Why You Shouldn’t Let Your Car Sit Unused

Things Fall Apart

With all the time we’re spending working at home and avoiding people thanks to the outbreak, our cars might sit unused for a while. Although it’s not a problem to leave a car parked for a few days, there are a number of problems if you let your car sit unused too long.  According to SE Performance, there are a few things you should check on if you aren’t using your car regularly.

1. Tires

flat tireThe tires take the most pressure from the weight of the car, so when your car sits unused for extended periods, they are the first to suffer.

First of all, the weight of the car can cause flat spots to appear in your tires if they sit unused too long.  The pressure naturally forces air out of the bottom of your tires. If you go for a long time without driving your car, you’ll get flats more often. This has effects on other parts of your car as well. This throws the alignment of the axle off, which in turn can cause parts to grind and wear out when you drive.  It also throws off your steering, reduces the performance of the car overall, puts added stress on the breaks, and causes a whole bunch of other problems.

Additionally, any part of the tire that touches the ground is at risk from dry rot that can damage the traction. The weight can also cause warping of the tire itself, which will then need to be replaced.

2. Battery

The battery is another thing you have to check on regularly if you let your car sit unused. Your car’s battery naturally loses charge over time, but the loss is kept in check by regular use.  Once the engine comes on, it generates energy that helps recharge the battery. This way, regular use keeps the battery going strong. If you leave your car sitting unused too long, however, that charge will drain without being replenished. Not only does a little bit of the charge drain naturally without use, but many components of your car (your radio, the clock, etc) will continue to use power so they can remember the settings.

3. Moving Parts

Your car has a lot of moving parts: windshield wipers, electric seats, etc. The longer these parts go without being used, the more likely they are to jam up and stop working. Things can get into the moving parts, moisture can cause corrosion, and the circuitry can develop faults. This will take longer than the outbreak is likely to last, but if you don’t run your car regularly, you should have these checked out next time you have an inspection.

4. Engine

vehicle maintenanceThe engine also has a lot of moving parts, so it’s subject to the same problems. In addition to that, the wiring can go bad, and the rubber parts can corrode. It’s also common for animals to nest in the engine area of a car if it sits unused for too long. They can chew on the wires and rubber parts.

5. Fluids

Your car’s fluids will lose their effectiveness naturally, but it happens much faster if you let it sit unused. While the car sits, the fluids settle and gravity causes the heavier chemicals to separate from the water. This leaves you with fluids that are too thick to do their job and a lot of moisture that can corrode the metal and rubber parts.

6. General Appearance

The longer a car sits unused, the dirtier it’s going to get. This is especially true if you park it under a tree, or out in the rain. The rain will bring down dirt and dust in the air to deposit on your car. Trees will drop seeds, berries, or sap on it. Birds splatter it with their feces. Not only does this look bad, but it can also corrode the paint job.

What Can I Do?

So, now that you know some of the things that can go wrong if your car sits unused too long, what can you do about it? Well, the first and most obvious answer is don’t let it sit too long. If you are working from home due to the outbreak, it might be a good idea to take your car out for a ride just to keep things moving. You don’t have to drive every day, but twice a week should help keep these problems from developing.

It also doesn’t hurt to wash and clean your car regularly. This will help remove the dirt and dust that builds up on your car while it sits. Once a month should be enough to keep it in good condition.

Anything Else?

Wear and tear is natural. Whether you leave your car sitting, or drive it regularly, it will get damaged over time. Regular inspections and check-ups are good to keep your car in tip-top shape. If you’ve owned your car for a while, you should know how it normally handles. If something feels off, don’t ignore it.  This will save you money in the long run.  Your car’s parts are all interrelated, so a problem in one area will lead to problems in others.  It’s less expensive to fix problems when you first notice them, rather than wait for the car to break down.  If you feel something is wrong, have a mechanic check on it before it becomes a real problem.