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Car safety after lockdown

What to do if your vehicle has been sat idle during lockdown?

If your vehicle has been sat idle during lockdown, there are some important things to think about before you take to the road once more.

The easing of lockdown restrictions means you may be looking forward to getting back on the open road, but take a moment to make sure you do it safely.

This article looks at the key things you should check before you leave home for the first time.

Fuel does go off, but generally speaking it takes around six months. This means that whatever’s in your tank from before lockdown, should be absolutely fine.

That said, it won’t hurt to top up your tank with some fresh fuel if you’ve got half a tank or less.

Tyre Pressures
Poor maintenance can cause avoidable wear and tear, contribute to handling problems (or even collisions) and adversely affects your fuel economy, so it’s sensible to look after your tyres.

If you haven’t done any (or many) miles during lockdown you might not even think of checking your tyres before you drive. Yet your tyres will naturally lose a little pressure over time which means it’s important to check them regularly.

The optimum tyre pressure for your vehicle can usually be found in the inside of the driver’s door or inside the fuel flap where it can’t be seen once the door is shut. If you can’t find it there, check the handbook or even do a quick online search.

Always check the tyre pressures when the tyres are cold, so if you can’t check them at home, go to a petrol station as close as possible to the start of your journey before they get too warm.

Check your MOT certificate
Before getting back on the road, check that your MOT certificate is still valid. The government allowed a time limited exemption during lockdown but that is now coming to an end and you must ensure you have a valid MOT certificate.

For full details of the exemption, speak to a member of the Cadnam Garage team who will be able to advise and, if necessary, book you a MOT test appointment.

When a vehicle isn’t used for a while the battery may lose charge and go flat. However, it doesn’t always mean that you need to buy a new battery. You might just need to charge it and then start making regular trips that are long enough to allow your battery to charge itself.

Check vital fluids
Before you take to the roads once more, take a moment to check your vehicle’s vital fluids. You may need to top up your oil, coolant or screen wash.

If your vehicle has air conditioning, we also recommend running the AC for a few minutes on every journey to prevent potentially costly damage to the air conditioning system’s components.

Take it easy
When you take your first drive, take it easy. Allow yourself time to get used to being back in the driving seat. If it has been a while, it might feel a little strange at first, but, like riding a bike, you’ll soon get back in the swing of things.

Take a gentle, but good length drive – around half an hour – so that you can reacquaint yourself with using the gears and also to allow your car to reach optimum operating temperature. This will ensure the engine oil circulates properly and gives time for the battery to properly charge.

On that first drive you might notice the brakes are noisier than you remember. It’s most likely due to some rust on the brake discs which will wear off. Apply your brakes gently and if the noise doesn’t go away, err on the side of caution and get them checked.

Once you’ve been out for a few drives, if anything seems amiss with your vehicle it’s important to have it checked to make sure it is safe for you to continue driving.

Choose a reputable garage, such as your team at Cadnam Garage, so you know you will get honest, reliable advice about any maintenance or repairs that may be needed.

If you’d like a routine safety check for your peace of mind, please call 02380 812159 and book an appointment today.

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