People all over the world are under strict stay-at-home orders as the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll and nationwide lockdowns continue. To call such restrictions an inconvenience would be an understatement; life as we have known it has changed almost overnight. The fear surrounding safety concerns and restricted civilian movement that results has given rise to another major issue for car owners –maintain a car during the lockdown.
As a car owner, you may be aware that leaving your car idle for prolonged periods can have significant repercussions. From the paint to the windshield, from the battery to the tires, no component of the vehicle is immune to the devastating effects of sitting idle for too long. Here are some useful ways you can ensure your car makes it safe and sound to the other side of the lockdown.
Maintain a Car during the Lockdown
1. Be Mindful of Where You Park
When it comes to parking your car for extended periods, it is in your and your vehicle’s best interest to choose a parking spot wisely. Where you park will determine the post-lockdown health of your car. A poor choice of a parking spot can wreak havoc on your car’s body, its paint to be precise. For example, if you park your car under a tree that drips sap, the paint will become softer with time until it ultimately starts wearing off. Likewise, bird droppings can also be an absolute disaster – it’s like pouring acid onto your car’s body.
Moreover, ensure that you do not choose a soft, permeable surface such as grass to park your vehicle on. Such surfaces will easily allow moisture to enter into your car’s undercarriage, leading to rust formation. Finally, select a parking spot where your car is unlikely to receive direct sunlight, as the sun’s heat can also damage your car’s paint.
2. Disconnect Your Car’s Battery
Though all of your car’s components are at risk of damage when left idle for long periods, it is the battery that receives the most severe blow. Driving a car frequently is what helps its battery to hold a steady charge. When that becomes a difficulty, and your car is inactive for days at a stretch, the battery will rapidly start discharging; within a short span of two weeks, your car’s battery can completely lose its charge, leaving replacement as the only viable option.
To avoid such hassles and replacement costs that may follow, disconnect your car’s battery terminals to ensure no discharge takes place. Also, driving your car every three to four days will keep its charge from running out.
3. Maintain Proper Cleanliness
Now, maintaining cars when they’re parked for prolonged periods is not as simple as choosing the right spot, disconnecting the battery terminals, covering with a waterproof cover, and waiting for the next road trip. Failure on your part to carry out routine maintenance will nullify the impact of every other measure you take. For instance – covering a dirty car will rub and abrade the paint over time.
So, don’t neglect routine car-care; with plenty of time on your hands due to the lockdown, you have no excuse to. Remove any flowers, leaves, or tree branches that may have settled on your car’s cover and thoroughly clean the cabin once every week. Also, ensure that you do not leave any junk food items inside that may later emit a bad stench and even attract rodents.
4. Top Off the Fuel Tank
If your car’s fuel tank meter is inclining towards empty, get it refilled at the earliest! The benefits of doing so will be twofold; a full fuel tank will prevent condensation from taking place inside the tank, thereby keeping rust at bay. It will also prevent gasoline fumes from building up to unsafe levels. The price of fuel has significantly declined as of late; plus, it never hurts to be prepared for any unexpected trips you may need to make during the lockdown period.
5. Don’t Leave the Parking Brake On
Leaving the parking or handbrake on while your car sits idle for extended periods can lead to the issue of jamming. This happens when the brake pads and the rotor fuse together. The risk of jamming becomes even higher if the weather is extremely humid. The safer option would be to allow the car to rest in gear or parking mode (if such a feature is available). You can also employ old-school methods such as using wheel chocks in the form of bricks or large and robust pieces of wood.
6. KeepTires are Well-Inflated
Another essential thing to do to maintain a car during the lockdown is to have the correct air pressure in its tires. This is because poorly-inflated tires, when left idle for a long time, will not only start losing air pressure but could also experience cracking of the sidewalls and flat spots. All of this happens because the vehicle sits on its tires, and when the tires are not properly inflated, the vehicle’s weight may become too overwhelming to handle.
Generally, tires with flat spots need to be replaced. To avoid such headaches, maintain proper air pressure in the tires and, if possible, go out for a weekly drive to prevent the development of flat spots. Once the lockdown ends, and you’re free to use your vehicle again, give it a visual once-over to ensure that it is roadworthy – check tire pressure, coolant and oil levels, etc. Also, go easy on the brakes and accelerator, giving them time to get accustomed to frequent driving. So this is how you can maintain a car during the lockdown.