Will your car be parked for a while? Maybe you’re going on a long trip, or you just got a company car and won’t be using your personal vehicle for a while, or perhaps you’ve been instructed by the authorities to stay home for a few weeks. Whatever the reason you have to keep your ride ‘in park’ you’ll need to know what to do to keep it working when you’re ready to hit the road again. Here are a few tips:
Under the hood
Battery: It’s best to disconnect your battery before parking your car for long periods since it gets charged every time you turn on the engine. The battery will gradually discharge if the vehicle hasn’t been used for quite some time. Therefore, after removing it, store it in a cool, dry place, away from moisture and direct sunlight. When it’s time to reconnect your battery, clean the battery posts and terminals with a baking soda and water solution, give it a good charge and reinstall it. Simply, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of very hot water and use an old toothbrush to scrub.
Spark Plugs: If you have left your car idle for some time, then it’s advised that you remove the spark plugs and spray a little engine oil into the plug sockets before putting the plugs back in again. If the plugs look damaged, rusted or corroded, then you may need new ones. If you know your way around the mechanics of your car, then you can do this at home, BUT if you aren’t a “car-man/woman” consult with your mechanic.
Oil & Air Filters, Belts, Tubes: Check your oil levels and quality by doing the dipstick test. If the oil is discoloured or has an odd texture, then it would be best to change the engine oil. Also, change dirty air filters, worn belts, crystalised tubes or any other parts that show signs of damage.
Clean up: Before leaving your car parked for long, you want to make sure that you clean up your car before you leave it locked up. Food wrappers, drink spills and rubbish can harbour rodents and insects that can leave droppings in your car, gnaw through the fabric or wires and cause more problems in the long run. Plus, good hygiene practices like that reduce germs, bacteria and mould from living in your vehicle.
Hand brake: Leave your hand brake down. When you leave your brake engaged for an extended period, it can cause the brake pads to get stuck to the discs or drums. Instead, place wheel chocks, like a piece of wood or even a brick behind the tyres, to keep the car from rolling.
Use a visor: If you must park in the sun, be sure to use a sun visor to protect your dashboard from the harsh heat. This also helps to keep the inside of the car cool.
Cover Up: If you must park in the open, use a car cover or tarpaulin to protect your vehicle from the sun, dust or salt damage from the sea.
Wash Up: Even though you’re not going anywhere in the car, you can still keep it clean. Dirt and other particles can fade the paint and destroy the integrity of the car’s metal. Giving it a quick rinse at least once every two weeks or so will help to keep it clean – unless it’s covered.
Fill The Tank: Before parking your car, fill the fuel tank so that it stays lubricated. If the fuel tank is too dry, you run the risk of it getting rusted and needing repairs.
Jack Up: To keep your tyres in good working order, jack up your car. When the tyres stay in one place for too long, they begin to deflate and corrode. You can remove them and leave them in the car until it’s time to hit the road again, or you can lift them off the ground completely. But, even when you’re ready to drive again, be sure to check the tyre pressure and adjust it accordingly.
Check The Mechanic: Other inspections may need to be done on your vehicle as well, including electrical checks for blown light bulbs, corroded wires, and so on. So, if you’re not sure, check your mechanic and have him/her do a complete inspection.
Check The Documents: After being parked for so long, we might even forget to renew our licence, fitness or even insurance policies. Before you hit the road, check to ensure these are up to date. Did you know that with BCIC you can look out for reminders when your documents will expire? We send you quick reminders for your vehicle documents and your driver’s licence right to your email. If you’re a BCIC customer, be sure to update your contact info with us so you’ll never miss a date.
If you’re stuck at home with nowhere to go, or if you’re on a long vacation, or just taking a break from driving in general, these tips are sure to help you keep your ride ‘in drive’, even if it’s parked.