Carefree Home Watch is frequently asked how to care for vehicles when homeowners are gone over the summertime.  Our best advice is to check with the service manager at your dealership for the recommendation from the manufacturer. Most manufacturers suggest operating the vehicle for 20–30-minutes (about 10 miles) at regular intervals.  Having your car driven at least once a month may help minimize some of the following issues:

Dead Car Batteries

Your car battery is your life- line to your vehicle.  Car batteries typically last about 2-5 years.  The worst thing for your battery is heat.  Not just the heat produced while operating the car but heat when the car is being stored in the garage.  Temperatures in a garage can exceed 120F under certain conditions.  Heat causes the fluid in car batteries to evaporate and can damage the internal structure.  Some things you can do to extend the life of your battery:

  • Avoid short drives or idle time.  
  • Keep the battery securely fastened to prevent internal damage
  • Clean any visible corrosion away immediately
  • Make sure all lights are off in your car
  • Have your battery checked at scheduled service intervals

Carefree Home Watch offers Car Drive service.  We operate the vehicle for about ten-miles which is approximately a 20–30-minute drive.  This is what we have found most manufacturers recommend.

Pest infestations

An idle car is the perfect nesting place for small pests and rodents such as mice, rats, snakes, frogs, etc. Mice will chew the protective insulation away from the wiring on your vehicle. Some suggestions to prevent rodents from nesting:

  1. Keep your vehicle free of food debris
  2. Park inside a garage
  3. Have your engine steam cleaned before you depart
  4. Leave the hood up

Flat spots on your tires

Tires lose air pressure over time.  This low tire pressure can create flat spots in tires which may cause the steel belts on a radial tire to separate.  If this happens you may notice a small bump or bulge on the sidewall of the tire indicating a separation occurred.  This may make your vehicle dangerous to operate when you return.  Carefree provides a visual observation of each tire as part of our Car Drive Service before and after each drive.  You should always maintain the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure at a minimum.

Bad Fuel issues

Most homeowners are not aware that lead- free gasoline has a usable shelf life of about 3-6 months and that the octane ratings of the fuel change dramatically which could cause damage to your vehicle.  A few things to consider when storing your vehicle:

  • Top off your tank completely.  This can help avoid condensation from accumulating in your tank and the resulting fuel contamination
  • Store the vehicle in a climate-controlled environment
  • Use a fuel additive. This will help preserve the octane levels in your fuel

Carefree Home Watch observes and notes the fuel level during each Car Drive.  Should your fuel tank level drop to ¾ tank full we will suggest topping off the tank again.

Other helpful tips

  • Have the car thoroughly cleaned prior to storing
  • Wipe all surfaces clean
  • Close all windows
  • Close the outside air vent 
  • Close the convertible top
  • Leave the hood up
  • Check your tire pressure and over inflate 1-2 pounds of pressure
  • Have someone operate the car for 20–30-minute trips 

Carefree Home Watch is a Certified Home Watch Professional service company.  Our best practice is to ensure your vehicle is well cared for while away and to provide exceptional care when you’re not there™ . For a FREE in-home consultation contact Carefree Home Watch at 239-234-1847; or visit where you can visit our Resource tab for more Best Practices blogs and videos.