If you are currently stuck at home, you probably are not giving much thought to car care during the COVID-19 shutdown. Just because your car is sitting unused does not mean it still doesn’t require attention. If a vehicle sits unused for several weeks or months, precautions should be taken to avoid costly problems later.
If you are working from home or having your groceries brought to you, your car may not be driven at all. Many drivers may not realize that problems can develop simply from lack of use. Just a week or two of non-use can kill a car battery – especially if the battery is on the older side. Another part of your car that may be vulnerable is the gas tank. If your tank is only partially full, the exposed metal inside of the tank could be susceptible to rust.
Here are some easy steps you can take for car care during the COVID-19 shutdown, or If you know that your car will be sitting idle for an extended period of time:
- Make sure the gas tank is full to prevent moisture buildup that could cause rust or get in your fuel system.
- If you are able, have your oil changed.
- Check your battery and keep it charged so it is ready when you need it.
- Start the car once or twice a week and allow it to get up to full operating temperature before you turn it off.
- Inflate your tires to the recommended pressure (see your owner’s manual). Depending on how long it will sit, you may go 5 psi higher for longer periods.
- Clean off winter salt, brine, and dirt underneath the car and on the outside of the car to prevent rust formation.
- Make sure the inside of the car is clean to prevent any odor or mold from developing.
- If you plan to park the car for more than 30 days, do not set the parking brake. Brake pads or shoes could seize to the drum or the rotor and cause problems later.
If Your Car Needs Service
If you are among the folks who must still go out and rely on your vehicle for transportation, the good news is that you can still get service and repair car care during the COVID-19 shutdown. While auto service shops are open, it is not exactly business as usual. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Make an appointment. Your shop’s hours may be different during the shutdown, or they may have less staff. Scheduling an appointment will assure that the shop can take care of your vehicle.
- Plan to drop it off. If you normally like to wait while your vehicle is being serviced, you will need to take a different approach this time. The social distancing that is required for health and safety still applies. Do not plan on hanging out at the shop.
- Ask about pick up service. Many shops are offering pick-up and delivery service. This can be a lifesaver if you do not have anyone to give you a ride.
Take care and be safe!