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As you shelter in place, don’t forget about your car

Michael Riecke
for WRVO News

It has been more than three weeks since schools closed and the governor ordered non-essential employees to work from home. It has changed routines and has left a machine on which many once relied sitting idle. 

That’s why AAA of Western and Central New York is offering a friendly reminder to drivers.  If you’re not taking your car out often, it’s important to let it run every couple of days.

Cari Knight’s car sat in the driveway of her Carthage home for seven days before she took it to the store.

“I noticed as soon as I backed out of my driveway. The brakes were squealing and sounded like they were grinding,” Knight said.

Knight’s experience is to be expected, AAA Syracuse Fleet Manager Todd Ingraham said.

“When you do go out for your first ride and apply those brakes, you are going to hear an abrasion noise. That’s the brake pads taking that surface rust off the rotors,” Ingraham said.

If the squealing and grinding stop after you drive a bit, there’s no need to see a mechanic, Ingraham said.  Your car’s tires, on the other hand, may need some attention.

“One of the big things when vehicles are sitting, tires will lose pressure even if they don’t have holes or anything like that. If you can put air in, put air in,” Ingraham said.  

Other issues can be prevented by letting the engine run for 15 to 20 minutes every other day.

“It gets the fluids going through the engine. It circulates the oil. It circulates the coolant,” Ingraham said.

It can also give the battery a boost unless your car has gone several days without running.

“The 15-20 minute idle time may not necessarily recharge your battery,” Ingraham said. “The best thing to do for that, especially if it’s been sitting for two weeks, is to get out and take a drive around the neighborhood. Driving it actually does good.”

If your car does break down, tow trucks and auto repair shops remain open.

“We’re definitely out there to help our community members out,” Ingraham said.