How to Maintain a Car That Isn't Driven Much

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As a result of the COVID pandemic, more people are working remotely than ever, even now that companies have reopened and returned to business as usual. This change, along with a surge in online shopping, results in many drivers using their cars far less than before, sometimes not for weeks or months. Others have a secondary vehicle that sees little use most of the time.

Whatever the reason, when an automobile remains dormant, there are adverse consequences that affect the performance and condition of the vehicle. For example, the battery loses its charge, tire pressure drops, gas tanks collect moisture, fluids and oils age and lose their effectiveness, and seals on sensitive parts such as the air conditioning unit can dry up, reducing its performance.

Fortunately, with some care, you can maintain an infrequently used vehicle to prevent serious problems so that it will be ready when you need it.

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Tips for Maintaining a Car that Isn't Driven Much

Your first order of business is to provide a haven for the vehicle, out of the elements, if possible, to avoid various conditions that can cause undue wear and tear. An indoor garage is best, but even a portable carport can reduce exposure to bird droppings, rain, and sunlight, the latter of which can cause damage to your paint job as well as the interior of the automobile. If nothing else, a car cover can provide at least some protection.

Once your car has some form of shelter, you should perform the following maintenance procedures to ensure your vehicle remains in tip-top shape:

  • Wash and Wax the Car: This best practice will ensure that your paint remains in good condition and has additional protection.

  • Check Tire Pressure Weekly: Dormant tires are more likely to lose air, resulting in less effective function while driving or even flats. Perform a routine check once a week, refilling air as necessary to keep tires in optimum condition.

  • Drive the Car at least Once a Week: Firing up the car has several uses, such as helping the battery keep its charge and allowing fluids to cycle through the vehicle. A short 15-minute ride can make a huge difference, but if that is not possible, at least letting it run for that long can help. However, when a car sits on tires in the same spot for long periods, it can cause flat areas, so shifting the position will help alleviate problems.

  • Keep a Full Gas Tank: The less fuel within the tank, the more problems can happen. Moisture can build up within the tank itself, and the inside can even begin to rust.

  • Change Fluids Regularly: Remember that oil changes often have a mileage indicator and a time frame for replacement, whichever of the two comes first. In this case, maintain the six-month recommended time frame for oil changes as moisture can collect within, and it becomes less effective as it remains dormant. It is a good idea to replace the other fluids in the car, such as coolant and brake fluid.

  • Replace the Air Filter: Check this regularly, and if it shows signs of wear or you last changed it a while ago, replace it.

  • Check Under the Hood: Every week or two, look beneath the hood. First, inspect the hoses and tubes for any cracks or damage that may need attention. Next, test the battery to see if it needs replacing and whether there is any corrosion.

  • Consider a Battery Trickle Charger: An unused car battery can die surprisingly fast, so you may consider investing in a trickle charger. This device will ensure the battery receives enough power to keep it from draining.

  • Search for Pests: While evaluating the workings beneath the hood, keep an eye out for rodents or other pests that enjoy making their homes in dormant vehicles. If you see evidence, plan to eliminate them through traps or other means.

  • Keep the Interior Clean: A messy car can invite other pests, such as ants, mainly if there are any food crumbs or similar attractants. Vacuum the interior and ensure there aren't any pest attractants in hidden locations, such as under or between the seats.

  • Avoid Using the Parking Brake : When kept locked, a parking brake can sometimes become stuck in place because of extended time in that position or because of moisture. If you need additional stability, consider other means, such as wedges.

Tips for Maintaining a Car When No One is Driving It

If you do not intend to use the vehicle for an extended time, consider disconnecting the battery to reduce potential corrosion. However, this process can be dangerous, so research safety measures or consult a professional beforehand.

Even if you have a garage or carport, consider covering the vehicle to protect it from additional dust and debris. This measure can save your paint job and protect it from bird droppings or sunlight if your automobile is outdoors.

Finally, it would be best to consider a fuel stabilizer, as gasoline tends to break down over time. The stabilizer will keep gas fresh for nearly two years, so you will not need to drain it before using the car unless it remains unused beyond that extended period.


When preparing your car for periods of little to no usage, check your vehicle's manufacturer's recommendations for specific maintenance guidelines. If the automobile is allowed to sit for some time without attention, it can result in a dead battery, flat tires, and out-of-date parts or fluids that can hinder its proper functioning or even lead to expensive repairs.

Drive the vehicle at least once a week to keep everything in working order and help the battery keep its charge. Ensure the interior is clean, the paint is washed and waxed, and appropriate coverage protects the vehicle from the elements. Check and replace the oil and other fluids regularly, keep a full gas tank, and keep an eye on the tires to prevent a loss of pressure or flats.

With a bit of love and care, your car will remain in optimum condition, ready for when you need it.