Q: Our cars have been sitting in the garage for long periods because of the coronavirus lockdown and because we're retired. When we do drive, it's usually short distances to stock up on groceries. What kind of mileage should we be putting on the cars to keep them running well?
A: I've been getting a lot of questions like this. In fact, here are a couple more.
Q: Now that many of us are stuck at home, we are driving much less. Is there anything different we should be doing with our vehicles? I'm also worried that I filled my car with gas about six weeks ago, and the tank is still full. Do I have to worry about the gas getting stale?
Q: I've been staying home and only moving the car in and out of the garage. I had a dead battery this morning. I jumped it and took a half-hour drive. How often do I need to do that to keep the battery charged?
A: There are several things we can do to keep our cars healthy while sheltering them in place.
Connecting a so-called smart battery charger will keep the battery up without the danger of overcharging it the way some old chargers did. A full tank of gas should be fine for six months. If you are the worrying type, pouring some fuel additive such as StaBil in the tank is a little insurance.
I go for a drive once a week. Driving down a country road, I keep my social distance from others. Plus, gas is cheap right now. But that being said, let's hope we can get back to normal soon.
Let's get started
Q: In an auto review, it was noted that the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid has 232 pound-feet of torque. I often see torque references in reviews and on manufacturers' websites. I have no idea what this means and assume many other people don't, either.
A: Torque refers to the oomph that gets the car rolling. The more torque, the more neck snap factor you feel when accelerating from a stop. It is what you need to do a burnout and accelerate hard. Trucks often have high-torque diesel engines to get those heavy loads moving.
Idling is useless
Q: Every time my neighbor uses his car, he leaves it running in his driveway for a few minutes before he leaves. I can understand doing this in the dead of winter when he's trying to warm up the car, but it seems like overkill the rest of the year. His driveway is right next to my house, and the fumes are really bothering me. Is this really needed?
A: Absolutely not. Fumes in your house are totally unnecessary. Oh, you mean idling the vehicle? Absolutely not to that, too. It wastes fuel, pollutes the air and — as you've proven — annoys neighbors. From the engine's standpoint, driving gently for the first couple miles is much better.
Bob Weber is a writer, mechanic and ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician. His writing has appeared in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest. Send automotive questions along with name and town to email@example.com.