The COVID-19 pandemic has landed many people in their homes. Even if you still have to drive to work occasionally, you’ve probably minimized outings with friends, rides to the malls, road trips, and the like.
Since your vehicle is now spending the majority of its time in the driveway or garage, it needs extra attention. Cars are designed to be used regularly. They don’t appreciate lockdown orders any more than people do.
Let’s look at a few ways you can keep your vehicle in top shape during the pandemic so it’s ready to go once the virus retreats.
1. Keep the Battery Charged
Car batteries discharge when you don’t use them for a long time. The duration of that period depends on several factors:
- Battery age
- Number of gadgets and computers
- Climate (batteries drain faster when it’s cold out)
In an average vehicle, a new battery can last for about four weeks without recharging. However, hardly all cars are created equal. To make sure your car is ready to go whenever you need it, drive around the block a few times at least once a week.
If you can’t go out for a drive, consider investing in a trickle charger. Pandemic or not, it’s a nice tool to have in your arsenal.
2. Lubricate Moving Parts of Your Vehicle
Mechanical parts of your vehicle need regular lubrication. When the car sits idle for a long tile, oil settles, fluids separate, and seals dry out. Eventually, when you start the vehicle and mechanical parts begin moving, they may break down due to the lack of lubrication.
To keep the transmission, brakes, and engine properly lubricated, you need to drive your vehicle occasionally. Remember, simply running it idly won’t do the trick. You’d need to take the car out for a spin around the neighborhood at least twice a month.
3. Watch Where You Park
Unless you have a paved driveway or a garage, you need to be careful about where you park your vehicle.
The moisture in the grass and soil causes problems as it evaporates. The droplets collect and condense under the chassis. The water sits inside hollows and pockets in the undercarriage of your vehicle, causing it rust. The problem gets worse when salt, sand, and small mineral rocks with inert chemicals are present in the soil.
So if you need to leave your car for more than a couple of days, chose pavement or gravel.
Pro tip: avoid parking under trees. Unless you install paint protection film, sap and bird droppings can damage the paint.
4. Fill Up the Tank
By filling up the tank before parking your car for a long time, you are killing several birds with one stone:
- Avoid condensation buildup inside the tank.
- Keep the seals from drying out.
- Prevent gasoline fumes from reaching high levels.
- Have the car ready to go at any time.
Additionally, you can purchase a fuel stabilizer to avoid ethanol buildup and protect the engine from gum and rust. However, it’s only reasonable if you aren’t planning to use the car for more than one month.
5. Don’t Use the Parking Brake
When you leave your vehicle longer than for a few weeks, don’t use the parking brake. When brake pads touch the rotors for too long, they may fuse.
A simple way to avoid such a problem is to take your vehicle out for a short drive every couple of weeks.
6. Watch the Tires
When you leave the vehicle in a parked position for a long time, tires could develop flat spots. They occur because the weight of the vehicle pushes down on the tires’ footprints. This happens faster when temperatures are colder or if you have low-profile tires.
If flat spots appear, taking the vehicle out for a spin may help. However, they could stay permanently.
Driving your car at least once a month is an easy way to avoid the problem altogether. Just make sure the tires are properly inflated.
7. Look for Uninvited Tenants
When vehicles are stationary for a while, they become highly appealing to rodents. Your car is a nice and warm place with numerous safe spots for them to hide.
Rodents may start building a home inside your vehicle and chewing on wires, hoses, and other parts. Or worse, a critter may die inside the car, causing an awful smell.
The simplest way to keep the unwanted neighbors out is to drive the car regularly. Noise and movements will scare rodents away.
8. Maintain the Vehicle as Usual
Just because you aren’t driving the car as often as you used to doesn’t mean you should reschedule oil changes and other maintenance.
- Check oil and coolant levels
- Inspect brakes
- Replace filters
- Wash and wax
Failing to maintain your vehicle may cause unpleasant surprises when you finally need it.
9. Cover your Car
If you don’t have a garage, consider covering your car with a weatherproof cover. It can prevent damage to your vehicle and protect it from weather elements.
Even if you take your car out for a drive once a week, keep it covered in between.
10. Be Ready for the post-COVID Life
The pandemic will eventually subside, and your driving habits will go back to normal. Before you take your car out for a long ride, make sure to:
- Check tire pressure
- Check all fluids
- Don’t speed up immediately. Take it slow
- Look under the vehicle for signs of leaks
- Inspect wiring and hoses for signs of rodent damage
Keeping Your Car in Top Shape during The Pandemic and Beyond
The key to keeping your car functional during lockdown and shelter-in-place orders is giving it a chance to work occasionally. Simply driving around the block a few times can keep the battery charged, parts lubricated, tires inflated, rodents away, and much more.