Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Are we hurting our car?

I’ve read that multiple short trips are worse for a car than longer trips, so I wonder if our current pattern is really harmful. A typical weekday, at around 40mph and in Vermont cold, would be:

7am - 4 minutes
8am - 4 minutes
8:15 - 25 minutes
11 am - 30 minutes
12 pm - 30 minutes
6pm - 30 minutes

What I’m wondering is if the longer trips compensate for the two short ones at the beginning of the day.

Yup, they do. You’re making enough longer trips that you need not worry at all about the shorter ones.

+1 for the same mountainbike.

As long as you get the car up to full operating temperature regularly (which gets rid of any moisture in the fluids and the exhaust system), mixing in some short trips has little effect.

No worries. Just one half-hour trip per day is enough to drive all the moisture out of the system.

I concur. Sounds like a reasonable use for the family car. IMHO, your car should last forever with this nominal use and reasonable maintenance. Now, at 40 mph average, we might assume you are using the brakes a lot ? But that’s a different question.

The only worry might be the 4 minute drive at 7 am, followed by an hour wait. That might cause some corrosion over a long enough time. But since you are driving enough later in the day, wouldn’t be something I’d worry about. It’s just a car. If the exhaust system rusts out and needs replacement in 15 years rather than 20 years, so what.

Both our family cars have a combination of short trips and longer ones. As said, blow out the cobwebs once a week by driving till the engine is thoroughly warmed up. The main purpose is to drive off moisture and liquid fuel from condensation of combustion products in order to prevent sludge formation.

So, if I drive long enough once a day to get the temp gauge as far up as it goes normally, is that good?

The schedule you posted originally is good too.

It all looks good to me. And remember, it’s a machine that you bought to use. It’s not a collectible item to be cherished and preserved. Sure, take care of it and don’t beat the heck out of it, but it’s still a transportation tool.

The other thing that will help prolong engine life is changing the oil at the “severe service” interval specified in your owners manual during winter.

In summer you can go back to the “normal service” interval.

My car exists for my convenience–I don’t exist for my car. I follow the maintenance schedule for the type of driving I do. I’ll let the car warm up in the driveway if the car sits outside and my wife is going along.
I had an aunt who managed to put minor dents in a car. She took it to a body shop and the body shop mechanic was trying to figure out how she got a particularly dent in the fender of her 1947 Pontiac. Her response to him “It’s your job to get the dents out. I specialize in putting them in”.