Evesham & District

Tips for Self-isolating Cars

Tips for self-isolating your car

Posted on March 26th, 2020 by GEM Motoring Assist

Caring for your vehicle, especially your battery, until restrictions are lifted

Many of our members will not be using their vehicles as regularly as they normally would, which means the vehicle’s battery may lose its charge. Turning the car over and starting it for a short period of time, probably will not help the battery charge and may well drain a battery which is already weak. If you are worried about your battery losing its charge and you do not have any charging devices, please check your vehicle’s manual or visit the manufacturer’s website for advice before you take it upon yourself to take action. It is very important our members check guidance first as battery removal or even attempting to jump start certain vehicles could result in unnecessary and costly damage to the vehicle. Please always check first.

If you have some spare time whilst your vehicle is not being used, there are measures that you can take to help protect your vehicle and save unnecessary costs in the long term.

The current situation is involving us all in travelling less and households running several cars are looking to stop the use of at least one of them. Should you plan to take a car off the road temporarily, we hope that the following tips are useful:

1. SORN – if you decide to cash in your car tax and make a Statutory Off Road Notification, the car must neither be used, nor parked, on a public road. It must be stored on private property.

2. Continuous Insurance Enforcement – should you decide to either cancel your insurance policy, or allow it to lapse, obviously you must not use the car but do not forget that a taxed car must be insured as well. Otherwise, you are likely to receive an automated fine. A SORN must also be declared.

3. Tyres – if you have access to a tyre inflator at home, increase the tyre pressures to a level that does not exceed the maximum recommended pressure that is marked on the sidewall. This will help to reduce the development of flat spots, while the car is standing unused. Never over-inflate the tyres and then drive home, because this is an offence.

4. Car batteries (12 volt) – lead-acid batteries deteriorate rapidly if not fully charged. Most cars discharge their batteries gradually – some cars flatten them entirely in as little as 2-3 weeks. Taking the car for a short drive is also unlikely to replenish a fairly flat battery, because this process can take at least 6-8 hours. We recommend that you use a Smart Charger and follow the manufacturer instructions carefully. This will prevent the battery from being badly damaged, by being left discharged (or ‘flat’). Consult the instruction manuals for both your car and your smart charger carefully. Note that most hybrid cars possess both a lead-acid 12v battery that can be recharged. If this is flat, the high voltage battery will not power-up.

5. Paintwork – be wary of parking your car in areas that can damage the paintwork, such as beneath trees. We recommend that you wash the car totally and apply a protective wax (not a polish), which will help to create a barrier and protect the finish. Keep an eye on the finish and ensure that damaging deposits, such as bird droppings, are cleaned away promptly.

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Honest John: how coronavirus can be spread by hand dryers in motorway washrooms

Many of us know that oft-touched surfaces in our cars may harbour coronavirus, but what if you stop for a comfort break during a long journey?

Motorists and truck drivers are exposed to bacteria and viruses in washrooms on motorways because anything lurking on hand-dryers is dislodged and rendered airborne. Blow dryers either create aerosols from the wet hands they are drying or they excite the aerosols from coughs, sneezes, handwashing and toilet flushes that are already in the vicinity. Faeces and urine contain CV19 and other viral particles. Any bacterial, viral or fungal disease can be easily transmitted via aerosols. These dryers are really dangerous in times such as these. Can you alert other drivers, please?

Let us not say "you’ve put your finger on it” but you have alerted us to a disturbing issue. If you have to undertake a long journey, I recommend carrying your own paper towels to dry your hands. A microbiological study showed that jet air dryers disperse 20 times more virus than warm air dryers and 190 times more than paper towels. Virologist Dr James Robb MD FCAP tells us that if someone sneezes, the coronavirus carries for about 10 feet before it drops and is no longer airborne. It then lives for at least 12 hours on metal surfaces or for 6–12 hours on fabric, but remains infectious for up to a week. The virus can only live on our hands for 5–10 minutes, but we touch our faces up to 90 times a day so are advised to wash or sanitise our hands often in case we touch anything to which the virus has adhered. Coronavirus enters our bodies by our noses and our mouths leading to a throat infection, which is the first stage of COVID-19 pneumonia. If it can be stirred up by hand blow-dryers to become airborne and inhaled in a confined space, so it is best not use them.