Tips for keeping your car dependable while keeping yourself safe
Consumers have many worries right now during the coronavirus pandemic. Somewhere on the list for some is keeping their car dependable, especially for those who work at “essential” businesses and need to commute.
There are many basic car care tasks, such as checking fluids and inspecting tires, that can be performed in your driveway. And in an ideal world, you would have been ahead of all routine services and repairs, such as an oil change, before social distancing.
People in many parts of the country have been advised to stay home, and everyone should follow that advice and practice social distancing as much as possible. But if you have repairs or maintenance that cannot be postponed, the suggestions and tips below can help you keep your car running and yourself safe.
Cars Don’t Like to Sit Idle
Cars are meant to be driven. A car parked for extended periods risks the battery losing charge, tires gaining flat spots, rubber components such as belts and wipers drying out, and critters taking residence in your engine compartment.
Drive the car at least once a week for 20 minutes or longer to ensure that the battery is charged. If you park outside, this will also provide a chance to wear the rust off the brake discs and keep the calipers from seizing by using them. Driving is a good solo activity, and frankly, many people probably need to shake off some cabin fever.
While in the car, check for any food, snacks, beverages, or disinfectant wipes that were left behind. Even better: Also vacuum the carpet. These steps can reduce the risks of mildew and unpleasant odors from developing.
Service Intervals Can Be Stretched
For people who will have limited need to drive, stretching out service intervals makes sense. A few hundred extra miles between service visits won’t compromise an otherwise well-maintained car, says John Ibbotson, Consumer Reports’ chief mechanic. “Clearly, if you have a true mechanical problem and/or your check-engine light is on, you should make an appointment with a local shop,” he says. “When you call, ask about their coronavirus procedures.”
In this unusual time, you may have a second vehicle at home to use while your primary car goes in for repairs. If possible, arrange to drop off the car to be worked on, without entering the facility, and pick it up three or more days later. The World Health Organization says that the virus “may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days,” depending on the surface and conditions.
When you pick it up, wipe down all key areas (including the outside door handle), remembering that someone drove the car and may have had to make adjustments, such as to the seat or steering wheel, that you wouldn’t normally touch
- There are some basic inspections and car care that can be done at home.
- Check and Change the Oil
- Check the Tires
- Check and Replace the Air Filters
- Assess the Wipers
- Wash Your Car