Are you, like most Americans, using your vehicles less than normal? With many people unable to travel or go to most social events as well as either not working or working from home, vehicles of all types now sit idle more than ever. But not using your car or truck means you should also take steps to protect it even now. How? Discover a few important ways, depending on your current usage.
1. Insure It Properly
Just because your car is not on the road as much does not mean that things cannot happen to it. If it sits outside, it remains exposed to the elements — including spring storms and overhead dangers. An unattended vehicle can be a lure to car thieves or those who want take potentially valuable stuff inside. It might be vandalized, too.
Many owners have the temptation to reduce or drop insurance coverage if they perceive that the usage does not justify it. But be wary of dropping too much coverage unnecessarily. Most states require that a car that spends any time on the road — even just a little — have liability insurance to protect others. Similarly, if you have an auto loan, the lender usually has its own requirements as to coverage.
Dropping collision coverage is an option for older cars not on the road, but it may not save enough money to be cost effective. It may also remove coverage for anything that happens to the car in your own driveway. A better option may be to temporarily switch to a low-mileage insurance policy.
2. Take It for a Spin
If possible, fire up a little-used vehicle on a regular schedule to take it for a ride. If you have the option of driving it around a bit, consider traveling at least 10 miles in standard conditions. If you cannot actually take it on the road, though, run it in place for at least 15 minutes to keep everything functioning.
How often should you start and warm up your car? This would depend on the manufacturer's or mechanic's recommendation. The battery may need recharging at least every two weeks, so a schedule that considers this is a good starting point.
3. Keep It Clean
An unattended car can suffer slow-moving damage if left dirty. Bird droppings, tree sap, and roadside chemicals can damage the paint, as can the simple buildup of dirt and debris. Rust from a wet winter or spring will cause deeper damage to the body. A quick and regular cleaning helps get these dangerous compounds off the car before they can cause trouble.
4. Check Its Condition
A thorough cleaning session also provides an opportunity to check in on the vehicle's overall condition. Rodents and small wildlife tend to get into unused cars, so open up the hood and check out all its nooks and crannies with a light. You may also want to check underneath for signs of any infestations.
5. Store It Properly
One of the best ways to protect the car right now is to find a good place to store it. If you have a garage, this is the best place to keep it — and it gives you an excuse to clean out or organize the garage during lockdown. If you cannot use a garage, you might want to set up a temporary carport or use a properly fitted car cover to provide at least some respite from the elements.
6. Continue Regular Servicing
If possible, maintain regular checkups and a modified servicing schedule. While you may not put on the mileage, various car parts will still break down even when sitting idle. The battery will wear down, belts and wires can corrode, and fluids will wear out. Talk with your mechanic about the best way to maintain a good service schedule based on your current usage.
7. Consider Long-Term Storage
If you really will not use the car at all, you might want to prep it properly for long-term storage and place it in a safe area. This is a more permanent solution, so it should only be done if you do not need to access the vehicle for months.
Talk to a mechanic about how to prepare your particular vehicle, but steps often include thoroughly cleaning the car in advance, removing the battery and spark plugs, chocking the tires, and putting in fresh oil filters. You would also want to store it in a controlled environment where it will not be an easy target by passersby.
However you approach the protection of your car, truck, or RV during the pandemic, planning ahead will help keep it ready to get back on the road. L.A. Insurance can help you start by finding the best way to insure all your vehicles during these unprecedented times. Call today to make an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you.