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how to start a car

How to Start a Car that has Been in Storage for a Long Period

Cars are designed to run and operate on a regular basis. They’re not meant to just sit in your garage for years or even a few months.

When they’re kept in storage for a long time, some of the parts may tend to get rusty. The battery loses its charge and fluids in the engine may start to break down.

By the time you decide to use it again, it may not work like it’s supposed to or the ignition may not start. 

So while it’s important to give your car ample time to rest, it doesn’t mean that you have to stop using it entirely. But if certain circumstances entail letting your vehicle sit in storage for a while, be sure to conduct some basic checks to ensure a smooth ride.

Here are some tips you can use as a guide to help you on how to start a car you haven’t used for a long time. 

Check your engine

Checking your engine oil is one of the first and most important steps you must take if you haven’t used your car in a long time. When a vehicle isn’t used frequently, it becomes a home to animals and insects. Some creatures may create nests around your engine that’s made of leaves and straws which may start a fire when the engine heats up.

Be sure to inspect your engine for insects, creatures and debris before officially using your car. Then, check your engine oil. 

Also, take note that when the engine hasn’t been in use for a long time, the engine oil drips down to the drain pan leaving the cylinders dry. This is why you have to use fogging oil on each of your cylinders. Spark the cylinder by spraying spark plug oil in each of the cylinders to make sure that the upper combustion chamber is lubricated. 

Check the battery

If you were able to remove the battery before the car was put in storage, get the car ready before reinstalling the battery.

Then prep the battery for service. This means that the terminals and battery posts should be cleaned using a baking soda and water solution. Charge the battery, reinstall it, and give it a try.

If the battery was left in place, after if it’s been parked in the garage for long periods, chances are the battery will no longer work and you may need to buy a new one.

Car batteries generate electricity based on a chemical reaction. The chemicals used break down over time. They may also cause corrosion to various metals, including the copper in your wires. So you may also need to use new cables when installing the new battery.

Replace the fluids

The fluids that require replacement would depend on how long the car has been sitting. For example, if the vehicle hasn’t been in use for years, all fluid systems will have to be drained, flushed, and replaced.

On the other hand, if the car hasn’t been used for only a couple of months, be sure to change the oil and oil filter, too. The fuel in the tank should be drained while the radiator coolant should be replaced.

Check other fluids. Replace them if they look off-color, otherwise top off according to the recommended levels. 

Allow your car some time to warm up

Finally ready to hit the road? Don’t get too excited. Let your car warm up before leaving the garage. While warming up, make sure there are no fluid leaks. Turn off the engine for a bit and check if any of the belts need to be tightened. 

Check the brakes thoroughly and grease the suspension. Check for any deteriorated bushings, loose or worn ball joints, leaks at the shocks, rusted shafts or broken bump stops.

Don’t forget to check your headlights, taillights, brake lights, and running lights to make sure they are all still functional.

Go for a quick drive

Once you’re all set, it’s finally time to hit the road. But take note. It’s not advisable to go on a long drive just yet. A 10 to 20-minute drive around town will do for now. Consider this trip a test drive to check for other potential problems you may have failed to address. Listen closely for weird noises and keep an eye on the car’s battery charging, engine temperature and oil pressure. After making sure all issues are addressed, you can now take your car for longer trips!

Thinking about how to start a car that’s been sitting for a long while and worried that it will no longer run as it should? Use this guide to have your car back up and running in no time!

For more helpful tips on car maintenance or useful information about second hand cars, please feel free to visit The Auto Warehouse.