How long can a car be idle before damage begins?


My son will soon be shipped to Iraq and we are wondering if it is OK to leave his car sitting for 12-18 months.


Put some Stablizer - fuel stablizer in the gas tank. Do a fresh oil change. Is the battery fairly new? If so…make sure it is fully charged. You should remove the negative cable from the battery to shut down all the electrical items…clock, radio etc. that would continue to drain the battery. May have to charge the battery just before your son gets back. All that said…if you have access to the car while he is gone…just start it up say every other month and let it run a few minutes and shut it off. Should be fine. Where will it be parked?


You will incur no damage just by letting a car sit in storage, but it is better to drive the car briefly about once a month. Do this and you need take no special precautions. Of course, you will have to maintain the registration, inspection, and liability insurance all this time. Are you planning to let the car remain completely inactive?

  1. Protect from rodents and vandals.
  2. Disconnect battery. *
  3. Visit car wash and allow to dry before storage.
  4. Don?t use a car cover; it traps moisture.
  5. Don?t have someone drive it, unless they are going to drive it a good distance at least once a week. Long

enough to get it fully warmed up plus.
6. Fill the fuel tank
7. Don?t leave the parking brake on. Leave it in gear or block the tyres.

If over one month

  1. Arrange for battery charging or a new battery on return. A charger made for this or a charger on a timer is good.
  2. Change the oil if it is due

If over three months

  1. Use fuel stabilizer when you fill the tank.
  2. Change oil anyway
  • It is best to remove the battery and bring it inside. Giving it a little charge every month and giving it a little charge every

month is a great idea. Very few car thieves carry an assortment of batteries around with them so your car is a lot safer.


Driving the car once every 6 months will be adequate. Ask a car dealer how long some cars sit on the lot until they are sold. Don’t drive it at all if you are in a winter road salt area. The battery needs a battery float charger or a battery tender. The storage area, indoors must be dry and well ventilated or the brake rotors and the clutch, if manual trans, will rust. If rusted, the rotors will be noisy until they clean up and the clutch can slip until it cleans up.


Thanks for everyones reply. Seems like the best thing to do is to take a weekend trip and bring the car home. I will drive it to work once a week approximate 70 miles.



There you go, good idea.

But, like Joseph mentioned, do not leave the parking brake engaged for long periods.