Does your car ever sit unused for an extended period of time? Whether it’s because of a long vacation (lucky you!) or a newly found appreciation for public transportation, we’re big fans of using your car less. However, you don’t want a dead battery or engine problem the next time you decide to take your car for a spin. Follow these precautions to ensure your car is in running condition the next time you need to use it.
First things first: where should you keep your idle car stored? The ideal place is in a garage because it prevents theft and also protects against elements like that blazing summer sun or a torrential downpour. If you don’t have access to a garage, look for a car storage service, which is typically offered by most major storage companies. If the most viable option is keeping it outside you should consider purchasing a waterproof car cover to keep it clean. Regardless of where your car is stored, there are a few things you should do before leaving it in hibernation mode:
- Keep it clean: All dressed up and nowhere to go? It may seem silly to get your car nice and spiffy just to keep it locked away, but dirt and residue can eat away at your car’s exterior if left on for a long time.
- Fill’er up: It might also seem contradictory to fill up your gas tank to go… nowhere, but this will prevent moisture from accumulating inside the fuel tank. Excess condensation can lead to acceleration problems, and when the inevitable winter chill returns, a fuel line freeze. If you will be storing for a very long time, it also might help to purchase a fuel stabilizer to prevent gasoline from becoming gummy. Plus, you’ll be pleased to find a full tank of gas the next time you drive!
- Don’t lose power: All vehicles typically experience a very small amount of battery drain, even while turned off. Mechanic Matt suggests purchasing a battery tender, a small charger that keeps your battery topped off every day.
- Get some air: Use a tire gauge to make sure your tires are inflated to the recommended tire pressure (follow @Metromile to find us at a local event where we give them away for free). If the tires are under-inflated, head to the gas station to add some air because flat spots can develop as the vehicle’s weight presses down on the tires. Even while idle. It could also help to have an air compressor on hand to quickly inflate a flat if a gas station isn’t in close proximity.
When you are ready to brush those cobwebs off your car (hypothetically speaking, hopefully) do a quick inspection before starting the engine. Check the windshield wipers, tire pressure, fluid levels, brakes, and under the hood to see if anything looks off. If it’s been awhile and you are uneasy about the condition, take your car into your local mechanic for a professional opinion. And if you are often leaving your car unused, you could be a great candidate for per-mile insurance because your monthly bill is based on the miles you drive. Check out metromile.com/insurance to learn more!