Many of us have not used our motor vehicles at all since the Work-From-Home (WFH) order was enforced by employers due to COVID-19. Some of you may have used your vehicle only a few times. The good news is we are no longer sitting in traffic, spending our cash on gas, parking fees and general vehicle maintenance. When the time comes, and it will, to get behind the wheel of a vehicle that has been sitting for weeks or months. Here are tips on what to do prior to starting your vehicle and getting out on the road and tips on what to do as preventative maintenance.
- Check All Fluids
Make sure to check all fluids. Check the coolant, engine oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid and transmission fluid if the vehicle has an automatic transmission. For most vehicles, checking fluid levels are easy, but double check your owners manual to find out how. Make sure the fluids are clean and level on the dipstick or fluid reservoir. Since water based fluids like the washer fluid and coolant have the ability to evaporate, there is a possibility that they are low without an actual leak present.
- Check Tire Pressure
Most vehicles nowadays have tire pressure monitoring systems and your vehicle may do this automatically. But it is a good idea to check the tire pressure either way. This is particularly important if your vehicle has been sitting for a while. Temperature changes can significantly affect the pressure in your tires as the barometric pressure varies about 1psi per every 10 degrees in temperature change.
- Check the battery
It is very possible for a battery to lose its charge when not used for a period of time. This is certainly more likely in cold weather. Batteries should be clean, and terminals should be free of corrosion. If your battery has lost its charge you can either charge the battery or jump start it.
If your battery is dead, here are tips on how to jump start your vehicle
- Let your vehicle idle for a few minutes
Now once you’ve gone through the above list, your vehicle is ready to be started. Let the vehicle idle for a few minutes allowing all fluids to circulate and allow your engine components to lubricate. If you hear a ticking sound coming from the engine it may go away as soon as the engine runs for a bit. This sound is from engine values that may not be fully lubricated.
Once you’re on the road and you press on the brake pedal for the first time, you may hear a slight grinding noise from the brakes as they can tend to build up surface rust when not used. The noise will go away along with the surface rust. If this noise does not dissipate within the first couple of miles, or feels unusual, do not continue to drive the vehicle, and make sure to get it checked out by a trustworthy mechanic.
- Preventative Maintenance during lockdown
It’s best to start your vehicle at least 1-2 times per week and let idle for a bit. This lubricates engine components and prevents any engine seals from getting dry and cracking. And more importantly keeps the battery charged.
After the lockdown is removed and in the event your vehicle needs service, Openbay, an online automotive service marketplace can help connect you with a trustworthy automotive service center near you.