Why your car needs a spring break – Part 5

Posted on April 21st, 2021 by Rob Marshall

Why your car needs a spring break - Part 5

While recent GEM technical blogs have looked at why the 12-volt battery, engine oil, exhaust and emission controls can be affected by cold weather, infrequent use, and/or multiple short journeys, they are not alone. Therefore, the final part of our post-lockdown checks include components that are worth either inspecting from home, or having a garage do it for you.


1  Tyres. – Tyres still deteriorate when not in use, not help by the natural pressure loss that occurs over time. The rubber degrades and perishes, especially if exposed to sunlight, so look for splitting on both the inner and outer surfaces. If your car possesses air suspension, the rubber bladders benefit from being ‘exercised’, so raise and lower the suspension height several times.


2  Bodywork – If not done so already, wash your car to remove harmful tree sap, road salt and dirt from the paint finish. Do not forget to rinse under the wheel arches and the floor pan to reduce the corrosion risk. Consider applying a protective wax afterwards. We shall look into this topic in more depth later this year. Check all drain holes are unblocked and that water has not entered any lamp units.


3  Brakes – The braking system on all vehicles can corrode and bind. Check that the vehicle moves freely and that the brakes (including handbrake) disengage fully. If you smell burning linings as you drive, find a safe place to stop and detect if any wheel is getting warm. Never touch any part of a hot braking system.


4  Belts – Certain drive belts, especially the timing belt, have both mileage and time-based replacement schedules, whichever comes first. Low mileage lockdown motoring should not be seen as an excuse to extend these intervals.


5  Air conditioning – You may find that air conditioning that worked perfectly prior to the winter lockdown no longer does so. Refrigerant seepage is the most likely cause but note that air conditioning deteriorates faster the longer it is unused. Ask your garage to investigate, should you suspect that the system no longer works. As the cabin/pollen filter might have become damp, it is likely to harbour bacteria, the spores of which can be blown into the cabin through the air vents.