The COVID-19 lockdown is a necessary precaution to ensure the health and safety of all South Africans but what about your car? Considering that non-essential travel remains discouraged, here are some simple car maintenance tips to ensure that your vehicle is in tip-top condition once they ease the restrictions even further.
Car Maintenance During Lockdown
A big concern for many is how to keep the battery charged but there’s also the question around flat or uneven tyres. It’s a fact that leaving a car to stand for too long is one of the most damaging things you can do to a vehicle. Fortunately, there are several ways to help keep your car in good condition even during the lockdown. Even better is that many of these car maintenance tips are quick and relatively inexpensive. First up, we look at some basic car battery care tips.
Simple Battery Maintenance Tips
Push starting or jump-starting a car is always an option but it’s not good for the car, the battery or your stress levels, especially with everything else going on. Here are some important preventative measures and battery care tips you should keep in mind.
- Remove the entire battery or just disconnect the negative terminal but be careful when doing this and ensure you have the right tools and protective wear
- Always disconnect the negative terminal first, then the positive terminal and NEVER touch the terminals together
- Apply petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to the battery terminals after they have been removed to prevent rust
Wheel And Tyre Maintenance
While this is primarily for long-term storage, the concept remains the same during the lockdown. If your vehicle is standing idle for a long time, the wheels could get flat spots and the only way to prevent this is by moving the vehicle regularly or jacking all the tyres off the ground.
Another useful tip for long-term car storage is to slightly over-inflate the tyres as it will help prevent flat-spots while keeping the rubber in better condition. You should check that the tyre pressure is normal after storage and adjust it according to the manufacturer requirements as soon as possible.
Car Storage Tips During The Lockdown
You should start by covering the intakes and outlets with a cloth and put an old rag into the exhaust pipe. This will help prevent insects and small rodents from entering the car and causing possible damage. Just don’t forget to remove it before using your car.
If you are not using your car, it’s recommended to start your vehicle now and then but for older cars, you should disconnect your battery to prevent it from draining. This way you won’t have any issues when heading out to the shops, doctor or pharmacy.
Unless you have a classic car, your garage doesn’t need too much special attention as long as it’s secure, clean and dry with good ventilation. For anyone with a classic or hobby car, insulating and heating your garage is well worth the investment. It’s best to keep the temperature around 12 degrees using a storage heater which is hugely beneficial for older cars during winter months.
On-street Car Maintenance Tips
If you don’t have a garage and your car is in the driveway or on the street, you need to make alternative arrangements. Car covers are always an option to protect your car from most of the elements and the local ‘pigeon bomber squad’.
Regardless of the cover you use, make sure it’s breathable and good quality. Also, clean and dry the car properly before covering. Remember, covering a car that is wet or even damp will trap moisture and could end up causing more harm than good.
Keeping The Car Alive
A basic fact about not running a car is that it’s extremely bad for its health. If you can’t drive the car, at least start it until the engine gets to normal temperature. Make sure that you move the car even if it’s only a few meters and touch the brakes when you do. Whether you can warm up and move your car or not, don’t use the handbrake and rather leave the car in gear if it’s manual or in Park for an automatic.
Washing Your Car During Lockdown
While washing a car is not a mechanical consideration, it is certainly an essential part of car maintenance. If you use your car for work and travel long distances day or night, you need to keep the windows clear of dirt and any obstructions.
It also provides an ideal opportunity to get the kids involved to keep them busy but also teach them something useful. Kill the boredom by showing them how to do a proper wash, wax, polish and interior clean-up. Just remember to be mindful of water restrictions and abide by the relevant regulations.
If your car has been parked for some time, make sure of the following before heading out:
- The windscreen is clean and clear of obstructions as dirt can quickly form on the glass
- If you don’t have time to wash the whole car, prioritise the windscreen, windows and lights
- Do a proper clean of the interior with a particular focus on the parts you touch. Use disinfectant if you have but soap and warm water are usually fine for plastic parts in the interior
- For upholstery or leather, you should use specially-made products
Keeping in line with the windshield, remember that wiper blades are an essential safety feature and also require close attention. To prevent the rubber from sticking to the windshield, place plastic wrap under the blades and do the same for back wipers if you have one.
Storing a car for months is different than leaving it for a few weeks but the principles remain the same. It’s best to keep your battery charged, not to use the handbrake, run the engine regularly and use the brakes every week or two.
For all things motoring, read our blogs covering everything from new and pre-owned cars to global events and car maintenance advice. As a reminder of our response to COVID-19, read the statement from the MD.