Government guidelines regarding non-essential travel in the COVID-19 pandemic have meant that businesses which use commercial vehicles for a range of purposes (eg making deliveries, transporting workers between job sites or picking up goods) may have needed to ‘lay up’ their vehicles.
Laying up helps preserve a fleet while the vehicles aren’t being driven for an extended period. This technique also helps ensure that vehicles can smoothly transition back to normal road use when needed.
The following best practice provides guidance on laying up commercial vehicles, and on how to safely get them back on the road after the lay-up period.
Before Laying Up Vehicles
Before laying vehicles up, consider the following:
- Insurance and tax requirements—Insurance and tax requirements for your vehicle or fleet will still need to be followed, unless you declare the vehicles as ‘off road’ by making a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). Implementing a SORN informs the DVLA that you will not be driving or parking the vehicle(s) on public roads for an extended period.
Also speak to us about the possibility of purchasing specialised insurance cover for your laid-up vehicles.
- Secure vehicle storage— Select a location that provides adequate security and is safe from fires or flooding. A garage or indoor storage facility with proper ventilation, appropriate locks and if possible CCTV is ideal. Only allow competent employees to have access to the storage area.
- Vehicle maintenance— It is important to conduct thorough cleaning and maintenance before laying vehicles up for an extended period. This include:
- Washing the vehicle, including undersides and tyres, with appropriate cleaning agents, and cleaning the interior.
- Inspecting the vehicle and repairing or replacing any damaged components as needed
- Ensuring tyres are inflated to the recommended pressure
- If possible connecting batteries to a battery maintainer
- Consulting the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions on whether to change the oil, and whether you should use chocks to keep vehicles from moving or leave the parking brake on.
- Lubricate vehicle locks as needed
- Filling the fuel tank to prevent moisture and stop the seals from drying out
- Storing any spare fuel in a safe location, within properly sealed containers
Inspections while Your Vehicle Is Laid Up
Once your vehicle is in storage, you (or another competent employee) should aim to visit the storage area once a week to ensure the vehicle(s) remain in good condition. When visiting your vehicle or fleet:
- Release the parking brake (if it was on) and move each vehicle a short distance while the engine is running to prevent the brakes from seizing over time.
- If the battery is not on a maintainer, drive the vehicle(s) outdoors (but still on your private property) to run the engine for about 15 minutes to help recharge the battery. Be mindful of security whilst doing this and never leave the vehicle unattended whilst running.
- If you have electric vehicles, press the start button so that the ‘ready’ light turns on and leave each vehicle running for about 10 minutes to help keep it charged.
- Check the tyres and inflate them if needed. Briefly driving a vehicle a short distance will help prevent the tyres from getting flat spots.
- Check the floor under the vehicle to ensure oil and fuel tanks aren’t leaking.
- Remove animal waste (eg bird or rodent droppings) from vehicle exteriors to prevent paint or metal damage and clean if necessary to prevent duct build up.
Transitioning back to normal road use
Take the following precautions before putting your vehicles back on the road:
- Cancel any vehicle SORNs and ensure that each vehicle’s tax, MOT and insurance cover are up to date. The government has issued an MOT exemption in response to the COVID-19 pandemic—which means that vehicles will not be required to get an MOT test (even if they are overdue) between 30th March 2020 and 30th September 2020. However, a vehicle must still be considered ‘roadworthy’ in order to operate it on public roads.
- Check the:
- the fuel level to ensure there haven’t been leaks.
- tyres for adequate pressure
- windscreens and wipers for cracks
- brakes are in good condition.
- Check under the bonnet to ensure rodents haven’t caused damage, eg chewed belts, hoses or wires.
- If any battery cables were disconnected, reconnect them and ensure the terminals are clean.
- Schedule a full-service for each vehicle.
Get in touch with your GRP broker for advice on your vehicle or fleet insurance.