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How Long Can Your Car Sit Without Driving It?

Whether you’re working from home, following social distancing guidelines or storing your convertible for the winter, parking a car for long periods of time can take a toll on your vehicle. Learn the simple solution to alleviate any concern

auto maintenance 01-05-21 Share:
Whether you’re working from home, following social distancing guidelines or storing your convertible for the winter, parking a car for long periods of time can take a toll on your vehicle.

The result? You may have trouble getting your car started when it’s time for your next drive.

The areas of concern include:

Tires: When a car sits idle for a long time, the weight of the vehicle flattens out a portion of the rubber on the tires. “Flat-spotting” weakens the tire, which can lead to a flat or a blowout if the tire fails while the car is in motion. A month of sitting stationary could cause problems.

Brakes: Brake rotors can begin to develop rust when unused, Edmunds says. If a vehicle’s parking brake is engaged for a long period of time, the brake pads can bind to the rotors.

Battery: A car’s battery will lose its charge if it sits idle too long. You can disconnect the battery to stop this from happening or use a plug-in battery tender to maintain the charge.

Fluids: The fluids needed to run and lubricate a motor vehicle can break down if the car sits idle too long. Gaskets and hoses can dry out and crack. Power steering is among several systems requiring fluids to function properly.

Belts and Hoses: As rubber components age, they can start to dry out and crack. Because drivers are accustomed to replacing most vehicle parts based on mileage, they may neglect to inspect their belts and hoses. But when a vehicle is in storage, these parts may need to be replaced in as little as three-to-five years.

Pests: For that mouse in your garage, a parked car can become a ready-made home. And when they move in, mice can do major damage to a vehicle — chewing wires, plastic and insulation to build their nest. Rodents can move in overnight. And the longer they’re left undisturbed, the more damage they can do.

Gas: Did you know that gasoline can go bad? When it’s not in an airtight container, fuel reacts with oxygen, which causes it to degrade. This process begins after about 30 days. And it only takes three-to-six months for a tank of gas to go bad. Old gasoline loses its engine-igniting abilities and develops gummy deposits and varnish which can damage other components of your car’s fuel system.

How often should I drive my parked car?

One of the myths of auto storage is that starting your engine regularly can protect your vehicle while it’s not being driven. However, when you start your car without driving it, or only take a short trip around the block, your vehicle won’t reach its full operating temperature. This leaves condensation in the exhaust and oil which won’t be burned off — and can cause damage in the long run.

We recommend driving your car for at least 20 minutes once every two weeks and reach speeds over 50 mph.

Now that the vaccine is being distributed, we do anticipate our business to pick up. Since many vehicles are overdue for service, we recommend you schedule an appointment soon. 

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