John Levasseur, right, and Andrew Perkins replace the struts on a Ford Mustang at Levasseur Auto Repair in Lewiston on Monday. Levasseur said business had slowed down to the point where he had to lay off one of his service technicians. “Hopefully we can get him back to work soon,” Levasseur said. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

While you may be in self-isolation because of the coronavirus pandemic, your vehicle on the other hand doesn’t like to sit idle.

“You aren’t banned from going out and taking a ride, take a ride somewhere, take a ride around the block,” Shane Green, general manager and service manager at RDA Automotive in Lewiston, said. “Take a ride for an hour or something … your car will be fine.”

If you can’t take a drive, local experts suggest running the engine 10 to 15 minutes several times a week to keep everything running as smooth as possible.

“I would start it up a few times a week to keep the battery going, keep the battery charged up,” John Levasseur of Levasseur Auto Repair in Lewiston said.

Levasseur said the battery draws from the computer inside the vehicle all the time, which can drain the battery. Running the car for 10 to 15 minutes a couple of days will allow to the battery to recharge.

Having your car sit for a long period of time isn’t good for it.

“You don’t want it to sit still, that’s one of the worst things you can do for a car,” Nick Smith, manager of Meineke Car Care Center in Auburn, said. “If you can, at least drive it every so often to keep things moving in there so it doesn’t seize up and all that stuff.”

Running your vehicle once or twice a week will also help the fluids.

“Maybe more so oil and transmission fluids, they will get all gummy up at the bottom of the pans, they will not flow as well through the systems,” Smith said.

Caleb Levasseur, right, and Andrew Perkins replace the struts on a Ford Mustang at Levasseur Auto Repair in Lewiston on Monday. Levasseur is a sophomore at Lewiston High School and comes to his father John Levasseur’s garage to help while school is closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Caleb received news Monday that he was accepted into the automotive technology program at the Lewiston Regional Technical Center for his junior year. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Jay Sinon, an instructor with NASCAR’s Technical Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina, told the Charlotte Observer if drivers aren’t using their vehicles for several months the best thing to do is change the oil as a precaution.

As for the gas tank, the best thing is to keep it as full as possible for the time being.

“I wouldn’t put any treatment or anything in the fuel tank,” Levasseur said. “If anything, I would keep it full.”

For those who filled up before the stay-a-home order and business shutdowns, there isn’t too much too worry about right now. Fuel issues arise within six months to year, according to Levasseur. After that, he suggests putting an additive or system treatment in the tank.

Fuel itself may lose its muster if it sits in a tank for too long.

“Even gas, if you let it sit in there for too long, it can lose its octane,” Smith said. “It kind of floats away.”

As for tires, there’s not much to worry about there.

“This time of the year, you are better off,” Smith said. “In the winter in the cold, you can lose pressure in the tires and that stuff. This time of the year, I don’t know if I would worry that much.”

Repair shops haven’t seen customers bring in vehicles with issues due to sitting too long, but some have had a dip in business.

“We are staying pretty busy here,” Green said. “People are just doing the general maintenance that goes on their cars. We didn’t see too bad of a dropoff when the pandemic hit. There was a little bit, people were calling up, they wanted to hold on to their money they had because they weren’t sure what was going to happen, so they weren’t doing repairs.”

Early on Meineke saw a dip in business.

“The first few weeks when they shut everything down, we were dead, but it’s been picking back up,” Smith said. “It’s slowly picking back up as time goes on.”


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