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Changing Maintenance Approach for Inactive Vehicles

Sponsored by Autolite

2020 has added many new challenges to our everyday lives, including vehicle maintenance. With more vehicles sitting unused for long periods of time, drivers face deciding when to have scheduled maintenance performed and experiencing new issues with their vehicles.

Vehicles are meant to be used, and disuse can create severe problems if preventative measures are not taken. Drivers can experience slow or no ignition, rough idling, and/or poor performance when attempting to drive a vehicle that has been sitting unused for weeks or months.

Poor Fuel Quality
According to J.D. Power, gasoline has a shelf life that can be impacted by a vehicle’s inactivity. The length of time fuel remains usable in a gas tank starts with fuel type. Regular gas has a shelf life of 3 to 6 months, while organic-based Ethanol can lose its combustibility in just 1 to 3 months due to oxidation and evaporation. The fuel that is not in an air-tight container (vehicle fuel tanks are not air-tight) reacts with oxygen and destabilizes the fuel’s ability to ignite. Bad gasoline will impact fuel pumps,’ and fuel injectors’ ability to deliver quality atomized fuel into the combustion chamber.

The best way to deal with compromised fuel quality in the shop is to siphon the old gas out and replace it with fresh fuel. Once the engine can circulate the new gas through the system, it should solve symptoms like rough starts, idling, and decreased power/acceleration. Recommend fuel stabilizers to customers to prevent future issues.

Dead Battery
Probably the most common failure affecting inactive vehicles is gradual depletion due to parasitic drain. With the increase of electrical gadgets, like sensors and cameras, on modern vehicles, it’s not uncommon to see parasitic draws up to 85 mA, which can completely discharge a battery in a matter of weeks. Since repeated battery depletion can ruin a battery by reducing its ability to hold a charge, consider recommending a quality trickle charger to customers infrequently driving to help ensure reliable starts and long battery life.

Modern spark plugs, especially those engineered with iridium, are some of a vehicle’s most robust and reliable components, capable of handling high and low levels of activity, as well as extreme temperatures in their operating environment. Always be sure to offer quality spark plugs and recommend the use of a reliable technician.

Autolite® has been focused on developing spark plugs since 1935. We have done the research and put in the hours to enhance the performance, durability, and ignitability of plugs for domestic and import engines. Our latest advances in technology are our Iridium Ultra® spark plugs. This plug offers the highest level of performance and a limited lifetime warranty to show you we mean business. Explore the benefits of our new Iridium Ultra® spark plugs at

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