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Old 05-03-2009, 06:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question How long can a car set without driving it ?

How long can a car set without driving it ? I will no longer be using my car except for long trips to see my parents ( 132 miles )

Drive it every other week, every other month, or ... ? How long should these short trips be ? Drive for a couple of miles, or just up the road a ways ?

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Old 05-03-2009, 06:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If it were me, I would drive it at least once a month. I'd take it out on the highway for about 10 miles. Get everything warmed up good. You want to warm up the oil good, to evaporate all the water vapor out of it. Put some Sta-bil in the gas tank, top it off, and keep it topped off.
Drive it as much as you can.

When I worked as an A&P, I had one customer that owned a cherry Beechcraft Bonanza. He would put those sticky mouse trap trays on either side of the tires to keep vermin from climbing in.
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I bought a '59 Chevy that had been parked in 1968. I drove it away from where it was sitting. After a bit of work, of course, but surprisingly little! I didn't even have to change the oil, belts, hoses, plug wires, or filters!

In your situation, don't start it periodically without getting it thoroughly warmed up. That means go drive it, as mentioned, at least 10 miles.

I used to piddle around a few times during the winter with my motorcycles but not anymore. They sit there until spring. I don't really see that I'm having any more or less trouble after that length of time.
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Old 05-03-2009, 07:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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One of the components that won't like sitting is the battery. Unhook the negative battery terminal, or better, leave it on a trickle charger.

Gasoline only lasts so long. What, 1-3 months? So you need fuel stabilizer if you won't be filling it more often than that.

Also check your tire pressure. It'll drop about as many PSI/month as if you were driving the car every day.

The biggest problem, which was already mentioned, is condensation in the motor oil and everywhere else. Get it hot enough, long enough to boil that off.
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Old 05-03-2009, 07:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertSmalls View Post
One of the components that won't like sitting is the battery. Unhook the negative battery terminal, or better, leave it on a trickle charger.

Gasoline only lasts so long. What, 1-3 months? So you need fuel stabilizer if you won't be filling it more often than that.

Also check your tire pressure. It'll drop about as many PSI/month as if you were driving the car every day.

The biggest problem, which was already mentioned, is condensation in the motor oil and everywhere else. Get it hot enough, long enough to boil that off.
Good tips - especially the battery tip, although I don't understand how that unhooking the battery would do anything, since you are not having anything that is drawing power from it ( no clock on the radio even ). Makes sense, since you are supposed to do this sort of thing with cell phones and other gadgets when storing them. I just don't understand why.
Educate me .

As far as filling the gas tank all the way up, why is this ? If you have a larger amount in the tank, will it increase the life of the gas, or will you just be stuck with more bad gas ?
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Old 05-03-2009, 08:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The reason for topping off the gas tank is again, condensation. If the tank is half full, the other half is air...with moisture in it.
Good catch about the battery. I forgot that.
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Old 05-03-2009, 10:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Gas has about a 6 month shelf life, ethenal has a 2 month shelf life when mixed with gas, it will slowly loose it's octane rating as it ages and the volatile part evaporates, it will also condense the water out of the air and filling the tank up all the way will help with both of these problems.
If you are going to let it sit more then 6 months I feel that changing the oil first is a good idea, gets the sludge out, acids that have developed from the oil braking down are removed and it leaves you with a clean lube when you go to start it up.
I feel that starting it up and driving it that 10 miles every other month is a good idea, that way the valve springs don't get compressed, the battery stays charged, mouse traps are a must, if you park it outside get a solar battery maintainer and the battery will last many years paying for the solar panel in the first year.
also if you park it outside cover the windshild, remove the wiper blades, put a mouse trap inside and even covering the tires can be a good idea, if it's in side crack a window.
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Old 05-03-2009, 10:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I agree about using it every few months in the summer to keep things "loose". But I won't do it in the winter, as I'll be covering my nice clean vehicle with salty slush. But just starting and idling it does more harm than good. So through the winter, my stuff just sits.
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Old 05-03-2009, 10:35 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Plug the tailpipe maybe as well. Critters have been known to get into engines that way. Tires depend. My wagon has been sitting for almost 4 years and the tires still have enough air to get to the gas station nearby. Of course, they'll be like driving on squares from the flat spots, but the tires are pretty worn anyway and I intend to replace them. Definitely put the battery on a trickle charger or at least take it out and put it on wood (concrete or metal drains it quicker) and, if it's going to sit and you want the tires to survive, put the car up on stands. Stabilize the fuel, as mentioned. If you're talking years, it kind of depends on the car. Some cars hate to sit and the brakes and clutches seize, seals all dry up, electrical issues develop. Others, you throw in a battery, hit it with some starter fluid, and you're good to go. I can tell you old Datsun Zs are closer to the former group.
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:43 AM   #10 (permalink)
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It's a Civic. Drive it at least 10 miles when you do drive it, change the oil twice a year, keep the gas tank topped off and Sta-Bil'd if it's sitting for more than a month, and make sure no rodents make their homes in your engine bay.

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