Dear Car Talk:
Of all the "how to deal with the pandemic" advice I've read so far, no one has recommended that we periodically start our cars.
I'm afraid that if people aren't going out at all, the first time they try to start their cars, there will be a lot of dead batteries -- and no one to jump them.
I plan to take my car for a ride once a week until the COVID-19 crisis is over. Is that a good idea and, if so, how long or far or fast should I drive? -- Cecily
I think that's good advice, Cecily. I do recommend you take your car out for a ride once a week.
There are several good reasons for this. First, running your car for 15 or 20 minutes will keep the battery charged up. That way the car is ready for use should you ever need it. If you drive for 15-30 minutes at moderate speeds once a week, that ought to be enough to keep your battery in good shape.
Second, when you drive the car, you'll keep your moving parts lubricated. Not just the stuff under the hood, but even things like your shifter linkage and parking brake cable.
Third, by moving the car occasionally, you'll avoid creating flat spots on your tires. Even if you just move it 1 foot in either direction, you'd address that. But certainly, taking a ride once a week will do the trick.
Fourth, when you take the car out, you disturb any rodents or Murder Hornets who've been taking up residence in your engine compartment, reading Dwell magazine and working on their midcentury modern air filter decor.
Rodent damage can be significant. And expensive. So, actually, if you live in an area where you're particularly susceptible to that, you might even consider using some rodent traps around the tires. We prefer the humane variety, but to each his own.
Finally, taking a ride once a week is good for your mental health when you're otherwise stuck at home. It changes the scenery a little bit, and reminds you that there's more to life than your four walls and "Better Call Saul."
Even more crucially, it gives you and your spouse a much-needed break from each other, thus reducing the chances you'll get divorced, and lose the car entirely in the settlement.
Enjoy your weekly ride, Cecily.