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Tips for maintaining your vehicle during pandemic

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, remote work is on the rise, meaning people are driving less and their vehicles are sitting longer.

While vehicle maintenance during a pandemic might be the last thing on your mind, leaving a car parked for an extended time can affect both its safety and reliability.

As Ireland enters the ‘new normal’, Delphi Technologies has put together a list of common issues with idle vehicles to make sure your vehicle is ready to drive.

Fill up your gas tank before leaving it parked
Considering your gas cap is working properly, a vehicle’s fuel system does a good job of preventing evaporation. However, leaving a fuel tank near empty increases the chances of fuel oxidation and water contamination which can degrade the gasoline in the tank.

Oxidation occurs in gasoline after prolonged exposure to oxygen causes chemical reactions to form impurities that can clog up and damage fuel lines, fuel injectors, and filters. Water contamination comes from condensation in the gas tank and fuel lines from heat cycling.

This moisture buildup can cause internal rusting that contaminates the fuel system with particulates, which can cause catastrophic damage to fuel injectors and fuel pumps.

Delphi recommends keeping a full tank of gas if your car sits for extended periods of time. By leaving minimal room above the fuel for oxygen or moisture buildup to reduce the chances of both oxidation and water contamination.

Keep your battery charged by driving regularly
Car batteries lose their charge when sitting idle. Starting a car and leaving it running for a half-hour will give it back some charge. However, the better thing you can do for your battery is to drive the car and allow the alternator to recharge it completely. If your battery struggles when turning the key, try cleaning the battery terminal connections to help improve performance.

Delphi recommends replacing a faulty battery. If a replacement is not an option and you know your battery has trouble holding a charge, consider using a trickle charger or battery tender to prevent a dead battery.

Check the engine oil level even if you aren’t driving
Usually, an engine that consumes oil does so while it is running but oil occasionally the oil pan drain plug can drip. It’s always a good idea to check the oil level (and other fluid levels) before starting after the vehicle has been parked for several weeks.

Avoid using the parking brake if possible
You may have noticed rust on your rotors already if you haven’t driven much in the past couple of days. Surface rust is normal and usually disappears after driving and the friction from braking.

However, if a vehicle is parked for a long time with the parking brake engaged, this rust can seize pads or shoes to the drum or the rotor. This may actually require a professional to disengage the braking system. The risk of corrosion is higher if the vehicle is older or is in a humid environment.

Delphi recommends avoiding using the parking brake (or emergency brake) if possible. If you drive a manual, consider parking on a flat surface, leaving the parking brake off and in first gear or reverse instead.

If you must use the parking brake, return to the vehicle as much as possible to release the parking brake. Then, while applying the foot brake, let the car roll back slightly to reposition the brakes before reapplying the handbrake. This will help prevent any further sticking.

Delphi also suggests checking tyre pressure regularly as well as keeping the interior and exterior clean.

However, the best solution to maintaining your vehicle during the pandemic is to simply drive it whenever possible. Starting your vehicle and letting it idle to operating temperature will circulate oil in the engine and ensure that the system is lubricated. But by driving for at least 20 minutes once every week, you can charge the battery, move the tires, use the A/C, and remove surface rust from the rotors.

For more information on Delphi Technologies contact Qualvecom on 01 419 1611.