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Getting your car ready for airport parking

From ensuring all your flight documents and passports are in order to checking your holiday essentials are properly packed and hotel reservations are finalised, there’s lots to think about before catching a flight. However, no matter whether you’re going on a solo business trip or flying the entire family off on an overseas adventure, one of the most common concerns revolves around what to do with your car while travelling.

While most airports, including Liverpool John Lennon Airport, provide a number of car parking options which passengers can pay to use, understanding what you need to do as a car owner to help ensure your vehicle remains safe and in working condition during its stay in long-term airport car park is vitally important. After all, you don’t want to return to your car after a long trip away to find it has been broken into or has a flat tyre or a dead battery.

To help you prepare your car for a long-term stay in an airport car park, here at Liverpool Airport we have put together this handy guide.

When should tyre pressure be checked?

Although you should be checking your car’s tyre pressure every few months, as well as before any long journey, this task should also be carried out in the immediate days before leaving your car parked in a long-stay car park.

When cars are sat stationary for long periods of time - in a long-term airport car park, for example - tyres can start to slowly deflate. After all, with the full weight of the car concentrated on one area of each tyre for an extended period of time, this is unavoidable - especially during the colder months. Typically, this won’t cause too much of an issue if your car is only left for a few weeks and its tyres are in good condition and set at the correct pressure at the time you park up.

However, if your tyres are already slightly deflated, flat or generally in poor condition when you leave your car in a long-term car park for an extended stay, it is likely you will return to your vehicle to find flat tyres that are not safe to drive on. With this in mind, although as a car owner you should be regularly checking the condition of your car’s tyres anyway - looking at the tread depth, any wear and tear, tyre pressure and just their general condition - extra attention should be given to them before you park up in a long-stay car park.

While tyre pressure in particular should be checked before parking up, to ensure all four tyres conform with the tyre pressure guidelines detailed in your car’s user manual, this is especially important to do if you are leaving your car in an exposed outdoor car park during the winter months.

Check the fluid levels in your car

Aside from checking your tyres, ensuring all the vital fluids in your car are topped up before your car is parked for a prolonged period is a sensible idea. The simple act of ensuring your vehicle has a full tank of fuel will not only ensure you save yourself (and perhaps your jet-lagged family) a stop at the petrol station on your return, it will also help to keep your car in good working order. This is because your car’s fuel tank is an empty space which is either filled by fuel or air. When large parts of your tank contain air rather than fuel, the water vapor in the air can condense on the sides of the tank and cause rust. This is more likely to occur if your car is parked in a cold outside car park for a long period of time and could cause problems in the future.

Aside from filling your tank, you should also be checking your car’s oil before a long-term park. Although unlikely to cause a serious issue, the fact remains that when old engine oil is left to sit for long periods of time it can start to break down and produce contaminants that can damage your car’s engine. For this reason, swapping your oil before a long park up can be a good idea. While you are doing this, you can also search for and fix any leaks that may have previously gone unnoticed. Remember, it is vital that you check your car’s handbook for the manufacturer’s recommended oil.

Finally, you should also top up your car’s windscreen wiper fluid. While this may not seem like an essential action to take before parking your car, your vehicle's washer system could be vital if you return to your vehicle to find the windscreen coated in a layer of dust, dirt or other vision-impairing debris. It could also help you to quickly and effectively defrost your windscreen should it be frozen over.

How to hide valuables in the car

Although all long-stay car parks at Liverpool Airport feature 24/7 CCTV surveillance to help ensure your car remains safe and secure during its stay, we still recommended that all valuables are either removed or hidden out of sight. From devices such as GPS units and portable media players to expensive items of clothing, work documents and even loose change, by leaving items on display in your parked car you may be unwittingly inviting thieves to break into your vehicle.

It is recommended that items of value are totally removed from your car prior to parking up. However, if you have reached the airport and found that some items have been forgotten, you should consider hiding them from sight before leaving your vehicle. Think about storing smaller items, loose change and documents in your car’s glove compartment. This keeps valuables out of view and means they can be locked away, providing an additional layer of security. Larger valuables, such as expensive items of clothing and larger electric devices, should be placed either out of view under seats or safely in the boot. When leaving electronics in your car, it is also advisable to make sure they are totally switched off. Apps that detect Bluetooth signals can now be used, meaning the location of everything from phones, laptops and tablets can be shared with potential thieves. By switching devices off, you are preventing any Bluetooth signals from tipping off thieves.