My car has been sitting for 2 years because I couldn't afford tags and insurance but now I am trying to get the car legal. It passed smog right before I stopped driving it but not sure what I need to do first to make it run smoothly. I need tags (and smog) within 2 days or it gets towed says my rental company because they noticed it having expired tags. What do I need to do first as in maintenance?
My car has an automatic transmission.
Buy a brand new battery that is fully charged prior to installation so that you do not needlessly load the alternator. Change the engine oil and filter. Ideally (but this is optional), you should pressurize the oil system prior to starting, otherwise you will be starting the engine essentially dry. If gasoline was left in the fuel tank for 2 years, the tank would have to be thoroughly drained (mandatory; it MUST be drained of all old gas). The fuel filter should be replaced and it is preferred to remove the fuel injectors from the fuel rail and send them to a lab such as Mr. Injector for ultrasonic cleaning on a machine (can be done "later" but the injectors could be partially blocked due to oxidized gas, varnish and gum deposits from the stale fuel). During such service, the filter baskets in the injectors are removed and replaced with new filters, and then injector output and spray pattern is measured and documented. The other major issue is typically rust and corrosion in the brake system causing the brakes to be at best sticky and, at worst, rusted shut. The brakes might need to be disassembled and restored. Those are the two principal problem areas, fuel and brakes. Additional faults could come into view once the vehicle is actually running. If you want the vehicle inspected for any and all deficiencies, right at your location, please request a vehicle inspection and the responding certified mechanic will address all of your concerns and get the car running for you once it is determined exactly what services will be immediately required. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.