Thursday 30 May 2024

Getting back behind the wheel after a break

With the announcement of the first period of lockdown last March, the Covid-19 pandemic changed life as we knew it in a quick and brutal way. Not only was the need to work from home made all the more essential, but – with the announcement that unnecessary trips should be avoided – all of a sudden, Britain’s roads became as quiet as its neighbourhood streets.

Since then there have been a further two periods of lockdown, but for millions of Britons there has been little difference between locked and open. While there has been a need for restrictions, many have erred on the side of caution and stayed home.

With a vaccine programme delivering greater immunity, there are however fewer reasons than before for motorists to stay off the road, and for some people that’s going to mean making their first trips for a while. In some cases, it may have been more than a year since they last got behind the wheel.

So for those who have still to make their first post-lockdown journey, what do they need to look out for as they get ready to roll?

A small increase in the cost of driving

If you haven’t been in the driving seat since before the pandemic fully hit, the chances are you don’t remember what you were paying for diesel or petrol back then. What you may not know is that you’ll be paying in the region of 6-8p a litre more to fill your tank than you were doing last year.

So a full tank will be a few pounds dearer in the summer of 2021 than it was before all of this began. That’s not a huge hike, but if you were struggling with the costs before, it’s not great news – especially if you’re on a reduced salary.

Make sure the car is ready for a run-out

If you’ve not used a car for a while, then you will need to be aware that it might take some time to get back to its old performance levels. Diesel drivers will need to be cautious of the risk that the DPF in their vehicle is likely to be temperamental, and might need to take a long motorway drive to clear it.

In addition, if a car has been sitting largely untouched for a prolonged period, the elements may have caused some harm to the exterior; a visit to the likes of SMART Repairs might be worth booking in early on.

Be aware of the possibility that your car will need as much time as you do to get used to being back in action. Oh, and air out the interior, as well as a necessary spring clean.

Be ready for things to look different

Any old route you drive may have a new look on your first time behind the wheel. There may be less traffic than you are used to, as people choose to continue working from home rather than spending time and money on commuting.

In addition, not everywhere that was closed early in the pandemic has opened again yet – and some places will have permanently shuttered, too. It’s likely to be an eye-opening experience, but don’t get taken by surprise – your eyes still need to be on the road in front of you.

** This is a collaborative post

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