TORONTO -- While auto experts have advised drivers to take their neglected vehicles out for a brief spin once a week to keep the battery charged during quarantine, there are a number of other things they can do to ensure it's in working condition when its time to drive it regularly again.

Kristine D’Arbelles, senior manager of public affairs for the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), said that while motorists should be taking their vehicles out once a week to prevent the battery from dying and the tires from developing flat spots, they don’t need to go out for long drives. They can also combine check-up with running other errands, such as buying groceries or picking up medications at the pharmacy.

“While it’s important to keep our vehicle in good working order, safety should really be a priority,” she told during a telephone interview from Ottawa on Tuesday.

“The last thing we want is a whole bunch of cars on the road again with the potential for collisions because then we would be taxing our health-care system, which is already under pressure with the pandemic right now.”

Instead, D’Arbelles said, motorists can take the long route to the grocery store or pharmacy to ensure the vehicle is being driven for approximately 20 minutes each week.

Dave Weatherhead, a licensed automotive technician and professor at Centennial College in Toronto, said those weekly drives will also help polish off any surface rust that might develop on the vehicle’s brake rotors if the parking brake has been left engaged for a period of time.

“It’s like wiping off your patio table after a week because it’s got dirt on it,” he explained to on Tuesday.

D’Arbelles agreed and said that surface rust on the brake rotors can occur in as early as three or four days of inactivity. She also said it’s a good idea for people to pre-emptively book an appointment with their garage in a month or two to have them do a thorough inspection and clean of the vehicle if it’s not being used very often during the quarantine.

“It’s one thing to keep in mind as we start to hopefully plan for a summer where we can all be back to normal,” she said. “This may be something that you want to talk to your to your garage about.”

As for whether drivers should keep their gas tanks filled even if they’re rarely using their vehicle, D’Arbelles said it’s a good idea to prevent moisture from entering and condensation developing in there.

“The recommendation is at least three-quarters full,” she said.

Because it’s still cold in some parts of the country, with temperatures dropping below 0 C, D’Arbelles said there is still the risk of condensation for some vehicles.

“If you have a lot of buildup of condensation, a lot of that water turns into ice and then what happens when ice or when water turns into ice, it expands and can potentially cause issues in your vehicle,” she said.

For newer vehicles, however, Weatherhead said the risk for condensation developing in the gas tank isn’t such a problem because most tanks are made of plastic. He also said gasolines have a longer life span than they used to so there’s less risk of them spoiling if they’re left sitting for too long.

“It used to be, you’d go for a few months and you’d want to put in stabilizers,” he said. “Today, the gasolines are just that much better that they don't necessarily need it, per se.”

For drivers of electric vehicles that don’t have gas tanks, D’Arbelles said they should take a quick peek inside their owner’s manual to see what the minimum charge should be to maintain it if it’s not being used as often.

“It doesn't have to be plugged in for every single second of every single day that it’s sitting in your driveway,” she said.

Another recommendation for drivers is to check with their insurance provider to see if they’re offering any discounts for customers who aren’t using their vehicles as often during the pandemic, according to Weatherhead.

“It might be worth investigating because like myself, who normally puts on 500 kilometres a week, it’s a lot different than me doing 20 kilometres a week just going to the grocery store,” he said.

D’Arbelles, too, said this is a good idea for all drivers, especially those who may have lost income due to the pandemic.

“This will really, really help make sure that they can maintain their finances and reduce payments where they can so definitely that's one thing that you should be looking into,” she said.