Some of us have a rarely driven classic car; others a second or third vehicle that mostly just sits. But cars were meant to be used regularly - including classics, which after all, were once regular production cars built to be driven. If you have a vehicle that sits idle for more than about 10 days at a time, there are a few simple things you can do to keep it in "ready to go" condition and also to limit or even prevent deterioration from lack of use.

Here's how:

* If possible, keep the vehicle stored indoors. If that's not feasible, a good all-weather car cover is the next best thing (be sure to get one that "breathes" and do not use a tarp or anything like that - which will trap moisture and accelerate corrosion). Indoor storage or a good car cover will limit sun damage, exposure to acid rain, bird droppings and so on; environmental factors that are very hard on paint and rubber and interior fabrics, etc.

* Try to clean the vehicle before it is stored/left for weeks. Be especially vigilant abut wiping down areas such as the underside of the doors, rocker panels, trunk drain channels and so on. Keep these areas free of moisture-trapping debris.

* Buy an automatic battery tender (about $40). This is a device with two alligator clamps (one for each terminal on the car's battery) and a cord that plugs into any household 110v outlet. The battery tender will automatically maintain the battery at peak charge, turning itself on and off as needed. This will prevent the otherwise inevitable slow death of an expensive battery from lack of use as well as keep the car in ready to start condition.

* Try to leave the car with a full tank prior to leaving it parked for extended periods - and top it off with fresh gas each time you use it. This will help prevent condensation (which can lead to rust in the tanks/lines) and also keep the fuel fresh longer. If the vehicle will be stored/not used often enough to burn up at least one full tank of fuel every six months or so, consider adding a fuel stabilizer such as Sta-Bil for extra insurance against deteriorated fuel.

Most important of all:

* Try to drive the vehicle for 30 minutes, minimum, at least once every four weeks or so. This will allow all systems to "warm up" fully, which will burn off internal contaminants (such as unburned fuel), coat all surfaces with fresh oil/lubrication (including transmission, axles and so on), allow the car's charging system to operate, keep the brakes in good operating condition (by "wiping" rust off the rotors and keeping the pistons inside the brake calipers from seizing up, etc.) and prevent the tires from developing flat spots from sitting on the same section of tread for too long. If the car has air conditioning, it's especially important to run the system for at least 5-10 minutes once a month or so - even in the winter. You don't have to have the temperature control set to "cold" - just so long as the AC compressor is running. This will circulate lube within the system, which will prevent loss of refrigerant through brittle seals and deteriorating hoses, etc.