Keeping our vehicles safe in a pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has touched just about every part of our lives, including how we use our cars. For some of us, our vehicles may be getting much less use than usual as we stay in our homes to protect our communities. For others, our cars may have become a vital isolated means of transport to travel to essential employment that is critical to keeping our society functioning. Keeping our vehicles safe, no matter what the use, remains essential.
Maintenance tips for idle vehicles
If your car is looking at a long period on the street or in the garage, it will pay to think about a few simple maintenance items on a regular basis. This will keep your car in tip-top shape for when you get back on the road. Preparing your car for a period of hibernation while you stay home is not too dissimilar from preparing to go on a road trip. The simple checks you’d normally conduct are a great place to start, even if your car isn’t going anywhere in a hurry!
- Lights – check that your head, parking, indicator, brake, reversing and number plate lights are in good working order. The safest way to do so is with two people, with appropriate social distancing measures: one to operate the lights, the other to observe.
- Windscreen wipers – fill the washer reservoir and keep your wiper blades clear of debris while your vehicle remains idle.
- Coolant – check your owner’s manual for specific advice about how to check your coolant level. Most vehicles will have a transparent coolant reservoir so you can check the level without touching the cap, but we still recommend you do this when the engine is cool.
- Engine oil – again, check your owner’s manual for detailed instructions on checking your oil levels. Remember to check the oil when the engine is cool, and be sure to park on a flat surface!
- Battery – it’s good practice to start your engine and take your vehicle for a short drive every now and again, provided it is safe and essential to do so. We recommend making sure your car gets a short drive every three to four weeks. If you do not have any essential travel to conduct (e.g. to pick up supplies), you may like to idle the engine for five minutes – if you do decide to do this, please be mindful of the dangers of exhaust fumes in enclosed spaces. It’s much safer to idle an engine in open space. Here’s some maintenance tips we pulled together recently on battery health.
- Tyres – walk around your vehicle and check for any obvious signs of wear and tear or low pressure.
Keeping your car clean
If you are driving your car, cleaning it regularly – alongside maintaining good social distancing and hand-hygiene practices – may reduce the risk of transmission significantly. Keeping your vehicle clean is as simple as using a water-based detergent and warm water to wipe down surfaces. Make sure you pay particular attention to frequently touched surfaces like:
- Door handles
- Steering wheel
- Gear stick
- Petrol cap / bonnet release
- Petrol cap and cover
- Indicator arms
- Buttons / switches
Be cautious of using disinfecting solutions that may damage the interior of your vehicle – detergent is sufficient. Our current increased hygiene practices in the workshop include disinfecting with a solution that is both effective and gentle on surface materials.
Filling up with petrol
While most petrol stations have now introduced stronger hygiene measures, it’s important to remember that the handle of a petrol pump has been touched by countless others before you. Keep some hand sanitiser with you in your vehicle and apply it before popping your petrol cap. It’s also a good idea to put on disposable gloves before leaving your car – once you’ve finished filling up your tank, these should be disposed of thoughtfully. Sanitise those hands again before you hop back in the car to avoid transferring any nasties to your door handle and steering wheel.
Servicing and mechanical repairs
Our contactless service option and temporary pick-up and drop-off procedure changes mean that it is still safe to keep your car up to date with its regular servicing schedule or any mechanical repairs. For customers who wish to take advantage of our contactless services, we can collect your car from your home or workplace free of charge. Our staff will practice rigorous hygiene, including wearing gloves at all times, while your car is in our care. We will clean, disinfect and return your vehicle to your home or workplace and arrange for payment via direct deposit or phone to avoid any unnecessary contact. Customers who still wish to drop-off and pick-up their own vehicle, our temporary procedures will ensure social distancing measures are carefully adhered to, and your vehicle will be cleaned and disinfected before pick-up. Complimentary loan vehicles are still available if you need to stay on the road for essential travel – these are also being cleaned and disinfected between use for the safety of our staff and customers. Call the workshop today on 03 9071 0146 to talk through the safest and most convenient option for you – we’ll take care of you and your vehicle.