How to Look After your Car in Lockdown: A Step-by-Step Guide
Everyone loses their momentum a bit during lockdown. The things that used to take priority can end up taking a backseat. It’s okay to lose your rhythm with checking that everything’s shipshape, but it’s still important to prevent things from getting run down, like your car.
Many of us have been at home for the majority of the pandemic, sticking to our 5km, meaning our car usage has declined significantly. Cars need maintenance, even if you’re not driving them all the time.
Something innocently missed can escalate into a real problem. A trip to the mechanic can result in a substantial bill, which is the last thing anyone wants!
Wondering how you can show your car some love? Here’s our guide…
How often should you run your car?
There’s no definitive answer to how often you should run your car because it’s contingent on the condition of your car’s battery. If there’s room for concern with the health of your car, then it’s advised that you start it once a week to be safe. Typically, modern cars with a healthy battery will be fine without being driven for around two weeks. So, sticking within the 5km radius from your house, try to take your car out for a drive that’s longer than a trip to the shops every couple of weeks.
Looking after your engine
Your engine is the next factor you should consider. Modern engines aren’t built for a five-minute journey to the supermarket every so often. For optimum car maintenance, it’s best to bring the engine up to a full operating temperature.
Why? The engine is healthier when it gets a chance to properly warm up. This is because the engine oils’ consistency is dependent on the temperature; when the engine’s cold, so is the oil, meaning it is thicker and more viscous. As well as keeping your engine oil nice and warm, it’s important to check on your oil level regularly.
Why should I check the engine oil levels?
The engine oil keeps everything running smoothly. If the engine oil level is too low, the engine’s internal parts will wear out and stop moving and working as they should.
The oil also helps to keep the engine clean as it prevents dirt from building up. If the levels are too low, moving parts in the engine aren’t sufficiently lubricated. This means that the internal parts are making contact with each other, causing undue friction. It might even result in some serious and expensive damage if it’s left unaddressed. So, as it’s such an integral cog to your car being able to get about, it deserves some more attention!
How do I check my engine oil levels?
If you’re lucky, you’ll see your oil monitor electronically on your dashboard. It’s important to keep an eye on your oil levels and to know how to top the engine oil up should your car need it. If you don’t have an automatic oil light, you’ll have to check it manually instead.
Firstly, make sure your engine is cold. If you’ve recently driven your car, you’ll have to let it cool down for a while. After it’s cooled down, it only takes a minute to check the levels and potentially save yourself a lot of headaches.
Check your engine oil levels in 6 easy steps:
- Pop open the bonnet of your car and place the support prop underneath
- Find the dipstick and pull it out
- Clean the dipstick and put it back
- Pull it out again and check that the level is within the recommended level that will be shown on the dipstick
- If it’s low, fill with the appropriate engine oil up to the required level
- Check again the following week
The last point is particularly important and often overlooked. If your oil is low again the following week, it could indicate a leak. This could result in significant damage to your car, so it’s important to remain vigilant for those signs.
Check your tyre pressure
Checking your tyre pressure is one of the most important things you can do in terms of car maintenance. Tyres will naturally deflate over time or develop flat spots if left in the same place. You need to maintain your tyres’ correct inflation pressure by refilling them regularly. Staying on top of this is so important for your car’s and your own safety.
As well as being unsafe, driving while your tyres are the incorrect pressure will force your car to work harder and consume more fuel.
It’s advised to check your tyre pressure at least once a month and/or before a long journey. You can check your pressure easily at your local petrol station, however, you’ll want to let your car cool down first as if your tyres are warm, you could get a false reading.
Check your tyre pressure in 6 steps:
- Check your vehicle handbook for your car’s correct tyre pressure.
- Locate the air valve and unscrew the cap.
- Put the tyre-pressure gauge on the valve and press firmly. Make sure you’re not letting air out; you’ll know you are if you hear a hissing noise.
- You’ll see the measurements on the gauge.
- Pump the gauge until you see the correct pressure to add air. If you need to deflate, loosen your grip on the tyre valve.
- Replace the cap once the correct pressure has been added.
If you’re not using your car, brakes discs can gather dust and wear quickly. If your car hasn’t been used recently, it’s usually recommended to test your brakes before setting off on a journey. If you’re not sure how your brakes should feel, it could be worth asking a qualified mechanic to check.
Air conditioning system
If you have air conditioning, it’s worth switching it on when your car is running or if you’re out for a drive, even if you don’t need it on. This can help to prevent the chance of mould, dust and moisture building up in the air circulation system. It can also reduce debris and odours building up over time.
Renew car insurance
Lastly, a crucial way of looking after your car in lockdown is by being prepared in case something does go wrong. Make sure you renew your car insurance! Rest easy that if the damage is caused to your car, then you’ll be covered.
You don’t want to be left to foot the cost of damage to your or someone else’s vehicle. You definitely don’t want to be caught out with the major consequences that come with driving without insurance if you leave it too late. As with everything in life, a chore that gets pushed further down the to-do list becomes more of a burden. Be prepared and avoid waiting until the last minute – you’ll thank yourself!
Campion are one of Ireland’s largest insurance brokers, and we aim to deliver a personalised service to suit your individual needs. Customers are at the heart of our business, and we consider our high customer retention levels to be the key reflection of the service we provide.
Our car insurance offerings are completely tailored to you – whatever you need, we’ve got it covered! Look after yourself, your car, and your bank account as we find you the best quote for car insurance in Ireland from our extensive range of different insurers. If you’re interested, fill out our quick and easy form for a free, no-obligation quote.