Author Topic: Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?  (Read 4217 times)

yandz

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Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?
« on: December 18, 2014, 11:11:39 AM »
We are moving next week to a location closer to the office that could, in theory, allow us to be a one car family - 2.5 miles to the office, 2 to the grocery.  We live in Minneapolis, so things get a wee bit frigid/snowy/icey/windy here causing skepticism about if this is feasible though winters. I committed to the husband that I will act as if I have no car through the rest of the winter. I think between walking, biking, buses, and Car2Go or Uber in worst cases, I should be fine. I did buy boots with good tread (I was making it with rain boots/wool socks to date.  If I can get through the winter without driving, I have permission to sell my car. 

So that means, my car will be parked in the garage from Jan-Mayish.  Anything I should know? I heard something about gas going bad. Is that a thing? Will I need to take it for a short spin every month just to....I don't know what?

ArtieStrongestInTheWorld

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Re: Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2014, 11:31:17 AM »
Use stabilized fuel so your gas doesn't gunk up.  I'd run it for a few minutes after you add the stabilized fuel to cycle it through the engine.

If it were me, I'd probably also try to take it for a short drive every month or so to avoid developing soft spots on the belts, etc.  This will also recharge the battery, which will slowly lose its charge if left dormant.

Prepube

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Re: Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2014, 11:38:47 AM »
I don't drive my truck much.  I take it out once a month for a spin to make sure everything is running okay, and I put mothballs in the engine compartment to prevent the rats/mice/chipmunks from building nests in there.  Gas does go bad.  Siphon it out and put it in your snowblower :), replace it when its time to drive.  Park in a flat place (if other than your garage) for your tires' health.

Eric

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Re: Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2014, 12:38:16 PM »
I don't have much to add other than good for you!  You can do it!

If I can get through the winter without driving, I have permission to sell my car. 

Gone Fishing

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Re: Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2014, 01:03:14 PM »
Can your husband just alternate cars from week to week? 

whammer33024

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Re: Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2014, 03:07:37 PM »
if it were me(and i do this on my classic car), i'd pull the battery out completely and store it inside where its warm.  batteries can and do freeze

JoJo

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Re: Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2014, 06:36:01 PM »
I recommend driving it occassionally, or as someone mentioned have the spouse drive it every few weeks or so.

Last year I headed out of the country for 12 weeks and my car guy told me to disconnect the battery (as the alarm uses it) as that would surely die after that period of time.

So I got back, plugged the battery in, and went out for a spin.  Well a day later (after 4 starts) the car wouldn't even turn over.  A guy came out to jump it and that didn't work so eventually it got towed to the dealer (luckily I had roadside assistance so this didn't cost anything).  So I had to buy a new battery & labor.  The battery was 8 years old and probably due anyways but it resulted in me being stuck out in the cold and a few hours of fear of what was wrong with my car.

Dan_at_Home

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Re: Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2014, 08:42:14 PM »
We have a second car that it rarely used.  Last year we put less than 300 miles on it.  When storing the car, I disconnect the wire from the negative terminal of the battery during storage in the garage.  Also it is good for the car to drive about once a month for about 5-10 mins, it keeps the fluids from junking up and that way it does not sit on the same position on the tires for months on end.  During its monthly brief drive is the only time the battery is connected.  I have been doing this for about 2 years now and it has worked fine with no major issues.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2014, 09:05:14 PM by Dan_at_Home »

Exflyboy

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Re: Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2014, 09:06:42 PM »
Yeah for the battery the easiest thing is to buy a little smart charger ($25).

Then you can leave the battery in the car, the charger will shut off when the battery is charged and it will keep it warm too.

I do this with my tractor which raely gets started during the winter.

it is wise to start it up every month or so and let it warm up for 10 minutes or so,.. this will stop the inside of the engine rusting.

Frank

Greg

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Re: Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2014, 10:34:51 PM »
A fully charged battery won't freeze, so definitely get a battery tender type charger.  Air it out once in a while, maybe set mousetraps in the trunk and footwells.  For occasional use; don't idle it until warm, instead take it out and actually drive it. This is way better for the engine and other systems.  Best is probably a 1 hour drive on the freeway about every 2-3 weeks.

yandz

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Re: Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2014, 07:57:14 AM »
Thanks for all the thoughts and suggestions. My car knowledge is lacking so this has been super helpful.  Seems like asking my husband to alternate cars may be easiest (and ultimately best given the temps). Plus mine gets better mileage than his so win-win. He doesn't love my Honda Fit, but I think he would drive it to "help me out" - he's good like that :) 

Prairie Stash

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Re: Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2014, 08:35:03 AM »
Before going carless for awhile I parked my explorer, I kept thinking I'd need it next month. After 2 years (it sat a long time) one of the tires was flat. It fired up no problem, after putting the battery charger on for a few hours. The clock and other small electronics will drain a battery after a long enough time. It sat outside in the cold without anything done to it. It wasn't ideal but a quick tire job and it was ready for sale, got $1000 for it so I was happy. For me it was easier to part with the car if I gave myself time to come to terms with it, it seemed too foreign not to have a car.

I pulled the plates (registration, insurance) off mine to get the rebate/stop future payments, it was $60/month I saved. Can you do the same?

Greg

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Re: Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2014, 09:46:10 AM »
Yes, ask you insurance agent about what to change your coverage to for when it's stored.  For instance, if you aren't going to drive it for a specific amount of time (say 3 months) you may be able to lower the coverage to comprehensive only for that period.  But this would mean you shouldn't drive it.

eil

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Re: Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2014, 11:10:22 AM »
The main things to worry about are gas, battery, and tires.

Yes, gas does go bad. Put Sta-Bil in the gas tank according to the directions on the bottle and then drive it for a mile or so then top off the gas tank. The Sta-Bil will keep the gas good for about six months.

The battery will need to be recharged at least once a month. Any longer interval than that can damage the battery. How you recharge it is completely up to you. Some people make it a monthly action item, others use a battery maintainer (I'm quite fond of the small wall-wart 750mA Battery Tender). Just don't pick up a generic float charger, those can and do overcharge and destroy the battery.

Contrary to some of the posts above, it's better to keep a battery in cold storage (e.g. in an unheated garage) when not used rather than warm storage (like inside a house). There are a few reasons for this. 1) The battery will self-discharge slower, lessening the likelihood that the battery will be damaged from excessive discharging. 2) Batteries give off hydrogen gas when charging. If a nearby spark happens, the battery can explode and you don't want that to be inside where there's a higher probability of people, pets, etc hanging around.

Tires are less somewhat less of a concern in general, but they have been known to go flat and get damaged on cars in storage. If you want to be paranoid, put the car up on jack stands while it's in storage. (This is of course more inconvenient if you suddenly need the car, although this may be an incentive to stick to the bicycle in your case.)

BlueMR2

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Re: Prepping a car for dormancy - anything I should know?
« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2014, 01:57:50 PM »
I've had a number of vehicles that I've been involved with that sat for extended periods of time.  Most recently my '95 Eclipse spent 9 months on a lift at a shop waiting on parts.  Prior to that, I had my '91 MR2 down for 4 months for body work, a friend's '95 Talon was down for I believe 5 years (and fired up and ran on the same half tank of gas that was in there when it was parked).  My '94 Katana came from a guy that had left it outside with about half gallon of gas in it and not ridden it for around 2.5 years (and it also fired up and ran on the gas in the tank, especially surprising since it's a carb'd engine).  The actual problem points have been:

- Batteries, most vehicles have some slight parasitic consumption.  Even disconnected they slowly lose charge.
- Tires, if the vehicle is left outside the tires crack MUCH faster than if garage stored.  They all lose air too and having the weight of the car pushing the rim into the tire sidewall is bad news.
- General mechanical unhappiness, sticky brake calipers, u-joints, etc.  Things like to seize up when sitting that long and the process of breaking them free can drastically shorten their lifespan.  In high moisture environments you can start to get cylinder bore rust in as little as one week of sitting (hence why engine builders say to make sure to drive your car at least once a week).  In theory that can lead to pitting and excess wear.  In practice I've not seen it to be an issue.

I have not encountered any fuel related issues, but using sta-bil or seafoam is still wise.  Tire flatspots happen, but I've found that just a few miles of driving rounds them right out again.  Still, avoid if you can.