Car care tips: Prepare your car for long-term storage and avoid costly repairs!

Planning on going on holiday? Then follow these easy steps to protect your ride before you set off!

it’s the festive season, and a considerable number of UAE residents tend to go on holidays around this time. But before you pack your bag, give your cat to your neighbour and jet off, you’ve got to make sure you have prepared your car for long-term storage – it could save you from costly repairs when you get back.

Here are some simple tips that you ought to follow which can help keep your car in tip top shape for when you return:

1 – Keep it covered

By storing your car in your underground parking (or garage) and away from the elements, you will be protecting the paint and body from damage which can be caused by prolonged sun exposure. If you don’t have this option then you should at least cover it with a weatherproof car cover which can be purchased from most petrol stations or hardware shops. It’s also a good idea to leave the windows very slightly open which will allow air to circulate inside.

2 – Handbrake off!

Older cars have a hand/foot operated handbrake and it’s not advisable to leave this on for an extended period of time as it can seize. It’s better to place a brick or piece of wood in front of the tyres to stop your car from rolling away; if it’s an automatic and in Park it won’t go anywhere but if it’s a manual and in Neutral, it might not be where you left it!

Supplied: Don't yank up your handbrake! The brakes could cease if you leave it for a long period of time...

3 – Tired tyres

If you plan to be away for more than two or three months you might want to consider raising the car off the ground by using a stand as this will reduce the load on the tyres which otherwise can release air resulting in reduced pressure. Before travelling, it’s a good practice to inflate them to the maximum recommendation pressure (check your owner’s manual or sidewall of the tyre if you’re unsure what the maximum should be) as this will help reduce the risk of returning to a flat tyre when you’re back from your holiday.

Supplied: Be sure to inflate your tyres to the maximum pressure before you jet off

4 – Change the oil and filter

You don’t need to do this if you’re only going to be away for a couple of weeks but if you plan to be away for over a month then it’s advisable to get an oil and filter change. Why? Because used engine oil has contaminants that could potentially damage the engine.

Supplied: Remember - it's not just fresh oil that you'll need but a new filter too!

5 – Fill up the tank

It’s a good idea to fill the tank with fuel as this will stop moisture from accumulating inside it – otherwise condensation could contaminate the fuel.

Supplied: Remember to fill up the tank!

6 – Protect the battery

If the car is parked for a long period of time the chances of the battery going flat are rather high. Some people recommend disconnecting the battery but this isn’t the best thing to do as it’ll not only muck up your presets on the radio, it’ll also disconnect the alarm. Instead, a battery tender (aka trickle charger) can be hooked up to the car battery on one end, and plugged into a wall outlet on the other. This will deliver the minimum level of electrical power your car needs and it will keep the battery charged.

Supplied: A flat battery is the last thing you'd want when you return from vacation...

Once you’re back from your holiday and need to get your car ready for the road once again, follow these tips to make sure everything is in good working order:

1 – Give your car a thorough inspection, check the fluids to make sure there haven’t been any leaks, pop the bonnet and see if the wires have been chewed (rats love a nibble!) or if there’s nothing nesting there (cats love a cozy engine bay!)

2 – Check your tyres – is the pressure ok, are they flat, do you have any flat spots?

3 – Check that the brakes are operational

4 – Reconnect the battery (if you didn’t get a tender) and check if you have any charge. If not, it’ll need a jump start

5 – Book it in for a full checkup/service

6 – Make sure your insurance and registration hasn’t expired while you’ve been away