As the UK gets ready for a winter of reduced business travel, Stuart Thomas, director of fleet and accident management at the AA, shares the AA's top tips on vehicle maintenance during periods of low usage

Thanks to both the extension of the government's furlough scheme and the continuation of home working, many of the UK's drivers could be facing a winter of reduced car usage. AA patrols will continue to help key workers and those who need to travel, but most business drivers will be preparing for what could be months off the road.

If vehicles are likely to be used for occasional essential journeys, you'll want to know they are ready to go when they are needed. Undertaking simple maintenance now will help vehicles to run smoothly again later.


If you're locking your car up altogether, there are steps you can take to see it through a period of disuse - something known as laying-up:

  • Top up with fuel beforehand. A full petrol tank doesn't attract condensation - something which could cause issues if allowed to build up over time
  • If you own a petrol or diesel vehicle, start the engine once a week and let it run for at least 15 minutes to give the battery time to charge
  • If you own an electric vehicle, set aside 10 minutes a week to put the car in 'ready' mode to keep the 12-volt battery topped up
  • To prevent your brakes seizing up, release the parking brake and move the car a short distance back and forth while you run the engine
  • If you're storing in a garage, make sure the car is dry and that the garage is well ventilated

Cost savings

There are a number of cost savings that may be open to you in this period too if you're winding down your car usage. If putting your car away for a number of months, you may be able to reduce your insurance cover to fire and theft only.

You could also be eligible to a refund on your car tax by making a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). This will entitle you to a refund for any full months of remaining tax. However you won't be able to use your car on the road until you tax it again.

Back on the road

Once you need to use your car again, check the MoT and tax are still valid. If your MoT is due to expire, get it booked in as soon as possible as many garages are still dealing with high demand from the extension period earlier this year. Vehicle owners can find a local AA-approved garage, select a date and book an individual MoT online via AA Smart Care or contact your AA account manager if you have multiple vehicles to maintain.

When taking your car back out again, pull it out into the open first. Don't run the engine inside a garage, and never leave a vehicle unattended with the engine running.

Before driving, check the tyre pressures and inflate them if needed. It's also worth checking the condition of the tyres, looking out for any defects.

Click here for more information on laying up vehicles for winter  

And please click here to  find out more about the AA’s Business Services