During these uncertain times, we can never be sure of when the next lock-down will be announced or when the current one will be lifted. Staying indoors means we will hardly get to use our cars and have to keep them parked. When cars are parked for a long time, certain troubles are bound to happen if you don’t take care of your car enough. But the good news is, with just a handful of checks you can keep your car in top shape, ready to go on a road trip or just a run to the neighborhood market.
Let’s take a look at handy tips for lock-down car care which are also useful if you have plans for storing your car for a long period.
Taking Care of the Battery
When you are not driving your car daily or frequently, it can lead to the battery getting damaged or discharged. But you might need to use your car for emergencies so it is always a good idea to maintain your car in the best conditions.
To prevent your car’s battery from getting fully discharged follow these 2 steps:
- Start your car at least once in 15 days.
- Keep the engine running for a minimum of 10-15 minutes.
This will ensure that the alternator gets replenished and overall the battery health will be improved. Further, these steps not only ensure the car functions will be maintained in the right condition but also help you to avoid a problematic driving experience when you take the car out later. Additionally, if you are not going to use your car for more than 1 month, even manufacturers suggest that you should disconnect the negative terminal of the battery to prevent discharging.
Basic Steps to Follow Every Few Days
Apart from taking care of your car’s battery, follow these steps to ensure your car’s health and keep it in running condition.
- Turn on the ignition and check the all the car functions like the AC, steering wheel, headlights, power windows, etc.
- If possible put the car in a little bit of motion by reversing it and taking it forward, which will also help you to prevent the tyres from getting a flat spot and avoid tyre wobbling. This is important because if the car is parked in one spot continuously, one particular area of tyres has to bear the complete weight which leads to faster wear and tear and can also make the tyres wobble later.
- Also, ensure that all four tyres have the accurate pressure when it is parked for a long time.
- Open and close all the doors once a week, because the door handles have rubber parts like door seals and weather stripping, which can get stuck to the metal frame.
Avoid Parking Your Car with Handbrake On
If possible avoid using the handbrake, when your car is parked for a long time. Because this prolonged parking can lead to the brake pistons getting jammed and the car will have to be towed for repairs. So, instead of using the handbrake, you can simply park your car in first or reverse gear which will prevent the car from getting moved even on a slope. Also, if your car has a manually operated gearbox, then it is highly recommended to put a brick or woodblock next to tyres to prevent the car from getting moved from its place.
Keeping the Car Interiors Clean and Foul Smell Free
Since cars don’t have a good ventilation system in place, you should take care to not keep any food wrappers, snack packets, or bottles in the cabin when the car is parked for a long time. If these items remain in the parked car for a long time, a strong foul smell can develop which will take a long time to remove completely. Additionally, we suggest you use a suitable car freshener spray once in a while or have a hanging car freshener to keep your car interiors always smelling fresh.
It is also a good idea to clean your car once a week or fortnight to prevent dust accumulation in the interiors. This cleaning should be done for all surfaces including plastic, vinyl, and rubber parts. Instead of using separate cleaners for each surface, you can use a multi-purpose cleaner to prevent cracks and keep these parts looking lustrous.
Park Your Car in a Safe Spot
Another key factor to consider when you park your car for a long duration is to choose a shaded spot and preferably park indoors. Because if you leave your car out in the sun for a long time, it can seriously damage the car paint. However, if you can’t find a shaded spot, use a car cover to prevent any harmful effects of the sunlight. Using a car cover will also prevent swirl marks caused by leaves falling on the car if parked under a tree.
Keeping the Car Germ Free
Since covid-19 is airborne, pay attention to regular cleaning and disinfecting your car’s air filters and AC vents.
Whenever you have to take your car out, avoid valet parking to prevent getting your car infected and this also helps you to maintain social distance. Also, when you are taking the car to a fuel station, avoid paying in cash and use digital payments to avoid unnecessary germ contact.
Another thing to keep in mind when you take your car out is to look for possible infection of car surfaces from any passenger showing symptoms of Covid19. If you notice anyone in your car showing any symptoms it is recommended to use a disinfectant that can be used on all surfaces. And since getting your professionally disinfected at a service station might not be easy during the lock-down, use a multi-purpose cleaning spray that can remove both bacteria and viruses.
Sorting Out Car Starting Problems
If you have not been able to start your car even once and it has been parked for more than 2 weeks, do remember the car idling step in mind before taking it out. Car idling is all about starting the car and not straight away start driving but keep the engine running for some time without pressing the accelerator.
The reason being, the engine oil starts getting condensed in the bottom when the car has been parked for a long duration. So give it some time for the oil to be circulated and the engine to be lubricated properly for a smooth driving experience.
Also, if you start driving the car or even accelerate when it is stationary, without idling it first, it might lead to engine damage.
Another thing to keep in mind while starting the car is to not continuously keep trying to turn on the ignition if it doesn’t start at the first chance. Give at least a 15-20 seconds gap when you try to turn on the ignition to let the battery recover charge and completely avoid starting the car continuously. These continuous ignition attempts can damage the battery and it also gets discharged faster than normal.
Ensuring the Car Engine’s Safety
Since the car bonnet has a lot of wires, a parked car is prone to get damaged by rats. Hence, it is important to regularly use a rat repellent to prevent damage to wires and cables.
So whether you are living in an area with extended lockdown or you simply won't be using your car for a long time and want to know how to store a car long term, keep in mind the above tips for having a smooth problem-free driving experience every time.