Keeping Your Vehicles Healthy
The past few years have brought a lot of surprises and a lot less time driving. Between working from home, school from home, and everything having delivery, it’s possible to not use your car for days or weeks at a time. You are all taking more precautions to keep yourselves healthy, but it is important to also make sure that you are keeping your vehicles healthy. Even if you don’t have to go out, take your car for a drive at least every other day. Call it “Mommy Time”, or “Daddy Drives” or pile the whole family in the car and call it a field trip. Whatever you decide, taking your vehicle for a 10 -20 min drive will help prevent breakdowns and replacements. First Gear Automotive appreciates your business and wants to help you prevent any repairs whenever we can. Below is a list of the most common problems that occur from not driving your car regularly.
As you learned in our Winter Ready series the cold weather can cause your tires to lose pressure. However, flat spots and tire rot can also occur when your tires have been sitting for awhile.
Flat spotting occurs when the weight and pressure of your car bears down on the same patch of the tire continuously. This section of the rubber becomes softer or stiffer than the rest of the tire. Flat spotting can be temporary if your car has only been sitting for a few days or weeks. You will notice some vibrations for the first few kilometers that you are driving. This will disappear once the tires have reached an operational temperature. Permanent flat-spotting will occur if the tires have been standing still under vehicle load for a month or longer. This results in more severe flat-spotting that normal driving won’t remedy. This can be dangerous because it makes it hard to steer the car. When this happens the integrity of the tire has been compromised and it will have to be repaired or replaced.
Tire Rot is when a tire dries out and cracks. It can be very dangerous to drive your car with even one dry rot tire. The tire has less traction when turning corners. It also loses stability when braking and can even result in a tire blow out. If you notice cracks or brittle, dry surfaces on your tires call First Gear Automotive so we can help in keeping your vehicles healthy and you safe on the road.
GASKETS & SEALS
Your car contains many different seals and gaskets and each one is very important in your car running well. Gaskets and seals basically keep the fluids of your car where they are suppose to be. They keep the fluids in your engine from spilling out. They also keep fluids like oil and coolant separate from each other. Gaskets and seals that aren’t used the way they were meant to be break down and don’t function well.
It only takes one month for the gas in your tank to start breaking down. And did you know that gas can actually go bad? It reacts with oxygen which destabilizes it and causes it to become almost gel like. When this happens the gas loses its combustibility and becomes less effective. If bad gas is released into the fuel system it can increase the likelihood of a blockage occurring. It can also cause an engine to misfire and stall. Gas that is not kept in an air tight container (which your gas tank is not) will last around 6 months. You could notice a bad or off smell when your gas has gone bad. At this point you need to siphon out the old gas and replace it with new.
Keeping your vehicles healthy is as simple as keeping an eye on a few major components, like the oil. Engine oil breaks down faster when it is not being used than when it is. It also loses it’s lubrication and cooling properties. Parts of the engine that aren’t getting lubricated begin to corrode. Checking your oil after your car has been sitting for awhile will give you an idea of the quality. Notice the level of the oil, the colour and the consistency. If the oil level is low, you should top it up before you drive the car. If the oil is thick and gritty and the colour is dark that means that it is time for an oil change.
In our Winter Ready article you learned that your car battery drains even when your car is shut off, especially in cold temperatures. When a car sits for too long the battery can die entirely. This is because the alternator does not have the ability to do it’s job. The alternator is the electric generator that delivers power to the electrical components of the car and to the battery. The alternator cannot charge the battery when the car is not being driven. The older the car’s battery is, the more quickly it will drain while it sits. If the car is not being used, even new batteries will drain. A new car battery usually lasts about 3 to 4 years but this life span drops significantly when it is not being used. Driving your car regularly is the best way to ensure your keeping your vehicles healthy.
As we talked about before, when a car sits the fluids do not move, this includes the brake fluid. When driving a car the constant pressure of stopping and going ensures brake fluid moves throughout the system. If the brake fluid doesn’t flow it can cause the braking system to lose gripping ability. Rotors can also rust quickly when not in use. Rotors are part of your brake system and work with the brake pads to stop your car. Moisture can easily get to the rotors, especially in the winter and will rust them. After only a few weeks of inactivity your rotors can become so bad that they need to be machined or replaced. You can tell the brakes have gone bad if you feel grinding when applying the brakes, and/or hear a high pitched squeaking noise.
If you are not using your car, other creatures may be. When a vehicle sits unused for an extended period of time mice, chipmunks and other critters can move in and nest to your engine bay. Once in, they can do serious damage to wires and hoses. Spray peppermint oil or put out moths balls to keep your car rodent free if it will be sitting for awhile.
First Gear Automotive is committed to keeping your vehicles healthy. Contact us with any of your car needs (905) 335-3201 or www.firstgear.ca
Hoping you and your car are staying healthy and safe!