Author Topic: How to upkeep a low-mileage car?  (Read 1877 times)

ShaneD

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How to upkeep a low-mileage car?
« on: June 18, 2015, 11:27:33 AM »
I'm slowly working my way through the Mustachian People Problems thread (love it), and a comment by DeepEllumStache from nearly a year ago got me thinking:

Since you no longer drive to work and avoid other random driving, you have to actually consider how your low mileage impacts car upkeep (how much gas to put in so it doesn't sit in the tank for 3 months, how often to change the oil, etc).

I, too, have a low mileage car (less than 30k miles after more than 10 years) and have to work to remember to do certain maintenance as it's rarely forefront in my mind. But I also don't know what I don't know. (For example, does DES's comment regarding how much gas will sit in a gas tank for 3 months imply that it's a waste of money or damaging to the car?)

There are plenty of maintenance checklists on the Web, but what would you MMMs put on a checklist of things one should do/keep track of specifically for a car that doesn't get driven much?

Thanks!




[Please let me know if this has been covered elsewhere; I didn't find anything when searching.]

Roots&Wings

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Re: How to upkeep a low-mileage car?
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2015, 11:03:49 AM »
This is an unexciting answer, but for my fairly low-mileage car (2004 Honda Accord, 91k miles) I just follow the Owner's Manual for maintenance. The maintenance tasks are due either by mileage or time. I keep a maintenance log to know what was done and when it is next due.

Also drive it once a week when I'm home to keep the battery from dying, and use a battery tender when away for longer trips. I haven't had issues from gas sitting too long...not really sure what might happen from that. Curious about other's experiences though!

Axecleaver

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Re: How to upkeep a low-mileage car?
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2015, 11:56:59 AM »
Almost all gasoline today is 10% ethanol, which over time pulls moisture out of the air and binds to the molecules in the tank. This water sits at the bottom of your tank and can make it difficult to burn. You can offset this by using dry gas, which will make the tank last about one year. If you do have ethanol-free gas near you (marinas often sell it) buy that instead. Ethanol becomes corrosive to internal parts after a while - I had a chain saw where the ethanol completely disintegrated the plastic fuel line. Most cars use metal fuel rails and rubber lines, so there's little danger of that in your car.

In addition to ethanol gasoline, your tires have a usable life expectancy of about ten years. Most folks wear their tires out before this, but tires should be replaced every ten years from when they were manufactured. If you garage the car, you might be able to get another couple of years out of them. You have to be careful with this because some tires are sold after they've sat around in a warehouse for years. Look for cracking, discoloration from ultraviolet (sun) damage, and hardening rubber.

Tires that aren't exercised regularly can also develop flat spots, and wear out much sooner if they're stored for long periods without moving, which is why some folks put their cars on block to store them. Blocks also avoid stressing the shocks and springs, which will wear out sooner if they aren't exercised.

You should change the oil once a year even if you're only going 3000 miles. Most oil changes can now be done after 10-15k miles, especially 100% synthetics.

You should also pay for a full lube job once a year.