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Severe Driving (Short Distance Driving)

Posted on Cars.com was the following statement regarding short-distance driving:

“. . . One of the byproducts of engine combustion is water. When an engine reaches its operating temperature that water turns to vapor and is expunged, either out the tailpipe or the crankcase ventilation system. On a short trip, however, that water stays inside your car’s engine and exhaust. Unfortunately, water is one of only three ingredients necessary to make rust (you’ve already got the other two, oxygen and metal), and rust kills. Look at any of my brother’s cars.”



Most places I drive (church, work, grocery shopping, gym, etc.) involve driving fewer than ten minutes. This constant short-distance driving is classified as severe driving conditions. I have only 20,000 miles on a 2005 Honda Accord, which I bought new. I have the oil changed every six months and adhere to the maintenance schedule. I have not had any problems with my car, but I am concerned about the unavoidable short distance driving. How can I minimize the damage to my engine, especially limiting the amount of water inside the engine that causes rust?



Personally, I would start changing the oil more frequently (every three months instead of six), and once a week I would either “take the long way home” or take a little pleasure cruise that gets the car up to highway speed.

The only thing you can do to help this further is change the engine oil every 3-4 months. However changing every 6 months is likely fine if Honda states so.

This is simple. Every few weeks drive the car on the highway for 25-30 minutes. Visit a friend on the other side of town. Take a scenic drive on a Sunday afternoon. Or just make a circle around your city’s beltway.

This will bring the engine, transmission, and exhaust system up to full operating temperature and all of the accumulated moisture will be driven off.

Remember, it’s not just the engine you have to worry about.

My estimate is you drive 4,000 miles a year, about 2,000 every 6 months. I don’t think more frequent oil changes will make much difference. Where do you live, big city, small town, suburbia? If you don’t mind highway driving find a reason to take a one hour round trip on a highway. Visit a friend, go to a farmer’s market, visit a park or a museum. It may do both you and your car some good. If you don’t like driving much, perhaps a friend can drive and just take your car for the exercise.

I would stick with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Congratulations for not only reading the owner’s manual, but following the instructions.

I suggest you find some nice places to visit every week or two. Maybe shopping, or a park or maybe just a drive to visit family or friends

What I need to see is a analysis of the effects of short distance driving on a 2005 vehicle that follows the schedule that the manufacture set-up.

Many people are applying what was “common knowledge” for vehicles from the 50’s (and there are plenty posting here) to what affects the cars of today.

I dont want to hear of a test FORD did in 1965. We need to know about today.

What is being said,internal engine parts are rusting away? I have seen plenty break,bend,plug up,fall apart but I have yet to pull a engine down that was rusted inside (unless a headgasket failed and the owner just parked it for 2 years) then I found rust.

My estimate was between 4,400 and 5,000 miles per year. Otherwise, I agree with your assessment.