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How to Prepare Your Car for Extended Parking

March 23, 2020

Plants and pets aren’t the only things that require preparations when left for an extended amount of time. Add your car to that list, too.

If your car is left unattended for a few months at a time, here are some precautions you should take to ensure it’ll be in good health when you go to drive it again.

Keep it clean

There’s no judgement here if your car isn’t always kept clean. Most of us struggle a bit in that department.

But, if you’re going to keep your car isolated for a long period of time, it’s worth taking a moment to clean your car. Remove anything from the inside that is perishable, like snacks, as they could cause molding, mildew, and some seriously bad odors. Give the outside of your car a quick wash, as dirt, debris, and grime on the exterior can cause damage if left to sit for months.

Turn it on

Believe it or not, just turning on your car does wonders for its long-term health. If left alone, certain elements of your car can start to deteriorate. For example, the battery will eventually lose its charge, and systems like the air conditioning and engine will eventually have some issues.

If you can, turn your car on every two weeks or so, and drive it for about 15 minutes. If you’re not able to take it for a drive, simply turn it on, get out of the car, and leave it running for 10-15 minutes. You’ll also want to turn on the air conditioning to keep those parts in working order.

Leave your parking brake off (if possible)

In general, it’s always a good idea to apply your parking brake when you turn off your car. But if you’re leaving your car in place for a long period of time, leaving the parking brake on can actually fuse the brake pads and cause damage.

If you’re leaving your car in a garage or on a flat driveway, go ahead and leave the parking brake off. For extra reassurance, you can purchase wheel chocks to place behind your wheels. If leaving your parking brake off is not an option, be sure to release the parking brake every few weeks when you turn the car on.

Cover your car, if possible

If you have a garage, or a car port, it’s best to park your car in there. Covering your car with a car cover or tarp is also an option. If you don’t have access to any of these things, consider leaving your car at a long-term garage, if possible. Leaving your car in one place, exposed, for months on end can cause weather damage.

Keep everything filled up

Before turning off your car and leaving it parked for an extended period of time, make sure it is sufficiently filled with air and fluids. Make sure all four tires have ample air pressure, fill up the gas tank, and make sure there’s a proper amount of motor oil in the engine.

Keeping the fluids full helps keep oxygen and moisture out of the system. And keeping your tires filled can prevent flat spots from developing as a result of the pressure of the vehicle pushing down on the tires.

Give it a check-up before driving

Once you’re ready to get back in your car and drive it regularly, you want to give it a light check-up to make sure it’s in good condition. Check under your car to make sure there hasn’t been any leaks. Even a slow leak can completely drain your car of a much-needed fluid if left unattended for months. You definitely don’t want to drive your car if it’s out of oil or transmission fluid or brake fluid.

Also, make sure there’s adequate air in the tires. Tires tend to lose air pressure over time, and often a long period of inactivity will drain them.

Before you turn on the car, pop open the hood, and give the engine a visual inspection. When a car is left unattended, oftentimes, small critters will build homes in the engine, and this can cause issues when the car is turned on.

If everything looks good, then you’re good to get back on the road.