The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way the country is working, and thousands of people are working at home for the foreseeable future. One of the knock-on effects of all this working from home is that cars are not being used for the daily commute, and are sitting idle on the driveway. You might be saving on fuel, but there are lots of other things you should think about when a car has been laid-up for weeks, months, or even longer.
One of the main issues which drivers are finding with cars which haven’t moved for months is that they fail to start completely. If you’re thinking about getting the car back on the road for the school run or to make tentative moves back to the office, at least try to start the car first. If the battery is flat, then it’s time to get the jump leads or battery charger out. If you’re planning not to move your car for a few months, turn it over every couple of weeks to make sure the battery hasn’t drained. A quick run to the supermarket and back in the car will be enough to keep the battery topped up.
Servicing and MOT
Many garages were closed at the height of the pandemic, and only essential workers were able to book a MOT test. A six-month extension was granted to some vehicle owners to allow for extra flexibility. If you’re not sure whether this applies to you, the best advice is to check the MOT online to see exactly when it expires, and when the tax is due. If you’ve missed a service or MOT during the lockdown get the car booked in right away before hitting the roads. Servicing isn’t a legal requirement but having tax and an MOT is – don’t risk a fine and points on your license for the two minutes it takes to check MOT and tax online.
Another consequence of cars parked up without going anywhere for weeks or months is on the tyres. Tread levels shouldn’t deteriorate because of not going anywhere, but it’s always good practice to check the tread depth regularly to ensure they’re within legal limits. Tyre pressure can be affected though, so before you start driving regularly again, check the pressures and top up with air if needed. Most cars have the tyre pressures on the inside of the fuel cap, or you’ll find them listed in the owner’s handbook.
If you know that your car isn’t going anywhere for several months, then look into the process of declaring SORN. This stands for a Statutory Off Road Notification and is an official way of letting the DVLA know that you won’t be using your car. This means that you don’t have to pay road tax or have insurance for the period that it’ll be off the road. Before you take the car back on the road, you’ll have to buy tax and arrange insurance again though, and cancel the SORN.