Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: How to start a car that's been sitting around & tips for long-term storage

asked by on

I have a vehicle that has been sitting for a few weeks. What should I do before starting it up? What can I do to prepare a car for future prolonged storage?

A: It’s always a good idea to do a walk-around...

It’s always a good idea to do a walk-around inspection of your vehicle before starting it, especially if it’s been sitting for some time. Items to check are tire pressure and oil levels. Look also under the hood to be sure some critter didn’t make your engine bay its new home.

If those all check out, the last thing to check is the battery. Occasionally a car alarm or a car computer can drain the battery over an extended period of time. One sure way to see if your battery is good or bad is to start up the car. If it starts up, great! Let it warm up for a few minutes and listen for any abnormal noises.

In the future, if you plan on leaving your car parked for an extended period of time, I recommend taking the following steps:

  • Keep it in a covered garage to avoid heat damage to the paint and tires. If that isn’t an option, a car cover provides some protection as well.

  • Keep the gas tank full to prevent moisture from building up in the tank.

  • Have an inexpensive appliance known as a “trickle charger” connected to your battery to guarantee that your car will start when you’re ready to resume driving it.

If your vehicle has sat for one year or more, I would recommend having a qualified mechanic perform a full inspection to ensure your car is ready for the road.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: How do I use the Distance to E feature?

The Distance to E feature approximates how many miles you can drive before your vehicle runs out of fuel. To view this feature, follow these steps: 1. Press the Up/Down buttons on the steering wheel until Trip 1 or 2...

Q: How do I charge the battery?

While the battery in your car is designed to last for a long time, there are instances where it might discharge without actually needing to be replaced. For instance, if you don’t drive the car for a long time, the...

Q: What does the vehicle stability assist (VSA) Warning Light mean?

The vehicle stability assist (VSA) Warning Light is located on the instrument panel. When the light illuminates, then there is either a problem with the VSA system, or with the hill start assist, and the vehicle should be inspected. Tip...

Related articles

How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...
P2103 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle Actuator Control Motor Circuit High
P2103 means there is a fault with the throttle actuator control motor circuit, likely due to a defective electrical component or part.