With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic maintaining a hold on most aspects of our lives, car-obsessed Americans aren’t driving as much as they used to. In fact, according to Carinsurance.org, prior to the pandemic, Americans spent nearly six hours per week commuting by car, just short of an hour a day. Now drivers are on the road an average of just six minutes each day, or 42 minutes per week.
Here's a list of tips to help keep vehicles in top shape even if they’re being driven less.
Fill up your gas tank
If you will not be using your car for more than 30 days, it’s important to fill up your gas tank. This may help prevent moisture from building up in the tank.
You could also consider adding a fuel stabilizer to the tank when it’s almost full, as the shelf life of standard fuels is only about three months. If your vehicle won’t be used for a few months, it may help keep the fuel lines and engine from corroding.
Protect the battery
Don’t forget the vehicle’s power source: the battery. The battery will eventually lose its charge if it isn’t driven at least every few weeks. If you prepare the car properly for storage, though, you do not need to run it to keep the battery charged.
Consider connecting the battery to a trickle charger or battery tender with an automatic shut-off feature or float mode. This will ensure the battery doesn’t get overcharged. The battery can remain in the vehicle or be removed while it’s hooked up to the battery tender.
Change the oil
It’s not just about miles: If you don’t drive your car a lot, your oil still needs to be kept fresh. Even if you drive fewer miles each year than your automaker suggests changing the oil (say, 6,000 miles, with suggested oil-change intervals at 7,500 miles), you should still be getting that oil changed twice a year.
Oil becomes less effective as it ages, and by not getting the engine warm enough, excess moisture that forms in the engine will not be removed, which can lead to shorter engine life.
Inflate your tires
If your car will be sitting for a long period of time, the temperature may change and the tires can slowly lose pressure. For this reason, it’s a good idea to inflate your tires to the recommended air pressure, but do not exceed the maximum.
You’ll want to repeat this process when you take the vehicle out of storage.
Top off fluids
If you leave your car dormant for an extended period of time, top off your vehicle’s fluids — such as brake fluid, engine coolant, power steering fluid (if applicable), transmission fluid, antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid. Also, consider changing the oil before you let your vehicle sit in storage for more than a couple of weeks. Take the car for a short drive, as this will help circulate the fluids, including the fuel stabilizer.
Take periodic drives
Occasionally driving your vehicle around the block will help keep the battery charged and in good health. It will also prevent rust from building up on the rotors, which if left unchecked could cause irreversible damage and will also prevent the tires from flat spotting. Flat spotting is when the rubber degrades quicker in one spot due to compression, which will cause an incurable vibration.
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