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Car maintenance tips – how to keep your vehicles roadworthy during coronavirus lockdown

Cars are designed to be driven, but with so many businesses either not open or working at a limited capacity, a lot of vehicles are currently lying idle.

Keeping your vehicles in good, roadworthy condition is essential to the smooth running of your business. However, vehicles that are left unused for extended periods of time can develop problems so it’s important to keep them maintained during this ‘lockdown’ period.

Below we have outlined some simple but effective car maintenance tips to keep your vehicles healthy and roadworthy while they are not in use.

Our Head of Claims Tim Pearson is keen to point out the importance of maintaining vehicles during ‘lockdown’, saying:

 

For the many businesses that are not operating at full capacity due to lockdown, those valuable pieces of equipment that are sat in our driveways and car parks can easily fall to the back of our minds. However, it is important to make sure your vehicles are well maintained and fully roadworthy for when the time comes to get back on the road.

fleet of cars in car park

Maintaining batteries and brakes on unused vehicles

When left unused for a while, the brake discs of a car can begin to corrode. This can eventually lead to the brakes seizing up entirely, which means an expensive repair job will be needed. If you have several vehicles all lying idle then this could add up to quite a large expense for your business.

To prevent the brakes from seizing, roll the car back and forth a few metres just to get the brakes working. This only has to be done every now and then – maybe once a week or every 10 days – and it will also prevent your tyres from developing flat spots.

Corroded brake discs can also cause the handbrake to stick, so if your vehicles are parked on level ground in a safe, private area then you may want to consider not applying the handbrake. If you are worried about it rolling then leaving the car in gear can prevent it from moving.

If you are parked on a public road where there is a risk of other vehicles bumping your car, or if you are parked on any kind of slope, then it is much safer to still use the handbrake. Just be sure to regularly disengage the handbrake and move the car every now and then.

car battery

As well as the brakes, it is important to make sure your car battery is well maintained. Even when a car is switched off, the electrical items running in the background (e.g. security devices) can slowly drain the battery.

  • If your vehicles are privately parked, you could consider using a mains-powered battery maintainer or trickle charger, which will help keep your vehicles’ batteries in perfect condition.
  • If the option of running a lead from the mains to your vehicles is out of the question, then the next best thing to do is to start the engine once a week and let it run for 15 minutes or so. As well as giving the battery time to charge, this will also circulate oil and fuel around the engine.
  • While you have the car running, turn the air conditioning on as this will help maintain the seals in the air-con system and reduce the chance of mould building up while the car is not in use. It’s important to avoid quickly turning the car on and off again in quick succession, as the starter motor will use up battery power each time – so make sure you start it once and leave it running.

It’s also important to note here that you should never leave a car unattended while it is unlocked and with the engine running, as your insurance may not cover you if the car is then stolen.

 

Maintaining road tax and car insurance

Although all vehicle owners have been given a six-month exemption from MOTs, it is still a requirement to keep the road tax and car insurance up to date to make sure the vehicle remains ‘road legal’.

The only exception to this is to register the vehicle as ‘off the road’ (known as a SORN – Statutory Off Road Notification), although if you do this you will not be able to use the vehicle at all – even for emergency journeys.

In terms of car insurance, some insurers have begun to look at the issue of customers having to pay premiums while their vehicles are effectively out of use. Aviva, for example, are allowing some furloughed workers to defer their premium payments until they are working again.

However, due to the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) rule, the majority of vehicle owners will need to keep their vehicles insured.

 

Review your annual mileage before renewal

If your business vehicle insurance is due for renewal, there can be savings on premiums by reviewing the annual mileage amounts your vehicles are doing.

With many vehicles off the road, or running reduced workloads, it’s important to make sure this is taken into account when you renew your motor insurance.

For more information on this, contact our Transport and Logistics team now or call us on 0330 024 06 06.