With England back under the instruction of essential trips only during the third national lockdown, cars across the country are gathering dust on driveways and in garages.

Lockdown is keeping many of us inside, with the ‘stay at home’ message cutting down the amount of time we use our vehicles.

And with more of us left neglecting our cars, a Watford garage has revealed some of the biggest mistakes that we may be making with them during lockdown.

David Reid, Head of Business at Volvo Cars Watford on Greenhill Crescent, has revealed five easy tips for residents to ensure their cars are in working condition when it is time to get back on the road.

Battery basics

To keep your battery charged, people are being told to run their car’s engine for a short amount of time every so often.

Mr Reid said: “A good baseline for battery usage is to run your car’s engine for five minutes every three or four days when your car isn’t being used. This helps ensure the battery stays charged.

“The battery would usually re-charge as you drive the car, so when the car is not in use, the battery is more likely to go flat without you noticing.”

Perfect placement

Parking somewhere sheltered or buying a car cover would be a better option than storing your car at the side of the road, Mr Reid said.

He said: “Storing your car on the side of the road for weeks on end isn’t ideal for keeping it in perfect condition because it’ll be exposed to direct sunlight, rain and dust. It’s a good idea to try to park your car somewhere sheltered such as a garage.

“However, if this isn’t possible, it might be a good idea to invest in a car cover to help protect your car from the elements. This will also mean you avoid being met with frost-covered windows when you’re on your way to the shop!”

Idle time

Me Reid has revealed the best way to bring your car engine up to temperature.

He said: “It is actually a myth that you need to leave your car’s engine on for a few minutes before you set off to ‘warm it up’. This, in fact, wastes fuel unnecessarily and is harmful to the environment – all that is required is 30 seconds to circulate the engine’s oil, then you’re good to go.

“The best way to bring your engine up to operating temperature is to drive the car gently at first.”

Correct pressure

People should check their car’s tyre pressures before setting off, Mr Reid said.

He said: “A car’s tyres naturally lose pressure over time, and it’s all too easy to miss this when your car is parked up for weeks on end. On average, tyres lose about one to two PSI of pressure per month, so be sure to check them before you drive your car again, even if it’s just a short journey.

“Use a tyre pressure gauge to check your tyres are correctly inflated (you’ll find the recommended pressure in your car’s handbook, on the car’s bodywork you see when you open the driver’s door, or on the inside of the fuel filler cap). If the pressures are even slightly lower than recommended, using a foot pump or visiting a local petrol station to fill them up will set them right.”

Ask the experts

Mr Reid said: “During lockdown, most car retailers are still operational for MoT tests, services and repairs, so if you think there is something wrong with your car, it is still possible to have it checked out. If you can’t leave your house, or would just like some advice about preparing your car for regular use, many showrooms are available for virtual appointments so you can ask questions.

"If you’ve even decided to replace your old car or just want a new one, you can still purchase during lockdown. Many car retailers are offering excellent deals at the moment – for instance, Volvo Cars Watford is offering 0% APR finance, up to £100 off accessories and a SIM card with 100GB of data on all its Volvo Selekt Approved Used cars from Friday 22nd January until Monday 25th January 2021.”