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How to Keep Your Car Maintained During a Driving Hiatus

Working from home? Staying inside? Even if your car sits in the driveway, problems can arise. Here's how to prevent them.

Whether you’re working from home and social distancing means our cars are remaining parked in garages and driveways for extended periods.  But that doesn’t mean it’s ok to put off maintenance. Although you’re not adding to its wear and tear from daily commuting, letting it sit for too long can cause problems.  We’ve got tips to help.

Depending on how long your car stays unused, different issues can arise, such as dead batteries, stale fuel, rusty brakes or issues with rodents and other critters.

Here are a few tips to keep your car running properly during a hiatus from driving:

  1. Clean it well. Make sure you get any hard to remove dirt off of the paint and take it a step further by polishing or waxing the exterior. Don’t forget the interior!
  2. Gas up. If your vehicle is going to be idle for more than 30 days, fill her up to the brim. This will help prevent moisture from building up in the fuel tank. Add a fuel stabilizer to the tank when full (stabilizers have a shelf life of three months and may help keep the fuel lines and engine from corroding).
  3. Inflate the tires. The temperature will fluctuate and then the tires can slowly lose pressure. Remember to inflate to the recommended air pressure for the tire, and not to over inflate. (The correct pressure can usually be found on a placard on the driver-side door jamb).
  4. Top-off fluids. This includes the brake fluid, engine coolant, windshield wiper fluid, power steering fluid, and transmission fluid (if applicable). Consider performing an oil change if you know the vehicle will be seldom driven.
  5. Protect the battery. It will eventually lose its charge if it isn’t driven at least once every few weeks. A trickle charger or battery tender with an automatic shut-off feature will keep the battery in good condition when the vehicle isn’t being driven.
  6. Keep it covered. A quality cover that securely fits the vehicle will keep out moisture and allows proper air flow. This cover will protect exterior from bumps, scratches and dirt. It might also be a good idea to put steel wool in the air cleaner intake and exhaust pipe to keep unwanted small animals and critters from using it as shelter.
  7. Go for a spin. Drive your vehicle at least once a week for 30 minutes. It will get the fluids circulating, prevent flat spots on tires, and remove rust spots on brake rotors (which can lead to brake pulsations, if not caught early).

Following these tips will ensure a smooth ride when you’re finally back out on the road again often.