The pandemic lockdown has seen thousands of cars up and down the country parked up and left to sit, while people stay at home and follow social distancing. While staying put makes total sense in terms of keeping each other and ourselves healthy, it's not as beneficial for our cars.

You see, cars don't tend to like being immobile for too long. Problems can arise from leaving a car parked up, meaning that when you do eventually get behind the wheel again there can be a higher chance of a mechanical issue arising - but there are things you can do to help.

It's best to check over your car if it hasn't moved for some time, and even if you're still staying at home and leaving your vehicle parked up, these checks could help to prevent any mechanical issues in the long term.

Here are some tips on what to check...

 

Photo: GN archive

Check for animals

It might sound strange, but checking for animals stowed away somewhere in your car is worth doing if it's been parked up for a while. In the spring months and beyond, many birds find somewhere quiet and covered to nest making a car's wheel arch a perfect place to take up residence.

Cats are known to get into the wheel arches and the engine compartment, while mice also love to make a home out of a car, with fuse boxes, air filters and under boot areas prime places. If you do discover animals, it's worth getting in touch with local animal rescue centres to ensure that any animal taking up residence in your car is moved safely.

 

 

Photo: PA

Brake and Tyres

Brakes and tyres are two crucial areas of a car's mechanical setup. Without them, you'd be in a whole heap of trouble - which is why caring for them is so important. When you can, start the car and perform a three-point turn where it's safe to do so. Do this once, then do it again in reverse.

Doing this once properly rotates the tyres while it also makes sure that the brakes are functioning properly. It'll also keep suspension parts moving freely.

It's also a good idea to visually check your tyres. Look for cuts and bulges, which mean it's time for a replacement. Oh, and make sure if they're all in good order and that tyre pressures are kept correct - these can be found in the handbook, behind the fuel filler cap or sometimes inside the door shuts.

 

Photo: GN archive

Battery

A functioning battery is central to getting a car going. When parked up, a car can naturally drain its battery; functions such as the clock and alarm system do drain a battery's charge, albeit only a small amount. However, over time these can prevent the car from starting effectively. So what's the best way to keep it topped up?

Starting your car and running it for at least 15 minutes can be a great way to keep a battery going. Always ensure you're with the car when it's running and make sure that the engine comes up to temperature, too.

A trickle charger can be a good idea too. If you're able to park your car in a driveway or garage, then you can connect a trickle charger from the mains in your home to the car's battery. It'll then keep the battery topped up so it's good to go when you need it.

 

Photo: GN archive

Cleaning

Of course, as well as mechanical checks you're likely going to want your car to look spick and span too. However, avoid leaving your keys in the ignition or using the radio as doing so can quite quickly drain the battery and leave you with a starting headache.

 

Photo: GN archive

Oil and filters

It is also a good idea to check the oil level and visually inspect the garage floor any signs of a leak. Once you start driving, visit a nearby service station and get all the filters inspected, and cleaned or replaced as required.