If you’ve been following all the proper guidelines about social distancing, you probably haven’t driven your car as much lately. With the ever-growing list of things to worry about, car maintenance is probably very near the bottom for most people. That being said there are things you can do now to maintain the health of your vehicle that will prevent you from needing towing or roadside services once you get back on the road.
Checking your fluids
Let’s be honest, you probably haven’t got your oil changed on time since you bought the car, right? Well now is the time to check everything out. These are your car’s vital signs, and catching problems early could save you thousands later. Pull that owner’s manual out of the glove box (you know, the one hidden under all those parking tickets you got when you worked downtown) and see what it has to say about checking the oil, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and washer fluid (you can fill that one on your own!). The manual should tell you how to check each fluid, and what signs of a problem look like. You can do this weekly even if you’re not driving your car. It’s a good habit to have.
Why you should keep your gas tank filled
I’m starting to feel like I’m 16 again. Gas is cheap and I’m grounded. It’s a good idea to keep your gas tank full if you can spare it. A fuller tank is less likely to pick up any sediment lying on the bottom of your tank which over time can clog the engine. While you’re there, you should probably grab a can of fuel additive.
Fuel additives help ensure that your fuel doesn’t get gunked up inside the lines and motor. This is especially important if you’re not going to be using the car for a while. Most additives come in a bottle designed to pour right into your gas tank. Be sure to read the instructions on the bottle.
Washing your car, it’s important
Now is a great time to finally wash your car. If you have the space, you can do this fairly cheap on your own. It’s a great excuse to be outside and a good way to disinfect your car. Washing your car before storing it is also a great way to ensure that the paint is protected, whether you’re storing indoors or out.
You can start by taking out the car seats and vacuum up the cheerios that “got away.” Whatever you’ve been using around the house to clean and disinfect can most likely be used in your car as well. Wipes are especially helpful on things like door handles, the steering wheel, the radio (don’t bother with the turn signal, you know you’re not using it anyway) and any other areas you frequently touch.
The importance of battery maintenance
Lets face it. Unless your car doesn’t start, you’re probably not checking your batteries. Did you know that battery related issues are actually the main reason most people will need to call for roadside assistance at one point in their lives? More likely than not, you might have your car parked for a while, and it’s highly recommended that you do something to prevent battery drain during this time.
You can start by unplugging the tree of chargers you have in the cigarette lighter. After that, you’ll need to make sure the vehicle’s systems aren’t pulling power from a battery that isn’t being charged. In older cars, you may be able to disconnect the battery altogether, but with all the computers, sensors, systems, etc. in modern vehicles, you should probably invest in a trickle-type battery charger. You can grab one of these for around a hundred bucks, and it could save you the cost of a battery plus installation later on.
Checking your tires
You make sure your tires are properly inflated every time the seasons change, right? Well, just in case you don’t, now is a better time than any to make sure your tires are inflated to the proper PSI. Check your treads while you’re at it too. One old trick to measure tread depth is to stick a penny in the tread. If you can see Lincoln’s head, you probably should consider replacing your tires. If you won’t be moving your car for a while, make sure your tires are sitting on dry, level ground. Water is the enemy of rubber, and you certainly don’t want your tires sitting in a puddle for the next two months.
How to store your car long term
If you know that you’re not going to be using your car for a while, you first want to figure out where you’re going to store it. The best option is always a garage. If you’re keeping your car outside, consider a car cover. A car cover could go a long way in protecting the paint from the elements. By protecting your car you are reducing the wear and tear on it while it sits idly for an extended period of time.
To sum it all up, we’re all using our cars less, which is great for the environment, not so good for the car. But by taking the right precautions, you can save yourself hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in maintenance and repairs when it is time to get back on the road.
If you do find yourself in a situation where you need help, at home, or on the side of the road, you can order assistance within minutes by clicking the “GET HELP NOW” button or by downloading the HONK app on your device by visiting the Google Play Store or Apple Store.