vehicle maintenance

Letting Your Car Sit Idle Could Cause Problems

Consumer Reports explains why you should still drive your car at least once a week

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Chances are that your car is not getting used as much as before the coronavirus pandemic. While most of us are only leaving to go get food, it's still important to keep your car active.

"Even if you have nowhere to go, you still want to be driving your car around town for about 20 minutes each week," said Consumer Reports' Jeff Bartlett. "This will keep your battery charged, and prevent rust from building up on the brakes and calipers from seizing up."

Rust can be very dangerous to cars because it weakens the metal. That means it is less likely to keep you safe in case of a crash.

Right now gas prices are also very low, but don't run out and fill up. If the gas sits in your tank for too long, it can break down. Consumer Reports suggests driving your car regularly so the gas doesn't sit in the tank. If you can't drive it, then it might be time to buy a stabilizer.

"[If your car] has the same fuel in the tank for more than three months, add the appropriate amount of fuel stabilizer," Bartlett said.

What if you get a recall notice for your car or truck? Consumer Reports says if you're worried about your health, it is safe to put off minor recalls for now.

"If it's a recall for something that could put you in harm's way like an airbag defect or mechanical issue, you should stop driving the vehicle right away and contact your dealer," Bartlett said.

If you do take your vehicle in for a recall notice, make sure to ask the dealer about their current policies for disinfecting. Make sure they are using a cleaner with at least 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, or regular soap and water.

There are also some simple maintenance tasks you should be doing. Consumer Reports recommends regularly check your engine oil on a flat surface while the engine is cold. While you're under the hood, make sure your engine's air filter and cabin air filter are both clean.

Most auto shops are still open during the pandemic. Now could be a good time to make any repairs you have been putting off because you didn't have the time before.

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