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What to Do with Your Car When You Aren’t Using It

There are lots of different reasons why you may no longer need your car for day-to-day driving. Whether you’re staying at home for health reasons or planning a round-the-world trip, there are times when your car may be parked for long periods – so it’s important to know what to do and how to look after it.

Given just how few miles we’re all covering in our cars at the moment, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on what to do with your car when you aren’t using it – from how to declare it off the road to maintaining it while it’s parked up.

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Key Takeaways: 4 Things to Consider When You’re Not Using Your Car

If you aren’t using your car, there are a couple of things you need to think about. We’ll go into more detail below, but for now, here are the top-line things to consider:

What is SORN? How to Declare Your Car Off the Road

If you aren’t planning on using your car for the foreseeable future, you should SORN it. This is when you declare your car ‘off the road’ to the DVLA, and means you’ll no longer pay road tax.

SORN stands for Statutory Off Road Notification. To apply for SORN, visit the DVLA portal and follow the instructions. You’ll need your V5C document to get SORN, or a V11 tax reminder.

By declaring your car off the road, you’ll no longer be required to pay car tax – so it’s a good way to save if you don’t need to use your car. If you pay your tax annually, you’ll receive a refund for the remaining months left until the renewal date.

SORN also means car insurance is no longer a legal requirement, but be careful here. While you could effectively cancel your insurance and get a refund, your car will no longer be covered for things like fire, theft or accidental damage – so we wouldn’t recommend fully cancelling your insurance unless your car is stored in a safe and secure location.

Another thing worth remembering is that you won’t be able to drive your car again after SORN until you’ve taxed it. With fines of up to £2,500 for driving an untaxed vehicle, it’s not something you want to forget.

Should You Update Your Insurance Policy When You Aren’t Using Your Car?

Whether you choose to SORN your car or not, it could be worth updating your car insurance policy if you aren’t driving and using your car as you normally would. By adjusting your policy, you could make a saving in the long-term or receive a refund if you pay for insurance annually.

Have a look at the details of your policy to check if it’s worth updating any information. For example, you may need to change where your car is stored during the day, how it’s used (commuting, leisure only etc.) and your expected annual mileage. By changing these details, you could receive a refund from your insurer or bring your monthly direct debit down.

Updating your insurer isn’t just about saving money. Depending on the information on your existing policy, your insurance may be invalid if the details don’t match up with your current situation and how your car is used.

For example, say your policy states that your car is kept in a secure car park at work during the week, but you aren’t currently at work. If you were to make a claim, your insurer may query why your car was somewhere different, and refuse to pay out as a result.

Of course, most insurers will be aware of the current situation and are likely to be more lenient about such issues as a result. However, it is something to be mindful of as we move out of the lockdown situation and normality starts to resume.

If you adjust your insurance policy in line with your current situation, be sure to re-adjust it when you return to your old routine.

How to Maintain a Car When It’s Not in Use

Just because you’re not using your car doesn’t mean you don’t need to maintain it. Here are some tips on how to keep your car in good working order, even when you’re not driving:

  • Turn the engine over once a week – let the engine run for about five minutes each week. This will circulate the oil, charge the battery and make sure moving parts don’t seize up.
  • ·Keep the paintwork clean and waxed – if you park your car outside, wash it and wax it as normal to keep the paintwork in good condition and help protect it from the elements.
  • Check the tyre pressures – tyre pressures can fluctuate even when you’re not using your car. Changing temperatures alone can cause a surprising difference in pressure, so monitor the PSI regularly and be sure to check the tyres before your first drive.
  • Consider disconnecting the battery for long stints of inactivity – if you’re ‘laying up’ your car for a long period, disconnect the battery to prevent its power draining. You won’t need to do this if you’re able to turn the engine over.
  • Store your car somewhere secure – parking on the street outside your house may be convenient day-to-day, but it may not be the safest option if you don’t plan to use your car for a while. Look at secure, long-term storage options if you want to take your car fully off the road for a set period.

We hope you’ve found this guide useful. Looking for more from Brindley Garages? Click here to check out more news from the motoring world, or if you’re in the market for a new car, see how we can help at our homepage.

Added: 21 May 2020

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