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

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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.

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