Start the vehicle every couple of weeks to keep the battery charged and the engine lubricated. Picture: SUPPLIED
Start the vehicle every couple of weeks to keep the battery charged and the engine lubricated. Picture: SUPPLIED

As the majority of South Africans heed the President’s call to stay at home during the Covid-19 crisis, it’s advisable to take steps to prevent facing dead batteries once the lockdown is lifted.

In addition to this, dirty cars, empty tanks and other factors need to be considered as you lock up your vehicle for an extended period.

Here are the tips to keeping your vehicle in tip-top shape:

• Preferably fill up the petrol tank. The fuller the tank, the less likely it is that moist air will get into the engine forming condensation and possibly rust.

• Maintain the charge in your battery. Every week or so, start the vehicle and let it run for five minutes. If your car is in the garage, be sure to open the garage door first. For batteries in good condition, you should not have a problem. Older batteries may need to be charged before you drive again. Another option is to disconnect the battery until you are ready to use the vehicle.

• Close your doors and windows properly to prevent bugs or small animals from getting into the car.

• Give your vehicle a good clean before parking it away. Wash off dust and animal droppings from the exterior to prevent damage to the paintwork and empty the interior to prevent nasty surprises when you get in again.

• Cover your vehicle. This is especially so if you only park under a carport or in the open but even vehicles parked inside a garage will collect dust. If you do not have a cover for your car use an alternative such as a large sheet, something is better than nothing.

• Don’t leave handbrake on.We are all used to putting on our parking brake, but don't do it when you leave a car in storage. If the brake pads make contact with the rotors for too long, there is a chance that they might fuse. Instead, use a tyre stopper (a brick will do the trick)  to prevent the car from moving. This is not necessary in an automatic vehicle with the transmission set to the Park position.

• Move the vehicle to avoid flat spots on tyres. You need to make sure the tyres are inflated to the recommended tyre pressure. If a vehicle is left stationary for too long, the tyres could develop flat spots as the weight of the vehicle presses down on the tyres' footprints. This process occurs at a faster rate if you have high performance tyres or low-profile tyres. Driving your car ad hoc can help correct the form of the tyre. 

• Start the engine at least once every two weeks for oil circulation. It’s always a good idea to allow the car to idle for about two minutes to allow oil pressure to stabilise and cover all those splash lubrication points thoroughly.

• Be careful of rodents. Rats and mice can be a real problem when cars are left unattended for any length of time and can nibble away at important wiring. A simple solution is to place some mothballs along the perimeter of your car. Cotton wool dipped in peppermint oil is also a useful deterrent.

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