Local garage owners are advising motorists of a few simple tasks they can do at home to ensure they don’t suffer any unnecessary breakdowns as the restrictions are slowly being lifted across the country.

Many cars, especially those owned by elderly motorists or people who have been cocooning for personal reasons, have been lying idle since the end of March.

The Government announcement regarding back to work procedures will have given loads of people something to look forward to but the suggested date of May 18 could prove to be very stressful if motorists don’t take some simple steps to ensure their car will start and perform in the day they are due to return to work.

“I would ask anyone who has not driven for a few weeks to take extra care on the roads when they do they go out,” Rathmore-based Peugeot dealer John Reen told the Killarney Advertiser.

“A lot of people are cocooning for eight weeks or more and it will take a bit of getting used to again.”

Fluid levels should be checked on all cars that have been lying idle; oil, coolant and water may have leaked or evaporated over the last few weeks and could be at a dangerously low level.

With cars potentially remaining dormant for weeks or months there is a risk of battery failure. Owners should start and run their cars, when safe to do so, and be mindful of where exhaust fumes are heading, for at least 30 minutes every 10 days.

Flat batteries can cause further stress apart from the obvious, for example, a drained battery could disrupt the car’s central locking and could prevent access when you need it most. Some cars need a radio code to operate the in-car entertainment system and a flat battery could result in the need to re-input a code.

“The battery is the obvious one,” he added.

“But handbrakes and clutches can seize too and people need to be mindful that a car could take a jump after it has been started for the first time. Many cars these days are fitted with electric handbrakes and they could be seized too.”

It is advisable to take the car for a short run every few days and with the current restrictions now extended to 5k, there is no reason why you can’t take a slightly longer journey on your trip to the shops while still respecting the essential journey guidelines.

Hybrid car owners should switch on ‘Ready Mode’ for approximately 30 minutes every 15 to 20 days to keep the battery topped up.