Finally seeing the end of lockdown is a breath of sweet relief for most UK residents. Hopping in your car is now possible, and the thought alone is enough to get you planning your first post-Covid road trip! With the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, the open road has never felt more appealing.
As your vehicle comes to a halt at the side of the road, that sense of freedom you’ve been dreaming of suddenly feels more like a nightmare. Fortunately, you can do a few things to get your car roadworthy for your adventures ahead!
Check your battery
With very little to do besides your daily exercise in your local area, other than a quick drive to the shops, your car has likely been living a sedentary lifestyle for the last few months. When a vehicle isn’t driven regularly, the battery is usually the first thing to suffer.
It may surprise you, but your vehicle’s battery is continuously running just like your mobile phone or laptop. Your vehicle’s internal computer system has to keep operating in the background after all. Throw in a forgotten in-car charger, sat-nav and a dashcam, and your battery will be running dry even faster.
When you don’t drive your car, the battery is unable to recharge and will likely go flat. It’s not always a cheap fix either, so if you know you won’t be using your car for a while, make sure you run the engine every other day or go for a drive around the block.
Tyres – a necessary safety feature
Want to drive around the North York Moors’ hairpin bends or have to make an emergency stop? Your car tyres are your first port of call, alongside your brakes for ensuring you are safe on the roads.
The weight of your vehicle alone puts pressure on the tyres, and when left unused for a while, they will begin to develop flat spots. Fortunately, you can quickly check tyre pressure by using a gauge that can match the pressure guidelines in your vehicle handbook.
Once you’re satisfied the pressure gauges match:
- Remove the valve dust cap from the tyre valve. Place the pressure gauge onto the tyre valve stern
- While holding the gauge, press down evenly on the valve stern. This will ensure an accurate reading
- Now get a reading from the pressure gauge. Do you need to deflate or inflate your tyres?
- For inflating: add small amounts of air at a time with a suitable pump
- For deflating: gently push the tip of a flat-headed screwdriver against the metal pin on the valve stern. If done correctly, you will feel the air release
Remember to take regular pressure gauge measurements as you inflate or deflate. Don’t rely on one tyre for an accurate reading. Be sure to check all four tyres and any spares you may have in the boot.
Perform an oil change
Your car comprises several operating components that rely on oil and other fluids to perform correctly. For example:
- Brakes – rely on pressurised brake fluid for efficient braking power
- Power steering – power steering fluid takes your steering wheel from the iron age to modern-day driving joy. Without it, you would soon be sporting ripped, aching muscles in your upper arms!
Fast forward to the day when you are ready to take to the open road, and you haven’t put fresh oil and lubricants in your engine. Your engine will likely overheat due to a lack of lubrication, and your whole trip is ruined.
Refill your tank
It may surprise you, but petrol and diesel like to expand in the heat and build up moisture from the stagnant liquid left in the tank. When left in a stationary vehicle for an extended period of time, that precious fuel loses its potency and essentially goes stale.
Before putting some miles behind you, make sure you put fresh fuel in the tank. You can also add an enzyme fuel stabiliser to prevent unused fuel from going to waste.
If you’ve ever parked your car under or near a tree for some time, you’ve probably noticed sticky tree sap covering your paintwork and windscreen. It can be notoriously difficult to remove and left alone, can do irrevocable damage to the body of your vehicle.
Likewise, bird poo can also cause paint deterioration to occur almost overnight. Try to make sure you are washing your car at least once a week to avoid any lasting damage to your vehicle.
Before you go, make sure you have checked everything that is a purposeful safety feature. This includes:
- Lights – rear, front, reverse, fog, hazards et al.
- Safety belts – no fraying edges and clicks without difficulty
- Windscreen and wipers
All road trips require a healthy supply of snacks and drinks! Don’t forget a GPS or map, torch, spare clothes and a red safety triangle for extra precaution.
Ready to hit the road? Where will your first post-Covid road trip take you?