Top 3 tips from Clive Buhagiar, Head of Operational Services, to avoid roadside assistance as lockdown is eased
During the nationwide lockdown, only those making essential travel have been able to keep their vehicles mobile. But it’s important for drivers about to set off for the first time, as well as those still not using their vehicles, to maintain the health of their company car, to avoid problems as normal travel habits resume.
We’re already seeing a surge in the volume of traffic on our roads and increased congestion in places as some industries head back to work safely, with minimal use of public transport. Therefore ensuring vehicles are roadworthy after a sustained period of inactivity will be a high priority for Fleet Managers.
- Start your vehicle for 15 minutes every week
Nearly 50% of all roadside assistance calls Alphabet is receiving via The AA at this time are due to flat batteries. For traditional petrol and diesel vehicles (internal combustion engines, ICE), remaining stationary for considerable amounts of time, along with short and infrequent journeys, means batteries are not being charged for long enough and drivers are finding themselves stranded with reduced access to roadside assistance support.
Drivers must ensure their vehicle is switched on for just 15 minutes a week, to prevent a surge in people experiencing flat batteries when lockdown is over. This can be done while it is sat on your drive or during your weekly trip to the supermarket. If it’s a petrol vehicle, this will also prevent the engine from being flooded with fuel. Stationary vehicles may result in an increase of breakdowns, leading to long recovery delays and reduced supply of replacement batteries, as supply chains re-open post-lockdown and catch up with demand.
For owners of Electric Vehicles (EV) or Plug-in Hybrids (PHEV), a fully charged electric battery will actually last for a number of weeks even when not being driven, as a Li-Ion battery has a low self-discharge rate. This means it requires less frequent charges than with a diesel or petrol vehicle. EV and PHEV drivers are advised to leave their vehicle connected to a home charger 'wall box' when possible, as charging will automatically stop once the battery is fully charged and the vehicle will be ready to drive whenever you need it.
- Ensure tyre pressure is at the correct level
As the country begins to return to the ‘new normal’, we need to prepare for things to be less ‘on demand’ than they once were. Service, Maintenance and Repair centres are likely to have a backlog of customers already waiting for their vehicles to be serviced. If the health of your vehicle is not maintained during lockdown, you may have to wait some time for any repairs needed after returning to the roads. Tyres will form a big part of this, and are often an overlooked element of the vehicle.
Make sure you check your tyre pressure is at the correct level for the vehicle specification, to save yourself needing any costly tyre replacements once you’re back on the road.
- Ensure fluid levels are correct
Similarly to tyres, many people will not think to check under the hood of their vehicle when they return to the road. Just a quick check of your fluid levels before your first journey out, could be the difference between you making it from A to B, or having to call for roadside assistance on route. Ensure both the oil and water levels are at the correct level before setting off, and you’ll save yourself both time and money in the long run.
Maintaining vehicle health for both petrol and diesel vehicles, as well as electric cars, during lockdown remains an important step for your future travel habits and these simple tips will help keep you on the move. You should also make sure your vehicle is kept clean and in a safe place to prevent any additional damage outside of the more common roadside assistance calls we’re currently seeing. Drivers are also encouraged to check the vehicle handbook for specific guidance on care and maintenance, especially in the case of Electric Vehicles.