It’s been a while since the UK government implemented the national lockdown asking the population to stay at home, except for any essential journeys and daily exercise.
Even though recently there has been a slight upturn in traffic on the roads, the Department for Transport (DfT) figures show that road journeys have fallen by around two-thirds since lockdown.
But if you’re one of the many new and used car drivers that have not used your vehicle since the lockdown rules came in to place, then you might struggle to start it again when you next need to use it for an essential journey.
If you work within the motor trade, then you may find your vehicle is already covered by a motor trade breakdown rescue insurance policy. If not, you may have to call for vehicle breakdown assistance or charge the battery yourself to get it back on the road.
It is very important to keep a vehicle well maintained when it’s not being used regularly. For example, keep the battery healthy, avoid turning a vehicle engine on, only to turn it off again shortly afterwards. Keep the vehicle clean and check the tyres are properly inflated, tyres still lose pressure over a period of time. Carrying out these tasks can make all the difference for when you next need to call upon your vehicle.
Effective ways to maintain a vehicles battery health when usage is significantly reduced, is to use a trickle charger or battery conditioner. These can stop alarms, immobilisers, and other components from draining your battery down completely.
An RAC spokesman said: “Many people will find their cars have flat batteries as a result of them being left idle. This is an unfortunate consequence of the ‘stay at home’ advice and something we’re dealing with on a daily basis.”
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Mr Williams also explained that starting a car occasionally “isn’t likely to help”, unfortunately, it does not allow enough time for a vehicle’s battery to recharge. Households that have more than one vehicle should alternate driving them for essential journeys to avoid batteries from going flat.
Although the government has extended MOT certificates due to the coronavirus outbreak, you may invalidate your insurance policy, or even be prosecuted if your car is deemed unsafe for the road.
If you’re not planning on driving your vehicle for a while it’s advised to leave it parked somewhere safe in a well-lit area, sheltered from the elements. Trees can offer protection from the weather but will also leave a vehicle vulnerable to bird droppings and tree sap. Waxing your car can stop tree sap and bird droppings from marking the paintwork; but give the car a good clean before applying any wax.
If you have not done so already, it may be worth considering vehicle breakdown cover before the lockdown period is over. If you do, ensure to include ‘homestart’ in your policy, just in case you need assistant getting your vehicle started again from home.