Most people are not allowed to leave their homes during the nationwide lockdown in South Africa, except for occasional visits to their nearest grocery store. The effect is that car owners are driving much less than they usually would have. Some people might not be driving at all during this time, such as those who have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
You might be avoiding wear and tear on your vehicle in this time, but cars that do not run for a couple of weeks may start to present problems when one needs to use them after the lockdown again. There are ways of avoiding and guaranteeing that your car will run just as smoothly after the lockdown as it did before.
Our team of motor vehicle experts compiled a list of 5 easy steps that anyone can follow to keep their car in shape while it is largely unused during the national lockdown period.
If you are not driving your car during the lockdown period, it is recommended that you start it at least once a week. When you do start your vehicle, leave it running for a couple of minutes and push down on the accelerator slightly. This is good practice for two reasons.
Firstly, starting your car will every now and then helps to ensure that your battery does not discharge. The longer a car does not run, the more likely it is to lose its charge, which means you will either need to replace it or find a car battery charger and go through the process of restoring its charge, which can be tedious and laboursome. Starting your car at home helps to keep the battery’s current charge so that you can spare yourself the effort of fixing a dead one.
Secondly, this is a good way to see if there are any issues present that you will need to address. If you get in the habit of starting your car once a week, you will be able to know if there is something wrong with it and plan ahead for having it fixed, either during the lockdown or afterwards. Although there is no specific time that you should keep your car running, we recommend that you keep it running for at least 5 minutes to allow the battery to receive a slight charge.
Intakes and outlets provide ideal hiding places for small insects and, in some cases, even rodents. Once they get in there, they can cause some serious damage. A simple way to avoid this from happening is by covering your vehicle’s intakes and outlets with a cloth or rag. This way, all entries that might look like a cosy home to insects and rodents are blocked. Be sure to always remove these rags when you start your car. From experience, we suggest that you leave a sticky note for yourself on your steering wheel so that you definitely won’t forget to do this.
It might seem counterintuitive to fill up your car’s tank when you have nowhere to go or won’t be driving at all. However, a full fuel tank will help to avoid rust from forming inside the tank. This is the case because fuel fumes keep moisture from entering the tank. A full tank also means that there really is no space for extra moisture to come in and cause damage. Petrol has a lifetime of about 1 month in passenger vehicles. To avoid fuel that is
already in your car from going off, top off the tank to extend its lifetime. You can do some checks on your tank as well when heading to the petrol station. When filling up your tank, have a look at the lid’s seal. If the lid does not seal properly, it can cause problems with rain entering the tank or fuel spilling out. April also brought a welcome reduction in the price of fuel. Although no one knows what the price of fuel will be in May, a saving like this doesn’t happen often. Filling up your tank now will allow you to save some money.
A car that is idle for a long period of time might lead to flat spots forming on the wheels. Flat spots cause slight disturbances and bumps when starting a trip. Eventually, the ride evens out again. However, the initial disturbance and bumps will continue to present itself. This happens because a flattened spot forms at the place where the tyre and the surface meet for a prolonged period of time.
The easiest way to avoid flat spots from forming is to repark your car once a week. Simply pulling in and out of the driveway is a good way of making sure that the same spot of the tyre isn’t on the ground the whole time.
Another way to avoid flat spotting is by maintaining your car’s tyre pressure regularly. In fact, you can increase the recommended pressure level of your wheels by 0.2 bar if you know you won’t be doing a lot of driving.
Looking for a great, productive way to pass the time during lockdown? Give your car a wash! This is a great way to spend your time and you could even involve your little ones to help you get your vehicle clean. If your car is parked outside it might be more prone to getting dirty than cars that are parked in a garage, so you may want to consider making it a regular activity. Dirt that stays on a car for a long period of time can become difficult to remove and, in some extreme cases, might even damage the paint job. Washing the body of the car thoroughly with some water and detergent, or better yet a waterless washing system, will have it spotless and shiny in no time. If you are feeling
up for it, you could also do a deep cleaning. This entails wiping down the interior of your car, vacuuming the seats and polishing the dash. You could, of course, also wipe down the engine, which usually attracts a lot of dust when the car is parked in the same spot for extended periods of time. Be sure to properly dry your car after you have washed it. This will avoid streaks from appearing and it will also help to avoid that sand or dust sticks to your car while it is wet. Water is still a scarce commodity in South Africa, though, so be sure to use it sparingly.
If you follow these steps, you should not experience any major issues with your vehicle when you start using it more regularly after the lockdown. If issues do present themselves or if your car’s service is due don’t fear. Simply bring it
to Fury Ford William Nicol in Sandton. For the entire month of May, we are offering a 20% discount on our labour costs on any mechanical work. We’ll even give you a lift to your home or office when you drop your car off at our workshop.