Daily Traffic Alerts

NASCAR Tips: How to Avoid Idle Car Breakdowns During Pandemic

David T. Foster from NASCAR Technical Institute
David T. Foster | NASCAR Technical Institute

It isn’t just people who are staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Because of the lockdowns affecting various states, cars are also sitting idle in parking lots, sometimes for several weeks on end.

If you’re not careful with your car during the COVID-19 pandemic, letting your car sit idle can lead to breakdowns.

NASCAR’s Technical Institute Offers Advice for Idle Cars

With car traffic being down across several states, Jay Sinon, an instructor with NASCAR’s Technical Institute, has offered tips on how to avoid car trouble as a result of leaving your car parked.

The biggest concern that Sinon has is that the electronics inside of a car can continue to drain the battery even when they’re sitting idle.

“Without you driving your car on a daily basis, the battery is going to tend to go dead,” said Sinon. “Some of these cars have upwards of 100 computers. It takes four or five computers just to open the door on a modern-day car.”

The minimum care that Sinon recommends is to start your car at least once a week and allow it to run for up to ten minutes. That can be enough to recharge the battery and to get the car up to a good operating temperature.

Here are a few other things you can do to keep your car in good shape:

Change the Oil and Gas

If you don’t plan to use your car much for several months, it’s a good idea to change the oil as a precaution before you start to drive it again.

Also, keep in mind that gasoline doesn’t last forever in your car’s tank. “It can start to deteriorate within a month. It can go bad within six months,” says Sinon.

He suggests that if you haven’t driven your car in a while, you should either get a stabilizer from an auto-parts store to help prolong the fuel life or drain the fuel to start anew.

Sun Damage

Be cautious of sun damage that can occur when a car sits idle. Consider buying a sunshade for both the front and back of your car.

“Think of eight to ten hours of beaming sunlight, when that car never moves, when you get into your car in the summertime, it can be 150 degrees in there,” said Sinon.

Move Your Tires

Not driving your car for a long period of time can cause the tires to develop a flat spot. It might not be permanent, but it can be enough that you’ll notice it.

Instead of just letting your car run for 5-10 minutes, consider taking it for a short drive instead.

“By [driving at least briefly], you’re moving it around and keeping it sealed really good. It won’t necessarily go flat, but it will go down over time. We should check air pressure a couple of times a year, whether you’re driving the car or not,” says Sinon.

Look Out for Pests

Your car can become attractive to outdoor pests if you haven’t driven it in a while, so you’ll want to make sure that nothing is nesting in it from time to time.

“Over the years, I’ve taken squirrel nests out, and acorns out,” Sinon said. “Things that different animals have actually gotten under cars and taken there.”

DJ Swanson

DJ Swanson

D.J. Swanson never planned to be a writer. His first job was working in his family’s autobody shop, but after studying English and journalism in college, he decided not to join the family business.

Instead, D.J. realized that he could make a difference by helping people learn how to maintain their cars and drive safely in challenging conditions. He is proud to share his lifelong knowledge of cars and driving here at Daily Traffic Alerts.

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