driving tips, Motoring News, vehicle maintenance

Stalled by the lockdown? Use some jail time to care for your car

GET THE KIDS INVOLVED: Washing your car can be  family fun – they can even help with checking head- and tail-lights, indicators, main beam… Image: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – When did you last drive YOUR car / bakkie / motor-cycle? The April 23 2020 indefinite extension to the Covid-19 lockdown not only grounded a good part of the nation’s human population but also condemned millions of cars to the dark of their garage.

Even a few more weeks will not necessarily affect the roadworthiness of your vehicle  but there are certain procedures that can be put in place to ensure your car is stored properly and will be ready for action when the bug is beaten.

Lebogang Gaoaketse, auto financier WesBank’s PR person, suggested: “It’s important to protect your vehicular assets so we hope this list of tips will come be useful.”

Most automobile brands still have operational customer-care lines in operation contactable by phone or email – some even WhatsApp – so hunt around for your vehicle’s help site… if nothing else it will help to pass your indefinite sentence to immobility!

1. Stay connected

WESBANK ADVISES against disconnecting your vehicle’s battery. Removing a terminal connection can affect installed tracking devices and, on some vehicles, result in computer error codes, especially within some sound systems. These can be difficult to rectify on the new Freedom Day.

A mechanically healthy battery should hold enough power for some weeks unless it is electrically elderly or has an electronic fault. And a common misconception is that firing-up the engine and leaving it to idle will help. The power required to spin the engine into life cannot be replaced by engine idling.

Rather leave the battery to deplete and, when the car is needed, get a jump-start – you should keep jumper leads in you car anyway, just in case…. And households with more than one vehicle should alternate their use for jaunts to the shops.

2. Show critters who’s boss

IT’S NOT UNUSUAL for mice, birds, insects and – given that we live in Africa – even snakes to colonise a stationary vehicle. Discourage them by regularly visiting your garage or carport and making the commotion they hate. Open all the car’s doors, bonnet and boot from time to time – even consider pretending to drive.

When freedom eventually beckons take a final peek for life under the bonnet… 

3. Keep it clean

SOME FOLK find washing a car a hassle – that’s why we have children. Nah, only kidding – but why not use you jail time to give your car some care and attention. Bird droppings and water stains can do permanent damage to paintwork so give Jimmy the Jalopy a shampoo occasionally.

Avoid dishwashing liquid! It’s designed to remove the very waxes that keep a car’s paint protected – keep some car-wash products in the garage – and remember, waxing a car is excellent exercise – stretching, bending, twisting…!

4. Lay off the brakes

DON’T USE THE handbrake if your vehicle is parked on a level surface – rust accumulated through lack of use can fuse pads to discs. Just park the vehicle and leave it in gear or, for an auto, engage PARK. For extra security, use a couple of bricks or blocks of wood as chocks.

5. Do a quick checkup

SOUTH AFRICA HAS no legal requirement for an annual vehicle vehicle check so, when freedom beckons, take five minutes to walk around your car to inspect some safety-critical items while time is on your side. Check the tyres for uneven wear or sidewall bubbles. Make sure headlights, turn indicators, brake- and tail-lights each work properly (children can help with this, too).

Check the windscreen wipers are clean, fully attached to the metal arms, and not unduly worn. They are cheap and easily replaced. Lift them off the windscreen until driving time return. Take a close look at the windscreen glass for chips and cracks.

6. Getting the wheels turning again

EVENTUALLY, YOU and yours will be set free by El Presidente. It’s unlkely that your chorrie will have developed a fault but a quick pre-flight inspection is advisable… here’s what to look for.

Tyres lose air over time – invest in a tyre-pressure gauge for a weekly check or, when the roads eventually open, make a service station your first stop. Pop the bonnet to make sure no fluids – oil, water, brake fluid – have escaped too. Do a quick inspection to ensure no animals have moved in and made the engine bay. their home.

Once you’re ready, fire up the engine and give it some time to lubricate itself and reach operating. Combustion engines, just like their drivers, like to get their juices flowing before reaching peak performance.

Hope to see you safely on the road soon…!

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