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How To Care Of Your Car When You’re In The Military

US Soldiers saluting on Veteran's Memorial Day


Being a military service member inevitably means frequent relocations and deployments. When you’re not at home for extended periods, it can become challenging to care for your personal belongings, including one of your best assets: your car.

Thorough car maintenance is essential to ensure your car doesn’t let you down when you need it the most. The following guide highlights crucial strategies for maintaining and protecting your vehicle, helping you preserve its value and avoid potential future issues.

Regular Maintenance Is Key

Regular maintenance is vital for the longevity of your car. When you get home after a long deployment, taking your vehicle for a full service should be at the top of your list of things to do before being deployed again. If you know how to do the basics yourself, that is even better.

Focus On The Following Key Areas:

Oil Change

Change your car’s oil and oil filter to keep the engine running smoothly and prevent premature wear. Ask your spouse or a friend to check the fluid meters often for leaks or low levels while you’re away. They should also inspect transmission, brake, and windshield washer fluid levels, just in case.

If your car is parked outside in the sun, someone should run the windshield wipers with fluid to prevent them from becoming stuck to the glass in the heat.

Air Filter

Use the manufacturer’s guide to replace the air filter in your car to ensure optimal engine performance. When air filters get too dirty, they become clogged, and the combustion chamber won’t receive sufficient air. If you don’t change them and continue to drive your car, you will notice a drop in fuel efficiency.

Tire Care

When you keep your car parked in one place for extended periods, one or more tires may lose pressure and even start to wear down. Rotate the tires as recommended to prevent this from happening. Use an appropriate instrument to measure the tire pressure and check for bulges or cracks.

Battery Health

Verify your car battery’s charge level and clean the terminals to prevent the starter from packing up. When you’re not home, ask your spouse or friend to start your car and let it idle for at least half an hour every week, or use it to run errands. If you don’t make a plan to recharge the battery, it will quickly run flat.

Leaving your car parked with low gas levels may lead to rust and corrosion inside the gas tank. Gas will last longer than a year, so you can fill up before you leave again. 

Man checking the oil level and performing regular routine maintenance on the vehicle

Storage Considerations

If you need to take your car on your next mission, you should find a reputable place to store it. Proper storage is essential to preserving your vehicle’s condition.

Consider The Following Factors:

Storage Facilities

If you’re not driving to your chosen storage facility, consider shipping your car using a military auto transport company. Inspect your car for dents and scratches before dropping it off at the terminal. Reinspect it before parking it at the storage facility.

When choosing a place to store your car, look for a secure, climate-controlled, reputable facility to protect your vehicle from harsh temperatures and theft.  

Car Preparation

Clean your car inside and out before you send it off for storage. A thorough cleaning will help prevent dirt and dust from causing damage. You can also apply a wax coating to protect the paint from fading.

Before storing the vehicle, change the oil and other fluids to prevent a build-up of contaminants that may harm the engine during prolonged inactivity. Fill up the gas tank and add a fuel stabilizer to prevent the gas from degrading.

Inflate your tires to the recommended pressure, and if possible, place the car on a jack to prevent flat spots.

Disconnect the battery or use a battery maintainer to keep the battery charged while the car is in storage.

Battery Tender Junior 12V Charger and Maintainer – Automatic 12V – 750mA Battery Float Chargers – 021-0123

Battery Tender Junior 12V Charger and Maintainer - Automatic 12V - 750mA Battery Float Chargers - 021-0123

Vehicle Protection

If you’re relocating to take up a military assignment and moving your car to a new location, you may expose it to environmental hazards. Taking preventative measures to protect your vehicle can save you from costly repairs:

  • If possible, only park your car in covered areas, especially if you don’t know the weather patterns in your new location. Shaded parking spots help minimize sun and weather damage. If you don’t have suitable covered parking available, invest in a good quality vehicle cover to shield your car from the elements.
  • Apply a paint sealant or ceramic coating to your car’s exterior to protect it from damaging UV rays, even if you cover your vehicle during the day.
  • During time off, take your car to the carwash, or wash it yourself, taking care to remove road salt and other corrosive substances. Your vehicle will benefit from a rust inhibitor application or protective undercoating to prevent the formation of rust.
  • If your car is exposed to sunlight for several hours during the day, use windshield sunshades to shield the interior from excessive heat that may lead to a peeling or cracked dashboard. Take note of your surroundings – if you notice construction in progress or large trees in the area, park your car a distance away to avoid damage from falling branches or debris.
  • Clean your vehicle’s interior regularly to prevent dirt build-up and upholstery damage. A consistent cleaning and maintenance schedule will help protect your car’s interior, especially the parts exposed to the sun.

Financial Considerations

Serving in the military often means experiencing budget constraints due to various factors.

Follow these steps to manage your car-related expenses when you are deployed or relocated:

  • When you receive notification of deployment or relocation, inform your insurance provider promptly to ensure you have appropriate coverage for unforeseen circumstances. Your insurance broker can help you identify gaps in your existing coverage before you move your car.
  • If you have military discounts at your disposal, use them. These discounts can go a long way in helping you maintain your vehicle to avoid expensive repairs in the future.
  • Consider purchasing an extended warranty for unexpected repairs. This insurance coverage is essential for aging vehicles prone to mechanical issues.  

Conclusion

Taking good care of your car when you’re in the military relies on a proactive approach to maintenance, storage, and protection. There is no time to worry about vehicles during a deployment.

Therefore, careful planning will go a long way in ensuring that your car remains in good condition, despite the many challenges of military life. A well-maintained car will also give you peace of mind while you perform your military duties.

References:

AHRN.com

Military.com

Critical Deployment Info: Basic Car Care

Military Discounts

Market Watch Guides

Guide to Military Car Shipping for PCS Moves

Texas Department of Insurance

Deploying? 5 things to know about your insurance

Seasoned Spouse

10 Ways for Military Spouses to Maintain Parked Cars During Deployment

Edmunds

How to Prep Your Car for Long-Term Storage

Renee Pena

Renee Pena is a writer and PR specialist living in Raleigh, NC. When she's not writing exciting content, she's out hiking and jogging on the local trails and byways. She works for Barda Auto Media.

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