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Unless you’re lucky enough to be within walking distance of your job, all the local amenities that make your life enjoyable, and all the cool stuff with which you can occupy your weekend and downtime, there’s a good chance that you need a car. Your car may not be seeing all that much action in 2020.
After all, many of us currently working from home and venturing out a lot less, not to mention the possibility of a second total lockdown moving ever closer, and local lockdowns a reality for many of us in high-risk areas. You still however need to protect your car and ensure you look after it so it looks like one in a car magazine.
Still, just because your car isn’t on the road as much these days doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to be protected. Far from it. Using your car less can actually result in some very specific vulnerabilities for your vehicle that could cause it to let you down when you need it most. Here are some ways you can (and should) protect your car…
Make sure your paintwork is protected
First impressions count! And the quality of your car’s paintwork can play a huge part in how people (including you) see your car. If your car spends much of its time unprotected in your drive, the paintwork is at risk of all kinds of threats from the stray footballs of playing kids in your area to the damage that can be caused by bird muck and (especially at this time of year) falling leaves.
If it’s been a while since you last cleaned your car, maybe now’s the time to give it a treat. Auto Express has some great tips on how to wash and wax your car properly to protect your car for the winter.
Domestic carports are a great way to keep your car and its paintwork protected from anything the elements can throw at it, as well as making a grand addition to your home’s exterior. However, if this is beyond your budget, you may want to cover it with a tarpaulin after washing and waxing to make sure that your paintwork is protected when your car is not in use.
Make sure you’re using it the right amount
COVID-19 notwithstanding, many of us aren’t taking our vehicles on longer journeys anymore. And that could potentially cause problems with some vehicles.
If you’re trying to lose weight and/or get in shape, you may be actively trying to eschew using the car for shorter trips and instead opt to walk or cycle. This can be a great way to make your lifestyle a little healthier, get you more active and mitigate the health risks that come from spending your whole day sitting.
But if you have a diesel car, not only is this approach good for you, it can also help to protect your vehicle. Diesel cars don’t enjoy going on lots of short trips. Especially short trips where your speed is likely to be a consistent 30mph or below. Under these conditions, the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) is likely to get clogged with soot. And if you keep making more short journeys, this clog can become permanent, resulting in an expensive repair for your vehicle. When your DPF is full a warning light will come on your dash. As soon as you see this, you should hit the motorway for around 20 minutes at a consistent 2,000-3,000 RPM. This should be enough to make the DPF regenerate and purge any soot.
However, if you’re using your car less and only relying on it for long journeys, you’re less likely to be put in this position in the first place.
Fill ‘er up!
Your car is lonely sitting on your drive all day long, barely getting to see you anymore. The least you could do is protect your car and buy it a drink! In all seriousness, though, if your car has been running on fumes for some time, this can cause a problem, especially on unseasonably warm autumn days.
Petrol prices are still pretty low, since the price of crude oil has still yet to bounce back to pre-COVID 19 levels. Nonetheless, there’s a practical reason to fill your car up outside of good budgetary sense. When your car sits idly on your driveway and warm days follow cold nights, tiny droplets of moisture can collect in your fuel tank due to condensation. These can start to get into the fuel supply in your car and potentially cause damage to your fuel injectors. Resulting in repairs that most of us could do without in the current economic climate.
What’s more, your fuel pump is most likely submerged in the fuel within your tank as this is the best place to keep it cool. However, in warm weather, an exposed fuel pump may be prone to warping which could result in serious damage. Given that October days can still reach temperatures in excess of 23.9C, it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry. Keep an eye on these things to adequately protect your car. Keep an eye on things like the fuel filter and have it changed when needed. There are plenty available from dooxi.com
Check your battery
Your local garage is likely to have reopened since the lockdown measures were lifted, so they will be able to check your battery for you. Nonetheless, if you’d prefer to do it yourself, it’s easy to get an affordable testing kit online. Making sure that your battery is well charged will ensure that it doesn’t flatten when you next need to use your car.
Check your oil and tyres
Since you’re using your car a little less, now is the perfect time to check your oil levels and tyre pressures and top them up if necessary. If one tyre is significantly lower in pressure, you may have had a slow puncture for some time that could lead to a flat tyre when you’re ready to use your vehicle more often. What’s more, oil that’s left in a static car will drain down to the sump over time. You can expect your oil levels to dip as a result. Give it a top up just to be on the safe side.
And for heaven’s sake leave the handbrake on!
Finally, if your drive is on an incline, you probably don’t leave your car unattended without popping the handbrake on. But if you forget to do this (or your drive is so perfectly even that you don’t think it’s necessary) this can cause damage to the parking pawl. This is a part of your transmission system and is about the size of an adult’s middle finger. Not something you’d want your car’s whole weight resting on!
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