Restart a neglected car

Old 12-23-19, 02:17 PM
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Restart a neglected car

A friend has a car that hasn't been driven for several years and asked me to help get it running. I think the procedure is

(1) Since the gasoline in the tank may have gunked up, it's safer not to use them in case they clog the fuel system. So pump out the gasoline in the tank, and fill with fresh gasoline. What's the cheapest pump for this purpose?

(2) inflate tires
(3) charge or replace battery
(4) put in the key and start the car!

Is there anything else?
The only thing I know about the car is it's a 200? BMW.
Old 12-23-19, 02:42 PM
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You should be able to remove the fuel line at/near the tank and drain it out [might need a hose to get it to your container] The big concern is if the gas has varnished up inside the tank.

It wouldn't hurt to pull the plugs and give each cylinder a small shot of WD40 [or similar]
Old 12-23-19, 08:56 PM
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0) Generally, open all the doors, hood and trunk, then use a leaf blower to blow out dust, leaves etc.
Before you take out the spark plugs, put on goggles and use compressed air to blow away the gunk and grit that accumulate around the spark plug holes.

1) check the year and model, and the timing belt.
Some BMW 2.5 liter and 4.0 liter engines are "interference engines", e.g. they will spectacularly self destruct if the timing belt breaks or the timing skips too many gears.
The pistons will bend the valves, or the valves can punch through the pistons-

2) Add air to the tires and/or jack up the car. Visually inspect the fuel line from the fuel tank up to and including the fuel injectors on the engine block. You don't want to have a leak spray gasoline all around the engine.

3) IIRC, there is an access to the fuel tank/fuel pump in floor of the trunk. IIRC, when I had to change a fuel pump in 528e, I took out the spare, popped out the plastic drain plug at the bottom of the spare tire well, placed a gas can below, then siphoned the tank dry with a kerosene hand pump.
Do NOT use the fuel pump to pump the gas tank dry, the BMW fuel pumps rely on having gasoline in the tank to cool the fuel pump - running a fuel pump on a dry tank can overheat the fuel pump and then you're buying a new fuel pump.
Refill with at least 5 gallons of premium fuel

4) Check that the car has oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, and transmission fluid in it. Check for air filter and oil filter, belts and hoses. Check the lung nuts are snug, and that the spark plugs are snug.

5) I generally use starting fluid in this sort of situation. YOU ONLY ever need a single short shot of starting fluid at a time.

6) Most people don't know how to jump start a car. First, loosen and disconnect the black wire from the dead battery; this prevents the dead battery from sucking current and voltage when the jumper cables are finally connected. Next, connect the black clamp to a big clean pieced of metal on the engine block. Do NOT clamp onto metal fuel lines. Now, clamp the red clamp to the red-cable that goes to the dead battery.

Walk over to the running car, and connect the black clamp to the black battery cable , and the red clamp to the red battery cable. You should hear the fuel pump click/hum to life. Give it a minute or two to pressurize the fuel system.

Turn the key to start the car.
Only let the starter run for a few seconds.
You may have to put your foot on the brake and move the shifter to Park or Neutral with an automatic before the sensors register that the car is in Park/Neutral and is allowed to start.

Last edited by Hal_S; 12-23-19 at 09:32 PM.
Old 12-24-19, 03:30 AM
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Pull plugs, add small amount of oil, turn the engine over by hand a few times to make sure the rings are not stuck and put a little oil on the walls. It will also pre fill the oil pump so the engine is not starving (for as long) until it starts!

If it's fuel injected then injectors could be an issue with the old fuel!

Just siphon the fuel out of the tank you'll get enough out that what remains won't matter!

I generally use starting fluid in this sort of situation.
Lots of opinions about using starter fluid on a fuel injected car, acceptable for carbureted motors but I personally would not use, the systems are not the same!
Old 12-24-19, 05:50 AM
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1) Do you have that much spare time to devote to this ?
2) Is your friend going to blame YOU when things go south ?
Old 12-24-19, 07:08 AM
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Old 12-24-19, 08:15 AM
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I like the procedure Hal has spelled out. But the first thing I would ask, is why has the car been setting for so long without any use? Is there a known issue ? Hal's caution on item one could be a big question. I would like to rule that out before wasting any other time or resources.

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