It makes sense that a car that is rarely driven will last longer, right? It may seem counterintuitive, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Vehicles are meant to be driven, and various issues can arise if they aren’t stored properly or driven fairly regularly. If you have a car, truck, or SUV that you only drive occasionally, in the summer, to car shows, etc., this one is for you. Here’s what you need to know, from Autoworks in Ithaca, NY.
What are the visible consequences of rarely driving a car? - If you don’t drive your vehicle often, you might be surprised how things deteriorate as it sits in the driveway or garage. Sunlight in particular, is very damaging - especially if the sun hits the vehicle in the same way every day. Clear coat begins to oxidize and peel, and the same happens to the paint. Plastic components fade or warp as well, like bumpers, mirrors, and trim. The interior is especially vulnerable to sunlight - the extra heat generated in the car causes upholstery to deteriorate, plastic and vinyl to develop cracks, and so on. Many people will park a vehicle in the shade to avoid sun damage - if you’ve picked a tree as your source of shade, you’ll encounter a different set of problems. Leaves and tree sap can damage your vehicle’s exterior as well. Car covers assist in protecting your vehicle. A carport is better, and a garage is best. Even still, you want to keep the vehicle washed to avoid scratches from dust settling on and damaging your paint. Rubber also deteriorates over time - when it comes to tires, age is just as important as mileage, and a tire that never touches the street will still go bad as a result of “dry rot” or deterioration over time.
What are the mechanical consequences of rarely driving a car? - These issues are more problematic - you can’t always see them, and they can get expensive. Vehicles are engineered to be driven...as long as they are used regularly, everything stays lubricated and operating as it should. An engine, for example, can develop several problems as a result of time. People will say “but it only has 50,000 miles!” when an engine develops a problem, but it happens all the time. Seals dry up and shrink with age, bearings and lifters slowly become dry of oil, and belts and hoses deteriorate as well. Any of these problems can destroy an engine in short order if they aren’t caught and corrected prior to starting the vehicle. Bad gasoline is another leading cause of stored vehicle problems. Once gasoline expires, there’s a huge risk of gumming up fuel components, or sticky gas getting into the cylinders that can cause an engine to malfunction or become damaged. The best way to prevent this from happening is to drive the car more often, or at least start it and warm it up regularly. Most of the time, a 20 year old car with 10,000 miles on it will actually be less likely to be as reliable as one the same age with 100,000 miles.
Keep your fluids and rubber fresh, run your vehicle regularly, and keep it out of the sun. It’s also a good idea to bring your vehicle in for regular maintenance, regardless of how often you drive it. For all your maintenance and repair needs, our technicians have you covered. Whether you keep it in storage or drive it every day, call or stop by Autoworks in Ithaca, NY any time.
Thank you for visiting Autoworks in Ithaca, NY. Count on our automotive repair technicians to keep your car, truck, suv, or van on the roads longer and safer.