Regular maintenance is an integral part of caring for a vehicle and it’s particularly important for vehicles that are unused for extended periods. As people stay holed up in their homes and limit their trips to the grocery stores in observance of stay at home measures brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, a great number of vehicles will seldom be used for an indefinite time.
If you’re keeping your car off the road for days or weeks until the crisis has passed, it’s important to take a few precautions. Preparing it for storage will keep your vehicle in good working order for when you can finally put it back to good use.
Here are some car maintenance tips to properly store a seldom-used car:
Keep It Clean
Spare cars and vehicles that don’t get driven very often need a tough clean, too. Make sure your car is free of debris and rust before leaving it in your garage for long periods. Clean your car from top to bottom. Remove visible dirt, grime, and debris by washing, polishing, and waxing the body.
Protect your vehicle from rust. When ignored, rust can damage your body panels and diminish the rigidity and strength of your car’s frame. Check your car’s exterior for any signs of rust with the following steps:
- Inspect your bumpers and wheel wells. The wheel wells often collect dirt and are easily overlooked during an inspection, making them particularly prone to rusting. For careful inspection, you need to remove your wheels to get an unobstructed view of the wells. Spray water on the inner well to get rid of dirt then dry the surface. Use a flashlight to check for possible corroded spots. Inspect the bumpers as well.
- Check the points where body components meet. These areas include your door frame, the area between the hood and fenders, and the trunk. Paint is usually applied in these areas to minimize friction between the metal surfaces.
The layer of paint will also wear off eventually due to the consistent rubbing of metal surfaces. To minimize the risk of corrosion as a result of paint degradation, check for signs of bubbling in the pain where rust is likely to develop.
- Check the drain holes. Drain holes of modern car models are also prone to rust. It’s a common problem among cars with a sunroof, especially when the sunroof drain hose gets clogged. Clear off the drain hole and hose to prevent water from collecting in your car.
- Inspect the underside. The underside of your car is often exposed to road salt, moisture, winter frost, and other rust-causing substances. The ideal time to check your underside and have it cleaned is during an oil change.
Clean the Interiors
You might have left trash inside your car, like candy or biscuit wrappers, water bottles, and newspapers, among other things. Trash can attract rodents and other pests into your car where they can damage your seat covers, mats, and wiring.
Before leaving your car, remove every last trace of garbage, leftover food, spillage, and other debris. You can also spray on some freshener if you like.
Fill up the Gas Tank
In addition to keeping the entire car clean, it’s also necessary to get a full tank of gas, especially if you’re storing your vehicle for 30 days or longer. Keeping it full is an effective way to minimize the buildup of moisture in the tank. When condensation takes place in the tank, it may affect your car’s performance or prevent it from starting.
Water vapour starts accumulating on the interior surface of the tank as soon as humid air enters the tank. Fill ½ to ¾ of the tank to prevent moisture build-up.
Top off the Fluids
If you decide not to use your car for extended periods, ensure to top off your car’s fluids including the engine coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and antifreeze. You might also want to change the oil before leaving your car for the next few weeks. Taking your car for a quick drive would also be beneficial for your car’s health, allowing the fluids to circulate well.
Keep Your Battery Charged
Another important maintenance task to keep in mind when storing an unused vehicle is to protect the battery. Over time, a car’s battery will lose its power if it’s not driven for days. However, if you condition your car properly in preparation for storage, you won’t need to run it to ensure the battery is charged.
You can connect your battery to a trickle charger or use a battery tender equipped with an automatic float mode or shut-off feature. This is a great way to prevent your battery from getting overcharged. You can either leave the battery in the car or remove it while it’s connected to the battery tender.
Jack up the Vehicle
When left idle for far too long, tires can develop permanent flat spots. You can avoid this by jacking up your car. Use 4 jacks or blocks of wood to prevent your car from resting on its wheels. If you have a sports car and you’re using low profile tires, you can leave your vehicle without support for as long as 2 months and your tires won’t sustain flat spots.
Remove the Spark Plugs
It’s best practice to remove the spark plugs if you’re not going to use your car for days. Just make sure to spray some oil into the plug sockets before replacing the spark plugs. Taking this step can help prevent the interior of the cylinder head from corrosion and keep moisture at bay.
To provide additional coating to the interior of the engine, consider using fuel additives. If you’re not used to handling mechanical tasks as part of car maintenance, contact a professional mechanic to do the job for you and prevent possible damage.
Park Indoors and Keep Your Car Covered
As much as possible, park your vehicle indoors to keep it safe and clean at all times. If indoor parking isn’t an option, get a high-quality cover; one that fits snugly on your car, breathable enough to allow airflow, and securely blocks out moisture (purchase a cover that’s intended for your car model).
Additionally, to keep rodents and other small animals from seeking shelter in your car, cover the exhaust pipe and air cleaner intake with steel wool.
Inflate Your Tires
When a vehicle is left unused for a long period, its tires will gradually lose its pressure. To avoid this, check the tire pressure before storing your car. Inflate the tires to the correct the air pressure.
Do not exceed the recommended pressure. Doing so might cause flat spots to develop and crack the sidewalls. While you’re at it, inspect the valve and valve caps to ensure there are no leaks and that the valve caps are tightly sealed.
In case you need superior quality and affordable tires for your vehicle, contact Round & Around Tire Inc. We offer all major tire brands at a discounted price. We also install tires to make tire change as convenient as possible for you. Call us now at (905) 393-8474 or visit our contact page to choose your new tires or if you need more maintenance tips for used cars.