[Updated 2/20/2021] As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps many people at home, it puts a stop to near and long-distance car travel for many. Leaving your car to sit idle in your driveway may seem harmless, but there are some issues that can arise when your car isn't driven regularly. Let's take a look at some of the common problems that can occur when your car is idle and what you can do to avoid them.
As fall and winter approach, furry friends are seeking shelter from the cold to survive. Cars are an ideal shelter for small wild animals. The small, compact spaces in an engine block provide refuge from the cold and predators. While they are not intentionally trying to cause problems, they can cause severe damage to your vehicle such as electrical shorts, blocked air vents, compromised ventilation systems, or unbalanced heater fan blades. Additionally, animal waste carries a risk of disease transmission. As a car starts, it can cause injury to the animal using it for shelter. Here are some ways to prevent animals from using your car as shelter:
- Park your car inside an animal-proofed garage to reduce the possibility of them entering your car. If you do not have a garage, try to park away from brush or areas that rodents usually inhabit.
- Block small entrances to your engine compartment with wire mesh to prevent animals from getting in.
- Keep the interior of your car clean so that animals are not tempted to scavenge inside it. They can smell leftover food inside your car and may be enticed to find a way in.
- Spray rodent repellant or peppermint oil around the perimeter of the car to deter animals from coming near.
- Set catch and release traps near the front wheel well where rodents often enter.
- Use an ultrasonic pest repellant that keeps animals away. You won't be able to hear the sound, but it will frighten rodents away. Be sure the product is safe to use around any pets you may have.
When a car sits idle for a period of time, the tires are the most commonly affected component. Tires can lose pressure over time and eventually go flat, so it's important to regularly check the pressure of your tires and go for brief drives during the period that it sits unused.
It is also important to check the condition of your spare tire to ensure it is in good shape. Your spare is there to help you if you get a flat tire on the road. If it is not in good condition, it might not be able to fulfill its purpose and you will be left having to call a towing service to get your flat repaired. If your spare tire is stored on the outside of your vehicle, it will be exposed to the elements and may develop rust.
Proper tire maintenance is necessary to extend their life and avoid hazards when you get back on the road.
Whether your car is new or old, the battery can have issues when your car is left unused. Newer cars are equipped with lots of technology, which can lead to the battery dying more quickly. Here are a few easy tips to maintain your car's battery when it is not being driven regularly:
- Start your car at least once a week and let it run for 5-10 minutes.
- Unplug chargers or external devices connected to ports inside your car.
- If possible, take brief weekly drives around the neighborhood or down the block and back.
Fuel and Oil Issues
The essential fluids in your car may also cause issues when your car is sitting idle for a while. Motor oil may deteriorate over time if the car is not driven frequently. Without regular use, your car's fuels can dissociate and wreak havoc on your fuel system. If you turn your car on after it has been sitting for a while and the check engine light is on, there is a chance it is due to compromised fluids.
To avoid these fuel and oil issues, be sure to continue with your regular oil changes at proper time intervals, regardless of how many miles you have driven.
If a car is left outside in the elements for too long, the rotors of the brakes can develop rust. To minimize the buildup of rust, take the car on a brief drive once a week. Driving will cause the brake pads to take the rust off, resulting in some scraping noises for the first few times you apply the brakes. If there is already noticeable rust, you can apply brake cleaners found in stores or purchased online to help remove it.
Get Expert Help to Maintain Your Vehicle
If your car has been sitting idle and you notice any of the above issues, our staff at Tune Tech Automotive can help. We are dedicated to helping drivers extend the life of their vehicles and ensure safety both on and off the road. Give us a call at (303)327-9176 or schedule an appointment online today to learn more about maintaining your vehicle both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.