During a coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, the RAC has said that two weeks of avoiding non-essential travel is enough time for some vehicles’ batteries to become flat. Naturally, the length of time that drivers can leave their vehicles without starting it up depends entirely on the condition of their battery at the beginning of that period.
But what can we all be doing during our time of home working, home schooling and non-essential travel to keep our cars and commercial vehicles in their best condition and ready to go once travel is necessary?
What needs to be done, depends entirely on how long you intend to leave it. A few weeks in lockdown is one thing but leaving it for longer means more may need to be done.
For instance, you’ll still have to insure your vehicle unless you make a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) to the DVLA. If you make a SORN, the vehicle has to be kept off the road (e.g. in a garage) and the driver will not be able to use the vehicle on the road until it is taxed again. The driver will get a refund for any full months of remaining tax though.
All vehicles which require an
MOT test after Government’s exemption period last year must be maintained to be
roadworthy and Allen Motor Group Service departments are still open for
servicing, MOTs and repair work. Drivers can be prosecuted if they are found to
be driving vehicles that are deemed to be unsafe.
Vehicle Tips When Not Driving Regularly
Without looking after your battery, it may go flat. If this happens, your vehicle will not start and you may have to either jump start it or ring a breakdown assistance service. However, most cars and light commercial vehicles with a reasonably healthy battery will probably last around a fortnight without the need to start it up to recharge.
The RAC has said: “Simply starting a car occasionally isn’t likely to help, in fact this may end up draining a weak battery. As the government advice is only to drive when essential, drivers will have to rely on these trips to keep their batteries healthy. If you have more than one car it’s probably best to alternate between them for your essential journeys so they both get used. You should also consider driving the one with the older or weaker battery more often. If you keep your car in a garage, you may want to consider using a trickle charger which uses electricity to keep a battery charged.”
Hybrid and electric vehicles charge their batteries differently. Read your vehicle’s manual thoroughly before taking any action. Pressing the start button with the brakes on should activate the charging system. Charging like this for 10 minutes each week should help. If a vehicle is a plug-in hybrid or all-electric then they can obviously be plugged in to a charger or the mains.
A short trip for your weekly shopping may help your brakes as well as your battery. If a vehicle's stationary for a long while with the parking brake on, the brakes can seize up. Do not leave the parking brake off unless the vehicle is in a garage without a sloping floor or using blocks under the wheels to prevent them from moving.
If you have not driven your vehicle for a week or more, check the air pressure in each tyre and inflate them as soon as possible if required. Additionally, you should check all fluid levels, especially oil, and top up and change the oil if necessary.
If you will not be driving your vehicle for some time, it’s advisable to keep the fuel topped up in case you need to travel suddenly and to reduce any potentially troublesome condensation.
Important: do not run a conventional, traditional fuel engine inside a confined space, such as a garage, as fumes may build up to dangerous levels.
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