By Mikko David
If you are one of the many who decided to commit to stay at home during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and abstained from driving your car unless you really had to, congratulations! Your being a “homeliner” has helped prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and may have saved lives.
But as the economy slowly reopens and certain parts of the country transition into General Community Quarantine (GCQ) status, you will soon be driving out again to go to work or fulfill essential duties. And because your car was benched for what might have been a good two months, here are some tips on how get it ready again for the hustle and bustle of the daily commute.
Wash and sanitize your car
Having a clean and presentable car, makes driving a more pleasant experience. If you have not spent the better part of the lockdown weeks tidying your car, now is the best time to have a go at it. A thorough car and engine wash along with some interior and exterior detailing work should start you off on the right foot.
While having your vehicle cleaned, inspect it inside and out to see if there are any engine, under chassis and bodywork issues or damage that might need immediate attention. And since even during GCQ you will still need to roam in a sanitized environment, having clean interiors to begin with will allow you to easily maintain a safe and healthy space for you and your passengers.
Catch up on maintenance
Brand new cars are required to visit the dealer service center every six months, or 10,000 kilometers to keep them in tiptop shape. But with the lockdown in place, most brands generously offered to extend your car’s service due dates up to 30 days and in some cases, even more. If your car’s Preventive Maintenance Schedule (PMS) got sidelined during the ECQ period, it is now time to call your dealership and schedule a service appointment. Just remember to follow health and safety protocols at the showroom or service center.
If your ride is out of warranty or if you are supervising the maintenance of your own car, it is best to service it before going back to the urban jungle or travelling out of town. Change the oil, inspect or replace the fluids, clean the brakes, check battery life, and make sure all electricals like lights and wipers are working. Cars also need tender loving care to keep them operating at their best and to give you peace of mind on the road.
Keep a cool head
Air conditioning systems tend to fail at the most inopportune time due to poor maintenance or continuous use. If it has been a while since your car’s air conditioning system was last maintained, have it done now while there is still some time before the rainy season comes in. Nothing worse than foggy windshields when driving.
This is also the best time to replace your car’s cabin filter with a fresh one. Using disinfectants inside the car, as you would when there is an ongoing pandemic, can loosen dirt and grime lodged in those filters and release a foul, sour stench every time you turn on the air conditioning. So, do yourself a favor and have this part replaced now.
Top up the air
The air pressure inside your car’s tires slowly leak out during prolonged storage of your car. That is why basic tire maintenance requires you to check those PSIs at least every month. Having the tires at their recommended pressures improves fuel economy, delivers the car’s intended ride and handling, and lessens tire wear. Just adhere to the tire pressure label on the driver’s side B-pillar for the ideal values. While you are at it, inspect for and remove foreign objects such as nails or screws lodged in your tires that might cause a puncture.
Stock-up on hygiene essentials
Make no mistake about it, novel coronavirus quarantine measures will be around for a long time. That is why it is important to bring along your own stash of hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes, and even extra face masks to maintain a clean and healthy environment inside your car. Regularly wipe down high-touch surfaces like the steering wheel, shift knob, door handles and sidings to lessen the possibility of your car becoming an incubus of viral plague. Just remember not to leave alcohol spray bottles or flammable sanitizers inside your car when you park.
Brush up on the New Normal rules
The Inter–Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) is at the forefront of managing the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With more and more private cars hitting the roads again soon, you should take to heart basic guidelines to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus. Remember, only two people will be allowed per row inside your car; wearing face masks when there are passengers inside the vehicle is a must; and travel or work permits and identification cards should be with you when on the road.
Like in the last two and a half months of ECQ, the success of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 as we gradually open the economy lies in our being responsible and cooperative citizens. Staying at home and limiting travel to essential runs will go a long way in helping us deal with this pandemic. But if you must go out and drive, do not forget to be equally responsible for those around you. At the end of the day, their health and safety is just as important as yours.
Motoring and motorsports are two of Mikko’s greatest passions. Combining more than twenty years of professional automotive photography and videography experience with years of touring car racing competition, and a deep understanding of the car industry, from both the manufacturers’ and consumers’ points of view, have given him a unique and insightful perspective in the motoring beat.