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Old 02-17-2011, 08:55 AM   #1
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Icon6 NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

Hi guys.

I own a 2001 Honda Civic EX coupe. It sat in my garage for more than a year. Probably about 16-17 months to be exact. I used to start it every other day, but I landed a job that involved a lot of travel. So in-between taking my work home and jumping on planes, I've neglected my car and haven't turned it on until yesterday. As expected the battery is dead. Prior to posting this up, I sifted through several other sites looking for information on what I should expect to repair and important things I should look out for in confidently driving my car again after all of this time. I did find a lot of info, but they seem to be so diverse in opinion and full of contradicting answers/information!

We all know how 90% of auto shops operate on how naive the customer is. That's why I wanted to learn as much as I can before explaining my situation to a shop and having them hand me a list of "urgent issues" along with some $2k bill, only to find out that half of the work they did isn't even necessary. lol. I've been a HUGE forum lurker here ever since I've registered. I've just never posted anything, because the knowledge here is so vast, I've never felt like I had anything to contribute.

Please let me know what you guys feel I should do from here. What I should look out for, maybe anything to keep in mind, anything specific that I should inspect myself, etc.. Believe me, I would sincerely appreciate ANY shred of information. I'm so boggled with mixed info, it's ridiculous. lol.
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Old 02-17-2011, 11:55 AM   #2
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

did u replace the battery, u stated that is should be dead but you never said u replaced it, if so u might need new spark plugs
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

ok and in starting it dont start it and rev the engine at the same time. I have had friends who parked there car for a year and all they did was to replace spark plugs and oil change well maybe you will need more but depends on what the state of the car was before it was parked.
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Old 02-17-2011, 01:12 PM   #4
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

Sorry for being retarded guys. I'll be replacing the battery this weekend and see what happens from there. I'll let you know if I notice anything strange in the process. I hope it is indeed just a matter of replacing the battery, spark plugs and an oil change. I can't help, but wonder about the transmission fluid too though and the gas I've had sitting idle inside of the tank throughout all of this time.
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:53 PM   #5
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

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did u replace the battery, u stated that is should be dead but you never said u replaced it, if so u might need new spark plugs
He doesn't even need to replace the battery, just charge it. I've charged 5 year old car batteries that were at 0V up to 12.7v (fully charged) and they worked fine since then. Ask me anything about car batteries and charging cause I promise I'll have the answer for you.

As for the OP's question, all I would do is take out the spark plugs, pour a little motor oil in there, charge the battery, disconnect the fuel injectors, let the oil in the cylinders soak for some time, crank the engine, then put everything back and start up the car.... But that's if you're worried about your engine. I hadn't started up my '98 Civic in a year (January 2010 - January 2011) and because I'm lazy all I did was fully charge the battery and start up the car. Only issue I had was a bouncing idle which turned out to be because of the IACV valve being stuck.


DON'T ATTEMPT TO BOOST THE BATTERY! You're wasting your time and you may burnout your alternator trying to charge a severely discharged battery. (Assuming you can even successfully boost the car) Properly charge the battery with a battery charger and I promise it will work out. If you have any issues with charging the battery, just ask and I'll list the procedure for charging a "dead" (fully discharged battery).

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Sorry for being retarded guys. I'll be replacing the battery this weekend and see what happens from there. I'll let you know if I notice anything strange in the process. I hope it is indeed just a matter of replacing the battery, spark plugs and an oil change. I can't help, but wonder about the transmission fluid too though and the gas I've had sitting idle inside of the tank throughout all of this time.
No need to replace the battery, just charge it.. As for the gasoline in your tank, it depends on how full the tank is. In my civic I parked for a year, had no issues with driving on the gas that was in the tank so I don't think you will either. I also have a Lexus LS400 that was parked for two whole years before starting it up and driving it, gasoline was perfectly good despite sitting there for so long. You can try getting a whiff of the gasoline in the tank and unless it smells different than it should, you should be good, as was I.
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Last edited by fleabag; 02-17-2011 at 10:12 PM.
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Old 02-18-2011, 02:28 PM   #6
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

If you kept the car in the ground, most likely your tires will be flat in the bottom. You will need to drive for a while to put some heat in the tires and hopefully they will get back to a round shape. I have a miata also that was parked for 9 months (yeah, it almost gave birth...) and took a week for the tires to finally stop vibrating when driving...
So, if car vibrates, don't worry, it's normal. But you might need to replace them if they don't get back to a round state after 2 weeks driving, maybe?
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Old 02-18-2011, 02:43 PM   #7
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

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If you kept the car in the ground, most likely your tires will be flat in the bottom. You will need to drive for a while to put some heat in the tires and hopefully they will get back to a round shape. I have a miata also that was parked for 9 months (yeah, it almost gave birth...) and took a week for the tires to finally stop vibrating when driving...
So, if car vibrates, don't worry, it's normal. But you might need to replace them if they don't get back to a round state after 2 weeks driving, maybe?
I didn't have this issue because I always inflate my tires to the pressure indicated on the tire instead of on the door jam. I've got a '91 Land Cruiser that hasn't been driven since at least 2007 that was NOT "inflated to maximum sidewall pressure" and I haven't bothered to start it up because mice got inside and it smells like ****. The tires have lost some pressure and are sagging, my thinking is that in order to get them round again, I should drive them in this condition to "heat up" the tire despite them being under-inflated. I won't drive on the highway in order to prevent risk of blowout but I think I'd drive it at low speeds this way until it stops bouncing which I know it will do since this truck has been sitting in the same spot on sagging tires for so long.
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Old 02-18-2011, 03:16 PM   #8
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

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I always inflate my tires to the pressure indicated on the tire instead of on the door jam. "inflated to maximum sidewall pressure"
?!?
Anyway, if that was not the case of the OP (I couldn't inflate my tires either (I am in canada for a year and car is in TN...), he could face similar issue.
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Old 02-19-2011, 02:31 AM   #9
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

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?!?
Anyway, if that was not the case of the OP (I couldn't inflate my tires either (I am in canada for a year and car is in TN...), he could face similar issue.
And fleabags comment about how to fill tires pretty much discredits anything he has to say. Make that comment to any mechanic or tire tech and he will laugh at you.
Run the pressure stated on the sticker in your drivers door unless you have good reason not to.
Moving on.

To the OP: Check your tires and charge the battery and then try it again. If that doesn't fix it then replace the spark plugs. If it'll still refusing to start then the gas could have gone varnish-y if the tank wasn't very full. Don't worry too much. Just try one thing at a time.
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:13 AM   #10
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

thanks.
I am a tire engineer, just did not want to cause any commotion...
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Old 02-19-2011, 01:06 PM   #11
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

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thanks.
I am a tire engineer, just did not want to cause any commotion...
As a tire engineer, my comment shouldn't have bothered you now should it! You should be able to explain at length what I've said is true or false and reference NHTSA rules regarding tires and their indicated pressure.

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And fleabags comment about how to fill tires pretty much discredits anything he has to say. Make that comment to any mechanic or tire tech and he will laugh at you.
Run the pressure stated on the sticker in your drivers door unless you have good reason not to.
Moving on.

To the OP: Check your tires and charge the battery and then try it again. If that doesn't fix it then replace the spark plugs. If it'll still refusing to start then the gas could have gone varnish-y if the tank wasn't very full. Don't worry too much. Just try one thing at a time.
Of course he will laugh at you, like most people since most people do not care about fuel economy or handling performance and are clueless about tire inflation. A "tire tech" is usually just a person who mounts tires, the **** would they know about tire inflation except to follow the sicker on the door jamb? Keep in mind, it's their job to inflate tires to the manufacturer's recommendation in order to alleviate themselves and their company of any liability. Has nothing to do with "max performance".. You guys will turbo boost your engines, lower your car, strip the interior of the basics, add a roll cage, etc. but you're too scared to inflate your tires to maximum cold pressure on the street? give me a break! All those things can have far more disastrous consequences than you give credence to. I know the word "max pressure" scares you but tires blowout usually because of overheating and tires usually overheat because they're under-inflated which means overloaded.

Manufacturers specify tire pressures for a variety of reasons and I feel, unless your car drives squirrelly when inflated to maximum cold pressure or you get uneven tire wear, IMO there isn't a reason not to inflate it to max pressure. Tires burst not because of "high pressure" relatively speaking but usually because of low pressure. You guys refrain from adding pressure but then bring up the word "autocross" and then it's all cool? F that! Tires can handle extreme amounts of pressure and that pressure indicated on the sidewall is the maximum NHTSA permitted pressure you can drive on, not the maximum pressure before the tire will burst. Brand new tires from the factory are burst tested all the way from 400-600psi with the rims usually failing before the tire does.

Also you tard, you can't say everything I said is invalid because you disagree with one point. That would be the equivalent of me saying the sky is blue, the ocean is salty and the mountains are high but evolution doesn't exist, then obsess over the fact that I said evolution doesn't exist and therefore conclude everything previous is invalid.
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Old 02-19-2011, 01:40 PM   #12
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

yup, that's exactly what i meant about causing a commotion...
tire pressures will depend on how you use, which tires you have, how long you want it to last (depending on use), etc, etc.
Just leave this contained to what the OP needs (in the meantime, you replied to my initial post that was directed to the OP and you likely gave a kind of a confusing answer to him - many other will come here, search and see the response and say: "oooooh! so its good to overinflate the tires when they are in storage?" - believe me, there is a reason at some point in time some company put a "not suited for nail work" sticker in a high power drill...
We are in the internet, so be careful on your comments... not all that reads here have a higher undestanding of mechanical things...
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Old 02-19-2011, 06:05 PM   #13
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

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yup, that's exactly what i meant about causing a commotion...
tire pressures will depend on how you use, which tires you have, how long you want it to last (depending on use), etc, etc.
Just leave this contained to what the OP needs (in the meantime, you replied to my initial post that was directed to the OP and you likely gave a kind of a confusing answer to him - many other will come here, search and see the response and say: "oooooh! so its good to overinflate the tires when they are in storage?" - believe me, there is a reason at some point in time some company put a "not suited for nail work" sticker in a high power drill...
We are in the internet, so be careful on your comments... not all that reads here have a higher undestanding of mechanical things...
You might not be aware but if you're storing your car for an extended period of time and you don't plan on jacking it up, there is nothing wrong with over-inflating the tires, even past the maximum pressure listed on the sidewall. When they ship cars over here from Japan, they inflate them to 80 PSI so that when the cars arrive here, they're not sitting on their rims by the time they arrive.
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:00 AM   #14
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

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He doesn't even need to replace the battery, just charge it. I've charged 5 year old car batteries that were at 0V up to 12.7v (fully charged) and they worked fine since then. Ask me anything about car batteries and charging cause I promise I'll have the answer for you.

As for the OP's question, all I would do is take out the spark plugs, pour a little motor oil in there, charge the battery, disconnect the fuel injectors, let the oil in the cylinders soak for some time, crank the engine, then put everything back and start up the car.... But that's if you're worried about your engine. I hadn't started up my '98 Civic in a year (January 2010 - January 2011) and because I'm lazy all I did was fully charge the battery and start up the car. Only issue I had was a bouncing idle which turned out to be because of the IACV valve being stuck.


DON'T ATTEMPT TO BOOST THE BATTERY! You're wasting your time and you may burnout your alternator trying to charge a severely discharged battery. (Assuming you can even successfully boost the car) Properly charge the battery with a battery charger and I promise it will work out. If you have any issues with charging the battery, just ask and I'll list the procedure for charging a "dead" (fully discharged battery).


No need to replace the battery, just charge it.. As for the gasoline in your tank, it depends on how full the tank is. In my civic I parked for a year, had no issues with driving on the gas that was in the tank so I don't think you will either. I also have a Lexus LS400 that was parked for two whole years before starting it up and driving it, gasoline was perfectly good despite sitting there for so long. You can try getting a whiff of the gasoline in the tank and unless it smells different than it should, you should be good, as was I.
Damn, it sounds like you've been exactly in the situation I'm in a dozen times already! lol. Great info man. I'm gonna go ahead and disconnect the battery and take it to a shop to have it charged. As for the spark plugs, I replaced them about a year prior to not driving the car any longer. Do you think it's still necessary to replace them? Although I assume that I would definitely need an oil change, do you feel that it is also urgent that I change the transmission fluid? My engine's got about 145k miles and I've only changed the transmission fluid twice throughout that whole time span. On the topic of fluids, are there any other things that need to be topped? Brake fluid too maybe?

P.S. - THANK YOU AND EVERYONE that replied to my thread. You guys have no idea how much I sincerely appreciate all of this advice and information.
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Old 02-20-2011, 08:23 AM   #15
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

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You might not be aware but if you're storing your car for an extended period of time and you don't plan on jacking it up, there is nothing wrong with over-inflating the tires, even past the maximum pressure listed on the sidewall. When they ship cars over here from Japan, they inflate them to 80 PSI so that when the cars arrive here, they're not sitting on their rims by the time they arrive.
concerns are:
1) rubber have hysteresis, so after a long time, they will have non-elastic deformation - same as when you end up with flat spots in the tire. You could end up with a tire too round if you keep them overinflated for too long. trransporting from JP will take a couple of months if so, so not a long storage
So, either way you go, you could end up having to replace the tires if they don't recover after 2 weeks of driving - if they don't recover the desired shape, they will wear oddly anyway.
2) note that you drop the pressure down when you drive it (was not written in the posts, some might simply not adjust the pressure after the storage condition).
All the other advice you gave could happen or not, so are valid.
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Old 02-20-2011, 08:26 AM   #16
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

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Although I assume that I would definitely need an oil change, do you feel that it is also urgent that I change the transmission fluid? My engine's got about 145k miles and I've only changed the transmission fluid twice throughout that whole time span. On the topic of fluids, are there any other things that need to be topped? Brake fluid too maybe?
transmission - not because of storage, but because it's recommendable :D
brake - fluid absorbs water and have not been heated by driving, so recommendable after storage. Mine were still good after 9 months, driven twice now after more than a year, but i am planning on changing fluid after i get back to my car.
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:22 PM   #17
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

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Damn, it sounds like you've been exactly in the situation I'm in a dozen times already! lol. Great info man. I'm gonna go ahead and disconnect the battery and take it to a shop to have it charged. As for the spark plugs, I replaced them about a year prior to not driving the car any longer. Do you think it's still necessary to replace them? Although I assume that I would definitely need an oil change, do you feel that it is also urgent that I change the transmission fluid? My engine's got about 145k miles and I've only changed the transmission fluid twice throughout that whole time span. On the topic of fluids, are there any other things that need to be topped? Brake fluid too maybe?

P.S. - THANK YOU AND EVERYONE that replied to my thread. You guys have no idea how much I sincerely appreciate all of this advice and information.
If you're concerned the spark plugs are bad, just pull them out and inspect them, if there is a light gold brown hue to them, then they're perfect. Spark plugs usually go bad when DRIVING on them, not when the car has been sitting. I didn't change any fluids after driving the car for a year but if you do intend to change the fluids, I'd try driving the car until it is warmed up so that you not only get an idea of how the car is in case something goes wrong. It's usually best to change fluids when they're warmed up so that you can get it all out of there, but it sounds like you're concerned that the oil could be contaminated and therefore you don't want to agitate "old" oil. I'd look at the dip stick and if the oil looks ok but you still want to change it, at the very least drive the car for like 30 miles before the oil change so that the fluids are warmed up and will pour easily.

I wouldn't bother change the transmission fluid at all unless you planned on changing it anyway.. As for the brake or clutch fluid, check its color, on most older cars that are poorly maintained, the fluid will either be a dark amber color or completely black. If the color is a light yellow like pee, then it's fresh and needs absolutely no changing. Coolant needs to be changed based upon years it has been in service, regardless of whether you drive the vehicle or not. I believe most coolant is 5 years but they do make long life coolant now, though I don't know if you can use that with our civics or not. Probably would have to flush the system completely before doing that.
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:26 PM   #18
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

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concerns are:
1) rubber have hysteresis, so after a long time, they will have non-elastic deformation - same as when you end up with flat spots in the tire. You could end up with a tire too round if you keep them overinflated for too long.
True, but I think that applies with any tire and too much deformation would also be detrimental. Usually tires go bad because of ozone and other oxygenating elements. I've never seen anyone test a 20 year old tire that was vacuum pack sealed and protected from UV light and see if it is still safe to drive on. They want to put expiration dates on tires but I think it's kinda unfair since some tires are exposed to huge amounts of heat, light and oxygen while others, not so much.
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trransporting from JP will take a couple of months if so, so not a long storage
So, either way you go, you could end up having to replace the tires if they don't recover after 2 weeks of driving - if they don't recover the desired shape, they will wear oddly anyway.
2) note that you drop the pressure down when you drive it (was not written in the posts, some might simply not adjust the pressure after the storage condition).
All the other advice you gave could happen or not, so are valid.
Cars that are shipped from Japan or elsewhere sometimes stay in port or are out at sea for much longer than a few months, I've heard like 9 months or even longer especially if there is ongoing political event going on or something.
Yeah I'd drop the pressure after taking it out of storage, forgot to mention that..
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:39 PM   #19
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

glad we now understood :D
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:39 PM   #20
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Default Re: NEED HELP: Haven't driven car in over a year!!!

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Originally Posted by fleabag View Post
Cars that are shipped from Japan or elsewhere sometimes stay in port or are out at sea for much longer than a few months, I've heard like 9 months or even longer especially if there is ongoing political event going on or something.
yeeeuch!
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