Reviving a Sleeping Engine: How To Start A Car That Has Been Sitting For Years

Having an old car that has been standing for a long time can pose a unique set of challenges when attempting to restart it.

To ensure a smooth resurrection, it is crucial to proceed with caution and follow a systematic approach, whether dealing with a project car, a historic vehicle, or simply a car that has been sitting for an extended period.

Inspection Checklist for a Thorough Assessment

  • Battery Health Check: Begin with a battery check. If it’s dead, consider replacing it. Clean the terminals to ensure a good connection.
  • Fluid Levels and Quality Assessment: Inspect all fluid levels – oil, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid. Ensure they’re at the correct levels and of good quality.
  • Tyre Inspection: Check the tires for any signs of damage, and pay special attention to flat spots. Inflate the tires to the recommended pressure.
  • Engine Bay Examination: Rodents love to make nests in idle engines. Inspect the engine bay for any signs of rodent activity and address accordingly.
  • Brake System Evaluation: Ensure the brakes aren’t seized. If the car has been sitting for a while, gently apply the brakes multiple times to check for responsiveness.

Fuel System Revival

  • Remove Stale Fuel: Remove old fuel and replace it with fresh gasoline. Consider using a fuel system cleaner to clear out any deposits.
  • Cleaning Fuel Injectors: Over time, fuel injectors can get clogged. Use a reputable fuel injector cleaner to ensure proper fuel atomization.
  • Ensuring Proper Fuel Circulation: Turn the ignition key to the ‘on’ position without starting the engine. Repeat this a few times to allow the fuel pump to circulate fresh fuel

Electrical System Inspection

  • Battery Testing and Charging Techniques: If the battery is low, jump-start the car or use a battery charger. Consider investing in a new battery if it doesn’t hold a charge.
  • Starter and Alternator Inspection: Listen for any unusual sounds when starting the car. If there’s a clicking sound, it could be the starter. Check the alternator for proper charging.
  • Addressing Common Electrical Issues: Check fuses and relays for any signs of damage. Inspect wiring for rodent damage, as this is a common issue in idle cars.

Fluid Leak and Replacement

  • Comprehensive Fluid Replacement: Replace old fluids with fresh ones. This includes engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, and transmission fluid.
  • Importance of Each Fluid in the Revival Process: Understand the role of each fluid and how it contributes to the proper functioning of the vehicle.
  • Check Fluid Leakage: Be aware of potential issues such as leaks or contamination. Address any complications promptly to avoid further damage.
Free Car Engine Engine Compartment photo and picture

Effects of Not Following the Steps

Neglecting the necessary steps to revive a car that has been sitting for years can have several adverse effects:

Engine Damage

Starting the engine without proper lubrication or using old, degraded oil can increase friction and potentially cause damage to internal components.

Battery Issues

Ignoring the condition of the battery can result in unsuccessful attempts to start the engine. Repeatedly trying to jump-start a severely depleted battery can lead to cell damage.

Fluid Contamination

Neglecting fluid checks and replacements can lead to contamination, reducing the effectiveness of fluids and potentially causing damage to various systems.

Tire Problems

Inadequately inflated tires can develop flat spots, compromising both performance and safety. Driving with compromised tires poses risks to both the occupants and the long-dead car.

Rust and Corrosion

Overlooking the external examination may result in unnoticed rust and corrosion, posing safety risks and causing structural problems.

By taking the above precautions, you can maintain the vehicle’s longevity and performance, ensuring a smooth and effective starting process.

Ready to bring your car back to life?

Follow our comprehensive guide to ensure a smooth revival or you can book your comprehensive car inspection with Automovill.

Don’t let time take a toll on your vehicle – let’s get your engine roaring again!

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