Are Long Drives Good for Your Car? Explained

Summer is approaching – and road trip season is finally upon us.

If you’re like us, you can’t wait to get the gas tank filled, the snacks packed and the tunes blaring out on the open road.

When was the last time you took your car for a long drive? Modern cars are built to be extremely robust and reliable, and they will usually take whatever we throw at them.

Reliable car manufacturers like Toyota, Skoda and Audi have seen hundreds of their cars pass the 500,000-mile mark in the hands of regular drivers like you and me.

Long drives are a great way to get away from it all and clear your head, but they’re also good for your car.

Today, we’ll explore why short drives might be bad for your car, and why you should consider taking your car out for long drives more often.

3 reasons why long drives are great for your car

1. It keeps your engine running well

Long drives allow engine oil to circulate fully through your engine, keeping everything lubricated and in tip-top condition.

You probably know that your car’s engine uses oil to operate properly. The oil lubricates the engine parts so they continue working without friction.

If you don’t take your car on long trips, the oil never has a chance to get up to temperature and circulate through the engine.

As a result, the normal wear and tear of your engine will be accelerated through the friction of engine parts, shortening its lifespan.

In diesel engines, excessive carbon buildup can be a big problem.

Taking your car on long trips allows the engine to break down excess carbon deposits and blow them through the exhaust system, which will keep your engine running nicely.

Short trips can also cause condensation to form in the engine. Condensation in small amounts is normal for an engine and is usually burned off during regular driving.

But if excessive moisture is present in your oil over a long time period, this can cause serious issues for your car further down the line.

To prolong the life of your engine, take your car for the occasional long drive and make sure to let your engine reach the ideal operating temperature to burn off moisture.

Also, make sure to change your engine oil regularly according to your car manufacturer’s recommendation!

2. It keeps your tires in good shape

Long drives give your tires a chance to warm up and maintain their intended shape.

Your tires are designed to be driven on! If your car is left standing for too long, your tires can become misshapen and suffer from dry rot or cracking.

Long drives give your tires a chance to warm up and keeps them soft and pliable, which deters cracking.

Having properly inflated, good-quality tires is very important for long drives.

Your rubber is the only contact your car has with the road, so make sure that your tires are in good shape before driving!

Check your owner’s manual for your recommended tire pressures before heading out on road trips.

3. It keeps your battery topped up

Long drives keep your battery charged and topped up, which will prevent any nasty surprises when you next come to start your car.

There is nothing worse than going to start your car, hearing the usual clicks of the ignition – and then silence.

Dead batteries are the number one cause of roadside callouts, according to the RAC.

If your car is only used for very short journeys, then this will likely happen to you sooner rather than later.

When you drive, your car battery is charged via the alternator.

The higher the RPMs (or speed), the quicker it will reach full charge.

A good rule of thumb is to drive for at least 30 minutes on a highway or motorway to adequately charge your car’s battery and make sure it can start again the next time you turn that key.

Colder weather can also cause batteries to drain quickly, even when they’re not being used, but long drives will help keep them charged up and ready to go when you need them.

What is considered a long drive?

Different drivers have different opinions on what a long drive is. The general consensus amongst car enthusiasts is that a long drive takes at least 30 minutes.

In most cases, 30 minutes of driving will charge your battery, give your tires a good run and allow oil to be fully circulated through your engine.

Are short drives bad for my car?

Modern cars are designed to put up with whatever we throw at them.

Whether you travel thousands of miles a day or one mile a week, your car will get you there and back.

However, in the long-term, your driving style can have a knock-on effect on your car’s lifespan.

Over an extended period of time, driving for short distances only can damage your car’s engine and other important components.

Without an adequate amount of running time to fully circulate oil through the engine, parts will wear down quicker due to friction.

Another issue with short trips is that your exhaust never gets warm enough to evaporate condensation in the exhaust system, which can lead to rust.

Rust inside of your exhaust system can cause holes, which produce excess noise and can lead to poisonous gases being emitted.

However, short drives are a fact of life for some people. You might not need to go on long drives, or you might not feel comfortable doing so.

To lessen the effects of short drives on your car, try doing these things regularly:

  • Let your car get up to temperature (warm)
  • Make sure to change your engine oil and filters frequently
  • Don’t excessively rev the car when it’s cold

Take these tips into account and protect your car for a long time to come!

Does driving a lot hurt your car?

No. Your car is designed to be driven every day.

Car engines have come a long way in 100+ years, and they’re built to withstand most styles of driving.

You’d be amazed at how much a car can take before breaking!

Do long drives mess up your car?

No. There are many benefits to taking your car for long drives, so long as you make sure that your car has been maintained properly.

You wouldn’t want to take your car for a drive with no oil in the engine!

Make sure that your service or maintenance schedule has been followed, and you’ll be good to go for thousands of miles.

Final thoughts

A long drive lets your vehicle stretch its legs out on the open road. Plus, driving is really fun – so who wouldn’t want to go on a road trip?

You can blast away the cobwebs whilst letting your engine do what it does best – drive.

Long drives are not just good for your car – they’re good for your soul.

When was the last time you took your car for a long drive? Let us know!

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