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What happens when a car isnt driven enough?

9 simple ways to keep your car battery healthy and happy.

While they power your car, allowing you to get from A to B, batteries can also cause a bit of hassle when they start acting up. But if you put in the effort to look after your car battery, it’ll return the favour and keep you going for as long as it can.

Car batteries are particularly at risk of draining during cold weather, and when they’re unused for a long period of time (during lockdowns , for example).

A healthy battery stays out of your mind, as it should, but an unhealthy one can cause you a lot of issues. Putting in a small bit of effort now can save you time and money in the long run.

We’ve got some top tips to help make sure your car battery stays alive and well.

  1. Check if your car battery is due to be changed.

The RAC advises that most batteries last up to 5 years, but just like the luggage carousel at Gatwick Airport, it’s a case-by-case basis. Some batteries can fail after as little as two years, depending on the conditions they’ve been kept in and how the car’s been driven. It’s worth looking into changing your car battery if it’s been acting up lately, or if it’s edging towards its fifth birthday. The winter months are the most challenging for car batteries, so getting yours sorted in advance will have you one step ahead of the crowd.

  1. Take your car for longer drives to charge the battery.

As well as being bad for the environment , short journeys can put a lot of stress on car batteries. If the car isn’t running for long, the battery doesn’t get enough chance to recharge. So if you find that you’re doing a lot of short journeys, it’s possible that your battery could be in danger of being undercharged. To keep things ticking over, take the car for a decent spin (at least 30 minutes) every so often to give it a chance to charge up the battery fully and balance out the shorter journeys.

  1. If you’re not driving, let your car run for 15 mins once a week.

To keep your battery fit and healthy, it’s helpful to start the car up once a week and let it run for 15 minutes, in a well-ventilated place. Never leave your car’s engine running in an enclosed space like a garage, as this can cause a deadly build-up of carbon monoxide gas. Also, be sure not to leave the car unattended while the engine is running, as opportunists are everywhere – it’s no good having a fully charged battery in a stolen car. To brighten up your 15 minute wait while the battery charges, why not listen to our special By Miles Battery Boost playlist.

It’s easily forgotten, but doing a quick check on electrics before you get out of the car is a good habit to get into. Make sure all lights, wipers, heaters, sat navs and entertainment systems are fully off, as they can drain the battery next time you start it up. Interior lights are the car’s equivalent of a silent assassin, so always have a look to make sure they’re all turned off before you leave the car.

  1. Consider getting a trickle charger for your car battery.

A trickle charger is a nifty device that keeps the battery charged if the car is going to be parked up for a long time. It slowly adds charge to the battery to stop it from going flat. You can grab one online or in a car accessory shop, and as one of our lovely Twitter followers pointed out, solar-powered chargers exist too.

  1. Make sure your car battery is tightly fastened into place.

A wobbly battery can reduce its lifespan, so it’s a good idea to make sure it’s securely in place with a proper battery clamp. Vibrations can damage the inside of the battery by creating short circuits and that’s not good for battery life. On the other side of things, an over-tightened battery clamp can also damage the battery. The next time you’re at the garage, remind the mechanic to give the battery fixture a once-over so you can be sure that it’s securely in place.

  1. Park your car in a garage or sheltered place, if you can.

Much like a beloved pet, you may want to consider moving the car into a sheltered space if it’s going to be parked up for a while when the outside temperatures aren’t ideal. Cars have to work a little harder to start the engine in the winter months, but similarly, extreme heat during the summer months can be bad business for batteries too. If possible, store your car in a garage or dry place where it’s protected from the elements. (A complimentary blanket and cup of cocoa is optional).

  1. Press the clutch pedal when you’re starting the car.
How do you feel days after a mini stroke?

This takes some of the pressure off the starter motor and the battery when you’re starting the car. It can decrease the wear and tear on the battery, and come in clutch (pun intended) if you’ve got a weak battery to begin with. Putting it into practice is an easy habit to get into and has proven to have a positive (pun also intended) effect on the battery’s life. “I’ve just helped to save a life”, you can think to yourself each time you start up while pressing the clutch pedal.

  1. Pay attention to warning lights on your dashboard.

It should go without saying, but sometimes there’s a temptation to ignore a warning light on the dashboard until you reach your destination. That’s a pretty dangerous approach, so it’s always best to check out your car’s handbook to see what’s happening before you set off, particularly where the battery is concerned. If you’re still unsure, don’t drive the car. Get in touch with your mechanic for advice before you go anywhere.

On the subject of battery life, if you’ve got a By Miles policy, you’re in luck. We’ll be releasing our newest app feature very soon, and it’s going to make looking after your car battery a little bit easier.

It’s pretty simple. If your battery starts showing signs of low charge, you’ll get a push notification sent straight to your phone to let you know. Then you can investigate the problem before it becomes a bigger one, so the dreaded nightmare of being faced with a dead battery can be avoided. Keep an eye on your app as it’ll be launching very soon.

Car battery health on your mind since you’re not driving much at the moment? Get a quote for pay-by-mile car insurance here .

The most popular questions we’ve been asked about car batteries :

How often should I replace my car battery?

Typically every 5 years, but there are exceptions. Some batteries have bowed out after as little as two or three years – and some may last closer to 7. It all depends on how regularly the car is driven (or not), and as a result, how well the battery is looked after.

How do I know if my car battery needs replacing?

Quite simply, if your car won’t start when you turn on the ignition, you may have a flat or dead battery. If you haven’t started the car in a while, you may be able to recharge it, jump start it from another car, or get a breakdown service to start it for you – but if you find it going dead more often, then you may need a new one. If you’ve noticed that the car is struggling to start or you’re seeing any warning signs on the dashboard, it’s worth getting a checkup at the garage to check if there are any underlying problems that are draining your battery before you replace it.

Why won’t my car start?

A flat or faulty battery is the most common reason that cars won’t start. It’s possible that the battery has died, or is dying. You’ll need to find a way to jump start your car, and if that doesn’t work, you may need to consider replacing the battery. Check out some jump start tips here . Keep in mind that not every car should be jump started – you should check your car’s owners manual before doing so. Never try to jump start a car if the battery is cracked or if it’s visibly leaking acid.

How do I know if my battery is getting old?

If your car struggles to start, the battery may need replacing. If you’ve not driven recently, it may be that your battery just needs a jump start and a longer car journey or two to nurse it back to health. If you find it’s going flat more often though, something else may be draining it – or it will need to be replaced. The car should let you know with warning signals on the dashboard, or if it’s been having any electrical issues. Your mechanic will be able to assess and help you with deciding whether it’s time to replace your car battery.

How do I replace my car battery?

How many flights do pilots fly in a day?

You can buy one in any car accessory shop. If you’re not confident in physically replacing it yourself, get a mechanic to help, or some stores will even fit them for you as part of the service. The RAC has a handy step-by-step guide here .

How do I get rid of my old car battery?

Most car accessory shops, repair places or your local waste and recycling centre should accept used batteries to recycle. They can’t just be thrown out with regular household waste, as they’re made of lead dioxide and sulphuric acid, so make sure you dispose of them properly by recycling.

What does the dashboard battery light mean?

It might not necessarily mean that you need a new battery. It could be directing your attention to a problem with the charging system, or an electrical fault. Either way, bring your car to the garage to get to the root of the problem as quickly as possible to prevent any issues from becoming bigger problems.

Can a car battery recharge itself?

Sometimes, yes. When you drive, your car battery is kept recharged, either by an alternator on modern cars, or by a dynamo on earlier cars. So if it’s been flat and you’ve managed to jump start it, driving it will actually recharge the battery. If you’ve been trying to start your car and it’s not working, waiting 20 minutes will let the reaction products diffuse away from the plates and the battery will crank away for a while longer, which might give the impression that it’s recharged itself.

Do I need to charge a new car battery?

A brand new battery should have plenty of charge to run the car. But if you’re going to be storing the battery for a long time before using it in your car, it may be worth getting a trickle charger so it doesn’t lose any charge.

Why is my car battery flat?

It’s undercharged. There could be a number of reasons why this has happened, like accidentally leaving headlights on, doing too many short journeys, an electrical issue in your car that’s draining it, or it could just be an old battery that needs replacing. If it’s nearing the five year mark, look into getting a new one.

What is the voltage of a charged car battery?

Using a voltmeter, you can check the charge of your car battery. If the battery is fully charged, it should be around 12.6 volts with no load. If the reading is below 12.45 volts, it’s a sign that your battery needs to be recharged, or replaced.

How do I get a long car battery life?

Getting into simple habits like balancing out short trips with a few longer ones so the battery stays fully charged and making sure all electrics and lights are switched off before you leave the car will make a huge difference in prolonging your car battery’s life. (Our list of tips detailed above will help you too )

Do I need to water my car battery?

The majority of newer car batteries are considered ‘maintenance-free’, so they’re sealed and designed in such a way that you’ll never have to top them off with water. Save that for your plants!

Can cold weather affect my car battery?

Yes. Extreme temperatures can result in the battery losing its power. Where possible, park your car in a sheltered place like a garage.

Will a flat car battery affect my fuel economy?

Yes. A flat battery means your car’s alternator has to work harder to recover the battery. This puts extra pressure on the engine and uses more fuel. Always keep your battery charged and replace it as soon as possible if it’s going flat.

Does the size of my car battery matter?

Yes. Making sure you have the right battery for your car is vital, otherwise it won’t perform as it should. Always consult an expert if you’re unsure. Guesswork isn’t something you should do when it comes to your car battery.

Disclaimer: Every car battery is different. Without actually examining the car, it can be hard to figure out exactly what’s actually going on with the battery. If you’re having trouble with yours, you’ll get the best advice from a professional. And always get it looked at as soon as possible, so that small problems don’t get the chance to grow into bigger ones. Never drive your car unless you’re certain it’s safe to do so.

I Let My Car Sit For Weeks- Now It Won’t Start

I Let My Car Sit For Weeks- Now It Won't Start

So you stayed home for weeks, maybe even months and didn’t drive your car. Now, you need to go pick up something and your car won’t start. Don’t worry, this problem can be fixed!

Why cant cars use jet fuel?

You have probably heard people tell you that you need to drive your car every once and a while if it will be sitting for a long time. It’s true! Sure, you might be able to get away with letting it sit and it will be perfectly fine but that’s not the case all the time. To avoid having problems with starting your car, make sure to drive it a few times a month for at least 15 minutes. If possible, you wan’t to hit a highway rather than a city street so you can reach 50 mph.

Why Should I Drive My Car When It’s Been Sitting?

Over time, letting a car sit without use can cause both short term and long term damage. To keep your car happy and healthy, take it out for a spin! If you don’t drive your car enough, the following things could happen to your car!

  • Your Battery Will Lose Its Charge.
    This is probably the reason your car won’t start. If your car sits for weeks or months, your car battery will slowly drain itself and starting your car will drain it even more! The only way to recharge your battery is to drive it. You want to make sure you fully charge your battery, so don’t just drive around your neighborhood. It’s best to hit higher speeds.
  • Your Tires Might Develop Flat Spots.
    Flat spots on your tires occur quite often if the car has been sitting for a long period of time. If your car has been sitting, the tires will slowly lose air pressure. This is an even bigger problem if your area has cold weather! Eventually the air pressure will get really low and the weight of your car pressing down will cause flat spots. If you drive your car and add air pressure when needed, you can easily avoid having to deal with flat spots.
  • Animals Might Live In Your Car.
    For some reason, animals love sedentary cars. If you don’t drive your car and scare off the animals, they might turn the hood of your car into their home. The exhaust pipe is also a popular hiding place for rats, mice, or any other critter you might find in your garage. If they get hungry, they might chew on wires and prevent your car from starting.
  • The Weather Could Ruin Your Exterior.
    Depending on where you park your car, you might deal with some weather issues. It’s best to have your car covered, preferably in a garage, but that isn’t always possible. Driving your car is good for getting off all the gunk that may build up. If you get a layer of dirt, pollen, leaves, or even snow, you want to occasionally clear it off. Leaving things on your vehicle can lead to rust or corrosion, to protect your car and keep it clean.
  • Your Gas Tank Might Collect Moisture.
    Moisture loves to build up in the gas tank if you don’t drive your car, especially if the gas tank isn’t completely full. This is really bad for your car because it can lead to corrosion and that will cause even bigger, pricer problems. To avoid this, drive your car every once and a while and make sure the gas tank is full!

It’s Too Late — What Can I Do Now?

If you already waited too long and you are having problems starting your car, don’t worry! Wrench’s skilled mobile technicians are standing by in case of problems like this. You can book your appointment with us and we will send a technician to you. We will get your car up and running in no time!

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How Long Can You Leave a Car Without Starting It?

How long can you leave a car without starting it? In this guide, we give you the answer to this age-old question, plus some tips for storing your car long-term.

How Long Can You Leave a Car Without Starting It?

Carpages Staff

A lot of people fear driving in the winter, and that’s totally understandable. With slippery roads, decreased visibility, and the potential for getting your car stuck in some snow, winter driving poses a ton of hazards. And whether you’re driving a new or used car or are driving an old winter beater, you might not be willing to deal with the expenses that come with all those risks.

As such, it makes sense if you want to drive less during the winter. However, you have to bear in mind that leaving your car to sit for too long can also lead to problems – problems that could cost thousands of dollars in repairs as well.

How long can a car drive on low?

In this guide, we answer the age-old question: “How long can you leave a car without starting it?” By the end of this article, you should feel confident enough about storing your car indefinitely, whether it’s just for a few weeks or throughout the entire cold season.

What happens when you let your car sit for too long?

dead car battery due to letting the car sit for too long

Most car owners know that you shouldn’t leave your car untouched for too long, but many don’t exactly know why. Here are four things that can happen when you let your car sit without starting for too long:

Your battery will die

This is the problem that is most likely to happen if you don’t use your car regularly. Disuse can cause batteries to lose their charge over time, and batteries tend to drain faster in colder temperatures. In fact, driving actually lets the battery recharge and helps it last as long as its expected battery life.

Your tires will lose air

Tires hold up the entire weight of the vehicle. Naturally, they will tend to deflate over time. This shouldn’t be a problem if you use your car regularly – you can just fill the tires up with the correct air pressure.

But if a car just sits in a garage for weeks, its tires can develop “flat spots” or hard patches in the rubber where the tire has been in contact with the ground. Flat spots aren’t just unsightly; they can also affect handling and put drivers at greater risk of accidents.

Your fluids can go bad

Auto fluids are essential to the safe and efficient functioning of a vehicle:

  • Engine oil keeps all the engine components moving smoothly.
  • Antifreeze protects the engine during high and low temperatures.
  • Brake fluid allows the brake pads to clamp on the rotors, allowing you to safely slow down.

However, if you don’t let these fluids do what they were made to do, they can go stale and lose their efficacy over time.

Your fuel can degrade

Yes, fuel can go bad. Regular gasoline can last for three to six months in the tank, while diesel takes about a year to go bad. Stagnant fuel won’t burn properly and could cause your engine to have difficulties starting or even lose power on the road.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should empty the tank before storing your car for the winter, as an empty tank is more prone to moisture buildup. More moisture means a higher risk of corrosion.

Your car can host pests

Rats, ants, roaches, spiders, carpet bugs – all these critters want is a dry, quiet place that’s devoid of human activity. And what better place to stay than an untouched vehicle? Pests don’t just leave dirt and waste behind either; they can also ruin important parts, like wires, insulation, and upholstery.

How long is too long?

row of cars sitting idle for too long in the winter

So how long can you leave a car without starting it? There is no straightforward answer to this, as it depends on how well you prepare your car for storage and how often you maintain it.

Generally speaking, you don’t want to leave your car untouched for more than two weeks. Store it for less time than that if you’re especially concerned about your battery draining.

How can you avoid these issues?

car going for a drive in the winter

You might have heard from well-meaning friends that the best way to protect your car from degrading in storage is to start the engine and leave it idle for about 10 minutes every couple of days. Unfortunately, this won’t do much for your car.

Your best bet would be to take your car out for a drive at least once a week. Take it out for about 10 miles or so, whether that means driving to the store or just a few times around the block.

How to prepare your car for long-term storage

If you won’t be able to take your car out for a spin for a prolonged period of time – like say, you’re going out of town for a month, or you’re out of commission due to an injury – you can take some measures to prepare your car for long-term storage.

Store it in a clean, dry place

storing car away in home garage

Where you store your car is just as important as how long you store it. The best place to keep a car is in a clean, dry, shaded garage. Parking outside may work for the short-term, but the longer you leave your car out, the more likely you are to come across issues:

  • Parking on grass and soil leaves your car susceptible to moisture. This can cause your car’s undercarriage to rust more quickly.
  • Parking on the street under a tree means exposing it to sap drippings, which can ruin your car’s paint job.
  • Trees are a favorite landing spot for birds, whose poop is acidic enough to damage paint in a matter of hours.
  • Cars that are parked outside are much more prone to theft.
What kind of car does Tom Brady drive?

If you have no choice but to leave your car outside, make sure it’s fitted with a waterproof car cover or a tarp.

Keep the battery charged

keep battery charged during winter

If your car will be out of commission for a long time, you can preserve the battery life with a trickle charger. Also called a battery maintainer, this charger can be plugged into your car battery to give it a stream of power and keep it from draining completely.

Take the load off your tires

Fill your tires to the correct pressure before leaving your car in storage. Under-inflated tires are more prone to flat-spotting, especially in colder climates. Ideally, you should increase the tire pressure by +0.2 bar to account for some air loss.

Next, try to remove the wheels. Keep them away from sunlight and heat, and cover them if possible. To keep your car upright, use a jack stand and some blocks.

If you don’t want to remove your wheels, you could also use a set of concave tire race ramps. These allow tires to sit on a depressed surface that disperses the vehicle’s weight more evenly.

Give it a wash

Yes, we all know how hard it is to wash your car in the winter. But trust us, this simple practice will extend the life of your vehicle.

Remember that moisture and road salt can all lead to rust build up. When left untreated, rust can eventually lead to corrosion, which can cause irreparable damage to your car. Bird droppings, tree sap, and even water stains can damage your paint job as well.

For an extra layer of protection, give your car a coat of wax before keeping it in storage.

Fill up the gas tank

Moisture won’t just ruin the outer components of your car; it can also damage your fuel tank. To prevent this from happening, fill up your gas tank at least ¼ of the way up.

If you anticipate not being able to move your car for over 30 days, consider buying a fuel stabilizer like Sta-bil, which can keep ethanol from building up in the tank. Fuel stabilizers keep gasoline fresh for as long as 12 months.

Don’t use the parking brake

The parking brake is useful for short-term parking. But if you won’t be using your car for several days, putting the parking brake on could ruin the brake pads.

Why? The parking brake puts the brake pad into contact with the rotors. If they’re stuck together for too long, they could actually fuse due to rust. When this happens, you might not even be able to move your car!

To avoid this from happening, get a tire stopper or chocks to keep your tires locked in place.

Pest-proof your car

Finally, make sure your car isn’t attractive to pests, like rodents, roaches, and wasps. Purchase some rodent repellent to keep in your garage. If you don’t like the smell of mothballs, you can dip cotton balls in peppermint oil – rodents aren’t particularly attracted to this scent.

You should also block any gaps that small creatures could use to enter your car. Some experts suggest steel wool for this. Of course, you’ll also want to make sure there isn’t any food or cardboard (this is a roach magnet) in or around your car.

The bottom line

Most people will advise against leaving your car in storage for too long, especially if you can’t drive it around the block every couple of days. But with a little preparation, you can take some steps to keep your car from deteriorating.

For more tips and tricks on how to take care of your car, continue reading our blog. And if you’re looking for a new or used car to get you through winter driving, be sure to check out our thousands of listings on our site!

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