When Allan Ahumuza returned from Malaysia to his Toyota Mark II after 20 months away, he was welcomed by rat droppings when he opened the car boot where he had kept the car battery. After fitting the battery, he was disappointed that the car would not start.
“I had bought that battery just before I travelled abroad for work so buying another seemed unfair. I charged the battery externally for some time and eventually, the car was able to start,” Ahumuza recalls.
Change engine oil
Isaac Mujjawa, a mechanic in Makindye, observes that the mistake most motorists like Ahumuza make when their cars have been parked for long is start the car engines and rev it, all in the name of warming it up fast and then drive off without carrying out basic and crucial checks on the car engine especially in regard to engine oil.
When your vehicle has been parked for long, the oil in all engine parts solidifies. To turn the solidified oil into the thick watery form, you first have to start the engine and let it run to warm up for some time without driving the car.
When the old oil has warmed up and the oil particles have melted, it has to be extracted and replaced with new oil to allow proper lubrication of engine compartments such as the piston and piston rings.
“If you do not replace the engine oil of a vehicle that has been parked for long, your engine will be running on poor quality oil. It will not lubricate the engine well and may expose it to unnecessary wear and tear, friction and overheating,” Mujjawa explains.
Change other liquids
Not only does your vehicle run on engine oil. Its movement is also aided by a number of other fluids and liquids that play different roles in different parts of the car.
These fluids include automatic transmission fluids (ATF) that lubricate gear changing in automatic cars, engine coolant that cools down the heat generated from the engine and brake fluid that eases braking when you step on the brake pedal, among others.
According to Mujjawa, the levels of each of these fluids dwindle or reduce in amount due to moisture even when your car is parked. Their levels may also reduce due to leakages and may as well expire.
“If you do not replace your transmission fluid and top it up to the right amounts and quality, you will experience challenges in engaging gears.
Bad transmission fluid will subject the transmission system to friction. Parts like the clutches and gaskets will rub against each other and will produce unnecessary heat and lead to gearbox failure and damage,” Mujjawa adds.
Isaac Serunjogi, a tyre technician at Vine Motor Garage at Kisaasi notes that when your car is parked for long, do not get surprised to find one or all of your tyres without or with reduced tyre pressure. This is partly attributed to the heavy weight of the car and the cold ground on which the car is parked.
“When you park for a long time, tyres especially tubeless ones tend to lose pressure.
The pressure will also be lost through tiny air passages as the tyre loses shape overtime. When you check the tyre sides that have markings of tyre pressure and expiry dates, there will be minor cracks making it dangerous to drive with such tyres.
The obvious solution is to have them replaced before driving the car,” Serunjogi advises.
Besides losing tyre pressure, your car rims may also become bent or lose their circular shape.
This happens after the tyres have become completely deflated, meaning that the rest of the car weight and body would be supported by car rims. If the rims have sharp edges, they may cut through the tyre.
To get back the rims to shape, they will have to be resurfaced. It involves aligning them on specialised machines to iron out the bent edges to give them their initial circular shape.
Keep the car functional
Rather than park your car for long and expose it to the above effects, Andrew Nkora, a motorist advises that there are a number of things to do to make sure you return to a functional car.
He advises that you ask someone start the engine and drive your car around the parking lot for a short distance so that the engine oil does not clog or turn into particles. This does not only keep the engine in its normal functioning state but it helps keep the car battery with its firepower.
Alex Kasozi, also a motorist, reasons that this is a good way to identify any mechanical problems the car may be developing and have them repaired as soon as possible.