⚡️⚡️⚡️
With energy prices rising, switch to a cheaper plan
💡
Compare Prices Now
⚡️⚡️⚡️

Looking after your car post-lockdown

Do these things before starting your car for the first time in a while

We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!

During and after lockdown, you've probably taken time to look after you and your families' mental health as well as any vulnerable parents or neighbours. But don't overlook your car. Here are our tips for getting your car back up and running after a period of inactivity.

Top sites to buy car parts and accessories:

Tyres

If your car has stood around for a while, without moving, the tyres will need inspecting.

  1. First, visually look over them. Are there any cracks in the tyres caused by exposure to the sun? Have any bulges or splits formed? If you see any, you'll want to get those replaced urgently, especially if they've formed on the sidewall (the outer faces, with all the tyre branding on), as those are the most dangerous.
  2. Are the tyres flat? You'll have to fill them back to the recommended pressure. You'll find information on how to do that in your owner's manual.
  3. If your car has been laid up for a while, then the tyres could have formed flat spots. You'll feel these in minor vibrations as you drive along. That can happen across long periods, with all the car's weight sitting on the same four contact patches. Regular driving puts heat into the tyre rubber, keeping it nice and supple, preventing flattening from happening. Changes in temperature can exasperate this issue. Tyre manufacturers say there are two different types of flat-spots, temporary (which will go away after a few kilometres of normal driving) and semi-permanent ones. Experts recommend you contact a tyre specialist if you have a more serious one.

Brakes

You'll want to give your brakes a once over. If you have brake discs, these can form a thin layer of surface rust on the exposed metal. That should get scrubbed off as you brake normally and won't affect the performance too much. You could always move the car backwards and forwards on your drive to clean them off. If you notice little rust spots after braking though, then you've got what's called pitting, where the rust has eaten a little deeper into the disc. If you have brake drums, make sure they haven't become seized through lack of use. You may need a mechanic to unstick them for you.

If the pedal feels spongy or squishy when you push it, then you should also have the brakes professionally checked, in case any water has worked its way into the system.

Wagner Severe Duty SX756 Semi-Metallic Disc Pad Set
Wagner Severe Duty SX756 Semi-Metallic Disc Pad Set

Amazon

Fluids check

If your car has an oil leak or slight coolant leak, the levels will have dropped and you'll need to check their levels. If the oil drops too low, the engine can overheat from lack of critical lubrication and be irreparably damaged. The same can happen due to insufficient coolant, which regulates the engine's operating temperature. Check your owner's manual to find the location of your oil dipstick and coolant expansion tank. If you feel up to the task, top them up as needed (but don't overfill them).

Fuel additives, cleaners and octane boosters

Penrite Power Steering Fluid & Stop Leak 1 Litre
Penrite Power Steering Fluid & Stop Leak 1 Litre

Supercheap Auto

Fuel additive

This is optional, but if the fuel has been sitting for some time in the tank (it feels like we've been using about a litre every two months in a small hatch), you might want to drop in an octane booster or additive to help the car properly combust the fuel. This is because fuel can go off or settle in the tank. One fuel brand says the storage life is as little as one month. Dropping in a dose of fuel additive can help improve combustion and make life a little easier on your car.

There are all kinds of additives available, from octane boosters to injector cleaner, fuel system conditioner, turbo cleaner and even a DPF cleaning fluid. Make sure you buy one that is compatible with your car.

Rislone High-Performance Injector Cleaner 177mL
Rislone High-Performance Injector Cleaner 177mL

Supercheap Auto

Ceracoat Ceramic Petrol Diesel Engine Oil Additive Treatment
Ceracoat Ceramic Petrol Diesel Engine Oil Additive Treatment

Kogan

Battery

Modern cars are chock-full of electronic gadgetry and tech. These can all put a drain on the battery and, if the vehicle has gone without regular running (which in ordinary use tops up the battery), it could have gone flat throughout lockdown. Some estimates say the battery will discharge by 1% daily.

Your initial reaction might be just to jump-start the engine, but there are inherent risks with the sudden power jolt and the possibility of user error.

CTEK, a producer of battery management products, recommends purchasing a smart battery charger like their MXS 5.0.

This charger is connected to the terminals and left alone. All the while, it'll keep the battery optimally charged. Then, when you need to start the car, you detach the charger and away you go! If you have a lithium battery, CTEK warns you'll need a different product, like the Lithium XS charger.

The brand's Asia Pacific Director of Sales and Marketing, Robert Briggs, cautioned that we shouldn't forget our car batteries.

"Naturally, our vehicles haven't been top of mind for many during the pandemic, but a car battery charger provides a simple, hassle-free solution. Regularly hooking your vehicle up to a battery charger and maintainer is essential to ensuring your car starts when you return to it", Briggs stated.

2000Amp 12V 38800mAh Car Jump Starter Battery Pack Power Bank
2000Amp 12V 38800mAh Car Jump Starter Battery Pack Power Bank

CrazySales.com.au

Century 12V 1/3/6 Amp 9 Stage Battery Charger
Century 12V 1/3/6 Amp 9 Stage Battery Charger

Supercheap Auto

Italian tune-up

There's a legend that owners of one particular high-end sports car wouldn't use their car much, leaving them in the garage and really babying them on the rare occasion they drove the car. The engine would start running rough, so it would be taken to a mechanic. Their solution was to take the car out, drop it into a low gear and basically drive it hard. This helps the engine get up to temperature and clear out accumulations of soot and carbon.

Because it seemed to happen to Italian-brand sports cars, it was dubbed the Italian tune-up.

Whether that's true or not, modern cars do have emission-reducing systems that require certain conditions to be met so they can perform a rejuvenation cycle. This won't happen on infrequent and short trips around town to the supermarket. These components include Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs). They need to reach a certain temperature or road speed for a set number of minutes (though on some vehicles, like the Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series, they have a manual cycle button) to burn off the deposits. The best way to do this is to get on a long county road or highway and get the car to operating temps. You may even see a light on the dashboard indicating the car needs to do a regen cycle.

First start-up

If you've carried out the above-recommended steps, then you can think about starting the engine. If possible, start the car and stay with it (leaving a running car unattended is dangerous, illegal and insurance-voiding), leaving the motor to warm up slowly and without much stress. This should put some juice back in the battery and also help you spot any leaks that have formed. The oil pump forces lubricant around moving parts, coating the inside with the protective liquid. If everything looks good, you should be ready to start driving in the world of "new normal".

Clean your car

If things are looking a bit dusty, be kind to your car by treating it to a wash. Tidy out and wipe down the interior, it'll be a pleasant and hygienic cabin to sit in then. We've published a more in-depth COVID-19 car cleaning guide.

Armor All 20oz Tire Foam Automotive Wheel Cleaner
Armor All 20oz Tire Foam Automotive Wheel Cleaner

Target Australia

Fancy some newer wheels?

Is your car looking, or running, a bit rough following the unexpected isolation lay-up? Dealers are currently running some sweet EOFY car deals, especially for businesses, with up to $33,000 in free extras on some new and demo models, or over $10k slashed from the drive-away price. Also, you could take advantage of the limited-time $150k asset write-off by purchasing a vehicle for your business.

Make your money go as far as possible

If you're going to buy a car with finance, make sure you do your homework and compare different car loans. Doing so could save you hundreds of dollars, freeing up your precious cash.

1 - 16 of 16
$
Name Product Mobile details underline Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp. Rate (p.a.) Rate Type Application Fee Monthly Fee Monthly Repayment
IMB New Car Loan Fixed, 1 - 7 Years, $2,000 - $75,000
IMB New Car Loan
1 - 7 Years, $2,000 - $75,000
4.88%
5.23%
Fixed
$275.12
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.88% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one that's up to two years old.
Wisr Secured Car Loan Fixed, 3 - 7 Years, $5,000 - $79,000
Wisr Secured Car Loan
3 - 7 Years, $5,000 - $79,000
5.59%
to 13.24%
6.42%
to 12.12%
Fixed
$605
$0
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 5.59% p.a. to 13.24% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible car loan from $5,000 - $79,000 with personalised rates and rewards for strong credit customers.
loans.com.au - New - Prime Special (Variable) Variable, 3 - 5 Years, $5,000 - $100,000
loans.com.au - New - Prime Special (Variable)
3 - 5 Years, $5,000 - $100,000
3.74%
4.28%
Variable
$400
$0
You'll receive a variable rate of 3.74% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees.

Credit Concierge Car Loan - Prime (Credit Score 800+) Fixed, 1 - 7 Years, $10,000 - $150,000
Credit Concierge Car Loan - Prime (Credit Score 800+)
1 - 7 Years, $10,000 - $150,000
3.99%
to 5.99%
4.93%
to 6.93%
Fixed
$395
$5.50
You'll receive a fixed rate of 3.99% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.93% p.a.
Must have a high credit score and excellent previous repayment history to qualify. Home ownership or mortgage may assist overcoming a lower credit score in some instances. Lenders individual credit criteria applies and approval is not guaranteed nor is the interest rate finalised until a formal submission for finance is made.
RACV New Car Loans Fixed, 1 - 7 Years, $5,000 - $150,000
RACV New Car Loans
1 - 7 Years, $5,000 - $150,000
5.99%
6.68%
Fixed
$499
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate from 5.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.
NRMA New Car Loan Fixed, 1 - 7 Years, $5,000 - $130,000
NRMA New Car Loan
1 - 7 Years, $5,000 - $130,000
5.99%
6.68%
Fixed
$499
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate from 5.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 3 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
Stratton Finance New Car Loan Fixed, 1 - 7 Years, $10,000 - $300,000
Stratton Finance New Car Loan
1 - 7 Years, $10,000 - $300,000
4.44%
to 18%
5.76%
to 19.61%
Fixed
$482
$8.90
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.44% p.a. depending on the lender you are approved with.
Apply for up to $300,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
loans.com.au - New - Prime Special (Fixed) Fixed, 3 - 5 Years, $5,000 - $100,000
loans.com.au - New - Prime Special (Fixed)
3 - 5 Years, $5,000 - $100,000
5.09%
5.64%
Fixed
$400
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.09% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees and an optional balloon payment.

OurMoneyMarket Car Loan Fixed, 1 - 7 Years, $2,001 - $75,000
OurMoneyMarket Car Loan
1 - 7 Years, $2,001 - $75,000
5.85%
to 14.99%
6.47%
to 21.14%
Fixed
1.5% - 6%
min. $250
$0
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 5.85% p.a. to p.a. based on your risk profile.
Borrow between $2,001 and $75,000 to finance a new or used car up to 7 years.
Great Southern Bank Fixed Rate Car Loan Fixed, 1 - 7 Years, $5,000 - $100,000
Great Southern Bank Fixed Rate Car Loan
1 - 7 Years, $5,000 - $100,000
6.79%
7.16%
Fixed
$265
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate of 6.79% p.a.
A secured loan with a high maximum borrowing amount up to $100,000. Redraw facility and no monthly fees.
loans.com.au - Used Car Loan (6+ years) Variable, 3 - 5 Years, $5,000 - $100,000
loans.com.au - Used Car Loan (6+ years)
3 - 5 Years, $5,000 - $100,000
5.04%
5.59%
Variable
$400
$0
You'll get a variable rate of 5.04% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 for a used car for 6+ years, with no monthly fee.

NRMA Used Car Loan Fixed, 1 - 7 Years, $5,000 - $130,000
NRMA Used Car Loan
1 - 7 Years, $5,000 - $130,000
6.99%
7.68%
Fixed
$499
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.99% p.a.
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
loans.com.au - Used Car Loan (8+ years) Variable, 3 - 5 Years, $5,000 - $50,000
loans.com.au - Used Car Loan (8+ years)
3 - 5 Years, $5,000 - $50,000
8.94%
9.51%
Variable
$400
$0
You'll get a variable rate of 8.94% p.a.
Borrow up to $50,000 for a used car for 8+ years, with no monthly fee.

Credit Concierge Car Loan - Mid Prime (Credit Score 500-800) Fixed, 1 - 7 Years, $10,000 - $150,000
Credit Concierge Car Loan - Mid Prime (Credit Score 500-800)
1 - 7 Years, $10,000 - $150,000
5.89%
to 12.89%
6.99%
to 13.99%
Fixed
$350
$8.50
You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.89% p.a. with a comparison rate of 6.99% p.a.
Must have an above average credit score and no defaults or late payments in the last 6 months. Home ownership or mortgage may assist overcoming a lower credit score in some instances. Lenders individual credit criteria applies and approval is not guaranteed nor is the interest rate finalised until a formal submission for finance is made.
Stratton Finance Used Car Loan Fixed, 1 - 7 Years, $10,000 - $300,000
Stratton Finance Used Car Loan
1 - 7 Years, $10,000 - $300,000
4.99%
to 18%
6.41%
to 19.61%
Fixed
$482
$8.90
You'll receive a fixed rate loan from 4.99% p.a. with a comparison rate of 6.41% p.a.
A used car loan of up to $300,000 with quick approval times and balloon payment options.
Credit Concierge Car Loan - Sub Prime (Credit Score Below 500) Fixed, 1 - 7 Years, $10,000 - $150,000
Credit Concierge Car Loan - Sub Prime (Credit Score Below 500)
1 - 7 Years, $10,000 - $150,000
14.99%
to 24.99%
17.99%
to 27.99%
Fixed
$350
$8.50
You'll receive a fixed rate of 14.99% p.a. with a comparison rate of 17.99% p.a.
Must have stable employment longer than 3 months with no recent missed payments or overdrawn bank accounts. Defaults are assessed on individual circumstances and amounts on credit file must be paid or under arrangement. Good savings history may assist overcoming a low credit score and any unpaid defaults in some instances. Lenders individual credit criteria applies and approval is not guaranteed nor is the interest rate finalised until a formal submission for finance is made.
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

Images: Getty Images and supplied

More guides on Finder

  • Stratton Finance Used Car Loan

    A used car loan with high borrowing amounts and both secured and unsecured options.

  • CarClarity Car Loan

    Find the best car loan for your circumstances with CarClarity. Rates start from just 3.35% p.a. and borrowers can apply for loans from $10,000 to $250,000 for new and used cars.

  • Great Southern Bank Fixed Rate Car Loan

    If you’re in the market for a new car, the Great Southern Bank Fixed Rate Car Loan may be able to give you the funds you need. With the security of a fixed rate and flexible repayments, this loan might be what you need to own your new set of wheels.

  • Car loan statistics 2021

    Finder research shows 2.7 million Australians have a car loan. Find out how much Aussies are borrowing, and how this has changed over time.

  • Alex Car Loan

    Opt for an Alex car loan and receive a personalised interest rate from 6.95% to 19.99%. Alex's car loans have no ongoing fees and are available from $2,100 to $30,000.

  • Toyota RAV4 car loans

    Compare car loans and discover prices and specs of the Toyota RAV4.

  • Stratton Finance caravan loan review

    Apply for a caravan loan with finance broker Stratton Finance and receive an interest rate from 5.49% p.a.

  • Stratton Finance boat loan review

    Stratton Finance's boat loans range from $10,000 to $200,000 with rates from 5.99% p.a. Secured and unsecured options available.

  • OurMoneyMarket Car Loan

    Get a loan for a new or used vehicle from $2,001 to $75,000. Rates start at just 5.35% p.a. and loan terms vary from 1 to 7 years.

  • Upcoming hybrid and electric car comparison

    Compare soon-to-launch electric and hybrid cars.

Car Loan Offers

Important Information*
Logo for IMB New Car Loan
IMB New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.88% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one up to two years old.

Logo for Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"
Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.69% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.

Logo for RACV New Car Loans
RACV New Car Loans

You'll receive a fixed rate from 5.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.

Logo for NRMA New Car Loan
NRMA New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 2 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Go to site