Getting Back on the Road: Maintenance During COVID-19

With many cars sitting for an extended period as we battle the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to pay special attention to signs that your vehicle needs maintenance. Here are a few pointers:

Listen up! car maintenance COVID-19

If you haven’t driven anywhere in a while, you’ll be hyper-aware of any unusual sounds that are coming from your engine—even the ones that might’ve become commonplace on your daily commute. Keep an ear out for any thumping, banging, clicking, and squealing sounds, especially if they intensify while accelerating, braking, or turning sharply. You should also listen for:

Low-pitch humming or whirring under car: This could be caused by any number of things. The differential could need lubricant, the transmission may be failing, the u-joints might be worn or a wheel bearing could be shot, especially if the noise changes with acceleration. When this happens it’s best to take it into a mechanic for diagnostics and repair. The sounds under a vehicle tend to reverberate and echo making it hard to determine the source without the proper equipment.

Popping in engine compartment: If you hear any popping, particularly if it’s accompanied by any engine hesitation, you should have your car serviced as soon as possible It could be indicative of an ignition problem, a clogged fuel filter, worn or dirty spark plugs, damaged spark plug wires, or even a compromised catalytic converter.

Rattles from beneath the vehicle: Usually this happens because something is loose—that shouldn’t be. It could be a loose exhaust system or even loose brake pads.

Engine chugging, racing, or shaking: This could be a performance problem, which may mean your car needs a tune-up. Either way, take it into your local shop for a test drive at the next available appointment.

This guide can help you determine what you’re hearing, and how urgent the repair is.

 

Watch for dripping fluids on the driveway. car maintenance COVID-19

With your car sitting in one spot for a few days, or even weeks, at a time, you might notice spots or puddles beginning to form on your driveway under your engine. There are four main things to consider when it comes to leaks: color, consistency, and location (i.e. front or back of the car). An easy way to “read” these spots for these characteristics is to place newspaper or aluminum foil under your car in the evening and them check it the next day. That way you can gauge the color and location of the spots—you can also toss it in a ziplock and take it to your mechanic if you decide you need to bring your car in for service.

This handy guide can help you determine what you’re dealing with.

 

Feel out your brakes. car maintenance COVID-19

Your brakes may feel funny after sitting for a while. But if they feel soft or they have a delayed reaction, you need to see your mechanic right away. One of the first and most distinct symptoms of a bad wheel cylinder is a “mushy” brake pedal. If the wheel cylinders are leaking, their ability to pressurize and extend the piston may be compromised. This makes the brake feel strangely soft or mushy as if the brake slowly sinks to the ground when it is depressed.

Do your brakes feel soft? It’s probably your brake wheel cylinders.

At V&F

At V&F, our certified mechanics use the latest diagnostic equipment, and high-quality CARQUEST auto parts, to make sure we get the job done right. Plus, our auto repair services are backed by an industry-leading 3 year / 36,000-mile warranty on parts and labor. 

Our team has been serving the Western Mass community since 1988. As a family-owned and operated business, we treat our customers like family. Whether you are using our free shuttle for car service, needing assistance getting a part on time, or searching for your next family vehicle, our team will go above and beyond to meet your needs.  Call us at (413)314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.

Read more about our response to COVID-19.

Written by Nicole Palange

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