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Dear Start My Car,
On Friday South Africa will wake up to a strange reality. Confined to our homes (unless we are deemed to be essential workers), we have been asked to fight a war by just staying still. Our role is to stop the spread of this disease and I invite you to join me in doing this to the best of your ability, It is likely to be frustrating at times but we need to remember why we are doing this.
I have included an article below, written by a friend Howard Feldman. Read it and enjoy it.
Mostly, use the time to do the things that you have not been able to do for some time. Connect with the people around you, do an online course, read, garden and make sure to grow.
We of course will not be able to deliver, but we will keep in touch and check how you are doing.
Be safe and stay healthy.
As we begin the 21 day - we hope – lockdown, we thought we would take a break from the traditional “What’s that noise” article to focus on something more pertinent; how to prepare your car for a few weeks of no use.
Most of our vehicles will be standing idle for this period, or at least not driven any significant distance. Cars are built to be driven and standing for a substantial amount of time will cause adverse effects on your vehicle. While three weeks doesn’t seem long – who knows that the shutdown won’t be extended, or for how long.
Let’s rather err on the side of caution, so when the lockdown is over and we want to get back on the road, we don’t find a dead battery, or – worse yet – a damaged engine, ruined tyres and a rat’s nest under the hood.
Below are some tips on how best to store your car:
Keep It Covered- A garage is an ideal place to store a vehicle. This will protect it from the elements and keep it at a temperature that's relatively stable. If you don't have a garage consider getting a weatherproof car cover, which will help keep the car clean and dry.
Keep It Charged- An unattended battery will eventually lose its charge. Letting a car idle for 10 minutes will get the engine up to normal operating temperature but accomplish little else. Driving the car for several miles wakes up the transmission, brakes, suspension, power steering, climate system (including the air conditioner) and all the fluids, seals and gaskets for those components that have been on a long snooze.
If possible, try drive your vehicle atleast once a week for 15 minutes. We are allowed to go to the supermarkets, so choose a further one to be able to give your car the opportunity to drive for a few minutes longer. Driving the car periodically has several benefits. It will maintain the battery's charge, help the car "stretch its legs," and keep the engine and other components adequately lubricated. It is also a good idea to run the air conditioner to keep the parts in working order and the air quality fresh.
If you have two cars at home during this period, alternate which one you to take to the supermarket so you can keep both vehicles charged.
If you are not planning on going out, there are two other options. Neither option is starting the car and letting it idle for a few minutes, as this has proved to drain the battery even more. More power is used starting the car, then a few minutes of idling can replace.
The low-tech solution is to disconnect the negative battery cable. You'll likely lose the stereo presets, time and other settings. If you want to keep those settings and ensure that your battery starts the moment you return, use a battery charger, also known as a trickle charger. This device hooks up to your car battery on one end and plugs into a wall outlet on the other. It delivers just enough electrical power to prevent the battery from discharging.
Clean It Up- It may seem counter-intuitive to get the car washed when you're about to put it away for months, but it is an easy step and one you shouldn't be overlooked.
Water stains or bird droppings left on the car can damage the paint. Make sure to clean the wheels and undersides of the fenders to get rid of mud, grease or tar. For added protection, polish and give the car a coat of wax.
Top Off the Tank- This is another long-term car storage tip. Fill the tank with fuel if you expect the car to be in storage for more than 30 days. Topping it off will prevent moisture from accumulating inside the fuel tank and keep the seals from drying out.
You should also purchase a fuel stabilizer prevent ethanol buildup and protect the engine from gum, varnish and rust. The fuel stabilizer will prevent the fuel from deteriorating for up to 12 months.
Change the Oil- Consider getting the oil changed if you will be storing the vehicle for longer than 30 days. Manufacturers like Ford recommends this step in its owner's manuals, saying that used engine oil has contaminants that could damage the engine.
Don't Use the Parking Brake- It's usually a good idea to use the parking brake, but don't do it when you leave a car for longer periods of time. If the brake pads make contact with the rotors for too long, there is a chance that they might fuse. Instead, purchase a tyre stopper, also called a chock, to prevent the car from moving.
Prevent Flat Spots- Make sure your tires are inflated to the recommended tyre pressure. If a vehicle is left stationary for too long, the tires could develop flat spots as the weight of the vehicle presses down on the tires' footprints. This process occurs at a faster rate in colder temperatures and in vehicles equipped with performance tires or low-profile tires.
If your car will be in storage for more than 30 days, consider taking the wheels off and placing the car on jack stands at all four corners. This step requires more work, but it can save you from needing a new set of tires. Your tires will be in much better shape when you return if they haven't been bearing the weight of the vehicle for a month or more.
Keep Critters Out-A garage will keep your car dry and relatively warm. Unfortunately, those are also two things that make a garaged car attractive to rodents. There are plenty of places in your car for critters to hide, and plenty of things for them to chew on.
The last thing you want is for them to get hungry and munch on the wiring harnesses and other parts made of soy and other organic materials that are used on modern vehicles. Try to cover any gaps where a mouse could enter, such as the exhaust pipe or an air intake. Steel wool works well for this.If you want to take a more proactive approach, lay down a few mousetraps and some rat poison. Just make sure to check the garage periodically in case there are some casualties.
In summary- We know that this lock-down period is hard on everyone out there, and when it's over and we are finally free to go out, the last thing we want is for our car to act up and refuse to start! Follow these guidelines above and reach out to us if you need any technical advice or part queries.
While we are unable to ship during this period, you are still welcome to order parts in order that they are reserved for you and do not sell out. You are also welcome to and reach out our dedicated online team for any queries or questions.
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