What Happens When You Haven't Driven Your Car for Months

car battery with jumper cables attached

There are lots of reasons why you may not be driving every day. Maybe you work from home, or maybe you're in quarantine. Maybe you're snowed in, or it's just that there's nowhere to go. But what you'll learn when you slide behind the wheel once more is that cars need to be driven regularly. And if they aren't, you could be facing some pretty big problems.

Tires

Car tires are truly some of the most reliable inventions ever created. Rubber is a naturally tough substance that has a ton of great qualities. It's strong enough to support the car's weight and still shock-absorbent and springy, even after it's been exposed to years of snow, rain, and heat.

However, if your tires are just sitting and not moving, you could experience several issues. All the pressure of the car sitting on the tires with no movement and no motion does take a toll. In time, tires will lose air pressure and go flat. If the flat spots are left to send, they can actually become permanent. The rubber will not go back to its original shape, and you'll have flat spots in the rubber that you can feel as you drive.

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If your car is sitting for a really long time, ties can also rot away. This means that your tires will have to be replaced entirely rather than simply aired up again. Tires are expensive, so you don't want this.

flat tires on car in stone driveway

Battery

If the battery of the car isn't firing up and being used regularly, it will die. The battery will still be able to work, but it will need some help before it does. This means you'll have to get a jump start to re-energize the battery. The car needs to drive for a few miles for the battery to recharge.

Bigger Issues

So what, right? So you'll replace the tires, get a jump start and get back on the road—no big deal. Well, you asked for it. There are actually some severe problems that can result from not driving a car. For starters, your car is filled with various fluids. If these fluids are sitting stagnant instead of circulating through the car the way they're supposed to, it can create corrosion. Eventually, the fluid eats through plastic, even metal, which can create extremely costly repairs.

car wiring exposed in casing that's been eaten away

And then there's the wildlife. Rodents, in particular, can cause damage to your car because they're small. They can get into the exhaust, under the hood, and just about anywhere else they want to go. Once they're in, you're done. They may eat wires and do severe damage. Let your car sit for too long, and rodents may choose to build a next there.

Fuel Pump

Depending on your car's age, the vehicle's fuel pump could fail in as little as three months if the vehicle isn't being driven. That's because fuel goes back in three to six months, which can cause the fuel pump to go bad. The bad fuel can cause corrosion in the fuel pump and the fuel injectors, causing serious damage.

fuel pump on wood surface

So How Much is Enough?

Not driving often is actually a great way to save money, and it helps the environment, too. So you're doing a good thing by reducing the amount of time you spend driving. But still, you don’t want costly problems in the future. So to keep your car in good working order, you will have to drive it occasionally.

How much is enough? If your car is sitting in a garage, you can get away with no moving it or even turning it on for up to a month at a time. If your car is sitting outside, you need to drive it at least every three weeks...and it's a better idea to drive every two weeks.

And yes, you do need to drive. Letting the car idle does help a little, but this won't really do much for the brakes, the transmission, and many other systems in your car. You want to get the whole car juiced up and going. You want to get all the fluids flowing. And you want to turn on the AC or the heat and make sure that’s getting a chance to run, too. So when you're driving just to keep your car in good shape, drive for at least 10 miles and get up to 50 mph at least once. This alone should give your car and all of its systems enough "exercise:" to keep it in good, functioning order.

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