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What Happens If A Car Is Not Driven For Months

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  • 14-04-2022
What Happens If A Car Is Not Driven For Months

 What happens if a car is not driven for months? Find out what can go wrong if your car sits unused and the minimum you should drive your car?

What Can Go Wrong If Your Car Sits Unused?

Owing to a diverse list of reasons, your vehicle may not be getting much use, and instead, it's left sitting in a garage or parked for a long time, for instance, during long vacations, buying a new car or reusing an old car, reduced travel for work or using a bike, or various other life events.

When your car is left in a different location from you or your home, you could hire a friend or professional to car sit, taking it on regular drives and ensuring its safety.

Leaving your car parked for weeks, months or years without it being driven at all can cause varying levels of damage from external rust to serious engine damage, making it hard to start your vehicle.

Luckily, there are some helpful tricks and tips to minimise and prevent any serious damage to your vehicle. 

What could happen to your car if you leave it undriven for too long?

Issues can stem from not driving your vehicle for a long time and leaving the engine turned off. Here are some of the key issues that could happen if your car is left sitting in the driveway for too long. Don't lose time getting back in the driving seat; ensure you prepare your vehicle properly and take necessary precautions for safety. 

The car's battery keeps the systems running and ensures you can start the car. If the battery is flat, then your car isn't moving. Beneficially when you drive your car, you're charging it at the same time using the alternator, meaning that this is unlikely to happen if the car's regularly used. 

However, if the car has been sat idle, the battery has no active charging and can therefore die. To get your engine going again, you'd need to jump the car battery; this can be done with portable car chargers or jump leads using the battery of another vehicle.

Leaving your car sat in one space can cause the tires to warp, flatten or deflate entirely. Although they always hold the weight of the car, the shape of the tire is kept through a steady use of the vehicle as pressure moves around the tire. 

An unused car's tire's should be checked before use, namely the air pressure or any noticeable bubbles that could cause future tire blowout when driving at high speeds.

Rust is an expected issue with unused vehicles; more specifically, the brakes are prone to rust when left for extended periods of time. Rusty or damaged brakes are incredibly dangerous and cause problems, ensure your brakes are checked before driving an unused car again.

To check the brakes, apply them and listen for any squeaks or grinding noises from the brake systems; this will show any deterioration or damage.

Typically, fuel becomes viscous, which can cause major problems for a car's fuel pump. For unleaded fuel, the process begins within 3-6 months, and for diesel, it's 6-12 months. 

If your car has remained undriven for this length of time, you'll likely need to remove the old fuel. This is best done by a hired mechanic or a confident car owner.

Although exterior damaged may not directly impact the quality of the drive, it can eventually lead to more problems. Exterior damage can be caused when a car isn't correctly stored in a garage or some kind of cover that prevents sun and element damage. 

The paint can become worn down, leading to a duller colour, and potentially cracking in the bodywork. Furthermore, Tree sap and bird droppings caused by being parked under a tree or ledge can severely damage the clear layer that protects the paint. 

All of the above damages can lower the value of your car unless fixed, not to mention it'll look shabby and uncared for.

Even storing your car in a garage or general storage can come with its fair share of problems. Namely infestation from various critters and creatures, this could be mice, rats or Termites, who seek warmth during the winter months. 

They can chew on wires, disintegrate wooden features, scratch bodywork and potentially expose you to diseases.

To prevent infestation, ensure your car is properly covered, check on it twice a week, and give it a short drive every month to stop your car from becoming home to pesky pests. Additionally, cover up any easy access points like the exhaust or air intake to prevent midges from sneaking in. 

What's the Minimum I Should Drive My Car?

Seldom drivers, or those with too many cars to drive just one, are likely to leave cars unused for longer periods than a family of 5 on the school runs or businessman travelling cross country.

So if you're not a regular driver, make sure you are aware of the damages you may be causing, and try to maintain a regular drive schedule. 

It's recommended that vehicles are driven every two to three weeks for at least 10 miles, with varying speeds up to and over 50.

These drives will heavily reduce the likelihood of a flat battery, engine damage, flat tires, infestation, and other issues and allow your car's engine to avoid a dormant state.

Unlike just turning the car on and leaving it, the advised short drive will reignite transmission, suspension, brakes, power steering, climate systems, and fluids.

WHAT'S THE MINIMUM I SHOULD DRIVE MY CAR?

How do I prepare my car for storage?

By following the recommendations for regular short drives and applying the proper storage preparation, it's viable for you to leave your car sitting for months, maybe even years, without causing serious or irreversible damage.

Giving your car's interior and exterior a thorough clean before storage can prevent rust or cosmetic damage and prevent insect infestation.

Another tip is to ensure your handbrake is left off; although this may sound wrong, it prevents the fusing of brakes in cold and wet weather.

Furthermore, when storing for a long time, raising the car off the ground using blocks or sands can reduce the weight left on the tires, in turn reducing the chances of flat or warped tires.

Below are some tips to prevent damage and ensure your car is driveable once out of storage, with limited repairs required. 

 Oil

Before leaving your car for extended periods, make sure an oil and filter service is carried out, either by yourself or a mechanic.

Additives can be bought for oil and fuel to help stabilise the substances and deter internal engine damage.

 Battery

The car battery can die when left in an unused car; this is owed to the alternator not self-charging whilst driving.

When putting a car into storage, the battery should be disconnected and removed, then put in a cool and dry place.

 Insurance

You may feel tempted to remove the insurance from your car when it's in storage to save some money; however, this can leave your car vulnerable in the event of a theft, fire or damage.

Comprehensive insurance covers on-road incidents and storage or parked incidents; however, it's best to check that your insurance company covers long-term storage. 

Besides, an insurance gap can make it more expensive in the future when you go to insure it again.

 Fuel

To avoid unused fuel becoming viscous, you can easily drain your car of all remaining fuel and correctly store it to reuse when needed.

This will help prevent the fuel pump from breaking down and save you costly mechanic fees.

 Be wary that the process can start in as little as 30 days, with the fuel turning bad within 3-6 months.


If you require annual servicing, choose a garage that you can trust. Follow the link below to contact a car service mechanic in Watford.