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Old 06-22-2011, 03:51 PM
 
468 posts, read 853,668 times
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I have a car of mine that has not been in use for several months, almost a year. It has been parked in my driveway. It was in good condition, but has not been started or used for several months. I'm going to get it back in operating condition now, so I am wondering where to start first off, and second what things I will need to do/repair etc. to get it back into good condition to use again. Any advice or a list of things to check or fix? I know it is a big thing, but I am willing to do the work. Thanks.
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Old 06-22-2011, 07:14 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
8,800 posts, read 22,783,014 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgmv90 View Post
I have a car of mine that has not been in use for several months, almost a year. It has been parked in my driveway. It was in good condition, but has not been started or used for several months. I'm going to get it back in operating condition now, so I am wondering where to start first off, and second what things I will need to do/repair etc. to get it back into good condition to use again. Any advice or a list of things to check or fix? I know it is a big thing, but I am willing to do the work. Thanks.
Probably you will need to charge or replace the battery. If it's not a lot of trouble, you might consider pulling the spark plugs and spinning the engine with the starter to circulate the oil.

It would help to say where you are located (region) and as in all car questions, make model and year.
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Old 06-22-2011, 07:53 PM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
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The above. A few months/year isn't really that long. Any problems you may find were there when you parked it.
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Old 06-22-2011, 08:10 PM
 
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the very first thing you want to do is to make sure the engine turns over easily. so put a socket and breaker bar on the crank pulley bolt and turn the engine in any direction, it doesnt matter. if the engine turns over easily then move on to step two.

if the engine does NOT turn over, then first pull the plugs and spray some good penetrating oil into the cylinders, royal purpler has a good product, and let it soak for a couple of hours. this should break up any junk around the rings and free them up. if the engine turns over, move on to step two, if not, then spray the cylinders down again and let it sit overnight, and check again in the morning.

once the engine turns over freely, you want to change the oil and filter, fill the filter before installing it to prevent a dry start. either charge the battery up fully, or install a new one. and with the plugs removed and grounded, crank the engine over for about 20 seconds, or until you get oil pressure. then replace the plugs.

since the car has been sitting for so long, you want to drain as much of the old fuel as possible, unless you used a product in the fuel called stabil or its equivalent fuel stabilizing product.

at this point you also want to replace the drive belts, hoses, etc, install fresh coolant, and other odds and ends you would normally do when starting an engine for the first time.

once these things are done, you want to pressurize the fuel system while checking for leaks(it would be bad form to start this engine only to have the car go up in flames).

after that start the engine and let it run at about 1500 rpm for about 15-20 minutes to circulate the oil. while the engine is running, again check for leaks, and keep an eye on the temp, and oil pressure gauges or lights.

once you have completed the first 20 minute cycle, change the oil and filter again. run the car for about 1000 miles, and change the oil again, then observe normal change intervals.

understand that the reason i recommend the above procedure is because over the time the car was down, oil drained off from the bearings and cylinder walls, deposits have formed, as well as nefarious liquids in the old oil. the above procedure will help clean out the engine of that junk, and get oil back onto the bearings and cylinder walls.
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Old 06-23-2011, 03:12 PM
 
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Ok. Thanks so far for the tips. I'm finally at a point where I can fix it and drive it after it has been sitting for a year. Glad to know that it isn't totally terrible for it to sit for a year. I'm guessing I'm going to need to spend a lot of time changing out fluids and replacing anything that is too old. I hope I don't run into too many huge problems though. I'm looking forward to having my car back.
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Old 06-23-2011, 08:26 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
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The stuff rbohm lists are things I would check, but not necessarily change. If you had to start out on a cross-country drive right after getting the car started again, yeah, I would do all that, but you could start by charging the battery and see if it will start.

Another point - check the brakes, make sure they work, before you try to move the car. Usually they don't suffer from storage, but sometimes long-term storage leads to fluid leaks.

Once you get the car going, keep an eye on things. I would change the oil pretty soon, unless it was changed just before the car went into storage.
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Old 06-24-2011, 07:30 AM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
16,752 posts, read 16,220,528 times
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One overlooked gasket is the transaxle one. I did much the same as you to my mother's car a few years ago and caught a fluid leak there. Of course the car's a '91 and the tranny had never been touched.
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Old 06-24-2011, 12:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M3 Mitch View Post
Another point - check the brakes, make sure they work, before you try to move the car. Usually they don't suffer from storage, but sometimes long-term storage leads to fluid leaks.
excellent point about the brakes. brake fluid will damage the rubber in the system, and many times master cylinders especially will develop leaks causing a no brake situation.
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Old 06-24-2011, 01:54 PM
 
Location: Keosauqua, Iowa
5,873 posts, read 6,267,576 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbohm View Post
the very first thing you want to do is to make sure the engine turns over easily. so put a socket and breaker bar on the crank pulley bolt and turn the engine in any direction, it doesnt matter. if the engine turns over easily then move on to step two.

if the engine does NOT turn over, then first pull the plugs and spray some good penetrating oil into the cylinders, royal purpler has a good product, and let it soak for a couple of hours. this should break up any junk around the rings and free them up. if the engine turns over, move on to step two, if not, then spray the cylinders down again and let it sit overnight, and check again in the morning.
Good advice.

Quote:
once the engine turns over freely, you want to change the oil and filter, fill the filter before installing it to prevent a dry start. either charge the battery up fully, or install a new one. and with the plugs removed and grounded, crank the engine over for about 20 seconds, or until you get oil pressure. then replace the plugs.
This I disagree with somewhat. Pull the dipstick first. If the oil looks normal skip this step and wait to change the oil until after the initial startup (below). If the oil looks watery, foamy, or is the color of weak hot cocoa, or if it is above the full line on the dipstick, then go ahead and change your oil now. You can get by with the cheapest oil and filter they sell at Wal Mart because you'll change it again before your drive it anyway.

There's no reason to assume that your plugs will be any worse now than when you parked it. Pull a couple and check the condition, change them only if they look bad.

Quote:
since the car has been sitting for so long, you want to drain as much of the old fuel as possible, unless you used a product in the fuel called stabil or its equivalent fuel stabilizing product.
I don't think this is necessary. Gas loses it's potency fairly quickly, but after a year it should still be volatile enough to make your car run. Pour a bottle of Iso Heet in the tank to dissapate any water that may be there due to condensation. What's more important is to change the fuel filter after you run the first tank of gas through it, then change it again in a month or so.

Quote:
at this point you also want to replace the drive belts, hoses, etc, install fresh coolant, and other odds and ends you would normally do when starting an engine for the first time.
Check the belts for cracking, glazing, or hardness, and replace if necessary. Hoses are harder to check for defects so it wouldn't be a bad idea to replace those. Drain your coolant and replace it with DISTILLED water; nothing is harder on your system than tap water. Run if for a month or so like that, then drain it again and change it with the correct mix of antifreeze and DISTILLED water for your temperature zone.

Quote:
once these things are done, you want to pressurize the fuel system while checking for leaks(it would be bad form to start this engine only to have the car go up in flames).
Just to clarify, you pressurize your system by turning the key to the "on" position without starting it.

Quote:
after that start the engine and let it run at about 1500 rpm for about 15-20 minutes to circulate the oil. while the engine is running, again check for leaks, and keep an eye on the temp, and oil pressure gauges or lights.

once you have completed the first 20 minute cycle, change the oil and filter again. run the car for about 1000 miles, and change the oil again, then observe normal change intervals.

understand that the reason i recommend the above procedure is because over the time the car was down, oil drained off from the bearings and cylinder walls, deposits have formed, as well as nefarious liquids in the old oil. the above procedure will help clean out the engine of that junk, and get oil back onto the bearings and cylinder walls.
Spot on.

Good luck!

Last edited by duster1979; 06-24-2011 at 01:57 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 06-24-2011, 04:33 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan and Sometimes Orange County CA
15,819 posts, read 31,771,034 times
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If it was outside, turn the rotors and/or drums. They will be rusted and could cause problems and/or wear unevenly. Turning costs next to nothing and it is not much work to remove them. Repack the bearings while you have the rotors off.

Gas will eventually turn to gel. I have seen it, but i have no idea how long it takes.

If the gas has not turned to gel, it should be fine. I have started a car with 5 year old gas and had no problems. I took it right to the gas station and filled up with premium plus (93). Not sure if that did any good or was necessary, but the car needed high octane anyway.
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