Short Trips

We live a few minutes away from most everything. We often make short drives with our Acura MDX. These short trips often range from 3- 10 miles round trip. When we return home and park the car, should we put the car in park and depress gas petal to “blow out” the condensation from the exhaust pipes. Will that help the system last longer?

No. The exhaust system heats up very quickly. so that’s not a problem. But short trips do effect the motor oil. This is because the oil doesn’t get hot enough to drive off any moisture or any unburned fuel in the oil so it can burned in the engine via the PCV system.

If you take the vehicle out for a half hour or more on the freeway on a weekly basis, then this shouldn’t be a problem. But if it’s used exclusively for just these short trips, then you fall under the catagory of changing the oil every 3,000 miles.


Tester covered it all very nicely.

Change your oil often*(eg every 3k-4k) and don’t worry. The car serves you, you don’t serve the car except for the occasional scheduled maintenance.

Short trips, where the car never has a chance to warm up, are very hard on it. Change your oil according to what the manual calls a “severe service” schedule, probably 3k-4k miles or 3 months, whichever comes first. If your short trips do not add up to much distance, the time schedule may very well govern.

A few times per month, take the car out on the highway for at least 20 miles or half an hour so that it can spend some time running at its proper operating temperature. Also, once it is warm, give it a few seconds of full throttle acceleration. The on ramp to an interstate is a good, safe place for this.

This post has come up a number of times, and we always say that some highway driving by the owner or a close friend or relative is good for the car. Many years ago I owned a Chrysler product with a very elaborate instruction manual. It had a whole section on cold weather, short distance driving. In those days the oil change interval was 2000 miles for severe service, but he book said for cold weather, short trips the oil should be changed every 500 miles!! The alternative, the book said, was to take it out for a half hour highway trip to drive off the moisture and the raw gasoline that found its way into the crankcase.

Have you thought about WALKING or riding a bicycle for most of these short trips?? Both your car and your body will last a lot longer. I know there is a million reasons NOT to this, but none of them hold water…I’m 65 and if I can wear out a bicycle before my car(s) wear out, so can you.

Piggybacking on this discussion I have a question regarding extremely short trips. I am trying to decide if I should walk to/from my part time seasonal job or drive. It is right across the street from me. However, I won’t be getting out until midnight some nights, which is late. Would it be okay for my car if I were to make 2 short trips between my parking lot and the mall parking lot about three times a week? This will last til about the first week in January. Total travel distance, round trip, I’m guessing about 1/4 a mile with a time of about 1-2 minutes each way. I know this seems kinda trivial, but I want to be sure it won’t harm my car. Walking is what I would like to ideally do, but I have to be concerned for my safety as well.

Some additional info: I just had the charging system tested last month and it checked out okay. I also make 2 short trips for work on a daily basis, about a mile each.

Your safety is the most important factor!!! If you question your safety, don’t worry about your car… It won’t ‘Harm’ your car. It does wear it out faster. The majority of wear and tear happens when your car is cold. So if all your driving is extremely short trips, things wear out faster. A seasonal job for a month or so is irrelevant wear to concern yourself with. Be safe first!! Try once a week to get out on the highway for 15 to 20 minutes so everything circulates, warms up, and charges to its fullest.

Safety first. If you don’t feel safe, then drive. Does anyone else leave at the same time, maybe they would drop you off.

Yea it is not good for the car, but your car is your servant, you are not an expendable slave of the car.

Safety First!! But take the car for a fast spin on the weekend. You could also install a block heater for the cold weather, and have semi-warm starts which would cause less condensation and sludge.

The exhaust systems are now made of stainless and will last a long time.