The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough not just on people but also on automobiles. Worrying about your car in this period may sound insensitive, but all auto-owners, especially those who aren’t consistent with their routine maintenance, have a reason to be concerned.
Leaving a car parked for long periods can increase your maintenance costs and responsibilities further. If you have no problem keeping your car in top shape, chances are you managed to care for your auto even during the lockdown. But if you’re the opposite, and it’s been a while (as in before the pandemic) since you held your ignition keys, you’d be in for a ride — and it’s not going to be pleasant.
Don’t be hard on yourself, though. You’re not alone in deferring your car’s maintenance during the pandemic. 56.7% of dealerships and repair shops reported that their customers had postponed their maintenance because of the pandemic. Even large repairs, like tire changes, have been put off.
Still, it doesn’t make leaving your car parked too long is okay. But because the pandemic left us without much choice, the best we can do is catch up with our auto’s routine maintenance when we can. Below are the issues you might find in your car because of the pandemic:
Battery Breaking Down
If you tried to start your car and the engine won’t budge, a battery problem is often the reason. A car’s battery discharges if it doesn’t get power regularly. And to give it power, you have to drive the car.
The battery will recharge more if your regular drives are long, so if your auto stayed stationary during the pandemic, don’t be surprised if it ran out of battery.
If your car hasn’t gone to that point yet, give the engine a start and let it run idly for 30 minutes up to an hour every day. If you run errands weekly, take your car with you to give it a good drive at least once a week. You can also disconnect the battery to prevent it from discharging if you’re too busy to tend to your car.
Flat or Deflated Tires
Just because you haven’t driven for a long time doesn’t mean your tires won’t lose air. They may even rot due to prolonged disuse and being stuck to the ground.
If the tires haven’t flattened yet, see they’re holding the weight of your vehicle evenly. Deflated tires happen more often to idle cars during the cold months, so if you didn’t check your car last winter, it’s likely suffering from low tire pressure now. Luckily, it’s easy to inflate a tire; follow the manufacturer’s instruction to find out the recommended pressure.
Damage on the Engine Components
The belts, valves, cylinder walls, and wires become prone to rusting if a car is unused for a long time. This happens due to a lack of lubrication, which comes from the oil seals. Adequate lubrication is needed to be able to drive a car smoothly and safely.
If a car’s just parked, the oil seals may dry out and cause rusting and corrosion on the engine’s components. In more severe cases, the dried seals will tear and cause oil leaks.
The best preventive solution to this is driving your car regularly, or, like mentioned above, at least once a week. It will also maintain the brakes, wearing the rust off from the discs and keeping the calipers from seizing.
Stuffy and Musty Interiors
Your car’s interiors could retain its fresh smell if they were clean the last time you drove. But most of the time, that’s not the case, even if you’re careful with your interiors. The carpets, for one thing, bear the dirt off your shoes. So keeping the car idle for a long time will restrict the ventilation inside, creating foul smells in the air.
If you regularly put food and drink in your vehicle, the smell will be worse. The same can happen from abandoned wipes and rags inside. And if your garage or the weather is humid, mold and mildew may develop in the tight corners.
Vacuuming the carpets regularly can prevent most odor issues. And, of course, get rid of the litter and anything that isn’t supposed to be in your car.
Cats aren’t the only animals who like to take warmth from engines. If it’s just a cat who habitually snuggles up to your car, you’re lucky because they won’t likely cause problems. In fact, it’s you who has to ensure that they’re safe in there. But if pests, like rats, are the ones who took warmth in your car, that’ll be a problem.
Rats and other pets can chew on the car’s wiring and cause serious problems, requiring an urgent visit an auto mechanic shop. Those establishments are considered essential, so they stay open on regular business days. Even if your car has no serious problems yet, visit your mechanic still because you’re probably long due for routine maintenance.