More Minnesotans are working from home than ever before. If you recently transitioned from commuting to staying put, you’re probably wondering, “How often should I drive my car?”
The answer affects everything from car battery health to the condition of your tires. Our master mechanics understand the effects of long-term parking including these five potential problems.
1. Battery Drain
Without regular driving, your car battery slowly loses its charge. Starting the engine and letting it idle isn’t enough. The electrical system needs to operate in full gear to recharge. This can be alleviated by taking your car for a spin around your neighborhood or to the grocery store once a week or so.
Power Tip: If you only drive the car every few weeks, a trickle charger can help prevent a dead battery.
2. Tire Wear
Your car’s weight puts enormous pressure on the tires, especially when it’s parked long term. That’s the case while you’re driving, too, but when you’re parked it wears on just a small portion of the tire. Over time, they develop flat spots that can lead to serious tire damage.
3. Oil Sludge
How often should you change the oil? It depends on how long the car stays parked. Condensation can result in oil sludge buildup. Check the oil’s condition at least once a month, and change if necessary.
4. Fuel Tank Trouble
The same condensation that affects engine oil also accumulates in the fuel tank, especially during cold weather. Even a little water in the gas tank can cause acceleration problems and engine stalling. If your car is parked outside, especially in the cold, you could encounter difficulties starting the car.
Power Tip: If you aren’t driving more than once a month, use a fuel stabilizer to keep gas from going bad.
5. Brake Pad Problems
Too much time in the garage leaves a thin layer of rust on the brake rotors, and that can cause brake pads to stick. The problem can be hard on your car’s braking system, but it usually solves itself with a quick drive.
Easy Driving Solutions
You can’t fix parked-car trouble by turning the engine over for a few minutes. Plan on driving at least 10 miles a week. Promote good car battery health by taking routes that let you ramp up to 50 mph.
How often should you change the oil? Check with the pros at your local auto service center. They’re your best resource for tips on DIY car maintenance while you’re working from home.
Solid Car Facts
The next time someone asks, “How often should I drive my car?” you’re ready with the answer. You can back it up with solid facts from our auto pros across our Minneapolis and St. Paul auto shops here at Kennedy Transmission. We’re always ready to help you get the most out of your car regardless of where you’re working.