Does Extended Parking Cause Problems?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 06, 2016

Dear Car Talk:

I own a Honda Fit that is included in the big air-bag recall. Honda has provided me with a loaner car while we wait for parts to fix the problem (thank you, Honda). When Honda gives you a loaner, you sign a statement agreeing not to drive your car at all. The recall notice from Honda also indicates that the Fit should not be driven until the repairs are made. My car has now been sitting in my garage for nearly three months. What damage might be happening to my car, if anything, because it has been sitting for so long?

-- Fred

Nothing. The worst thing that will happen is that the battery will go dead and you'll lose all your radio presets.

It's possible that the belts will dry out a little bit and you'll get a small amount of surface rust on your brake discs, which will wear off in 20 minutes of driving. I guess if you're truly unlucky, a family of mice might move in and procreate under your hood. Even mice find the Fit roomy.

If you had written to us when you first parked the Fit, I would have suggested that you disconnect the battery. But it's kind of done that on its own. It's probably dead by now, and will need to be recharged. But that's not a big deal.

If it's not dead, I suppose you could run the engine for half an hour every other week or so. You're not supposed to drive it, but I assume there's no danger in starting it. Well, just to be safe, put on a football helmet and turn your head to the right before you turn the key.

But honestly, Fred, at this point I would do nothing; just leave it. When Honda calls you and says your parts are in, tell them to send a tow truck to come and get it. After all, it's not safe for you to drive it, so they won't be expecting you to start it and drive it in.

And the tow-truck driver will jump-start the car if he needs to. Then Honda will recharge the battery when they make the repairs.

And then when your car is completely repaired, you can drive your loaner back to the Honda dealer, swap it for your car, and leave them the football helmet, too.

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