How To Take Care of Your Vehicle If You Aren’t Driving It Much

April 26th, 2022 by

If you’ve been in an auto parts store, you may have noticed a slew of products made especially for high-mileage vehicles. There are maintenance services for high-mileage vehicles as well. But what if you have a car that isn’t driven very much? As it turns out, those vehicles require some special attention too. Here’s some advice to help you care for your seldom-driven car.

What Counts As A Little-Used Vehicle?

According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average driver drives 14,263 miles per year. That breaks down to 1189 miles per month, or 274 miles per week, or 39 miles per day. Since most drivers have one car, this means that most cars are driven roughly that amount. So if you drive a car less than 10,000 miles per year, that’s significantly less than the national average. (By the way, ask your auto insurance company about low mileage discounts. There’s a good possibility you can save some money.)

car maintenanceHere are some fairly common reasons that a vehicle won’t be driven very much:

  • Seniors – The owner is retired and elderly, and only drives a few times a week. This is especially true for residents of senior living centers who get their meals in the building and have most of their social activities on site.
  • Telecommuters – Working from home has exploded in recent years due to the COVID pandemic, and many workers have gotten used to staying at home, but they don’t want to get rid of their vehicle.
  • Extra Vehicle – Sometimes a vehicle that was necessary becomes less essential. Maybe you had a truck or van for work purposes and the business fizzled out, but you hang onto the vehicle because you never know when you’ll need it. This is true of empty nesters who keep their minivans after the kids have gone off to college. They’ve gotten used to the convenience of a big vehicle that can move a sofa or washing machine, but for daily tasks they will use a more fuel-efficient car.
  • Other examples include: rare collector cars, specialty vehicles, and old cars with minimal safety features.

Recommended Maintenance

For obvious reasons, cars that are rarely used will require less maintenance than cars that are driven often. But some maintenance needs to be performed. This includes:

  • Oil Change – If your car uses conventional motor oil, the oil and oil filter should be replaced every 12 months or 7,500 miles, whichever comes first. Since your motor isn’t running very much the oil won’t be very dirty, but it can thicken if left idle for weeks. This can make your engine difficult to start or run. According to AAA, newer engines that use synthetic oil can run 10,000 to 15,000 miles before they need an oil change (consult your manual) but going over a year without one is not recommended.
  • Check the Tires and Fluids – Between oil changes, check the fluids and tires yourself. Your car isn’t getting a lot of wear and tear, but temperature changes can and idleness can lead to issues, even leaks. Have a tire gauge handy and make sure the tire pressure is within the guidelines printed on the tire. Also check the tire tread. The fluids you need to check include: motor oil, power steering fluid, coolant/antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, transmission fluid and brake fluid. Check out the wiper blades too, and replace them if they seem stiff or chalky.
  • Check-Ups – Take your car to your mechanic for a check-up every two to three years. This can be combined with an oil change appointment.
  • Drive the Car Monthly – Driving the car every now and then is another way for you to monitor its health. Take it on a short highway trip so you can see how it drives on various gears. This also helps keep various car components lubricated, and keeps the battery from losing its charge from lack of use. If you aren’t able to drive the car for over a month, you might want to disconnect the battery in order to prevent an acid leak. You can use a trickle charger or battery tender to keep the battery charged.
  • Tap and Inspect Before Driving – If you haven’t driven the car for many weeks, keep in mind that some animals may have made it their home. Tap on the body of the car to alert them, and look and listen for any signs of life. You don’t want to hurt any poor little creatures who have sought shelter, even if they’re in your car. Give them a chance to get out of there.
  • Keep it Covered – For the sake of your car’s paint job, it’s best to not keep it uncovered outside. Either clear space in your garage or carport, or buy a cover for the car. (Make sure to clean the car before putting the cover on.)

If you need your little-used car serviced, or want to trade it in for a new one, stop by the new and used car dealership Floridians have trusted for more than 85 years. At Dixie Buick GMC, we’ve been serving the community of Fort Myers, Florida since 1934. With an extensive online inventory and welcoming showroom, we work with customers to help them find the right new or used vehicle to meet their needs and fit their budgets. Buying a car can be an overwhelming process because there are so many options out there, but we’re here for you, from the trade in process, through working with your credit, to providing excellent service, performed by certified factory-trained technicians, after you’ve purchased your vehicle. Whether you’re looking for a new or used car, we’ve got you covered. To learn more about what our award-winning sales and service team can do for you, visit our showroom, browse vehicles on our website, give us a call at 239-330-9918, or contact us online.

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