The Coronavirus Pandemic: At-Home Vehicle Maintenance

March 29, 2020

Here we find ourselves, a nation of commuters, now reduced to commuting from bedroom to kitchen and back. Car maintenance is not a high priority on anyone’s list right now, but it is important to keep your car in proper working condition so that if you need to make a last minute trip to the grocery store or doctor, your vehicle is ready and working when you need it. Here at Vyncs we’ve collected 5 of the most simple and cost effective ways to maintain the health of your vehicle that do not require a mechanic.

1. Drive your vehicle for a minimum of ten minutes, once or twice a week.
Have you ever wondered why those vintage car clubs get together and drive around once a week? It’s partially because the cars are beautiful and fun to drive, but also because those owners know that driving your vehicle is an important part of making sure that it can continue driving. People who store recreational vehicles know that fuel can go bad over the course of a season that their vehicle is out of use. Driving your vehicle forces you to replenish fuel periodically which helps keep the fuel in your tank fresh.

Driving your vehicle for ten minutes allows the oil in your car to reach a good boiling point and properly lubricate the engine. Another benefit of driving for this period of time is that you are recharging your battery as you accelerate. No one likes the feeling of turning the key and the engine not starting. Keeping your engine well lubricated, fresh gas, and a healthy vehicle battery are all important factors to make sure the engine does start when you turn the key.

2. Wash your car.
If you keep your vehicle parked in the driveway or on the street it will collect dust, tree sap and other debris. To operate your vehicle safely you need to be able to see clearly out of your front and rear windshield as well as any passenger windows. You can’t rely on windshield wipers to cut through tree sap. Aside from being able to safely see the road, a clean vehicle helps protect the paint from developing small cracks as debris expand and contract as temperature changes throughout the day. By protecting your paint with regular washing you are also protecting the metal your car’s frame is made out of, because the paint and finish help to delay rusting. If you do decide to step out to wash your car, look around for biodegradable soaps to avoid toxic runoff into your storm drains, and be wise about how much water you use - don’t just leave the hose running.

3. Change your windshield wipers.
Are you one of those people with floppy wiper blades? You’re not alone. Wiper blades that aren’t used very often can dry out and crack, which means they won’t fit the actual wiper. Luckily this is a super easy fix, but it does require the small effort of pulling off the old rubber blades and sliding on a new set. You can find plenty of helpful YouTube videos to demonstrate this process for you. If you have a tape measure or ruler available you can measure your wiper blades to know which sizes to purchase.
(Tip: Measure both of your wiper blades as many vehicles have one wiper that is smaller than the other). If you don’t have access to any measuring tools, you can check your user manual, or your local auto supply store can help you pick out the right set and you can install them in the parking lot! This is a quick and affordable repair that will save you a lot of headache the next time it rains.

4. Change your burnt out headlight or tail light.

In previous decades changing lights on vehicles was a big headache, you had to remove reflector panels and several other small components then put everything back together again. In most new vehicles the process of changing head and tail lights has changed to be much more simple and can easily be done in 20 minutes or less. You can look up vehicle specific tutorials online, but many tail lights are accessible from the trunk of your vehicle, requiring only a screwdriver to remove the entire tail light unit and access a burn out bulb. Most headlights can be removed from the engine compartment without removing the light fixture.
Some tips: If you are not sure what type of light bulb is in your lights, remove the old bulb and read the numbers written on the bulb to find out which model you need. It is also a good idea to wear nitrile gloves when putting in your new bulbs so that oils from your fingers are not left on the bulb, which can lead to the bulb becoming darkened or even shatter as the oil left by your hands becomes super-heated.

5. Change your oil.
This is number five on the list because it requires a few more tools, but if you have access to these tools, an oil change takes about 20 minutes, is not much more challenging than changing your tail lights, and can be done for about ⅓ of the price you pay at your usual oil change location. You’ll need a container like a bucket or very deep pan to catch your old oil as it drains, an oil filter, a few quarts of oil and a wrench to remove the cap on the bottom of your oil pan. Look up vehicle specific oil change videos to learn the location of your oil pan and oil filter so you know how to access those parts of your vehicle. Your vehicle manual will tell you the appropriate oil filter, but you can also find this information online. Once you drain the old oil, replace the cap on the oil pan, change your oil filter and add new oil, take the old oil and use a funnel to pour into the now empty container of oil. Do not pour oil into the street or onto your driveway. Most oil change locations and local recycling centers will take your old oil from you, free of charge.

These at home maintenance tips will help you keep your vehicle in good running condition while service centers experience limited hours and you are not using your vehicle as much as you normally would. Keep an eye out for upcoming blogs about more challenging at-home repairs for your vehicles.
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