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Maintaining your car in West Michigan during a stay-at-home order

A car drives down West Michigan Ave in Kalamazoo on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. According to Herb Persons, owner of Persons Auto Repair, driving your car a good distance keeps the battery charged and lines lubricated. (WWMT/Sarah White)

As most of the United States is in some form of stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many are driving less and their cars are sitting longer than usual.

While it has been recommended to stay at home and practice social distancing, the longer a car sits, the risks of permanent damage and an unwanted repair bill become greater.

Herb Persons, the owner of Persons Auto Repair in Kalamazoo, offered some tips to help maintain your car during the stay-at-home order.

Keep the battery charged by driving your car a good distance

Letting a car sit for two to three weeks without being driven, can have negative impacts on a car’s battery.

“It would be a good idea to take it out and drive it, and that’s more than just a half-mile down the road to the nearest grocery store. It needs to be driven some distance to be sure it has a chance to re-charge the battery,” Persons said.

Watch for rust build-up on rotors

Persons said a car sitting in damp weather can contribute to rust build-up on the rotors, thus hearing a grinding noise when you go to brake.

“If after a few stops that noise goes away, don’t worry about it, but if it keeps grinding, you need to come see us,” he said.

Keep the gas tank nearly full

Keeping a nearly full gas tank minimizes the risk of condensation build-up.

“Normally driving the car with a little bit of water that might collect from condensation would be worked out and not be an issue but sitting for a period of time, there could be a condensation issue,” he said.

Frequently inspect your car

Inspecting your car on a regular basis can prevent bad situations from becoming worse. Watch out for furry critters that want to make a home in your vehicle and if you live in a place where you are forced to park close to other cars, check for damage so you can report it quickly.

“If there is damage from another vehicle, it can be reported right away,” Persons said.

Persons said his shop is remaining open for car repairs and emphasized if you do need work done on your vehicle, to buy local.

“We’re your neighbors, they’re my neighbors and we want to see them around next year at this time,” he said.