Infrequent Driving Question - Am I doing what I should or should I be doing more?

I have a 2002 Toyota Solara that I drive every two weeks, and I’m writing to ask whether you think I’m reasonably doing what I should to take care of the car, or if you think I should be doing more.

I keep it garage parked, covered, and with the battery disconnected using a battery disconnect switch. Every two weeks I take it onto the freeway, drive about 10 miles, park, do some errands, and drive it back home. I get it washed every once in awhile or wash it myself. I keep the tires inflated, periodically checking the pressure and adding air as needed, I run the heater and air conditioner separately each time I drive, and I open the convertible, to make sure the motor that opens and closes it works properly - and 'cause driving a convertible is fun. I turn the radio on to make sure it’s still working. I also get an oil change every six months or so. Everything works mechanically and I’ve always kept it well maintained.

I feel like I’m doing what I should to maintain the car so as to ensure it lasts as long as reasonably possible and to avoid unnecessary repairs, though I’m curious to hear what others who are much more knowledgeable with car maintenance think. Should I be doing more? Am I overlooking something? Or is this reasonable? Thanks for your consideration.

Seems reasonable to me. Follow the service intervals in the owner’s manual (mileage or time, whichever comes first). As another person who has a car that is driven infrequently, I decided to only operate the convertible top after it has been warmed a bit by the sun, so it will be more flexible. The materials of the top can become brittle with age and they tend to soften a bit in the heat of daylight.

Sounds like you’re doing it right. I might drive it a little more on those outings, 10 miles each way would be the minimum. And I might add some Stabil to the tank every few months, just in case.

Since you drive it only about 520 miles a year, I think you should give it to someone who will appreciate it more. I nominate KMcCune.

I would drive it a little further on each trip and make sure to get the chassis lubed at periodic intervals. Keep a check on the belts and hoses as well.

+1 for fuel stabilizer. You probably get gasoline every 5 or 6 months. For oil changes, see what Toyota recommends in the maintenance or user’s manual. You might be able to change the oil every year if you really drive 260 miles every 6 months.

Did you ever calculate how much this is costing you, for insurance, maintenance, depreciation? and compared that to a rental cost?

I’d guess it’s costing you $10-20 per mile.

Don’t forget the other maintenance items, such as belt changes, transmission fluid, timing belt, etc. They all have a time limit as well as mileage. Eg, timing belt (if you have one) would probably be due to be changed eveey 8 years. Timing belt alone is costing you about 30 cents per mile.

edit, on recalculating, that is more like $5-10 per mile, still a lot.

From what you’re describing, you’re treating the vehicle as if it were classic vehicle.

And everything you’re doing is correct.

The only other thing I would do is purchase a can of aerosol Lemon Pledge. Then each time the vehicle is washed and dries, spray the Lemon Pledge on the convertible top and let it foam up. Then take a clean rag and wipe the Lemon Pledge off.

The foaming action raises the dirt and grit from the top, and when it’s wiped off a with a rag, the lemon oil in the Pledge remains on the top preventing the top from drying out.

One of the tricks used on collectible convertible vehicles.


Thanks for all the useful feedback.

I’ll pick up some fuel stabilizer.

I’ve been using some sort of convertible top cleaner – but once my current bottle runs out, I’ll probably switch to Lemon Pledge, as it’s probably more affordable.

I’ll also consider reducing the insurance coverage I have. As for getting rid of it, I still loving having a vehicle. I mostly drive a Vespa around town, but it’s nice to have a car too, just in case. I live in Los Angeles, CA, and it doesn’t rain here much, but when it does…:slight_smile:

Thanks again.

Sounds very good to me. If you wanted to do more – which probably isn’t necessary – it would be to drive it more frequently. Rather than every two weeks, every week. You could drive it 10 miles one time, and fewer miles, say 2-3 miles, the other time. Oh, and make sure to change out the coolant at the intervals Toyota recommends.

Take longer trips, 20 miles each way would be ideal.

Rather than more frequent, I would make those biweekly drives longer. Go do the errands, then drive another 10 minutes further away on the freeway then back home again without stopping. Try to do it in the daytime to maximize battery charging, but the main point is to thoroughly heat the engine and circulate/purge the oil of contaminants. 10 minutes is just too short.

I agree with the others. You’re doing pretty well - actually much better than most people - but I’d like to see you drive it for a longer distance. Drop that top and take it on a backroad for a leisure drive on the way home. You want to heat things fully and then keep them hot for a bit, if for no other reason than to get rid of the water that will accumulate in your exhaust and rot it from the inside out.

How on earth do you live in LA and not need a car every day?

I think the Vespa asnwers that question.

Considering OP drives a Vespa, there’s a good chance he/she lives in Silver Lake, Los Feliz or Atwater Village

There’s also a fair chance OP is what is known as a “Hipster” . . . or if not a hipster, OP may be quite young

I was not making a compliment or insult. I was just stating a possibility

I might be dead wrong

OP might be a 75 year old retiree . . . but I seriously doubt it

I grew up in the South Bay area of Los Angeles–Torrance, Redondo Beach, Harbor City, San Pedro. There’s no way you could live without a car there.

I guess I don’t understand how you can live without a car anywhere. How do you do grocery shopping, go to dinner, or do anything else in a timely manner?

I had a customer who needed some car work that was going to keep his car down for about a week. His 20 minute drive to work turned into a 1 hour 40 minute bus ride. Who can live like that?

A 75 year old retiree could still be a hipster … like … hmm … I plan to be … lol . .

@asemaster writes …

"I guess I don't understand how you can live without a car anywhere. How do you do grocery shopping, go to dinner, or do anything else in a timely manner?"

I have friends who live both in San Francisco and New York city. They live a while in once place, then change to the next place for a few months. They don’t own a car. To get around town they use public transport or cabs. If they need to drive somewhere further away – like when they are in SF they sometimes like to visit Napa for wine tasting – they’ll rent a car for the day.

But you are right, most Americans don’t have access to good reliable frequently scheduled public transport, so most Americans almost are required to own a car.