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The past two years has been a challenging period for many people as we have accepted some of realities of a pandemic, such as working from home. While this may mean accumulating fewer miles and less wear and tear on our vehicle, it doesn’t mean we should forego basic maintenance and upkeep.

Vehicles are meant to be driven – and being parked for extended periods risks causing a number of mechanical issues, including the battery losing charge, tires gaining flat spots, and rubber components such as belts and wipers drying out. The rule of thumb is that cars or trucks should be driven at least once a week for 20 minutes or longer to ensure that the battery is charged and wearing the rust off the brake disc – while also providing an opportunity to shake off some cabin fever.

For people who still have a limited need to drive, stretching out service intervals within the suggested vehicle manufacturers’ guidelines, may make sense and won’t compromise an otherwise well-maintained car or truck. However, there are a number of considerations, including the following:

• If you drive a gas-powered vehicle, fill the tank with gas to full if you expect the vehicle to be parked for a period of time and make sure to follow a regular oil change plan. A full gas tank will help prevent moisture from accumulating inside the fuel tank, which could lead to poor operation.
• To avoid flat spots in your tires, be sure to move your vehicle from time to time so that the full weight of your vehicle is dispersed evenly on your tires over time. Use a tire pressure gauge to check the pressure of your tires — the correct pressure can be found in your Owner’s Manual.
• Run the air conditioner and heater on occasion to keep all the parts working and air quality fresh.
• Windshield wipers tend to last about six months during the winter before needing to be replaced, with harsh winter conditions being especially tough on them. If they are less than 6 months old, you may get more service by simply wiping them down with a paper towel moistened with glass cleaner.
• While you’re at it, check the level of the windshield fluid in the under-hood reservoir. And take a look at your hoses and drive belts to see how worn they are. You’ll want to keep an eye out for cracking, soft spots or any other signs of wear and tear as worn parts are more likely to fail as the weather warms up.
• And — check for any food, snacks, beverages, or disinfectant wipes that were left behind. Even better: vacuum the carpet. These steps can reduce the risks of mildew and unpleasant odors from developing inside your vehicle.

If you want to treat your car to the ultimate cleaning and protection, a complete spring detailing and vehicle service by your local new car dealer may be exactly what you are looking for. Any contamination like water stains or bird droppings left on the car can damage the paint. Likewise, the lingering effects of salt and sand, can damage the finish and encourage corrosion if they remain unchecked.

As we move closer to warm, sunny weather, your vehicle will thank you for having taken steps to ensure it is well-maintained – so you can truly enjoy a road trip to the beach or any activity that puts you behind the wheel.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at [email protected]