Thanks to the changes that have come with a global pandemic, many would-be commuters are going to school or working from home. Even the weekly trip to the grocery store or local restaurant has been eliminated thanks to the many delivery services. Suddenly, your car that is used to traveling several miles a day, is grounded. Though you may be driving much less, it’s still imperative to maintain your vehicle. Working from home may be your “new normal,” but you should maintain your car as if you were still commuting on a daily basis. Here’s what you can do to keep your vehicle like-new even when driving less.
Continue Getting Oil Changes
You already know that frequent oil changes helps protect your engine from failure. Like any good vehicle owner, you’ve likely had your oil changed at the proper mileage intervals. However, now that you are home on an extended basis, it could be months—or longer to reach that next interval. The oil in an inactive vehicle can begin to deteriorate due to temperature changes. Oil that has deteriorated does little to protect your engine. Plan to change your oil every 4 to 6 months.
Fill Up Your Gas Tank
Whether you’re a winter visitor leaving your vehicle for the season or you just find yourself driving seldomly, it’s a good idea to fill up your gas tank. A partially filled gas tank on an unused car can collect condensation which can result in rust or damage to the fuel pump. A gas-powered engine’s fuel should last about six months if you’re not driving your vehicle regularly. Diesel, in some cases, may last up to a year.
Maintain Your Tires
Tires are not completely airtight and over time will leak small amounts of air. Even a slow leak can cause a tire to go flat in a short period of time. Check your tire pressure monthly and before traveling. Under inflated tires not only cause premature wear, they also reduce traction, and prevent a sufficient amount of contact with the road which can be very dangerous. Additionally, underinflated tires create friction and heat that result in blowouts that may lead to severe accidents.
Protect Your Battery
Even if you have nowhere to go, take your vehicle out for a drive every couple of weeks. Drive for at least a few miles to heat up the engine, get fluids moving, and help your battery recharge. Your alternator’s job is to maintain the battery’s voltage but is unable to charge a dead battery. If you plan to leave your vehicle unattended for a significant amount of time, do not disconnect the battery. Instead, use a trickle charger or battery tender.
Wash Your Car
Keeping your car clean and tidy inside and out will help prevent a lot of headaches later. Be sure to wash the exterior of the vehicle every two weeks, especially if the vehicle is parked outside. Dirt can cause tiny scratches that damage the vehicle’s paint. It’s also important to clean the interior as well. You don’t want to return to your vehicle only to discover an old lunch box was left and forgotten leaving an unpleasant stench, or has attracted bugs.
One of the best ways to protect your vehicle is with the use of a car cover. A car cover is a good idea if you are unable to park your vehicle in a covered area but is equally as beneficial for cars stored in garages. Car covers help prevent scratches, dust, and UV damages to tires and the interior upholstery and plastic components. Choose lightweight, soft covers for cars stored indoors and heavy duty weather and UV resistant covers for storage outdoors.
When you’re ready to get back on the road, be sure to check fluids prior to your drive. Check your coolant levels prior to starting your car and check oil levels after letting your car warm up. Check transmission fluid if you are able; many modern vehicles have sealed transmissions and fluid levels cannot be checked. However, a trained professional with specialized equipment is able to access the transmission to check fluid levels.
Get an Inspection
Though your drives may be shorter and more seldom, it’s important to have your vehicle inspected every six months to ensure your vehicle is in proper health. A vehicle that is not used often can develop problems even as it sits. Rodents, bugs, condensation in the fuel tank, thickening oil, and flat tires can occur while your car is stationary. A technician should inspect your vehicle bumper to bumper to ensure all components are functioning properly.
Someday our world will return to normal and you may continue commuting to work, taking road trips, and drive down to your local shopping mall. Be sure to follow our tips so that when that day comes, you and your car will be ready to hit the open road. When your vehicle is in need of its next oil change or inspection, visit the experts at Sun Devil Auto. We know how important your car is to you and we’re here to help keep it in top shape for when you need it most. Schedule your appointment or give us a call today!