What Happens If You Don't Drive Your Car For Long Periods Of Time?

Under the Hood of a Vehicle | Lou's Car Care Center, Inc.


The last few years have had the world adjusting to a “new normal”. Many people are now working from home or not driving as much as they once were. We are often asked, “Will not driving my car have a negative impact on the engine, engine oil, battery, brakes and tires?” “What can I do to keep my car running smoothly during this transitional time?” Here are some tips to keep your car in top shape, even if you don’t drive it often.




It is not necessary to drive your car every day. Driving a few times a week can help keep things moving along and prevent running into issues in the near future.




Vehicles that aren’t driven regularly will drain the battery. There are multiple systems that still draw power as a vehicle sits.  Your car’s battery will recharge as you drive which is why a battery can last for several years.  There is no set time for how long the car needs to be parked for the battery to drain. It could be up to two weeks or less if the battery is aged or in poor condition. Extreme heat or cold can aid in causing your battery to lose its charge as well.


Brakes that aren’t being engaged often become corroded and rusty if the car is parked for a period of time. Moisture can build up on the steel brake rotor, leaving a layer of rust behind. The longer a vehicle sits, the layer of rust increases and the brake pads become susceptible to rust buildup as well. It is important to use your brakes cautiously when operating a vehicle that hasn’t been driven in a while. Make sure to use your vehicle's brakes frequently to remove the buildup of rust and corrosion and ensure that the brake pedal doesn’t feel spongy.


Tire pressure can decrease more quickly than if the vehicle was being driven. Flat spots can also start to form when a car sits stationary for a long period of time. The weight of the vehicle press down on the same spot on the tire day after day. You will likely experience vibration when you drive a vehicle that has been sitting and low tire pressures can make the vibration worse. Before you jump in the driver’s seat, make sure that the tires are up to the right pressures (do not over or under inflate the tires). The tires can also develop sidewall cracking known as Tire Dry Rot. Any impurities on the tire’s side wall (outside edge of the tire) make the tire unsafe to drive on, even if your tire tread has adequate depth.




If you know that your car isn’t going to be driven for a period of time, we recommend that you:


  1. ​Fill up the gas tank. Moisture is less likely to form in a gas tank that is full. Too much moisture in your fuel can cause rust in your fuel system, damage injectors and engine cylinders.
  2. Start your car at least once a week and allow the engine to run for 15-30 minutes. This can help prevent the battery from losing its charge. We also suggest to put your battery on a battery tender or disconnect your battery. This will stop the car from drawing power from the battery. (We do not recommend leaving a running vehicle unattended and should you not run a vehicle in a garage as the exhaust fumes will build up.)
  3. Drive the vehicle a few times a month to keep your brake rotors free from rust build up, fuel flowing through the injectors, charge the battery and keep the tires properly inflated. Taking a drive on the highway is highly recommended.​If your vehicle will be sitting for an extended period of time (even a couple of weeks), do not engage your parking brake. If the parking brake locks up, it can cause damage to the rear brakes.
  4. We can help! Call Lou’s at 315-638-0281, ext.2.  We’ll gladly answer any questions that we can or schedule an appointment for us to look into any issues with your vehicle.


When it comes to auto repair and maintenance, Lou's Car Care is the right choice. Servicing Baldwinsville, Syracuse, Camillus, Liverpool, Cicero, Clay, Fayetteville and Manlius communities since 1976. We perform regular maintenance and emergency repair. We are here and ready to help!


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