You may be making these five mistakes with your car during lockdown – here’s how they can be fixed

Lockdown rules state that people should only be making journeys for essential reasons to stop the spread of coronavirus – so many cars are sitting idle on driveways, streets and in garages.

While this might seem perfectly safe, motoring experts say issues can develop even when vehicles are not being driven, meaning it’s important to make sure they remain in full working condition for the time when restrictions ease.

Steven Morris, retailer principal at Stoneacre on Penistone Road in Sheffield, says: “There are a number of quick and easy steps you can take at home to ensure your car isn’t deteriorating due to a lack of use.”

Here are Steven’s five top tips.

Keep your battery charged, Steven Morris advises.

Keep your battery charged

“A good baseline for battery usage is to run your car’s engine for five minutes every three or four days when your car isn’t being used. This helps ensure the battery stays charged. The battery would usually re-charge as you drive the car, so when the car is not in use, the battery is more likely to go flat without you noticing.”

Shelter or cover your car

“Storing your car on the side of the road for weeks on end isn’t ideal for keeping it in perfect condition because it’ll be exposed to direct sunlight, rain and dust. It’s a good idea to try to park your car somewhere sheltered such as a garage. However, if this isn’t possible, it might be a good idea to invest in a car cover to help protect your car from the elements.”

A car’s tyres naturally lose pressure over time, Steven Morris says.

There’s no need to ‘warm up’ the engine

“It is actually a myth that you need to leave your car’s engine on for a few minutes before you set off to ‘warm it up’. This, in fact, wastes fuel unnecessarily and is harmful to the environment – all that is required is 30 seconds to circulate the engine’s oil, then you’re good to go. The best way to bring your engine up to operating temperature is to drive the car gently at first.”

Check tyre pressures

“A car’s tyres naturally lose pressure over time, and it’s all too easy to miss this when your car is parked up for weeks on end. On average, tyres lose about one to two PSI of pressure per month, so be sure to check them before you drive your car again, even if it’s just a short journey. Use a tyre pressure gauge to check your tyres are correctly inflated – you’ll find the recommended pressure in your car’s handbook, on the car’s bodywork when you open the driver’s door, or inside the fuel filler cap. If the pressures are even slightly lower than recommended, using a foot pump or visiting a local petrol station to fill them up will set them right.”

Ask for help if needed

“Most car retailers are still operational for MoT tests, services and repairs, so if you think there is something wrong with your car, it is still possible to have it checked out. If you can’t leave your house, or would just like some advice, many showrooms are available for virtual appointments. If you’ve even decided to replace your old car or just want a new one, you can still purchase during lockdown. Many car retailers are offering excellent deals at the moment.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.