When we first started to stay at home for the Covid-19 and not go anywhere in our cars, we thought this situation might last a couple of weeks or so. We did not expect it to be two months or more, and the initial articles, I put out covered short term care of a vehicle not being driven. Now that we are looking at an extensive time off for our vehicles, we should look at additional areas of vehicle long term care to talk about.
As with short term care, starting the car and running it with the lights, air conditioning fan, and radio on is still not a bad idea, but if you don’t run it enough or don’t want to expend the gas, you should either use a trickle charger on the battery or if you don’t have one but have a regular 12V battery charger, every 3-4 weeks use it on your battery for 2-3 hours. Make sure the terminal ends are kept clean and tight.
When tires sit for extended periods of time, they will lose air, so check, and adjust them if you have a portable air pump. If they sit for several weeks without being moved, they will develop flat spots on the part that meets the road, this should go away once you start driving the car again. If it is going to be more than a few months of sitting, I would recommend buying 2 pairs of jack stands and raising the car high enough and putting the jack stands under it, so the tires don’t contact the ground. If you start seeing cracks in the sidewall or tread, the tires are deteriorating and should be replaced.
If it is safe to do so, don’t park the car with the emergency brake on, because the cables or shoes may corrode and seize up. Better to block the tires with wheel chocks or large heavy items, so the vehicle cannot roll. Also, once you start redriving the car, you may notice some noise coming from the disc brakes, which is most likely built up rust on the rotors, this should scrape off as you start driving the vehicle, again. If it is too extensive and has caused delamination in the metal of the brake rotors, then it may be an issue that needs to be addressed by brake rotor and pad replacement.
No, I didn’t mean the relatives that came to visit and stayed too long, but mice or other vermin, that have made their home in your vehicle. Not only, will they live in, but they will eat many parts of your vehicle, including insulation, wires, seat foam, and other plastics. If, the vehicle is going to be sitting for a long time, tape up exhaust tips and air box inlets. Spread some rodent poison or mouse traps around the vehicle and in the interior to kill them off.
Finally, after the vehicle has been off the road for a long time, before you start driving it regularly again, have it checked out by a professional repair center such as those that are part of AAA’s Approved Auto Repair program. For more information about this program go to AAA.com/Auto or email firstname.lastname@example.org.