As we roll into high summer, you might be getting excited about going on vacation. What do you plan to do with your car if you’re not taking it with you?
If you have dogs, cats or other pets, you’ll have made provision for them with an animal boarding facility or pet sitter. But most of us don’t think about our car sitting in the garage or on the drive while we’re away.
If you’re heading off on a holiday, business trip or other journey, especially if it’s for longer than a couple of weeks, then you should make sure your vehicle is taken care of too. It’s likely your main mode of transport in your everyday routine, so you don’t want to get home and find it’s in bad repair or won’t start.
Here are our top tips:
- Check and top up the various fluids before you head off. Make sure there’s enough water in the radiator and the engine oil is within recommended limits. (It’s not relevant for a summer trip, but in winter you might want to add antifreeze too.)
- Make sure your tire pressures are correct. Tire pressure tends to drop more quickly when a vehicle isn’t being used. If left standing for a lengthy period of time – we’re talking months rather than weeks – there’s also a higher chance they’ll develop flat spots.
- It’s a good idea to ensure there’s a reasonable amount of fuel in the tank. A fuller tank means less condensation, which can cause issues if it builds up over time.
- Clean it out. Get rid of any trash in your car before you go away. Crumbs or bits of food can go moldy and make the inside of your vehicle smell unpleasant; the odor can also be hard to eradicate. Don’t leave any valuables inside and especially not on view. This is important if your car is outside as it increases the chances of it being broken into.
- Ask a friend to check on it periodically. Mostly, they’ll just need to keep an eye on it to make sure all’s well. But if you’re away for a while, give them the spare ignition key and ask them to start it up. They don’t need to drive it anywhere, just let the engine run for ten minutes to keep the battery charged. According to the AA, a healthy battery in most modern cars should be fine for a couple of weeks or so. But if your battery is old, it will need some TLC. (If your car is kept in a garage, they should roll it outside before running the engine to prevent toxic exhaust fumes building up.)
- If you’re away for an extended period, ask them to check inside and under the hood periodically. The longer your vehicle stands unused, the more chance there is of mice or other animals deciding to set up home there – which could leave you with chewed-up wiring.
- For longer trips, it also makes sense to make sure the person keeping an eye on your car is insured to drive if it necessary – just in case there’s a problem.