Consumer Reports: Car maintenance tips during coronavirus pandemic

In this time of social distancing and working from home, many of are spending a lot less time in our cars. But while less time behind the wheel means saving money on gas your vehicle still needs a little TLC while it waits for your return.

Consumer Reports shares some simple tips to keep your vehicle happy and healthy.

People aren't the only ones who have been practicing social distancing recently. With many working remotely, odds are your car has seen a dip in its average mileage.

But while your car spends more time in the driveway than on the highway, Consumer Reports says there are a number of important steps you should take to keep your vehicle running smoothly.

"Even if you have nowhere to go, you still want to be driving your car around town for about 20 minutes each week," said Consumer Reports Auto Editor Jeff Bartlett. "This will keep your battery charged, and prevent rust from building up on the brakes and calipers from seizing up."

And while you might be tempted to top off your tank with gas prices so low, Consumer Reports says you should only do so if you need the fuel.

"If you think your car will end up with the same fuel in the tank for more than three months, completely fill your car up at the gas station and add the appropriate amount of fuel stabilizer, which will help keep the fuel from breaking down over time," Bartlett said.

There are also a number of simple maintenance checks you can perform from home. Before taking your weekly drive, check your oil on a level surface while the engine is cold. And while you're under the hood, make sure your engine's air filter is clean and free of excessive dirt or debris. Ditto for your cabin air filter.

What if you receive a recall notice for your vehicle? Consumer Reports says minor recalls can be put off during the coronavirus crisis. However, Bartlett said, "If it's a recall for something that could put you in harm's way, like an airbag defect, mechanical issue, or risk of fire, you should stop driving the vehicle right away and contact your dealer."

Make sure to ask the dealer about their current policies for disinfecting vehicles, and be sure to clean the surfaces of your vehicle with solutions that contain at least 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, or soap and water.

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