During lockdown, most people haven't been driving their cars much. We've all been staying home, with workplaces, shops, bars, and restaurants shut for months now.
As lockdown eases, it's important to take care of your car and ensure that it's safe to drive after a long period of little use. To do this, you can perform a few simple maintenance checks on your car before you take it out for its first post-pandemic long drive.
Check Your Tyres
The first car maintenance check-up you'll need to perform is on your tyres; unused car tyres will deflate over time, which can be dangerous and cause further damage to your car if driven.
If you don't know how to check tyres, it's easy: check your car's handbook for the manufacturer’s recommended pressures (which will be measured in PSI or Bar) and then measure the pressure. To do this, find the tyre valve near the outside part of the wheel and remove the plastic cap. Hold a tyre pressure gauge against the valve and wait for a reading. If you do need to top up the pressure, you can buy an air compressor online or from most petrol stations for around 50p.
You should also check your tyre's tread; this can be done quickly by pushing a 20p coin into the tyre tread; if you can see any of the coin's outer band, your tyre tread is under the legal limit of 1.6mm, and your tyres will need replacing.
Check Your Oil
Oil lubricates your engine and prevents wear, and driving with low oil levels can cause serious damage to your car. Even if you have a low oil warning light on your car's dashboard, it's important to check oil manually before driving after lockdown.
To do this, open up the car's bonnet and find the dipstick. Pull it out of the oil and wipe it clean with a tissue or cloth, then reinsert it. Finally, pull it out again and check the level on the dipstick. A healthy oil level is indicated on the stick; if it's low, you can top it up using the recommended oil type for your car's engine.
Check Your Lights
Finally, it's important to check your car's lights; driving with a broken light is dangerous, and you risk being fined or given penalty points for doing so. To check your lights, run the engine and put the handbrake on, and switch on the headlights. You can walk around the car to check each of the car's indicators in turn, too.
Checking your brake lights is a little trickier and usually requires two people - one to operate the brakes and another to stand behind the car and check if they're working. You could also try backing up close to a window and looking in the reflection.
If you do need replacement bulbs for any of your lights, they're usually inexpensive and easy to buy from car accessory shops.