Coronavirus Car Care: Tips to Keep Your Unused Car Healthy
Most of the countries around the world have gone into a lockdown or advised their citizens to stay at home during this coronavirus pandemic. It’s uncertain how long this emergency state will last but even the best-case scenario looks grim—another one or two months in this official or unofficial lockdown. In this desperate measure to ‘flatten the curve’, people are already driving less and most of them won’t go out unless it’s an emergency. But leaving your car unused for such long periods can lead to various problems.
How Does Long Idling Affect a Vehicle?
Most people are getting out occasionally only for shopping daily essentials or doing something urgent. In this situation, thousands of cars are likely to lay idle for a prolonged period.
Lack of regular use can affect a motor vehicle in many ways. The most vulnerable parts are the brakes, battery, and tires. You will need to think about weather elements too if it’s parked on the street.
You should always park under a shade, possibly in a garage that’s free from damp and humidity. Moisture in the air can could cause mold formation and tarnish the paintwork.
If parking in the garage is not an option, cover it with a heavy-duty weatherproof protective cover. There are model-specific car covers to provide protection from rain and sunlight.
Best Ways to Keep an Unused Car Healthy
Given the current situation, you may not have the chance to drive your car for the foreseeable future. Worry not. It will still be in good condition if you follow these steps:
Recharge the Battery
Modern vehicles have multiple computers that keep running even when the engine is off. They absorb energy and the battery will go flat within a week or two if you don’t recharge it.
To keep the battery in good health, start the car and run it for at least 15 minutes once every two weeks or a month. If the situation does not permit driving, let the engine run for 15 minutes. Don’t forget to open the garage door (if you are doing this in a garage) for the exit of the exhaust fumes. For the hybrid vehicles, run the engine with the headlights on for 30 minutes once in a month. This little ritual will keep the battery alive and the engine lubricated.
If possible, use a battery tender or a maintenance-type battery charger to keep the battery at a proper voltage. Plug the tender to an AC outlet and connect its other end to the battery and it will transfer power to keep the battery unit healthy during this long inactivity period.
When the car remains inactive for a long time, the tires become deflated slowly. Also, the area of the tires touching the ground becomes rigid, known as flat spots, for sitting in the same position for days and months. To prevent these problems, add 10 psi of air pressure (higher than the recommended pressure) to each tire. Driving the car for a few minutes every two weeks will also help.
Flat spots are serious and may lead to tire replacement. If you are sure about not moving the car for more than a month, removing the car wheels completely can prevent this flat spot problem.
Check the Gas
Gasoline in the car’s fuel tank degrades over time because of fuel oxidation. However, modern cars have a sealed fuel system, preventing the oxidation to set in. Despite the airtight technology, the can last from one month to six months. To prevent condensation forming, keep the tank as full as possible. Using a fuel stabilizer is another good idea as it can extend fuel’s life to up to two years.
Yous should not delay the oil change even if you are unlikely to reach the mileage interval. The owner’s manual will tell you the maximum time interval between oil changes.
What about the Parking Brake?
We usually park an automatic car by applying the parking brake. Don’t do it this time. With a change of weather, the brake can freeze and distort or the brake pads can cause the rotors to rust. Place the car in ‘park’ before storing it.
Similarly, don’t apply the handbrake when storing a manual car. Place it in the ‘reverse’ or ‘first’ gear and use chocks behind the car wheels to prevent rolling.
A few other components to take care of are the windshield wiper and the sunshade. You need to prop up the wipers to get the blades off the windshield. Otherwise, they will get stuck to the surface. For a car kept outside, using a sunshade will protect the steering wheel and dashboard
So, these are the measures you can take to keep your car in good health during this strange time. Also, do a maintenance check at regular intervals if you are skilled to do that.