Essential Car Maintenance During the Lock-down
Whether your vehicle is a car rental or an owned vehicle, if you’re planning on keeping your car idle for a long period of time, don’t forget to take care of it! Here are some super important preventative car maintenance and car storage advice on how to keep your car in tip-top shape during the lockdown, put together by the auto-experts at Carlease Rent a Car’s Fleet Operations Team.
1. Disconnect the Car Battery
A car’s electrical systems, such as the on-board computer and clock will slowly drain the battery even when you aren’t driving the vehicle, meaning your car might not start if left idle for too long. This is especially the case in newer, more advanced cars. If you plan on having a smooth restart with your car after 2 weeks of inactivity, it is critical that you not forget to disconnect the car battery. Doing so will help to ensure that the battery’s charge doesn’t deplete while the car is inactive.
To disconnect the battery, remove the cable from the negative port on the battery itself. Be careful to not let the negative and positive cable ends touch each other under any circumstances – if the cables do make contact or even get close, it could do harm to your car, including frying your alternator, damaging the cables, or worse, causing serious injury to yourself or others. After disconnecting the cable from the battery, make sure it’s secured somewhere so that it is not contacting the ground or any other positive. A simple solution for this is wrapping something (like a ziploc bag) around the negative battery post so it doesn’t touch anything while you’re not there. Also remember that disconnecting the battery will reset all the electronics in your car, so be prepared to reset the clock and other systems.
If disconnecting the battery seems like too much work, an alternative is to make sure you start your car once every couple of days and let it idle for about 5 to 7 mins to juice up the battery. Ideally, you should start the car and drive it around your parking garage for about 10 to 15 minutes. Not only will this help to maintain the battery’s charge, it will also help keep the engine and other components adequately lubricated. Make sure you run the air conditioner to keep the parts in working order and the air quality fresh.
2. Keep your tires properly inflated
If you don’t want a cracked sidewalls on your tires when you’re done with the lockdown, ensure that your car’s tires are inflated to the recommended air pressure. If you’re confused about the correct air pressure, take a look at the little (usually metallic) sticker the manufacturer has placed on the inside of the driver car door, or look it up in the manual. Do not fill up the tire to the pressure / PSI number on the tire wall itself – this number indicates the maximum pressure that the tire can withstand, not the recommended pressure.
Another tire-related factor to consider when leaving your car for storage is something called ‘Flat Spotting’, in which the tire develops a flat spot in the area where it was in contact with ground, the result of a slight bending of the steel inside the wheel. Keeping your tires inflated at the correct level is critical to avoiding Flat Spotting when cars are left idle. For extended periods of inactivity, it is also recommended that you start the car and roll the car backwards and forwards a few times every week or two.
Lastly – and this only really applies when storing the car for very long periods – avoid using the parking brake. When the brake pads are engaged for very long periods of time, there is a chance that it may start to fuse with the rotor, which is no good. Instead, using a tire stopper (or a ‘chock’) to keep the car from moving inadvertently.
3. Keep the Car Clean
Bird droppings, stray cats, dust and even excessive exposure to the harsh Middle Eastern sun can punish your car’s paint job. Try parking your car indoors or if you can’t find an indoor spot, use a car cover.
It is also advisable that, whenever possible, you get your car cleaned before you put it away, especially if you plan on using a car cover. Make sure to clean the wheels and undersides of the fenders to get rid of mud, grease or tar. For added protection, give the car a coat of wax.
4. Fill up the Fuel Tank
This may seem counter intuitive, but fuel tanks and pipes are oddly prone to corrosion and rust. Keeping your fuel topped up helps to avoid rust from building up inside your fuel tank. While the fuel sits in your tank, condensation can building up in the space between the fuel and the top of the fuel tank – i.e. wherever the fuel tank is exposed to the air. The best way to minimize the amount of condensation and therefore the risk of rust is to fill up the tank. The higher the fuel level, the lower the level of air, moisture, condensation and evaporation in your tank, the lower the likelihood of you coming back to a rusty fuel tank.
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