The COVID-19 shutdown has finally shaped itself into our lives. Most of us have a good idea of what we should and should not be doing during the shutdown. While the obvious areas have been covered, there are some implicit tips that may go unnoticed and create problems later on. One of these is the issue of maintaining your car.
Most probably, you won’t be using the car during the shutdown due to obvious reasons. So, why is it even necessary to think about maintaining it?
a. To save maintenance costs when you start using it again, after the shutdown: An unattended and unmaintained car can bring in heavy maintenance bills. You would not want to stand in the line and a pay a huge amount, just to get the car fixed. Maintaining the car can help you avoid all the hassle.
b. To avoid any major damages while the car is unused: The costs you might have to incur would be the effect. The major damages your car goes through would be the cause. By simply maintaining your car, you can avoid both.
c. To ensure that the car is ready to use, in case of an emergency during the shutdown: No one would want an emergency situation during the shutdown. And even if you face one, your first action should be to call for an ambulance. But having your car in a usable condition will only help you, if any such situation actually arises.
d. To keep the value of your car intact, even if it is not used during the shutdown: Lastly, for nothing else, appropriate maintenance will help your car keep its economic value intact. So even if you are planning to sell it after the shutdown, you wouldn’t pay the price for the pandemic’s effect on your car.
Now that you know why is it critical to take care of your car during the shutdown, here is how you can do it:
With the COVID-19, most of us have adopted basic hygiene into our daily lives. We are no longer thinking twice about the trouble in washings hands; we know it’s necessary and we do it. Similar hygiene practices have to flow over to your car.
We might be very hygiene with our car; taking care of it with scheduled car-wash visits, using a car cover and ensuring that nothing is left inside the car when we lock it. But these measures have to be performed with greater care, when the car is not being used for a while.
Hence, make sure you have checked the car inside out, are using a car cover and have not parked the car in someone’s way or on the road. Any mistake you make here will get compounded by the number of days the car is not used for.
When complex machines are used for a while, they undergo wear and tear. When the same machines are not used for a long time, they undergo the exact opposite process – which can be equally damaging.
The engine is generally referred as one part; but it is made up of several complex machines that help it run. Hence, in order to ensure that your car’s engine is in its best health, use it once in a week for 10-15 minutes. Even if you are not taking the car somewhere, you can keep the engine running for a while. You can move the car by a few inches back and forth. This will also help you check the tyre pressures and avoid flat spots.
The key effect that this little exercise will produce, will be on the car’s battery. Car batteries may lose their charge if not used for a long time. You can use a battery maintainer or simply run the engine for a while.
This will ensure that none of the intricate components in the engine collect dust. At the same time, the engine oils won’t run dry and the inner pathways of the engine will be fluidic enough. In short – your engine will be in a healthy condition.
Leaving the car’s handbrake engaged for a long time can be more hazardous than helpful. Sometimes, when engaged for a long time, the handbrakes get stuck. This poses obvious problems when you are about to use the car later on.
Instead of keeping the handbrakes engaged for the entire lockdown period, use wheel chocks to keep the wheels from sliding. If you can’t get a wheel chock, use the parking gear and a few bricks to keep the car stagnant while it is parked.
Generally, we check the fuel tank only when we are heading out for important meetings or when we are going for a long drive. Most of us wouldn’t bother checking the fuel tank when we know we wouldn’t be using the car for a few weeks. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, it is important to keep the tank to the full when you are parking your car for a long period.
A full tank would ensure that the internal pipes of the tank and the car doesn’t get condensation. Mild condensation is not an issue in itself; but if it is left unaddressed for more than a week, it can become a choking problem.
Now that you are prepared to face the lockdown and have ensured that your car is safe, here are some basic tips that will help you have a smooth first post-corona ride.
a. Thoroughly check your car’s wheels and oil, before starting it.
b. Lubricate the car’ locks.
c. Check the bonnet and the exhaust to ensure their integrity. Insects and small animals often get into these areas, if the car has not been used for a while.
d. Check the entire braking system and try it before going on the main road.
With these minor fixes and checks, you can ensure that your car is ready to be used, without any damage to its value or machinery, even if it was unused during the shutdown. At the same time, just because your car is in usable condition, does not mean you go on a drive during the shutdown. Right now, the top priority for all of us is to maintain social distancing and stay home.