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Maintaining and using your car during lockdown

30 April 2020

Whether you’re someone who takes pride in your motor or you just want it to get you to the supermarket and back safely, here are a few simple checks and handy tips for keeping it, and you, protected...

Empty residential street with cars parked on the driveways of the houses
With vehicles being parked on roads and driveways for longer periods, dirt can quickly build up on paintwork and glass

Make sure your car stays road worthy

The daily commute might be a thing of the past and opportunities for driving are somewhat limited, but you still need to make sure your car is kept safe for the road – especially as the government has extended due dates by six months for MOTs that expire on or after 30 March 2020. You can check the status of this extension for your vehicle by visiting the government MOT history checker but please note that you won’t receive a paper certificate to show your new MOT expiry date. If your vehicle tax is due, you can pay this as soon as your MOT expiry date has been automatically updated online.

On the occasions that you do use your car, the government recommends you check:

• The windscreen, windows and mirrors are clean
• All lights work
• The brakes work

Your vehicle’s handbook will tell you how often to check the following:

• Engine oil
• Water level in the radiator or expansion tank
• Brake fluid level
• Battery
• Windscreen and rear window washer fluid
• Tyres must have the correct tread depth and be free of cuts and defects.

Read more tips on how to keep your vehicle MOT ready here.

When to use your car during lockdown

Petrol stations and garages remain open to provide essential services for critical workers and, of course, so you can keep your car running if it’s your only means of transport for your food shopping and medical needs. Another valid reason for going out in your car at this time is to travel to work if you can’t do your job from home, but using your car to simply get out of the house is not considered an essential journey. It’s also absolutely fine to leave your home for one form of exercise a day, such as a run, walk or cycle, either alone or with members of your household.

It’s worth bearing in mind if you’re out in your car that many people are taking advantage of these freedoms. Watch out for cyclists, who may be using more of the road in places to socially distance from walkers and other cyclists. Also bear in mind that more people may be out walking and running, and that they might make sudden moves into the road to give other pedestrians a wider berth than usual. If you need clarification about a particular situation which involves driving your car, the government’s coronavirus outbreak FAQs can be found here.

Keep your car clean at home

With vehicles being parked on roads and driveways for longer periods, dirt can quickly build up on paintwork and glass, especially if cars are parked under or near trees or in an area where there’s lots of birdlife. Thoroughly washing your car to remove any tree sap and bird droppings, then waxing it will help to keep the paintwork in good order. And removing brake dust and grime from wheels can preserve the life of your alloys and tyres. It’s also worth considering giving the interior a clean using household disinfectant. Think of all the parts of your car you touch during a typical journey to and from the shops and give them a hygienic wipe down.

If there’s a chance that anyone infected with COVID-19 has been in your car recently, read this guide from the RAC on how your car can be cleaned most effectively to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. And do read advice on wearing personal protective equipment if you ’re planning to take on such a task.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.