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How to prepare your car for commute post-lockdown

Heading back to work in person? Here are some things to look for if you car hasn't been driven as much lately.

TAMPA, Fla. — We've spent a lot of time at home over the past year, so your car has likely stayed at home with you. If it's been sitting in your parking spot without much action on the road, you've got to check a few things before you start driving to work in-person every day.

Florida's heat and humidity could have affected your car in ways you may not notice right away. 10 Tampa Bay spoke to a service advisor at Milex Mr. Transmission in Bradenton about things you should check or have a mechanic check for you.

If you're not a car expert, just drive to the place where you normally get your oil changed and ask for an inspection. Make sure you request a copy of that report so you know if anything needs to be fixed or replaced.

Start under the hood. You'll want to look at your battery. Make sure it's in good condition and doesn't have any corrosion on the battery terminals. You'll also want to make sure it's charged up. 

"In Florida, we usually get three years out of a battery, five if you're lucky," explained Ryan Lanius, an auto service advisor. If your car has been sitting, your battery can't "recharge" like it would if your car is constantly in motion. The longer it sits, the shorter its lifespan.

Next, look for metal. Most of your car is made of metal, so when it's exposed to Florida's elements, rust and corrosion can develop. You want to take care of it before it progresses any further. Corrosion in the engine can lead to a lot of expensive problems, including reduced fuel efficiency and the need to replace parts.

Your car also has a lot of rubber. 

"It gets very hot in Florida, so the rubber can get hard and brittle if it's not lubricated and moving," explained Lanius. Take a look at coolant hoses, your belts, seals and also your tires for any cracking or damage.

Check your tires. They may have deflated or developed flat spots from not moving as much. With Florida's rising temperatures the air may have also expanded, increasing tire pressure. You'll want to check the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle and make sure your tire pressure matches. If it doesn't, you could run into some driveability issues. "Your car may pull to the left if you have low pressure on the left...it also puts a lot of pressure on the side wall if you hit a pothole or something else in the road and can cause a blowout," said Lanius. 

You'll also want to check all your fluid levels, including oil. If you haven't gotten an oil change recently, it may be a good idea to get one even if you haven't driven your car as much lately. 

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