There are reasons why we call some cars weekend warriors, and others are daily drivers. As their name implies, the former is for recreation, while the latter is an everyday workhorse. Sure, you can technically “daily” your weekend warrior or project car, but would you? It’s probably not as comfortable or practical to drive to work and back daily.
With that, chances are your project car or weekend vehicle does not gain a lot of miles. These cars need the occasional drive once in a while, especially old-schoolers. It is still a car, after all, not a museum piece. Otherwise, things may not be working the next time you're in the mood to drive it.
To keep your precious weekend warriors and project cars in tip-top shape, we list down a few tips. You can even apply some of these tips to your everyday vehicles. Besides, now is not the time to encourage group fun-runs.
Cover your car, or park in under shade
The elements are not kind to any vehicle. It doesn't matter if it's your project car or daily runabout. No matter how much you care for it, if you leave it parked and exposed, you will start seeing changes to both the exterior and interior. For starters, the paint will lose its luster, eventually feeling rough. The harsh UV rays from the sun can cause the pigment in the clear coat to look dull and eventually chip.
Rain can also do quite a number on your car. Even though water is (generally) harmless, it can still mess up your ride. There’s a reason why your windshield and paint probably have watermarks. The cause of that is acid rain. Rainwater is not a free car wash. If anything, that practice will do more damage.
Aside from the exterior, the elements can also damage the interior. In particular, leather seats and even the dashboard could crack when it's constantly exposed to sunlight.
The easiest solution to protect the exterior and interior would be parking the vehicle in a covered garage. If you don’t have a covered garage, then car covers should do the trick. You also have the option to add paint protection film (PPF) and coatings available to further shield against the elements.
Start the car at least once a week
It's a struggle to start your car after a week of sitting still. That's because the battery is probably dead. One of the easiest ways to prevent this from happening is by starting the vehicle and letting it run for a few minutes. This way, the alternator can charge the battery and prevent it from dropping below the optimal voltage. Unlike older vehicles, modern cars do tend to draw battery power even when parked.
Apart from charging the battery, you must let the fluids circulate in the engine too. If you don't do that, the oil and other fluids may cake up in there. You will either have a stuck-up engine, or one that doesn’t run properly. This is also the reason why cars parked for years often don’t run.
These weekly start-ups also prevent rats or other critters from turning the engine bay into their new home. Having rats living in the engine bay is really bad for the car. Aside from the bad smell and possible diseases, they can also damage your vehicle’s wiring. Rats like to feed on a car's wiring harness, and not being able to start it is the least of your problems. The worst-case scenario? These chewed-up wires can end up causing a fire.
Move it around
Did you ever notice how cars left parked for weeks or months have flat tires? More often than not, it’s because the tires have flat-spotted.
One of the best ways to prevent flat spotting a tire is parking the car on a lift. That way, the weight of the vehicle doesn’t rest on the tires. The tires then keep their round shape rather than adapt to the pavement. This is best for cars that won't see the road for several weeks or months. There are also various types of equipment that you can purchase to prevent flat spots from occurring.
If you don't have the luxury of a lift, the easiest way to prevent flat spots from happening is by driving the car. If you’re afraid of catching the virus and going outside, you can move the car forward and backward in the garage. Still, it would be best if you can it out for a quick drive around the block and back. You can also use it to head out and buy your essential goods, a perfect excuse to bring out the weekend warrior.
Things to consider
There few extra tips you should know to keep your weekend vehicle in good condition. The first is finding out whether your fuel tank is plastic or metal. Depending on which one your vehicle has, you may want to either have an empty tank or a full tank at all times. This is especially important for those that only use their cars once a month. As a rule of thumb, those with metal tanks should never have an empty tank. That’s because the tank might rust without the presence of fuel. The opposite applies to those with plastic tanks, as fuel can cause it to go brittle.
Going back to the battery, one of the best ways to keep it charged is by using a battery tender. These work by plugging it into the battery and then connecting to a wall outlet. Aside from keeping the battery voltage stable, some models can also recharge dead batteries. Keep in mind that battery tenders are a bit expensive, so it’s not advisable if you’re on a budget.
With strict quarantine measures still in place, those lucky to be working from home will have extra time on their hands. With these tips, your weekend warrior (and even daily drivers) will always be in great shape. And it’ll reward you with a great drive when you do decide to bring it out.