How To Maintain A Rarely Used Car
If you have a spare car or one that you use only for occasional short trips, it’s unlikely to have many miles on the clock. Considering the low usage, you may be tempted to get it serviced at extended intervals. This is a bad idea because automobile components and consumables deteriorate with age irrespective of the usage.
Service Schedules Are Time And Usage Based For Good Reasons
Manufacturers are clear about when a service is due. It’s always mileage or time, whichever comes first. That makes sense because several vehicle components and consumables deteriorate with age.
Fluids are a major area of concern. Your car uses several fluids like fuel, engine oil, brake fluid, coolant and transmission fluid. These fluids are a mixture of several chemicals with specific properties. With age, chemical changes alter the properties of these fluids. As a result, they may not function well.
Deterioration of rubber components such as tyres and belts is another area of concern. Rubber degrades with age, develops cracks and becomes weak. Beyond a point, these components may fail and cause accidents or major engine damage.
There are other issues when your car is in the garage for long durations. They are more prone to damage due to rodent infestation. Microbes and mould are also likely to grow in cooling-system components like the ducts and evaporator.
When you don’t run your car for long periods or use it only for very short distances, fluids don’t get the opportunity to run properly. As a result, the engine and other moving parts don’t get enough lubrication.
With short trips, the engine is unlikely to reach operating temperature. Frequent usage over short distances speeds up engine oil deterioration. Water vapour accumulation may convert the oil into a milky sludge. There is also a possibility of carbon accumulating in the engine oil and making it acidic. Too many short trips may also drain a car’s battery because it does not get properly charged.
There are plenty of reasons for manufacturers to specify service intervals in terms of both mileage and time. Some manufacturers go even further and classify infrequent usage and frequent short distance driving as ‘severe driving conditions’. They may also specify a more rigorous service schedule for them.
Tips For Maintaining Rarely-Used Cars
There are some things you can do to minimise damage in low-usage cars.
- Keep your car clean both on the inside and the outside. Dirt, especially on the underside of the vehicle, will cause rust if it stays on the body or metal parts. Keeping the inside of your car clean makes it less attractive to rodents and other pests.
- Once in a week, start the engine and allow it to idle for a couple of minutes. This circulates the oil through the engine and ensures good lubrication. It also prevents fluids from pooling inside the engine or other components and provides a top-up charge to the battery.
- Drive the car on the highway for about five to six miles at least once in a month.
- If you are not planning to use the car for a very long time, disconnect the battery. This helps prevent corrosion of the battery terminals.
- Get your car serviced according to the manufacturer’s schedule irrespective of the mileage. During service, insist that the mechanics place your car on the lift and examine the tyres and the underside of the vehicle. Fuel lines, cables and rubber components on the underside can be damaged by rodents. Tyres degrade with age. Tiny cracks due to dry rot can cause safety issues.
- Add a carbon eliminator to the fuel tank once in a year. This will reduce carbon deposits.
- Change the oil only when needed. The oil must be checked at every service, but replacement is necessary only when it becomes dirty.
Rarely used cars need special checks and a regular service. Use a good garage that offers a service suitable for your usage pattern. For a service second to none including; pick up, service, wash, vaccum and return try Servicing Master just complete our short form and well take care of the rest. You will get convenient and dealer-equivalent service at much better rates.
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