tips to ensure the car is fit for the school run, after lockdown

with english schools re-opening, here are some tips on how to ensure the car is fit to return to the school run, if it has been parked or had only limited use during lockdown.

tips to ensure the car is fit for the school run, after lockdown

Visual inspection

First, walk around the car and give it a visual inspection to ensure it hasn't received any dents or knocks, especially if it has been parked on the road. Check the wheel arches and underneath the car and bonnet to make sure no animals have nested there over the winter.

Checking fluids under the bonnet

It's important to check the oil, brake fluid and windscreen washer levels under the bonnet before you get back out on the roads. These can all be easily topped up at home if low.

Turning on the engine

Even if the car hasn't been used during the lockdown, the battery can still drain itself and it could be flat when you turn the ignition on for the first time. When you start the car, experts recommend letting the engine run for a while. For conventional petrol and diesel engines approximately 20 minutes of running time is recommended to restore the battery charge used on start up. For its hybrid vehicles, experts recommend running the engine for at least an hour once a week to keep the battery topped up.

Checking the brakes

As cars may not have been driven during lockdown or have only been used for short trips, there is a chance the brakes might have become corroded. This is more noticeable in cars that have been parked in the open, as rain and moisture can cause corrosion to progress more quickly. Brake corrosion is normal and can be removed by gently pushing the brake pedal several times while the car is travelling at a slow speed and when the roads are clear of other traffic.

Checking tyre pressures

It is important to make sure that all four tyres are still inflated to the correct pressure. In most vehicles the required pressures will be listed in the vehicle handbook and on a label in the driver's side door recess. If your car has a spare tyre, don't forget to check that too.

Cleaning the car

We also recommend cleaning the car inside and out. Not only will this help give your car a showroom-fresh feeling, it will also help remove any germs and dirt that have collected during lockdown. With a pack of wipes, a pair of gloves and a dry microfibre cloth, you can give most of the touch points a thorough clean. Make sure you wipe each part of the interior at least twice with a forwards and backwards motion to clean it completely. Using bleach-free anti-bacterial wipes will kill 99.9 per cent of germs lingering on the steering wheel or gearstick.

Essential safety kit

Make sure all the usual safety kit is to hand in the boot and glovebox, such as warning triangle, jack, wheel wrench, hi-vis vest, and first aid kit, that may have been removed from the car during the lockdown.