How to Care for Your Vehicle in Today’s Environment – 2021 and Beyond
Conducting regular maintenance on your vehicle is as important as ever, even if your driving has been greatly reduced with virtual learning and working from home becoming commonplace for many motorists. In fact, not driving your vehicle for an extended period, or irregular usage for short trips, can lead to a number of unforeseen maintenance issues in the future if not properly cared for.
Even if you aren’t driving to work, dropping the kids off at school or taking long weekend drives, it’s still important to ensure you are nurturing your vehicle by taking regular, preventative measures. Preventative maintenance will help keep your vehicle performing at its best when you are ready to hit the road. There are several items on a vehicle that need to be maintained and if you neglect them, they can cause reliability and safety issues. Below is a list of critical items you should check and talk to your local automotive service shop technician about in order to keep your vehicle running properly:
- Motor Oil – If motor oil has been sitting in your idle vehicle for several months or has been only driven occasionally, it may be time for an oil change. Motor oil change intervals are set by your vehicle manufacturer based on mileage as well as time an can be found in your owner's manual. If your vehicle has not been driven for an extended amount of time or only occasionally, it is a good idea to change the vehicle’s motor oil before putting it back into service. Using a full synthetic motor oil such as Pennzoil Platinum® includes several benefits such as: cleaner pistons1, better fuel economy2, protects horsepower, unsurpassed wear protection3 and excellent performance in extreme temperatures.
- Battery – When a vehicle has not been driven for an extended period, you risk the battery losing its charge. There are a few key indicators that will alert you when it might be time to change your battery including; longer than normal vehicle start time, illuminated check engine light, or you notice a rotten egg smell. If your vehicle’s battery is unable to hold a charge, it should be checked and/or replaced – a weak battery can cause unneeded strain on the vehicle’s electrical system during startup.
- Brakes – A vehicle that has been sitting for a period of time may have light rust on the brake rotors and the hydraulic system may be slow to work at maximum efficiency when you first start driving. As you start driving again, apply the brake pedal lightly to help remove the rust and loosen moving parts. Also make a mental note to be aware of some of the first signs your vehicle could need brake maintenance such as: pulsations or vibrations in the brake pedal, longer stopping distances, you have to push the brake pedal further down for the brakes to engage, or loud screeching noises when the brakes are applied.
- Windshield Wipers – Check to be sure they still clean the windshield properly and replace them if they are worn or ripped. Your visibility will be reduced by wiper blades that smear or no longer clear water efficiently. Being able to see clearly is critical to safety when driving and helps prevent unnecessary accidents due to obstructed views.
- Tires – When a vehicle remains in the same location for extended periods of time, the weight of the vehicle may put pressure on your tires which can lead to flat spots. Before hitting the road, make sure to check the tires for any flat spots caused by the vehicle sitting in one place for too long. Also check the tread for irregular wear or low tread depth and the sidewalls for cracks or damage. Additionally, you should check the tire pressure is set to the amount recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. The proper tire pressure (PSI) can be found on the sticker, typically located on the inside of your driver’s side door.
While you’re having your vehicle serviced, some additional items to have checked by your local service technician include: power steering fluid level, transmission fluid level, wiper fluid level, coolant level, and a review of belts and hoses for any cracks for wear.
Proper maintenance of your vehicle is necessary to maintain the life and performance of your car or truck. It should be done regularly to help it remain ready to be driven more regularly again. Here are a few tips to make certain that a vehicle is ready for use after a prolonged period of time without being driven.
- Run the engine in the park position for 1-2 minutes to allow your motor oil proper time to circulate through the engine. Do not rev the engine.
- After warming up the vehicle, apply the emergency brake and then shift the transmission through the gears to allow the transmission to warm up and be lubricated. Make sure to remove the emergency brake before driving.
- Drive slowly and test the brakes, steering and turn signals. If you feel that any of these systems are not working properly, have them inspected or serviced immediately at your local service shop.
- Drive the vehicle for 25-35 minutes to ensure the engine is properly lubricated and can burn off any condensation that has accumulated in the engine over time.
Getting Your Vehicle Serviced
Many automotive service locations are now equipped to service your vehicle in a safe manner given the current environment. Many locations now offer online scheduling, contactless drop-off and pick-up, and even contactless payment. Before bringing your vehicle in to be serviced, call ahead to ask if all staff adhere to local mask wearing guidelines and if contact areas in the vehicle (door handles, steering wheel, shifter, etc.) will be sanitized before the vehicle is returned to you. If you choose to wait for the vehicle while it is serviced, be sure to maintain a safe distance from other customers and staff.
To find a location near you for a Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic oil change or other maintenance, visit our oil change locator .
Regular maintenance is important for your vehicle even if it is not being driven as much as it was in the past. You want to be certain that you can count on your car, SUV or pick-up truck to be in the best condition possible when you need it for daily local driving or for longer trips.
1 Based on Sequence IIIH results. Does not apply to Pennzoil Platinum® Euro motor oil.
2.Based on the latest industry standard..
3. Based on Sequence IVA wear test using SAE 5W-30.