Since vehicles are made to be driven, cars that sit for long periods should be specially cared for–mainly because inactivity can lead to rust and fluid breakdown. So before you start a car that has sat for long stretches of time, follow these steps to prepare it for peak operation.
Check Cylinders and Oil
An engine can’t run properly without plenty of clean oil, so before you do anything else, make sure to top it off with fresh lubricant. Also, a stagnant engine can lead to oil leaking into the drain pan, drying out cylinders. To remedy the issue, remove each cylinder’s spark plugs and spray them with lube before reattaching them.
Look for Critters
Mice, squirrels and other small animals like to burrow and nest in dark, quiet places (like the crevices of an unused vehicle). To save everyone involved from an unfriendly shock, inspect the grille and surrounding areas, removing any leaves, grass and debris. Not only will this step warn any unwelcome inhabitants, it will protect your engine (dry leaves and grass can catch fire as the engine heats up).
Check and Top Off Coolant and Brake Fluid
More than anything else, a resting car damages its fluid. Checking the necessary lubricants and adding what’s necessary will ensure your car stays in safe driving condition.
Maintaining a Rarely-Used Vehicle
If your car gets driven on special occasions or seasons, a regular maintenance schedule won’t apply to you. Here are a few things to consider:
- Start the Engine Weekly – Every few days (or at least once per week), run the engine for a few minutes. This step helps run fluids through the system and prevents pooling, thereby maintaining lubrication while keeping your battery healthy.
- Account for Time Instead of Mileage – Infrequent use makes mileage calculation for service tricky, but parts still age over time. For this reason, experts recommend following a timed schedule to anticipate maintenance.
- Remove the Battery – If you plan to be away for a long period and know a car won’t get driven, consider disconnecting the battery to prevent corrosion.
- Clean it Regularly -Having a tidy interior and exterior can help in several ways. First, it keeps paint looking new, since sitting dust and debris can erode a paint job. Also, any forgotten food or leftover trash can generate intense odors, so vacuuming seats and floorboards will keep the air fresh.
Taking care of your car – even when it’s not driven – will help it run more smoothly when you want to take it out.