Recommended Car Maintenance During the COVID-19 Pandemic
2020 has been a very trying year so far, and no one is sure what the future will bring. All over the world people are battling this confusing and brilliant virus, not knowing how things will pan out in the end. Within the US, many states have their own laws and orders when it comes to staying home, social distancing, and continuing your daily life. Whether you’ve been working from home for several months or continue to battle this virus on the front-lines, it’s important to keep up with vehicle maintenance while it may be sitting idle.
The first part to keep up with is your vehicle battery. Even if your vehicle is remaining idle, there are still small drains in the battery of modern vehicles from several on-board computers that draw constant current from your battery. If your car remains idle for a few weeks at a time, a battery can drain enough to be inadequate to start your car. It is recommended by professionals to start your car for 5 minutes at a time at least once a week to keep your battery charged. And ALWAYS make sure the garage door is left open if you park in the garage while you start it.
Brakes are another crucial part to keep up with during this time. If your car isn’t getting used, rust can build up very quickly on brake pads, rotors and drums. A majority of the time this wouldn’t cause too many problems, but it could be quite noisy for a bit once your start driving again. Also, if the rust goes on for too long, it could cause pitting on the discs and wear down pads quicker. If this were to happen, you would have to replace or turn the discs and replace the pads, so make sure they are getting some use!
Of course, we can’t forget about tires! If a vehicle remains idle for a long period of time, the tires can develop flat spots which could cause a bumping or vibration when you start driving again. The recommended tire pressure for each vehicle can be different, so make sure tires are inflated properly for your specific vehicle. Professionals recommend boosting your tire pressure by 5 to 10 PSI to avoid flat spots altogether, but you may also find the recommended tire pressure on a label stuck to your driver side door jamb.
Although this may be the last thing on your mind since you aren’t putting any miles on your vehicle, it’s still important to keep up with regular oil changes. Oil continues to degrade, even if you’re not driving your vehicle regularly. When it degrades, it can cause sludge and cause your vehicle to run sluggishly or even cause damage to internal engine parts. Even if your mileage doesn’t match the regular time intervals, continue to change your oil based on the time intervals to avoid these problems.
Last but not least comes with the many joys of springtime: RODENTS. Mice, chipmunks and squirrels love cars because there are so many little nooks and crannies for them to climb into and build nests. Professionals recommend putting a few moth balls in an old sock and putting it in the engine compartment to discourage any critters from entering. It’s also recommended to set the car’s climate control system to “recirculate” to close air vents to the outside and close off any potential methods of entry. Rodents chew on cables, bring foreign materials in and leave droppings in places it should not be, so this is definitely something to stay aware of. Another small tip is to put dryer sheets in the passenger compartment to discourage rodents from entering.
Although none of this situation is ideal, it’s important to stay on top of car maintenance now to avoid problems when this is all over. After a time like this, the last thing anyone needs is an emergency trip to get service done on their vehicle. The future remains uncertain, but you can remain certain your vehicle will continue to run smoothly by following these recommended maintenance tips. Look out for yourselves, your loved ones, and even your vehicles during this time. We will get through this together and come out stronger on the other side.