To say the last few weeks have been a whirlwind would be the understatement of the century. As people all over the world reorganize their lives to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, social lives, personal relationships, and professional responsibilities have been looking a whole lot different than usual.
One thing’s for sure. Many of us are not driving as much as we do normally. If your company has instituted a work-from-home policy or you’re simply skipping your regular trips to the grocery store or to hang with friends, you may have considered what your car needs to stay in top shape. As we weather the uncertainty of the coming weeks and months, here are some maintenance tips to reduce anxiety in at least one area of your life:
Park indoors if possible (or use a car cover). To prevent damage from rain, sun, or debris from the environment, keep your car as protected as possible. If you’re lucky enough to have a garage, use it. If not, try to find covered parking, or perhaps consider purchasing a cover to keep your car safe as it sits on the street.
Scrub down the interiors. You already know that proper hygiene and sanitation are of the utmost importance right now — don’t ignore your car in all that cleaning up. Use a disinfectant wipe to clean the steering wheel, gear shift, dashboard, seats, radio, and any other high-touch areas.
Inflate the tires. Tires can lose pressure and generate flat spots when they’re just sitting around. Top them off to the recommended pressure to help prevent this. If you want to be hardcore about it, you can lift the car on blocks or splurge for some “tire savers” small ramps that you park the car on top of to keep the tires rounded.
Start it up once in a while. Even if it’s just a spin around the block or parking lot, it’s good for your car to get warm once or twice a month.
The tips above are a good start if you’ll be driving rarely. If you’re really expecting to not drive at all for a few months, you can go even further:
Change the oil and air filters before putting the car away. Because all kinds of icky elements can accumulate in air filters and used oil (like moisture and metal filings), it’s not a bad idea to fill your engine with fresh oil before putting your car to rest for a long while.
Consider removing the spark plugs. If you know your car isn’t going anywhere for a long while, you may want to remove the spark plugs. These little devices are responsible for creating the ignition for the combustion necessary to start your car. Over time, spark plugs deteriorate, so removing them can save you some trouble later on, when you’re ready to start driving again.
The most important thing during this time is to stay physically healthy. If you’ve got that covered, make sure you’re taking care of your ride too. And when it comes to your financial health, pay-per-mile car insurance is a great fit for occasional drivers.
– – –
Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist, UC Berkeley alumna, and Metromile customer.