How to Care for Your Car During a Pandemic Lockdown
The COVID-19 virus has disrupted our lifestyle in a major way. It has already been weeks and months since we have been experiencing this unprecedented lockdown.
The best way to beat this virus is to practice social distancing, stay at home as much as we can, and avoid contact with the outside world as much as possible.
While some of us are working from home, our cars have been on an extended leave from our daily commuting drives. While this is great for the environment and our gas bills, we all know, cars are not meant to stay parked indefinitely.
We still need to maintain our cars even if we are not using them often these days. We have put together a handy checklist of things you can do to keep your car in good form as you wait for this lockdown to end.
Check Battery Charge
As your car sits idle for days on end, it is important to keep in mind the health of your car battery. Even when the car is parked, the battery charge can drain for various different reasons. This phenomenon is called parasitic drain. Some causes of parasitic battery drain are:
- Car lights kept on
- Faulty electrical connections
- Corroded battery connections
- Extreme weather conditions
- Age of the battery
If you have a fairly new battery, you may not face any issues initially, but it is still a good idea to keep the battery charged up. It is definitely mandatory for an older car battery. So, how do you keep the battery charged?
You should start the car at least once a week to keep the battery healthy. Beyond that you can also purchase a battery charger (called a trickle charger) and a multimeter. A Multimeter checks the voltage of the battery. You can use the trickle chargers to charge the battery by simply plugging it into a regular household electrical outlet.
You can order a trickle charger and multimeter at a discount auto parts website.
Check Tire Pressure
As your car sits idle in your parking spot, the pressure of the tires can start to deteriorate. Tires can form what is called a flat spot by sitting in one position for too long. During your weekly check-ups, be sure to gauge your tire pressure to ensure the tires are in good shape. For best tire maintenance, take your car out for a spin once a week if possible.
Drive a couple of times a week
Most lockdowns will allow driving. So, take advantage of that allowance and take your car on a ride a couple of times a week. Even if you do live within walking distance to your grocery store or drugstore, you can take your car on a ride to get some of those chores done.
Regular weekly driving will protect your car’s health in a few ways. First, driving regularly will keep the engine and the parts from drying out by circulating the motor oils. Second, the tires will get a nice rotation and help avoid flat spots. Finally, it will also keep your battery charged.
Besides, going for a nice long drive has never been so convenient due to much fewer traffic on the roads. So, put on your favorite playlist and take your wheels for a spin.
Avoid Park brake
Avoid park brakes when parked for a long period. Keeping the park-brake on for prolonged periods of time can cause the rotor and brake pads to get sticky or fused. This can cause some big problems down the road. So, skip putting the park brake on.
Watch where you park
If you don’t have a driveway of your own or a garage, then be mindful of where you park your car. Street parking can be tricky for long periods of stationary time. You are exposing your car to the elements and the weather conditions. It also leaves your car vulnerable for break-ins.
If you are parking on an unpaved area, be mindful of the grass growing underneath the car. The moisture from the plants can cause rusting in your undercarriage.
It is equally important to note what is in the surrounding. Avoid parking near trees as a spring wind storm can wreak havoc leading to massive damages to your car.
Cover from sun damage
UV radiation does not follow a lockdown. They can still do damage to your car interiors and exteriors. During regular schedules, you may have the benefit of parking your car at different shaded parking spots – that is not the case during the lockdown.
So, if you are parked outdoors, constant sun exposure is something you need to seriously consider. Now would be a great time to invest in a car cover with UV protection and keep your car covered. You can also get sun reflectors for your windshield and windows to protect the interior from sun damage.
If you are using a car cover, be sure to check up on your car more regularly and especially after bouts of wet weather.
Clean your car
By now you have heard all about hand hygiene and disinfection of surfaces as an effective way to keep the COVID-19 virus away. Your car is no exception.
As you go to the grocery stores and pharmacies for your essentials, coronavirus can travel with your purchases right into your car. Not to mention, your hands would have touched different surfaces before you return to your car and start driving.
So, be sure to disinfect your car surfaces – door handles, steering wheels, and dashboards. You can use regular household disinfectant wipes for most surfaces of the car – with some major exception – your leather interior and touchscreen.
Check your manual or manufacturer website for recommended wipes for the leather interior. For the touchscreens use a microfiber cloth or consult your manufacturer recommendations.
Check for rodent infestation
We have all heard of the horror stories of critters nesting in car engines. While this is usually not a problem for a car that is used regularly, a pandemic lockdown is a perfect opportunity for nature to take over.
Yes, there have been sights of coyotes on highways, and lamas lounging on the streets of Peru. So, your car could be an irresistible lure for squirrels to nest and birth their young. So, keep an eye out for it.
Look under the hood and undercarriage when possible. Avoid parking cars in wooded areas or in fields with grass growing underneath. You can also get some natural mice repellents like peppermint oil for your car to keep those pests out.
Change Air Filters
The cabin air filters in a car is your biggest protection against microbes and dust. This is a great time to check your air filters and replace them if needed. Some of these smaller tasks will get overlooked as we restart our lives after the lockdown is lifted. So, get those filters changed before you start using your car regularly.
Gas up frequently
You should not let gas sit in your tank for too long. This can cause condensation and it can cause hazardous gases to build up. This is yet another reason to keep your car mobile by taking it for a drive. Refuel with new gas frequently to keep the gas from staying stagnant in the tank.
Some car enthusiasts may even want to add fuel stabilizers to help with this cause, but the average driver may find it a bit of an overkill. So, instead, take advantage of the low gas prices and fuel up to keep your car healthy.
Keep up with regular oil change schedule
Even the strictest of the lockdowns in North America will allow for appointment-based car maintenance garages to be open. If your regular oil change schedule comes due during the lockdown, see if you are allowed to keep the appointment.
Not using your car as frequently is still not a reason to skip an oil change. This will keep your car in top condition.
Wash, Polish & Wax
The lockdown has finally given us all the time we need to get our wish-list of activities done around the home. If you live in a single-family home with a private driveway you don’t share with anyone else, this one’s for you.
Take the opportunity of this downtime to give your prized car the spa day you always wanted to give. You can invest some time and energy into a good hand wash, polish, and wax for your car. This will maintain your car’s paint and exterior. Not to mention the sense of accomplishment to distract us away from all the doom and gloom.
Keep your EV charged
This one is for the EV car owners. Remember to keep your EV charged as per your manual. Drive around to spend a bit of the charge and then recharge to keep the entire car system healthy. Be sure to give the charging system a once over to ensure everything looks normal.
Restock your car emergency kit
This sudden pandemic has reminded us of the need for being prepared for an emergency. This is a good time to take stock of your emergency kit for the car. Replenish and replace any supplies that are needed. Add some gloves and masks to the kit as well.
We are in the midst of a crisis we haven’t experienced in living memory, causing a disruption in all aspects of our lives. There is no doubt that the pandemic will leave our society changed for a very long time to come.
Luckily for us, we do have it in our power to keep our car’s health safe from disruption. Follow the above tips on caring for your car and you will be ready with a shiny brilliant car in top shape to start life after the pandemic.
Always drive safely!