You intended to leave your car for just a short time, but for one reason or another that turned into a few weeks. Now it won't start, it's started to rust – and there's a nice collection of parking tickets stuck under the windscreen wiper.
It's a sorry tale, and one that's easily avoided.
The pandemic may mean that you're using your car much less than usual and if it remains parked in the same place for weeks, that can take a toll.
If there's a chance you might not be using your vehicle for a while take a little time to prepare it for the break – and find a good place to leave it.
For Constantin Hack of the Auto Club Europa (ACE), that last point is the most important. "Single garages, communal car parks or on your own property might all be good options," he says, "but if you're leaving it in a public place there are a few things you should keep in mind."
Different countries have different rules, but in Germany a vehicle parked for an extended period of time has to be registered, have a valid MOT sticker, legible number plates and the lights must be clean.
"There is no rule on how often the owner must check on her or his vehicle," says Hack, "but owners should do so regularly – preferably once a week."
You should bear in mind that temporary parking bans can be imposed, and your vehicle – particularly if it's a van or mobile home – could block the view of other road users or residents. "Being considerate to others saves everyone trouble," says Hack.
Hans Gerd Brauneiser, the owner of a car maintenance business in Cologne, recommends increasing the tire pressure by 0.2 bar, filling up the fuel tank and waxing the washed vehicle before parking.
Then it's off to find a suitable parking space. "Under trees, the vehicle will get dirty very quickly," says Brauneiser. "Leaves and bird droppings take their toll on the paintwork, and leaves can clog up drainage gullies – that can cause corrosion and dampness in the interior."
When you eventually come to move the vehicle Brauneiser advises light braking manoeuvres for the first few meters – always paying attention to the traffic behind. After a period of weeks rust can form on the brake discs, which reduces braking performance. Owners should ideally then drive directly to a petrol station to adjust the tire pressure to the prescribed level.
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