Get that idle car back on the road in tip-top shape


car maintenance - man washing the tires

If you’re among the millions who have been hunkered down in your home to help flatten the coronavirus curve, your car probably hasn’t been getting too much use. But now as many states are beginning to reopen and ease restrictions on stay-at-home orders, it’s time to show your car a little love. And even though many restrictions may be lifted, it’s likely we’ll be seeing a “new normal” so you may still be keeping a little closer to home this year than in other summer seasons. If so, AAA offers some great tips for keeping your car maintained during a driving hiatus.

While a few of the tips might be well known – taking the car for a spin each week and keeping it clean and maintained – others may be things you would not think of unless you are accustomed to storing a car seasonally. Here’s one you might not think about – and it can happen even if your car is stored in a garage:

Depending where you park, there may be mice or other critters that want to call your vehicle home. These rodents can chew on wires and cause thousands of dollars of damage, make nests in your filters and cause other messes. I’ve even had one set up shop in my glove compartment! There are a variety of sprays and granules on the market to deter these animals. Some have the scent of a predator and others smell like mint — a scent rodents don’t like.

There are other good tips about lubricating locks and hinges, adding a gas stabilizer to your tank, and more.

Consumer Reports says that cars do not like to sit idle, and cite risks such as the battery losing charge, tires gaining flat spots, rubber components such as belts and wipers drying out, as well as the critter problem. They also have an excellent guide to Car Care and Maintenance During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

But don’t stop there – it’s time for a thorough spring maintenance. Whether you bring your car to a mechanic or are a do-it-yourselfer, here’s a spring car maintenance checklist:

  • Give your vehicle a good exterior cleaning, including a fresh wax.
  • Clean the interior thoroughly. To disinfect and deep-clean, consider a detailing or a steam cleaning.
  • Change your oil and oil filter.
  • Check and replenish fluids.
  • Inspect wiper blades and replace if needed. Refill your wiper fluid.
  • Test your battery.
  • Check and rotate your tires. Check the tire treads and pressure.
  • Check and clean your lights and mirrors.
  • Check filters, belts, hoses.
  • Check alignment and suspension.
  • Fix any winter body or windshield dings or damage.

And if you have a motorcycle, May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Give your wheels a good checkup too – see our post on Motorcycle Mania: Your spring guide to insurance, safety, training, laws and more.

Spring cleaning hacks & tips to make the job easier


Spring is in the air, even if we still have a few iffy weather days to muddle through. It’s time to do a good annual home cleaning and checkup – Bob Vila has a a good home maintenance list and Martha Stewart offers a helpful checklist of spring cleaning tasks (PDF). But as you go about your spring cleaning, remember to stay safe.

We’ve also hunted down a few videos on helpful hacks to make household spring cleaning a little easier. And if you find them helpful, you might like our prior post on Handy household hacks: creative uses for everyday products.

Spring cleaning’s an age-old global tradition: get tips from the pros


In the spring, there’s an almost universal urge to clean and maintain our homes. People, like bears, seem to emerge from their winter dens just as the days begin to grow longer. There may even be a biological explanation: in the winter, our lack of exposure to sunlight causes the pineal gland to produce melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that makes us sleepy, kicking in every night around 9 pm. However, during winter’s shorter, dreary days, our melatonin production can increase, followed by a decrease as the days get longer and sunnier. As a result, people tend to feel more energetic in the spring and cleaning up is a natural outlet for that energy.

There are also a wide variety of cultural traditions around spring cleaning, most notably from the Near and Middle East. In Iranian tradition, spring marks the ancient festival of Nowruz, which is preceded by Spring cleaning, or Khouneh Tekouni, which literally means ‘shaking the house’. Extensive spring-cleaning is a national tradition observed by almost every household in Iran. In the Jewish tradition, the Passover holiday occurs in the spring and is marked by removing all leavened (yeast risen) breads from the house. It’s important to make sure that not even a crumb of leavened bread remains, and so Passover is always preceded by two weeks of extensive spring cleaning. In keeping with America’s great heritage as a cultural melting pot, it’s believed that these two traditions may have contributed to the roots of our national interest in spring cleaning.

Whether it’s a biological imperative or a cultural tradition, spring is a great time to deep clean your home and catch up on maintenance tasks that may have been neglected over the winter months. Martha Stewart offers a helpful checklist to cover spring cleaning tasks (PDF) and Bob Vila has a list for home maintenance. However you do your spring cleaning and maintenance, be careful! Spring cleaning can be dangerous (PDF) – the linked list points out common hazards. If one of your employees or helpers suffers a spring cleaning related injury, remember that under your liability clause, the costs are covered by your homeowners policy. To make sure that your policy is up to date, call your independent insurance agency today.