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Pandemic question about how long to run a car

I’m sheltering in place during the pandemic. The car sits in the garage except one trip out a week to pick up an online grocery order.
During that one trip, should I keep driving further and even out onto the highway in order to keep the battery charged up and the car running well? If so, how far or for how long? My battery is two years old. Thanks.

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Maybe drive for a total of 30 minutes since you are out anyway. I had a truck that would set for 3 to 4 weeks at a time and never had a problem .

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Agree with Volvo, plus it is a good idea to get all fluids up to full operating temperature.

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5 miles each week should be sufficient, it only takes 2 miles to reach operating temperature and this should only be for the next 4 weeks. You can leave a vehicle parked for 2 to 3 months without any problems. I drove my truck this week to the store, it has been parked for 6 weeks.


I was running our Honda Fit yesterday and debated the same question. Great story topic!

A few days ago, I needed to do a Costco run, and I purposely opted to go to one that is located 21 miles from my house, instead of the “local one” that is 7 miles away. Not only was the store in this rural area almost devoid of customers, but at that Costco gas station, there was only one other car, besides mine.

In the process, I gave my car a really good run at 40-45 mph for 42 miles, so I know that the battery is well-charged and water condensation in the crankcase was evaporated. And, I got to enjoy some really beautiful scenery on the way there and the way back. Now, the car can sit for…God only knows… how many days.


Yeah I think the longer the better. The one car that hasn’t gone anywhere except the gas station, I did put the charger on the battery just to keep it up but the battery is four years old and I should probably replace it. If you can run it for 15-20 miles or more to get everything warmed up and dried out, that would be best. Plus it’s nice to get out in the safety of your own car for a little while.


Haha. We did the same - Costco run!

Every car is different, left my car for 2 months at the cabins, and started up just fine, A battery tender if you are concerned.

Death or serious injury in a car is probably much more likely than from Corona…depending on your condition I suppose.
It occurred to me that this shutdown is probably saving several hundred lives per day just through accident avoidance, if you count all accidents and not just trafffic.

I cannot help but think this is a delayed response as far as coronovirus goes, that will help hospital capacity, unlike seat belts that avoided deaths.

Yep. I make the same trip. And I paid $2.03 for 93 Octane. Amazing!

Many years ago I recall a study done on light aircraft engines (Lycoming?) of the time at operating temperature required to gas off the moisture picked up in a week of being parked + blow by contamination during warm up - if I remember correctly it took 30 - 60 minutes to accomplish this. Decades old aircraft engine designs and oils differ from today’s cars, and there may be more recent studies, but it’s probably safe to operate as if the figure is in this ballpark. After a full warm up, it may be okay to build the total time over several intervals separated by short stops, as a warm starts don’t produce as much contamination.

If cars are going to be sitting much, it might be wise add fuel stabilizer, keep the tank topped off, and do the preparation recommended for a few to 6 months of storage, though let’s hope this doesn’t last that long.

That’s crazy talk! :wink: That type of thinking is way too rational in light of all the panic! :blush:

Although things like that aren’t factored into equations, I agree with you! :+1:

It’s hard to find bright spots in this dire emergency, but they are there for people who’ll look. Some families are being drawn closer together, recently, for instance. In other cases folks are going out of their way to help friends and neighbors.
:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:

On our cars it only takes a few minutes for the coolant to reach temperature, but engine oil, which is what one cares about, seems to require substantially longer, our experience seems to be about 15-25 minutes, depending on the vehicle.

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Based on my experience, yes. The only trip I made in the last two weeks was to get carry out food last Friday, a 10 minute trip to the restaurant and 10 back. Last night, I tried to start my car, but the battery was dead. I used my power pack to start it this morning and went for a 20 minute drive with no stops. I think I’ll go for two 20 minute drives each week.

I take my cars out twice a week just to get out of the dang house . Im going to start taking longer trips if this lasts much longer .

Yikes! If any of my vehicles did that I’d suspect a problem. Granted, I don’t have any of those modern newfangled cars, but it seems that any car should be able to “hibernate” for a couple of months, at least.

I’m quite good a leaving cars parked here and there for long periods and I usually don’t have to worry about dead batteries. I expect that kind of reliability from my “fleet.”

Right now we are free to drive anywhere we’d like and batteries aren’t a consideration and we don’t drive very far anymore around here.
:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:

I have a modern, new fangled car. There are pluses and minuses to everything. I’m pleased with the car.

If you want to combine a long drive with cheap gas come to Kentucky. $1.09 for regular.