Storage or Usage: Which Wears a Car Down Faster?

Classic Garage

When you use something, it takes a lot of wear and tear. The same goes for cars—driving can mean chips on the windshield and the paint, worn out body parts, dirty oil and many other things that need regular maintenance to keep moving. So if a car has been in storage for a long period of time, it surely won’t be worn down, will it?

You might be surprised by the facts!

Cars Are Meant to Move

While it’s true that having a vehicle on the road means you’re putting wear and tear on it, you’re also using the car for what it was built for. Driving, for instance, turns the belt that charges the alternator. The alternator keeps your car battery charged, allowing you to use the car radio, air conditioner and power windows as well as start the car. If the battery isn’t charged by the alternator, it can run flat surprisingly quickly.

Corrosion and pitting can begin on the cylinder walls; when a car is driven, they’re regularly heated and coated with oil. A car left to sit is at the mercy of the elements, and this can mean rust forming in the gas tank, the brakes developing corrosion, the battery going flat, the terminals corroding, moisture collecting in the gas tank and engine and a myriad of other problems.

Safe Storage is Possible

With the right starting steps, you can safely store your car for long periods of time. However, your car will likely need maintenance after you take it out of storage before you can drive it again. Even then, if you want to be able to use your car soon after your storage period is over, you’ll need to:

  • Change the oil
  • Clean the car, inside and out
  • Fill up the tank
  • Keep it charged
  • Keep the parking brake off
  • Store it indoors and covered

If you’re going to store your car for more than 30 days, you may need to have the tires removed and store it on jack stands to prevent damaging your tires. A car is meant to be driven, not sit in a garage for months on end. If you can lend your car to a responsible party while you’re unable to drive it, it can save you on maintenance costs and tune-up costs when you’re ready to get back behind the wheel.