Maintaining Your Vehicle During Periods of Inactivity

Staying at home is intended to help keep us healthy. But how about our vehicles?

If your driving habits have changed (or stopped altogether) due to the pandemic, taking proactive measures now can help make your vehicle ready when it’s time to get back on the road again. Below you’ll find some helpful tips, but as always, refer to the “Vehicle Care” section in your owner’s manual for model-specific information.

How Can I Help Preserve My Battery?

Although a vehicle should be able to sit parked for a month without battery concerns, if you plan on it remaining stationary for more than 30 days, it’s best to disconnect the battery or connect it to a battery tender. You can also use the Lincoln Way™* App to remotely start your vehicle and check battery charge.

How Often Should I Start My Vehicle?

  • For gas vehicles

    Start every 15 days and run at idle until reaching normal operating temp. Set climate control system to defrost mode and turn accessories off.

  • For plug-in hybrid electric vehicles

    Start every 15 days and set climate control system to defrost mode in high-heat setting. After a few minutes, the gas engine will start — let it run until reaching full operating temp.

  • For electric vehicles

    Start every 15 days, leave plugged in to allow 12-volt battery to maintain charge and ensure it always has a minimum charge of 50%.

What Fluids Should I Check?

Make sure you keep your gas tank full with high-quality fuel. The Lincoln Way App is also useful for checking gas levels from virtually anywhere, anytime. Refer to the Maintenance section in your owner’s manual for the fluids you can check under the hood and the proper way to do it. This is also a good time to review what Scheduled Maintenance your vehicle may need when you get back on the road.

  • Engine oil

    Remove and wipe the dipstick, then insert if for a clean read. If the oil is low, add more per your owner's manual instructions. Do not add oil further than the maximum mark. Oil levels above the maximum mark may cause engine damage. If you can, circulate oil by occasionally driving a few miles when possible. If not, shift the transmission through all gears while the engine is running at idle speed while keeping your foot on the brake.

  • Coolant

    Look for the clear overflow plastic container near the radiator. If the liquid is below the minimum line, fill with a 50/50 mix of water and the proper coolant.

  • Brake fluid

    Fill it if it’s low with the proper fluid, but then have the system checked in case of a leak or wearing brakes.

  • Windshield washer fluid

    Keep it full.

What Can I Do About My Tires?

Tires are the only parts of your car that are constantly in contact with the ground. When your vehicle is in the same position for an extended period of time (parked in your garage, for example), its tires can lose air pressure and develop flat spots. To help ensure your tires stay in their current condition, properly inflate them and move your vehicle several feet at least once every few weeks to prevent flat spots. You can find the correct pressure in your driver’s side doorjamb and your owner’s manual. We also recommend storing your vehicle on a flat surface and leaving the parking brake off.

When driving your vehicle again after an extended period, you may notice some vibration or a thumping noise, especially at higher speeds. This is likely caused by tire flat spotting. This condition will work itself out after driving normally for 20 miles (32 km).

What About My Brakes and Rotors?

The brakes and rotors are among the most important parts of your vehicle. If your car has been sitting idle for a prolonged period of time, some rust may develop on the brake rotors. This is completely normal, and you may notice a grinding noise or roughness in the brake pedal when applying the brakes when driving your vehicle after an extended period. The noise and roughness will typically self-heal after 10 12 normal stops.