Minivan driven only 3–4 times a year. How best to store it?

We inherited a ’95 Mazda MPV minivan. It’s great to take to Sam’s a few times a year and stock up. Other than that, it does help the once-in-a-blue-moon when we need to carry something. But most of the year, it just sits in the garage.

Other than disconnecting the battery, is there anything else we should do? Should we do anything else to the battery terminals? Put a gas stabilizer in it? Drive it around the block once a month regardless of whether we need to use it?

Why not sell it and rent a van on those blue moons that you need one?

We have the room in the garage, and it’s a trivial cost to add it to our insurance. Plus, since we moved out to the sticks, having a backup vehicle (well, one that starts reliably) makes us feel just a bit more comfortable. We’d also looked into renting before accepting it, and it turned out just one or two rentals would cost more than the insurance, registration, etc. When last used regularly, it ran great – it was driven by a little old lady from, well, Baltimore. Not as catchy, but the point remains.

Also, it would be silly to get into details but the elders would be quite aghast if we did something like that. Aghast I say!

There are all kinds of technical answers of what could go wrong and why, but for the most part, take it out once per month, let the engine get truly warm, get it up to highway speeds if you can, and then park it. No reason to disconnect the battery.

It’s what I do with my Expedition. The one I just paid rock bottom money for.

Mostly what you’re doing is ensuring that everything stays lubricated that needs lubricated, and keeping the tires from staying in one spot. Don’t worry about oil life for the usage that you’ll get out of it. The oil is already months and months old for sitting on the shelf (or millions of years old for sitting in the earth).

Once a year or so, just double-check your fluids.

I’d say run it more like once every couple of weeks, not once a month, but yeah basically I have the same advice. The oil won’t go bad so you really don’t need to worry about changing it too much. However, the oil will get water condensing into it. If you run the van every couple of weeks the water just gets converted into steam and gets blown out of the engine.

If you don’t run it very often, the brakes will tend to get rusty and seize up, water will get into the engine and exhaust and cause all kinds of rust problems, seals all over the place will dry out, etc. Drive it to work once every couple of weeks and you won’t have problems with it.

You need to run it long enough for it to get fully up to temp. Just taking a quick stroll around the block won’t do it. Little old ladies from Baltimore who drive their cars once a week to the store end up having the exhaust fall off of them after a year or two.

Saw a page on doing this with ‘auxillary police cars’; vehicles kept in the fleet for emergency or special events.
They inflated the tires to 45 PSI. Once every couple of weeks, they’d drive it at least 40 yards, then let it idle at 2200 RPM for about 15 minutes.

Don’t know if that’s a good idea, but at least one department did it.

Two posters have said not to worry about the oil. I thought that conventional wisdom was that lubricating properties of oil break down from exposure to air over time. Don’t you need to change the oil every x months even if you don’t put many miles on it?

Yes and no… when the engine isn’t running, there’s nothing to lubricate. On the other hand, you do want to run the engine every once in a while in order to lubricate the parts and seals. The oil will break down on its own eventually, but given the amount of driving, it would be overkill to change it too often. Vehicles in storage often have oil that’s years old. You certainly don’t want to leave it in there if it becomes a daily driver, but for such minimal use, you’ll have minimal wear.