5 tips for starting your car safely after lockdown

30 April 2020 - 12:07 By Nivashni Nair
Starting one's car after weeks of not driving can be difficult - and not safe.
Starting one's car after weeks of not driving can be difficult - and not safe.
Image: 123rf.com/Dmytro Kozyrskyi

Starting your car after being stuck at home for weeks during the national lockdown may not be as easy as it sounds.

Midas national franchise manager Shannon Drake explained that vehicle engines are made to run - when a vehicle is stationary for long periods, this can cause harm to your vehicle.

A third of the country's workforce are expected to head back to work from Friday.

"Unfortunately, getting behind the wheel, turning the key and driving off with a vehicle that’s been parked for a long period is not always that simple," she said.

"In preparation for your next drive, start your vehicle ahead of the time to ensure it starts quickly and runs as it should.

"If your vehicle does not start immediately after the lockdown period, don’t panic. Breathe, take a step back and carry out a few checks. Unless there is a serious mechanical fault, it should start easily."

Drake offered five steps to take before starting your car for the first time after the hard lockdown is lifted.

1. Make sure your car is free from debris, rubbish and unwanted visitors

Your car may have become an inviting and warm shelter for insects and other pests while it was safely parked in your garage during the lockdown. Make sure to check the undercarriage, wheels and under the bonnet for any small animals before heading off. Take a deep breath and remove any nests, webs, or other debris. 

With no air having circulated through your vehicle for some time, your car may also have developed an unpleasant smell. Remove old sweet wrappers, fast-food packaging or an old packet of crisps, then use a vehicle air freshener to give your vehicle a fresh and welcoming smell.

2. Keep your car breathing well

You need clean air to breathe and so does your car. A vehicle's air filters make that possible. Make sure you have the engine and cabin filters inspected and changed regularly to ensure vehicle longevity and interior comfort.

When you replace your cabin filter, you will immediately notice a difference in your driving efficiency of your defrosting, heating and cooling system. A new cabin filter will also keep the interior clean and remove any odour from your vehicle.

3. Spot the signs of a flat or failing battery

The last thing you need is to try to start your vehicle and it won’t budge because of a dead battery. It is always handy to have jumper cable on hand, just in case.

There are some tell-tale signs that a battery is running flat or failing, so check these before heading out in a rush: dim headlights, a struggling starter motor and a change in the sound at idle.

4. Check the oil level

The fluids in your car are essential for the running of your engine. One of the most important types of fluid to monitor is your oil level. Checking your oil level after your car has been stationery for a while is something we should all do to make sure it’s safe to drive, prevent unexpected breakdowns and improve your car's performance.

5. Check the tyre pressure and maintenance

Don’t be surprised if one - or all - of your tyres have lost tyre pressure. Even while parked in a garage, the heavy weight of the vehicle and the cold floor on which the vehicle is parked tends to reduce tyre pressure. Also check for minor cracks in the tyres.