CARFAX: You Must Still Maintain Your Car, Even If You're Driving Less - Why Regular Car Maintenance is So Important

CENTREVILLE, Va. -- Because millions of Americans are staying home more often during the pandemic, their cars may be spending less time on the road. In fact, CARFAX data shows people are driving an average of almost 2,000 miles less a year than they normally would in the time since COVID travel restrictions were enacted. Driving less doesn't mean a vehicle no longer needs maintenance, though: Even if the odometer isn't moving much, the clock is still ticking on a car's maintenance schedule.

"Automakers base their recommended service intervals on time or mileage, whichever comes first," said Paul Nadjarian, General Manager of CARFAX Car Care. "Even though you might not be racking up any mileage, it's smart to keep the time limits in mind. A well-maintained vehicle will last longer, cause you fewer issues down the road, and is worth more when it comes time to sell or trade it in."

The best practice is to drive a car at least once a week for several miles to get all the fluids flowing and to allow the engine, transmission, and brakes to get the kind of regular use that will keep them working properly.

These are important tasks that should be performed regardless of how many miles are driven each year:

  • Oil changes: Change the oil at least once a year, even if it's synthetic oil that the manufacturer says is good for 10,000 miles. Look at the maintenance schedule; it will probably say "or once a year." Oil deteriorates over time from oxidation, heat and moisture. It can't lubricate and protect an engine as well as fresh oil.
  • Tire rotation: It's a good idea to have the tires rotated at the same time you get your oil changed. It may seem like overkill if you're only driving 4,000 miles per year, but most vehicles today have front-wheel drive. That means a higher percentage of the car's weight is resting on the front tires than on an all-wheel drive vehicle, and if a car is sitting, that can cause flat spots on the front tires.
  • Tire air pressure: Tires gradually lose pressure over time. Check their levels at least once a month to insure they don't develop flat spots. It's important: Under-inflated tires have lower load-carrying capacity and wear faster.

For more information on timing for fluids, filters, belts and hoses: 

The article also includes information on short-term and long-term car storage.

CARFAX, part of IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO), helps millions of people every day confidently shop, buy, service and sell used cars with innovative solutions powered by CARFAX vehicle history information. The expert in vehicle history since 1984, CARFAX provides exclusive services like CARFAX Used Car ListingsCARFAX Car CareCARFAX History-Based Value and the flagship CARFAX® Vehicle History Report™ to consumers and the automotive industry. CARFAX owns the world's largest vehicle history database and is nationally recognized as a top workplace by The Washington Post and Shop, Buy, Service, Sell – Show me the CARFAX™. Based in London, IHS Markit is a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions.


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