But when this virus subsides and the restrictions are lifted, you won’t want to have to spend hours fettling and fixing issues that are easily avoidable with a little bit of preparation.
So follow our checklist to ensure that your car is ready to go when 2020 resumes.
How to store your car
Firstly, where are you planning to store your car? In your garage, driveway or another location? Obviously a climate-controlled building is your best bet, but given the current state of affairs, you may struggle to rent one at short notice.
Regardless of where you intend to keep your car, you should ask yourself two questions. Number one, is it secure? And number two, is it dry? If you’ve found yourself answering no to either of those questions, then don’t panic. Both can be resolved with the likes of a dehumidifier or a security device – a steering lock, for example. Again, sourcing these in the current situation may be difficult, but online shops like Amazon should be able to help out.
If you do decide to store the vehicle outside, look for a durable all-weather cover. The evenings may be warming up, and the rain abating, but we’re not completely out of winter yet! Similarly, an indoor cover will keep your car clean and dust-free.
Why you should clean your car
This one is common sense. After a hard winter of salt, mud, raid and goodness knows what else, make sure to give your car a thorough clean – inside and out – before putting it away. An extra layer of wax and ACF50 will prevent new corrosion forming. The last thing you want to find in a month’s time is avoidable rust and a smelly, mouldy interior.
How to look after your car’s tyres
When storing a vehicle for a long period of time, tyre pressures will drop, and if the car is sat on flat tyres for a prolonged period of time it can structurally damage them.
Before leaving the vehicle, ensure the tyres are fully inflated. If you are able to, regularly check the pressures and top up as required, otherwise consider putting jacks under the car in order to take the weight off the tyres.
If a vehicle is left for a significant amount of time with the handbrake on, the mechanical components are at risk of fusing together. In order to prevent this, it is advised to occasionally release the handbrake and move the vehicle backwards and forwards.
Alternatively, if the vehicle is kept on secure, private land, consider putting chocks under the tyres instead of activating the handbrake.
How to look after your car’s battery
Most healthy car batteries should be able to start a car after a couple of weeks standing. But, with Boris Johnson not set to review the emergency measures for at least three weeks, it may be worth investing in a trickle charger, to keep the battery topped up and prevent damage from neglect.
If possible, regularly start the car and allow the engine to run so as to recharge the battery. Take care not to do so in a closed environment, such as a garage, as exhaust fumes are toxic.
Again, if you’re intending on leaving the vehicle for a significant amount of time, you should bear in mind that an old battery could leak acid, which in turn could corrode your engine. In this instance, disconnecting and removing the battery is advised.
How to protect your car’s engine in storage
Depending on how long you’re intending to store your vehicle (in this situation, who knows?), how to prepare your vehicle’s fluid varies.
If you don’t expect to leave your car for long, make sure you do so with a full tank of fuel so as to avoid condensation building up in the empty space and contaminating your fuel or rusting the tank.
But believe it or not, petrol is a perishable, and when left for a long time will go off. Both petrol and diesel will stay fresh for up to a year in a sealed container, but will degrade quickly if exposed to the air.
If you’re planning to leave your car for a longer period of time, consider adding oil and fuel additives to stabilise the substances and prevent internal damage.
Before tucking you car away, carry out an oil and filter change, so as prevent dirty oil thickening in the engine and fouling it up.
How to SORN your car and insure it off the road
If you’re not planning to drive your car for a while, and it’s not parked on a public road or carpark, consider SORN’ing it. Standing for a Statutory Off-Road Notification, declaring your car as off the road means that you won’t have to pay road tax for the period that you aren’t driving it. If you have already taxed your car for the year, don’t worry, as the DVLA will issue you a refund for the remaining months of tax that you won’t be using.
And while you are not required to insure a SORNed vehicle, for your own peace of mind consider a cheap laid up car insurance policy, which will cover you for fire and theft.