Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, driving rates have
plummeted. Many people have shifted to at-home work, meaning that there are fewer commuters on the road each day.
Not only that, but with hefty COVID-19 restrictions in place for much of the year, consumers had fewer places to go, and thus fewer reasons to drive. Even trips to the mall or supermarket have largely been replaced with delivery apps.
Even if you’re no longer commuting, there are plenty of reasons to keep driving
Family Handyman, driving dropped 48% at the beginning of the pandemic, and road travel hit a 20-year all-time-low. You, too, may find yourself driving less than usual these days.
Yes, that’s right: your battery can lose its charge even when you haven’t been driving. Joe Akers, director of operations at Cowles Nissan, suggests using a trickle charger, which continues to "supply power to a car battery when a vehicle is not in use," according to Akers.
The site lists other reasons to keep an eye on your car, such as to clean up leftover food or garbage that may create a bad smell or breed ants. Moreover, your car’s conditioning seals can dry out if you haven’t driven in long enough, which can reduce the effectiveness of your air conditioning. Even if you’re not driving, consider turning on your AC for 10 minutes every now and then, to keep it in good shape.
Another thing to look out for is your fuel tank. If you leave too little gas in your tank before parking your car long-term, the tank may accrue moisture. If you leave too much gas, it is at risk of overflowing as warmer weather hits and the fuel expands. Consider leaving your tank half-full and refilling it the next time you drive, or purchase a fuel stabilizer.
If you’re not regularly checking on your car, you also may miss damage caused by bird poop or tree sap that has been left uncleaned for too long. Bird poop and tree sap can both damage your car’s clear coat, so be sure to give your car a thorough scrub as soon as you spot them.
Keep an eye out for these car repair issues while working from home
Even though you may not be driving regularly, you should still keep up with any car repair issues you come across.
Check your tires regularly and
fix any flats, which can happen even when your tires aren’t in use, according to Reader’s Digest. As Akers reports, the weight of the car constantly putting pressure on the same part of the tires can create a dent.
Taking your car for a drive even just around the block once a week can help prevent flattening. Check your tire pressure before driving after a long break, and be sure to fix any flats.
It’s also important to change your oil on a regular basis. Family Handyman recommends changing your oil according to your vehicle manufacturer’s specifications, which will likely either be time-based (such as every four months) or mileage-based (such as every 4,000 miles driven). Usually drivers hit their mileage-based limit first, but if you’re not driving much, you may find yourself hitting that time-based limit.
Generally, auto manufacturers recommend changing your car’s oil at least twice a year, but preferably more. If you’re going by mileage, they typically advise making the change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. This is imperative: failing to replace your oil frequently enough could lead to permanent damage to your engine.
To prevent further engine damage, Family Handyman aso recommends driving your car for 20 to 30 minutes per week, which will help prevent moisture from collecting in the engine.
Even if you’re taking a break from driving, you still need car insurance
Don’t think that just because you’re not driving you can stop paying for
car insurance. Most states require everyone who owns a car to have car insurance, and some punish uninsured drivers with fines or license plate suspension.
However, you may want to take this time to lower your insurance rates. With
Jerry, you can find the cheapest car insurance available by easily comparing rates from top companies. Even while sheltering-in-place, you need insurance—so might as well make sure it's affordable.