How to maintain a car you don’t use often

When you’re using your car day to day, car maintenance should become a regular part of your routine. But when your car is left unused for a longer stretch of time, as may be the case in the current situation, it’s easy to get to a state of “out of sight, out of mind”. Don’t be caught out though, you still need to carry out some basic maintenance to ensure all is well when you come to use it again.

If you’re storing your car mid to long-term during lockdown, check out our car maintenance tips to help keep your car in tip-top condition.

Fill up & get a full tank of fuel

Before storing a car, ensure it has a full tank. If not, condensation can build up inside the fuel tank if the car isn’t used for an extended period of time. Once full, check your car manufacture guidance to see whether you should add a fuel stabiliser. This can help keep the fuel lines and the engine from rusting or corroding. Filling up the tank will also ensure you’re able to use your car in an emergency.


Restore the fluids

As well as fuel, it’s important to remember to top up other fluids such as brake fluid, engine coolant, power steering fluids, antifreeze, transmission fluid and windscreen wiper fluid when storing a car long term (again, make sure to check your car manufacture guidance on this first and properly research how to top them up). These can all be ordered online if you don’t already have supplies at home.


Inflate the tyres

One of the most important steps when storing a car for a long period of time is ensuring the tyres are inflated to the recommended air pressure. Over time, tyres can slowly lose pressure, which can result in flat spots. Inflating your tyres will help to maintain their overall condition, ensuring they have not deflated too much when you come to use the car again. When the time comes, you’ll want to re-inflate your tyres to the recommended pressure, which you can find in your vehicle handbook. If you have your own pump you can inflate your tyres at home, or simply go to a petrol station.


Clean the car - inside & out!

You may not think to clean your car before putting it into storage, however grit and grime can build up, leading to accelerated wear and tear. Road salt can be particularly corrosive, while bird droppings can cause damage to your car’s paintwork if left for a long time. Remove any rubbish from inside your car and give it a good clean to prevent anything from going rotten or attracting unwanted pests. Get your family involved and you’ll find that many hands make light work.

Check out our tips on how to get your car looking spotless inside and out.


Remember to use a car cover

If you don’t have a garage and your car is being left outside, then covering your car is another good way to keep it cared for. This will help to protect it from the elements as well as from scratches, bumps and dirt. You can order a car cover online if you don’t already have one – make sure you get one that’s designed for your car model so that it fits your car properly.


If you are able to drive your car every so often for weekly shopping or running essential errands during lockdown, this will certainly help to circulate fluids and burn off any condensation that may have formed in the fuel tank. It will also help the battery to recharge by itself. Plus, parking on a different part of the tyre each time will help reduce those flat spots. Finally, unless you’ve registered your car as off the road (SORN), you still need to be insured. Check your car insurance cover to make sure it is up to date while not in use.


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