Maintaining your car while it’s being used less

It’s safe to say that, during the last year, it’s unlikely that your car has been travelling the number of miles that it’s used to. And although the ‘stay at home’ order has now been softened to a ‘stay local’ directive, our cars still won’t be getting out and about as much as before the pandemic.

For many of us, our cars will have been keeping a low profile on the driveway or in a parking space, untouched for maybe even days at a time. A vehicle left unused can develop issues when it’s used again, and, while the weather may be warming up, there are still plenty of cold mornings to make the issue worse.

Whether you’re planning to get out and explore your local area or remaining at home for the time-being, it’s important to take sensible measures to ensure your car remains both safe and legal – Johnsons Cars remain open for servicing, but we’ve also put together a few helpful tips to help you maintain your car at home.

Maintaining your brakes

A car’s brake discs can begin to corrode if left for a while, which eventually leads to the brakes seizing entirely – a problem only a mechanic can put right. You can prevent this from happening by rolling the car back and forth a few metres every so often (where it’s safe to do so). Brake disc corrosion can also lead to your handbrake sticking, so as long as you’re on level ground, in a private area where you can be certain the car won’t roll, leave your car in first gear or in the ‘P’ position on an automatic gearbox to prevent this.

Road salt makes corrosion worse, so it’s worth washing the wheels and underbody of your car with a pressure washer or hosepipe to get rid of any remnants of salt from winter driving.

Maintaining your car battery

Even when a car isn’t running, there are still electrical items (like security devices) that run in the background, running down your battery at the same time – a problem made worse by cold mornings.

To combat this, you have a few options – if your car is privately parked, you could invest in a trickle-charger to keep the battery in tip-top condition. Or you could simply start up the car and let it run for around 15 minutes. At the same time, it’s wise to switch on the air conditioning to reduce the chance of mould developing in the car’s circulation system.

Make sure you keep the car running for at least 15 minutes when you turn it on – turning it on and off in quick succession requires battery power that won’t be replenished unless the engine is given time to run.

Keeping your car roadworthy

Many cars were given a six-month extension on their MOT tests during the first lockdown, but this hasn’t been extended during the current lockdown. That means if your car’s MOT test has expired, you’ll need to get it checked at a garage before taking it anywhere else. Our service centres remain open and have plenty of measure in place to keep you and our staff safe – don’t hesitate to get in touch and book your MOT test.

Maintaining your tax and insurance

Finally, even while parked, your road tax and insurance need to be up to date to keep your car road-legal. If you won’t be driving your car at all for a long time, then you can register it as SORN and claim back the value of any full months of tax left on it, and you won’t need to buy insurance. You will, however, need to make sure your car is parked off-road and you won’t be able to use it in emergency situations.

We don’t advise cancelling your insurance during lockdown to save money – not only will you need to arrange a new policy when you want to use your car again, you also won’t be covered if the car gets stolen or damaged while parked.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your local Johnsons Service team, who will be happy to help!

Looking for more?

Be sure to check out our Stop and Refresh check where will give your car a thorough health check to make sure it's safe to be back on the road. It even includes an Aircon regas and clean to help kill any bacteria and prepare your car for the warmer months.

Find out more