What to Check on a Vehicle That’s Been Sitting for a While

May 12, 2020 2:05 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

If you have a project car or rarely-used vehicle that has been sitting on your property for a long time, or are considering purchasing a car that has been sitting unused for months or even years, there are some considerations you’ll need to keep in mind before starting it up. Just attempting to start the car as normal could result in some significant damage to its most important systems.

Here’s a quick overview of the most important steps to take so you can avoid exacerbating some of those mechanical issues with a car that has been sitting for some time in Salt Lake City, UT:

  • Replace the oil: If the vehicle has been sitting for a long time, then it’s almost impossible to say when the oil was last changed, meaning the oil that’s currently in the vehicle is likely a thick, unusable sludge. Make sure to remove the oil and replace it.
  • Swap filters: The oil filter should be removed and replaced while you’re replacing the oil.
  • Gas: If there is still any gas sitting in the tank, it has likely long since degraded. You should siphon it out of the tank and dispose of it properly, then replace it with new gas.
  • Replace coolants: Flush out the radiator and replace the coolant in the vehicle to freshen it up.
  • Install a new battery: Battery condition will deteriorate and lose charge over time even when not in use. It’s in your best interest to remove the old battery and replace it before trying to start up the vehicle.
  • Transmission fluid: Similar to the oil, it’s going to be nearly impossible to say for sure when the transmission fluid was last replaced if there is no service log available for the vehicle. You’re better off replacing it.
  • Power steering: Add some new power steering fluid into the vehicle to ensure easier handling.

Once you’ve taken all of these steps, there are still some other checks you can perform just to be sure it’s safe to start up the vehicle. Pop open the hood and take a look at all of the electrical wiring in the vehicle just to make sure it’s in good condition. In some circumstances, rodents can get under the hood and start chewing through the wires. If any wires are damaged, you should replace them.

You should check the general condition of the interior and any signs of dirt and debris. Remove that dirt and debris, especially if it’s around the radiator, to prevent unwanted friction or inefficient operation.

Your next step should be to look underneath the vehicle for any signs of leaks. Check oil pan gaskets and the transmission gaskets and line for leaks. Over time, gaskets can dry and crack, especially if the vehicle has been sitting unused for a long time, so they’re a common source of leaks.

For more information about what to check on a vehicle that’s been sitting for a while in Salt Lake City, UT, contact AMR Auto Repair & Towing today.

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