Well done for arriving at this last step in our three part blog series on how to extend the life of your car. Step 3 will show you how to future proof your car, but hopefully you would have followed both Step 1 and Step 2. If you haven’t, please click on the links below to go back to follow those steps.
1. Step 1 – Age Versus Mileage
2. Step 2 – Car Maintenance Checks
After following those steps you would have built up a decent level of knowledge about your vehicle; how it’s being used and the level of wear and tear of it’s parts. So what’s next? Keep reading to discover what you should do to ensure your vehicle is at it’s best?
Step 3: Future Proof Your Car
1. Wash and Polish – Seriously it’s not hard
It sounds simple but you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t do this simple task. Washing your car is as important as an annual service. Whether you live in a coastal town, a high elevation or drive on roads that are treated with grit, the bodywork will be attacked by salt and even tarmac flecks. Keeping the exterior clean and polished will ensure that you are doing your best to prevent rust. Rust can be a failure at your MOT and can be quite costly to pay a welder or body repair shop. Read our blog from the archive – How to Prevent Rusty Wheel Arches. The front bumper can be particularly hard to wash if you are trying to remove tarmac flecks, I have seen some people go at it with a scouring pad! Regular washing would prevent the build up of those stubborn flecks and make them easier to scrub off, (please don’t use a scouring pad).
Another really stubborn bombardment is bird poo, particularly pigeon poo! If your car is parked under a tree and gets pelted with pigeon mess, if it is not removed, it can actually burn through the paintwork. If bird poo is left it can be very hard to scrub off and your paintwork will need repair. If you polish your car, it will protect the paintwork as it coats the bodywork and help to make removal of dirt easier. If a regular wash and polish is still something you don’t have time for, at least consider keeping your lights and windscreen clean for your own safety. But do also consider that the removal of leaves is just as important as all of the above when you future proof your car. Leaves tend to slide down the windscreen and clog up the drainage channels that are designed to keep water out of the vehicle. If you allow leaves to build up and block these channels, that water will fill the foot-wells inside. The worst case scenario is you will literally have a puddle of water where your feet are, and you will need to remove the carpet as there is a layer of sponge under the carpet, which will need to be dried out fully otherwise, your windscreen will keep steaming up as there is too much moisture inside the car. In most cases, a pressure cleaner helps to clear out drainage channels.
2. Interior Hygiene – Bad smells will cost you a sale
If you smoke inside your car, or if you own a dog, just bear in mind that if you don’t use seat covers, the smell of smoke or wet dog will be incredibly difficult to remove. Once you wet any cloth material, including the foot wells and head liner, it releases more of the smell. Sometimes trying to valet the car with a good clean inside can make the smell worse before it gets better. It could take several valets to shift the smell. It’s very much a put off when you are trying to sell a used vehicle. If you are a smoker, it would be better and safer to resist the urge until you leave the car, but for a dog owner, try to protect as many surfaces as you can with covers. It will not only prevent dog hair from bedding into it, it will also protect the interior from scratch marks. Smells and hygiene issues don’t only exist if you have a dog, if you eat in your car or have children that drop food and you don’t regularly hoover the debris, this is not only unhygienic, but can also cause bad smells. Would you ever drop food on your floor at home and not pick it up? Would you leave food wrappers on the couch at home? Have you ever heard the science about your computer keyboard at work being as dirty as a toilet floor, now can you imagine how dirty your steering wheel might be? It may be unrealistic to clean your car as much as you do your house, but maybe at least use a sanitizer spray to keep on top of simple hygiene.
3. Frost Could Cost – But the sun is just as bad
If you are lucky enough to own a garage, de-clutter and park your car in it! Parking under cover goes a long way to protecting your car from all the outside elements; to future proof your car. A windscreen with ice build up not only wastes time in the morning scraping it and then demisting the windscreen, it could also cause minor chips to crack. Equally sun damage can wreck the plastic dashboard if it is constantly exposed to the heat of the sun. If a garage is not possible, consider using a windscreen protector, it doesn’t take long to place the cover over the glass and you have instant sun or frost protection.
4. Park it Right – Give yourself time
OK, you might be thinking this is scraping the barrel, but really it’s not and yet it’s a hard thing to be consistent with. We all know parking spaces can sometimes be particularly tight and inevitably you will have parked next to an arrogant or even accident prone person, who opens their door and chips your door paint, possibly leaving a dent behind. We all call this supermarket parking. Or maybe you park your car on a road and you know there is a risk of your windscreen mirror being bumped; scratching paintwork or cracking the mirror. To be consistent in caring for your vehicle in these scenarios, you could consider folding in your wing mirrors to ensure they are not damaged, also try to park furthest from the supermarket door where shoppers generally avoid as its less convenient. If you don’t like that idea, look down the side of your car, some cars already come with door protectors, which is a trim that sticks out to cushion any supermarket dings. If you don’t have one, consider buying a removable car door protector. There are also side door magnetic strips that you can stick on to.
5. SORN – Long term storage protection
If your car is not being used and you declare it SORN with the DVLA, think about its long term storage. If you ever want to have this car back on the road, disconnect the battery terminals, this will help to protect the life of the battery. But if the car is to be still for a long time, you should plan your calendar reminder to have the battery put back in so that you can start the car and allow the engine to warm up and the fluids to move round the system and plastics and rubber to warm and flex, this includes moving the car a bit so that you can turn the tyres over. This will allow the car to keep the components from sheer neglect; to reduce the aging process from being so stationary. If the car is going into any very long hibernation, it might be wise to seek professional advice to have fluids drained and tyres etc removed. Lastly, ensure the car is adequately covered or stored in a garage out of the elements. As explained in the previous bullets, we know that protecting your car from the weather is important, but even more so on a car that is SORN.
6. Refresh Insurance – Do you have breakdown cover?
It’s surprising how many people don’t know if they have roadside assistance on their car insurance. Most importantly, really think about what cover you need for your lifestyle. Basic roadside cover will only take you to the nearest garage, but if you have a preferred mechanic, a mechanic that knows your vehicle, that should always be where you want to be recovered to. Having a good consistent mechanic is also means to future proof your car. Be careful about insurance roadside policies that won’t help you if you breakdown at your home. If you are leaving for work and the car doesn’t start, that tends to be the scenario where you need roadside assistance at home. Mobile mechanics such as Panic Mechanic are fantastic in these situations, however, a mobile mechanic’s primary function is to repair rather than to roadside assist. Whilst a mobile mechanic will come to your home, they have a determined coverage area and you will also need to make a booking with your mobile mechanic, whilst roadside assistance means their primary function is to get to you on the day within a timescale and ensure you and your vehicle are safely back home, (at that point where a local mobile mechanic could then be booked), or at a local garage. In some cases roadside assistance might be able to get the car going, (there is a limit to what roadside repairs can be done), especially if it just needs a jump start and you would have already paid for that service via your insurance. Even if you use a local mobile mechanic as your preferred regular mechanic, having roadside assistance is worth the peace of mind for any lengthy travel.