For those strapped for time or maybe watching the pennies , we’ve compiled a dozen little car jobs for lockdown to help you out. What can you get done with only a handful of minutes at your disposal? Well, quite a lot we reckon. Whether it is a maintenance job you’ve put off or a quick mod to tidy things up there’s something here for everyone.
1. Clean the inside of your glass
If you are a sucker for a ‘quick wash’ at the weekend it is likely the inside of your car or campervans windows are a bit on the grubby side. Dogs noses, children’s fingers, or even just dust and dirt. With the right glass cleaner and microfibre to hand, you’ll have this job done in no time – unless you own a 23 window Samba…
2. Perished hoses
Ten minutes won’t be long enough to change them over, but you should be able to at least inspect your vacuum and fuel hoses in this time, so you know what needs doing before you next go for a drive. As you’re probably aware perished fuel hoses are a real fire risk and given that modern fuels have an appetite for rubber, this could be ten minutes very well spent.
3. Put a Fire Extinguisher in your car
I’ll be honest, if you bought a Blazecut automatic system you could install it in ten minutes, but if not just the action of ordering and /or placing a fire extinguisher in your car, could be enough to save you one day in the future.
4. Oil your locks
We all know moving parts benefit from liberal lubrication, but quite often we’ll ignore things getting stiff until it is almost too late. Grab a can of your favourite multipurpose oil and give your fuel cap, boot and door lock a quick squirt. Having a rag to catch any overspray or leakage is a good idea, to save spoiling your paint.
5. Hoover the carpet
Another task for the lazy valeters amongst us! Your ten-minute slot might just be enough to drag the hoover out and suck up the dirt from under your pedals and seats. I never get round to this…
6. Check your fluids
It’s all too easy to think “I’ll check the oil, coolant, brake fluid, screenwash next time” but sometimes you just keep putting it off and off. With ten minutes on the clock, grab a rag, pop the hood and check those fluid levels. Please do this when the engine is cold to save any nasty accidents with coolant and to make sure the oil level has settled in the sump.
7. Painting rusty brackets
This one is going to need to be done over a few days… but that’s ok, right? While you’ve been checking things out around your car you may have noticed some rusty brackets holding airboxes or other accessories. Grab a socket set, whip them off and give them a quick going over with a wire brush, ideally on a drill or power tool. With the parts free from rust apply a coat of primer and paint, or a even treat your car parts to some RAPTOR to have them looking great again and lasting for many years to come.
8. Tyre Pressure Check
Regardless of whether your car is a daily driver, a track toy or its sat unused and unloved due to the recent lockdown restrictions, at some point, it will come to turn a tyre, and for best results, you’ll need some air inside! We won’t get stuck on the science regarding under or over inflation but needless to say, flat tyres will be rubbish to drive on, will potentially damage your tyres construction and longevity and probably be unsafe too. Grab a tyre pressure gauge and a pump and go check them now!
9. Restore your plastic headlamp lenses
If you have a late 90s – mid-noughties VW or Porsche with plastic headlamps you may have found the lenses have become cloudy. This is often advised on the MOT certificate, and of course, it will hamper the effectiveness of your headlights come night time. It is surprisingly easy to improve upon using no more than toothpaste! Small circular motions with a dab on a cloth will cut through the smokey surface and start to reveal clear plastic below. Proper restoration kits (and brand new headlamps) are of course available and are likely to be more effective – but as a ten-minute quick fix for free, try toothpaste first.
10. Scratches and scuffs
Been ignoring a minor scuff in your paintwork? Well now could be the time to tackle it. If you can’t feel the scratch with the tip of your fingernail, then there is a good chance you could fix it in ten minutes with some cutting compound. If the scratch is much deeper, then you’ll need to fill it with primer and paint (the end of a cocktail stick is good for this) before flatting it back level and polishing up.
11. Deal with the bird’s nest
If you own a vehicle which is over thirty years old, the likelihood is a previous owner will have had a go at adding additional wiring at some point. Be it a fancy stereo, a set of foglights, or the demon DIY alarm and immobiliser. Test the wires, follow them and get them out – or at least tidied up and insulated. Believe it or not these wires are all doing something – read about Nigel’s Campervan like no other here.
12. Pack some spares
If you’re of a mechanical persuasion (ie. you’ll lift the bonnet before you call the recovery company) then make sure your vehicle carries the tools and spares to help you should the worst happen. It doesn’t have to be every cable under the sun and a box full of distributor caps but take ten minutes to gather a small arsenal of gaffa tape, cable ties, wires etc to help deal with things that might break. Likewise, a basic tool kit in the boot including screwdrivers (and Torx if you are driving a newer model) spanner set and common size sockets, a set of mole grips and some side cutters would be handy too.
Hopefully, this guide will be of some help to you if you feel you want to work on your car, but don’t know what to do. If you follow each one of our tips we’ll have kept you entertained for at least 2 hours over the coming weeks – perfect if you are killing time on Furlough.