The Problems with a Cream Puff (Dormant Vehicles)


Jan 5th, 2022

You may own a vehicle that you only drive occasionally.  Maybe it is a summer day cruiser, an off-roader, or vacation hauler.  Here are some things you need to know about a vehicle that doesn't get driven all that much.

You know it has oil in it, and the problem with not driving a vehicle means the oil is just sitting there. Time is breaking it down.  The additives that neutralize acids that build up in the oil are still at work, being depleted over time.   Plus, parts of your vehicle that are supposed to be protected by oil simply aren’t when the vehicle is not being used.  That’s why oil change intervals include both time and distance recommendations.

Combustion causes moisture to accumulate in the oil.  The water leads to significant corrosion, so it needs to be burned off periodically. You can do that by driving the vehicle at highway speeds for an hour or so.

Your battery will discharge as it sits.  Hot temperatures accelerate the rate of discharge.  This will accelerate how quickly your battery will need to be replaced.  Consider getting a battery tender that attaches to the battery and plugs into a wall socket.  The tender will charge the battery as needed, keeping it at an optimal charge while it sits unused.

Here are some other problems that can develop in a vehicle that sits around:  Tires can go out of round, and the rubber can deteriorate – always inspect the tires before driving.  Engine bearings can develop flat spots from sitting in the same spot.  Start the engine and let it run a bit. Bugs, mice, and who knows what may take up residence in nooks and crannies.  Brakes can develop a layer of squeal-producing, stopping-power-reducing corrosion.

So, what to do? Consult your owner's manual.  Also, ask your NAPA AutoCare Service Advisor for their suggestions.  You can come up with a maintenance schedule custom made for you.

We've all heard about that cream puff vehicle owned by the little old lady who only drove it to church once a month.  It's a nice story, but today's vehicles are sophisticated, intricate machines that need regular maintenance and proper care to keep them performing safely and dependably.

Carmasters Automotive

931 E Little Creek Rd.

Norfolk, VA 23518


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