How do I lay up my car if I’m not using it?

lay up a car

Several drivers have been in touch to ask how they lay up a car to keep it healthy over winter. This can be made tougher by low temperatures which pose cars and their owners with a new set of challenges.

If you can, store your car in a garage

It’s no secret that most garages are used for storing family junk rather than cars. Admittedly, a lot of garages are a very tight fit for the modern motor but if you need to store your car, there really is no better place.

Putting it in a garage will keep your car away from the worst of the weather. And it’ll hide it from the prying eyes of anyone who might be looking to nick your sat nav or sunglasses. If you do put it in a garage, give it a good wash before you do so.

Think about where you park

If you can, park your car on the flat and away from trees. It’s also handy if you can leave it where you can keep an eye on it. If you are parked on the flat, leave the car in gear (or Park for an automatic) and take the parking brake off. This will stop the brakes seizing on.

If your car is parked on your drive or right outside your house and it has ‘keyless’ technology, buy a faraday pouch for the key.

Check all your fluids

To leave a car in cold weather it’s advisable to check all the fluids. You can get an anti-freeze tester for about £5. This will check the concentration of anti-freeze in your coolant. It’s important to have the right consistency to prevent coolant freezing in your engine.

Check your screenwash too. Proper screenwash has a lower freezing point than water. Topping up your screenwash bottle with neat solution will help ensure it doesn’t turn to ice when temperatures drop.

Buy a battery charger

The battery is the most vulnerable part of your car’s mechanical system in low temperatures. Cold weather requires more current to start the engine. And freezing conditions also cause the battery’s cells to degrade. If your car has a weak battery, cold weather will expose that weakness.

The answer, if you can, is to charge the battery. The best way to do that is with a smart charger. These help to condition batteries as well as recharging them. And with the best ones, you can charge the battery without taking it out of the car.

lay up a car

Think about a car cover

If you don’t have a garage, consider investing in a car cover. It will stop debris, weather and small animals damaging your car. It will also protect it from the prying eyes of the local villains and vandals who’ll probably be encouraged to move to a softer target.

Fill it up with fuel

Before you leave your car, fill it to the brim with fuel. This will limit the build-up of condensation in the fuel tank while it’s left idle.

If you drive an electric car, ideally you’ll leave it with the battery charged slightly more than half. This should help to preserve the cells.

Run the engine

If you can, start your car once every week or two. Then run the engine for around 15 minutes. This will help to keep the battery charged. It’s OK to run your engine while the car’s stationary. If you can, it’s much better to take the car for a drive. This ensures components such as brake calipers don’t seize up.

Check the windscreen

Give your windscreen a once over for damage. If it’s chipped, the temperature changes caused by the weather getting colder overnight could gradually turn a small chip into a large crack. Have it fixed. It’s probably covered by your insurance.

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