OPINION | Quick tips for your vehicle in long-term lockdown parking

<b>DADDY'S LITTLE GIRL:</b>  Our little one loves washing the car with her Dad. And though he loves it just as much, he has to watch her every move in case she decides to start drawing on his car with mud, or sticks and stones. <i>Image: Wheels24 / Janine Van der Post</i>
<b>DADDY'S LITTLE GIRL:</b> Our little one loves washing the car with her Dad. And though he loves it just as much, he has to watch her every move in case she decides to start drawing on his car with mud, or sticks and stones. <i>Image: Wheels24 / Janine Van der Post</i>
janine van der post

• It's important to take care of your vehicle even if it's not being driven.
It is important not to neglect your vehicle to prevent possible damage or frustration.
• Check your tyres, start your vehicle and idle it when it's parked for long periods.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za

While most South Africans have returned to work with lockdown Level 3, just as many are at home. It also means there are still fewer vehicles on the road while most remain parked.

We are also creatures of habit and often become complacent in our daily routine. However, if you're not doing regular checks on your car, you could find a few nasty surprises next time you need to take your car out of its long-term parking.

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post says: "It's so easy to neglect your vehicle when you're working from home, or unable to work during these challenging times. We drive a lot less, and often our cars could be parked in the garage or driveway for days or weeks. It's vital to start your car and take it for a drive around your neighbourhood, make sure your tyres don't run flat, or disconnect your battery if you're planning to stay home.

"Also make sure to check your vehicle licence expiration date, and also your vehicle licence card.

Miway's Karabo Kopeka explains how to take care of your vehicle in the 'new normal':

The global pandemic that has defined the year to date has significantly altered the way we work, interact and behave, stripping society of many of its long-entrenched societal norms. With physical proximity now considered a risk, several industries have shifted their operations to the online space, leaving far fewer cars on the road and reducing the need to commute to and from the office.

And while this is probably a welcome development for many, it does come with its own set of complications, given that cars are designed to be driven, rather than to gather dust. As such, if you are finding yourself on the road far less often than in pre-pandemic times, it is important not to neglect your vehicle to prevent possible damage or frustration. 

changing a car battery

Image: Getty Images 

If you are staying put for the time being, here are a few key tips to ensure your car is ready to go when next you need it:

1. Find a secure spot

While not always possible, it is advisable to ensure that your car is parked behind a locked gate or in a secure garage should you intend not to use it for an extended period. Criminals are quick to pick up on patterns, and potential thieves are likelier to target visible vehicles, particularly ones that have occupied the same spot for some time. 

2. Keep your batteries charged

If you are only leaving the house occasionally, it is vital to start your engine at least every few days to maintain its battery life. A car battery loses its charge relatively quickly during periods of inactivity, so if you want to avoid the frustration of jump-starting your vehicle, you would be well advised to start it up regularly. To allow the battery time to charge, it is best to let the car idle for 15 - 20 minutes in an outdoor space. 

 worn tyre

Image: GettyImages

3.Track your tread

Tyres can lose pressure and develop dents and bulges if left unused for too long. Not only can this lead to the unwelcome expenses associated with replacing them, but it can also put your life at risk. 

Your tyres are critical to the overall performance of your car, with wear and tear leading to reduced braking capacity and grip, which can be especially hazardous in wet weather. Therefore, it is crucial to keep tabs on your tyres regularly, checking for cracks, cuts, bulges and any distortion of the tyre tread.

Regular loss of tyre pressure can also be an indication of a puncture or another form of damage. If you notice any of these signs, make sure to take your vehicle to the nearest mechanic or tyre specialist at the soonest available opportunity. 

4. Stay out of harm's way

If your car is parked outside, it is best to take into consideration the possible impact of adverse weather. Recent storms in the Western Cape saw many trees uprooted, which subsequently destroyed cars parked nearby.

Keep tabs on the weather and move your vehicle to a more secure spot should there be storms on the way. Additionally, to prevent damp and water damage, it is important to ensure all your windows are securely shut and to repair leaks to prevent water from entering. 

Image: Wheels24 / Janine Van der Post

5. Keep it tidy

Dust, dirt and droppings can have long-term effects on your car's paint job. Not only does dirt dull its overall shine, but it can also cause scratches and various other forms of permanent damage. When combined with rain, dirt can create an acidic compound proven to weaken the metal, while bird droppings contain a high amount of uric acid, which can corrode paint.

It is advisable to give your car a thorough clean regularly, making sure to use the right products to prevent any abrasion caused by wiping.

6. Rethink your insurance

Given the altered risk profile of many drivers in the wake of Covid-19, many insurers have offered revised policies and discounts designed to provide more relevant cover, especially for those no longer spending hours in traffic every day. In light of this, speak to your insurer, as you may be eligible for lower premiums if you are no longer undertaking the dreaded daily commute.

Karabo Kopeka is the Head of Claims at MiWay Insurance.

Disclaimer: Wheels24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of contributors/columnists published on Wheels24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24 or Wheels24. 

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