Gephardt: Why We Should Pay Attention To Our Cars During Quarantine

Apr 9, 2020, 6:50 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 10:02 pm

SANDY, Utah — In this time of self-quarantines and staying home during the COVID-19 outbreak, it is important to pay attention to our cars. Even if we’re not driving, just staying in park for an extended period of time, experts said a whole set of new, costly problems could arise.

“You’ve got to drive at least once a week, or start it up and let it run for a little while,” said Mark Robison, owner and manager of Hillside Tire & Service in Sandy.

But just letting your car sit idle is not enough, he added.

“The brake rotors on a car will rust sitting there in somebody’s driveway” Robison explained. “When it starts to rain or snow, moisture gets on them. They’ll (brake rotors) actually rust and leave little rust divots in your rotors. It can do permanent damage, and then you will have to replace them.”

Batteries can lose their charge if your car sits unused for an extended time. Experts say a weekly 15-mile drive can help batteries from going dead.  Rust build-up in brake rotors can become damaging, but the occasional drive will help prevent that as well as flat spots in tires. Mark Robison, owner/manager of Hillside Tire & Service warns rodents can crawl up a long-sitting car and nest under the hood and chew the wiring.

Robison strongly encouraged Utahns not using their cars right now to take at least a 15-mile drive once a week. That will help prevent the build-up of rust in the brakes and another potential problem: flat spots in your tires.

“The bottom part of the tire will get a flat spot in it. So, when you get in the car to go drive the car, it’ll actually thump going down the road,” explained Robison. “Sometimes it’ll go away, sometimes it won’t. It will do permanent damage.”

If that’s not bad enough, the gas in your tank can go bad. The chemical components used in gasoline to give it its octane level and other characteristics tend to evaporate over time.

“The (way) gasoline is made these days,” said Robison, “it can’t sit for a long time. 30 days – probably max before it turns into this green Jello of terrible stuff.”

Gas is not the only thing that goes bad, as you would find out after letting your car sit for two or three weeks.

“You stick the keys in the ignition, go to start her up, it’s not going to start,” Robinson said. “Batteries go dead.”

Robison also warned that rodents — mice, rats, squirrels even yellow-bellied marmots — can work their way into your car.

“If your car sits awhile, they’ll find it,” assured Robison. “They crawl up from the bottom of your car through your front end linkage.”

The rodents often nest under the hood, and chew up your car’s wiring.

“They love wiring; it tastes like candy to them,” he said.

One more tip — tires will lose air pressure over time, so check each tire’s pressure. Robison said to make sure the PSI matches what it says in the sticker on the driver side door jamb.

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Gephardt: Why We Should Pay Attention To Our Cars During Quarantine