How many miles have you put on your car during the month of March?
The current headlines say it all. One recent article in the LA Times stated “Eerily empty freeways: A symbol of how coronavirus has hurt Los Angeles.”
Of course, it’s not just in LA. Satellite images show airports, ports, and highways deserted as lockdowns soar.
New problems are popping up daily. Like having to control street racing.
And we’re experiencing things most of us have never experienced before. Hello, #StayHomeSounds.
Unless you are an essential employee, chances are you’re currently working at home. And staying at home. Day after day.
That means your car is staying at home too.
Before the coronavirus, a low mileage driver was someone who put less than 600 miles on their car each month. They might do so for a variety of reasons, including:
- They are retired and don’t leave home often
- They work from home
- They use public transportation regularly, reserving their cars for weekend use
- They are part of a carpool
- They have more than one car, and limit driving one for special occasions – think a convertible for summertime weekend use
For the past month, even that 600 miles may seem high. Your car sits there in the garage or out on the street. And it doesn’t move.
Is that okay?
What happens when you don’t start your car
A vehicle is designed for operation. It’s made up of a variety of systems that are designed to move. Fluids are designed to move through the parts. Gears are designed to turn. Parts are designed to warm up.
And when that doesn’t happen, a whole host of other problems begin.
Keep in mind, it’s more than just starting your car. Batteries slowly lose their charge when they sit. If you start it for a minute and turn it right back off, it drains the battery further. You have to drive it for several miles after starting it to ensure the battery has a chance to recharge. This gives all the systems a chance to kick into gear and engage, including the transmission system, the brakes, the suspension, the climate control system, the power steering, and all the intricate hoses, seals, and joints to have proper flowthrough to ensure they are working well.
With your digital devices, you’re advised to let the battery drain fully before recharging it and topping it off. But a car battery doesn’t work that way. They are all about short bursts of energy. Their goal is to burst the car into life, then recharge and wait for the next time it’s needed. When you turn the key or push the ON button, a car battery converts chemical energy into electric energy. It delivers enough power to start the engine, and enough power to turn on many of a vehicle’s accessories, like the lights.
What else can happen if you don’t drive your car?
The tires can start to lose pressure, especially during cold weather. It slowly drains and begins to flatten. And as the weight of the car continues to press down on the tires, it can cause flat spots to develop with the rubber touching the ground. When you finally take your car out once again, these flat spots will be noticeable as you drive.
Moisture can start to form in the gas tank, especially if it hasn’t been filled up. It can also build in the oil and cause corrosion.
And then there are those pesky rodents that are looking for a new place to nest. They can easily find their way up underneath the hood, or even in exhaust outlets. And when rodents make a nest nearby, they chew. They can disconnect wires and chew through hoses and other parts made from organic materials.
What should you do to keep your car operating well while you aren’t driving?
Let’s start with the most basic of care – bring your car in so one of our mechanics can give it a thorough inspection once every six months. Surprised? That’s just one of the reasons we’ve been deemed an essential business during the coronavirus lockdown. It’s more important than ever for you to ensure your vehicle is safe to drive in case of an emergency. And a simple inspection will help ensure that.
Change your oil regularly. While most oil service stations tell you to replace the oil based on mileage, it should also be changed based on age. Pull up the dipstick at least once per month and check the condition of the oil. If you notice it changing from its original golden color into something darker, it’s time to change the oil.
Walk around your car and inspect it regularly. Look for signs of furry friends making a home somewhere on your vehicle. Now is the perfect time for them to be building nests. Don’t think your car is safe because it sits in a garage. Rodents can easily slip in through cracks, or scurry in when you have the door open.
Drive your car at least ten miles once per month. Don’t just ride to the grocery store, pop onto the highway and get it up to speed for at least ten minutes or so. Plan out a circle, drive there and back. This will keep all the fluids flowing properly and your car running smoothly.
Schedule a car maintenance appointment today
Depending on the age of your car, you might know something needs to be replaced. Have you been nursing your brakes along? Or know you need work performed on your climate control system before the heat of the summer kicks in?
Why wait? You don’t need your car right now. It’s the perfect time to get those car maintenance items done and off your plate.
We’re open for business. We’re here to ensure your vehicle runs smoothly no matter how much you’ll be driving it in the days and weeks to come.
What other car maintenance questions can we answer for you?