10 Ways to Protect Your Long-Term Parked Car [Infographic]
If you’re anything like us, you’re probably not driving much these days. The global COVID-19 crisis and assorted stay-at-home instructions mean that, while we’re all keeping safe in quarantine, our cars (or motorcycles, or other vehicles) are staying put.
It can seem unintuitive — surely, if you’re not driving your car, it’s not getting any of the wear and tear it would normally see from regular use — but cars that are parked, especially for extended periods of time, need to be cared for just as you’d care for a car you drive every day. In fact, cars that are parked long-term risk developing certain conditions that regularly driven vehicles probably don’t have to worry about.
In this blog, we’ll go over some of the problems that can arise when a vehicle is parked for an extended period of time, and what you should do to ensure that it doesn’t become a problem.
#1: Make Sure Your Tires Have the Correct Pressure
Before you park your car long-term, one of the final things you should do is check the tire pressure and inflate or deflate the tires as needed. This is particularly important if you live in an environment where seasonal change brings significant changes in temperature. Tires that are too pressurized or not pressurized enough can throw your car’s balance out of whack over long periods without being moved. Extended periods of overinflation can add additional wear to the tire.
#2: Make Sure Your Fuel Tank is Full
One of the other things you should do before finally parking your car is to ensure that your fuel tank is as full as possible. This is important, because even trace amounts of moisture on the inside of the fuel tank can lead to rusting. Rust on the inside of your fuel tank is, admittedly, fairly unlikely, but topping the tank off will make it all the more less so - which makes it very important to do.
#3: Clean the Interior
Once you’ve parked, give the interior of your car a nice once-over to remove clutter. It’s especially important to remove any food or drink items, or anything else that could be perishable. These can leave stains and mean that you come back to an awful-smelling vehicle!
#4: Use a Tire Stopper, Not the Handbrake
If you park on an inclined slope, like a sloped road or driveway, you’re probably used to using the handbrake every night to make sure your car doesn’t roll downhill. However, engaging the handbrake for extended periods of time can result in the brake itself becoming jammed and needing professional repair to unstick. This work probably won’t come cheap!
Rather than risking getting your handbrake stuck, consider using good, old-fashioned tire stoppers instead. These prevent your vehicle from rolling and can be removed whenever it’s time to drive your car again.
#5: Regularly Start the Engine to Charge the Battery
This doesn’t have to be done too often — every 3-4 days is fine — but make sure you set aside time to get out to your car and run the engine. This will ensure that your car’s battery is fully charged and isn’t at risk of going dead over a long term of being parked.
Regularly starting your car will also prevent blockages in things like fuel lines that may be caused by dried fuel remnants.
#6: Consider Unplugging the Battery
This is only necessary if you plan to have your car parked for very long periods of time (exceeding 1 month) without being used: If you expect that you will go a long time without driving the car at all, consider unplugging the battery entirely. This will prevent the battery from being drained.
#7: Periodically Move Your Car to Avoid Flat Spots
Cars are heavy things, and a car that stays in the same position for long periods of time can result in flat spots — places where the tire itself becomes deformed by the car’s weight. While some flat spots will resolve themselves after a little bit of driving, others will be permanent, and can be seriously unsafe.
One easy way to avoid this is to periodically move your car slightly. Moving it forward or backwards a few inches every couple of days is all you need. You can even pair this with your regular engine starts from point #5.
#8: Prevent Dust Accumulation in Air Systems
While you’re starting the engine and moving your car a few inches, don’t forget to turn on the AC and heating systems. This will prevent dust from building up in your air ducts, which can block them entirely if left unchecked.
#9: Use a Tough Car Cover if Parking Outside
Cars parked outdoors can face a wide range of dangers, from bird droppings and tree sap to sunshine and normal inclement weather. We recommend using a heavy-duty car cover to protect the paint on any vehicles parked outdoors.
#10: Use a Soft Car Cover if Parking Inside
Cars parked in garages or storage areas aren’t completely immune to threats, either. If parking indoors, use a soft, easily stored car cover to protect your vehicle from dust and other irritants (or even playing children and pets).
By following these 10 steps, you can ensure that any time you need to park your vehicle for an extended length of time — whether quarantine, travel, or any other reason — it will be ready to drive right away once you’re back to get on the road.