With shelter-in-place restrictions imposed in many states, millions of cars are sitting motionless in garages and driveways across the country. While staying home is the best way to stay safe these days, it might not be the best thing for your car.
David Bennett, manager for repair systems at AAA, says cars won’t need any major maintenance during a lockdown, but there are several important steps drivers can take now to ensure their vehicles don’t deteriorate due to non-use.
Keep the battery charged
Car batteries charge automatically when you run on the car. But when you’re not using your car for weeks at a time, the battery can die. Bennett recommends hooking up a battery tender to stabilize the battery and maintain an equal state of charge so the car won’t need to be jump started when normal life resumes.
Keep your vehicle clean
A car that is sitting idle for weeks at a time can become a magnet for all kinds of creatures. If possible, keep your car parked inside a garage. If this is not an option, make sure your car is clean from all snacks, beverages, food wrappers and debris so it doesn’t attract bugs or animals. If you can, vacuum your carpets as well. These steps will help prevent mildew and unpleasant odors from growing inside your vehicle.
If you live in a rural area where many small animals abound, like chipmunks and mice, you may want to seal any inlets, such as the tailpipe, with a small piece of steel wool. Otherwise, some creatures may decide to make your car their new home while it’s sitting idle in your driveway.
AAA also recommends disinfecting the inside of your car regularly. Focus on all the places you touch: the steering wheel, gear shift, door handles and the dashboard.
Take your car for a spin
If possible, Bennett says, drivers should try to take their car for a 20-minute drive at least once a week. Driving is a solitary activity that can help stave off cabin fever, and it’s also good for your car to get some use. Driving will help keep the battery charged, prevent the tires from developing bald spots and keep the brake discs from growing rust.
Your car may not be taking you to work or to the mall these days, but these small steps will help keep it in excellent condition so it’s ready to go when the lockdown is over and normal life resumes.