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How Long Can A Car Sit Without Being Driven

How Long Can A Car Sit Without Being Driven

Whether you are leaving your car sit during the winter season or because you simply own too many cars to drive all at once, it’s important that you maintain them appropriately whilst they are off the road. Within this article, we show you everything you need to know about storing and maintaining your car whilst its parked up.

How Long Can A Car Sit?

In terms of how long a car can sit, it really does depend upon a few factors. For example, if you were to leave the car with the battery connected, it would be the battery that would fail first.

From our experience of leaving cars sit for long periods, most cars that have been left with the battery connected should be able to sit without being driven for at least 2 weeks.

However, as long as you have a suitable car jump stater, you should be able to jump start the car with ease. If you intend to leave your car sit without being driven for much longer, we have some advice below on how to maintain all aspects of the car.

Does Starting The Car Every So Often Help?

Whilst browsing various automotive forums and social media groups, you may come across people stating that you should start the car every so often and let it idle. The purpose of this is that it prevents the battery going flat and keeps the components of the engine moving.

Although this is somewhat true, it isn’t recommended as it can cause condensation to build-up in the engine, which could cause further damage. Those with a distributor cap ignition system may find condensation inside the cap, which makes starting the car harder each time.

Rather than starting the car and letting it idle for a prolonged period, it would be better going out in the car for 15 to 30 minutes every two weeks. Whilst out in the car, try to reach speeds of over 50 MPH or 80 KMH as this helps all the components and fluids reach optimal temperature and allow the battery to gain some charge.

Battery Maintenance Is The Solution

If you want to keep your car’s battery in the best possible condition and ready to start the car at any given time, you will want to maintain the battery whilst it’s sat for long periods. We strongly recommend investing into the best rated battery maintainer you can get your hands on.

They work by keeping the battery fully charged at a safe level and sending an appropriate amount of current based upon the charge level of the battery. Once the battery is fully charged, it will automatically switch to a float mode to maintain the battery at optimum levels.

Therefore, if you plan to let your car sit without being driven for a while, a battery maintainer is highly recommended.

how long can a car sit

How To Prepare Your Car For Storage


The Tires

Whether your car runs budget or premium tires, they still cost a lot and especially when you have to replace all four at once. Therefore, maintaining your tires is quite important because if left for too long, they can pick up flat spots. This can cause all sorts of trouble in terms of vibrations in the car, handling and much more.

The best way to prevent flat spots is to inflate your tires to the manufacturers guidelines and regularly check them every other week. You may also want to try and move your car a few inches forwards or backwards if possible. This enables the main part of the tire in contact with the floor to be released of the weight of the car. You may even opt to place your car upon a set of car dollies as they will be able to keep the tires upon a rounded surface.

The Paintwork

Thoroughly cleaning your car before it goes into storage is always recommended. Not only does it avoid any dirt bonding with the paintwork but it also makes it easier to clean when you drive the car next. If possible, we recommend waxing the car with a quality wax as it will provide the car with much needed protection against the elements. It’s worth noting that before you put your car away, you want to ensure its completely dry beforehand.

Prevent Rusting

If you plan to store a classic car or one that’s prone to rusting, you will want to be extra careful. If you haven’t already treated the rust, it’s advised that you do so beforehand. You will also want to ensure that you keep the car stored in a dry and well-ventilated garage.

As briefly mentioned above, you want to ensure all road salt, grime and general dirt is cleaned from the arches and other areas prone to rusting.

Park Appropriately & Avoid Condensation

Although mold can be easily cleared with pretty much any car upholstery cleaner, it’s always best to avoid it in the first place. Condensation is the main cause of mold, which means you want to try and avoid huge temperature differences (hot sun during the day to cold nights). Although this is quite difficult in the majority of garages, you can help prevent condensation by installing a car dehumidifier in your car. These are basically small bags of silica gel balls that absorb the moisture within the car.

Left Over Fuel

When it comes to the fuel left in the tank, there is a common myth that you should leave it as empty as possible. However, this is completely untrue because it can cause condensation to form in the fuel tank. The best option would be to fill the tank all the way as it leaves no room for the condensation to build-up.

We would also recommend using a product known as STA-BIL, which is the best rated fuel additive on the market. Its main purpose is to keep the fuel fresh for up to 2 years.

how long can a car sit without driving

Starting The Car For The First Time

Whether your car has been stood for 3 months or 3 years, you will want to perform several checks before going on a drive. The first would be to check for any signs of oil leaks under the car, this can be anything from oil from the engine to power steering fluid.

After checking for any oil spills under the car, you will then want to turn your attention to all the fluid levels. The main being the engine and topping it up with oil or performing a complete oil change if required. Other fluids that you should check before going out for a drive include transmission, brake, screen wash and much more.

Depending upon how long the car has been sat will determine whether you will need to flush the fuel system. If its been less than a couple of years, you should be fine but if not, it’s worth flushing it through for peace of mind. A quick smell of the fuel filler cap should give telltale signs that the fuel is good or bad.

If you intend to use the battery that was left inside the car, you may also want to hook it up to a car battery charger beforehand and fully charge it. If you turn off the car whilst out of the first drive or stall, it may not turn back on because the alternator hasn’t charged the flat battery enough.

Storing Electric Vehicles

When it comes to long term storage of an electric vehicle, it wouldn’t be the same process as the above due to the fact that it charges up using an EV charger. Most manufacturers recommended pressing the start button so that it operates the charging system once per week for around 10 minutes. Alternatively, some vehicles may be able to maintain their batteries whilst plugged into their charger. To be on the safe side, we recommend checking the handbook as most electric vehicles will differ.

Conclusion

Leaving your car sit without driving it is fairly common for those that own multiple cars. However, the way you maintain the cars whilst they are sat is crucial if you intend to keep them in good working order. Hopefully all of our above tips will allow you to safely maintain your cars whilst they are stored for long periods.

procarreviews author

Written By Dan

About the Author

Dan is an automotive journalist and owner of over 10 cars ranging from supercars, tuned cars, classics and your good old beater cars. He always likes to get his hands dirty with nut and bolt restorations or detailing sessions using the best products on the market.

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