How has lockdown affected your car?
March last year saw people across the world, including here in Ireland, go into a lockdown so quickly that no one had time to prepare. Many got temporarily laid off from work or put on furlough, while others had to adapt quickly to the new norm of working from home, even if they had little to no previous experience of homeworking before. With people no longer leaving their homes like they used to, cars sat parked up, only being driven a fraction of what they were before.
Some sat for months on end without being driven, but cars weren’t designed for that! So, what do you have to be aware of before you start using your car again after it has been parked up for a while?
It’s important to remember that cars are designed to be driven every day, so there are quite a few aspects of the vehicle that can deteriorate after several months of minimal or zero use.
How long can a car go without being driven?
There are a number of factors that influence the answer to this question. Some of these include leaving your car in direct sunlight or somewhere where the car would be exposed to snow. Thankfully (or not!), here in Ireland, we don’t really experience significant extremes of weather. However, the general advice is that you should never go more than two weeks without starting your car.
What happens if your car hasn’t been started for over two weeks? Let’s start with your car’s battery.
The most common thing to happen will be that your battery will be affected. When you are driving your car, the battery recharges itself. This is why car batteries can last for years. If your car hasn’t been driven for a while, there is a good chance the battery will go flat.
It’s also likely that your tyre pressures will decrease if your car has been parked up for a while. This decrease will be more significant than if the car is in regular use. Therefore, before venturing out in your car, always ensure the tyres are inflated to the right pressure.
One other thing to be aware of when you first drive your car after it has been sitting for a while is vibration. This will usually go away as the tyres warm up, but if it doesn’t you should get your tyres and wheels checked.
Another thing to always be aware of is your brakes. They can become rusty, particularly if you drive your car in wet conditions and then leave it parked up for a few days. It’s important to ensure your brakes are not spongey and to use them cautiously and frequently for the first few kilometres to remove any build-up of corrosion.