In this time of social distancing, many vehicles may be sitting idle for days or weeks at a time. The non-profit Car Care Council recommends starting your car at least once a week and keeping up with routine auto care to help prevent potential maintenance issues.
If a vehicle sits idle for too long, the battery could die, the tires could develop flat spots and the engine oil may start to deteriorate. Just a short solo drive once a week and a little car care will keep your car running efficiently and safely.
When starting your car, let it run for at least five minutes. If the vehicle is started in a garage, make sure the garage door is open and there is plenty of ventilation.
In addition, it’s a good idea to monitor the following areas of your vehicle:
• Battery – Today’s vehicles have several computers that are always in operation, so if a car sits too long without recharging, the battery could die within a couple of weeks.
• Tires – Maintain proper tire pressure to improve vehicle performance and gas mileage. Doing so is also important for vehicle safety. Checking the tire pressure frequently is more important if the car is parked for long periods of time. Vehicles that sit idle can develop flat spots, so taking a brief drive every once in a while will help prevent bald spots, and recharge the battery, too.
• Fuel – Today’s modern fuel systems help preserve the life of the gas in your tank and also prevent fuel oxidation. Keeping a full tank of gas helps limit gas-tank condensation. If you are concerned about the gas in your tank going bad, a fuel stabilizer may help extend the life of your fuel.
• Oil – If a car sits too long, the oil can deteriorate, so continue to change the oil at the proper time intervals, even if you are not driving your normal mileage. It is always best to check the owner’s manual for the maximum time you should wait between oil changes.
• Brakes – If a car sits idle, rust can start to form on the brake rotors, especially if the car is parked outside. Driving your car at least once a week will help prevent rust buildup.
• Cleaning – Removing the grime and sediment that builds up on the outside of your car helps prevent rust, and cleaning the interior is important, too. Wipe down the dashboard, steering wheel, cup holders, door handles, vents and console with a quality, all-purpose automotive cleaner that will help disinfect the interior areas of your vehicle.
For more helpful information about maintaining your vehicle for safety, dependability and value, visit www.carcare.org to order the Car Care Council’s free 80-page Car Care Guide.
Nathan Perrine is executive director of the Car Care Council.