Why You Should Take Your Car for a Weekly Ride – Maintenance 101

Now that COVID-19 does not seem to be going away anytime soon, most of us are stuck at home and will be driving much less. That said, do not take the chance to be a potato couch. There are many good reasons to take your car out for a casual drive once every week or once every two weeks in order to keep your car in good working order. Lack of use is actually detrimental to automobiles parts and systems, and warming up your vehicle regularly is one of the most basic car maintenance tips.

Reasons You Should Take Your Car For a Weekly Drive

Keeping The Battery Charged

Car batteries need to be continuously recharged in order to stay at the full charge state. This is because all car batteries go through a natural process of self discharge at a slow rate. This self discharge phenomenon is why it is quite common for batteries to die after a long winter storage, and also why it’s recommended that you invest in a trickle charger to keep your battery top off during extended periods of underuse. 

Driving your car once a week or at the very least once every two weeks for as little as 15-20 minutes at normal speed is essential for keeping the battery recharged via the alternator. A good amount of car batteries die due to underuse. 

Replacing a premature dead battery is by no means inexpensive, so taking your car for a weekly drive is an easy car maintenance job that would save you the time and money on avoidable repairs and replacement.


Keeping The Engine and Other Parts Healthy

Typically, you’ll want to take your car out for a casual drive once a week, or if the weather does not permit, once a month as a bare minimum, and of course the more regularly the better when the weather is forgiving. It might be surprising but lack of use can cause major issues to automobiles. 

reasons to take your car for a weekly drive
Leave the house, hop in the car and go for a casual 15-minute drive will keep all parts and systems in good shape. Photo credit: InsideHook

The rule for all vehicles, regardless of whether it’s your family commuter or your precious vintage collector car, do not let the vehicle sit around in your garage for months on end, as the rubber parts like belts, rings and the seals will start to dry out and can develop cracks. When this happens, your vehicle, especially if it’s rather old, can be subjected to a higher chance of leaks, for instance in the water pump, valve cover gasket, and oil pan gasket. Leaks might take some time to manifest and can be expensive to troubleshoot and fix.

Another good reason to take your car out for a weekly drive is that it will allow vital fluids like engine oil to circulate through the engine and other important parts, thus making sure they stay well lubricated and will be in good working order. One note is make sure you drive long enough to give the engine enough time to warm up and reach its optimal operating temperature. And on cooler days, it will take longer to warm up and circulate the oil, which gets thicker when it’s cold. 

Keeping Your Fuel System Clean

When you let your car sit for too long, the old gasoline can oxidize and leave unwanted carbon deposits inside the fuel tank and fuel injectors. A contaminated fuel system can seriously affect your engine’s health and performance, including fuel economy.

Driving your car regularly will help circulate gas throughout your vehicle’s fuel system and thus help prevent carbon deposits. One note is if you own a plug-in hybrid vehicle, it might default to running on electricity for a limited range, so when you take your car for a drive, you need to make sure to drive using the gas engine. 

Keeping The Tires In Good Shape

Another reason that you need to take your car out for a drive regularly is that when the car has been sitting in one spot for too long, the tires can begin to warp or form flat spots. Do take the car for a spin from time to time to avoid this problem.

While you’re at it, also take note to change up your parking spot according to the weather conditions, in case that you don’t have an indoor garage to park your baby. For instance, in rainy, humid weather, avoid parking your vehicle on permeable surfaces like grass and dirt, which might easily allow moisture to get into the car’s undercarriage and lead to rust. In inclement weather, avoid parking under a tree as branches, sap and bird feces might fall down and damage the paint job.

Also note that even when your car is not driven for an extended period, your tires, which are made from rubber compounds, are susceptible to cracks and dry rot caused by environmental impacts. For instance, prolonged and direct exposure to UV rays makes the materials deteriorate faster. If you park your car outside and will not be driving it too often for the time being, it’s best to invest in a car cover to protect your rubber tires as well as your paint job and the overall external parts from the harsh elements.


Protecting Your Brakes From Rust

Most brake rotors are made from iron, which is susceptible to rust, especially for vehicles that are parked outside. Fortunately, rusted rotors are easy to fix and won’t cost you a thing. Just take your car out for a drive every week, and when you use your brakes, the brake pads will naturally scrub the rust off your rotors.

In addition to the brake rotors, other parts of the braking system are also vulnerable to damage due to lack of use. One example is the brake master cylinder, which comes with seals that if broken would compromise your vehicle’s braking performance. Like the numerous seals in your engine, the seals of the brake master cylinder need to be lubricated to avoid cracks and damages, and one way to keep vital fluids circulating to lubricate them is to drive your car regularly. 

Chasing Out Unwanted “Guests”

If you let your car sit idle at one spot for too long without warming it up and inspecting it regularly, rodents and insects would love to make themselves at home in and under your vehicle. Taking your car out for a weekly drive would eliminate this risk. 

Last But Not Least: It’s Good For Your Mental Health

2020 and 2021 have been hard on us all. Staying at home without socializing can be detrimental to our mental well-being, especially under prolonged breakdown. Do not hole up in your home but take your car out for a casual drive from time to time in good weather, with the window down to take a breath of fresh air and the scent of nature to soothe your soul.