How to maintain a car that will not be driven for 4 months


I work out of the country & my 1999 Toyota Camry sits in my driveway. I have someone start it every few weeks & let it run for 5 minutes or so. Is this the best thing to do? I don’t really have anyone I can ask to drive it for me. Should I leave it with the gas tank full or only keep a small amount of gas in it? I live in the Seattle area, so we don’t have terribly cold or hot weather.




It sounds like you are doing the right thing to me though you could try something different. Having a full tank is a better way to go I think. It will help keep moisture from forming in the tank. If you wanted to go longer between starts or just leave the car I suggest you invest in a small solar panel that can generate at least a few hundred milliamps of current to keep the battery charged up. Leave the panel on the dash and plug it into the cigarette lighter socket. Keeping the battery charged is important for its service life.


While your plan will work and likely no real damage will result, but I would like to see it with a full tank and not started at all, but some arrangement to keep the battery charged. Five minutes of idling is not really great for a car. It normally is better off not running at all or being driven up to full operating temperature and driven at least 15 minutes.

Personally, I would remove the battery and store it away from the car. Ideally with some sort of trickle charger on it. That will also make it more difficult for anyone considering stealing the car. Few car thieves carry spare batteries with them.

Remember to contact your insurance company, if the car is not driven for four months, you should be able to cancel the collusion (expensive) part of your policy and save a chunk of change.


Four months is not long at all. You can really just leave the car as-is. When you return, charge up the battery, which will likely run down whether you leave it in the car or not, or get a jump start. The amount of fuel in the tank hardly matters. The suggestions by others are sound enough, though, and may make you feel better if you apply them.