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Vehicle Not Being Driven? AAA Provides Car Care Advice for Sidelined Vehicles

Newer vehicles can have a dead battery in as little as a week if not used

[Note: AAA is offering free emergency road service to healthcare workers and first responders fighting COVID-19 in Washington & north Idaho. No AAA membership required. Call 800-AAA-HELP 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.]

BELLEVUE, Wash. — If you’re not using your vehicle very often, or at all, during the stay-at-home order, you might be surprised with a dead battery or worse when you go to use it again. Most newer vehicles have a small continuous draw on the battery to keep things such as computers and clocks powered when the car is off. Depending on the electronic complexity of your vehicle, this could take as little as a week to drain the battery.

To prevent a dead battery, start your vehicle outdoors and let it run for about 10 minutes at least once a week. Be sure to stay with your vehicle for safety. If you do have a dead battery, you’ll need a jump. Battery Service is part of AAA’s membership. We will come out and give you a jump or sell you a new battery on the spot. Plus, we also have battery tenders you can purchase to keep your battery charged when not being used. Not a member? You can sign up on the spot to receive service.

The likelihood of issues happening decreases by taking certain precautions before parking your vehicle for extended periods:

Steps to take before sidelining a vehicle for 5-45 days:

  • If your car is due for an oil change, have the work done to remove any acids and contaminants.
  • Add a fuel stabilizer and preservative such as STA-BIL® to your gas tank; then drive for five to ten miles to ensure the stabilized fuel circulates through the system.
  • Fill the gas tank to help minimize condensation.
  • Add an additional 10 psi of pressure to each tire to help prevent flat spots from forming on the tires. This occurs when the area of the tire touching the ground becomes rigid from sitting in one position for an extended period. You can also move the vehicle periodically.
  • Prop up the wiper arms, keeping the blades from sticking to the windshield glass.
  • Do not use the parking brake when storing the vehicle. With an automatic transmission, simply put the vehicle in park. If the car has a manual transmission, place it in first or reverse gear, and use wheel chocks to help hold the vehicle in place.

Protetecting your car during a 45-day or longer hiatus:

  • If possible, use a Battery Tender or other maintenance-type battery charger to keep the battery at a full state of charge and prevent deterioration.
  • Vehicles that sit outside for long periods can be a haven for furry creatures who like to build nests. When you start your car for its weekly 10-minute run, check under the hood for critters.
  • Keep your vehicle insured. This protects against claims due to unforeseen circumstances and can prevent increases in premiums caused by a lapse in coverage.

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About AAA Washington:

AAA Washington was established in 1904 by 10 prominent Seattleites determined to champion the betterment of motoring conditions and laws, the preservation of Washington state’s natural beauty and the promotion of Washington as an unrivaled tourist destination. Nearly 120 years later, the club continues to pursue these on behalf of its 1.2 million members. 

Members of AAA Washington receive exclusive benefits, including roadside assistance, discounts on hotels and rental cars, comprehensive insurance options, and personalized trip planning. AAA Washington was named a Best Place to Work by Puget Sound Business Journal and voted the best Travel/Tourism Company by 425 Business readers in 2023, and AAA was named one of the most trusted travel and automotive brands in the U.S. Additional information is available through the company’s Washington and northern Idaho stores and at 

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit

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Fearey o/b/o AAA Washington 

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Interested in planning your next road trip with AAA Washington? Call your travel agent directly or your nearest AAA store to get pro tips, TripTik maps, and more. Find more Pacific Northwest scenic drives and road trips.

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