2 November 2020
2 November 2020
Collecting cars is undoubtedly a hugely enjoyable hobby, but cherished vehicles do throw up a few more challenges than, say, stamps. Just for a start, collectors often have to clutter the pristine floors of their giant garages with things like “trickle chargers”.
A trickle charger is plugged in to keep the battery of a car that rarely gets its engine fired up from going flat, and unless you’ve got more cars than spare days in your week, you may never have seen nor heard of one. But with the strange year that 2020 has been, suddenly many of us are stuck with cars that don’t get driven as often, or as far, as they used to.
While in some ways it might seem like a good thing that you’re putting fewer kilometres on the clock, and saving on tyres and fuel, the fact is that motor vehicles, a bit like race horses, need to go for a run quite regularly, and that even when they’re not driving far, they still need tender loving car care.
Here, then, is our handy guide to keeping your car in tip-top shape, even when you’re not driving it.
Keeping your tyres at the right pressure is one of those things we should all be doing more often, regardless of lockdowns or reduced travelling, because it is a major safety issue.
Under-inflated tyres are not giving you the best possible contact patch with the road, and should you need to brake suddenly, or in slippery conditions, this could cost you, particularly in emergency situations where every metre counts.
Tyres are likely to drop pressure when sitting around not being driven, so be sure to take yours for a spin to the service station and then set your pressures to the maximum level suggested on your tyre placard (if you’re not sure where yours is, just check your manual).
More fuel you
It’s also a good idea to keep the fuel tank topped up, even if you’re not doing any long journeys. Any impurities in your fuel are more likely to settle and cause problems if there’s not enough fluid in the tank, so keep it topped up.
You probably don’t need to invest in a trickle charger, unless you do have multiple cars and you’re struggling to drive them all (and while we’re on that, if you do have more than one, and you don’t need to use them both that much, be sure to rotate them when you do go for a drive so they both get a shakedown now and then). But it is a good idea to think about your car’s battery and whether there’s a chance of it running flat.
If you’re forced to park your car for a while, you can set your vehicle to ‘Standby Mode’, using your Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND infotainment system, which will allow the vehicle to be parked for an extended period of time without losing charge, as the car adjusts its settings to draw less power from the battery.
Start me up
Ideally, if you’re legally allowed to, you would take your car for a drive, preferably at least once a week, and do so for long enough that the engine reaches operating temperature, as this will help with the circulation of vital fluids like oil. If the yellow-lit battery message is shown on your dash, then you might need to go for a longer drive until it disappears. Going for a drive isn’t just good for your engine, and your soul, it will also help to reduce flat spots on your tyres and remove any corrosion from your brakes.
If you can’t get out at all, then do at least start your engine and run it from time to time, even stationary, as this will make sure the battery doesn’t go flat. Be sure not to leave the vehicle unattended, of course, and also make sure that you’re only running the engine in a well-ventilated area.
If, on the other hand, you drive a Mercedes electric vehicle – or a hybrid – you need to make sure that your high-voltage battery is kept at 50 per cent charge or more. Fortunately, you don’t need to leave home to do that.
By Stephen Corby