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How to care for a car you only drive a few times a year

Life is busy, so if like us you enjoy owning more cars than is entirely advisable, you might find that you struggle to find the time to drive them all. Failing that, you might be lucky enough to own something so rare that you can only really take it out on those rare days when the conditions are just right.

Whatever your situation, one question remains: what do you do with the car for the rest of the time? How do you store it in such a way that you know, when the time comes to fire it up and enjoy it, it won’t let you down? Don’t worry, we’ve got it covered. Here are five things you have to do to ensure happy motoring. 

01 Keep it lubricated 

Cars are machines that are designed to be in use. They are not designed to sit still. Doing so for long periods of time can and will hurt them. Hoses dry out, grease dries out, mechanisms seize, it’s a potential horror show.

What you need to do is keep it lubricated. Keep the rubber parts of the engine clean and conditioned with a rubber sealant. Keep pulleys and linkages oiled.

Also, don’t be afraid to change things like the engine oil, the brake fluid and the power steering fluid. It won’t do it any harm. 

02 Don’t let it stagnate 

Pluck a car out of a barn after a thirty-year slumber and it will probably run on the fuel still in the tank. Old fuel ward hardy stuff. Try it after a year with modern fuel though, and you probably won’t be so lucky.

Modern fuel is cleaner, and burns better, yes, but it’s also full of al kinds of aggressive chemicals that will eat your fuel lines and chew into the inner workings of your engine if left alone.

Moral of the story? Don’t put your car away for a long time with a load of fuel in it. And while you’re at it, don’t lay it up with a weak mix of coolant.

All that will do is corrode your engine’s insides, and that’s bad. Instead, change the coolant for a more concentrated mix, or maybe go for a waterless option. 

03 Give it a lift

Not literally, that will hurt your back. Instead, get it up on stands and give the suspension a rest. The springs, shocks and bushes are all designed to move about a little bit on a regular basis. If you leave the car sat on its own weight, they won’t like it.

The bushes could be slowly pushed out of shape, the springs could permanently compress, and the shocks could seize up.

So, like we say, take the weight off. It’ll also help the tyres, as leaving the car sat for an age will result in them developing flat spots, which will significantly mar the driving experience. ‘

04 Keep it charged

There’s nothing worse than coming to your car and finding all the electricity has fallen out of it. Avoid that by keeping a battery conditioner attached. Rather than a full-on charger, a conditioner does what it says on the tin – it keeps the battery in good condition, meaning that when you’re ready to take your car out, it’s good to go.

It also means you can periodically pop into the garage and turn the ignition on and go through all the lights and give the windows or maybe the roof a bit of action. Keep things moving and your car will stay operational and happy. 

05 Drive it

You might only get a month in the year when you can give it some serious use. Does that mean it has to site idle the rest of the time? No, it doesn’t. Cars need… no, carls loveto be driven.

So if you get a nice Sunday afternoon, give it a run to the shops. Take it around the block. Whatever you need to do. And the car will thank you for it.

Get it up to temperature, get its juices flowing and keep it happy. It’s the best way to make sure that when that big summer trip comes along, it’s tip top.

Don’t believe us? There are top classic car storing companies that insist they run the car up and around the block at least once a week. It’s good for them. They’re cars, after all.