If you haven’t been driving your car during the Coronavirus lock-down you might be a little anxious about starting it up again. Even after short periods off the road batteries have been known to fail; they’re one of the first things to suffer after periods without driving and also one of the biggest causes of breakdowns. Car batteries aren’t the only component that is at risk if your car is stationary; several other components can be at risk too.
Follow these steps to take care of your car during these periods of little or no driving:
1. Keep your battery charged
Above anything else you should keep your battery charged if you’re not using the car much. Batteries in cars that are not being used will always lose their charge over time. A battery that is several years old can lose charge to the point that you’re even unable to start the car, though this would take several weeks or months to take effect.
A drive longer than 2 miles from time to time should give the battery the boost it needs to stay charged and in good use. If you aren’t taking the car anywhere then you should at least run the engine idle for a minimum of 20 minutes on the roadside. This is because it can take 20 minutes just to put back the power required to start most cars.
2. Keep your brakes from seizing up
When your brakes are holding the car put for weeks on end without release, they can seize up. If you’re not using your car then the perfect scenario is to leave it on a flat surface with the handbrake disengaged. Either you need to move it once every 1-2 weeks or simply roll it backwards and forwards for a while at the same time as charging the battery. Make sure to leave the engine running for at least 20 minutes to sufficiently charge the battery.
3. Move your wheels to prevent flat spots
Flat spots are not uncommon with stationary vehicles. A flat spot happens when the tires settle on one spot for an extended period of time; this generally isn’t a problem, other than a few vibrations when you start the car again, but they’re best avoided if you can help it. There are two types of flat spotting:
- Temporary flat spots – Can occur after a few weeks stationary. The flat areas of the tire resolve with normal driving.
- Semi-permanent flat spots – Caused by a month or several months without moving. The flat spot won’t disappear with driving and will get worse with time. A local tire shop can repair the tire and remove the flat spot for you.
How to prevent a flat spot
- Keep your tire pressure up. Going 3PSI above the manufacturers recommendation can reduce your risk since low PSI makes flat spots more likely.
- Move the car even a little from time to time.
4. Keep the engine healthy by circulating the oil
This can be achieved just by running the engine and is another benefit alongside charging the battery. It’s important to circulate the oil to prevent it from thickening. When oil doesn’t move around the engine for extended periods of time your car can be at an increased risk of engine flooding. This can wet the spark plugs used to ignite the fuel and prevent the engine from starting.
Most vehicles should get through a few weeks of inactivity just fine. If you have an older vehicle you should pay closer attention but if you have any concerns don’t hesitate to contact Country Club Garage your local, reputable repair shop in Wallingford CT.