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I just moved to the city and find that I am not driving my minivan (2003 Kia Sedona) much anymore. I've been driving it about 1-2 miles about once every 2 weeks. The rest of the time, it is stored in a heated parking garage.

I have read about gas going bad and gumming up the fuel injectors. Is this something I need to worry about? I don't plan on needing gas very often, and the gas in the tank now has been there since the new year.

So far, the battery has held up just fine.

Are there other issues I should be thinking about? Preventative maintenance I should be doing?

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4 Answers 4

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Modern Petrol, with the various additives that are now added, only lasts a few months before it starts to go bad (although it will take a while longer before it gets to the stage of gumming things up). Short journeys like that don't give the battery a full charge, or let the engine get up to temperature properly, so you will start getting more frequent flat batteries and carbon build-ups in the engine. You will also reduce the life of your catalytic converter.

The usual solution is to give it a long run (at least 10-20 miles) every couple of weeks. If you are using it so infrequently that doing so isn't practical, I would start seriously considering whether you still need the van - 1-2 miles a fortnight you could do in a taxi, and save the fixed running costs of keeping the van going - I don't know what the costs of insurance, tax etc are like where you are, but round here it can be in the region of £5-600 a year ($8-900USD), which really isn't worth it for less than 50 miles a year!

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I have to concur on what might be the right answer to the unasked question: do you still need the vehicle? If usage is that low, you should really consider whether the price of the heated garage is really cheaper than a cab or short-term rental when the need arises. –  Bob Cross Feb 24 '12 at 12:29
    
Yeah, I am considering getting rid of it. The only problem is, I tend to do DJ gigs in the summer, and renting a truck to haul equipment around often adds up very quickly. I'm going to keep it until the end of my apartment lease (which includes the parking spot) and re-evaluate after that. Thanks for the advice, all! –  Brad Feb 24 '12 at 14:52

On such short trips you won't be getting the oil up to operating temperature, so you'll wind up with with some pretty nasty gunk which (as I understand it) will actually become corrosive. I don't remember the chemistry, but apparently the combination of condensation and unburnt hydrocarbons forms (sulfuric? hydrofluoric?) acid.

Another issue is with your brakes. Brake fluid absorbs water, which is heavier than the brake fluid and migrates to the lowest points in the system, which tend to be your calipers. This can lead to rusting inside the calipers and stuck pistons. This usually isn't a problem short term, but if you drive it like this for a year or more I'd worry about it.

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If your not worried about your radio presets besing saved, it would be a good idea to disconect the battery when your not using the vehicle. (if you are going a while inbetween trips) Also make sure you keep an eye on fluid levels and tire pressure, it is always a good idea to check these before driving especially if the vehicle has been sitting.

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In the U.S. we have available a product called STA-BIL it is a fuel stabilizer they claim up to one year of storage with no ill effects.If you cannot locate it at an automotive supply store check a marine/boating supply source or a recreatioal vehicle shop. A 20 ounce bottle is about 18 dollars US.Ihave used it for years in an antique car that I only drive in nice weather.Another item to consider is abattery tender.Rather than being a full size charger it just applies a small charge to replace what is lost.You really should try to drive it long to get it up to operating temp long enough to evaporate the condenssation in the oil.Also change the oil at least once a year regardless of actual mileage driven.

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