Regardless of a car’s age or condition, they all require some maintenance if they are being stored for extended periods without use. There are all sorts of issues that can occur if you get back from a long holiday or you’ve been working overseas or interstate and therefore haven’t used your car in a while.
Without carrying out some basic maintenance tips, you could find yourself with an avoidable service and repairs bill, so let’s go through a few things that will help keep your car in tip top shape.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your absence from the car, you may need to have a friend or family member come round to perform these tasks for you, so it may cost you a few 6-packs in return!
1. Keep your car covered
Just because cars do indeed spend most of their time outside, it doesn’t mean they are impervious to the weather. If your car lives outside rather than in a garage, then it is best to keep it covered while you are not using it. If you don’t, it is vulnerable to leaves and dust being blown into the engine bay. This can cause all sorts of damage to the more delicate components under the bonnet.
Covering your car will also help to protect against sun damage. While most new cars like the Skoda Karoq come with quality after-care protection, no car is completely immune from the hot sun. Extended exposure can damage paint as well as windscreen wipers and other external rubber trim.
2. Fire it up and take it for a spin
Your car will need to start up and be taken out for a short drive once a week while you’re not using it. The main reason for this is battery care. Car batteries deplete over extended periods of inactivity, as they rely on the car running regularly to stay charged. If left for long enough, a battery will inevitably go flat, and this will often mean having to buy a new one. Batteries tend not to recover well after becoming completely depleted, so this could be a costly mistake.
Another reason for starting it up regularly is to circulate the car’s fluids. If left for too long, they can degrade over time and cause the engine to seize up. This will be a very unpleasant surprise upon your return.
3. Check tyre pressure
When out on its weekly drive, it’s a good idea to stop off at a petrol station and check the tyres. Inactivity can cause the tyres to lose pressure which is a safety concern while out on the road. Extended periods of incorrect tyre pressure can also cause them damage, so you’ll want to avoid having to fork out for a new set prematurely.
4. Clean the car before you leave
As well as being unsightly, muck can cause some damage to both the exterior and interior of your car if left to remain over long periods. Cleaning the car is probably the last thing you want to do while organising and getting ready for an extended period away, but it’s worth doing in the long run.
5. Top up fluids
Make sure you fill up the fuel tank before you leave, as well as ensuring oils and coolants are topped up. When kept stationary, cars are vulnerable to exposure to the elements, and this can result in contaminants finding their way into their various fluids. This is particularly the case with petrol. By keeping the tank full, those contaminants will be of a low enough volume that they won’t have much effect on the car. If not, you could find yourself pumping dangerously dirty fuel into the engine system that may cause some damage.
6. Keep the car serviced
Depending on how long the car is inactive, it may need to be booked in for a service. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but even if a car is inactive, it still needs to keep up with its service schedule. This could save you big dollars in the long run.
7. Maintain insurance
This is another expense which is likely to make you bristle, but even if your car is spending the majority of its time stationary, it’s still important to keep it insured. Firstly, because your friend or family member will need to be insured when taking it out for its weekly drive. And secondly because no car is immune to being broken into or even stolen. It hurts to pay money for a service you’re barely using, but it will hurt even more if you have to pay for a new one.
There are obviously a number of things to arrange when preparing to spend an extended period of time away and unable to drive your car. But making sure it is well looked after in that time will avoid unnecessary pain upon your arrival back home. It may cost you a few favours in return, but it could end up saving you big time in the long run.