During this time of self-quarantine and stay-at-home orders, and more businesses encourage employees to work from home, you and your family may find your vehicles being driven far more infrequently than usual. The longer your car sits, the more risk there is of causing permanent damage or an unwelcome hefty repair bill. But you can avoid these concerns and keep your vehicle in good shape by following a few key steps as it sits in your driveway.
COVID-19 Car Maintenance & Repair in Omaha
Over time, your car’s battery can discharge and leave you needing to jump-start your car. You can plug your vehicle into a battery tender if you have one. Or if you know your car will be sitting for a long time, you can always disconnect the battery.
Also, keep in mind that batteries tend to drain faster in colder climates. Starting your car once a week is recommended to prevent a dead battery. While idling your car may be better than nothing, actually driving your car is the best way to recharge a battery in a timely manner, even if it’s just around the block a few times.
The biggest concern with tires is flat-spotting, which is when the weight of the vehicle sitting on one spot flattens out a portion of the rubber on the tire. While flat-spotting isn’t likely to happen in two weeks, if conditions are right, a month of being stationary might be enough to cause problems.
Low tire pressure and very cold weather can both contribute to the development of flat spots. Check your tire pressure and inflate them to factory specifications. Park your car on wooden blocks underneath the tires to keep the cement from drawing the air pressure out of them.
When left unused, brake rotors can begin to develop rust on the surface of the rotors. If you leave your parking brake engaged for a long period of time, it can actually cause the brake pads to bind to the rotors.
While this shouldn’t be a concern over a few weeks, if you know your car will be parked for a month or more we recommend leaving the parking brake off. You should always put safety first and only do so on a flat surface. Brake repairs are always preferable to a runaway car. Driving regularly also prevents your vehicles from degrading, and it keeps all the moving parts in your car lubricated.
It is suggested that it’s important to choose a parking spot wisely. Parking long term on a soft, permeable surface like grass or dirt allows moisture to travel up into your car’s undercarriage, causing rust. Finding a spot on the pavement is ideal, but gravel is still a decent second choice. Park in a safe area, and avoid leaving valuable items in their vehicle for long periods of time.
Be wary of rodents that may take up residence in your vehicle. Rats and other pests can cause real trouble for vehicles in long-term storage. Multiple experts say to put rodent repellent in your garage and clean your car of any food scraps to prevent unwanted visitors.
Take reasonable steps to protect your parking area from common pests, and if your car has been parked for more than a few weeks, we recommend popping the hood and taking a look for any evidence that wires or belts have been chewed on. Also, keep an eye out for furry stowaways in your engine compartment and around the top of your tires in your wheel wells.
Your local car wash may not be open, and if your vehicle is parked outside it’s likely to accumulate dust, bird droppings, and other contaminants such as tree sap or water spots from nearby sprinklers. Over time, exposure to the elements can damage your vehicle’s paint. It’s recommended to park under cover or using a weatherproof car cover. If droppings or other localized contaminants do get on your paint, you can use a spot cleaner and a soft cloth.
A car cover can protect your paint from the elements, so long as you clean your car thoroughly before putting it on. Putting a car cover on a dirty car can do more harm since the cover can rub and abrade your paint over time. If you’re not going to have a car cover, waxing and sealing is the next best thing. If you want to go the extra mile in protecting your paint, wax and seal your car before putting it away. That’ll prolong the longevity of the paint, even in the face of dust, twigs, and other contaminants.
Fluids are a major issue for long-term storage. Fuel can separate, and water vapor can accumulate in your gas tank. Gaskets and hoses that aren’t kept lubricated can dry out and become brittle.
The benefits of filling up on gas before parking long term are twofold. It prevents condensation from accumulating inside the tank, and it also stops gasoline fumes from building up to hazardous levels. You can also use a fuel stabilizer to extend the life of your gasoline and prevent it from degrading over time.
These are simple solutions, but it works. Cars are designed to be driven, so it’s easier to keep them healthy by putting them to regular use.
Dave & Rays Automotive Repair Shop in Omaha, NE
Our team has learned one thing: automotive problems are as varied and unique as the customers who bring them to us. Fortunately, our decades of experience in auto service and repair also mean that our skilled network of professionals is ready to accommodate an impressive scope of automotive issues. Contact us today.
- How often should you get a brake inspection?
- Get a Car Tune-up Before Road Trip This Summer
- Repairing Electric Cars, Things to Consider?