16 April 2021
Back to work: 5 things you need to prepare your car for

The employee limit in the workplace has been raised to 75 percent. For some, this also means spending more time on the road. Before you head back to work, here are 5 things to look out for to keep your car running reliably after a long period of inactivity.

With the government raising the limit of employees allowed at the workplace to 75 percent, more of us are returning to our offices. If you own a car, this means a couple of things. For one, you’ll be using your car a lot more. And, your time is no longer as flexible as it used to be during the Work From Home (WFH) days. What ever happened to Dalgona coffee and TikTok?

Most importantly, what you really can’t afford is for your car to break down or give any sort of trouble. Now, weekends are exceedingly precious and you’re going to be office-bound a lot more. Now, mechanical atrophy in cars is real. Just as human bodies need to be conditioned before physical activity, cars should be prepared for regular driving after long periods of inactivity. Here are our 5 back to work car care tips to minimise the risk of car trouble.

1. Car servicing

Engine oil change

The circuit breaker and WFH periods last year probably saw your car spend most of the year in the carpark. While this was great for lowering your fuel bills, extended periods of inactivity can take a toll on the car. The best thing you can do to ensure your car is in tip-top shape for daily driving again is to get it serviced.

The main part of servicing is the engine oil change. Service intervals vary from car to car but typically should be carried out every 10,000km to 15,00km or every 9 to 12 months. If your car hasn’t been serviced in the last calendar year, it’s high time to get it done.

A service package will also usually include replacing the oil, engine intake and cabin air filters. With new oil and engine intake filters, engines run more smoothly and efficiently. Meanwhile, the new cabin filter reduces the risk of mold buildup that can lead to respiratory illnesses. Mechanics may also give your car’s mechanicals a once-over and highlight any potential faults or worn-out parts that need replacing. This helps prevent a breakdown at an inopportune time.

2. Battery check and replacement

Car battery and alternator system

While getting your car serviced, it would be a good idea to have your battery checked and replaced if necessary, too. Modern cars depend on electronic management systems more than ever, and it can be said that the car battery is the most important part after the engine.

When a car is driven, the engine turns the alternator by way of the engine belt. This allows the alternator to produce electricity and charge the battery. When the car is not used, power is still drawn from the battery to keep various components running. These include the clock and the internal clock of the electronic engine management system. Many cars also have security systems and dash cams that monitor the car while it is parked. Cars with keyless entry and operation also draw on battery power for the proximity sensors to detect the key when the driver comes within range to unlock the doors.

3. Tyre condition

It’s not just you who needs a new pair of shoes to get back to work. Your car relies on its tyres to move, steer and brake. Tyres can also make your car more comfortable and quiet. If a car hasn‘t been driven regularly or as often as it used to, the rubber compound of the tyres can harden or even crack in extreme circumstances. At the very least, tyres naturally lose air over time and start to flatten at the point of contact with the ground. This is where flat spots occur and when the car is driven again, you may experience vibrations through the steering wheel. A flat-spotted tyre essentially causes the wheel to bounce, this puts a strain on the suspension system while also compromising the effectiveness of the braking system.

New tyres are more supple and perform better in all the areas mentioned above. Upgrading your tyres to a premium model can dramatically transform how a car feels and drives, making it feel better than ever. A new set of tyres is possibly the most noticeable (and legal) upgrade you can do for your car while inherently improving its safety as well.

4. Brakes

brake and tyre inspection

Does it feel like you have to step on the brake pedal harder than usual to get your car to stop? Perhaps the pedal feel mushy, like stepping on a pillow before you notice the car slowing down. Does the brake pedal or steering wheel vibrate when you try to slow down? Worst yet, does it make a noise whenever you brake?

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, your car’s brakes could be in need of some TLC. The easiest fix is to flush out and replace the brake fluid. Over time, brake fluid absorbs moisture from the air. In Singapore’s humid climate, this is even more prevalent compared to other parts of the world. When the brake fluid has too much water content, the brake pedal can start to feel spongy and less responsive, which can compromise safety and also dull the driving experience.

A good mechanic can also advise if the brake pads should be replaced. If they’re 50 percent worn or more, it is advisable to have new brake pads fitted. To wait until the pads reach their wear indicators is to tempt fate. Insurance companies have been known to decline coverage if the car involved in the accident is found to have worn brakes. It’s better to err on the side of caution when it comes to brakes.

5. Air-conditioning

It would be fair to say that air-conditioning is essential for most Singaporean drivers. You may have noticed that the days are starting to get hotter with the close of the year-end North-East monsoon season. The last thing you want is for the system to break down and start blowing hot air into the cabin. These things tend to happen at the most inconvenient of times. It is always a good idea to get the air-conditioning system checked. Ensure that the refrigerant gas is topped up as this can leak over time.

Don’t waste your weekends. Use AutoApp while you go back to work.

Getting all these things checked can be a real hassle and take up your time. Now that you’re spending more time in the office, arrange for AutoApp to get these checks done for you. Enjoy zero downtime for your car and spend your weekends driving it to rediscover Singapore. Best of all, have a peace of mind that comes from knowing that your car is in back to work tip-top condition.