Your Car After a COVID Quarantine

How sitting impacts a car: getting it back on the road

For many Houstonians, the COVID quarantine and resulting office closures have created a situation where a car has sat unused for long periods of time.  Like people, cars do are not meant to sit around.

A general rule of thumb is that a car should not sit for longer than a month without starting it up for 10 minutes.  This likely will not recharge a weakening battery, but it will circulate the fluids and keep rubber parts supple.

Today’s European Cars is starting to see cars that have not been driven for several months.  To date, all have had simple/predictable issues and only needed a comprehensive service to get back into shape.

If your car will quarantine longer than that, it should be driven monthly--a leisurely Sunday drive will keep your car happy.  If you let your car sit, parts will start breaking down and fluids will go bad.  This eventually will cause issues.

What Happens When You Let Your Car Sit

I don’t like to sit for a long time.  If I must, I get irritable and sometimes stiff.  Likewise, with your car:

  • Batteries go dead
  • Tires get flat spots
  • Gaskets and seals become brittle
  • Small leaks develop
  • Fuel goes bad
  • Engine oil deteriorates and traps moisture/condensation
  • Rust develops in the cooling system

This is not an exhaustive list, but the most common things your car might see after six months to a year of COVID quarantine.

A drained battery will probably be the first hurdle of a quarantined car.  Even though the car was “off” there are still systems drawing power—the clock always marches on, the car’s CPU consumes a little, and poorly grounded wires may continue to draw power.  We call this passive depletion “parasitic drain”.  Colder weather can exacerbate the problem and make it harder for your car to start—the cold reduces the battery’s output and thickens the oil, creatin resistance, and a slow or no start. 

On the quarantine list, the battery is usually the easiest to resolve.  Usually, a good drive or a recharge on a battery charger set at a lower output will cure it. Worst-case scenario is replacing the battery.

Tires lose air while sitting and the rubber on them becomes ineffective with longer periods of dormancy.  They crack and small holes eventually develop—you get flat spots because air is escaping from the cracks. If a car sits on a flat spot for a many months or years, you will ll need to get new ones.

Tires which have gone flat during quarantine need to be refilled to the correct pressure.  If they were old tires before quarantine, they should be examined closely. 

Gaskets, seals and rubber hoses often become problematic after sitting.  When left to sit, they become brittle and snap a little pull. Dormancy causes gaskets and seals to break down and not function properly.  Rubber hoses become stiff and don’t seal like they should; this is especially common with emissions and engine vacuum hoses.

Cars have too many seals and gaskets to review, but there are a few common failures we often repair:

Mercedes – oil filter housing gaskets and vacuum breaker plates

BMW – oil filter housing gaskets, valve cover gaskets and oil pan gaskets

W/Audi – water pump/cooling parts and O-rings, brake vacuum pump gaskets and engine vacuum lines.

Gasoline goes bad; and gas with ethanol goes bad quickly.   If gas is not stored in an air-tight container, the oxygen reacts with it and it breaks down.  Your gas tank and vapor system are supposed to be airtight.   However, the evaporative system is filled with rubber hoses, which frequently do not seal completely and air gets into the system. 

Lightly deteriorated gasoline will make your car run rough, and perhaps trigger a “check engine” light.  Often, simply adding new gas to the tank allows you to drive your problems away.

Heavily deteriorated gasoline will develop a gel-like substance, which will need to be flushed from the system.  It will clog systems and keep your car from running.

Engines deteriorate faster when not being used—even with our top-shelf synthetic Mobil1 oil.   Many drivers assume that because they don’t use their car that often, they don’t need to change the oil as frequently.  It’s actually the opposite—engine heat cycles evaporate condensation moisture which develops from sitting.   It’s the heat of running which helps with the evaporation.  Think of your house windows on a cold rainy morning and a sunny afternoon.  Same principle with a car sitting in the garage or driveway—the temperature changes lead to condensation.

Oil changes are an easy fix.  Do them every 5,000 miles or annually and you will be OK.

Weirdly enough, rust forms faster on cars when they aren’t used. Regular driving slows down the formation of rust on the outside.  When cars are stationary, the oxygen and iron have more opportunity to react and create rust as compared to a car is in motion.

How To Revive A Car That Has Been Quarantined

If you parked your car without preparing it for quarantine, no need to stress too much--you’re in a majority.   Most likely, all that is needed is a little diligence and a service at Today’s European Cars. 

If you are handy and have the tools, there are several things you can do to revive your car:

Check tire pressures and inflate to the PSI stated on the sticker inside the driver side door jam, the tire sidewall or to where you like to keep them.  Also inspect your tires.  If you see cracks, you need new tires.  Don’t forget the spare.

Check the coolant level.  Top off with regular water if needed.  This is always a good practice if you are under the hood.

Check the oil.  Again, a great habit.  If your car does not have a dipstick, look in the manual or on a maintenance screen on the car’s dashboard.  Most cars don’t have dipsticks anymore, but there is a level sensor in the oil pan and a way to access it through the dash.  YouTube is loaded with answers for this.

If you think you need new gas, do not start the car.  Instead, siphon out all the old gas and replace it with new gas. Most cars have an anti-siphon mechanism making this difficult.  A shop like ours will probably remove the fuel pump and siphon directly from the tank.

If you think the gas is probably still good, add a quality fuel stabilizer and let it sit for a few hours to remove any condensation that has possibly accumulated in the gas tank.

Next you’ll need to start the car.  Pay attention when you put the key in—is it like you remembered?  If the engine will not turn over, it’s probably a discharged battery. Try charging it with a battery charger. If a jump-start is required, be mindful of the connecting the positive-to-positive terminals and grounding correctly.

If your battery will not hold a charge once the car is running, you probably need a new battery.  We’ve had availability issues with a few of the Mercedes battery sizes—Mercedes is out of stock.  BMW batteries have always been difficult as most cars had three different sizes specified for the car; however, you should use a battery with the same specifications.  Don’t forget to program BMW batteries or reset codes on other German brands.  Don’t mix AGM and traditional batteries.

When your car starts, it may run a bit rough for a while as it works out all that gummed up fuel. The exhaust also might smell different if the gas is old.  Let it idle normally for 10 minutes. Check underneath the hood and car and for any leaks. 

If any of your gaskets went really bad, you might see some puddles underneath the car.  Make a note of what you see and the colors. Remember, most cars have under-panels, so leaks are not always apparent, and you can connect the position of the leak to the position under the car.

Oil – light brown
Transmission fluid – pinkish, except for some Mercedes, which are blue.  Usually more towards the center of the car
Power steering fluid – pinkish
Coolant – Blue for Mercedes and BMW, pink for VW and Audi.  No German modern cars should ever have green.
Brake fluid – clear and usually near a tire

Monitor the temperature of the car to make sure it doesn’t overheat. Don’t idle too long.  If you notice the temperature gauge rising, turn on the heater and put your blower motor on high.  If it still continues to rise, turn off the car immediately. 

If you notice leaks, we can help.  It is never 100% safe to drive with a leak of any sort, so you’ll have to assess whether you can drive it to us or use a tow service.  It all depends on what is leaking, the severity of the leak, and how much fluid has leaked.

We’ll probably start with an oil change and assess your car with our inspection process.  Each one of our techs has more than 10 years of experience; we can review a car efficiently.  Unless specified otherwise, we’ll review your car, build an estimate, talk to you for approval and complete the work as instructed.

Today’s European Cars offers a 24-month or 24,000 mile warranty on our repairs.  We call it the “Longevity Guarantee”.  We can do this because of the quality parts we choose and our benchmark workmanship—it gives us the confidence to offer this warranty to our customers.rs.

Getting TRP Replacement Done On Your Mercedes In Houston

Today’s European Cars is one of the few Independent Mercedes Shops in Houston, TX that can replace any TRP (Theft Related Parts) part on your Mercedes Benz. You might not be familiar with what falls in to this category or why this classification exists.

Theft Related Parts Replacement On Mercedes Benz Automobiles In Houston

Some of the parts that fall in to the TRP category might not appear to fit in to the category. Airbags, transmission gear control units and SRS cables are a few on the list that seem somewhat out of place. Basically parts that can be manipulated during theft are what are mainly on this list. The more relevant list of TRP parts are things like keys of all types mechanical or electronic, locks as well as lock cylinders of all types weather electronic or mechanical, remote locking and unlocking devices which includes key less entry, electronic steering locks, engine control modules, flash ware and repair cds are also on the list.

So what does this mean to you a Mercedes Benz owner? Well any part that is TRP will require you to take it to your local Mercedes Benz dealer, however Today;s European Cars in Houston, TX gives those of you in the area by being one of the few shops in the area that are able to replace TRP parts. This is because they carry a L.S.I.D. license in order to be able to service a MB vehicle needing TRP replacement. These parts require pertinent vehicle owner information to be made available to the shop so be sure you have proof of ownership on hand and a valid picture ID proving you are the owner of the vehicle being serviced.

Theft Related Parts are becoming a way that your Mercedes is safeguarded from theft and therefore the parts required for this type of repair can only be ordered from a dealer and any Independent MB shop will have to have certain credentials as well as the necessary diagnostics equipment in order to do the job properly. Be sure to ask your Indie MB shop that they are set up to handle this or you will need to seek another shop or its time to bite the bullet and head to your local MB dealer.

If you need TRP (Theft Related Parts) replaced in Houston, TX, Today’s European cars is located at 6261 Richmond Ave,Ste E and would welcome you to call and ask questions about our services.

We are a full service Independent Mercedes Benz shop as well as servicing, Audi, Volkswagen, Volvo and Mini Coopers.

Audi Service Center Repair Maintenance Houston

For 100 years Audi has produced high-quality, luxury cars built to last for hundreds of thousands of miles. The safety and endurance of an Audi comes from state-of-the-art German engineering, but after it leaves the showroom, it is up to the owner to provide ongoing care that will nurture their car to its fullest potential.

Finding a reputable garage for your Audi service can make the difference between owning a car for a few years and driving something impeccably special that becomes a valuable and cherished extension of the family. Regular servicing done the right way will ensure the value of your vehicle and save you from unnecessary repair costs and hassles down the road.

Choosing a facility that specializes in Audi for your Audi service and repair needs is imperative for proper maintenance of your Audi. Garages that are geared toward European car repair and servicing such as VW, Mercedes, Volvo, and BMW will use genuine OE (original equipment) parts that will keep your Audi 100% genuine. According to Audi manufacturer guidelines, OE parts are required for all warranty protected work. Audi technicians are trained specifically on Audi diagnostic procedures with state-of-the-art equipment that will uncover any problems or potential trouble spots that cannot be detected with the naked eye.

When planning for your Audi service, it is important that you discuss your options with your Audi technician as to what particular type of service schedule works for you. A full service is usually done once a year (every 12 months) or every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. Manufacturer guidelines vary, as some may require more frequent checks. Your Audi technician will know exactly what is required by Audi and your make of car. The next service option is called interim service which is performed every 6,000 miles or 6 months. Drivers who do a lot of short, urban stop and go type driving should go this route in order to keep their Audi maintained between full servicing. Interim service is also necessary for those who undergo very high mileage on a regular basis. Lastly, if you haven’t driven your Audi in while, it is always important to get it serviced due to problems that occur specifically due to non-engine use.
What to Expect at Each Audi Service Interval

Audi requires synthetic oil which last longer between oil changes (every 10,000 miles). However, changing the oil at 5,000 mile increments is a “cheap insurance” for a high performing vehicle like Audi.

Other fluid checks include checking the levels of your brake fluid, engine oil, coolant, brake and power steering fluids.
Checks on lighting, brakes, signaling and clutch will also be performed, as well as, reading of onboard auto diagnostics.
Air filter checks and replacements and spark plug checks and replacements.
Windshield wiper fluid checks and function checks
Belt and hose checks

One last thing to note is when you find an Audi service center that you like, make every effort to stay with them and develop a full service history. This is a highly sought after source of information that will ensure you get the highest return value from your car.

We are conveniently located in Houston TX just west of the Galleria, and service mainly the Memorial, West University, Mid Town, Heights, Sugarland and Bellaire areas.

BMW, Mini, Smart, VW, Audi, Mercedes Service and Repair

When it comes to having your BMW, Mercedes, Audi, VW or Mini Cooper repaired and serviced in the Galleria are of Houston it is best to find a German car care center in the galleria area or very close by. German cars are precision pieces of machinery and therefore need an experienced mechanic to be serviced and repaired properly. This is where Today’s European Cars an independent shop right next to the galleria area can come in to take care of all your maintenance and repairs on your precision auto! Anything from a simple oil change to complex transmission work can be handled by our certified mechanics!

When it comes to choosing a German car care center in the Galleria how do you decide which will give you the best service?

  • As for a referral from a friend
  • Check out their reviews online
  • See how long they have been in business
  • Ask about the certifications of their mechanics
  • Take a look at the shop and see if its clean and looks organized and professional

You will find Today’s European Cars a perfect fit when you consider the factors above, we excel in all areas! Being an independent shop since 1985 we will let our track record speak for itself.

German cars are precision machines that require expert mechanics that really understand the ins and outs of these cars.

Today’s European Car’s German Auto Center In the Galleria specializes in the service & repair of the following German car’s

Mercedes Repair & Service

We offer the best in Mercedes service and repairs by certified mechanics that understand the intricacies of your Benz. We can handle anything from a simple oil change and tune up to major mechanical repairs on your Mercedes. Our independent Mercedes shop is equipped with the latest in specialized equipment to handle your service and repair just like the dealer!

BMW Repair & Service

BMW is known as “The Ultimate Driving Machine” however in order to be that it needs proper maintenance and care. BMW repair and service is something we have done over and over again in our shop right next to the galleria area. Our shop is equipped with the latest tools to analyze any issue your car maybe having as well as service and repair issues we find. If you’re having trouble with your Beemer let us take a look and see how we can get it back to being the ultimate driving machine that it is!

Mini Cooper Repair and Service

Many Mini Cooper owners can attest to how difficult having their cars repaired can be. The entire process of getting a Mini Cooper service  or repair can be nothing short of frustrating. But you will not get that experience when you bring your car to Today’s European Cars. We have a full staff of technicians who are ASE certified and can assess your Mini Cooper quickly and accurately. So, once you get your Mini back from us, you can head out on your way and enjoy driving your fun car again.

Volkswagen Repair and Service

Volkswagen has a stellar reputation for manufacturing cars that last for many years and hundreds of thousands of miles. In that time, your VW will likely need at least one repair and it will undoubtedly need regular maintenance many times. Your best bet is taking your vehicle to a expert mechanic shop in the Galleria are that can help ensure your car stays in great condition the entire time you own it. Our technicians are experts at working on German cars, and Volkswagens are no exceptions. We can make sure your car outlasts all the other cars on the road.

Audi Repairs and Service

Audis are excellent vehicles with a reputation for being luxurious and high-performance. If you love your Audi, your best bet for keeping it running at an optimal level is to make sure it gets regular maintenance and service at Today’s European Cars. Our technicians have years of experience working on Audi’s and our shop has diagnostic tools that are specifically made for these vehicles. We also have access to genuine Audi parts, so you will not have to worry about anything inferior going into your car.

We Now Service Smart Cars

We have been in the Mercedes repair and service business for many years and since Smart Cars have been acquired by Daimler AG which is the parent company of Mercedes Benz we have now added these amazingly efficient city cars to our list of vehicles we can maintain and care for on your behalf. Anything as simple as a Smart Car oil change to more sophisticated issues can be handled for you by our expert Mercedes mechanics.

If you live in the Houston Galleria area and own a German car, come on over to Today’s European Cars to see how we can serve you! We have been a reliable independent German car shop in your area since 1985! Ask about us and you will see our reputation speaks for itself. All of our staff is knowledgeable and here to help get you back on the road or keep your running on it smoothly.

If you have any question on a repair or service please contact us via phone or email.

Local Auto Repair Quality European Car Repair Houston

Finding a reputable local auto repair shop does not have to be a daunting task if you know what qualities to look for and do a little bit of homework.Local auto repair shops are everywhere, especially in big metropolitan cities such as Houston, Texas. So the task of finding one that best suits your needs can be a bit overwhelming. By utilizing a few simple guidelines, you can take the stress out of your search and walk away confident that you have found the perfect one for you and your car.

Do they specialize in your make of car?
It is important that you find a local auto repair shop that has the proper tools and diagnostic equipment specific to your vehicle. For example, if you drive a BMW, you would want to find a European repair shop that specializes in BMW repair. The equipment used to diagnose a problem with BMW is completely different than those used on a Ford. More specifically, if you have a Audi, take it to a Audi Specialist. Just because a place advertises they are a European repair shop, does not necessarily mean they know anything about all European cars.

Have you ever heard of this place before?
Ask friends for referrals. Everyone that has ever had a bad mechanic will be eager to tell you where NOT to go, as well as, sharing what places have helped them the most without ripping them off.  Be able to explain what problems you are having with your car.Don’t be afraid to mimic a funny sound to your mechanic. Whether it is a buzz, a rattle, a hiss, or a knocking noise, your mechanic will have a good idea what the source of the problem is by just this information alone. Also, time of day the problem occurs is also useful to know, as cold weather or a cold engine will have a different set of issues than when it is hot.

Is the place clean and organized?
“A clean local auto repair shop” is not an oxymoron! It is possible and also necessary that the place you choose is tidy and the mechanics are not lounging around looking confused and disorganized. Their surroundings reflect their work ethic. A good repair shop should be organized with finished and unfinished projects lined up neatly.
Be clear on their policies and procedures.Rates vary from place to place and the repair business is a competitive one. Many places will offer free services to attract your business. If a repair shop is unclear about their rates, they may be trying to charge you more after the job is completed. Find out what guarantees are offered on repairs and delays and what method of payment they accept.

Ask the mechanics about their area of expertise.
It is always important that you find a shop that employs ASE certified mechanics. ASE certification is specialized training that mechanics undergo to certify them specialists on an area of car repair. But just because they have ASE does not necessarily mean they are competent to work on the problems you may be having. For example, ASE certifies in many different categories. One mechanic may have certification for working on engine repair, while the other specializes in brake systems, and yet another may just be a diagnostic specialist. Only a Master Mechanic is certified in all areas of car repair. If your mechanic is not a Master Technician, then make sure if you are having a brake problem, that there is someone there that has ASE certification in that area.

Finding the right local auto repair shop will save you from costly dealership repair costs and also save you some time. Because independent repair shops have less volume than dealerships and chain-repair shops, you will also have the benefit of developing a relationship with your mechanic who will know you and your car my name. Personalized service always leaves you with a great feeling.

We are conveniently located in Houston TX just west of the Galleria, and service mainly the Memorial, West University, Mid Town, Heights, Downtown, River Oaks, Sugarland and Bellaire areas.

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