1. Keep the battery charged by driving your car once per week
Car batteries discharge over time, and the easiest way to prevent a dead battery is to drive your car at regular intervals.
But there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how often to take your vehicle for a spin. Kosilla said it instead depends heavily on the age of your car, the condition of your battery, your local climate, and whether you’re parked indoors or outdoors.
For instance, a garaged, new car — with a brand-new battery, presumably — will fare better than an older car parked on the street. Keep in mind that batteries tend to drain faster in colder climates.
2. Do the same to keep your car’s moving parts lubricated
Driving a vehicle regularly not only keeps the battery charged, but also prevents the engine and other mechanical from drying out. If a car sits for too long, oil starts to settle, fluids begin to separate, and seals can begin to dry out, which, according to Montoya, can cause damage to your vehicle.
Taking your car out for a brief drive helps to keep fluids circulating and ensures all the moving parts — the transmission, brakes, and so on — stay well lubricated. That’s one major reason that going out for a drive is superior to simply idling your car in the driveway.
3. Driving also helps you avoid flat spots
Tires lose pressure over time, and if a car sits for too long, the weight of the vehicle can cause flat spots to develop where the rubber meets the road. Tires with flat spots may need to be tossed out and swapped for new ones, so car owners should do what they can to avoid that headache.
Fortunately, a weekly driving schedule to keep your battery charged and components moving should also help avoid potential flat spots.
4. Choose your parking spot wisely
Parking long term on a soft, permeable surface like grass or dirt allows moisture to travel up into your car’s undercarriage, causing rust. Finding a spot on pavement is ideal, but gravel is still a decent second choice.
Montoya suggests owners heed signage, park in a safe area, and avoid leaving valuable items in their vehicle for long periods of time.
5. Be mindful of what you park beneath
If you park under the wrong tree, you’re screwed. Parking under a tree that drips sap can be “an absolute crazy nightmare” for a car’s paint job — especially if the paint is hot, which makes it softer and more prone to damage.
6. Top off your tank
The benefits of filling up on gas before parking long term are twofold. White and Montoya said topping off prevents condensation from accumulating inside the tank, and and Kosilla mentioned that it also stops gasoline fumes from building up to hazardous levels.
Although it’s probably overkill, you can use fuel stabilizer to extend the life of your gasoline and prevent it from degrading over time