With the lockdown in South Africa due to the COVID-19 pandemic, your car will be stationary for an extended amount of time. When the time comes, here are a few tips that will ensure your cars health when we get back to our normal lives again:
Keep your vehicle undercover (if you can)
Although garages and covered parking ports are better than open parking, as your vehicle will be exposed to sun damage, dust, raindrops, bird droppings, and other debris. So if you parked in an open parking, it is advisable to get a waterproof car cover while your car is parked for an extended amount of time.
Periodically washing and cleaning out your vehicle: Clean the interiors before parking the car
This might be stating the obvious, but we’re going to tell you anyway. People tend to leave trash in cars, including chocolate or biscuit wrappers (with crumbs inside), old newspapers, and water bottles and so on. All of this could rot or, worse, attract rodents that can damage floor mats, seat covers and even wiring. So, clean the interior thoroughly and spray a little freshener. But don’t use too much as even as it will stink in the closed confines over a long period!
Keep Critters and Creepy crawly‘s Out
If your car is parked in a garage it will typically keep your car dry and safe from the elements. Unfortunately, those are also two things that make a garaged car attractive to rodents (rats and mice, amongst others and) and cockroaches.
But even if you are parked under sheltered parking, they still get into your car and engine! Try to cover any gaps where rodents and other insects could enter, such as the exhaust pipe or an air intake. Placing a ball of steel wool in your exhaust pipe is a good hindrance!
Next, spread mothballs or cotton swabs dipped in peppermint oil along the perimeter of the vehicle. The smell is said to drive mice away. If you want to take a more proactive approach, lay down a few mousetraps. Just make sure someone can check the garage periodically in case there are some casualties.
Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with a smell much worse than mothballs when you take the car out of storage 🙂
Keep It Charged or Disconnect one of your battery terminals
An unattended battery will eventually lose its charge after a long time if both terminals are connected and the battery will get drained.
We advise that if you do not know what to do at least take some time to start your vehicle and let it run for about 15 minutes at least every 5-7 days, to ensure that the battery stays charged. If this seems like too much, you can explore a full proof low-tech solution of disconnecting the negative (usually black) battery cable. You’ll likely lose the stereo presets, time and other settings. But better that, than having to get your car jump started or worse yet, buy a new battery! Yikes!
Top Up Your Fuel Tank
We may need our vehicle to get essential items from time to time therefore having petrol is a good idea. Having petrol in your car is also a good idea. A full tank will prevent moisture from accumulating inside the fuel tank and keep the seals from drying out. When a car is not driven or used, the petrol burns up before it begins to evaporate and degrade.
Keep the tires properly inflated
When you do go for your essential trips, pass by your local garage and check the tyre pressure and make sure the tyres are at the correct pressure. Proper inflation helps prevent cracking of the sidewalls and flat spots. Check the valves and valve caps for leaks and that the valve caps fit properly.
You might be tempted to cancel your insurance when your vehicle is stationary, but unforeseen circumstances happen, like hail storms, or someone backing into your vehicle while you are “safely in your parking bay”!
In these cash strapped times, that might initially save money, but there is a chance that the insurance company will raise your premiums due to the gap in coverage, which could cost you more in the long run.
This can vary based on where you live and who your provider is, so contact your insurance company to see what options are available to you.
Before getting back to action, make sure you have all your bases covered
Here’s a checklist of what to do when you’re ready to drive your vehicle regularly again:
- Check under the bonnet for any evidence of rodents. Look for chewed belts, hoses, wires or nests. If you covered the muffler (like the steel wool) or air intake, remove that material before you start the car.
- Make sure to change your air and oil filters, to ensure that no sludge or other contaminants affect your engine performance!
- Check the windscreen wipers to see if the rubber is cracked or brittle.
- Check the tire pressure and inflate the tires to the recommended specs.
- Check the brake and brake disk! Rust may have accumulated on the brake disks! In most cases, it should go away after you drive the vehicle for a short time. But to be safe, if it doesn’t make sure you book an appointment with us and we will check them out of you!
- Check fluids to make sure there have been no leaks and that they are at the recommended levels.
- If the battery cable has been disconnected, make sure that you reconnect it and that the battery terminals are clean.
- Wash your vehicle to remove any dirt that may have accumulated.
Car Care Click! #StaySafe #StayHome!
Yours in Car Care!