Get Your Car Ready For Post Lockdown Drives
With lockdown restrictions easing across the UK, many of us are eager to get back behind the wheel and start enjoying our renewed freedom. Currently, staycations are the only option for a holiday, and many people will be driving to their destinations.
If you’ve been working from home, your car has probably been idle for the best part of a year, so it’s a good idea to ensure that everything in your vehicle is working as it should be. A quick way to ruin that long-awaited holiday would be to break down an hour into the journey.
There are some quick and easy pre-drive checks that you can carry out to ensure that your post lockdown drives don’t end up with you stranded on the hard shoulder.
Check the Battery
There are various reasons that car batteries can fail; two of the most common are cold weather and lack of use. As your car has likely spent the best part of the last year not doing much, your battery probably hasn’t had enough usage to keep it charged. With the cold winter weather on top of that, it’s best to check your battery before any long drives.
Even if your battery seems to be working perfectly, it’s still worth giving it a once over. Start by checking all the connectors are in place and don’t show significant signs of damage, and then check for any fluid leakage. If you spot any damage or leakage, it could be a sign your battery may need replacing, so seek professional advice.
If your battery doesn’t want to start, you have a few options. The first option is a car battery charger which plugs into your mains and should start your battery. But if there’s no residual charge, a battery charger might not work, and you’ll need to use either a jump starter pack or jump leads. If you’re unsure how to jump-start a car, here’s a safe guide from the AA.
Check the Tyres
It’s wise to inspect the condition of your tyres for any splits or cuts, as well as any rogue pieces of glass, nails and screws that can quickly cause a puncture and leave you stranded. Make sure that you look over all of your tyres for any damage, including the spare.
Your tyres legally need to have 1.6mm of continuous tread to be roadworthy. One of the easiest ways to test this is to use a 20p coin. Place the coin in the main tread channel in different places around the tyre. If you can see the coin’s outer band, then it’s likely that your tread is too narrow.
The final check for your tyres is to make sure that they aren’t over or underinflated. Beyond a noticeable flat or bulge in the tyre, it’s difficult to tell if your tyre pressure is correct. Fortunately, many petrol stations have tyre pressure gauges available to use and make sure your tyres are inflated correctly.
Check Your Car Oils and Fluids
Car oils and fluids are vital to keeping your car running smoothly, and there are easy ways to test that everything has the correct levels. Checking your engine oil is straightforward, just remove the dipstick, wipe it clean, put it back in, and then remove and check the line. If it’s too low, top it up with the correct oil.
Coolant fluid is usually in a clear plastic container near the radiator and has an easy to read indicator so you can tell whether you need to top it up. Similarly, check your windscreen washer fluid is near the top of the engine bay; it’s easy to spot as it has a windscreen wiper icon on it. Make sure you do this, as it’s illegal to drive without sufficient washer fluid.
Car oils and fluids can save your car from severe damage; if you’re not sure how to check them, then take your vehicle to a qualified local mechanic, and they can do it for you.
Other Checks to Make
Although you might be driving during the day, make sure all of the lights are working correctly in your car. This is an easy check to carry out; just turn on the lights and walk around the vehicle to see if they are working. If any aren’t, you’ll probably need a replacement bulb.
The final check is your windscreen wipers. They’re crucial for you to drive safely, and if they’re failing, you’ll notice smears on your front or rear windscreens and a spine-tingling squeaking sound. Wiper blades are straightforward to replace, but if you’re unsure, take your car to a qualified mechanic, and they’ll be happy to help.
Time to Get On the Road
Now that you’ve completed all your pre-drive checks, you’re good to go for your post lockdown drive. You can finally leave the town you’ve spent the last year in and enjoy a well-earned bit of freedom. Blast some Willy Nelson and get on the road again.