car has been sitting for months


Old 11-09-05, 08:01 AM
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car has been sitting for months

greetings all!

i have an old car that's in good running condition but hasn't been started in several months.

i'm concerned about trying to start the engine when it's been sitting for so long. do you think there is a sufficient amount of oil still coating critical engine parts so as to not cause damage during initial cranking?

how often should an engine be run to maintain a reasonable amount of circulated oil on bearings and such. every few days, once a week, every 2 weeks?

i've already changed the oil and filter in preparation for starting it. but i'm holding off on that until i get some opinions.

thanks in advance!

Last edited by Earnman; 11-09-05 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 11-09-05, 09:47 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Florida
Posts: 358
I have an extra vehicle that I do not use on a daily basis, and also would like to know how often I should run/drive as minimum. Thanks.
Old 11-09-05, 10:35 AM
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Hi Earnman and Puter,

OK, Earnman, you state the vehicle has been sitting for months, so it probably has a minimum amount of oil on the bearings and all lubricated parts in the system. Not a problem. If indeed it is as you say in perfect running condition simply disconnect the coil wire so the vehicle will not start and rotate the engine with the starter until the oil pressure light / gauge shows pressure. When it does, reinstall the coil wire and start the engine...everything should be fine. If your vehicle is late generation and has individual coils for each cylinder, simply read your fuse panel and remove the ECM / IGN fuse, rotate until pressure builds and reinstall the fuse.

In your case, a trip around the neighborhood to warm the engine and get the exhaust hot once a month should do the trick.

Good Luck,
Adrian, ASE Certified Master, BSME

If you don't have time to fix it right the first time.....WHEN? will you have time to do it over???
Old 11-09-05, 10:37 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 194
I would recommend a short highway trip over a short neighborhood trip.
Old 11-09-05, 12:38 PM
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thanks for the tip Adrian.

i'm curious tho...what's the reason for disconnecting the ignition while cranking versus leaving it hot?
Old 11-09-05, 01:51 PM
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So the engine will not start prior to oil pressure build up and cause sudden acceleration (ie: Automatic choke) of the engine on basically dry bearing surfaces.

Once the bearings have an oil cushion start up is normal.

However it is NEVER wise to rev a cold engine at any time much less with minimal oil coating after setting up for months as you stated.

I have no objections to a short trip as opposed to a neighborhood ride,(that's a matter of personal choice and available time) the main thing is to allow the engine and exhaust to throughly reach operating temperatures after long term non-use .

Once again, Good Luck, happy riding.

Life is a trip, take it with a smile on your face and a song in your heart!
Old 11-10-05, 05:22 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Florida
Posts: 358
Thanks. As a matter of fact, I have been driving the vehicle about once a week. I have another related question. Last year I drove the vehicle about 1000 miles. When I drained the engine, I was expecting a rather clear oil. But to my surprise it was almost as dark as 5000 mile-old oil. Can you explain this to me?
Old 11-10-05, 09:42 AM
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Hello again Puter,

Since you did not give any specifics as to the year model, make, engine size, and milage of your vehicle I am going to make some generalized statements regarding this condition.

There are a number of factors that can cause this and I will name them in decending importance.

Also the quality and type of oil you use will affect the following.

First and formost as an engine ages and milage increase the piston rings wear and as they wear they allow bypass (combustion & unburned hydrocarbons) into the crankcase that intermix with the oil causing it to turn black (dark). This is a normal progression of age and nothing less than a ring replacement/engine overhaul will correct the problem.

One of the major factors in engine/ring longivity is GOOD MAINTENANCE HABITS!!!

I can not stress changing the oil and filter on a regular basis enough.

I have a 1992 Nissan Stanza 2.4 liter 4 cylinder with 252 thousand miles and it uses about a half quart of oil between oil and filter changes of 4,000 miles.

I recently had to replace the timing chain and the internal parts of the engine were as clean as an engine with 10,000 miles....all due to regular oil and filter changes.

Second, be sure and check your PCV valve so the crankcase can vent properly and said unburned hydrocarbons are removed from the crankcase.

Thirdly perform good tune ups, ie: plugs, air filters, fuel filters, etc. at recommended intervals.

If you are the second owner and do not have any idea of the vehicles prior maintenance history it is possible that the previous owner did not maintain regular oil change intervals and allowed the oil to be simply overused.

Old dirty oil will and does coat the interior of the engine and will never drain completely, thereby contaminating the new oil and giving it a dark appearance at low milage.

IF your engine happens to be a Diesel.......forget can drive a diesel engine 100 miles and the new oil will almost be as dark as the previous oil. Unfortunately that is inherent of the animal.

Hope this helps,

"Live like there's no tomorrow.....Dance as if no one is watching.....Love Fervently.....and above all....LAUGH...LAUGH...LAUGH"

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