As many of us across the country stay home, our cars are staying home too. When our vehicles aren’t used for a prolonged time, problems can occur with the battery, brakes and other components. Here are a few ways to help prevent these issues:

Don’t use the parking brake

Depending on your car and where you store it, the brakes could freeze in place, brake pads could rust to the rotors or the brake shoes could distort the drums. To prevent this in a car with an automatic transmission, simply place your car in park. For a manual transmission, place it in first gear or reverse, and use wheel chocks to help hold the car in place.

Give your battery some TLC

Battery trouble is a leading cause of roadside breakdowns. And when your car sits idle, the battery can lose its charge.

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Taking a short drive every week can help recharge your battery. You can also use a battery tender to prevent deterioration (it plugs into an outlet and connects to your car battery). Just be sure to disconnect the tender before you drive.

Also ensure your battery terminals are clean, tight and free of corrosion. (A local AAA Approved Auto Repair facility can help; call ahead to make sure it’s open.)

Preserve your gas

Fill your fuel tank to help minimize condensation—the AAA Mobile app can help you compare local gas prices. Also add a stabilizer (which you can purchase online) to help preserve the gas. Follow the instructions and pour it into your gas tank before you head out on essential errands, then drive for at least five to 10 miles to circulate the stabilized fuel.

Pump up your tires

Your tires can flatten when they sit in one position for too long. One simple solution: Move your car periodically. Other options including adding 10 psi of pressure to each tire or using storage pads that support a wider area of the tire. Just remember to lower the pressure again when you start driving regularly.

Don’t ignore needed maintenance

Some maintenance recommendations are based on time, not mileage. If the calendar says your car is due for an oil change, for example, have it done to remove any acids and contaminants.

Three additional considerations

  • Prop up the wiper arms so the blades are off the windshield (to ensure they don’t stick to the glass).
  • Keep your vehicle insured. This protects against claims and can prevent increases in premiums if there’s a lapse in coverage.
  • Make a list of everything you did to prep your car for storage so you can undo the appropriate steps when you drive again. Leave the list in your car to prevent it from being lost.

Tips for sanitizing your car

While you likely are disinfecting your home, don’t forget about your car.

Put on disposable gloves, then clean dirty surfaces using detergent or soap and water before disinfecting. Most disinfectant wipes are safe to use on a car interior. The Environmental Protection Agency has a complete list of registered household disinfectants, but know that some, such as bleach and hydrogen peroxide, can damage your car’s upholstery.

In addition to the steering wheel and gear shifter, you should sanitize switches, interior and exterior door handles, armrests, console covers and sun visors. A light touch is all you need; don’t flood surfaces with cleaner. If your car has a touch screen, be careful and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

And one final reminder: Keep some disinfectant wipes in your car to wipe off frequently touched areas.

Auto Repair Facilities You Can Trust

The AAA Approved Auto Repair program identifies facilities that meet and maintain high professional standards. AAA Members receive 10% off labor (save up to $50) and get 24,000-mile/24-month warranties and guarantees. (In these uncertain times, contact the facility to make sure it’s open.)

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