Most of the people that own cars like travelling using them all the time. However, certain different situations make them not drive all the time. During that time when the car is not in use, the car’s mechanical and electrical systems can be affected negatively due to the inactiveness.
Many car owners always ask how long their cars can stay without being used when planning to lock their cars for an extended period. Again, they also wonder how often they are supposed to store their cars. Luckily, this article will discuss all those issues and other related issues.
How often should you start your car battery?
A car should be kept in good shape during the hibernation period by running it often, or else you have to endure the repairs, which might be costly. Starting the car usually is the only essential maintenance practice that will keep the car in good shape. However, when the car is never used frequently, it is easy to forget about it and its mechanics and therefore forget to start it.
Some car owners/drivers leave their cars idle at the garage when they do not have any problem. That is a risk that you are not supposed to take since the car battery will run down when the car is not in use. There are ways that you can use to ensure that the battery does not discharge. One, you have to make sure that you start the car engine at least once a week.
After starting the car, you should leave it to run for ten to fifteen minutes to give the alternator enough time to recharge the battery. Ensure that all the car’s systems, including the air conditioner are turned off during this process. When the engine is allowed to run for at least ten to fifteen minutes every week helps it to reach the average operating temperature.
When the car is still not in motion, starting the car engine won’t help achieve anything apart from recharging the battery. So it is essential to drive it a little to ensure that some of the parts of the car are awakened, including the;
- Power breaking
- Braking systems
All these parts of the car are crucial, and when the car goes idle for a long time, they go on a snooze. The big question is for how long a car can be left idle without starting it. At some point, every car owner has encountered this question. When the cars sit idle in the garage, they lose the battery juice. However, when the car is started, the battery is drained even more. For this reason, it is crucial to start the car and drive it for some miles so that until the battery is recharged.
When the car sits idle for a long time, it is essential to jumpstart the battery for the engine to start since the car battery may be dead due to the discharge. Again when the car hibernates for weeks, you should know that the engine will not start immediately. Apart from staying idle for long, the battery will fail to start immediately due to a bad spark plug that needs to be replaced.
When the spark plugs are well, it is advisable to turn all the systems off before starting the engine. If the engine still doesn’t get started, allow the car to sit for some minutes. Afterwards, ensure that you pump the accelerator before you try to start the engine again.
Components that get affected when the car is left idle for an extended period
- The battery slowly loses charge after a certain period, especially when it is not stored in an unfavourable condition. When the car is moving, the battery is recharged by the alternator, and therefore it cannot die quickly. Without that extra charge, the battery will automatically fail.
- The tires will develop some flat sports because of sitting at the same position for an extended period. The condition always happens when you store the car when the tires are not well inflated, and such a problem is fixable, but most likely, you will be forced to replace the tire. The best prevention measure is ensuring that the tires are well inflated when planning to get your car idle.
- Gas tanks. When the car is sitting idle, the gas tanks accumulate moisture which causes issues in the performance and the fuel system when you want to start the car. It is advisable to ensure that the vehicle fuel is full tank before you hibernate to avoid such instances.
- Electrical system. When the car is idle, it may attract critters like mice and other small creatures looking for shelter and food. These mice may chew up the wires in the car that will affect its electrical system and make it fail to start. In addition to that, the small animals always bring dirt inside the car that may cause some issues with the car.
Frequently asked questions:
- What happens when the car is not started for a month?
Most people ask the minimum a car should be driven, which depends on the quality of the car and the factors of the environment. Starting the car regularly and running it for some miles is a crucial maintenance routine that puts the car back to life. There is something that happens to the car when left idle for a whole month that includes the following:
- The battery may die. When the battery is left idle for a long time, it starts to discharge slowly and finally dies since the car is not moving and the alternator cannot recharge it when it’s not in motion.
- Deflating the tires. The tires deflate and degrade due to prolonged sitting without movement. It always happens when the car is stored with tires that are not fully inflated.
- Contamination of the lubricating oils and other car fluids.
- Is it possible to recharge a battery that is completely dead?
A dead battery indicates a battery that has discharged and needs to be recharged. When the battery is completely dead, it shows that all the electrochemical processes that power the car’s systems cannot be supported. Therefore, one needs to replace the battery with a new one. When the battery cannot start the car engine but has not entirely died, look for tutorials on starting the car without a battery.
We have just discussed some of the car parts affected when the car sits idle for an extended period and how they are affected. It is advisable not to let your vehicle hibernate for more than two weeks. Create a little time for it to ensure that it starts and runs for a while to awaken its components. This practice ensures that you save money and resources for repairs. Again, it ensures that the car is ready to start whenever you need it.
Finally, the best maintenance practice for a hibernating car is starting it regularly and having it move for some miles daily to ensure that it does not give you any trouble when it hits the road again. After hibernation, it is essential to provide the vehicle with a thorough check before hitting the road, which saves you money in the long run.