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Getting your parked car out of lockdown blues

S. Muralidhar | Updated on April 30, 2020

One of the first things you’ll need to ascertain is if a rodent has moved into the engine bay

Here are some points to keep in mind before you start driving your car again post-lockdown

Finally, we all might (fingers crossed) come out of the lockdown next week. Though our lives are unlikely to return to complete normalcy, and we will still need to be cautious, maintain social distancing and take necessary precautions, the travel restrictions of the past six weeks are likely to be eased a bit. And that means many of us may want to get behind the wheel of our cars and start driving around town. But there are some important points to keep in mind before starting the car after weeks of being parked at the same spot. Unlike many other machines, cars are notoriously difficult to maintain if they are not driven regularly. Here’s what you need to do:

During the lockdown you should have at least cranked the ignition and let the engine idle for a while. Of course, the ideal option would have been to have driven the car at least once a week and at least for a couple of kilometres, so that the battery would have gained charge in the process. If you’ve not done this, you may need to remove the battery and get it charged before starting the car. If you are looking at the prospect of leaving your car parked for longer remember to keep the battery charged.

Movement restrictions in many cities have meant that cars haven’t been taken out for weeks. Cars parked on the street or in the open have a higher possibility of battery drain, loss of air pressure in the tyres and of fluids and oils separating inside the engine bay. So, if you are taking the car out after weeks, tyres will need to be inflated to prevent weak spots and tyre wall damage. Filling nitrogen will help retain tyre pressure for longer than regular air.

If you’ve parked under a tree, look out for bird droppings and tree sap. Cleaning the car quickly after will protect the paint from damage. Bird droppings can be extremely corrosive due to the high acid levels and it can be worsened by the heat when the car is parked out in the sun.

Even if you have been starting the car intermittently, remember to let the engine idle for a while before attempting to rev it or give it some throttle on the road. Letting the fluids in the car find their balance and rhythm is a good idea before you take it out for a longer drive.

If the car has been idle for almost all of the six weeks, you will need to take more precautions. One of the first things you’ll need to ascertain is if a rodent has moved into the engine bay during the time. No, seriously! Rats tend to take up residence inside cars that have been left untouched for long periods of time. They can chew up wires and make a mess of the engine bay.

If your car is relatively new, you may need to just top-up fluids like coolant, transmission oil, and brake fluid. If the car is older than four years and has been idle for weeks, you may need to consult with the authorised service outlet for draining out and replacing fluids before the car can be driven.

If you think that the car may remain parked for longer, then you may want to top-up the fuel tank to avoid damage to the tank itself; half empty tanks can get condensation damage. Don’t engage the handbrake because that may lead to the brake pads fusing with the disk or rotor, especially if your city has high humidity or if it is raining. And use a cover to protect your car’s body.

Published on April 30, 2020

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