The current pandemic has taken a huge toll on every part of our lives. Social gatherings, travelling and even going out for a meal has become a risky affair. The public transport which has been a backbone of the world since the beginning has become extremely unsafe. With the new social distancing norms, owning a private vehicle has become a necessity.
Walking on the road, maintaining the social distancing norm is one way to travel during this pandemic. But long-distance travel demands a private vehicle to avoid any spread of the virus. There are still some concerns regarding travelling by car. Here is a list of a few of the questions regarding your car this pandemic.
Is your car safe?
If the car is used only by you or your family members and if none of them are showing any symptoms of the virus, then the car is completely safe to use. The extra precaution to be taken in this scenario is washing or sanitizing before and after you enter the car.
On the other hand, if an infected individual has come in contact with the car, all surfaces they have come in contact with must be cleaned and disinfected. This will include cleaning out every high contact areas like steering wheel, door handles, infotainment system, window, gear etc. If the seats have gotten contaminated, they might need to be steam cleaned but for other objects, antibacterial wipes, isopropyl alcohol or sanitizer spray with more than 70% alcohol should be used.
The image above shows the recommended high contact areas of the car that should be cleaned properly. Use of a normal detergent on your fabric upholstery works well. Disinfectants do not remove dirt and do not replace cleaning. Also, do not use any aggressive agents that may attack the surfaces in the car and potentially ruin it. Avoid cockpit cleaners on the steering wheel and gear knob because this makes the surfaces slippery. The outside of your car with soap and water solutions will be beneficial as well.
Wearing gloves while cleaning the car and washing your hands afterwards is recommended.
If you own a taxi or are concerned about a shared vehicle, then you can use the same approach as mentioned above.
How to clean the car?
The car should be cleaned thoroughly with non-bleaching anti-bacterial wipes to avoid any damages. Other than that, isopropyl alcohol or sanitizer spray with more than 70% alcohol should be used. A simple solution of soap and water can be used to clean fabric upholstery as well. The outside of the car can be cleaned using soap and water as well.
Use a microfiber cloth to clean the interior of the car. Using a soft brush to clean the cotton upholstery is recommended. Just spraying the isopropyl alcohol on door handles, levers etc can work as well.
The areas to be cleaned include:
1. Exterior door handles
2. The frame of door and roof
3. Interior door release
4. Window switches
5. Interior door handle
6. Door pocket
8. Seatbelt clips
9. Seat adjust buttons
10. Steering wheel
12. Control stalks
13. Driver air vents
15. Power button
16. Gear shift
17. Multimedia screen
18. Central air vents
19. Heating controls
22. Central storage compartment
24. Rear-view mirror
25. Interior lights
26. Grab handle
29. Seat pockets
30. Rear central tab
31. Fuel cap
32. Wheel valves
33. Boot lid
34. Parcel shelf
35. Boot floor tab
36. Boot close button
37. Bonnet lid
38. Washer cap
40. Oil cap
Cleaning the Air Conditioner Vent
Yes, coronavirus is not an air-borne disease but it does spread through droplets. The virus can travel up to 6 feet once sneezed out of a patient and can stay in the air for about 30 minutes. So cleaning the air vent is equally important as well since some of the infected air can make its way through the filter and get stuck in there for a few days. Even if fresh air isn't much of a threat, infected air can be swirled around the car for a long time and can potentially affect you.
Re-circulated air can affect you regardless of the virus spread. Dirty cabin filters can host a lot of budding bacteria colonies so the air conditioner should be serviced regularly. Incidentally, some of the car manufacturers globally have recently launched a promotion: Within 20 days, a filter was developed that consists of activated carbon and a system that produces negatively charged ions that kill up to 95 percent of viruses, fungi, and bacteria which is also another option available for car owners.
Maintaining your Car
Depending on the area you live in, you may or may not be able to find a car mechanic. Hence, you should always have a spare tire and a tire changing kit handy. Check the tire pressure regularly. If you do not use the car often your battery may die out as well. Keeping a jump start pack or battery trickle charger with you is recommended. The battery in jump start pack may drain with every use so the battery should be charged regularly as well.
Should a self-isolating person drive a car?
The short answer is NO. According to the government instructions, you and everyone in your home should be home quarantined. That means you cannot go out even for groceries or medicines. You can get the essentials home-delivered instead.
What to do when the car breaks down or gets punctured?
With the monsoon soon approaching, you may have to face potholes very often which can lead to punctures. If you have not paid enough attention to the battery, you may also end up with a dead battery in the middle of the road. In such cases, if you can change jump-start or change the tire, you should do so. If you require some assistance and ask someone for help, make sure you keep 2 meters distance from each other at all times. Wear a mask when interacting with others and urge the person that helps you to do so as well.
Travelling in Red Zones
Most of the red zones have restricted access so it all depends on the area you live in and the type of restrictions imposed by the regional government. If you live in a red zone, we suggest you not travelling often and staying home. If you do decide to travel, make sure you follow the social distancing norms.
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