Car maintenance tips aren't just for cars that are under constant use but also for unused vehicles. Here’s a look at a few pointers that will keep your vehicle roadworthy after a prolonged period of being unused.
Owning a car calls for its running maintenance, this is, of course, a well-known fact, but did you know that a car also requires maintenance if it is left standing for a prolonged period of time. This is in fact very much the case with any machine, for mechanical components require regular movement to stay functional. So like any other machine, when it isn’t being used, your car requires a few maintenance tips to keep it healthy and roadworthy. So, here are a few car maintenance tips for you during the time of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown.
- Do not use the handbrake: A handbrake permanently jams the brake pads in place, and its prolonged use without disengagement will cause the brake pads to get stuck to the disc brakes or drum brakes, leading to increased friction and wear and tear from the rear wheels and brakes the next time you get the car moving. The best thing to do is to disengage the parking brake and use wheel chocks or bricks to keep the car in place. You can also leave the car in gear or in P mode if your car has the automatic transmission, that is.
- Battery care: In case you are travelling for a long time or aren’t using a car, it’s best to remove the battery terminal cables to stop the battery from rapid discharge. During the COVID-19 lockdown, you can simply keep starting the car every 3-4 days to stop the battery from rapid discharge. Leave the car running for at least 2 minutes to allow the engine oil to lubricate all moving parts of the engine.
- Keep moving the car at least slightly: During the COVID-19 lockdown, we aren’t allowed to go for a drive, however, keeping a car stationary is detrimental to the tyres, as they can develop flat spots in sections that are in contact with the ground and supporting the weight of the car. So at the very minimum, drive the car backwards and forwards every time you start the car to shift the weight distribution on the tyres. This will also allow you to use the brakes, which, otherwise, can take time to get back to being full effectivity. Also, ensure from time to time that the tyres aren’t losing air and make sure inflate them to the correct pressure if they are deflating overtime.
- Turn the steering wheel lock to lock: When a car is not used for prolonged periods of time, the steering assembly components can get jammed, especially in older cars. Once the car is moving slowly, turn the steering wheel from side to side gently to ensure that it gets all the natural movement that it needs.
- Wind down the windows: Power window assemblies can get jammed in older cars when they aren’t used for a long time. So, every time you start your car, make sure to roll them down and back up a couple of times to keep them functional.
- Fill up the tank: In case you aren’t using your car for a month or more, it’s best to brim the tank and use a fuel additive to prevent any moisture build-up in an empty tank. The shelf life of fuel is also about three months in a tank so the additive will help. Otherwise, the moisture build-up can cause rusting of the tank. Of course, ensure that the fuel filler cap and lid are properly closed.
- Exterior protection: Leaving a car parked outdoors for a prolonged time causes excessive wear of paint, rubber, and plastic parts. If possible, keep the car indoors or wash the car and put a cover on it after the engine cools down to protect the exterior of the car during the COVID-19 lockdown.
- Interior cleaning: When a car isn’t being used for a couple of days or more, it’s a must to empty out any trash, wrappers, etc. from the car to protect the interior from acquiring a putrid smell. This also includes wet carpets and foot mats, which can really make the cabin musty.