Electric Cars / Employee

14 car maintenance need-to-knows during lockdown

For many of us, driving to the local supermarket every week is about as exciting as our driving gets during lockdown. This, coupled with inclement weather, means it’s essential to give your car some TLC to avoid breakdown call-out charges and expensive repairs.

The good news is that, whether you’re driving a petrol, diesel, EV or hybrid model, our top tips will help give you peace of mind until we’re all able to get out and about a bit more normally.

How to look after your electric vehicle during lockdown

EVs are clever so you’re not going to need to invest loads of time keeping your car happy. These three tips will make a big difference:

1. Exercise. Take your car out for 30 minutes once a week as part of an essential journey. Not only will this keep the smaller battery topped up, it will help avoid flat spots on your tyres caused by the extra weight of an EV.
2. Keep your EV plugged in if you can and set it to charge between 50-80% maximum. Your car will only pull a charge when needed and batteries are better when not kept full. In fact, charging continuously to 100% can actually damage the battery.
3. When you go out, make sure you run the AC system. This ensures there’s no moisture build-up which is what causes that nasty smell.

How to look after your petrol car during lockdown
Whether your car is parked roadside or kept in a garage, if it’s not driven regularly, it will start to become less reliable. These are the things to look out for:

1. Brakes. If you’ve not driven your car for a while, your brakes may make a crunching sound at first. This is due to corrosion and can lead to them seizing entirely. If the noise doesn’t disappear within a few minutes, head to your local garage. Also be aware that road salt can play havoc with brakes if you’re parked on the street. Using a pressure washer or hose to wash your wheels and car underbody will help reduce potential damage.
2. Battery. It’s the biggest reason for breakdown call-outs, due to the fact that electrics running in the background (like security devices) continue to drain the battery even when the car is switched off. Start up your car every week and drive it or run it for 15 minutes to give the battery time to increase its charge and get oil and fuel circulating freely.
3. Tyres. Besides keeping them properly inflated, keep a 20p coin handy to check you have got the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm. Insert the coin into a tyre groove – if you can see the outer band of the coin, they’re too low and should be checked at your local garage immediately. Watch our tyre maintenance video here.

How to look after your hybrid car during lockdown

Cold weather is particularly hard on hybrid cars so if you can, keep yours in a garage. Besides the maintenance tips for petrol cars, keep an eye on:

1. Battery. Keeping your vehicle plugged in will help keep the battery at optimal operating temperature which means greater range for when you do drive.
2. Heat. On chilly mornings, make sure you heat the car before unplugging. This takes power from the grid and not the battery which is another way to increase your hybrid battery’s range.
3. Heated seats. Keep warm while you drive by using heated seats and steering wheels rather than the main cabin heater as these are far kinder to your battery.

How to look after your diesel car during lockdown

Whilst much of the petrol car advice applies to diesel cars too, there are a couple of extra considerations for diesel engines.

1. Filter. If your car is a 2009 or later model, then it will have a diesel particulate filter fitted to reduce harmful emissions. It can clog up if you’ve not driven for a while so be sure to run your car for at least 15 minutes a week without stopping to give the filter a chance to clear.
2. Fuel. Diesel deteriorates over time so if you’ve not topped your car up since last summer, fill it up with fresh fuel. Fuel that’s over a year old may damage your car’s engine. (Petrol drivers note that the fuel’s tank life is nearer six months).

Lockdown advice for all drivers

1. Be considerate. Driving without excessive acceleration and braking will help look after your car, and your passengers.
2. If it’s been a while since you last drove your car, be sure to check the lights, washer fluid and oil levels.
3. One last handy tip that can save you money is not to use the windscreen wipers on a dry windscreen as any accumulated grit or dirt can cause scratches. Always flick the windscreen washer first.

Whilst we are all in lockdown, taking responsibility for the health of your car helps reduce garage bills and reduces the risk of an accident. With such immense pressure on our emergency services, this is a practical way we can all help.

For more tips and advice, click here.

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