So the world is in the grips of the most serious infectious disease since the Spanish Flu in 1918, it could well be months before our lives return to normal.
The streets are empty (perfect!), but we’re only allowed out for essential activities…so what does a car aficionado do with all this time at home?!
We’ve come up with a range of car related things to keep you occupied, save you money and cost you money during the lockdown.
1. SORN your car
If you have more than one car then SORN it, there’s no point in paying road tax if the car is just sitting there.
In fact, SORN your one and only car during lockdown, you might well need the money in three, four, six months – you’ve got a higher chance of winning the Euromillions than getting caught by the DVLA for having no tax on your jaunt to the shops.
There are far bigger things going on in the world.
(Now there’s a bit of advice you wouldn’t get in Autocar)
2. Put your insurance on hold
If you’ve SORN’d a car, and AREN’T going to drive it at all, then you can most likely put your car insurance on hold.
This means at the end of your policy you’ll get a refund for your unused months, all you need to do is send over the proof of tax to your insurance provider when you start using the car again – winning.
Now we’ve saved you a healthy packet, spend it on the below to help businesses stay afloat while all this is going on. Psst, you’re also saving a shit load of fuel too!
3. Get a car cover
If you don’t have a garage, it’s well worth investing in a car cover. Sun damage can cause paint and plastics to fade, headlights to yellow and tyres to crack – especially if you sit your car in the same place for a long time.
If you’re feeling flush, and don’t have the luxury of a garage, then an outdoor Carcoon could well be a good investment. They help to keep moisture out, stopping rust, while protecting your paintwork from the elements.
4. Install a DAB radio
Most older cars are pre-DAB, and while the fearful FM switch-off has been stopped the choice and clarity you get with DAB radio is far superior to what FM can offer.
Have a look at the Pure Highway range, a few years ago we reviewed the entry-level 200 model, but since then they’ve added the 400 and 600 models which can allow handsfree calling and control of music on your phone.
Just make sure you purchase them from either Amazon or Halfords…shipping is slow around the world right now.
5. Learn how to detail your car properly
Cleanliness is next to Godliness. And before you put that car cover on, or tuck your baby away in the garage, you really need to detail it properly.
If you need some hints and tips head on over to Detailing World, they have tons of guides in their forum and advice from members is second to none.
Oh, and you know all those horrible scratches you can see in your paintwork when the sun is directly on it? They’re swirls from bad washing practice. You need to buy a machine polisher, some pads and cutting compound to remove those.
A good eight hours can easily be spent properly detailing a car.
6. Give your car a service
There’s no better time to get stuck in and dirty those already over-washed hands.
Euro Car Parts are still open and delivering car parts during the lockdown, so you can stock up on the right service bits for your car. Just enter your registration, click on the ‘Service Parts’ section, and work your way down the list.
In your cars service book, it should tell you what needs changing for a minor or major service.
Servicing a car is incredibly easy; you just unscrew or open things and replace them. Changing the air filter, pollen filter and spark plugs is childsplay.
The only messy bit is changing the oil filter and oil, to do this you’ll need an oil drain pan – buy one that seals and looks like a jerry can, then you can take it to the dump, pour it out and reuse it the next time. They come in either 7-litre versions or 10-litre models, but the cheaper 7 at under £15 should be enough.
And you may also need a trolley jack and axle stands if you don’t have them already, a set of both in a smart case will cost you around £50 – compare that to the price of a service, and you’ll be quids in.
7. Top up your tyres
Let’s face it, most of our cars will be sat for quite a while…
With that in mind, pump up the tyres to a higher pressure than you usually would. This will stop them from getting flat spots from where they’ve been sat unmoved.
Alas, you need a tyre pump to be able to do this. We’ve reviewed many over the years, but one of the best currently on the market is the Ring RTC1000 – it’s sturdy and well built, ours has stood the test of time without issue.
By the way, you should be checking your tyre pressures every other week anyway. Just saying.
8. Upgrade your lights
Did you know that over time the brightness of bulbs deteriorates? If your car is 5-10 years old, those lamps could be getting very leggy. Undoubtedly you wouldn’t have noticed the drop in lumens, but it’s worth giving your headlights a refresh at the very least.
Again, Euro Car Parts is a good way to find what bulbs your car needs without hunting around for the manual. But don’t be afraid to look on eBay for those H7 bulb bargains.
Personally, we recommend the Philips White Vision bulbs, don’t go for the ‘Ultra’ ones as they seem to have mixed reviews relating to their whiteness.
But over the last five years, we’ve run White Vision H7’s in the Peugeot 207, and they’re still going strong, giving a crisp white light compared to the yellow-tinged ones the car originally came with.
While you’re at it, there are a ton of different LED bulbs on the market these days, from indicators and sidelights to brake bulbs, nearly all are plug and play and will increase the brightness over their filament counterparts.
9. Buy a trickle charger
Batteries don’t like being sat for long periods of time without use, if your car battery sinks below a critical level it can become un-chargeable, meaning you’ll need to fork out for a new battery. The last thing you want to be doing is spending money on your car after the lockdown finishes.
If you’ve got outside power, then around £30 can bag you a fully automatic trickle charger. Just plug it in and forget about it. Once the battery is charged, it will keep it at a ‘float’ level topping it up when it drops every now and then.
There are more expensive models out there, which have fancier features – like a Bluetooth connection so you can keep an eye on charging states. But these are really for the super geeky among us.
10. Fit a dashcam
I know, I know, you look like a knob with a dashcam. But for peace of mind while parked up during this lockdown they can make total sense, couple your car with a trickle charger and the majority of cameras will stay alive indefinitely, either continuously recording or just when they see motion if they have that ability.
There are a lot of cameras now which are pretty small and inconspicuous, in our mind the smaller, the better. Hide them behind your rear view mirror, and they can even look like a factory fit item.
There you go, ten car things to be cracking on with during lockdown, the money saved by servicing your car yourself, putting your insurance on hold and SORNing your ride can be used for a few choice upgrades along the way.
And if you get stuck, there’s always a trusty Haynes manual to guide you through.