Whether visiting loved ones or restarting that regular commute to work, easing lockdown restrictions means more drivers will soon be on the move again. But before you reach for your car keys, it’s worth giving your car a once-over to make sure it’s ready for the road.
If you haven’t covered many miles over the past 12 months, there’s a chance your car might need some TLC. You may have missed your usual annual service, or not bothered to check the engine fluids as often as you normally would.
To help get your car ready for a new season of motoring, we’ve put together this guide on top tips for driving again after lockdown.
Cars don’t like to stand still for weeks at a time. It causes the fluids in the engine to settle, which puts a lot of strain on moving parts when you start it up again.
To make sure your engine is protected, lubricated and maintained, here are some essential tasks to perform before you start taking regular journeys.
Check the Engine Oil and Replace if Needed
Engine oil plays an important role in lubricating the engine, so it’s important to check it’s in good condition and topped up. The oil should be light brown in colour, have a thin consistency, and should appear well inside the fill area on the dipstick.
If your car hasn’t been serviced for a while, we’d recommend changing the oil and oil filter. This is a straightforward job you can do at home, or you can book your car in for a full service – which almost always includes an oil change.
Assess the Coolant/Antifreeze Level and Condition
When was the last time you checked your car’s coolant/antifreeze? A lot of drivers never or rarely check this essential engine fluid, but that could spell trouble for your car as you return to the road.
Coolant/antifreeze protects your car from extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. If your car is low on coolant or it hasn’t been changed in years, it means the engine could be exposed to dangerous heat or freezing temperatures – making it more likely that you’ll experience a breakdown.
If you want to service your car’s cooling system, read our complete guide on how to check, maintain and top up coolant/antifreeze. We’ll show you everything you need to know to protect your engine and avoid problems like overheating – one of the leading causes of breakdowns on UK roads.
Top Up with Screen Wash
Don’t forget to top up your car with screen wash before you start using it regularly again. These lighter spring days with changeable weather means you could suffer sun dazzle, rain or snow so you need to be prepared.
If your car’s been stood outside for the past few months, it may be looking a little worse for wear. Not only that, but exposure to the elements may have resulted in a few problems, affecting the tyres, brakes and bodywork.
Check the Pressure and Condition of the Tyres
One of the first and most essential jobs to perform before you hit the road is to check the tyres.
If you haven’t moved your car in months, you might be surprised by just how much pressure the tyres have lost. Tyres naturally lose around 2 psi of pressure every week, and this is accelerated by extreme changes in temperature.
Flat spots are also a problem when your car hasn’t moved for a while. This is when the part of the tyre that’s in contact with the ground flattens out, giving the tyre a square profile on one side.
Flat spots can cause juddering and wobbling, and you may need to replace the tyres if they’re severely flattened. In most cases, however, they should return to normal with regular driving.
Check the Wiper Blades
Rubber wiper blades can perish easily when exposed to the elements for long periods. They’re prone to drying out and splitting, so you might need to replace them before you start driving again.
Lift the wiper arms off the windscreen and check the rubber blades. You should also clear out any leaves or debris which have gathered in the space between the windscreen and the bonnet.
Check for New Rust Spots on the Bodywork
If you haven’t been using your car much, you might not have noticed new patches of rust forming on the bodywork, brakes, exhaust and alloy wheels. Rust can really take hold when cars are left stationary for long periods, so check for new spots of corrosion that could cause problems if left unchecked.
Your car deserves a little love after sitting unused for such a long time. That’s why before you start using it regularly again, it’s definitely worth giving it a thorough clean and maintaining the paintwork.
Here are some essential tips to get your car looking as good as new after lockdown:
- Give your car a deep clean with a two-bucket shampoo wash, or even better with the help of a pressure washer.
- Apply a fresh coat of high-quality wax to the paintwork. This guarantees protection for your car as we head into the spring and summer months, and it will help to keep it looking its best for longer.
- Clean all the windows, inside and out, to ensure complete visibility. If your car has been stood for a long time, dust and dirt will have settled on glass surfaces, hindering your view of the road.
- Remove leaves, debris and dirt from the nooks and crevices around your car. This includes areas like the spoiler, exhaust, wing mirror arms and roof racks.
- Clean the interior of your car, including the carpets, seats and dashboard. Think of it as a spring clean and a fresh start, with your car feeling prepped and ready for whatever the next few weeks and months throw your way.
We hope this guide helps you prep your car ready for a new season of driving after lockdown. At Prestone, we can’t wait to get back behind the wheel and continue helping our customers maintain their cars with our range of high-performance car products. For more information and our full range of maintenance fluids, visit the homepage