Not driving car for 4 months



I’m going on an exchange program in Barcelona and will not be driving my car from Sept through Dec. The car will be in a garage in Chicago. It’s a 2002 Jetta.

Do I have to drain anything… unplug anything… get a friend to start it up twice a month… drive around the block? I would prefer to do nothing more than park it in the garage, but I don’t want to damage the car.

Also, my plan was to get an oil change and tuneup when I return, because it’s near due for one now.




Four months isn’t a long time for car storage so you won’t need to do much.

Give it a good wash (and wax if energetic) and fill the fuel tank (to reduce the chance of moisture build up).

If you have a reliable friend that wouldn’t mind spending an hour tooling around with your car once a month to keep seals from drying out and keep the tires from cracking (although the tires won’t be exposed to uv rays in a garage) by all means, do so.

When it’s parked leave the parking brake released. (you can block the wheels if necessary)

Your idea of having the oil/filter changed upon your return is good.

Some prefer to do this BEFORE storage.

Covering with a soft car cover would be nice to keep the dust off but that’s a personal choice.

If you just leave the car sit, do the above but disconnect the battery to avoid any possible parasitic
You MAY have to recharge the battery when you use the car again.


Change the oil NOW. Pump the tires up to 40psi or so, clean everything and disconnect the battery. Be careful about the battery if you have a “anti-theft” radio. You may need a “secret code” to get the radio working again. It’s better to leave the car undisturbed than to have someone start it. 4 months is no big deal.

  1. Disconnect the battery or expect to get a jump and likely battery replacement when returning.

  2. Leave parking brake off

  3. Don’t have anyone drive it. I had a wonderful experience of a “friend” who disregarded parking tickets while I was away and “someone else” scuffed" the bumper.


I will add a thing or two to what has already been suggested.

Some gas sstabilizer would not hurt or cost much. Normally for that time it really is not needed.

I suggest removing the battery, not just ddisconnecting it and bring it into your basement.  I would be a little better for the battery and would make stealing the car far more difficult. 

I would suggest not having someone drive the car.  Unless the do drive it long enough to bring the car, engine and fluids up to full operating temperature and keep it there for a while it would be better off without it.  Also if not driven you can cancel the collision insurance and that is the expensive part.


Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions. Will get the oil changed, fill tank, etc, before the trip.

Many thanks and best regards!


Just park it. Sure, change the oil either right before or right after, but other than that, just park it. Don’t try to get anyone to start it, or any of that nonsense. It will be fine. 4 months is nothing. Just park it.


The above replies are all good advice.

However, if you would rather not mess with disconnecting your battery and putting in the basement, an alternative is to connect it to a battery minder (a.k.a. smart charger). These cost between about $8 and $30. They will keep the charge on your battery without cooking it like the old battery chargers would. I believe they would consume minimal electricity in 4 months.

It would also maintain the data in memory of all the little computers in your car (e.g. clock, radio presets).

If you disconnect the battery I don’t know if your automatic transmission (or is this a manual transmission) would lose its learned shift patterns.

There may also be implications to your anti theft system (if you have one)?

I am not confident this covers everything, but it may be a place to start.

Hope this helps,