The last year and a half has been crazy. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused so much disruption and uncertainty. For many it has even changed our regular habits and priorities.
In fact, about 50% of Americans put regular car maintenance on hold in 2020. Because people were spending more time at home and less time traveling and commuting, more vehicles sat idle this past year than ever in recent history. As a consequence, many car owners delayed or canceled things like annual maintenance appointments, oil changes, and tire changes.
But, businesses are opening back up and people are ready to get out and travel. With things going back to normal, we expect to see car owners return to their regular driving habits and probably a boom of travel and road trips this summer. That means it’s time to stop neglecting your auto and it get back in top gear.
What Happens When a Car Sits Unused?
Vehicles are built to move, not to stay parked for long periods. When they are left unused, engine fluids start to break down and parts, which are usually lubricated when the engine runs, can start to rust. Which car parts suffer in particular?
This video talks to car owners who are taking advantage of this time when their cars are being used less to get full tune ups and to catch up on repair work that has been put off.
If the surface of your car is allowed to accumulate dust, dirt, leaves, tree sap, salt and bird droppings, the paint job will suffer. Just sitting in an area where the car is exposed to sunlight leads to oxidation and rust over time. Whenever you plan to leave your auto parked for an extended period, park it in the garage or under an awning to help protect the body from paint damage and corrosion. If that’s not possible, use a car cover to shield it from the elements and be sure to have the exterior washed regularly, even if it’s not being used as much.
You may not expect it, but tires age even when they’re not getting used. The rubber is still affected by aging factors, like oxidation, sun exposure, and changes in temperature. Plus, as the vehicle sits idle, the weight still causes the tires to deflate over time. Deflated tires can develop flat spots that may not bounce back when the tires are inflated to the right pressure.
Most car owners know that a car battery will loose charge over time if the engine is not turned on. How long would it take for a car battery to lose charge if it is not used? That depends on the age and size of the battery, as well as the amount of exposure to cold temperatures and electronic components which consume power even when the vehicle is off.
At a standstill, engine fluids will begin to separate and water vapor can collect in the gas tank. Plus, components that would otherwise be regularly lubricated can dry out and get brittle.
Like all metal components, break parts develop rust with time. If you plan on letting your car sit for an extended period, don’t leave the parking brake engaged (unless the car is on an uneven surface). This could cause problems because the rotors can actually bind to the brake pads.
How Can You Get Your Car Back in Shape?
- Inspect the pavement under the car to see if there are any signs of leaks. Any suspected leak should be looked at by a professional before driving the car any significant distance.
- If dark liquid has pooled under the vehicle, that means it is loosing engine oil.
- Red or brown liquid are signs of a transmission or power steering leak.
- Clear to yellowish liquid could mean that their is a leak in the brake system.
- Check the tire pressure and inflate them as needed to meet factory specifications.
- Look for signs of rodent infestation. If you find evidence of chewed interiors or droppings, you should have the electrical components checked by a professional because they may have been damaged as well.
- Verify the oil levels. If the oil on the dip stick looks thick or gritty, schedule your car for an oil change.
- Start the engine and check the battery. If you hear a clicking sound when you turn the key, instead of engine ignition, or it takes longer than usual for the engine to turn over, it’s likely that it has lost power. You will need to either need to recharge the battery with jumper cables or have the battery replaced entirely.
- Make sure the headlights, brake lights, high beams, fog lights, and all other indicators are working properly.
- Schedule a check up for maintenance to ensure that it’s safe to drive and to get your car back in gear.
- Schedule any body repair, glass replacement, and painting services that you have been putting off.
Let’s Get Back on the Road!
Auto repair shops are considered essential businesses and we are here when you are ready to get your auto back in gear. Contact Badell’s Collision today to make an appointment.