If you are like most American households, you may own more than one automobile. In fact, the 2013 census revealed that the average U.S. household owned about two vehicles.
Whether your car is a collector’s gem that you worked for years to purchase, or a car that you just drive on occasion, it’s important to understand the proper maintenance of your vehicle.
Many car owners may believe that a seldom used car does not need any maintenance at all - but that’s not always true. Here are four tips to keep in mind to help you maintain your seldom used car:
Changing the oil of your vehicles is a very critical factor in the maintenance of an idle engine. Be certain to follow the manufacturing oil change interval! Many car owners only pay attention to the mileage limit when it comes to oil changes. However, there is a manufacturer period between oil changes. This limit varies so be certain to check the manufacturers recommended oil change intervals.
Consider using synthetic oil if you plan on having your car sit idle for an extended period. The reason for this is the fact that synthetic oil has a greater resistance to breakdown than conventional motor oil.
Maintaining the tires on a seldom used car is critical because tires can easily lose pressure when sitting still due to unnoticed slow leaks. Also, a flat spot can develop in the tire when the weight of the car is concentrated a single section of the tire.
One way to help avoid slow leaks is to periodically check your tires with a tire air pressure gauge. Do not rely on a visual inspection alone. Although a visual inspection can identify severely low pressure, it is tough to observe a slow deflation. Using a tire gauge removes the guess work.
Before storing your vehicle, be sure to fill the tires to the maximum pressure suggested per the manufacturer. Or talk to your shop about using nitrogen rather than air for inflation as it may help prolong the life of your tires. For example, nitrogen has a different molecular composition than air, and therefore it is less likely to leak through the rubber tire walls.
Finally, if possible, move the car slightly in the parking spot. Just a quarter turn of the tire, on a weekly basis, can substantially extend their lives.
Tree sap, bird droppings and a host of other environmental paint hazards can wreak havoc on a seldom used car. Be sure to treat your vehicle to a complete wash and wax before letting it sit idle. Pay particular attention to the hood, roof and trunk areas as these horizontal sections can be more susceptible to paint damage.
Even the cleanest of garages or storage facilities can be full of dust and other dirt. Make sure that you cover your idle car with a cotton indoor car cover to help protect the paint.
If it is at all possible, the best thing you can do for a seldom used car is to exercise it. Take it for a drive once a month for several miles to keep the fluids circulating and to make certain everything is in tip-top shape.
Be sure to talk to your insurance agent to make sure that all of your vehicles are properly insured before taking them for a spin.