With multiple, localised lockdowns across India, a lot of people from those areas may not drive their vehicles until these lockdowns are eased, or even longer. A rolling stone gathers no moss, and the opposite is also true—parking a car or a two-wheeler for more than a few weeks can take a toll on the vehicle. Here are a few suggestions on how you can keep it running even when parked.
If possible, find a covered spot. If that isn’t possible, use a car/bike cover. If even that is not an option, cover with a large cloth (but don’t use a cloth if there is a chance of rain; a wet cotton cloth, if it’s coloured and if left unattended for days after rainfall, can damage paint).
Don’t engage handbrake
For a car: Using a handbrake means the brake pads will always be in contact with a part of the wheel, and over time these can get stuck (especially in moist conditions). Instead, use wheel chocks or a brick or a block of wood to keep the car from rolling.
For a two-wheeler: Park on the main stand, not on the side stand. This will ensure that all fluids in the two-wheeler (fuel and oils) will stay at a balanced level.
Keep the battery functional
In petrol/diesel cars, the battery is needed to start the engine. In addition to running the engine every few days to charge the battery—and actually driving the car a little (which will prevent flat spots on tyres)—you can smear petroleum jelly on the terminals and wire-ends to prevent rusting.
In case you think your car will be parked for longer than a few weeks, you can disconnect the battery by removing the connections (this will keep the charge intact), just like battery cells are removed from a TV remote to keep the charge.
Clean the cabin with a dry cloth
If you use a wet cloth or chemicals to clean the cabin before parking, chances are this can lead to condensation once all windows are shut. In heat, chemicals can vaporise and mildly poison cabin air. Clean the cabin with a dry cloth, instead.
Move all moving parts
You must move every moving part. This includes opening and closing all doors, the boot and the bonnet, rolling down and rolling up all windows, moving the seats back and forth, opening and closing outside rear-view mirrors, rotating inside rear-view mirror, moving sun-blinds, and so on. This will also make you spend more time with your car, and help you understand and appreciate every feature.
How to disinfect your car
Essential services staff such as healthcare workers, police, delivery services, and so on, have to step out, and the vehicles they travel in can trap germs, including viruses. Here are some suggestions on the possible ways of keeping a vehicle sanitised.
Clean high-touch surfaces: There are surfaces you touch more frequently, such as the steering wheel, knobs, switches, screen, buttons, and more. Make sure you clean these by using a car interior cleaner. If you don’t have one, you can make an ammonia-based solution (by diluting glass and window cleaner with water in a 1:1 ratio).
Rough time taken: 10 minutes.
Take note of grey areas: The headliner, headrest and window glass are low-contact parts, but these too need to be cleaned once in a while. The most important parts to clean, which some people tend to overlook, are interior and exterior door handles, and the car key.
Time taken: 5 minutes.
Disinfect the HVAC unit: The HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) unit circulates air inside the cabin, and it can carry germs. First, clean the AC vents (by spraying a specialised cleaner such as by 3M, or any ammonia-based solution). Second, remove and clean the cabin filter (it is usually located behind the glove compartment in a car).
Time taken: 20 minutes.
Vacuum-clean the cabin: Once in a while, it’s important to use a portable vacuum cleaner to thoroughly clean the cabin. In case you don’t have one, you can scrub and wash the carpet and floor mats, and use a disinfectant liquid on the pedals, gear-lever, handbrake lever, and rub a cloth coated in disinfectant liquid on the seats. In case you don’t have disinfectant liquid, soapy water can serve the purpose.
Time taken: 30 minutes.
While we disinfect our homes and workplaces, a car may often get overlooked, but is equally important. Lastly, always keep a hand sanitiser, a mask, and wet wipes inside your car.
(With inputs from Pitstop, the doorstep car service and repairs provider)
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