Today’s pandemic made everyone stay at home. More people are working from home, students are taking online classes, parties and family reunions are cancelled, even weddings have been postponed. It was not an easy decision but people supported the stay-at-home rule because it can protect them and their families. It is their moral obligation. Many people choosing to stay at home means more cars are left unused. While it is good for people to practice social distancing by not going outside, it is not good for the cars to sit idle. With the stay-at-home orders being implemented, there is no definite time when our cars can run free again. While they can’t run yet, you will have some maintaining to do to avoid potential problems in your car. Problems occur if it sits idle for too long. There are some things you need to look out for and do to make sure your car doesn’t suffer while you stay at home.
Drained battery. Battery loses its charges if it is not being used. Faster if the battery is still connected to your car when parked since it still uses power. Especially for newer cars with gadgets and computers installed. When a battery drains, you can recharge it with the help of your car’s alternator. But alternators can only help your car if it is running. Also keep in mind that alternators don’t work like a phone charger that charges the phone when the battery is low. Its job is to maintain the battery. That is why it is advisable for you to start your car every week and go for a drive for at least 20 minutes. It can just be around your neighbourhood. If you can keep your engine RPM up, you can charge it faster. Do not wait until your car battery is low before you take time to drive it. Bottom line is, your car needs to be driven regularly to prevent its battery from draining. If your car is parked in a secured area, consider investing in a trickle charger. It can help you maintain the battery by charging it. Make sure to read the manual before using to know its specifications. You can also remove your battery from your car if you’re sure that you won’t be using it for a while. Disconnecting the battery cables from the battery will do the job too. Just make sure that you will be using the right tools for it and are wearing needed protective gears.
Tire flat spots. When your car sits idle for too long, it can develop flat spots. Flat spot is a term used to describe the visible flattening of your tire after being stationary for a while. Make sure that your tire is properly inflated because a deflated tire will carry additional stress on the sidewall that can cause permanent damage to it. If driving is not an option, try putting an extra pressure in your tires by 3 psi before leaving your car parked for a long time. You can check on them again after a few days and add the extra pressure again if the tire pressure decreased. This should help retain the tires’ shape. If you can’t check your car weekly, you can use jack stands to support the weight of your car while it stays in the same position for a long period. Normally, flat spots can be easily repaired simply by driving the car. It regains its shape as it warms up spinning on the road. For permanent flat spots, you will have to replace the damaged tires for your safety.
Oxidation and condensation. Oxidation begins in the car’s fuel system when the fuel’s hydrocarbons react with oxygen inside the tank. This reaction creates new compounds that will change the fuel’s chemical composition by and by. This causes gums and varnish build ups in the fuel system. These build ups can cause clogs in the car’s system and removing them will require time and money. Condensation happens when the fuel tank is not completely full. It gives room for air to do some damage. Since air has humidity, it will tend to condense inside the tank and a small amount of water will be mixed in the fuel. While a small amount of water won’t cause much damage if the gas is consumed immediately, it will start to cause problems when stored for a long time and the process of condensation continues. To make sure this doesn’t happen while your car sits idle, you can fill up your tank up to 100%. This way, there will be no space left for the air or oxygen to cause damage. To make sure your fuel stays fresh, you can buy a fuel stabilizer and mix it in with your fuel. This can protect your fuel from deteriorating and from oxidation while it sits idle.
Oil and other fluids. Even when you rarely use your car, it is advisable to still keep up with your oil change schedule. This is a must since oils in your car will still age and will deteriorate over time. It keeps the moving parts of your car stay lubricated and moving. It has to stay hydrated all the time. Just like humans do. Always check the fluid levels of your car. If the fluids become dirty or go way below the normal level, you could be in for a serious trouble. Use the car’s dipstick to check the motor oil level. Add oil if needed.
There are different kinds of fluids you need to check in your car. There’s motor oil, brake fluid, coolant fluid, transmission fluid, and power-steering fluid. All of them have different jobs to do to make sure your car runs at its best condition. Refer to your owner’s manual for the exact time and recommendations when to perform regular oil or fluid change and maintenance.
Check the brakes. Rusts can form on the brake rotors when left unused for a long period. It is best to drive your car weekly to prevent rusts from developing.
When you know that you will be parking for a long time, it is advisable to avoid engaging the parking brake. It can help prevent damaging your brake pads and rotors. A parking brake that’s been engaged for a long period can make pads and rotors fuse together. You wouldn’t want this to happen. Instead of using parking brakes, you can use tire stoppers or wheel chocks and leave your car in first gear.
Clean your car. People tend to leave some trash inside their car. This could be food wrappers, crumbs, water bottles, receipts or papers. That is why cleaning the interior of your car is a must when you are letting your car sit for a while. Remove the trash and vacuum it thoroughly. From the floor mats to the seat covers, under the seats and every corner. This is done to avoid rotting and insect or pest infestation in your car. Trash can also attract rodents that can do damage to your car’s mats, wirings, and seat covers. Cleaning the exterior of your car is important too. Wash your car and remove all the dust build ups, bird droppings, grimes and any form of dirt from it. While you’re at it, you can apply wax and coat your car before parking to keep the moisture away. When you leave it to sit for a long period without getting your car cleaned, this can damage your paint and cause rust to build up.
Consider where you park. When choosing a parking spot for your car, you have to consider the state of your car while it is there. Will it be exposed to the elements? Will it be safe? Rain, snow, and ice can damage your car over time. You might not be able to notice it, but it will begin to take a toll on your car as it stays there longer. Sun can be damaging too as it will age your car paint, fades your dashboard, and even your leather seats. Anything extreme is harmful to your car. If you have a garage at home, park your car there to keep it away from the elements. If parking in a garage is not possible, you have to choose wisely where to park. You have to consider the elements, dirt, acidic bird droppings, pests, falling leaves or tree barks. Keep your car parked away from a tree if possible. You can park it in a shaded area and not in the direct sunlight. You also have to consider what is underneath the car when it’s parked. Grass and ground underneath your car might create moisture that evaporates, collects and condenses that moves up into the car’s undercarriage. It can cause corrosion on the metals parts of your car. Rusts will develop at a much faster rate as you park your car on a grass-covered ground for an extended period. Parking pavement is the best choice. You can choose to park on gravel since it can drain water well. But you have to look out for sharp rocks that could puncture your tires and the small ones that could get stuck between the tire treads. Asphalt or concrete is a good choice too. Also consider the area where you park. It is best to park on an even surface. Try not to park on a slope as this can wear your brakes. Slopes can also cause errors in reading fluid levels. There is no room for errors in reading fluid levels as it is very important to keep its measure accurate.
Use car covers. Car covers work as a car’s shield against the sun, dirt, rain, animal deposits, and so on. It is always a good investment to buy a good car cover. It ensures that your car stays cleaner and safer. It is recommended to use a breathable car cover so you don’t trap any moisture inside. Avoid using it when your car is parked inside a garage for the moisture that is inside will evaporate faster.
Wipers. It is easy to forget about the wipers in the windshield. It seems like it doesn’t need much attention at all. But wipers are really important for safe driving especially in bad weather. While your car sits idle. Always make it a habit to clean it from any dirt, leaves, and other debris. Do not use the wiper to clean it all away. It might damage your wiper blades. To prolong the life of your wiper blades, you can pull your wipers up to prevent it from sticking to the windshield or put plastic wraps under the blades and wipers.
Drive when you can. It has been stressed many times from the list above how important taking your car out for a drive once in a while. It can help maintain the battery and to help keep all car parts moving, restoring flat spots and helps circulate the fluids all around the system. This can help your air conditioner too. When the AC is turned on, the coolant proceeds to move around the system. This helps in lubricating that keeps the rubber seals and pipe work in a good working condition. Always check your car if you will have to use it again for good. Check for the brakes, lights, and battery. Also check the gas and the tires. Inflate or deflate it if needed.
Maintaining your vehicle requires time and effort. But doing these things will ensure that your car is in its top condition while you stay safe in your home. Do not take it for granted. Taking good care of your car while it sits idle can save you from unnecessary repairs and expenses in the future. It is a car owner’s pride and joy to have a reliable and efficient car. It is an essential, especially in this trying time where emergencies could happen. It is best to keep your car in its perfect shape, yourself too. Stay safe!