Starting a car that has been sitting for a year.

I have a friend who is in need of a cheap vehicle, and another friend who has an ‘88’ Chevy Celebrity that was going to go to the junkyard but runs more or less OK (at least it did a year ago). Since I know both people, have some mechanical knowledge and the car is sitting in front of my house (don’t ask :rolleyes: ), I am going to be the one to see if I can get it started.

The car is an 87/88 Chevy Celebrity wagon, 2.8 V6, fuel injection. It ran OK ~1 year ago and no special preperations where made before it was parked.

Obviously the battery is completely dead so the car will need to be jump started, any potential harm from trying to jump start a completely dead car?

The gas in the car is also a year old, how much trouble will this cause? Is there anything I can do to improve the stale gas? Mix in some fresh gas or add drygas for example?

I am thinking that some starting fluid will probably help to get things going. There does not appear to be anything living in the air cleaner.

Any other recommendations on what to do to get this thing running? Are there any parts that ‘wear out’ by sitting for a long period of time? My main goal is to get it running well enough to get it off my property. Obviously I do not want to spend a lot of money on this car but if there are any inexpensive parts that will help improve they way it runs I would get them.

a) I’d pull out all of the spark plugs, and put about a spoonfull of engine oil in each cylinder, then crank for a few seconds, then put the plugs back in. Or spray in some light oil instead of engine oil.

b) The battery shouldn’t be a problem while you’re jump starting, but there’s a strong chance that the battery is “permanently dead” and will have to be replaced pretty soon.

c) Some fresh gas wouldn’t hurt, just added to the tank.

d) Try starting the thing. If you added oil like I recommended above, it’ll blow smoke for a short time.

e) If it doesn’t start, try the starter fluid. Just don’t spray the stuff on the air cleaner. The ether will dissolve the air cleaner, and cause it to fall apart over the next few weeks and get sucked into the engine.

I cannot tell how to do it, but when my car sat inactive for 3 1/2 months, I was advised to somehow add oil to engine, since all the oil would have drained. I didn’t do it and I am still driving it five years later, so there was no harm done, but I think that is the most important consideration. Ask at a local garage.

First, I’d get a new battery & try to start the car, it could start just fine without doing anything else.

I just had to start my brother in law’s truck that had been sitting for a year. You should just replace the battery. The one that’s in there is probably too far gone to recover and chances are you aren’t going to get it to crank just from a jump. Most cars rely on the battery for a certain amount of voltage regulation, so it may not run very well (or at all) with a completely dead battery in it.

My brother in law’s truck didn’t want to get fuel into the carb (it’s not fuel injected). I had to pull off the fuel line just before the fuel pump and siphon the gas up that far. Then I just poured a capfull of gas into the top of the carb and cranked it, and repeated a few times until it finally kicked over. If your fuel pump is in the gas tank then you may not have this type of problem.

Year old gas didn’t cause me any major problems. It had about half a tank in it. The first thing I did was drove it to the gas station and filled it up with fresh gas. The brakes tended to want to stick on a little bit, so I just drove it around the neighborhood for a few minutes and kept pressing on them until all of the moving parts loosened up. If yours don’t work properly you may need to pull the wheels and disassemble the brake mechanisms and put them back together with some grease in the moving parts. You’ll probably have a bit of rust on the rotors, but that will wear off very quickly and probably isn’t anything to worry about.

Here’s my experience with my 1989 Honda Civic Si. In June 1992 I put it up on blocks in an outside location at a self-storage place. I disconnected the good battey, took off the tires, and put all this in the hatch area. It had about half a tank of gas. When I came back for it in June 1994, I put the battery back, checked the oil, jumped it, and started it right up. It ran beautifully, and the battery didn’t need to be replaced. I did, though, try to burn off all of the gasoline prior to filling up with premium (I was young, probably not needed) when I got the chance.

Oh, I skipped an important step: between starting the motor and putting on the rear tires, I had to pry the frozen-to-the-drum brake pads off, take it to the parts store for turning, and put on new pads. So, don’t store your car for a long time with the parking brakes on!

I left a car inactive for 5 years. Mechanical genius friend #1 said “you’ll need to change the oil”. Mechanical genius friend #2 said “you’ll need to unclog the carburretor”. So I changed the oil and washed the carburettor with gasoline, filled the tank up (it had all evaporated), recharged the battery and it started first time. The only minor problem was that the tires had got flat on the bottom, so the car bumped along for the first few miles until they’d warmed up.

Replace the battery. The chances of it being recoverable are somewhere between slim and none.

Then try starting it and assuming it cooperates, driving it. As some others have said, there’s a good chance you won’t have to do anything else. Adding some fresh gas is not a bad idea.

If it doesn’t start and run reasonably well, come back with a description of what it did and what it didn’t do and we can advise you from there.

Since it’s fuel injected, I’d at least inspect and blow out the fuel line, which can be clogged with varnish from oxidized gasoline (or become clogged once the fuel starts flowing. It can also develop pinholes, especially in any short non-metal flexible fittings.

Quite frankly, though it’s a hassle, if you have the patience to empty and clean the fuel tank before cranking it up, you may drastically increase the performance and life of the car. I know this from sad personal experience. A weekend of work could have saved me many weekends of after-the-fact patching and replacing. The fuel injectors, in particular, were expensive enough to make me consider junking it

I have some experience with starting up motors (in cars and boats) which have not been started in months or years. here is what I would do:

Check battery. Try to charge it. Chances are it’s gone but it does not hurt to try. Once you have a charged battery try to start the motor. If it has a carburator the gasoline has evaporated and you will need to crank for a while until the pump fills it up again. This is not good. Better drop some drops, (like 1/2 a tea spoon) in the intake. That will get it started and help it start turning until the carburator is working again. Not much else need to be done.

I mean pour a few drops of gasoline in the air intake. I usually remove the air filter and drop in there. if the engine starts but then sputters you may need to do it again until the carburator is supplying the fuel mix.

Thanks for all the great advice. I really don’t want to spend the $40-50 on a battery if I don’t have to, so I left it hooked up to my car with jumper cables for about an hour to see what would happen. I was going to dump a little oil in through the spark plugs but it looked like 4 out of 6 would be a huge PITA to get to so I skipped it. Cleaning out the fuel tank is definatly more than I want to do, I’ll just hope the fuel filter catches anything that comes out of the tank. The gas gauge was on E, I don’t know whether it evaporated or was just that low but I added a couple gallons of fresh gas.

I was shocked that the car started fairly easily :eek: , then ran at a scary/high idle for about 10 min. When the idle came down the car would hesitate when I tried to give it any throttle and finally died. I sprayed the better part of a can of carborater cleaner into the throttle body (you wouldn’t belive the crap that came out). Then I decided to check the fuel lines, I removed both the fuel lines (I assume one is a return) and after a little gas came out of one nothing else came out. I am hoping it is just a matter o replacing the fuel filter. On this car it is near the tank, behind the rear wheel. I may dsconect te gas line near theengine and run some gas through it just to clear it out. If it takes much more than chaging the fuel filter it will be my friends problem to deal with.

Thanks again.