During a pandemic, most people spend a lot of time in quarantine, either mandated by the state or just self-imposed. At this time, you may tend to focus more on your well-being and staying safe that you end up overlooking other things, such as the condition of your car.
Pandemics may last for years, and leaving your car unchecked for that long may cause more damage than good when you finally want to use it. Taking care of your car during such times might save you a lot in the end. Check out these five car maintenance tips to follow during a pandemic.
1. Check the Brakes
If you start noticing a layer of rust on your brake discs, it is a sign your car needs some attention. A light coating of rust may cause some noise when you drive for a few blocks but will be polished off after a few brake presses.
More severe damage usually happens on parts that you cannot see. For instance, the hydraulic fluid, which enables the system to function, might absorb water from the air; hence, interrupting the stopping power. If you realize that the fluid seems dirty, ask an expert to flush the system and refill it with fluid that matches the manufacturer’s recommendations.
When inspecting the brakes, look for corrosion signs that can prevent the brake calipers from working smoothly. The calipers work is to squeeze the brake discs to stop the vehicle. If your car has some difficulty rolling at low speeds when you drive for the first time after a long time, have an expert mechanic check the brakes immediately.
2. Inspect Tires
If you don’t use your vehicle for a long time, your tires are likely to experience flat-spotting. This happens when the car’s weight flattens out a part of the rubber on your tires when it sits on the same spot for too long. Create a monthly routine to conduct a basic tire inspection.
Check your tires for signs of uneven wear or any damage that could need replacement. You should also check the pressure of the tires to ensure they are well inflated. If not, you can inflate them using cordless tire inflators, which make the process easy to fill while at home. Always follow the manufacturer’s tire pressure recommendations. If you don’t know where to find these, check the sticker on the driver’s doorjamb or in the manual.
If you feel like your tires need to be replaced, it’s advisable you shop for tires online while in the comfort of your home. During a pandemic, most service centers usually shift their business online and can offer mobile installation. Therefore, all you need to do is look for a reputable company online, shop for your tires, and request the installer to replace the tires at your home.
When shopping for tires online, ensure you check out factors such as rolling resistance, tread life, wet traction, and whether the tires are a good fit for your car.
3. Check Oil Level and Change the Oil
The oil level in your car helps you determine if the engine has enough oil to function properly. It also helps you avoid malfunctions caused by oil leaks or oil consumption, as you’ll be able to catch issues early before they escalate. You can check your oil level once every month.
It may seem like quite a hard task, but checking your oil level is pretty easy. All you need is a dipstick and a rag. Once your car engine is cold, open the hood and insert the dipstick. Remove the dipstick and use the rag to wipe it off. Reinsert it to get a more accurate oil level. Always ensure the vehicle is parked on level ground when checking the oil level.
If the oil on the dipstick is below the two markings on its bottom, it means your oil level is low and needs to be changed. Don’t worry if you don’t have any oil with you at the moment. Most service centers are likely to be operating even in areas where only essential businesses are allowed to open. Check your manual to ensure you choose the right oil for your engine. Afterward, put in a little oil first and add more the next day to avoid overfilling.
When it comes to changing your oil, it’s better to seek professional services for safety reasons. Experts also know how to recycle the oil properly as they have all the necessary tools. During a pandemic, you should look for a local shop that allows you to stay inside your vehicle while changing the oil. However, always call ahead to ensure the service center is open and adheres to any state's protective measures. If this seems like quite a hassle, you can seek the service of a mobile mechanic to come and do the work at your place for your own convenience.
4. See If the Battery Still Functions
If you leave your car parked in one spot for a long, your battery will definitely discharge. You’ll then have to jump-start your car when you finally decide to use it. You can plug the car into a battery maintainer or just disconnect the battery to save your battery life.
5. Drive Your Car at Least Once a Week
Cars aren’t meant to sit idle for long periods. You risk tire flat-spots, brakes not working properly, and the battery losing charge. You should drive your vehicle at least once a week, even if you don’t have anywhere to go. Go for a 30-minute drive at least to charge your battery and polish the rust off your brake discs.
While in the car, look for any wipes, beverages, food, or snacks that have been left behind. This will help reduce any unpleasant smell from developing. Cleaning helps maintain its value and protects it from interior stains. Driving your car will also keep pests from eating your car wiring, which can be expensive to repair.
Let’s face it, going for a drive around the neighborhood once in a while during a pandemic is actually therapeutic. You get to sit in your car, put on your favorite music and just sing along without worrying about being late to work! It’s also a great escape from being cooped up inside the house all week!
These practical maintenance tips will help keep your vehicle in the best conditions possible during a pandemic as well as maintain its value.