Posted on: 10 June 2020

Managing your commercial vehicles when not in use

If you use any commercial vehicles for your business activities, you may not have needed to use them during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This means that many businesses around the UK have been laying up their vehicles, or storing them whilst not in use.

If you are one of the businesses who has had to lay up a vehicle, take a look at some of our guidance on how you can do this whilst protecting your vehicles as much as you can.

Before you decide to lay up your vehicles

Consider the following if you are thinking of laying up your vehicles:

Insurance

You will still need to have insurance on your vehicle to ensure that it is still protected. Insurance doesn’t just cover your vehicle for being on the road, it can also protect it against theft, of both the vehicle itself and its contents.

Tax

Unless you declare your vehicle as off the road, you will still need to pay the relevant tax rate. You can declare your vehicle off the road by making a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN). However, this means that you cannot use the vehicle at all on public roads whilst the vehicle is SORN.

If you want to put your vehicle back on the road, you simply need to arrange for the vehicle to be taxed again.

Safe storage

Having a safe storage facility for your vehicles is useful, but if you have to keep them locked down for an extended period, it is essential.

Ideally, your storage should protect your vehicles from rain, wind and even fire or flooding. It should also be properly ventilated and have thorough security measures, such as locks, CCTV and alarm systems.

You should also make it difficult for thieves to steal the vehicle. Take a look at some of our previous articles about how you can make your vehicle more secure, and how Thatcham devices can protect your vehicle.

Vehicle maintenance

If you are leaving your vehicle unused for a long period, you should make sure that it is thoroughly maintained before laying it up to avoid problems when you need to use the vehicle again. Take  look at some of these steps to help avoid issues in the future:

  • Washing the vehicle exterior – before it goes away, give your vehicle a thorough wash on the outside. Pay special attention to the undercarriage and tyres, as these areas are never really given a clean, and if left dirty for an extended period, can cause damage and rust.
  • Cleaning the inside of the vehicle – Remove any rubbish from the vehicle and give it a good hoovering to remove dust and smaller debris.
  • Fill up the fuel tank – Having a full fuel tank stops moisture from developing, but also keeps the seals from drying out.
  • Removing additional fuel – If you store fuel inside the vehicle, remove it and store it safely in properly sealed containers.
  • Tyre pressure – Make sure that your tyres are pumped up to the appropriate level and record the numbers for future use.
  • Maintaining the battery – If you have a battery maintainer, use this to help save your vehicle’s battery.
  • Vehicle handbrake – Check your vehicle handbook to see if you should be leaving your vehicle’s handbrake on for extended periods, and opt to use chock blocks to stop your vehicle from rolling.

If your vehicle is already laid up

Under the new government guidance for England, you can make trips to check on your place of business, so do the following to check your vehicles:

Start the vehicle

Getting the engine running not only lets you know if the vehicle is working properly, but by leaving the engine running idle for around 15 minutes, you will also give the battery a good charge.

Always make sure that if the engine is idling, there is good ventilation, as a build-up of car exhaust fumes is toxic. The best thing to do would be to take the car outside, as long as it is kept off public roads if the vehicle was declared SORN.

Electric vehicles should also be turned on and left running to help with the charge.

Handbrake

Release the handbrake and move the vehicle backwards and forwards ever so slightly whilst the engine is running to stop the brakes from seizing up.

Tyres

Check your previous readings for tyre pressures when you visit your vehicle. If the tyre pressure has dropped significantly, this could show that there is an issue with the tyre that may need repairing or replacing.

If the pressure has only dropped slightly, make a record of this and keep it in mind when making future visits.

Leakages

Check the vehicles oil, water and fuel levels to make sure that there aren’t any leakages from the vehicle.

If you notice any standing puddles of water around your vehicle, this could also be an indication that there is a vehicle-related leakage.

Quick clean

Over time, dust may have settled or birds could have left droppings on your vehicle.

Clean this off the exterior to help protect the paint.

Getting back on the road

Once the government has declared it safe for you to return to business operations, you can start to take your vehicle out of storage. Take a look at some of these precautions you should consider

Check vehicle tax, MOT and insurance

It is illegal to drive on UK roads without at least third party insurance, vehicle tax and an in-date MOT.

By paying your vehicle tax, you will automatically take the SORN status off your vehicle, and be allowed to drive on public roads again, provided that you also have insurance and a valid MOT.

Due to many vehicle mechanics having to close down, the government changed the rules for MOTs, starting March 2020, that allowed a 6-month extension on the vehicles MOT.

Vehicle check

Check both fuel levels and the floor around the vehicle to see if there have been any fuel leaks.

You should also check the tyres to ensure that they are in good condition and haven’t dropped in pressure to become unsafe.

You may also want to check under the bonnet and under the vehicle for any sign that pests have chewed through wires, hoses or belts.

If you have disconnected the vehicle’s battery, make sure that you reconnect them and can start the vehicle without any issues.

Cleaning and servicing

Give your vehicle a thorough clean both on the outside and the inside. Dust or debris can cause problems if left too long on vehicles.

You should also arrange to have your vehicle serviced as soon as possible to make sure it is in good condition to drive and arrange an MOT at the same time if necessary.

Business insurance with Premierline

At Premierline, we understand that business insurance can be tricky and can take up time that you could be using to do what you love, which is why our insurance experts are trained to assess your business’ need and find the insurance policy that is perfect for your business.

Whether you require commercial vehicle insurancecontractor insurance or bespoke insurance cover, we work with some of the UK’s most well-known insurers to compare insurance quotes. Get in touch to speak with one of our insurance advisors.

Source: Zywave inc. – Risk Insights: Best Practices for Laying Up Commercial Vehicles

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The information and tools contained in this guide are of a general informational nature and should not be relied upon as being suitable for any specific set of circumstances. We have used reasonable endeavours to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the contents but the information and tools do not constitute professional advice and must not be relied upon as such. To the extent permitted by law, we do not accept responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information or tools in our Insight Hub.