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Car storage tips during the COVID-19 crisis

By Botchi Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer March 25,2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic rendering all but the most important driving activities inoperable, we’re forced to leave our cars at home. Sure we can do some grocery and other medical related activities and driving to them, but aside from that, we need to stay home and practice social distancing. With that, here are some tips to ensure your cars are always ready after the Enhanced Community Quarantine is lifted.

1.) Park your cars away from direct exposure to the elements if possible. Avoiding intense sunlight, the occasional summer showers we’ve had and dust will help preserve our cars. If you don’t have covered parking, at least put a windshield visor / shade and a water-proof car cover over your car. Avoid parking underneath trees as sap will damage your car’s paint and if the tree is fruit-bearing, insects might find their way inside your car.

2.) Fill-up the fuel tanks to to full, or at least 1/3. Vapor forms inside the fuel tank; the more available space, the more vapor will collect. Keeping it filled with fuel lessens the chance of moisture collecting inside your fuel tank. This is even more serious for diesel engines, which is why diesels have a separate diesel/water filter. Cheaper fuel nowadays is an even bigger reason to fill-up.

3.) Clean your car’s interior. Basic vacuum and dusting is good and remove all foreign objects unneeded for the car. If you car will be in storage for 30 days with junk inside, it will smell like junk as soon as you get in. You can leave dehumidifiers or even charcoal (that absorbs both odor and moisture). If there is an unbearable smell, a cheap trick is to fill a small cup about 300ml in size with powdered detergent and leave it inside the car for three days. Immediately after, your car will smell of detergent but don’t worry, the smell will go away in another day or when heated by the sun. It will eliminate almost all forms of bad odor inside the car. You can also use something like SONAX’s A/C Clean to freshen up the interior with a pleasant fragrance and get rid of odor. In the long-term, an interior car ionizer and disinfectant such Blaupunkt’s Air Purifier, which plugs into your car’s 12-volt outlet will be a good investment to ensure your cabin remains odor free and clean.

4.) Pump up the tires a few psi higher (5-10psi) to avoid them from flat spotting. A tire valve cap will work wonders to prevent loss of tire pressure too from your tires. Just make sure to lower the tire pressure to the correct specs once you start using the car again.

5.) Once parked, don’t use the handbrake. Instead use a wheel chock or “kalso” to secure the car from moving. The brake pad / shoe material can slowly fuse with the brake disc or brake drum once moisture sets in, coupled with changing temperatures throughout the days in storage, causing them to stick. The wheel chock is safer, less stressful for your brake components. I also don’t recommend leaving the transmission in-gear as you might forget that the gears are engaged. And when you start the car and forget to step in the clutch, you might cause a minor accident.

6.) Hook your car up to a battery charger / tender like CTEK Smart Battery Chargers. Today’s modern cars continuously utilize electricity to power our cars’ various control modules which in turn monitor tour vehicle’s vitals. Smart battery chargers like CTEK prevent over-charging thanks to its advanced computer micro-processor, meaning you can leave it plugged to your battery for months with no damage. For older, simpler vehicles that don’t require as much electronic monitoring or have no electronic control modules, disconnecting the battery temporarily will help slow battery drain. If you prefer to start your car, once every two weeks is fine, and let it idle for at least 20 minutes. The power consumed from the battery at start-up will need that much time to be replenished by the alternator to the battery.

7.) Put rat poison and / or pesticide in, around and underneath your vehicle to prevent rodents and insects from making your vehicle their home. That’s going to be a difficult problem to fix in the long term if rats chew up your vehicle’s electronic wiring.

And finally, if you need to drive your car during or after the enhanced community quarantine, walk around the car, look for debris or flat tires that can impede your journey, and pop the hood to make sure no animals are staying in the engine bay.

Stay safe, and drive safe only if absolutely needed!

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