WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR VEHICLE SITS TOO LONG?
Updated: Aug 23
With the Covid-19 stay-at-home order, many people's vehicles are not used very often. Some people may think that letting a vehicle sit for long periods of time is good for your vehicle. The truth is that a motor vehicle was made to be driven.
So what happens to vehicles that sit for extended periods of time?
The battery will die
Batteries can only hold a charge for so long, and any amount of time more than 3 months is usually too long. On average, most batteries can hold a charge for about two and a half months in a completely unused vehicle.
Planning time away or if you don't need the vehicle right now? The first suggestion would be starting it every two weeks and driving it for at least 15 minutes. If you're away, ask a family member or close friend to do this for you. Just make sure you trust them with your car!
The second suggestion would be using a battery tender, also known as a trickle charger. It's a device that hooks up to the battery on one end and a wall outlet on the other. It transfers enough power to keep life in the battery. This can prove to be the best option especially if you don't have easy access to the vehicle.
Damage to the undercarriage
The next, rather severe, thing to go wrong would be damage to the undercarriage. The suspension and all its components will rust. The undercarriage includes fuel lines, transmission lines, brake lines, and the exhaust system.
The rust is avoidable with something called, tar paper. Tar paper is a type of fabric sheet, used in roofing and it offers moisture, mold and mildew resistance. This can be helpful to your vehicle because it will soak up the moisture causing the rust. All you have to do is line the floor underneath the vehicle and that should help keep the moisture levels down. This will keep the undercarriage dry and more resistant against rust.
Rust is a horrible condition that most cars suffer from due to exposure to the elements. Which means, like the undercarriage of the vehicles, brakes become rusty as well. This is something that is inevitable, but parking on top of tar paper can prolong the life of your brakes. Remember to check the condition of the brakes before you use a vehicle after an extended period of time.
Furthermore, after an extended period of time, dry rot becomes an issue. In time, the tires on the vehicle will lose air and become flat. This is usually caused by excessive amounts of sun exposure. Elevating the vehicle on jack stands will help keep the chances of potential tire issues low. Garages are best for storing unused vehicles, helping keep the elements away completely.
Using a car cover will protect your vehicle from the elements and other nature-related damage, like animals and trees. For example, windy conditions can blow around small tree limbs, dirt, and leaves. This debris can harm the windows and body panels causing scratches and other damage. Bird poop can also cause damage to the paint.
The gas will go bad
When a car sits for too long that usually means whatever gas that was in the vehicle also sits for too long. Causing the gas to go stale. Stale gas opens a window to a whole lot more issues and damage. Rust build up in the gas tank, lower MPG, stalling, and running poorly are all symptoms of stale gas. The worst-case being engine issues.
If you have a vehicle that you don't use very often, use these tips to be sure your vehicle will be ready when you need it. If you know someone who has a sitting vehicle share this post with them. Being in the know means you just may avoid problems with your vehicle.