The COVID-19 pandemic has seen restrictions on movement and lockdowns kicking in and most of us ended up spending time at our homes. And while we're doing our thing by staying at home and not venturing out too much to protect ourselves from the virus, the pandemic rules and restrictions are taking a toll on the health of our cars.
Keeping cars idle for a long time might not be something that your car would enjoy and it too needs some form of exercise. So, whether you own a high-tech, brand Tesla Model 3 or, grumpy Ford truck, they all call for more care than usual. While we mask up, sanitize and vaccinate to protect ourselves, and hope to begin searches for a new or a used car on CarIndigo, we tell you 10 ways to keep your car in good shape during pandemic times.
Do not let the batteries run out of juice
Well, we all know that the car's battery runs out even when the car is not in use. To prevent the battery from being drained down, it is highly recommended you start your car at least once a week for 15-20 minutes and let the running engine charge the battery.
If it is likely that you won't be able to start the car for a month or so, just disconnect the negative terminal to prevent the battery from discharging. Practicing this will keep your battery and its charge levels intact and you won't face any troubles the next time you're set to go out in the car.
Do not engage the parking brake.
Engaging the parking brake for a long time is not advisable, especially if the car is going to stay idle for weeks and months. You cannot avoid using the parking brake if you're parking on an inclined surface but if your car is going to be idle for a long time, make sure you park it on a flat surface. Engaging the parking brakes for a long time can jam the brakes. When the parking brakes are engaged for a long time, the brake rotors begin to develop rust on the surface.
Moreover, keeping the parking brakes engaged for a long time can cause binding between the rotors and the brake pads. To prevent damage to your car's braking system, it is advised that you keep the parking brake down and maybe use something like a wheel stopper in your garage to prevent your car from rolling.
Keep the tank full
If your car is going to stay idle for a long time, make sure you fill the gas tank to the brim. Low fuel levels in the tank can lead to condensation and result in gasoline levels building up to dangerous levels. Moreover, an empty tank can also cause moisture to accumulate and that is very undesirable. So even if you have to spend a few extra bucks to top your tank off, it will just help you to maintain your car's health when it is sitting idle.
Keep the car's parts lubricated
Starting the car once a week will not just help you to replenish the battery but also help in keeping the car's moving parts lubricated. When the car is sitting idle, the oil starts to settle and the fluids start to dry out and this phenomenon can lead to irreparable damage to your car's mechanical components. Starting your car for about 15 to 20 minutes a week would just help avoid that.
Moreover, if you can and only if it is safe to do so, we would recommend you to take your car for a short stroll once a week for about 20 to 30 minutes. Taking the car for a quick drive will help in getting all the car's fluids circulating.
Also, keep a check on the fluid levels when the car is not in use and top it off immediately as you see a drop in the levels to avoid any further damage.
Place your car on wheel ramps
A car sitting idle for a long time can cause flat spots on the tires. When a car is sitting idle, the weight of the car causes the tire to lose pressure and this further leads to flat spots on the tire at the area of contact with the road surface. Taking your car for a quick drive once a week would help avoid that but when your car is going to be idle for long, like for more than a couple of weeks, it is advisable that you place the car on wheel ramps.
Wheel ramps are concave-shaped ramps that preserve the shape of the tire by allowing the tire to rest in its original round shape. These devices protect your tire from developing flat spots and keep the tire intact.
Store your car in a clean and dry place
Never park your car on loose and soft surfaces. Parking on surfaces like grass holds moisture and this moisture can travel all the way up to your car and can rust the underbody. Ideally, park the car on the pavement and make sure the spot is clean and dry.
Also, store the car away from direct sunlight, rain, and snow
If you have a garage, then this might not be an issue for you. But for those of you who don't and have to keep the car parked out, make sure you keep it under shade or keep it covered using a waterproof body cover. This would protect the car's paint and prevent the body panels from rusting. Also try and wash the car regularly, at least once a week to prevent the accumulation of dirt and bugs.
An idle can turn into a safe abode for rats and rodents. And these tiny, notorious creatures love to tinker with the car's wirings and harnesses. So make sure your car stays away from these pests. Cleaning the surroundings of the car's parking spot or garage regularly may just help in keeping your car safe from the attack of these pests.
Keep the cabin clean
The car's interior will not be getting proper ventilation while it sits idle and so it is advisable to clean the cabin once a week and let some fresh air get in the car. Before you park the car and start its 'idling' period, make sure you have taken out all the tiny unnecessary items. Also, clean the cabin with a vacuum cleaner and refill your car perfume.
Keep a check on the tire pressure
Even if you're taking the car on quick runs and using wheel ramps to protect the tire's shape, the tire is still going to lose pressure when sitting idle. So, you must keep a check on the tire pressure and keep them inflated with the pressure specified by the OEM. This would just help in keeping the tire and the wheel in good shape.