Coronavirus advice: what should I do to keep my car in good condition while I self-isolate?

If you're not using your car much due to coronavirus, you'll want to know that it's in good should you suddenly need to travel. These are our top tips...

Checking battery charge

During the coming weeks and months, many people will be asked to self-isolate in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus across the world. While there are many aspects to self-isolation, not being able to use your car – or at the very least using it far less frequently than you would normally – could be a cause for concern.

Below, we'll look at the steps you should take before, during and after your self-isolation to make sure your car is maintained and that vital components, such as your car's battery, don't fail when you come to use it again.

Before you self-isolate

Think of the checks you'd normally make to your car before setting off on a holiday; most of them are exactly what you'll want to do before going into self-isolation. After all, you won't want your car to let you down while you're feeling unwell. 

Start off by checking your car's oil, and topping it up if needed. Make sure that you have a full tank of fuel – you can find out how to safely fill up your car during the pandemic by looking at our guide – and that other vital fluids, such as your brake and windscreen washer fluid, are topped up. You can see the levels of both of these by looking under your car's bonnet at their respective reservoirs.

Toyota Avensis headlight

Next, it's time to make sure that your lights are working, and that the car's lights and number plates are clean so that you can be seen clearly. Then move to your car's battery. If your car is taking longer than usual to start, or if you know your battery hasn't been changed in a long time, it's worth investing in a battery tester to make sure there aren't any issues on the horizon. A battery tester, which monitors the voltage of your battery, can be purchased from most car accessory shops. It usually works by attaching red and black leads to the corresponding terminals on your car's battery. If you're unsure, any garage or dealer will be able to carry out a quick battery check for you.

It's worth knowing in advance where your car's battery is; a study by Halfords in 2019 revealed that one in 10 drivers didn't know where their car's battery was located, while 30% said they had never checked their car's battery.

Finally, take the time to check your wiper blades and tyres and make sure that neither is worn. Worn wiper blades will leave smears across your windscreen and are ineffective at helping you see during rainstorms. You can check the tread depth of a tyre, meanwhile, by putting a 20p coin into the area between the tread; if the raised part of the coin is above the tread, you'll need to sort replacements.

Man checking tyre tread depth

During your self-isolation

The Government's official advice is to avoid unnecessary travel, and that means avoiding using your car unless you really have to. That being said, if you do need to use your car during your self-isolation and you've followed our advice, you can rest assured that it should all be in good working order. If your period of isolation is the standard two weeks, your car's battery shouldn't go flat in that time – especially if it's a newer car.

After you've finished self-isolating

It's worth taking your car for a longer journey when you start to use it again after your self-isolation - provided the lockdown has been lifted by this time. This gives your car's battery a chance to restore any charge that it's lost while it's not been used and will keep it topped up.

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