VANCOUVER -- Odds are your car has seen a dip in its average mileage, spending more time in the driveway than on the highway while you physically distance and spend time at home. While you wait out the pandemic, there are a number of important steps you should take to keep your car ready to get back on the road.

Jeff Bartlett, an auto editor with Consumer Reports, says it’s important to keep the car moving. 

“Even if you have nowhere to go, you still want to be driving your car around town for about 20 minutes each week,” he says. “This will keep your battery charged, and prevent rust from building up on the brakes and calipers from seizing up.”

And with gas prices so low, you may be tempted to fill up the tank. But Bartlett 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,” he suggests. 

There are also a few simple maintenance checks you can do on your own at 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. Check your cabin air filter too. 

What if you receive a recall notice for your vehicle? Minor recalls can be put off during the coronavirus crisis, Bartlett says, but: “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.”

If you do take your car in, ask the dealer about their current policies for disinfecting vehicles, and clean the surfaces of your car with solutions that contain at least 70 per cent isopropyl alcohol or soap and water. 

Consumer Reports recommends washing your car once a season to get rid of built up dirt and grime.