As we approach the one-year anniversary when terms like “lockdown,” “social distancing” and “work from home” became prominent parts of the lexicon, we can begin to take stock in just how much has changed.
While the true definition of what the “new normal” will be in a post-pandemic world is still not fully known, it’s a safe bet that many more people will continue to work from home as their employers realize that their businesses can function just fine without a traditional office and choose to make telecommuting their new reality. As a result, many employees that saw their vehicle usage drop significantly in 2020 may continue to use their vehicles less in 2021.
On the surface, this would seem to be good news because fewer hours behind the wheel = less miles = less wear and tear, less maintenance, and more time before that next trip to the car dealer for a new model. In reality, though, vehicles that sit unused for an extended period of time may see their components and fluids degrade at a quicker rate than if the vehicle was hitting the road every day.
In this case, a good rule of thumb is to never let a vehicle sit unused for more than a month without running it for at least 10 minutes. Failure to do so can result in a whole host of costly problems, including the development of brittle, leak-prone seals, gaskets and even tires; a drained battery; intrusion of water into the fuel tank; and an invasion of critters into the cracks and crevices under the hood, where they can nest and chew through wires and belts.
Considering Engine Oil
Today’s recommended oil-change interval for most vehicles is either 5,000 miles or six months. Most people focus on the distance traveled when planning their next oil change, but if a vehicle is not being used as much, six months may pass before 5,000 miles are driven.
The truth is that engine oil will deteriorate faster if it is not being used regularly. This deterioration will result in a degradation of the oil’s cooling and lubrication properties, which will affect its ability to protect the engine.
While the oil itself is obviously critical to ensuring top-notch engine operation, the oil filter is also a key part of the system and needs to be changed regularly. Effective filter media must strike a reliable balance between filtering out the smallest possible particles while affording the least possible resistance to oil flow. Too much of one can hinder the other, resulting in poor performance, inefficiency, and the incurrence of repair bills.
FRAM® offers three leading oil-filtration technologies, all of which are designed to deliver the highest levels of engine-protecting performance:
- Extra Guard® filters employ a proprietary fiber- and resin-blended media to provide dirt-trapping efficiency and dirt-holding capacity while offering 10,000 miles of protection.
- Tough Guard® offers a synthetic fiber and cellulose blend to trap dirt without affecting oil flow for 15,000 miles.
- Ultra Synthetic® filters utilize a dual-layer synthetic-blend media that provides up to 20,000 miles of engine protection.
The Air in There
A vehicle that will sit unused for a period of time can be susceptible to the build-up of odors within the passenger cabin as uncirculated air becomes stagnant. If the owner suspects that the vehicle will be undriven, every effort should also be made to clean it out first, as any foreign objects that are left behind can result in the creation of unpleasant odors
Even in normal times, one of the most overlooked filters in a vehicle is the cabin air filter. When these filters become clogged, consistent recirculation of air within the vehicle’s cabin is compromised, which can allow the smell of dust, dirt, and exhaust fumes to enter the vehicle. Clogged cabin air filters will also make defrosting windows a slow and unsafe process. Whether or not the vehicle is used regularly, over time these filters will become clogged and will need to be replaced.
In this case, FRAM® offers its Fresh Breeze® Cabin Air Filter, which is the only cabin air filter currently available that embeds Arm & Hammer™ baking soda into the filter media. This enables the filter to prevent odors from entering the vehicle while filtering out up to 98% of road dust, pollen particles, allergens and other contaminants.
Though driving habits have changed for many, the need for regular vehicle maintenance has not. Following a regular maintenance plan and replacing oil filters and cabin air filters at appropriate intervals still remains the most reliable way to protect your vehicle and prevent costly breakdowns and repairs.
FRAM® has been determined to develop high-quality oil and air filters for years and has tested combinations of materials and components that will keep your car running cleaner for longer. Explore the benefits of all of the FRAM® oil, air, and cabin filters at fram.com.
This article was sponsored by FRAM.