June 22, 2021
Top Ten Tips for Post Lockdown Driving
Over the past year, most of us have done a lot less driving than usual. Now though, with things starting to open up again (albeit gradually), life is getting back to some sort of normal. For many, that also means a return to a more structured working day.
Before you even think about getting back in your car to resume the daily commute, we advise you carry out a few essential vehicle checks, whether you drive a company vehicle or your own car.
All of these things will be checked as part of the regular maintenance service offered by your fleet management provider, but, as the driver, you have a responsibility to report any faults or issues and, ultimately, a few straightforward checks could help to keep you and your passengers safe.
Here are our top ten essential checks:
Check your battery as a priority. It’s not uncommon for cars that have been unused for a period of time to suffer battery issues. If a jump start won’t do the trick, you’ll need to arrange for a replacement battery to be fitted. If yours is a company car, your fleet management company (or company fleet manager) will be able to make the arrangements for you.
Your car probably won’t sit unused in quite the same way in the future (we hope not, anyway). But, if for any reason it does, it is worth running the engine regularly – and, better still, taking it for a short drive from time to time.
As a general rule, it is always best to turn the lights, music, heated seats and any other electrical systems off before you shut down the car’s engine. Even with a healthy battery, it will help preserve its life. And remember that jump starting your engine can put additional strain on the battery and may damage the engine management system and other delicate electronics.
Look at each tyre and check for cracks, cuts and bulges. You’ll also need to test the pressure of all four tyres. If they’re below the recommended level, it will affect the vehicle’s handling and its fuel consumption. Low pressure can also cause the tyres to wear down more quickly.
3. Warning Lights
Scan the dashboard when you first turn the ignition key. If any warning lights are illuminated, check the manual and take appropriate action. There may be a simple fix (like a quick fuse change) but, if in any doubt, contact your fleet management company or fleet manager for advice or, alternatively, book in at an approved garage.
4. Headlights and Indicators
Turn the lights (headlights, brake lights, fog lights and indicators) on one at a time to check they are all still working. If nobody is around to help, pull up in front of a reflective surface and you will be able to see whether the lights come on in the reflection. Turn the car around and repeat to check the reversing and fog lights. It will save you getting in and out of your vehicle multiple times!
5. Fluid Levels
Park on a flat surface and check fluid levels, including oil, screen wash, engine coolant. If your car is on a sloped surface, you may not get an accurate reading.
Oil and engine coolant levels should be between the minimum and maximum marks on the relevant dipstick. If you need to top the oil up, make sure you check your vehicle’s handbook to confirm the recommended oil type.
Test the brakes! They shouldn’t feel slack or spongy, nor should the vehicle pull to one side. It’s possible the brakes may have seized after a period of inactivity. If that is the case you’ll be able to feel it when you drive – they won’t fully disengage so, in essence, you’re driving with the brakes applied slightly all the time. And that, in turn, will cause the brake pads and transmission to suffer a greater level of wear and tear.
Scan your windscreen for chips and scratches. Any damage larger than 40mm in size (or 10mm if it’s directly in the driver’s line of vision) needs to be repaired for the car to be roadworthy (and pass an MOT if it requires one). It’s always best to have windscreen damage repaired as quickly as possible anyway – cracks will become larger over time and could create an issue when you are least prepared.
8. Diesel Particulate Filter
Make sure you recognise the particulate filter warning light so that you will be aware, should this becomes an issue. The filter is important because it reduces emissions by capturing and storing soot from the diesel your vehicle is burning. Driving at higher speeds helps to burn it off but if the vehicle has only pottered around at slow speeds on short journeys, the filter may need to be profressionally cleaned at a garage.
9. Animal Life
Peek underneath your car and in the bonnet for signs of animal life. It is not as unusual as you might think for birds and other wildlife to take up home! Vehicles can be a place of shelter, warmth and sometimes even food. If you do encounter any wildlife, try not to disturb the animal or bird anymore than you need to and contact a suitable local animal charity for further advice if you need it.
10. Allow Yourself Time
Take a moment to refamiliarise yourself with your car, think through your journey to work, and check you have everything you need in your vehicle. Maybe you usually have a good stash of coins for parking, or you like to keep water and snacks in the glove compartment? Replenish your supplies before that first journey back to the office and plan carefully so your commute is as straightforward and stress free as possible.
Find out more about the benefits of fleet maintenance provision with Wessex Fleet here.