5 Things to Do When You’re Not Driving (as much)

For one reason or another (well, it’s mainly one reason), odds are you’re not driving as much recently.

The benefits are obvious: Reducing wear and tear on your vehicle, saving gas money, not needing to brave the frigid winter weather.

However, not driving enough can lead to expenses that far outweigh the cost of a few tanks of gas!

Here are some tips to keep your car in tip-top shape, even when it’s not getting the usual workout – and the first one is the opposite of what you may have been told.

30 Second Warm-Up

We get it.

Only Jack Frost would like driving in a cold car. Here’s the thing, though: You don’t need to warm up your car too much. In fact, doing so can be downright bad.

That’s because the longer your engine runs idle, the more fuel that enters the combustion chamber, which in turn can eat away at the oil needed to keep things running smoothly.

It turns out the conventional wisdom in this case comes from a time when carbureted engines were the driving force, but we’ve come a long way since then. So how much time do you really need for a proper winter warm-up? About as long as it takes for you to scrape off your windows and windshield.

If you want to keep cozy at the beginning of your drive, you can always buy a plug-in seat warmer!

Bring Your Battery to Life

If you’re not driving as much, your alternator can’t do its job of keeping your battery charged.

And it turns out all our modern conveniences – electric seats, heaters, foot warmers, and defrosters – can actually be an inconvenience for your car. You’re using more battery power and charging it less.

That’s why it seems autos die more in winter than summer.

The good news is you can do something about it, for free! It’s true: Some auto parts stores will recharge your battery at no cost.

Do a search for “free car battery charging” to find locations in your area. It might take half an hour before you’re back in action, but that sure beats being an hour late down the road.

Spin Your Wheels

So, you’ve warmed up your engine just the right amount. You have a fully charged battery.

Now what?

Drive, of course!

Preferably, 15 minutes on the highway.

This helps keep your car’s fluids… fluid.

Just as important, it keeps your tires fresher. The longer you go without a joyride, the more likely “tire rot” will take over, which can make the rubber hard and brittle.

Fill ‘er Up (at least a little)

“It’s too early.” “It’s late.” “It’s freezing out there.”

We’ll come up with any excuse to avoid pumping some gas during winter – especially if we aren’t driving as much.

So how much should you have in the tank to prevent damage? Not as much as your parents told you, but more than you may want to hear.

If you have a newer car, you can probably get away with a quarter of a tank thanks to improved fuel injectors and ethanol-based gasoline.

But gasoline is kind of like insurance – you can never have enough. It might be better to play it safe and keep it filled as much, as often as possible. This way, you’ll be doing everything you can to prevent engine corrosion, frozen fuel lines or frozen fuel pumps.

Nice Cover

We all like it warmer in the winter—animals included. And you know what makes a nice makeshift home? The space under your hood.

If you know you won’t be driving for a while, or just believe in the power of preventative maintenance, consider buying a car cover to keep rodents out. As a bonus, you’ll keep leaves, pine needles, and other debris from clogging your cabin or air filter!

Save Money While You’re Staying In

Madison Mutual is now offering Work From Home discounts! Contact your agent to see if you’re eligible to take advantage. Or call us at 800-766-MMIC (6642).

And don’t forget you can save up to 15% by bundling your auto and home insurance.