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Keeping your car safe during lockdown

Keeping your car safe during lockdown

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have changed the way you use your car. Here’s how to keep it well maintained and safe while stay-at-home measures are in force.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
posted 14 MAY 2020

Please note: The information in this article was correct at the time of publication on 14 May 2020, but, because of the impact of COVID-19, things are changing rapidly. We aim to keep this page updated, but please check with your insurance provider or potential provider directly to confirm any details.

Driving and COVID-19

Stay-at-home measures mean many of us are using our cars a lot less. So how can you make sure your car is safe and in good condition for when you can start driving it regularly again? We take a look at some of the key maintenance issues.

Am I allowed to use my car during lockdown?

Yes, you can. On 13 May the Government announced a slight relaxation of the lockdown rules in England. However, the government is continuing to urge people to stay at home as much as possible, and to try to reduce the amount they travel.

Before you travel, decide if your journey is essential. For example, you may only need to drive for work, to go to the shops, for medical reasons, or possibly to reach an outdoor recreation area. If you do have to drive, try to stay local as much as possible.

It’s worth remembering that you can only travel in a private vehicle on your own, or with members from your own household.

See GOV.UK for more details.

Should I keep my car on the road?

One thing to consider is whether you’ll need to use your car at all during the lockdown period. If the answer is no, then you could save on road tax and insurance by making a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). Remember that if you do this, you can’t drive or even park your car on a public road.

Will my car’s battery deteriorate if I don’t use my car?

Immobilisers and in-car computer systems can drain your battery, so you might find it goes flat if you don’t use it for a few weeks. If you’re not making essential journeys in your car, you can try using a battery conditioner or trickle charger to keep it topped up. Or, if you keep your car in a garage, you could use a smart charger.  

What about electric or hybrid car batteries?

Ideally, these should be kept charged to a certain percentage so as not to affect the performance of the car. Consult your owner’s manual for specific details. 

Should I start my car occasionally if I’m not using it?

It might help to prevent your battery going flat if you start your engine and run it for 15 minutes, or so, once a week. But remember to stay in the car when you’re doing this.

How do I keep my car secure during lockdown?

If you don’t have a garage, park your car as close to your home as possible and take all your valuables out of it so that it’s not a target for thieves. You might want to add some extra security equipment, like a steering wheel or handbrake lock.

What if my car needs an MOT during lockdown?

MOT expiry dates after 30 March 2020 have been extended by six months. To make sure your MOT has been extended, check on the GOV.UK website three days before it’s due to expire.
The MOT extension doesn’t mean you can drive a car that isn’t roadworthy. If you need to go on an essential journey by car, do the basic checks before setting off – including oil, water, brake fluid and tyre pressure – to make sure your car is safe. Also check your lights and brakes are working properly.

What happens if I break down while driving?

The AA and the RAC have said their patrols are still going out to breakdowns. Both are also offering free services to NHS workers. Find out more about breakdown cover.

For more on driving during COVID-19, see our coronavirus and motoring FAQs

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