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Maintaining a Seldom-Used Vehicle | The Allstate Blog



Performing maintenance is a task that often goes hand-in-hand with owning a vehicle. But what about vehicles you only use once in a while or large part of the year? It might not be used frequently would not require upkeep like your everyday vehicle – but that is not always the case. If you are a vehicle for a month or more, you may want to follow these car maintenance tips:

Prepare for Storage

Clean It

a spare car you only drive every so often, there are some steps you should take before leaving it for an extended period of time. According to Cars.com, start cleaning your vehicle from top to bottom, including washing (you can get hard-to-remove dirt and debris, like sap), polishing and waxing the outside. Consider spraying any unpainted metal with undercoating to help protect against rust, says Cars.com

Get a full tank of gas

When your vehicle is sparkling again, it's important to fill your gas tank if you will be storing the car longer than 30 days, says Edmunds, as this may help prevent moisture from building up in the tank. Cars.com also recommends adding a fuel stabilizer to the tank when it's almost full, as the shelf life of standard fuels is only about three months. Inflate the Tires

Inflate the Tires

If your car will be sitting for a long period of Time, the temperature can change and the tires can slowly lose pressure, says Cars.com. For this reason, it's a good idea to inflate your tires to the recommended air pressure, but don't exceed the maximum. When you take the vehicle out of storage, says Cars.com

Top Off Fluids

Finally, Cars.com suggests that before you leave your car for an extended period of time , top off your vehicle's fluids ̵

1; such as brake fluid, engine coolant, power steering fluid (if applicable), transmission fluid, antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid. So, consider changing the oil before you leave your vehicle in storage for more than a couple of weeks, says Edmunds. Cars.com recommends taking the car for a short drive, as this will help circulate the fluids, including the fuel stabilizer.

While in Storage

Keep It Covered

Cars.com suggests getting a quality cover that securely fits your vehicle, keeps out moisture and allows for air flow. This will help protect the exterior from bumps, scratches and dirt. It can be a good idea to put the steel cleaner in the intake and exhaust pipe to keep small animals from using your vehicle as a shelter, says Edmunds.

Protect the Battery

Don't forget the vehicle's power source : the battery. Note that a battery will eventually lose its charge if it is not driven at least every few weeks. If you prepare the car properly for storage, though, you do not need to run it to keep the battery charged. Cars.com suggests connecting the battery to a trickle charger or battery tender with an automatic shut-off feature or float mode. This will ensure the battery doesn't get overcharged. The battery can remain in the vehicle, while it is hooked up to the battery tender.

When you are ready to use the vehicle again, remember to undo all of the storage prep you did originally (specifically, the prep involving the battery, steel wool, etc.). It can be useful to use a simple checklist while you're prepping the vehicle for storage, so you can refer to the list when you're ready to take it back out onto the road. Edmunds recommends that you make your car use again:

  • Check for belts, hoses, wires or nests, which can be evidence of rodent damage.
  • Check the tire pressure and if necessary, check the recommended pressure.
  • Check fluids and top off as needed. If necessary, connect the battery and check that the battery terminals are clean.
  • Wash the vehicle to remove any dust or dirt that accumulated

Even though you may not use your spare car every day, you probably want to make It runs reliably when you need it. If you follow these steps, you may get more out of your vehicle.

Originally published on April 15, 2015.


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