Motor vehicles of all types form an integral part of our lives. In fact, after a home/property purchase, it’s the second-largest purchase that many of us make and with that comes the maintenance part. So how does one care for the motor vehicles in the time of this lockdown period?
One of the most important components of your car is the battery as the power can run out. So to circumvent this, I suggest that you start the engine at least once every four days. Should the car be parked in a locked garage then the garage door must be open to letting out the carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde, benzene, soot and other fumes that emit from the exhaust.
These fumes can be detrimental to the human body if consistently inhaled in large quantities. Ideally, let the engine run on ‘idle’ for at least 5-10 minutes. This ensures that the components of the vehicle receive a fair share of lubricants, petrol and water running through the various systems. Disconnecting the battery is an option but only if your vehicle is not going to be used for a period greater than 14 days.
We are all used to driving off to the local car wash to get the vehicle cleaned. But these establishments are closed for the lockdown period. This presents an ideal time to get to know your car better. Parked cars, whether in the garage, under a shaded awning or out in the open all collect dust. Use a hose or a bucket of water to rinse the dust off with a good chamois cloth. Then wipe off and squeeze the chamois cloth repeatedly. Should you have a vacuum cleaner, the this will make cleaning the interior carpets easy. The rest of the interior can be wiped off with the chamois cloth.
Thinking of giving your pride and joy a good dollop of polish and some elbow grease? Why not? You have all the time to really put a shine on your prized possession as well as a ‘smile on your dial’ when all is said and done.
I have found that tyres tend to lose some air when the vehicle is not used. Always check the tyre pressure with a handheld device if one is available. But when you make that essential trip, try and get to a garage/ filling station to check the tyre pressure. Don’t forget that after essential trips to always sanitize all parts of the car that you have touched.
Motor plans and service intervals
Keep an eye on this very important aspect. Your vehicle could have been due for a service in the lockdown period. Better still, the motor plan might be expiring in this period. Most OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) have displayed good faith by agreeing to extend the service intervals or motor plans that expire during the lockdown period.
Greg Maruszewski, managing director of Volvo Cars South Africa says, “We have taken a decision that any services that are due during the lockdown period will automatically receive a 2-month extension. The same will apply to warranties that expire during this period.”
Maruszewski added that it was difficult to predict the effects of the lockdown on the motor industry. “In the short term, I think it’s fair to say that sales will slow down. In the long term, much will depend on how long the lockdown remains in place and the impact this lockdown will have on the overall economy. However, there is hope, for example, earlier this month Volvo Cars reopened our manufacturing plants in China after an extended closure period, and there are reports of people returning to the dealer showroom floors. Their reported return to normality is a beacon of hope for us all. In South Africa, along with our dealer partners, we are aiming for ‘business as usual’ during the lockdown. We are still liaising with customers too, and managing finance applications digitally and over the telephone as well as video, where possible.”
Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), says he is deeply concerned about the sustainability of a sector which is so necessary for providing products and services to the consumer and business sectors, as well as to essential services like the transport and emergency services sector.
“Not only is it one of the largest generators of employment, but it also provides the underbelly lifeblood of our economy. Without the ability to maintain or fix the vehicle from passenger and commercial vehicles to taxi’s and busses, to food trucks and transport and emergency service vehicles, our economy could grind to a halt,” he says.
The economy in SA, and globally as well, is heavily dependent on an effective automotive repair and maintenance sector covering each and every town or city across the country’s wide geographical areas.
Mike Anderson, founder and CEO of National Small Business Chamber(NSBC), confirms one of the most significant challenges facing small businesses is insufficient cash flow due to a poor flow of customers and a significant drop in sales. This was before the lockdown, so it goes without saying that this number would increase due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Olivier concurs with these findings. The automotive industry is no exception with a significant number of retail automotive businesses already being, and continuing to be, under severe pressure in terms of cash flow and the ability to pay their creditors and their employees.