Because of the shutdowns due to COVID-19 protocols and other reasons, many people around Atlanta have been driving less in recent months. In fact, some studies suggest that the U.S. in general saw a 48 percent reduction in traffic from January to April, 2020. While that reduces the amount of traffic congestion and pollution around the city, not driving your car for a while can cause damage to the vehicle. Read on for more information about 10 car problems that often develop when a vehicle sits without running for too long.
1. Your Car Battery Can Die
Your car battery is running even if you’re not driving the car. However, without the power to charge the battery that is created when you run the vehicle, the battery can eventually lose its charge if the car is not used often. One way to avoid this issue is by using a trickle charger, which will continue to supply power to the battery even when it is not in use. You can also conserve your battery by unplugging your dash cam, phone charger, and any other accessory that could drain your car’s battery as it sits.
2. Your Tires Develop Flat Spots
Cars can weigh several thousand pounds. This is a lot of weight to place on the car’s tires. If you don’t drive your car for a while, this weight is all sitting on one part of the tire for a long period of time. This can create a flat spot in the tire that you can actually feel when you drive and that will likely result in premature wearing of the tire.
3. Your Tires Lose Pressure
Even when the car is not being driven, tires slowly lose pressure over time — an estimated two PSI a month. Driving on improperly inflated tires can impact the tires’ ability to grip the road, can result in premature wearing of your tires, and can even cause a dangerous tire blowout on the roadway. You will also be going to the gas station more often, because low tire pressure impacts fuel economy.
4. Your Lubricants Break Down
Most of your vehicle’s lubricants, such as oil and brake fluid, will begin to break down over time, even when the vehicle is not being used. These lubricants keep the moving parts of your vehicle operating as they should. If the oil breaks down, this can result in the potential of the engine overheating as the dry parts rub together. Fortunately, keeping your lubricants in tip-top shape is simple: running your vehicle for about ten minutes every two weeks should do the trick.
5. Your Belts and Wires Can Corrode
Lack of oil or movement can also cause corrosion to belts and wires on vehicles that have been sitting too long, posing a risk to the vehicle’s ability to function properly and requiring those belts and wires to need replacing even if they have hardly been used. This is particularly true in humid climates.
6. Brake Stiction
Like other parts of the vehicle, your brakes are also vulnerable to corrosion from the humid climate. Within a few weeks of not being used, your vehicle can develop a condition called brake stiction, which is surface-layer corrosion that causes the components of the brake system to begin sticking together. While this condition can be prevented merely by driving the vehicle and gently applying the brakes every few days, failing to address the problem can result in the need to replace rotors and brake pads.
7. Your Gasoline Goes Stale
In as little as three months of non-use, the gasoline in your vehicle will start to go stale as the lighter and more volatile components of the gas evaporate. This causes the gas to appear darker, more gummy, and to have a strong odor like varnish. This can result in a loss of engine power, or hesitation and stalling as you drive. If there is only a small amount of fuel in the tank while it is sitting, it can be broken down even faster due to a buildup of moisture in the tank. You can avoid having your gasoline break down by running the vehicle regularly and also by using a fuel stabilizer that prevents gasoline breakdown.
8. Your Seals Dry Up
Like your car itself, your car’s air conditioning must be run on a regular basis to avoid the seals drying up. Air conditioner seals that have dried up not only will have to be replaced, but will result in the vehicle losing freon and needing to be recharged in order to work properly. Running your AC for about 10 minutes every week or two to avoid encountering this issue.
9. Small Animals Can Move In
While your car may seem like it is properly closed up, small animals such as insects and rodents can easily find a way to get in, where they will feed on food and other items left inside the vehicle. The longer your car sits, the more inviting it becomes as a shelter for animals who might like to use your seat cushions or even electrical wiring for nest material.
10. Damage from the Elements
While insects and rodents can cause issues inside your car, the elements can cause problems for the exterior if you let your vehicle sit too long. The sun can damage your seats and both bird poop and tree sap can destroy the protective clear coat of your vehicle’s paint and can be very difficult to clean off if not addressed promptly. The elements can also create rust, which can destroy your vehicle’s body if allowed to spread unchecked.
It is important to note that while traffic is down in Atlanta and other parts of the nation, dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding and sharp cornering have resulted in an increase in accidents per vehicle miles traveled. Ensuring that your vehicle is properly maintained and driven regularly are ways to avoid an accident. If you’ve been injured in an accident that resulted from someone’s failure to properly maintain their car, failure to drive safely, or other careless or reckless actions, you can seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced car accident lawyer from Cambre & Associates can help you understand this legal process. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.