As more states implement shelter-in-place orders, and more businesses encourage employees to work from home, you and your family may find your vehicles being driven far more infrequently than usual. Leaving cars parked for long periods of time can have unforeseen consequences that can impact both the reliability and potentially safety of the vehicles.

We’ll also cover what to do if something more serious goes wrong with your car.

Common Trouble Spots

When left unused, brake rotors can begin to develop rust on the surface of the rotors. If you leave your parking brake engaged for a long period of time, it can actually cause the brake pads to bind to the rotors. While this shouldn’t be a concern over a few weeks, if you know your car will be parked for a month or more we recommend leaving the parking brake off. Obviously, you should always put safety first and only do so on a flat surface. Brake repairs are always preferable to a runaway car.

Over time, your car’s battery can discharge and leave you needing to jump-start your car. You can plug your vehicle into a battery tender if you have one. Or if you know your car will be sitting for a long time, you can always disconnect the battery.

Even in states with shelter-in-place orders, repair shops and dealership service departments have been deemed necessary services and should remain open. Here are the steps we recommend taking if your car needs service that you can’t perform yourself.

Call ahead
Make sure to call your service shop or dealership. It may have limited hours during the pandemic, and you should set an appointment rather than just walking in to cut down on the time you’ll need to spend checking your vehicle in. There’s also a chance that if you need scheduled maintenance, it may be worth postponing until after social-distancing measures are no longer necessary. If you’re not driving much, or if the maintenance is relatively minor, it might be able to wait. Your service associate can help you make that decision.

Plan to wait or arrange transportation
If your required service won’t take long, you might make the choice to wait. Ask ahead of time about the waiting area and whether it’s easy to maintain the recommended distance from employees and other customers. Also ask if the space is being regularly cleaned. Bring whatever supplies you need to make you feel safe and comfortable.

If your service will take longer and you’re getting a loaner or rental car, make sure to sterilize commonly touched surfaces.

Sterilize your vehicle after pickup
Your car may be returned to you clean, and extra attention may have been paid to the interior by conscientious service people, but for your own safety and peace of mind we recommend sterilizing common touch points inside your vehicle.