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Keep Your Car Maintained During a Driving Hiatus

Working from home? Staying inside? Even if your car sits in the driveway, problems can arise. Here's how to prevent them.

driving hiatus

Many people are working from home these days, and it’s a new situation for a lot of folks. While you’re not adding the wear and tear of a daily commute or paying as much for gas, you can’t completely forget about your car while it sits in your driveway.

Depending on how long your car is idle, issues like dead batteries, stale fuel, rusty brakes or issues with rodents and other critters should be addressed. Here are a few tips to keep your car running properly during a hiatus from driving:

    • Fill your vehicle’s fuel tank and add a gasoline stabilizer. This will extend the life of fuel and prevent condensation from building up in the fuel tank.
    • Inflate the tires to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation; the correct pressure is usually found on a placard on the driver-side door jamb.
    • Drive your vehicle at least once a week for 30 minutes. Not only will it get you out of the house, it will exercise all the moving parts of the engine and help maintain the battery. Don’t just let the car sit idle; drive it around to get the maximum benefit for all the fluids and tires.

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    • When you do drive the vehicle, don’t be surprised if you hear a slight grinding noise from the brakes…this is nothing more than a little surface rust wearing off the brake surfaces. Rust can accumulate from being parked for a period of time and isn’t something to be too concerned with.
    • Take a few minutes to lubricate door locks (if accessible), hinges, the hood release and even the gas door release. Use a light oil or silicone spray, not a penetrating oil. Penetrating oil is great for dealing with rusty nuts and bolts but tends to wash away lubricants.
    • Don’t ignore needed maintenance. Many service recommendations are based on time and not just mileage. For example: your car requires an oil change every six months, or 7,000 miles. You still need to have the oil replaced and the vital fluids checked, regardless of whether you drive 7,000 miles or not.
    • Depending where you park, there may be mice or other critters that want to call your vehicle home. These rodents can chew on wires and cause thousands of dollars of damage, make nests in your filters and cause other messes. I’ve even had one set up shop in my glove compartment! There are a variety of sprays and granules on the market to deter these animals. Some have the scent of a predator and others smell like mint — a scent rodents don’t like.
    • Keep your car clean. Wash your car weekly if it’s parked outside. Acid rain and bird droppings can damage the finish. And, an afternoon spent washing, vacuuming and waxing your vehicle will burn about 1,100 calories — it is also a great stress reliever!

Got a question about your car? Visit AAA.com or email jpaul@aaanortheast.com to get an answer from AAA’s Car Doctor John Paul.

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