Um… is that a squirrel’s nest?
It might be. Nesting under your hood or in your trunk. The New York Times recently reported that a number of drivers are finding rats and other rodents have nested in the engine compartments of idle cars over the last few months. Turns out that rats, squirrels and other small rodents really like to live inside engine compartments. Ewwww.
And that might not be the only evil lurking in a car that’s been parked and not driven for a while. As we come out of hiding and start – safely– to explore the world again, take some time to prepare your car before you crank the engine and drive away. Give your car a good look over and make sure it’s safe to drive.
How to Prepare a Parked Car for the Road Again
Look under the hood for visible signs of nests, droppings or other or other unwelcome things that may have collected over the last couple of months. If you see clear evidence, try to brush away what you can. If it seems that animals have made a nest, you’ll want to have a professional take a look. You can probably drive the car but go straight to a mechanic; if you’re afraid to drive it, this may be a good time to take advantage of your car’s or your insurance policy’s roadside assistance plan.
If all looks good, start the car and let it run for a bit; you’ll want the car’s systems to warm up before leaving your driveway. This is a good time to look for any warning lights on the dashboard such as the TPMS (tire pressure monitor system), and check that the oil and water temperatures are normal. Take note of the fuel level and listen for any funny sounds.
Take a walk around and look at the tires; make sure they look fully inflated and healthy.
Look in the trunk to be sure no varmints have made themselves at home there, either. And, if you have things in the trunk that you don’t need to carry around this spring, this is a good time to remove them.
With one of those Clorox wipes in your handbag wipe off any bird droppings, spider webs or other nuisances that can damage your paint or make the interior uncomfortable. Make sure all your windows offer a clear view; most of the cars in my neighborhood have a nice, solid coating of pollen right now.
And, since many cars were abruptly parked for months, you may want to clean out trash or junk that you’d intended to remove before the stay-at-home orders went into effect. You probably can put the ice scraper and winter boots in the garage until the fall.
Once you hit the road, keep the radio off for a while and listen to the car. Does everything sound normal? If so, you probably only need to hit the carwash and give your baby a bath and a good vacuuming. If there are odd sounds you may want to stop at the mechanic and have them take a look.
And when you stop for gas, make sure to top off the windshield washer fluid and make an appointment for an oil change, a new cabin filter and to have all the fluids topped off. This will give your car a fresh start to the new normal, too!