Seasonal Car Care - Florida Edition
Hi there friends, residents, and visitors of Venice, Florida!
Today we are going to go into detail about the importance of maintaining your vehicle while you might be away from it for some time. Florida is no stranger to visitors and seasonal travelers during the winter and early spring months. We want to ensure that while you might be away in your home state, your vehicle down here still needs to be maintained routinely. So, let us talk about best practices, and what might work best for you! It is only January, but this is good prep for when the time comes, planning ahead will save you from last minute stress!
First, let us talk about car batteries. Especially important to know that car batteries can die just by sitting for extended periods of time. They can die even when they are left connected and not recharged for some time. We know that the responsibility of someone coming to run your vehicle for about 20 minutes once a month might be taxing, plus what if something comes up and they are unable? Here is a solution and something we recommend! One thing you can do is make sure your battery is up to date and fully charged here at our shop! Here is an exclusive offer for a Napa battery rebate going on this month!
Remember, we are a Napa Auto Care Gold shop, so the warranty you receive on parts and labor here, transfer to any Napa Auto Care Center you may take your vehicle to when/if you take your vehicle back to your home state. Read more about our warranty below:
We also recommend a battery tender. These are wonderful because it charges the battery when it requires charging whereas a battery charger will keep charging whether or not it needs to be charged. A battery tender is very easy to use as it just plugs into the wall, no stress - no hassle! Battery tenders come optimized for different vehicles and different conditions.
Fuel & Engine Maintenance
Next is fuel. This topic is important for if you plan on leaving your vehicle, but it also applies to those who do not run their vehicle often at all. Gas contains ethanol, Ethanol oxygenates the fuel to create better emissions. But, if you plan to leave your vehicle behind for a number of months, this could be awfully bad for your fuel tank and all engine components. If you plan to leave it at all, you are first going to want to make sure the tank is FULL. Second, you will want to add a stabilizer. Without a stabilizer, gasoline can last about three to six months, (diesel can last about a year). The chemical properties change over time so the gas you pumped two weeks ago would not be the same gas in your tank a month or so from now! Here are a couple of things that may happen to your vehicle with today's fuel:
- check engine light comes on
- vehicle will not start
- ignition hesitates to start
- when applying speed, the vehicle suddenly loses power
- rough idling
If your vehicle has bad fuel, you might also be able to tell by the look and smell. Sludgy, thick almost muddy consistency is NOT good. That is bad fuel. Fuel that smells almost rotten or sour and not like regular fuel is NOT good. We recommend you consider these best practices to avoid the creation of bad fuel:
- Have someone you trust run the vehicle once a week for about 15-20 minutes, it does not have to be long trips, just enough to get the engine warm. This will agitate the fuel additives and can help charge up the battery. The more driving the better.
- We recommend adding a fuel stabilizer to your tank. This additive is mixed into the fuel tank with your fuel to extend its life.
- When you fill the tank, make sure you stop when the pump clicks off. This creates less room for moisture to accumulate.
If you notice any of these symptoms with your vehicle regardless of if you have been away or not, we suggest bringing it by to American Import Auto, Inc. to get it taken care of! The longer you wait, the more costly the repair.
Rust & Corrosion
Let us discuss rust. Northern cars coming down to Florida might have rust build up underneath their vehicle from the salt that is scattered on the roads to help with snow and other corrosion. Florida vehicles, however, usually start to rust on the top half of the vehicle. If you reside here in Venice, then you are awfully close to the Gulf of Mexico's salty sea dew/mist. The solution to keep rust at bay is to keep your vehicle in an enclosed environment such as a garage. If you do not have access to a garage, or any storage space for your vehicle, we recommend you ask a friend, neighbor, or trusted individual you know to take the vehicle for a weekly car wash. If it were us, we would even take the vehicle in a garage for a wash, just for dust and other corrosion that could be building up inside and outside of your vehicle.
When we get into storing the vehicle in a dry, inside space (like a garage) we do have one little (could sometimes be large...yikes!) issue that may occur if you are not properly prepared, and that is rodents! Rodents such as mice, LOVE the nice warm, dry places and they love the warmer parts of your car too. We have encountered a mouse home they made inside of a cabin air filter. They had been eating away at the cabin air filter, so when we found the issue, we also found bits and pieces of the cabin air filter throughout the vehicle. We have seen this issue more times than you would think here at American Import Auto! Rodents can cause a lot of damage, and what is even worse is if our lovely friend decides to also make your vehicle a grave, then you also have to deal with a very repulsive odor. Regular driving can help keep those rodents at bay, BUT it's never a guarantee. We do see a few temperature drops around this time here in Florida, so you may want to consider other possible devices. Rodents are a bit of a mystery for the auto repair world, we have not mastered a way to keep them out of your vehicle, but we have seen a few devices that may help! Devices such as ultrasonic rodent repellents are noise repellents that emit high pitched noise that mice and rats can hear, that deter them from feeding or nestling into certain areas. These noises cannot go through walls, but ultrasonic means "the range outside of human hearing", so it should not affect you in your home!
Another method that could work to deter rodents from nesting is SURPRISE! Peppermint Extract! If you were to put a few cotton ball swabs with peppermint extract on them in a container, Rats and Mice do not like the smell.
Wiper Blades, unbelievably, do have a shelf life, even if you had just replaced them! Wiper blades are made of rubber, rubber does disintegrate in certain temperatures, they can also dry out. Rubber can still be weathered in a hot garage, especially during the summer months. Just remember the wiper blades you just put on before you left or had on, will not be the same when you come back to town!
If you have just come into town, stop by our shop and we can check those wiper blades for you! Click the link below to schedule a time!
Living in a damp, moist area also comes with another friend....Mildew. Sometimes you might smell it coming from your A/C, guess what it's time for? New Cabin Air Filter! If you plan to leave your vehicle behind to travel back up North, then you may trap in damp air that will start to smell moldy over time. The best solution to avoiding any unpleasant smells, would be to start the vehicle and run the A/C for about 20 minutes. We recommend a couple times a month, but more is always better whenever you have the opportunity.
Remember to keep in mind also, that the sun exposure here is Florida can be intense around the Spring/Summer months, so you are really going to want to consider an enclosed space for your vehicle. We recommend putting a sun shield up or sun cover over your windshield and windows so you can avoid the sun exposure. The upholstery can fade or even crack under extreme exposure this also depends on your vehicles age. But guess what? So can the paint! We do not recommend a total car cover, however an enclosed space, YES!
Click the video below to see raw digital inspection photos of some examples to look out for!
We hope this helps you at least get a checklist going, so when you do leave the sunshine state (or prepare to come back), you are well prepared for all the elements that weather and climate can bring! Give our shop a call if you have any questions, we would love to help answer them for you! Don't forget we do full vehicle inspections and offer them digitally for your convenience, so what we see, you see! Let us know if you would like to book an appointment to have your vehicle thoroughly inspected before or after a long road trip, or after storage!
548 E. Venice Ave. Venice, Florida 34285
"We Repair with Care!"
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