Well you can’t get out and about can you? But there are still ways to enjoy your car, we list the top 10 things to do with your car while in lockdown.
It’s a tricky one, the coronavirus. For years, we’ve believed that the way to deal with the apocalypse would be for us to go to The Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all this to blow over. Except that we can’t. The Winchester’s closed and we’re not allowed near each other. These are strange times, we’ve never dealt with anything like this before, and it affects pretty much every aspect of our lives… not least our fondness for doing silly stuff with cars. After all, for a lot of us the calendar year is dictated by a specific sequence of show dates. And many of the shows are getting cancelled. At the time of writing, there’s still a fair few that are scheduled to go ahead later in the year, but this is all such a weird situation that we really just don’t know what’s what.
But we shouldn’t let this defeat us. No, we can’t just ‘keep calm and carry on’, because that’s exactly how viruses spread. But that doesn’t mean our beloved hobby is going to die. Look at Fast Car, for instance – it’s stuffed full of cool feature cars, modding advice, and views across the global tuning scene, just like it has been since the 1980s. The scene has weathered many storms in that time. We may all be largely working from home, but we’re still here for you. And there’s so much you can still do to enjoy your car and the wider hobby while correctly observing social distancing – so we’ve pulled together a top-ten round-up of things you can do to keep yourself sane and happy. Stay safe, prioritise your health and that of your loved ones, but remember that you’re still allowed to have fun.
1) Go for a virtual drive
It’s safe to say that when the country’s in lockdown, driving opportunities are pretty limited. You’re allowed to go out to buy food when it’s absolutely necessary, for essential medical supplies, and – in certain cases – to work and back. You’d perhaps be forgiven for taking the long way round on these journeys, simply to stop yourself going crazy, but the whole architecture of driving for pleasure has been reframed… now we have a whole extra dimension to worry about, that of minimising the fuel we use so as to reduce the number of necessary petrol station fill-ups. Restricting all human contact is something we’ve got to work at together.
So, now’s the time to strengthen your thumbs. Many of you will be regular gamers already, but a lot of you might not have dusted off the console in a while… so get involved. You’ll quickly remember that here’s an opportunity to drive awesomely fast cars you can’t afford in real life, in a horrendously reckless manner, and it’s all surprisingly realistic. And if you haven’t got a console, there’s all sorts of driving games available online or on your phone. Make the most of the digital mischief, this is the new normal.
2) Clean your car
Urgh, germs are gross aren’t they? You’re probably not too bothered about the tactile surfaces inside your car most of the time, but these days the hidden enemy could be lurking anywhere. And if anyone else has been in your car – say, if you’ve been sharing it with other family members, or if it’s recently been to the garage for a service or something – then there could be infectious nasties hidden everywhere. So get out there and give your pride-and-joy a bit of an antibacterial spring clean. If the car’s on your driveway or in your garage then you’re not contravening any stay-at-home guidelines to go out there and pamper it.
Antibac wipes or sprays are your friends here, just make sure you get into all the nooks and crannies. Steering wheel, gearknob, seatbelt, dash buttons, heater controls, handbrake, grab handles, stereo and/or touchscreen, give everything a good wipe. And just for fun, why not finish it off with one of those antibacterial air-con bombs, where you set the aerosol going and leave it in the car for a few minutes to circulate through the ventilation system? It’ll make the insides smell all fresh, plus you have the added entertainment of shouting ‘fire in the hole!’ before you lob it in there and duck. Hey, entertainment’s thin on the ground nowadays, you’ve got to make it where you can.
3) Wash your car
One of the key things to stop everyone going bonkers while the pubs are out of bounds is to make as many elements of life as possible seem as normal as you can. And we’re guessing that a lot of you are quite handy with a wash mitt, right? The vast majority of car fans are pretty keen on the idea of washing, cleaning, detailing, whatever the individual preference is – and you can still do all of that, provided that your car is kept very near to your house. If it’s on your drive then hey, it’s basically in your garden.
Get out there and do what you’d always do; feel the warming enrichment of suds on your hands, get right in there between your wheel spokes as you poke your tongue out of the corner of your mouth in fierce concentration, microfibre the hell out of those drips, get the thing gleaming. Go the whole hog – don’t just rinse it, go full-on clay bar, crack out the fancy wax, imagine you’re prepping for a show-and-shine. You can totally lose yourself in the task, you’ll temporarily forget about the world. And your car will look awesome at the end of it.
4) Buy some new parts
A lot of people are going to be feeling the pinch right now, these are uncertain economic times. But for those of you fortunate enough to be relatively financially stable through the crisis, you’ll probably find the fact that you’re not going out anywhere is leaving a little extra cash in your back pocket. You’re damn sure not spending it on loo roll. So now’s the perfect time to invest in those mods you’ve been dreaming about for a while, to ensure that when everybody’s able to emerge from enforced hibernation, your car can come out swinging.
These are troubled times, and many people and businesses will be struggling. That’s just a fact. But if you’re in a position to have cash to spend, supporting your favourite aftermarket tuning company is a great way to keep the economy churning and help out someone else in the scene. And new parts day is always a good day, right? Unpacking that cardboard box the courier leaves on your doorstep, tingling to crack out the spanners and get it fitted, this could be just the morale boost you need.
5) Fit an air filter
This is a bit of an easy win really, isn’t it? If you need a quick pick-me-up after a trying week of hardcore lockdown isolation, fitting a new performance air filter to your car is just about the easiest and most cost-effective way to make a genuine difference to it while also feeling as you’ve achieved something positive. It really couldn’t be easier – stick your order in with an online parts retailer (Euro Car Parts sell Pipercross panel filters, for example), wait for it to arrive, then get out there and whack your bonnet up. With most cars, all you’ll need is a basic socket set and ten minutes; taking out the stock paper filter and replacing it with a performance foam item can see airflow gains of 30%, plus you’ll never have to buy another air filter as you can just clean this one when necessary. And for most cars, the filter will cost far less than a night in the pub (which you can’t do anyway, sorry).
6) Get some groceries for an elderly neighbour
Here’s your chance to be the neighbourhood superhero. Doris at no.72 isn’t allowed out of the house at all because she’s in her seventies and that’s high-risk for COVID-19. But there you are, with your car just begging to be used, and you’re clamouring for an excuse to go out for a thrash. That’s not something you can really do as such, but you need to buy groceries anyway, right? Well, here you are, superstar – not only are you able to get out there and have some fun with your motor, but you can genuinely do something life-saving at the same time! Popping to the supermarket for an elderly neighbour is just about the best thing you can do for your community in these weird times; you’ll be providing a lifeline for someone vulnerable in need, plus… well, it’s a legitimate excuse to go for a drive, isn’t it? Just remember not to go too close to anyone, keep washing your hands, and try not to get into a punch-up over the last tin of cat food.
7) Change your oil
Let’s face it, you’re going to be doing far fewer miles this year than you usually would – not least because you won’t be going to so many car shows. (Which is such a kick in the teeth that we’re all really sad about… and we’re already planning big things for the 2021 show season, it’s going to be epic.) Because of this, your car might be feeling left out, so why not treat it to even more TLC than usual? You can start by giving it an oil change, because that’s a nice therapeutic job that will really do it some good.
Now, oil changes are preferable at whatever the car’s recommended service intervals are, because oil degrades as it ages and filters get clogged up simply by virtue of what their role is – but changing it more regularly is even better, as you’re ensuring that the engine is receiving the utmost levels of lubrication. And that’s what you really want, just ask your mum.
It’s an easy job too. Make sure the engine’s warm (but not hot) so the oil’s nice and runny, then shut it off and pop out the sump plug. (If this involves jacking the car up, make sure you stick it on axle stands because taking a car in the face will really ruin your day.) Catch all the oil in a container, wrestle with the oil filter – which, depending which car you have, will either be easily accessible and happy to unscrew, or the total bloody opposite – then pop the plug back in and fit the new filter. Fill up with fresh oil, warm up the motor, check the dipstick and top up as necessary, and Bob’s your builder. Your car will be happy, and you’ll be satisfied with a job well done. Win-win.
8) Plan your show season
Bit of a tough one, this. After all, in such uncertain times, we don’t know which shows are going ahead and which aren’t. The advice from government is evolving rapidly, in line with daily updates on how the virus is spreading and so on; at time of writing, lockdown is in full effect. Naturally this state of affairs puts the kibosh on going to car shows, which is why a lot of them have got cancelled or postponed already, but we don’t know what’s going to happen in the near future so we might as well be optimistic! Check out the calendar and see what’s a way away, as the events later in the year could be a goer: Trax, Players, Gravity, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Ultimate Stance, cross your fingers and let’s see what happens.
Besides, as you well know, planning your show season isn’t just about writing dates on a calendar. It’s about getting your car ready, carrying out those fresh mods, running updates on Insta to get everyone excited, developing new ideas, detailing the hell out of the car, competing with your mates to get jobs done. None of that’s changed. Yeah, things might get postponed or cancelled, but then again they might not. For the sake of your mental wellbeing, hope for the best and keep on enjoying yourself.
9) Buy a Fast Car Subscription
Shameless plug alert! As you can now only leave your house to shop for basic necessities, you won’t be able to purchase your favourite modified car magazine from your chosen stockist (FC is important but it’s not a necessity). So why not get it sent directly to your door? Not only is it more convenient but you also save money and get it quicker than anyone else. What’s not to love?
And if you fancy your magazines a bit more 21st century, Fast Car is also available digitally so you can enjoy your monthly dose of car culture via your phone, tablet and desktop. Here’s the links…
The current issue will be available to purchase from the Kelsey Shop here https://shop.kelsey.co.uk/issue/FTC
Digital only version
Subscriptions are available by visiting https://shop.kelsey.co.uk/subscription/FTC and clicking the digital tab which gives instant access to the latest issue.
To purchase a digital copy of the latest issue you can do so here https://pocketmags.com/fast-car-magazine
10) Watch a shitload of awesome car movies
You’ll find yourself needing to figure out more home-based entertainment over the coming weeks. And no, we’re not talking about the old five-knuckle shuffle (although, hey, whatever gets you through the day). Job one, obviously, would be to get a subscription to your favourite car mag, to save yourself a trip to the shops – you can subscribe to Fast Car here!
Beyond that, this is the perfect opportunity to re-watch all of those classic car movies you’ve always loved! Le Mans 66 has just come out on DVD, so there’s your starting point, and then you can jump back and forth through cinema history – Vanishing Point, Ronin, Deathproof, Baby Driver, The Fast and the Furious, Smokey and the Bandit, these are all good things. And of course The Italian Job, Talladega Nights, The Blues Brothers… There may be no Formula One happening right now, but Senna and Rush will tickle your pickle. And once you’ve run out of movies (if that’s even possible), you’ll find all the seasons of The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime along with pretty much all the old Top Gear. Just remember to open the curtains occasionally, and bear in mind that a diet of only popcorn will probably get you quicker than the virus will.