Since the lockdown came into effect on 23rd March, the reality for many in the UK was one of having considerably more free time if they had been furloughed for example.
For the many car enthusiasts among us, it became clear that we would be spending very little time driving our cars. for the time being at any rate, until normality resumes, apart from perhaps a weekly visit to the local supermarket for provisions.
Those leisurely Sunday drives for the free-and-easy driver are over for now and forget those high-octane track days for the adrenaline junkies. It would appear that the majority of our vehicles will remain parked up for the next few months.
This does not mean however, that we have to completely disconnect from and neglect our vehicles. In fact, quite the contrary. Now you have more time on your hands to devote some tender loving care on your vehicle, so when you are able to start using it again, it will be in the tip top condition.
Likewise, if you’re still using your car over the course of the coming months for work or essential travel, then you’ll need to ensure it remains in good condition and keeps you safe.
In this article, we take a look at four important things you can do to your car over the course of the lockdown.
When was the last time you checked your car’s fluid levels? Your screen wash is something you perhaps check more regularly, but what about the other more crucial fluids such as the engine oil, coolant and brake fluid? These will all need to be checked and filled to their recommended level following the guidance in the owner’s manual.
Similarly, your tyres can be a cause for concern during lockdown, with many people worrying that they will deflate if the vehicle remains stationary for a prolonged period of time. It’s worth checking their tread depth and for any visible or bulges in the sidewall. If the tyre’s tread depth is below 1.6mm, the tyre will need to be replaced. You can check this with a tyre tread depth gauge or by using a 20 pence piece into one of the tyre’s grooves. If the exterior band of the coin isn’t hidden by the tyre, your treads too low.
This is the perfect time to clear out all those empty water bottles, plastic bags and sweetie wrappers. Not only do they leave your car looking like a tip, it can increase your fuel consumption.
Take everything out, bin the rubbish and question the rest. For example, do you really need two pairs of shoes in the boot?
In the event of a breakdown, emergency services are continually reminding us to keep an ‘emergency kit’ in the car. So why not take the opportunity to put this together, including a warm coat and some snacks.
It’s the word on everyone’s lips at the moment and for good reason. If you are still using your car for work or travelling to the shops, it is important to ensure it is not harbouring any germs.
Government advice recommends that when cleaning your car to combat COVID-19, it is essential to think of all the points which regularly come into contact with germs. We all know by now that we should not touch our face after we’ve been outside before washing our hands but did you know that the coronavirus gems can remain on car surfaces for up to 72 hours?
We advise leaving it for at least 72 hours after your last journey before cleaning. Don PPE (personal protective equipment) such as disposable gloves and a disposable apron and get to work cleaning door handles, the steering wheel, stereo controls, air conditioning buttons, head restraints and window buttons. In reality though, the car should get a proper Kim and Aggie style disinfecting, otherwise you could be placing yourself and others at risk.
We all know that a nice set of alloy wheels will do a lot for a car’s aesthetic appeal. The regular blast with a power hose never does quite enough to restore these magnificent components to their absolute best. However, with time on your side, you could give them an extra special clean.
Get your hands on a bottle of alloy wheel cleaner and a bottle of alloy wheel sealant but be sure to pick up alloy specific options. Start by rinsing the wheels with a hose to remove any loose dirt and debris. Ensure that all of the alloy has been soaked, not leaving any bits untouched. The areas you can’t see are probably the areas which are the dirtiest. If you can, remove the wheel itself so you can get at it from the back, which will be covered in brake dust.
Make sure you apply a generous amount of alloy wheel cleaner across the entire surface of the wheel and allow it to soak in for about five minutes, following the instructions on the bottle. Then scrub the wheel with a soft-fibre brush so you don’t scratch the surface, removing all the compounded dirt, before rinsing and drying it with a microfibre cloth.
Finally, in order to protect the alloy from further build-up of hard dirt and debris, you can apply the sealant. This will act as a protective coating against grease and tar on the road.
If you are a key worker during the current lockdown and require essential maintenance work to be carried our on your vehicle over the coming months, Lookers, who offer a variety of cars such as the new Ford Fiesta, are keeping their garages across key locations open and providing repairs free of labour charges.
Images courtesy of Fixter