Tips for making sure your car always starts and runs when you really need it after you have been staying home

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - New cars like the Toyota Corolla have onboard electronics that can drain the battery if you do not take steps to keep it fully charged.With the advent of stay-at-home orders and social distancing, many people are driving their

cars much less often, and for shorter distances than usual. If you're doing a good job of staying

at home, you might find that your car's battery is depleted and the inside of your car is damp

when you need to drive somewhere.

Here are a few tips to help keep your car in good shape for when you need it:

• Start your car at least every 3 days and let it warm it up completely to help keep the

battery charged. Be sure to run the heater and air conditioning to help dispel any water

condensation in the car. That's important during a wet Portland spring.

• If you have a place to plug in, consider purchasing a quality battery tender to keep your

batteries charged up. Most auto parts stock these and they cost about $40. Avoid the

cheap ones; they don't work. When your car sits idle for a long time, functions like the

clock and security system can drain the battery. Keeping a full charge is the single most

important thing you can do to help your car start right up again, and it extends the life

of your car battery.

• If you can, keep your fuel tank full. Water condenses in the tank when there's air in it

instead of fuel. This is especially a problem for diesel engines.

• Keep your vehicle secure in your garage if possible, or in your driveway instead of on the

street. If you do park your car outdoors, always be sure to lock it, and never leave

anything out and visible in the car.

• Most jurisdictions require cars parked on the street to be moved at least once every 72

hours, or they may be assumed to be abandoned. If you get a notice on your car, take it seriously. In the city of Portland, the limit is 24 hours.

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