Enhanced community quarantine—or lockdown (or whatever it is you want to call it)—restrictions have definitely limited the use of our vehicles. Nonetheless, we must keep our rides in tip-top condition so that they’re always ready to roll whenever we need them, especially for emergencies.
Here are six useful tips for keeping your car in shape while it sits for a prolonged period of time in your home garage.
1. Fill up the fuel tank. We recommend keeping your fuel tank full while your car remains idle. This prevents any kind of moisture buildup (especially for gasoline engines) in the tank, which may cause issues in the fuel delivery system later on. It’s also a great time to take advantage of the lower fuel prices.
2. Run the engine once a week. To keep your engine in good operating form, it needs to run every now and then. This allows lubricants and other fluids to coat or circulate through the engine’s moving parts. Make sure to keep it running for a while, and also rev it a few times. If you don’t have a battery charger, it would be nice to keep the engine on for about 30 minutes so the alternator can sufficiently charge the car battery.
3. Keep the battery charged. If you happen to have a smart charger like the ones made by CTEK, top up your battery with it. That’s because your battery can still be drained even when the vehicle is not in use. Avoid unnecessary engine starts, as these can sap the battery. The last thing you want is a dead battery when the car is needed the most.
4. Detail and wax the car. This is the perfect opportunity for you to detail your car inside and out, especially if you had long neglected it prior to the lockdown. We suggest finishing off the job with wax. This will also protect your car from harsh disinfectants sprayed at checkpoints. After detailing the interior, place a desiccant or a dehumidifier inside the cabin to keep moisture and odor out.
5. Check the tires. Believe it or not, tires lose air even when your car is just sitting in the garage. We hope you have a tire pressure gauge and a portable air compressor to pump air if the tires are no longer sufficiently inflated. If you don’t have the aforementioned tools, you can get air at a gas station on your next trip for household supplies. Don’t forget to also check your spare tire and inflate it if necessary.
6. Perform preventive maintenance if able. Check essential fluid levels such as coolant, engine oil and brake fluid. Inspect parts with bolts or screws that may need tightening. Pull out the air intake filter and clean it. Install a new one if it already needs replacing (assuming you have a spare at the ready). The same goes for the cabin filter.
Spray rust-retarding lubricant on parts that require it. You can also apply silicone lubricant or plastic dressing on the weather strips (doors, trunk and hood) to prevent them from deteriorating and sticking due to hot weather.
If you have the right tools, you can pull out your spark plugs and clean them with brake cleaner or fuel. When soot buildup is thick on a spark plug’s electrodes, you can use fine sandpaper to clear it up.