Vehicle Maintenance

How To Keep Your Vehicle Healthy During Periods of Lesser Use

Strict Maintenance Is Essential – Even When You Are Not Driving That Much

Maintaining a vehicle that you drive frequently requires a lot of work! You must check and change the oil, replace the tires, keep it clean – the list goes on. Do I still need to follow a maintenance schedule if I will not be driving it for a while or am now driving less miles than I have been? Is a question we have been asked from many of our customers over the last year.

The answer is YES!

Follow these tips to ensure your vehicle remains in tip top condition.

Take it for a spin occasionally.

Make sure you drive it at least 10-15 miles and reach speeds above 50 mph at twice a month. When you run the engine, fluids can circulate, and your oil is distributed to the parts that need lubrication. When you do not drive your vehicle for a while, fluids can pool, and your engine may lose that essential lubrication. Your vehicle’s alternator also needs a running engine to keep your battery charged. If your vehicle has not been started in a while, your battery will eventually die. It is also important to get your tires moving whenever possible to help them maintain flexibility.

Maintain Your Oil Change Schedule.

When it comes to oil and other essential fluids, it is a good idea to follow the “whichever comes first” rule. Most oils recommend that you change it every 3750 – 5000 miles, or every 6 months, whichever comes first. When you start your car without driving it, or only take short trips your vehicle does not reach full operating temperature.  This leaves condensation in the exhaust and oil which will not be burned off – and can potentially cause damage in the long run.

Should I Be Worried About My Car’s Brakes.

When you are not driving your car, rust forms on the brake rotors- especially if it’s parked outside, exposed to the elements.  It does not take long; in a matter of days, you can find build up starting on the rotors.  When left for longer periods that rust can then get into the brake pad lining when you do drive. Resulting in noise, uneven braking and brake pedal pulsation.  Driving the car as described above at least once a week can minimize this considerably.

What About Tires?

Tires can develop small leaks over time and slowly leak air, even if you are not driving regularly they develop something called “tire rot” which causes the rubber to become brittle and hard. That’s why it’s important to check your tire pressure from time to time. If you are uncertain what pressure you need to maintain, consult your owner’s manual, the tire sidewall, or the specification sticker inside the driver’s door.  When you are ready to hit the road again, you will not have to worry about a flat!

Disconnect The Battery!

While infrequent driving can compromise battery life. Long idle periods are almost a certain death.  If you are not planning on driving your vehicle for a long period of time, you might consider disconnecting the battery. This can help prevent corrosion from occurring on or near the terminals.

Wiper Blades Check Them Often!

Sun, Snow, Heat, Cold, Dirt, Debris, Ice. Almost every element wreaks havoc on your wipers.  So how do we combat this?

  1. Defrost and scrape before use
  2. Keep it clean
  3. Never Run the wipers on a dry windshield
  4. Position the blades up, off the windshield when it snows or freezes
  5. Replace them twice a year

Would you prefer to let the professional Hyundai Certified Technicians take care of this for you?

Clean The Exterior Regularly

Leaves and sticks that eventually collect on your car can be harmful. When plant matter accumulates with moisture, the acid contained within can gradually eat away at your paint and potentially degrade plastic and rubber seals.

If your car is going to be sitting idle for a while, make sure to clean it occasionally, to prevent that slow damage and deterioration. Alternatively, you can find several car covers that can keep plant matter off your car and prevent the sun from damaging it as well.

Clean the Interior Often

We all do our best to keep the inside of our vehicles clean and free of food and wrappers. But it can be difficult to keep it spotless and sometimes a stray French fry gets lost between the seats. While a few stray crumbs may not cause lingering odors, they can certainly attract pests if it’s stationary for too long.

Before you lock your vehicle down for an extended period of time, give the inside a thorough inspection and vacuum all those nooks and crannies.

You would believe how many issues we see where pests caused considerable damage to our customers’ cars.  These simple steps will ensure you do not suffer the same fate.

Vehicle Maintenance

Smoky Air Isn’t Just Bad For You, It Harms Your Vehicle As Well

The hundreds of wildfires that are currently raging across the west coast of the United States are contributing to the worst air quality seen in decades. With cities like Portland, Seattle, and right here in Spokane having the worst air quality of anywhere in the world. Breathing in too much wildfire smoke can make anyone sick, but is particularly damaging to high risk groups such as the elderly or anyone with respiratory issues.

Protecting Yourself at Home

If you are experiencing bad air quality in your area due to the wildfires there are a few ways to protect yourself and keep you and your family safe and healthy while in your home.

  • Keep all windows and doors closed at your home.
  • If you have air conditioning, use the recirculate function. Make sure the air filter on your furnace or air conditioning system is clean. If the filter is dirty, replace it with a new filter.
  • If your house is too warm to keep the windows closed consider using an air purifier.
  • If you are using a ceiling fan to recirculate air make sure to clean the fan of any dust or debris.

Protecting Yourself on the Go

The average American spends just under an hour commuting to and from work every day. With personal vehicles being the primary mode of transportation for 85% of Americans, your in-car smoke protection is only as good as your filter. 

Most car manufacturers recommend changing your air filter every 12,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first, regardless of how dirty your air filter appears to be. A clean cabin filter will keep the smoky air outside and clean air inside while driving. Besides checking your cabin air filter consistently and changing it as necessary here a few ways to avoid breathing in smoke while driving your vehicle.

  • While driving, always keep windows fully rolled up to let the cabin air filter do its job
  • If using air conditioning, make sure to use the recirculate setting to cycle the clean air in the vehicle. 
  • During particularly smokey or dusty areas ensure the air on the vehicle is turned off to not clog up the filter with dust, smoke and debris.

How Smoke Can Harm Your Vehicle

Smoke from wildfires can cause serious issues to your vehicle if it is not properly addressed. Here are some common problems related to smoke:

  1. Strange Engine Noises – When your car is idling, you should feel and hear the smooth vibrations of an efficient engine. If you notice unusual noises, in particular a coughing, popping or spitting noise, it suggests that the engine isn’t getting enough airflow, which means your air filter needs to be replaced. What has actually happened in your engine is the air filter has become dirty or clogged. This reduces the airflow, changing the air-fuel mixture. The rich fuel mixture creates a black soot residue which covers the spark plugs. The noise comes from the spark plugs not firing properly due to this residue. Dirty spark plugs can also cause problems with starting your car and misfiring.
  2. Decreased Power and Performance – If you noticed that your vehicle isn’t as responsive and powerful as it usually is, there’s a good chance a dirty air filter is preventing your engine from receiving the clean air it needs to perform optimally. Simply replacing your air filter can eliminate this issue.
  3. Lower than Usual Fuel Economy – Decreasing fuel economy is a clear sign of a bad or dirty air filter. A bad or dirty air filter restricts air flow, lowering the oxygen in the mixture. Your engine compensates for this by consuming more fuel to produce enough power to move the same distance or speed as you would with a clean filter.
  4. Black Smoke or Flames in the Exhaust System – An insufficient air supply means your engine will be running on a fuel-rich mixture, which won’t burn completely before it enters the exhaust to leave the car as a black soot-like residue. This residue can be seen as black smoke. Alternatively, the heat in the exhaust might ignite the unburnt fuel, causing flames at the end of the exhaust and a popping sound.
  5. Smell of Gas or Petrol in the Exhaust System – If you smell gas (petrol) when starting the car, it’s because insufficient air is entering the fuel injection system and the excess unburnt fuel exits the car through the exhaust pipe (hence the smell). When you replace the air filter, the smell should go.
  6. Check Engine Light – An inadequate supply of air can result in carbon deposits accumulating in the engine, which will eventually trigger your check engine light. If the light comes on, check your air filter to see if it needs replacing before you run other, more expensive diagnostics.

As you can see, a dirty air filter can cause numerous problems for your vehicle if it isn’t changed regularly. During times of low air quality both filters in your vehicle become dirty and clogged much quicker than usual. Not sure how to check your air filters? No problem! Come visit our service department for a no charge filter check to make sure that you are and your vehicle are staying safe and healthy.