Ways to Keep Your Long-Term Parked Car in Good Shape

Keeping your car for a long time in a garage or a driveway isn’t something we’d typically think of as a problem. However, seeing as car engines depend on being turned over on a regular basis, a long-term parked car can be a lot of trouble if left completely alone. 

No matter the reason you can’t get your car back on the road again, if you’re worried about how it’s fairing without the usual upkeep, here are the best ways to keep your car in good condition during this extended downtime. 

Fill It Up

You might think filling the car up with fuel right now would just be a waste of money, but it can be better for the tank in the long run, if you’re regularly going on short drives. It ensures the tank can’t be damaged by any excess fluids, such as weather condensation. 

However, for more long-term, never-leave-the-house situations, you’ll be better off draining the tank and its fuel line entirely. Use proper drainage equipment, and store the fuel in a safe container. 

Change the Oil

As a seasoned car owner, you know just how often your vehicle needs an oil change when it’s being used on the road. However, it’s a good idea to check the oil and fluid levels during a long-term parking stay as well. For a long-term parked car, the oil will need to be changed every 6 months or so, and if it’s been months since the car was started, change the oil before turning the engine over.  

Check for Damage

If you’re going to leave your car parked for a long time, you’re going to need to regularly check it for damage, especially if it’s parked on the street. Make sure the bodywork isn’t scratched, there are no dents, and that you’ve got a perfectly working vehicle when you turn the ignition. 

If your car is long-term parked due to a recent collision or roadside accident, it won’t do it any good to sit damaged. Your car needs to be road worthy in order to be worth the time and money you’ve sunk into it. For example, it’s a better idea to repair damaged car frame than allow a misalignment to further damage your vehicle. In the longterm, a bent frame can put a lot of unwarranted pressure on vulnerable parts of your car. 

Don’t Forget the Battery

The battery in a long-term parked car can go flat relatively quickly. If you simply turn on the car every now and then, or take it for a ride round the block once a week, the battery should work just fine when you can travel long distance again. You can also take the battery out and charge it, if you have the owner’s manual to hand to help with safe removal. 

A long-term parked car still requires regular maintenance. Ensure you’re keeping your car safe and functional whenever it’s not in use; thankfully, maintenance is usually a lot easier at times like these! 


Chris Turn

Chris Turn is the pseudonym of a journalist and writer who has published short stories, essays, and criticism in the Los Angeles Times, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and the New York Times. Her most recent book, a novel, is The Summoning (The HarperCollins Canada, 2014). She lives with her husband in Toronto.

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