Do You Seldom Drive? Don't Let Your Car Go Idle for a Long Time
Admit it: There are some days where driving seems to be the last thing on your mind. Perhaps, it’s been raining for days already, or you just have this desire to watch the entire Game of Thrones series with your pet goldfish.
And while they’re all valid recreational activities, have you ever stopped to consider how this can affect your car? A couple of days is fine--but what if it takes longer? What if you decided to watch the entire rerun of "Friends," and go couch surfing with friends for two months?
If that’s the case, make sure you do this to your car from time to time:
Tip #1: Drive Around
Drive your car for 20 to 30 minutes around your neighborhood to warm up the engine. You can do this once or twice a week. The key here is to warm it up enough to full operating temperature—enough to burn off moisture in the system, neutralize acids during combustion, allow the oil to circulate through all of the bearings, and to make the lube oil move up the cylinders and pistons to prevent wear and tear when starting the engine.
How long should you drive your vehicle?
If your car is new, then you actually don't need to do this every week--once a month will suffice. However, if your car is three years older or more, then it's good to do this practice once or twice every week.
Can you just start your engine while your car remains idle and run it for half an hour?
No--you should drive it around. Doing this heats the engine faster, and lets car parts do what they're supposed to do. Really, you can never tell what's happening with your vehicle.
There are times your parking brakes are stuck, or the seals are dried out. Your brake cylinders might lock up, or the rubber in your car's belt pulleys and tires are starting to harden. And worst of all--your fuel might spoil and accumulate sediments at the bottom. You can prevent them from happening by actually driving your vehicle around the block for 20-30 minutes.
Tip #2: Change your car's oil first
If you plan to do couch aerobics and watch the entire season of "Friends," and "Game of Thrones" repeatedly for four or five months, then by all means, change your car's oil before storing them first. Dirty oil in an idle car can lead to corroded bearings due to the slight moisture or even acid build-up that happen over time.
Tip #3: Disconnect the battery
It's also a good practice to just disconnect the battery when you’re not going to use your car for a month or so. And don't forget to have a battery charger available at all times in case your couch surfing extends far longer than it takes for you to lose 30 pounds.
Tip #4: Invest in a Battery Tender
If you plan to remain glued to your Xbox continuously for an x-number of months, them it's best to just get one of those solar or plug-in Battery Tenders for your car. Remember that batteries discharge when left on their own. When it gets low, the alternator will work more to get the battery back in shape once you drive it again. This can increase wear-and-tear not only on your alternator, but also your starter.
What a Battery Tender does is to "trickle charge" your battery--just enough so it doesn't discharge totally. This keeps it constantly cycled, which keeps your battery healthier for a longer time.
So there you have it--helpful tips to keep in mind should you decide to go "cold turkey" with your vehicle for a while. They're not hard to implement, so don’t forget to do them before you watch SpongeBob SquarePants Episode-4 for the twelfth time once again.