What to know about your car as you stay at home during coronavirus outbreak

Around the country, workers under stay-at-home orders have had their morning commute cut to almost nothing as they stay home to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

While the change may be saving you gas money, there are other things to keep in mind about caring for your car during a time when you're likely driving far less or not at all.

Your battery could drain if you don't drive your car for an extended period of time, especially if you live in a warmer climate.

AccuWeather recommends driving your car on a semi-regular basis, even if you aren't heading far. Depending on local regulations, driving solo is also a way to get out of the house and get a change of scenery.

"Sometimes if you have to go a couple of weeks or even a month. If it still starts, let it run for a good 5-10 minutes. Let it warm up so that all the fluids are moving and everything else so that it's still reliable. You still want it to start when you need it," said Mike Wright, owner of RM Automotive in Northridge, California.

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Hardly anyone is driving these days. This might be saving you money at the pumps, but while your vehicle is getting a rest, now is a good time to make sure it stays running smoothly.

If your battery is older, it could be weak and will not sustain a charge over the course of a month or longer. When people do start returning to work, AAA drivers may be busy with jump starts.

People who own classic and exotic cars often keep them on a special trickle charger, but that's probably not worth the expense ($60 or more) for a temporary situation like this.

If you park outside, one more thing to worry about on a car that's not being used: rodents. They've been known to make engine compartments a cozy home.

"We do see that quite often. Where they'll come in and start chewing up plastics and things like that," said Wright. He added that rats can chew through wiring harnesses, leading to a huge repair bill.

That's one more reason to start the engine every now and then, and even give a quick look under the hood. If you see a large collection of leaves and twigs in a corner, that could be a nest that a rodent has built.

Tires can lose pressure over time, but probably not enough to worry about. Still, if you have a tire gauge, it might not hurt to check them.

One bit of good news: Since cars aren't being driven, some insurance companies are offering refunds to their customers. Check with yours to see.

Coincidentally, April is National Car Care Month. So if you have a bunch of time on your hands and your car is just sitting, this is also a great time to wash your car, weather permitting.

Also, why not give it a DIY detailing. Yes, even if you've never done it before.

Most full-serve car washes are closed right now. But you can make your own car look good, fairly easily. The key thing is to read package directions carefully. Brands like Meguiar's not only makes cleaning and detailing products for literally everything on a car, they have instructional videos online to help.

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