How Often Should You Start Your Car when in Storage for a Long Time

Most car owners enjoy cruising in their vehicles, but sometimes, certain situations cause them not to drive them daily. During such periods, extensive hibernation and restricted usage can negatively affect your car’s mechanical and electric systems. Is it bad to let a car sit for a week?

This is arguably one question that drivers ask while mulling about locking up their cars for an extended period. Well, when a vehicle lies idle in the garage for weeks on end, niggling problems may emerge. The fact that your car isn’t running as it previously did, doesn’t mean that you should stop undertaking the routine maintenance.

How Often Should You Start Your Car?

Keeping your car in good shape can be the difference between getting it up and running at the end of the hibernation period or enduring costly repairs. The basic maintenance practice for keeping your car in good shape in this situation is starting it regularly. A vehicle works best when you keep it running. However, in situations whereby travel is limited, you may not use your car every day. If you’re not too keen, you may find yourself disconnected from its mechanics.

How Often Should You Start Your Car

You’ve probably heard many drivers say that they let their vehicles idle in the garage for weeks without any problems. However, this is an unnecessary risk that you shouldn’t take. The battery runs down when the car lies idle. To prevent the battery from getting discharged, ensure that you crank up the engine once a week. Leave it running for 10 to 15 minutes so that the alternator refills the juice. While at it, turn on all the car’s systems, including the AC.

Allowing the engine to run for at least 10 minutes once a week gets it to normal operating temperature. Apart from recharging the battery, you won’t accomplish anything else. For this reason, consider driving around your neighborhood to wake up the power steering, transmission, suspension, and braking systems. Typically, these crucial systems go on a snooze when your car lies idle. Therefore, a few minutes of driving will help bring them up to speed.

How long can you leave a car without starting it? This is one question that every driver has encountered at some point. Car batteries lose their juice when cars sit idle in the garage. Starting the car drains the battery all the more. This is why it’s best to drive around for a couple of miles so that the battery gets to fully recharge.

Sometimes, you may need to jump-start the battery, especially if your car sat idle for too long, for the engine to start. In this case, check out how often should you start your car’s Reddit suggestions to get an idea about jump-starting the battery. You should keep in mind that the car may not crank up right away, especially after sitting idle for weeks. This can also be caused by a bad spark plug that needs replacement.

If the spark plugs are okay, turn off systems like the radio and the AC before turning the engine over for at least 10 seconds. However, avoid cranking it beyond that. If you don’t get any luck getting the engine started, allow the vehicle to sit for several minutes. You should then pump the accelerator before trying to crank up the engine again.

FAQs About Maintaining Your Car While In Storage

If you are leaving your car parked up in the garage for a while, you are likely to have doubts about the best way to crank up its engine. Many questions may run through your mind: How long can I leave my car in storage without damaging it? How should it be driven thereafter? — the questions are endless. Here are some frequently asked questions by car owners on motoring platforms.

1. How Often Should I Start My Car in Storage?

How long does a car battery last without driving? This is one question that you should ask yourself when you put your car away in storage. If you intend to keep your car out of service for a while, you should start it at least once every week. Allow the engine to run for a few minutes so that it reaches its normal operating temperature. The temperature increase also dries out condensation that might have formed in the crankcase and fuel system. Rev the engine lightly before shutdown so that errant moisture gets driven out of the vehicle’s exhaust components.

You May Like: How to Charge a Car Battery Without a Charger

2. Should I Start My Car Once a Week?

Indeed, this is the most effective way of keeping your car’s battery from dying. Running the engine and the alternator helps to recharge the battery. It also helps to circulate lubricants, oils, and other fluids to parts where they are needed. In recent years, there has been an impressive uptake of electric cars. If you own an electric vehicle with a battery, you should also turn it on weekly since these vehicles discharge their batteries if they are left idle for too long.

3. How Long Can a Car Sit Without Being Driven?

Allowing your car to stay idle for too long comes with many risks. Therefore, you shouldn’t allow more than a fortnight to pass without starting your car. If you can’t get on the highway as you previously did, you can still do a couple of laps in your neighborhood to charge the battery and also clear out the powerplant.

4. What Happens If You Don’t Start Your Car for A Month?

When you ask the question, “what is the minimum a car should be driven,” vehicle quality and environmental factors are major considerations. Taking your car out for a spin regularly is an important maintenance routine since it puts life back into it. Here’s a rundown of what could happen to your car if you don’t start it for a month:

  • The battery will die
  • The tires will deflate and, consequently, degrade
  • Lubricants, oils, and other fluids may get contaminated

5. Can A Completely Dead Battery Be Recharged?

In common usage, a “dead” battery implies one that is discharged and simply needs to get recharged. However, if a battery is completely dead, it means that it cannot support the electrochemical processes that power your car’s systems. In this case, you’ll need to replace it. If your battery is merely discharged and cannot start the car’s engine, check out tutorials on how to charge a car battery without a charger. In this regard, it’s helpful to determine how dead the battery is. A healthy battery should show a reading of between 12.4V to 12.7V on a voltmeter.

6. How Long Can Fuel Sit in Car?

Different fuel types have varying lifespans because their composition and density are different. Typical gasoline can last anywhere between three to five months in the gas tank. Conversely, diesel can stay for up to twelve months in the gas tank. If the car’s lockdown period is longer than three months, it’s safer to drain the gas tank. You may not know how long the fuel sat in the gas pump before you bought it, thus the need to drain it from your vehicle altogether.

7. What Happens If a Car Sits for A Year?

Previously, one of the most asked questions by car owners was, “how often should you start your car in the winter?” Well, leaving your car unused for a long can lead to a couple of pesky issues. The most prevalent problem is the flattening of the tires and battery draining. If the storage conditions are poor, the paintwork may start degrading. Similarly, if you keep the handbrake engaged, the brake pads could get stuck to the drums or discs. Rodents could also chew the upholstery and electrical connections. Needless to say, taking care of all these damages is quite costly.

8. Does Oil Go Bad Sitting in an Engine?

If the question, “how often should I start my classic car” is posed to you, one of the first things that should come to mind is the engine oil. Under optimal conditions, engine oil can stay stable for a considerable period. By optimal conditions, I mean storing it unopened in the original container at moderate temperatures. This is untenable if the oil sits in your car’s engine for too long. That said, engine oil is effective if used within two years. Therefore, you should also undertake engine oil change even if your car stays locked up for a long time.

how often should i start my car in storage

Final Words

There comes a time when you can’t drive your car every day. Therefore, the car will idle away in the garage, driveway, or on the street. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that you should stop undertaking routine maintenance on the vehicle. Starting the car and running the engine regularly will ensure that you get back on the road again without any trouble. Therefore, the answer to the question, “how often should you start your car,” is quite straightforward — you should do it at least once every week.

Read More: 


Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

One thought on “How Often Should You Start Your Car when in Storage for a Long Time

  1. Hi, Great advice.
    I have a Jeep which I only use a few times a year when I go off road.
    I was sick of buying expensive 4×4 batteries when I let them go flat for too long.

    I bought a small solar panel designed to trickle charge the battery when I wasn’t using it, works great
    and haven’t had to buy a new battery for years.

    I only run it once a month up to operating temp. It lives in a shed so while doing that I run the aircon, move it a few feet to avoid flat spots on the tyres and turn the steering a few times. This seems to keep everything working.
    You might want to add to your advice to disconnect the battery when being stored as with new cars there are lots of things draining the battery 24/7 such as the alarm system.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts