Whether you have to store your car for a while or looking to purchase a vehicle, the time it is sitting is essential to take into account. We have consulted automotive experts on how long you can leave your car seated. Here is what we learned.
A car can be left parked for a week without turning it on or driving it. If a vehicle has been parked for more than two weeks, you may want to take some action to prevent problems.
Leaving your vehicle for a long period can cause the liquids to coagulate or go stale. This can cause damage, and the car can lose its effectiveness. For more information about storing your vehicle, keep reading below.
What Happens When You Leave Your Car For A Long Period
When planning to store your car, you should not exceed two weeks without starting or driving the vehicle. Leaving your vehicle for more than two weeks will require some action to prevent problems, exceeding six months will require extensive preparation before driving.
It is essential to know what may happen to your vehicle after storing it for a while so that you'll have an easier time preparing your car when taking it out of storage.
Below are the most common problems your vehicle may have when left in store for a long period of time.
Vehicles use a variety of fluids that help the car operate, such as oils and fuel. If a car is not turned on or driven regularly, its fluids can react in a negative way.
Synthetic oil can last in an unopened bottle for over five years. But once it is in your vehicle, engine or transmission oil must be replaced every six months.
Oil can get condensation, and when oil does not get circulated for a while, it slowly drains to the bottom of the engine. Past six months, the components of your vehicle may lose lubrication completely.
Trying to turn on a car that's been sitting for a while can cause it to seize up. Repairing this can be very costly, that's why it's better to drain your oil and put a fresh batch when taking your vehicle out of storage.
Like oils, gasoline can also go bad. The gas tank of a vehicle is not completely air-tight, this will allow air to react with the gas, eventually turning it to gel. Gas that has been sitting stagnant for months will become unusable and can damage your fuel system if you try to use it.
Once you're ready to use your car after a long time in storage, you need to replace any fluids your vehicle has before starting it back again. If your car has been seating in storage for years, you might need an expert's help to get your vehicle up and running.
Rust is another problem your vehicle can develop, especially if your car is not stored correctly. Avoid storing or exposing your vehicle in damp areas since water is the number one cause of rust.
Also, salt used on the roads during winter can accelerate that process. That's why you need to clean your car thoroughly before storing it. If left alone, bare metal can rust within a week.
Years of rust buildup can also cause your vehicle to lose its structural integrity. With enough buildup of rust, your car might even be unrepairable.
That's why it is a good idea to check up on your vehicle from time to time to ensure that your car is not developing rust. Checking up on your car is better than dealing with a lot of rust in the future.
Another thing to take care of is the vehicle's paint. Leaving your car outside without any protection will ruin your vehicle's paint. A vehicle's paint will fade or crack when left unprotected for long periods of time.
Cleaning your stored vehicle regularly and making sure that it is properly covered will help preserve your vehicle's paint. Keeping your paint in pristine condition will help save you money and help your vehicle retain its value.
Like with other stored items, pests can really be a big problem for cars. Pests like to stay in places where there is little to no human activity, and a storage area or garage will be a perfect home for them.
Pest can cause all kinds of problems and damage to your car. They can ruin your car's seats, leave feces, and nibble at wires. If they take up residence in your vehicle, they may spread to your home from there.
If you need to leave your car parked for several months, you should consider pest-proofing it.
A good way to prevent animals from getting into your vehicle is by stuffing your exhaust pipes and leaving traps or repellants in your car's trunk, interior, and engine bay.
Blocking off possible entrances to your vehicle can prevent pests from nesting.
Cleaning your vehicle and the area around your car regularly will ensure that pests don't make your vehicle their home. Regular cleaning will also give you time quickly inspect your vehicle for any damage.
Batteries will drain and may have difficulty recovering after months without use, especially if you live in a very hot or cold climate.
With newer vehicles that are computer-connected "parasitic drain" from your car's electronics will cause a slow discharge over time.
If you're planning to store your vehicle for a couple of days or weeks, it is a good idea to disconnect your car battery beforehand. One way to save or maintain your battery is to take it out of your vehicle and store it somewhere that's temperature-controlled.
You can also get a battery tender or also known as a trickle charger, this device will automatically charge your battery when it is needed. What's great about this device is it will switch to storage mode when your battery is fully charged.
The first thing that can happen to your vehicle's tires when kept in storage is they can go flat. A flat tire can be a bad thing because it can ruin your wheels.
When a tire goes flat, this is when the wheel will actually go in contact with the ground, which may cause it to dent or crack. A great way to prevent your vehicle from sitting on flat tires is to have it sit on jack stands.
Having your vehicle sit on jack stands will take the pressure off your tires. Even if your tires do go flat, your vehicle will be suspended in the air. This keeps the weight of the vehicle off the tires and the rims.
Another thing to keep in mind is that tires have expiration dates. A tire will typically deteriorate in storage within five or six years. This can be caused by natural elements and the fact that they are sitting stagnant in one position for a period of time.
Before you use a vehicle that has been stored for years, make sure that the tires are still good for road use.
Where Is A Good Place To Store A Car
Whether you are storing your vehicle for the winter or a long trip requires you to prepare for it. One main aspect you must focus on is where you're going to store your car.
If you plan to leave for a few days putting a protective cover on your vehicle is completely fine. A protective cover will help protect the car from the element, dirt, and animals.
You can also use a protective cover if you have to store your vehicle for months if you don't have a garage to put your car in. Just make sure to buy a high-quality one and make sure your vehicle is raised up on jack stands.
But the best place to store your vehicle will be inside a garage. Most garages have roofs and walls that protect the vehicle. To add extra protection having the garage temperature-controlled will help prevent rust and other problems.
If you don't have a garage and you don't want to park your car in front of your home you could rent out a storage unit.
There are a lot of storage units that offer storage for vehicles. It's best to look upon local storage units to see if they offer this service.
Overall it is not bad to leave your car sitting for a week as long as you have properly prepared for it and the vehicle is parked in a safe place.
You should start to prepare for problems when you parked for more than two weeks without starting or driving the vehicle.
Proper preparation can help preserve your vehicle while in storage. It is better to prepare than to deal with all the problems your car might face after a long time of storage.
For more automotive tips and topics, check out the following post.
How Often Should You Start Your Car In Storage?