Seven easy ways to protect your car while you travel

With ever-increasing access to travel in the Middle East, whether for business or pleasure, the world has become more and more accessible. But being away and leaving a car unused for long periods of time can present its own problems. For a carefree trip and homecoming, it is important to conduct regular car checks and maintenance to help prevent potential problems from arising.

ACDelco, the premium aftermarket supplier, has released a set of tips to highlight how to protect vehicles left behind during extended breaks.

1. Top up the tank
If a car is going to be stored for more than 30 days, filling the tank with fuel will prevent any moisture from accumulating and keep seals from drying out.

2. A change is as good as a rest
When going away for a period of 30 days or more, an oil change can prevent used oil from contaminating the engine. As an additional tip, higher quality engine oil will keep the engine running for longer.

3. Scrub-a-dub-dub
While it may seem counter-intuitive to wash a car before leaving it, residual dust, water stains or other dirt can damage the paint. Applying a layer of wax provides an extra layer of protection from water, sand and dust.

4. Fully charged
Leaving a car undriven for an extended period of time can lead to a battery eventually losing its charge. If a car cannot be periodically started to keep the engine and other parts lubricated, the first and simplest option is to disconnect the negative battery cable but this can erase stereo and time presets.

However, if the owner wants to protect the settings, a battery tender can be hooked up to the car battery on one end, and plugged into a wall outlet on the other, delivering the minimum level of electrical power and keeping the battery charged.

5. Covering up
While the ideal place to store a car is in a covered garage, a weatherproof cover will keep the car clean and provide limited shade from the sun. Keeping a car inside at a relatively stable temperature will enable greater protection from the elements, reducing the risk of damage to car paint, deterioration of rubber seals and the overall condition of the vehicle.

If a cover isn't an option, unclip the windshield wipers to prevent the rubber from sticking to the glass and plug the exhaust pipe with a small piece of material to keep dust out.

6. Under pressure
Tires take the brunt of the weight of a vehicle when it sits for too long, gradually releasing air which results in reduced air pressure.

Ahead of travelling, inflating tires to the maximum pressure recommendation (which can be found in the owner's manual or is often listed on the inside of the fuel cap), helps to account for a potential decrease in air pressure and reduces the risk of returning to a set of flat tires.

If a vehicle is parked for more than three weeks, reduced air pressure can result in flat spotting (where the underside of the tire touching the asphalt goes flat). Pumping an additional 10-15 pounds per square inch (PSI) of air into the tires will reduce the risk of coming home to flat tires.

7. Final checks
Last but not least, emptying the car of electrical cables, children's toys and any other miscellaneous items will prevent items from deteriorating inside and dissuade any potential car thieves.

Getting back in action
For tips on how to best care for your car after returning from holiday, ACDelco recommends the following:

- Completely remove the cover
- Replace any parts that were disconnected from the car (i.e. battery, windshield wipers)
- Examine the windshield wipers to see if the rubber is cracked
- Test the tire pressure and inflate the tires to the recommended level
- Check water, oil and coolant levels
- Wash the vehicle to remove any accumulated dirt

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