Car maintenance during lockdown: can I wash my car and how do I keep my battery charged?
Operatives at a reopened hand car wash in Essex wear PPE and practice social distancing while they work  Credit: John Keeble/Getty Images

Storing a car for any length of time isn’t as simple as parking it and walking away. Or it shouldn’t be if you want it to work again when you come back to it. While many of us have (mostly) happy memories of bump- or jump-starting various aged and neglected steeds, let’s face it – it’s not good for the car, the battery or for your stress levels.  

三级成人视频Leaving a car to sit is one of the most damaging things for a vehicle, but there are plenty of ways – many of them quick and inexpensive – to help keep a car in good condition while it’s idle. 

These tips also apply if you are laying up your car for several weeks – such as when finally taking an extended holiday once travel restrictions no longer apply, or if you keep a vehicle at your holiday home.

It is essential to note that any car kept on a public road must be insured, whether it is in use or not.

How do I keep my battery charged during lockdown

The 12V battery is the weak link if you’re leaving a car for many weeks. It varies massively depending on the vehicle, battery condition, ambient temperature changes and more as to how long your battery will last so it’s best not to risk simply leaving it. 

One easy option is to disconnect the battery. However, it will still lose charge over time and the car’s alarm system (if it has one) won’t be active, so a trickle-charger is preferable if there’s access to a mains socket.

If you routinely leave the car standing then it’s worth getting a good quality trickle-charger that automatically conditions the battery. These stop the charge when the battery is full, and buzz it with a little power when necessary. That is preferable to a continuous low-level charge that cheaper units will deliver, but ultimately that will do fine if you’re just leaving the car while you go on your holidays occasionally.

This rule goes for electric cars, too. These have the same type of 12V battery that you find in any petrol or diesel car; it runs the cars ancillaries and on-board computers. It can go flat just the same as any 12V batter, but you can put it on trickle-charge, and you can even jump-start the 12V battery on an electric car, just as with any car.

What you mustn’t do is jump-start another vehicle from an electric car (most plug-in hybrids also state not to use the car for jump-starts), as this can fry all kinds of expensive electronic systems. And to state the bleeding obvious, you can’t jump-start the high-voltage, lithium-ion battery. If that’s flat, it has to be plugged-in via the car’s socket and that’s the end of it. 

Electric car maintenance during lockdown

三级成人视频While we’re on the subject of batteries, leaving an electric car for a long period of time is less troublesome than leaving a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle as there’s no fiddly combustion engine to worry about.

The best practice for maintaining the battery condition is to leave it unplugged, but with a good state of charge – around 80% is ideal. Preferably park it with easy access to a charger or plug, as it will lose charge very slowly and you may want to top it up on occasion.

Should you leave your plug-in plugged in? Credit: RALPH ORLOWSKI /Reuters

三级成人视频Make sure that the cables are stowed away neatly in a dry place, and without any kinks. Other than that, see our advice above for the 12V battery, and other tips regards brakes, tyres, car covers and more - which all apply equally to electric cars.

How to store your car during lockdown

三级成人视频Well, obviously, on your driveway or in your garage if you have those to hand. But there is more to it if you really want to take care of an often-static car. 

三级成人视频For those who have a hobby car or vintage trinket to keep in good order, insulating and ideally heating your garage is well worth it. Keeping the temperature up to somewhere around 12deg with a storage heater will do wonders for an old car in the winter months, and it keeps the humidity down. A dehumidifier is worthwhile, too, but most dehumidifiers aren’t very effective at low temperatures so start with keeping your garage warm and then worry about the humidity. If you’re lucky enough to have a secure, dry garage, leaving the windows open a crack also lets air circulate. 

If your car is on the driveway or street, then clearly that’s all a pipe dream. But car covers are tempting even if only to prevent your car from becoming target practice for the local pigeon population. Just make sure that the car is clean and bone-dry before putting on the cover. If at all possible, leave the car to air-dry for a day or so before covering, as leaving any kind of cover on a wet car just traps the moisture in and does more harm than good. Make sure that whatever cover you get is breathable and good quality.  

Start the car; use the brakes but not the handbrake

三级成人视频This goes right back to the basic fact that not running a car is very bad for its health. If you have access to the car but can’t use it, at least start it and let the engine get up to temperature. Make sure that you move the car, as well, even if it’s just a few feet, and touch the brakes when you do. If the car’s parked at your holiday home then of course this isn’t an option, but whether you can warm up and move the car or not, don’t leave the handbrake on. Just leave the car in gear if it’s a manual, or in Park if it’s an automatic.

三级成人视频Another tip for those expecting to leave a car for months rather than a few weeks, is to slightly over-inflate the tyres. It helps to prevent flat-spots and keeps the rubber in better condition. 

Finally, if you’ve got a convertible with a fabric roof, then leave the roof up. Having the fabric taut is much better for preventing tears and cracking than having it scrunched up and folded away.

Can I wash my car during lockdown

Washing and cleaning are important parts of car maintenance. While car washes are largely closed, you should keep your car in good condition if you plan to use it at all over the lockdown period. This will probably mean cleaning your car at home. 

If your car has been parked for a long time, ensure that its windscreen is clean and clear of obstructions. A layer of dirt can quickly form on glass, which will need removing before the car is used. Prioritise the windscreen, windows and lights if you do not have time to wash the whole car.

Clean the inside of your car thoroughly too, focusing on the parts of the interior that you touch. Proper disinfectant is difficult to track down at the moment, but soap and water is usually sufficient on plastic parts of the interior. For upholstery or leather, use specialist products. 

Maintaining a car during lockdown: in summary

Ultimately, storing a car for months is a very different prospect to leaving it for a few weeks on your driveway but the basic essential rules are the same - keep your battery charged, don’t leave the handbrake on and, in an ideal world, run the engine and use the brakes every week or two. 

三级成人视频Or, of course, in an ideal world you should just use and enjoy your car regularly. But as 2020 has shown us, there are all sorts of exceptional circumstances where that might not be advisable, so these hints and tips will help to provide the reassurance that your car will still work, even when much of the rest of the world isn’t.  

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