With the enforced lockdowns over the last year, many of our vehicles have sat around unused. If your car has sat in a garage, a secure car park or on your driveway for an extended period of time, it will need some help getting out of Lockdown.
Owners of motor homes and classic cars know the importance of a thorough car check before removing their vehicle from storage – but how many other drivers do?
And, with regulations lifting, you don’t want your vehicle to stop you from getting back to normality.
These 8 checks are all quick and easy to do and will go a long way to help you get your car out of Lockdown safely. If you already suspect that your car has a problem, but you don’t want to spend hundreds of pounds on a full service, we also have a cost-effective solution for you! Read on to find out how to get your car back on the road over the coming months.
What has changed?
In case you missed it, Boris Johnson announced his ‘Roadmap out of Lockdown‘ on the 22nd February. The first step in this ‘Roadmap’ came into effect on the 08th March. Schoolchildren are now back in the classroom and all of us can meet up with one person outside our household in an outdoor setting.
All this means more commuting.
If you’ve focused on home schooling for the past few months, you might not have driven it very much over the winter. You might have been using it infrequently even before that.
This means you’re going to have to help your car out of Lockdown. It may even have developed some issues over the past few months that need addressing. Here’s why.
The problems with car storage
Cars are designed for regular use. When they settle down and go through a period of disuse, they need to be nursed back into working condition. Like anything, your car needs time to warmup after a period of storage and a lot of that is up to the driver.
Stationary cars can develop a range of problems during their time sat still, so you need to complete a thorough car check before setting off. We’ll walk you through this in a minute.
Of course, you need to know what to do if you find a problem. Well, the simplest solution is BookMyGarage’s Vehicle Safety Check. For just £19.99, you get a thorough 16-point safety check, carried out by a professional mechanic. It’s 9x cheaper than a full service, but you still get peace of mind about the quality of your car. That way, you can get your car out of Lockdown without spending a fortune.
Free Vehicle Safety Check for Emergency Workers!
To say thanks for your hard work over the last year, we are offering our safety check free of charge to any member of the following groups:
- 4×4 Response
- Ambulance Service
- Blood Bikes
- Border Force
- British Army
- Cave Rescue
- Community First Responders
- Fire Service
- Highways England Traffic Officer
- HM Armed Forces Veterans
- HM Coastguard
- HM Prison Service
- Immigration Enforcement
- Lowland Search and Rescue
- MoD Fire Service
- MoD Police
- Mountain Rescue
- Red Cross
- Reserve Armed Forces
- Royal Air Force
- Royal Marines
- Royal Navy
- Search and Rescue
- Second Line Responders
- Social Care Workers
- St Andrews Ambulance
- St John Ambulance
- UK Visas and Immigration
Just enter the relevant details at check out. Our Vehicle Safety Check is also free when booked with any car service.
Our 8 Top Tips To Get Your Car Out of Lockdown Safely
Here are the key things to check before hitting the open road this spring. In fact, it’s worth saving this checklist because it may come in helpful if you put your car into storage again! It’s designed to help you catch any problems that could lead to an expensive breakdown, and reduce your chances of a serious accident the first time you get your car out of Lockdown.
When you approach your vehicle, you should check the tyres first. Good quality tyres will help you grip the road properly in all weather conditions. This improves your safety.
Inspect each tyre for wear and tear including cracks, frayed rubber and punctures. You should not drive a car with damaged tyres. Instead, replace the damaged wheel with your spare tyre and take your car to your local garage to fit a brand-new tyre. If you don’t know how to change a tyre, call your recovery provider to do it for you.
You should also check your tyre pressure. You can do this at most petrol stations, and you can find the recommended pressures in your vehicle’s handbook. An over or under inflated tyre wears much faster. In fact, an under inflated tyre is even more dangerous because of the extra surface area rubbing on the road. The contact area between the tyre and the road is only about the size of your palm – any more than that and you run the risk of suffering a blowout! This is where the tyre explodes, causing you to lose control of your vehicle. Don’t run the risk. Check your tyres when you get your car out of Lockdown.
Fluid levels & Leaks
Make sure you check these while the engine is still cold. Oil, coolant and brake fluid quality can suffer if not circulated regularly. This can cause your Engine Management Light to illuminate, your engine to overheat and your brakes to become ineffective.
Check your oil level using the dipstick. Pull it out all the way, clean it with a cloth and then reinsert it. Pull it out all the way again and check your oil level. If it is below the minimum line on the dipstick, you might want to top it up. Your vehicle handbook will inform you what type of oil is best for your vehicle.
Complete visual checks on your coolant and brake fluid. Consult your vehicle handbook if you don’t know what these reservoirs look like. Neither should look dirty or have debris floating in them. If they do, or your coolant level has dropped, book an appointment with a local garage immediately and do not drive the car. A lack of coolant could lead to your radiator overheating, and your vehicle will not stop without brake fluid. This is what pushes the plates together, creating friction and slowing your vehicle down.
You will also want to look under the car for any leaks. If you notice a leak, this is a much more serious problem. Call your recovery provider and get them to tow you to a garage.
While you have the bonnet raised, check the battery. Without regular charging, the battery will go flat. What’s more, batteries over four years old often don’t survive car storage. This is the age where you should think about replacing the battery.
If your vehicle doesn’t start, you have two options. You can charge the battery using a trickle charger, but this can take 12 hours. If you know the manufacturer’s procedure, and feel confident doing so, jump start the car. You might want to call your recovery provider to help you do this. They will also be able to give advice about a battery replacement.
If everything is still fine, you can now switch the engine on. This next batch of checks to get your car out of Lockdown should be completed when your engine is up to the normal running temperature.
Gauges & Warning Lights
While you allow the car to idle for a couple of minutes, check the dashboard. The oil gauge line should sit in the middle of the minimum and maximum mark. If the oil warning light comes on, or the car looks like it is overheating, switch the engine off immediately, step away from the car and call your recovery provider. They will tow you to a garage for a full inspection.
The dashboard should show several warning lights momentarily when you first switch the engine on. If any of these warning lights doesn’t switch off, check your vehicle handbook. If you can’t work out what the problem is, book a diagnostic check with a garage near you.
Brakes & handbrake (before driving)
If all is well, you can get ready to move off. Put your foot on the brake and press down firmly. The pedal should not depress all the way to the floor. If it does, you should not set off. There may be a problem with your brakes and you should contact your recovery provider to get you to a local garage.
If your brakes feel firm and you’re confident to start driving, release the parking brake. It should disengage without any problem. If it gets stuck or you can’t release it, get your car towed to a garage near you.
Put your car into gear. If you drive a manual car and can’t engage gear or hear a loud grating noise when trying to engage gear, your clutch needs inspecting. You should get a tow to a garage near you and ask them to inspect the problem. It may just be a stuck clutch which a garage can release without dismantling, but a full clutch replacement is a more costly issue.
At this point, you can drive off. Don’t start driving aggressively because your car still needs time to warm up. Plus, you still need to complete the final few checks to get your car out of Lockdown safely.
Brakes (while driving)
If the car seems difficult to move, the brakes may have bound on. Sticky or bound brakes can overheat easily. Do not drive with brake problems as you can lose control of your car. If you suspect that your brakes have bound or become sticky, get your recovery provider to take you to a local garage.
Gradually apply the brakes while you drive away. Rust can form on your car’s brake discs while in storage which you can remove with light braking.
If everything feels normal at this point, you can keep driving. Make sure you keep an eye on your gauges and your brakes, clutch and other car parts. The first drive after Lockdown will be the hardest for any vehicle, and you should ease yours back onto the road gently. Try and avoid motorway driving to begin with as this affects cars the most.
Book a Vehicle Safety Check today!
If you get your car out of Lockdown without any issues, then you might think it’s ready to hit the open road as normal.
That isn’t the case.
Even if your post-car storage checks don’t find a problem, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one lurking. An avoidable breakdown is the last thing you want this summer, so book a Vehicle Safety Check through BookMyGarage now to ensure your ‘staycation’ or road trip goes smoothly.
For added peace of mind, we would recommend that you book an oil and filter change at the same time. This essential maintenance will replenish your old oil and keep your engine in full working order. Poor quality oil can lead to severe engine damage – and this is incredibly expensive to repair! With BookMyGarage, you can find a high-quality garage near you for both these repairs. Compare and save on thousands of independent, fast fit and franchise garages now. You can book a Vehicle Safety Check and Oil and Filter Change for as little as £70 with participating garages near you!
The last twelve months have had an impact on every vehicle. There are plenty of safety checks you should complete when you get your car out of Lockdown. We also recommend booking a Vehicle Safety Check before embarking on any long journeys this summer, even if you don’t find any problems. It’s a quick and affordable way to get peace of mind about your car’s safety. It’s just £19.99 and FREE for all Emergency Workers, or when booked with a service. Book your appointment now!
Mandy is an ex-mechanic, with 22 years’ experience in the motor industry. As an in-house motoring expert, Mandy is the go-to woman for any relevant questions that our customers have; both garages and drivers. From specific problems with your car to general maintenance, Mandy is a reliable source of information and advice. Her passion for motoring is a huge factor to her success and the huge wealth of knowledge that she has. She now uses her remarkable grasp of the industry to write regular content for our readers to help drivers understand their car better, avoid being ripped off by garages and save money on their motoring requirements.