Going on Holiday for a Few Weeks - Is It Better to Keep The Car Tank Filled up?

Hi all,

Holiday season is here. Does anyone know whether it is better to keep the car tank full or close to empty while on holiday for a few weeks? Or it doesn't really matter?

What other rituals that are good ideas before you go on holiday for a few weeks? I haven't been on a long holiday in a while.


  • +1

    Depends if you want to push the car or not.

  • +5

    Assuming you are leaving the car at home while you are going on holiday?

    If so, amount of fuel in the tank does not matter.

    Be more concerned about keeping it locked and in a safe place.

    Also, lock your house windows / doors.

    And don't forget your passport.

    • Yes, the car will stay at home. Thanks.

  • +2

    Likely wont really matter.
    I had a tyre delaminate (I presume) due to heat during a particularly hot spell a few years ago while we were on holiday.
    It was a proper tyre (not a retread) from a recognised brand (Bridgestone).

    • Just to clarify, I assume the delamination occurred due to the combination of;
      1) lack of rotation,
      2) direct sun on the tyre from morning to mid-afternoon
      3) prolonged heatwave conditions (5 consecutive 39 degree plus days)

      So keep your tyres fully shaded, or at least predominantly shaded, or ideally get someone to take the vehicles for a short drive once per week.

      • Make sure you mark the tyres too so that you don’t park back on the same spot.

  • +8

    Depends on the price. If its around the $1.60 mark (e10 reference price) leave it empty. If its $1.20ish fill up.

    • +1

      Jeeze, I just locked in 1.33 for 98+… Just get it if it's cheap. It only used to matter so much if you drove around on E as the sensor can knock about. Most modern cars are better with that sort of stuff. Should be fine for a few weeks though.

  • +2

    If you're in melb, the price cycle is turning, so lots of places still cheap, so i'd fill up because upon a week or two of holidays the price will all be (10-30c)higher

  • +7

    Definitely full because there's less risk of all the fuel going bad.
    Another trick is to keep the windows and doors open (if garaged) because it prevents airflow differentials in and out of the car.

    And depending how mechanically minded you are I would also suggest draining the oil and removing the tires (at least the front ones) to prevent settlement of vehicular midichlorians. Few weeks isn't that long though, so should be fine.

    • +10

      Any idea about the muffler bearing grease or the headlight fluid?

      • +5

        Use the left handed screwdriver to take the muffler bearing off and re-grease if necessary.

        If you headlight fluid is low, I would top it up. Just remember it is the same stuff as spirit level bubbles, so buy whichever one is cheaper. Don't believe any of the marketing BS.

    • …I would also suggest draining the oil and removing the tires..

      Bit extreme isn't it? OP is going away for a few weeks, not a few years!

      • +2


    • +1

      Another trick is to keep the windows and doors open

      I find every time I leave my car window open overnight in the garage their always ends up a spider or some other insect who gets into the car. Hate to think what could be going in after a few weeks

      • Put in in an air lock garage or room where all holes are sealed with tape or whatever. The only thing now that you have to worry about is dust settling in which you can simply vacuum off. Also make sure the room is free from said critters…or else they might decide to use your car as their house when you want them not there….

    • +3

      to prevent settlement of vehicular midichlorians

      Sensible advice

    • +3

      Should probably put it up on jack stands as well, takes the load off the springs and bushes.

  • Does not matter unless you are leaving for more than a few months

  • +2

    Few weeks? fill up when it's cheapest, don't drain oil.

    Few MONTHS, think about it.

    6 months to a year? def drain car.

  • +2

    "What other rituals that are good ideas before you go on holiday for a few weeks? "

    Work out a solution for mail / parcel deliveries.
    Eat everything perishable before you go away.
    Turn off all electrical points, including to your internet etc., leaving only the fridge on.
    Sort out watering options for your plants.
    Make sure all the windows and doors are locked. Close blinds / curtains to exclude the majority of sunlight.
    Hide your car keys.
    Take your house keys with you. Put them somewhere safe in your carry-on luggage. Have access to a spare set of house keys, just in case.

    • +1

      do all that except internet.. most people use the this to access cameras and home automation when they aren't home.

      my cameras for the house are connected to the router so I have access to the home security when i'm not home.

      depends on what sort of neighbour hood you live in.
      our neighbour collects the mail and waters the plants when we go on holiday and we do the same for them.

    • and maybe leave a spare key with your relative or friend.
      Just in case you loss your key at while travelling.

  • Flush toilets.

    Turn hot water off.

  • Will you need to disconnect the battery if not starting a car for a few weeks, or will it be fine?

    • +1

      Typically it would be fine for a couple of weeks. I think my cheap car stereo uses a little too much power on standby so it drained my battery in about 10 days. Possibly the battery was a bit long in the tooth as well.

  • +1

    Disconnect the car battery even 6 week trips can flatten the battery. Edit beaten to it
    Turn undersink water filter off
    Turn remote ceiling fans off at the wall.
    Overseas leave drivers licence medicare and all member cards at home. Wallet stolen your have to replace all that.
    Some people might say you'll need DL if somewhere like USA I would bring but Bali Thailand they'll only want to see international.
    Keep cards you use most in wallet keep others with passport as a back up plan if wallet goes.
    clean fridge out.
    download google maps area of where your going so it works offline.

    • +1

      Turning off undersink water filter is a great idea. MIL had her kitchen flooded when she came from from her holiday last year.

  • +2

    How paranoid are you and how desirable would your car be for theft?

    If I go away I like to leave mine as close to empty as convenient so if it gets stolen they can't go far or need to get themselves on camera stealing fuel.

    • Lol. The reason why I am leaning towards leaving my fuel tank empty is because my neigbourhood is notorious for small time theft. I am more worried about someone prying my tank flap open and siphoning off my fuel while I am not here.

  • My suggestion, if you use Unleaded 91 Petrol/E10/Diesel, keep the tank close to empty. I say that, because any impurities in the fuel will move to the bottom of the tank, and then be cycled through your engine at the one time. That's what happened with a family members car, but rather after 6 weeks, not just a few.
    If you use Premium 95/98/Premium Diesel, I say there's not much point. If the cycle is at the lower end, best to fill up while you can

    • -1

      This advice is so wrong.
      When it comes to E10 and Diesel, providing it is less than 3 months of no vehicle use, then the tank should be stored full of fuel.
      Filling the tank pushes out all the air, air contains moisture (water). Diesel and ethanol absorb moisture from the air.
      If the fuel is left in the tank over a period of time, the moisture will combine with the diesel or ethanol.
      Not a huge problem for diesel as most have water/fuel separators which can be drained however may be problematic for a vehicle using E10.
      For any fuel, if the storage period is longer than 3 months then drain the tank and add fresh fuel when the time comes to using the vehicle again.

      • But aren't modern fuel systems a closed environment? Would air / moisture get in or would the gaseous part of the fuel tank be fuel vapour?

        We have emergency generators and the fuel sits in them for 12 months at a time. It used to be longer but I wrote into the PM tasks that the unit had to be run under load for 2 hours every 3 months so that the fuel was getting some use. Even then, 2 hours is only a tiny percentage of the fuel reserve. Our machines have a minimum 24 hours between refuels.

        • they are a closed environment however something has to take the place of displaced fuel in the tank and that is air.
          If your generator tanks are full then it wont be an issue as there is minimal air.
          its when the tanks are empty and air makes up the majority of the volume.
          As for storing up to 12 months, there may be an additive in the diesel. When I was in the military many years ago, as we filled up the vehicles we would add an additive to the fuel tank that extended the life of the Diesel and also prevented things like algae forming etc during extended storage.

  • Take photo's of DL passport etc keep in cloud storage in the event that you can't prove who you are.

  • +1

    Over a few weeks, the fuel won't be the issue. The battery might.

  • Leave the fuel tank empty so they can't go far if it gets stolen.

    • How about if I don’t love my car but would love the insurance money. 🤪

  • -2


  • +1

    If it's a few weeks it doesn't matter. Just park it. It's not 1960 anymore. Unless you have a really old car the fuel tank in most modern cars is plastic and won't rust.

    I use my car so little these days that i only put petrol in it every 2-3 months. It doesn't seem to make any difference to how the engine runs.

  • If it was a diesel, then yes, you have to have the tank full. With petrol, I had my Territory sit for over 2 years. Didn't lose any fuel via evaporation. Fuel they say only last 6 months before going stale, but I've never had a problem with long term storage except with chainsaws/brush cutters.

  • Petrol doesn't go off as such, but I've been told it does lose some of its potency if left for a long time. Nothing youd have to really worry about.

  • +2

    Put the car on wooden blocks so the tyres don't get any flat spots.
    Drain the tank.
    Drain the radiator.
    Place paper between the windshield wipers and glass.
    Leave the windows down a bit.
    Disconnect the battery.
    Glad wrap the entire car.

    Stop listening to Old Pop tales.

  • Leave house keys/car keys with a friend so they can check all is well if there's a big storm
    Replace the smoke alarm batteries - keep the old ones for when you return - so your neighbours aren't disturbed by the low-battery "beep beep" - probably more applicable to unit dwellers, but some houses are really close to each other, like mine
    The other tips are great, but don't get too concerned about your car if it's in a garage for six/eight weeks (the most I've ever been away) other than windows down a bit (if you're concerned about bug and spiders tape a tea towel or hanky over the gap - air will move but no bugs
    Happy Trails!

    • if you're concerned about bug and spiders tape a tea towel or hanky over the gap - air will move but no bugs

      I’d be more concerned about tape residue on the amount after a long time, especially if it is hot.

      As for leaving the windows down, spiders seem to get into my car when it is closed up all the time anyway. They are hermetically sealed, there are ways for bugs to get in othe than the windows.

  • If you are going away NEVER tell everyone on ozBargain, facebook, or any other internet medium nor post images of where you are etc . If you are worried the house will be broken into get a relly to live there till you get back or at least use a timer to turn on a lamp or two at random times of night
    if you are worried about milking your tank on an older car put a sleeve made of a plastic drink bottle in the tube stops hose going down

  • hi,my advice would be to google : petrol spy "and check all petrol prices in the direction you are heading and do a klms check between the petrol servos and work both and take the cheapest offering

  • +1

    There's like 9000 other things more important than whether the petrol in the car will go bad/evaporate… Is fuel cheaper now or when you come back from holidays?

  • +1

    Alright, thanks everyone for your input. It seems like there is a skew towards petrol pricing concerns. For those of you who don't know yet, I am part of the Project Zero Three club, so petrol price is not as concerning for me. The thread is long, but worth a read if you haven't already. https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/288802

    I think my original question has been answered and quite a lot of you had very good tips which I very much appreciate. Some I will take onboard, some I will not be able to do, and some do not apply to my circumstances, but my hope is that it can help someone else reading this thread going on holidays too. Merry Christmas if you celebrate it, otherwise Happy Holidays.

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