With the ongoing uncertainty regarding COVID-19 and the whole nation remaining in lockdown, it’s unlikely that life will go back to normal for quite some time. We have all had to make many adaptations to our daily activities, from working from home to distancing ourselves from loved ones. One of the biggest changes that we are all slowly getting used to is restrictions on travel, which means that, for the time being, millions of cars are going to be sitting on the drive or in the garage. Whether you see your car as your pride and joy, or simply something that gets you from A to B, it’s a good idea to take good care of your vehicle even if you do not plan to use it for the next few weeks. In fact, it’s more important than ever to take the time to give your vehicle a little extra TLC to ensure that it is in full working order when precautionary measures are eventually lifted.
So, with this in mind, having specialised in insurance approved car repairs in Milton Keynes for many years, we have put together our top car care tips; all of which can be carried out from the comfort of your home. This will not only prevent your car from looking a little worse for wear but will also avoid expensive repair costs later on down the line.
Our Top 11 Home Car Care Tips
COVID-19 is something that no one could have anticipated, which means that we’ve all had to adapt very quickly to the current situation. For most people, this means working from home and no longer using their vehicle aside from their weekly trip to the supermarket. While it may seem great not having to pay for fuel for a while or dread rush hour, sitting stationary for an extended period can start to have an impact on your car. So, to ensure that your vehicle remains in full health during and post-lockdown, we have put together some easy ways to care for your car from home, including the following:
- Keep It Clean
- Keep The Battery Healthy
- Take Care Of The Tyres
- Know Your Warning Lights
- Check Your Brakes
- Replace Windscreen Wipers
- Protect Your Headlights
- Touch Up Scratches & Chips
- Check Oil Levels
- Keep Your Brake Fluid Topped Up
- Protect Paintwork From The Sun
While it may seem an obvious suggestion, it is essential to keep your car clean in order to ensure that it remains in good condition, even if you do not plan to use it for the next few weeks. It’ll also give you something productive when you’re feeling bored during your days off!
So, why is it important to clean your car even though it’ll just be sat on the driveway or in the garage? Well, there are a whole host of damaging chemicals and debris which can start to eat away at the exterior of your vehicle if left to sit on the surface. This is even more important if your car will be parked outside as tree sap, pollen, bird droppings and much more can all quickly begin to accumulate. Luckily, cleaning your car from home isn’t as tedious as you may have anticipated and all of the products you require can be ordered online from retailers such as Euro Car Parts then delivered to your door. For a full guide and video tutorial on how to clean your car exterior, take a look at Halfords. Once your vehicle is clean, you can then use our previous article to complete the process by giving your car paint that extra shine.
Now that the outside of your car is covered, its time to move onto the inside. Keeping the interior of your vehicle clean is always imperative, but even more so in the current situation if you are taking trips to your local supermarket or still travelling to the workplace. The coronavirus can survive on surfaces for anything from a few hours to several days, which means you must be careful to prevent the virus from harbouring on, for example, the steering wheel or handbrake. AutoTrader has put together a helpful article on how to reduce the spread of the virus by disinfecting your car, which can be combined with Simoniz’s ultimate guide on cleaning the interior like a pro.
Leaving your vehicle unused for a long period of time can begin to impact the health of the battery. This means that there is a possibility that the moment lockdown measures are lifted, you may jump into your car to find that the ignition will not start. However, there are ways that you prevent this and keep your battery in full working order. If you have a few vehicles in your household but only using one for the essential trips, then you may want to consider alternating which car that you use. You could either take it in turns to make the supermarket trip or providing that you are all insured on the vehicle, take one car one week and the other the next.
If you are unable to leave the house altogether, then we recommend ordering a battery conditioner, which is otherwise known as a trickle charger. These are designed to block any components which will drain your battery, meaning that you will not have to worry about the possibility of a flat battery. Before fitting your battery conditioner, we advise checking the overall health of your battery, keeping an eye out for any corrosion. If left to fester, corroded car batteries can interfere with electrical connections, wires and terminals. Luckily this can be resolved by cleaning the components; you can find a guide on how to do this on Car Bibles.
Even when your vehicle is not in use, the tyres can still begin to lose pressure, which means that it’s essential to ensure that they are fully inflated throughout the lockdown. If you’re unsure on the correct tyre pressure for your vehicle, then you can use KwikFit’s search tool, which allows you to search your number plate for all of the information that you need to know.
Along with checking the pressure, most vehicle manufacturers will also recommend rotating your tyres on a regular basis, in order to extend their life and enhance performance. Depending on whether you have a front or rear-wheel drive, your tyres will wear differently, resulting in significantly less tread on particular wheels. By having your tyres rotated, you’ll ensure that they are all being used evenly and they will ultimately last longer. It is generally recommended to carry out a rotation every 5000 to 7000 miles, but check your own manufacturer’s guidelines. If you can’t remember the last time that you rotated your tyres, then this is an excellent task to get stuck into while stuck at home.
This may seem like an easy one, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t know what their warning lights mean – or simply ignore them! Once an icon begins to flash on your dashboard, you need to identify the root cause promptly to avoid a larger problem from occurring. For example, your car may be warning you that there is an issue with a tyre. If ignored, the next time you go over a pothole a little too quickly, you could be left with a completely flat tyre and an expensive tow home – a simple slow puncture can result in a costly blowout if not seen to immediately. Take a look at this article from the RAC on car warning lights explained and consult your vehicle’s handbook to make sure you know exactly what to look out for.
It is always vital to ensure that you understand the meaning of your warning lights, especially over the next few weeks as it will not be as straightforward to check your car into a mechanic. Unless you are an essential worker, its likely that you will have to wait a few weeks before you can seek professional help, so you must know whether your vehicle is safe enough to continue driving.
As possibly one of the most important safety systems within your car, you must check your brakes regularly, which is another straightforward task that you can carry out during your time in quarantine. Firstly, check the brake pads for signs of wear – these can be viewed between the spokes on your wheel. If less than a 1/4 of the pad is visible, it may be time to have them looked at by a professional once life returns to normal, as they could need replacing. Another warning sign that your brakes require maintenance is an unusual sound when pressure is applied. If you hear a loud screeching sound, this could indicate quite a serious problem – in this instance, getting your car booked in for a checkup should be a high priority. In this instance, you may be able to find a garage that is still open but only carrying out work on vehicles that require urgent attention; however, you will need to research to find those trading in your local area.
Your windscreen wipers are another highly important fixture within your car. They make sure that the road is clearly visible while driving, as well as helping during adverse weather conditions and wiping away any debris that may block your view. Because of this, it’s vital to change them regularly, so that you’re never left with a smeary windscreen. Faults to look out for when giving them a once over are detached arms, broken frames, cracks or missing parts, metal corrosion and detached rubber on the wiper blade. Any of these could cause your wipers to become defective and potentially make driving, even short distances, quite dangerous.
If you have noticed that your windscreen wipers are no longer serving their purpose, then this is a super straightforward DIY fix which can be carried out at home during the lockdown. Take a look at this easy to follow video from Instructables on how to replace windscreen wipers.
While during the day, our headlights may not be of much use, once darkness falls, you’ll need them to be in pristine condition to drive safely. You may think that not much can go wrong with headlights, but they can, in fact, develop what’s known as headlight cataracts! Headlights over time will begin to yellow, due to UV rays from the sun wearing down the protective coating that covers them. Fortunately, car owners can protect their headlights and restore them if the yellowing begins to happen. Take a look at this article from Popular Mechanics, which will take you through how to clean your headlights step by step.
We’ll all face the annoying sight of a scratch, chip or small dent in the bodywork of our car. Whether it happens through vandalism or accidental damage; it’s hard to avoid. It’s important, however, to make sure that they are taken care of as soon as possible, as if left, they will ultimately lower the value of your car, allow rust to collect and turn into bigger problems. It’s tempting just to leave them be and simply live with them; however, being stuck in the house gives you the perfect opportunity to take a closer look and resolve any damage where possible. Not only will you have something productive to pass some time, but you’ll also come out of quarantine with a car looking as good as new!
There are a host of simple ways that you can camouflage scratches and chips on paintwork. If it is just a small scratch on, for example, the door handle, then this can be removed in a matter of minutes with toothpaste. We have put together a full guide on how to do this, so take a look at our previous article for more information. Alternatively, for more significant damage, you can order touch up paint from online retailers such as Chipex, who suggest products based on your colour code.
For those with large-scale damage that can only be professionally repaired, then the team here at Scuff N Scratch are still providing quotes virtually ahead of our reopening. Having specialised in car body work in Milton Keynes for many years, we have extensive knowledge of the best techniques to repair paintwork damage. Please do not hesitate to give us a call or send us an email; it may take a little longer to reply than usual, but we will be in contact as soon as possible!
It’s important to check your car’s oil levels at least once a month, to make sure that it isn’t running out and that it also hasn’t been contaminated, even when you are using your vehicle significantly less. Oil makes sure that your engine runs smoothly by reducing the level of friction, so it’s vital always to make sure that there is a sufficient amount. If you are unsure as to how to check your oil levels, take a look at this guide from Consumer Reports.
Another easy task that you can carry out from home is checking your brake fluid. We have touched on the importance of your braking system in terms of wear, but your checks shouldn’t stop there. Your brake fluid ensures that the movable parts within the system do not corrode and are sufficiently lubricated. Without this, your brakes will not function properly and could cause catastrophic effects. Checking your brake fluid is relatively easy; it involves making sure that the level is between the MIN and MAX markers, and that it is a golden brown colour.
If your vehicle will be parked outside during the lockdown period, then it is vital that you protect the paintwork from the sun. While we don’t see as much sun as other countries around the world, we have been lucky enough to have our fair share of glorious days over the past week, so preventing UV damage has become imperative. If your car is sitting in the blazing sunshine day in day out, it will gradually lose its lustre and become dull in colour. Your car’s colour will fade, and the value could decrease, so it’s important to care for your vehicle accordingly and put preventative measures in place. While the most obvious solution is to park your car in a garage or shaded spot throughout the day, this isn’t always possible, so instead, we suggest investing in a car cover. This will not only protect your car’s paintwork from the sun but many other adverse weather conditions, bird dropping and sappy leaves – all of which can cause damage to the paint and bodywork.
Care For Your Car And Reap The Rewards
Although the lockdown measures in place do mean that we will be spending the next few weeks at home, it does give you the perfect opportunity to carry out any DIY tasks that you have been putting off. Whether it may be touching up your car paintwork or giving it a thorough clean, these are all super easy jobs which will not only help you to stay productive but also keep your car in full working order. By investing a little time in doing minor checks and putting preventative measures in place, you’ll save yourself from costly repair bills later on down the line, and your car will retain its value!