How Long Can You Leave a Car Without Starting it?

How long can you leave a car without starting it? This is a question most people ask themselves on days when they are too tired to get out of bed and rev their car.

We do not need our vehicles as much as we believe we do. Life can be unpredictable, you can find yourself in a situation where your car, which you used to drive to work every day, is parked in the garage.

What is the result? When it is time for your next drive, you might have problems starting your car.

However, with the right preparation, you may leave your vehicle sitting for months (or even years) without any problems. Yea! You heard that right.

Here is everything you need to know about preparing your car for long-term storage.

First, the length of time you leave a car unattended is entirely dependent on the status of the battery. Most cars should be able to run for at least two weeks if their batteries are in good shape.

There are, however, other factors to consider, which we will discuss shortly.

So, let us take a closer look at this article and see what occurs when a vehicle sits for too long without anybody driving it.

Parking your car for a long time may be for several reasons such as inspection, vacations, business trips, getting your car before getting a license, accident, or sickness.

Whatever your reason for leaving your car, or even if you’ve already left it without starting it for an extended period, keep reading because we have a lot to say regarding how long you can leave a car without starting it.

Why Are You Unable to Start or Drive Your Vehicle?

Parking a car for an extended period, whether you are working remotely, or trying to adhere to the social distancing guidelines because of the coronavirus, or parking your convertible for the winter, can be a problem for your vehicle.

Vehicles were not designed to sit in your garage without anyone driving it. But sometimes, we are constrained to park them and this beg the question, how long can you leave a car without starting it?

How Long Can You Leave a Car Without Starting it

What Happens When a Car Sits for Too Long?

In summary, the car battery will die. When you are ready to drive the car, you will either have to recharge the battery or, in some cases, you will have to buy a new battery.

Many features of an automobile require power even when it is turned off, such as remote control operation, detecting car theft, auto-siren function, keeping the alarm awake, sensing any crashes, and so on.

All of these things rely on the battery to work, and if the battery is not charged, they will drain it. Older car models, on the other hand, used to have an extended battery life because they did not have all these bells and whistles.

However, with newer versions that come with additional gadgets and other fun features, the battery does not last as long when the automobile is not used frequently.

Apart from the battery, several things might go wrong if you leave your car unattended for an extended period.

Some of the troubles you may encounter include:

  • The car begins to pick up rust, especially underneath.
  • The tires get flat and fragile.
  • The seals and gaskets become brittle.
  • The engine oil getting bad.
  • The fuel begins to gum up.
  • Some settings returns to default.

Consequently, whether you want to know what happens to a car after it sits for a long time, the fact is that keeping a car unused for a prolonged period will always impact it in various ways.

How Long Can You Leave a Car Without Starting It?

First and foremost, as previously said, keeping a car unattended for two months or more will drain the battery.

However, there is no set time limit for turning off a vehicle’s engine. Some cars have started after sitting silently for 15 years, while others have refused to start after being parked for less than a month.

As a result, the question of how long can you leave a car without starting it has no definitive solution. If a car is well-maintained, you can leave it for a prolonged period without problems.

It is safe to state that whether or not an vehicle will start after leaving it for a long time is determined by many factors.

Before keeping your car parked for an extended period without driving it, consider the following facts:

Type of car / model

Some believe that modern cars, with all of their functions, have a hard time remaining inactive for weeks. According to them, newer cars have more battery-draining functions than older versions.

These newer cars have alarm systems, security chips, and a slew of additional features that operate continuously, whether the car is in use or not.

Others believe that some of these characteristics have little or no impact on how long your car can stay idle.

Battery health of the car

A car’s battery remains a vital component of the car. The condition of your vehicle battery has a significant impact on whether or not it will start when you leave it unattended for a long time.

We are often not aware that our car batteries have deteriorated because, when the car is always in use, an alternator charges the battery as it is driven. When the car is left for a long time without being charged, the battery drains, preventing the car from starting.

Before leaving your car parked for an extended period without use, consider the brand, quality, and the number of years it has been in use.

Storage conditions

Before leaving your car unattended for a while, do ensure that the storage conditions are favorable and the storage space is adequate.

Moisture and dust levels in the surroundings should be considered. Also, keep an eye out for car-damaging vermin such as rats. Keep them at bay since they can do major damage to your car that will cost a lot of money to repair. If possible, use a repellant to scare them away from the bonnet area.

Before leaving your car for an extended period, it is recommended that you remove the battery or disconnect the battery terminals. If you intend to do so, consult your mechanic to ensure that it is appropriate for your vehicle.

The fuel in your car

Before leaving a vehicle for an extended period of time, examine the type of fuel it consumes. If you do not plan on starting it for a while, make sure the petrol or fuel inside the tank is drained.

This is because, if you leave it sitting for too long, it may create a problem. When we say sit, we do not mean for three weeks; this only applies if the car will be left for up to five or six months.

Car maintenance pre-parking

Having your car engine serviced before parking it can help prolong its life.

The way you handle your vehicle before you park it will have a big impact on how it reacts when you ultimately put it to use again.

Make sure your car is serviced regularly, the oil is changed when necessary, and everything is in working order before you leave it. If you do not address a problem, it will get worse with time, the same is true for your car.


Many cars are driven on a daily or weekly basis. However, events such as a long vacation, non-seasonal compatibility (e.g., convertibles in the winter), or a shift to working from home can cause a vehicle to be sidelined for an extended period.

A few days of parking a car will rarely result in a mechanical problem, but when does neglect start to affect how your car operates? We believe this article should have answered your question.

If you have any further questions regarding how long you should leave your car before starting it or any other maintainable tips, please do get in touch with us.

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