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May 16, 2020

5 Things to Check Before Your First Drive in Months

With coronavirus restrictions easing around the Philippines, you may find yourself behind the wheel once more—for essential outings, of course. But after an extended period of non-use, it pays to take these five things in mind to prevent any possible car-related headache.

#1. Kick those tires

When your vehicle isn’t used for long periods of time, the tire pressure can decrease and result in flat-spotting. Flat-spotting occurs when a tire has been stationary under the weight of a vehicle which can result in vibration issues while driving.

Before you drive off, it’s best to check your tire pressure. If you’ve pumped it above the recommended pressure, it’s time to bring it back down to the recommended level indicated in your owner’s manual. If it’s too low, it’s time to put some air in.

Pay attention to any sign of flat-spotting. If you experience a thumping noise, vibration in the steering wheel and brake pedal, it’s a good idea to schedule a service appointment to have the tires looked at.

#2. Check those fluids

While checking the tire pressure, you should also look at general fluids, including engine oil, windshield wiper, coolant, and brake fluid. Make sure to inspect under the vehicle for any signs of fluid leaks before driving off.

Oh, and keep in mind that oil change intervals are not just based on mileage, but time as well. With that, check your owner’s manual if you’ve missed any possible oil change or inspection schedule.

#3. Warm her up first

Before driving off to do your essential errand, it’s a good idea to warm up your car first. Think of this as a dry run before venturing further away from your garage.

Start the car and after a few minutes on idle, walk around your vehicle to check for any leaks, or odd sounds. Take this time to also allow your car to charge the weakened battery. If a vehicle’s battery does discharge, it may be slow to start or may not start at all. Other signs could include flickering display screens, dim interior and exterior lighting, and driving and vehicle performance concerns.

Starting a vehicle now, and knowing that there’s a potential problem is better than getting stuck on the road.

#4. Make sure your brakes don’t break

Extended period of non-usage may increase corrosion and debris that build up on your car’s brake components, especially if it was left outdoors. This can result in noise issues and, in extreme cases, premature brake wear. At times, more extensive corrosion can cause vibration or pulsation in the brake system due to brake rotor thickness variation. This usually happens when the vehicle is parked for long periods of time in humid conditions.

With that, note any concerns with brake feel or noise. You may hear squeaks, groaning, and growling noises when the brakes are applied, but this will likely diminish with driving. Other possible signs of brake issues include pulsation in the brake pedal when applied, momentary brake drag or brakes not releasing. In any case, if the brakes don’t smooth out after a few kilometers, a trip to the shop may be in order.

#5. Get re-acquainted with your car and the road

Like wearing shoes (or pants) for the first time after a few months, getting behind the wheel may feel odd for you; that’s normal. With that, this last tip is focused more on you than your car.

Before heading out on longer trips, get re-acquainted with your car, and how it behaves. If you live in a relatively quiet neighborhood, take your car for a short drive around the block to make sure you get the feel of things. That way, you’ll already be at ease before dealing with other motorists.

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