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Short distance driving in Iceland

Hi Guys,

My family and I (originally from Boston) live in a small town in Northern Iceland. Because of the nature of where we live, we either drive our car (2000 Subaru Forester) either very short distances (less than 1km) or long distances. We take the car on trips over 30 minutes at least once a week. About once a month we take a tr…ip more than 3 hours. I know that these short trips are not good for our car, what can I do to minimized damage?

Thank you!

Don't worry be happy.  You have enough longer trips to keep you car in good shape.  The only thing I might do is to change the oil a little sooner than normally recommended.

Since you do drive longer distances on a regular basis you are probably ok, but there are several problems with the very short drives. The battery won?t fully recharge between trips. The engine oil won?t get hot enough for long enough to drive moisture out, the same for condensation in the exhaust system. Depending on how fastidious you are, how much money you want to spend and how long you plan to keep the car I would recommend a couple of things. As already mentioned, change the oil based on the severe use guidelines in the owners manual. If you can, a couple of times between the longer drives let the engine warm up a little longer or drive around the block. You might consider getting a block heater. If you notice the engine cranking slower between long drives a trickle charger would help.

Don’t worry about and change your oil under the severe recommendation.

My family has a vehicle (Subaru) on Nantucket since 1990 and it works fine. It rarely sees the mainland.

In addition to the other recommendations, I would use a block heater to warm the engine up for about 2 hours before starting up. Electricity is cheap in Iceland, and cars are probably expensive. Operation in Northern Canada is very similar and there even some restaurants have places to plug in your car while you are having dinner.

thank you for the recommendations. I think that we will certainly be changing out oil/filter more often. Regarding the block heater, it does not get that cold here, never less than 10F and rarely below 20F, do you think that is still necessary?

The car will start at those emperatures, but for your own comfort and reduced engine wear, a block heater is a “win-win” deal. In Sweden they even have plugs on the parking meters so you can keep the car warm while you are shopping.

I have used block heaters since 1965 and have never got rid of a car because the engine was worn out.

Your driving pattern is good; enough long trips to avoid sludging up the engine. Your driving is still “severe service” by car makers’ definitions, so go for the short oil change interval, like 2000-3000 miles and use 0W30 synthetic oil. Your car will love you for it!

Absolutely unnecessary at those temps.

You drive when you have to go less than .6 miles? Where do you live, next to a freeway?

I try to minimize these short trips, but the wind is often +20mpg (+40 or 50 mph is not uncommon) so when I take my 3 year old to school I need to use the car.