My Elderly Mom's Car is Rarely Driven. Should I Treat the Gasoline, ect?

My mom had to stop driving her 2006 Fusion with 8500 miles on it due to major eyesight problems. I drive her in her car once or twice a month, maybe 10 miles or more, to do errands. The gas in the tank can be 4 to 6 months old between fill ups. Should I add anything, like Stable or STP gas treatment, to the full tank of fresh fuel when I do fill up? Should I let it go to a 1/4 tank between fill ups, or keep it full all the time? Do I need to change the oil after 3 to 6 months, even though there may only be 500 miles on it between changes, or can I let it go longer, since I drive it 10 miles to avoid moisture build up in the oil? Also, after I drive it, I keep a float charger on the battery to avoid it running down. Anything else I should do to the vehicle?

Thanks for your help, and my mother thanks you as well, as she was always great about maintaining her car through the years thanks to your advice. Now she’s the one with the question.


Steve - Chicago

Add Stabil to the tank when refueling at about the half way mark.

Change the oil at 6 months.

There is no need to drive it at all between long runs.

I do the same thing with my Tahoe. It just sits with Stabil in a full tank and gets used three times a year to pull my travel trailer to South Carolina.

I would add fuel stabilizer at each fill-up.

When my car was only getting 2-3,000 miles per year I changed the oil once a year. I think that’s often enough for your mom’s car, too.

If possible I would drive her car farther than 10 miles now and then. Take it out on the highway and let everything get up to operating temperature. Once a month would be enough.

I’d probably feel better if it were driven 20 miles at a time instead of 10, just to be on the safe side. That’s nitpicking though; RR’s advice is pretty much what you want to do.

Is it worth considering maybe selling the car? It’s still got a Blue Book value of over $10K, the insurance money can be used for other things, and so on. Maybe you’ve already talked about it and she doesn’t want to, but if not perhaps it’s something to think about.

If that major eyesight problem is not temporary, the best mechanical thing to do is to sell the car. I know this may not be possible from a person perspective and could well be an emotional event for your mother. You need to decide that part, it might be far better for her not to consider selling it.

I wish you and her all the best.

Fill the fuel tank with marbles. Then only 2-3 gallons will fit in there and you’ll refill more often. This will probably stop the gas gauge from working. ;o)

Do you live close to Mom? If so, maybe you could sell your car and drive hers. She doesn’t need it any more, it appears. If you don’t care for the Fusion, maybe another sibling could use it. If your mother is responsible enough to recognize she can’t drive anymore, she should be able to part with the car, too. I hope that I’m as thoughtful as she is when I’m faced with a similar situation.

Sta-bil is cheap so use it although I have doubts as to whether is it necessary if the car gets a fresh tank of fuel every 6 months. That is how long I park my winter car during the summer; do not use Sta-bil and have no problem when the car goes back into service.

Change the oil per your owner’s manual. It will cover the usage described.

Keep the car if it is a vestige of remaining independence that your mother might possess and enjoy. Money is not everything to consider.

Float charger is good. I can’t think of anything else to watch except to check the tire pressure; possibly once per month would be good and visually inspect the tires. Radial tires do not reveal slightly low pressure but a big leak will show up as a flat.

Drive the car at least 10 miles prior to parking to warm and dry the exhaust system to minimize corrosion. In winter during salt season, it would be good to wash the car prior to parking.

Drive Mom’s Car Frequently Enough And Far Enough To Keep Fresh Gas In It. It’s Not Just Gas You Should Be Concerned With, But The Car Needs To Be Driven!

Explain this to Mom and then drive it or sell it. Forget about Stabil. Stabil is for winterized Wave-Runners or Ski-Doos put up for the off-season, not 2006 Ford Fusions. This car needs exercise or big problems will present themselves!