It’s likely that you’ve been driving a lot less than normal recently, if you’re working from home and only going out for essential errands. That may actually not be good for your car — they’re designed to be driven, after all — and could end up costing you money in the long run. The good news is that there are some simple things you can do to help.
Parking brake mechanisms can seize up if they’re used for too long, so unless your car is parked on a hill, leave the parking brake off. Make sure there are no lights or other accessories left on in your car that could drain the battery, and if you’re planning to keep your car parked for an extended period of time, consider installing a trickle charger to help ensure you’ll be able to start the engine later.
Take care of the dirt and dust your car may attract by regularly brushing it, or washing it with soap and water. That can help avoid damage to the paint.
On the Road
If possible, take one drive a week that’s long enough to get your car’s engine fully warmed up and the fluids flowing (at least 15-20 minutes). When you first start moving, apply the brakes gently a couple of times to remove rust from your brake rotors. Even if the weather doesn’t require it, turn on the air conditioner for a little while to make sure the HVAC system continues to operate properly.
Make a stop at a gas station and fill your tank to at least three-quarters of capacity, then check that your tires are at the manufacturer’s recommended pressure reading, if not higher. Doing these two things can help keep moisture from getting into your fuel, and help keep flat spots from forming on your tires, while your car is parked.
At the Mechanic
You probably know that following your car’s recommended maintenance schedule can help prevent trouble from developing later. Although you may be putting fewer miles on your car right now, keep in mind that many maintenance items appear on the schedule as either a mileage or an amount of time. Therefore, check your calendar to figure out if you’re due for an oil change or other regular service.
Unfortunately, unexpected breakdowns may still occur. These can lead to expensive repairs, especially if you’re no longer covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Consider purchasing an extended warranty, which will cover repair or replacement of many of your car’s systems and parts for a monthly fee. That could help with your budgeting, allowing you to avoid large out-of-pocket expenses.