We have been asked a few times ‘how can I look after my car if I am not using it for days or even weeks at a time?’ After all, you don’t want to jump in your car and find that it doesn’t start or has problems running.
How do you keep your car running, and what do you do with a hybrid?
TYRES ARE THE FIRST THING TO CHECK
If your car has not been used for a while, checking the tyres are the right pressure is very important. If you don’t know your tyre pressure, it will be in your handbook or inside the front passenger door on a sticker. Alternatively, search online.
GARAGE YOUR CAR IF POSSIBLE
If you plan to store your car for a while, make sure it is clean and dry, inside and out, before putting it away. A ventilated garage is ideal, and you could leave one of the windows just slightly down to ventilate the interior. If you think this will set off the car alarm, then consult your manual on the best way to change the settings.
PUT AWAY SMART KEYS
If your car has a smart key, don’t carry this around with you if you are passing your garage or drive. This will stop your vehicle from waking up and activating the system.
It’s always preferable to store the car keys away from any doors in your home to deter thieves from attempting to amplify the signal to steal the car.
HOW TO KEEP THE BATTERY CHARGED
If you have a 12 -volt trickle charger or solar panel charger, this is an excellent option to keep the battery fully charged will the car is not being used for some time.
For information, intelligent trickle chargers (which are more expensive) will only charge the battery when it needs to.
If you park your car on the flat, and it isn’t likely to move, you can disengage the parking brake. With automatic cars, make sure the transmission is set to ‘P’ for park and if your vehicle is manual, put the car in first gear. For added safety, you can place wedges under the wheels. Disengaging the brakes in this way will prevent them from binding.
STARTING YOUR CAR
Many petrol and diesel cars have a 12-volt battery, and this is the power which starts the engine. If you run the engine of a conventional petrol or diesel car for approximately 20 minutes a week to recharge the battery, this should be enough to maintain it. The time needed to recharge will vary according to the model of car.
STARTING A HYBRID
Hybrid vehicles generally have two batteries. One is a 12-volt battery which provides power for headlamps and audio, and the other is a hybrid system battery which is high voltage and supplies power to start the combustion engine and drive the electric motors.
Companies like Lexus recommend putting the car into ‘ready’ mode for about 60 minutes (no need to keep your foot on the brake) before switching it off again and repeating this process every 2 weeks. Do refer to your cars manual and please do not leave your vehicle unattended when it is switched on.
Visit manufacturers car sites to learn more on individual makes and models.
COULD YOU SAVE ON CAR TAX?
If your vehicle is stored or parked on private property and you know you are not using it, you could apply for SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification). You can get a refund on any remaining full months of tax, but you will have to tax it again before you use the car so this is only worth doing if you know you are not going to use the car for a long time.