Protection against bad weather
Spring’s still in its early stages, so it could well be that your vehicle will still need protection from poor weather. Older or classic cars in particular don’t take well to a battering from the elements. If possible, parking in a dry, sheltered location is best. A car cover might be a decent investment, too, if covered storage is unavailable.
Think about the tyres, the handbrake and more
Small things can make a big difference to your car’s eventual condition if you’re leaving it stationary for some time. Leave it in gear, with chocks behind the wheels instead of with the handbrake on. This will save your handbrake cable from stretching, and your brakes from binding over long periods. Keep the car fuelled up, to prevent moisture from developing in the tank and leading to rust. Also pump your tyres up to avoid flat spots developing if it isn’t being used.
Fully clean your car before storing it away
A decent clean will do your car a lot of good. Leaving dirt on the bodywork, especially at this time of year when it may be covered in road salt, could cause damage over time. It’s also worth giving your tyres a clean. This will get brake shavings, grease and mud off, all of which can cause damage after a while. As usual, you’ll need to use the two-bucket method, rinse with free-flowing water and dry with a leather chamois for a tidy finish. As well as being good for your car, it’ll be a productive task to keep you busy at home.
Keep your battery charged-up
You should only drive during the lockdown if strictly necessary but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t regularly start the car up and turn the engine over. That’ll keep the battery fully-charged.
The most common failure on cars that stand for a while is, after all, a dead battery. Left flat, car batteries can develop dead cells, with a replacement costing at least £50. If you have one, plug in a trickle charger to keep the battery topped up.
Protection for the cabin
It goes without saying that your car interior could be a place that’ll harbour germs – among them possibly the coronavirus. So there’s never been a better time to give the interior a spring clean prior to a delay in use for a few weeks. At the very least, it’ll stave off bad odours you won’t want to smell on your return – and prevent possible damage to cabin materials.
If you don’t have professional cleaning materials, bleach-free antibacterial wipes are the next best thing. They’re inexpensive and kill 99.9% of germs, so they’re as safe and cheap as you can get without going out and buying a really strong cleaner.
Focus first on the most frequently-touched areas – the key, the steering wheel and horn, the gearstick, the interior of the driver’s door, the rear-view mirror and all areas of the seatbelt. But also think about areas that might get touched less frequently, such as the dust caps, the bonnet and then things like the head rests.
If it’s a sunny day, take the opportunity to air the car. Damp, and eventually mould, can build up surprisingly quickly in a car that doesn’t move.