As well as headlights, this includes indicators, reversing lights, brake lights and fog lights. You need to clean off any dirt and replace any blown bulbs. If there are any significant cracks on the lights then these will need to be repaired once you are able to get to a garage.
- Check your windscreen and windows
Do a careful check of your windscreen and all other car windows. If there are any chips then these will need to be repaired as soon as this is possible, otherwise they may grow and crack. If there is significant damage to your windscreen then it may need to be replaced to ensure safe driving.
- Check your bodywork
Even when it is parked most of the time, your car can still pick up scratches and dents. So do check your bodywork regularly for any damage. You may be able to flatten out small dents and scratches yourself, and also treat any rust that you come across. You can buy various products online from car stores such as Halfords that can help with these problems. Any more significant damage will need to be sorted out by a garage, but the first step is you being aware of the problem.
- Clean the bodywork
One of the best ways of checking the bodywork of your car is to give it a thorough clean. It is also important to keep your car clean even when not in use, as it can become damaged by collecting dirt and debris such as dust, tree pollen or bird poo.
So take the time to give the bodywork of your car a regular thorough clean:
Start off with a good rinse which will remove a lot of the initial dirt and prevent scratches. Ideally use a hose or pressure washer and work from the top down.
For best results, use a good quality car shampoo rather than washing up liquid. Using a sponge or cloth, start from the top of the car and gradually work your way down, sweeping gently from side to side then backwards and forwards. Make sure you rinse your sponge or cloth regularly as you go, otherwise you are just spreading dirt.
- Rinse again
Give the car another thorough rinse when you have finished, ideally using a hose or pressure washer. This will avoid residue and streakiness from the shampoo. Again, rinse from the top down to avoid shampoo residue running onto previously rinsed areas.
It is up to you whether you leave your car to dry naturally or dry it yourself. But you will get a much better result if you dry it yourself, with either a large towel or good quality chamois. Pat dry rather than wiping, as this will reduce the chance of streaking.
- Polish and wax
Polishing and waxing add layers of protection to your paintwork and give you a lovely high gloss finish. You can get either a one-step wax that also contains polish, or polish and wax separately. Either way, your car will look shiny and wonderful!
- Clean wheels and tyres
Once you have washed the bodywork of your car, also spend time cleaning your wheels. Use a proper wheel cleaner for this, such as an acid-free pH balanced aluminum wheel cleaner.
Blast your wheels and tyres with water then clean them carefully. Make sure that you remove any debris from your tyres, using a brush if needed.
You may also want to wax your wheels and dress your tyres with a special protective solution. Again, check car stores such as Halfords for suitable products.
But do spend the time getting your wheels and tyres up to scratch: they will perform better and last longer.
- Clean windows and lights
Make sure you clean all the windows (both outside and in) and lights on your car. Not only does this look great, but is also essential for safety purposes. You need to be able to see and be seen! When cleaning windows and lights, use a proper car window cleaner rather than a domestic window cleaner. Make sure that you then wipe down windows and lights thoroughly with a clean cloth to ensure that all the cleaner is removed and doesn’t leave streaks.
- Clean the inside
Last but not least, don’t forget to clean the inside of your car. Give it a really good sorting out:
- Remove all rubbish
- Remove and wash or vacuum car mats
- Vacuum all surfaces / seats / carpets
- Clean insides of windows
- Clean leather seats
- Clean door insides and handles
- Clean front panels and dashboard
In theory once you have done this thoroughly, it shouldn’t need doing again for a while if the car is not being used much. But it is still worth checking every now and again, as dust does tend to accumulate as if by magic! Also it’s good to get your car doors and windows open for a while to freshen up the air in the car and get rid of any mustiness.
If you can take the time to do just a couple of the above things each week, your car will thank you for it and you should sail through your next MOT, whenever it is able to happen.
Check back here soon for more financial, motoring and lifestyle tips from Logbook Loans.