Eco Driving

How to Maintain Your Vehicle While It’s Sitting Idle

Winter car care oil check
April 30, 2020

With Canadians doing a lot less travel than usual, it’s likely that your vehicle is too. CAA has pulled together some recommendations on how to maintain your vehicle.

Maintaining your sedentary sedan

Cars are designed to be driven. Leaving a vehicle parked for a long stretch can be hard on certain components, like the brakes. Surface rust can form on rotors after only three or four days of inactivity. If the car sits idle for longer, corrosion can cause even more damage to the brake system. If your vehicle will remain inactive for more than 30 days avoid using the parking brake if your car is in a safe location where it cannot roll.

The battery will also gradually drain—to the point where you might not be able to start the car the next time you try to head out. Driving to your local grocery store or pharmacy for essentials is a great opportunity to keep your battery operational. You should aim to drive your vehicle between 20-30 minutes once a week.

If you own an electric vehicle, check the manufacturer’s recommendations (owner’s manual) on the minimum charge you should maintain.


  • Plug your car into a battery maintainer or a solar-powered battery maintainer to keep your vehicle battery charged
  • When businesses reopen, consider having your brakes properly cleaned and lubricated.
  • It’s a good idea to keep the gas tank three-quarters full to prevent condensation from forming inside.

The tire change can wait

Concerned that your vehicle is still sporting winter wheels? Don’t fret. Since you won’t be traveling long distances over the next several weeks, there’s no risk of damaging your winter tires. However, air can slowly leak out of tires, so check their pressure before you drive, and if needed, pump them up to the recommended level; this can usually be found on a label inside the driver’s door.


  • Put wooden blocks underneath your tires to keep the cement from drawing air pressure out of them.

Garages are sticking to essential repairs

Some repair shops are staying open during the government-mandated lockdown, but only for urgent and safety-related repairs. Summer tires, preventive maintenance, and non-emergency repairs are not a priority.


  • Set up an appointment for a vehicle checkup once the lockdown has been lifted.

Clean and disinfect your car

Take advantage of warmer days to deep clean your car’s interior and get rid of built-up contaminants, especially if you’re occasionally going out for supplies for yourself or your loved ones. Anything you touch should be cleaned and disinfected:

  • Steering wheel
  • Gear shifter
  • Seat belt buckle
  • Touch screen
  • Charging connector
  • Handles and controls
  • Key and key fob
  • Sun visors


  • Wear gloves in public and while cleaning – but never the same pair!

What are the best products to use to clean your car?

According to the health authorities, a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution (rubbing alcohol, Purell hand sanitizer, etc.) is effective against viruses. You can even use dish soap. Avoid hydrogen peroxide and bleach. Always test on a less visible area first to prevent discolouration, especially on more delicate materials like leather and vinyl.

  • Gently scrub surfaces with a small soft brush (like a makeup brush).
  • Lather well.
  • Rinse with a well-wrung damp cloth. Rinse repeatedly!

Be sure to clean off any winter debris, salt, brine, and dirt underneath and on your vehicle to prevent any rust or discolouration.

Check for critters

The underside of your car can be a cozy, shaded place to be, and so it’s not strange to see rats, mice, and maybe even insects find their way under the hood, behind the tires, or even in the exhaust pipe.


  • Check underneath your car and in your hood for any nests. Call animal control if any furry friends have made your vehicle home!

We hope these tips have been helpful and that you continue to stay safe and healthy during this difficult time.