Tips for Starting a Car That's Been Sitting Idle

By: Kris LeSueur   |   20 May 2024
Image from: Istock

Whether you’re leaving for a vacation, relocating, or simply not using your car for a long time, you may need to do a few things to avoid issues in the future. Leaving your ride idle for too long can cause a few hiccups, but with a bit of know-how, you'll be back on the road in no time.

How does leaving your car idle for a long time affect it?

The biggest issue you come across is engine fluid breakdown. When your car takes a break, its engine fluids start to break down, which isn't great for smooth performance. Parts that aren't getting their regular dose of lubrication can also start to rust and corrode over time. Finally, believe it or not, animals might decide to make your idle car their home, leading to chewed wires and other unwanted surprises.

How do you properly start a car left unused for too long?

Before you hit the road, let's start with the basics: your engine oil. Pop the hood, pull out the dipstick, and give it a check to ensure it's up to snuff. Next up, take a moment to inspect all your lights. From headlights to brake lights, everything should be in working order before you go anywhere.

Now, onto potential leaks. Keep an eye out for mysterious puddles under your car – they could spell trouble down the road. Let's  also make sure your brake fluid is topped up and looking clean.

If your battery's feeling a bit sluggish, you’ll need to give it a little boost. Jump-starting your vehicle might be just the ticket to get things going again. Last but certainly not least, take a look at the tires. Checking tire condition and pressure is essential for a smooth and safe ride.

What should you do if the battery is not working?

  • Identify and clean battery terminals

A little corrosion can cause big problems. Make sure those battery terminals are squeaky clean.

  • Jump-start the vehicle if necessary

Sometimes, a jump-start is all your battery needs to get back in the game. Just grab those jumper cables and you're good to go.

  • Recharge the battery after jump-starting

 Once you've got your car up and running, let it run for a bit to give the battery a chance to recharge.

  • Monitor battery charge regularly

Keep an eye on your battery's voltage to avoid any future surprises.

How do you prepare your car for a long time of inactivity?

Now, it may be unavoidable to let your car sit idle for a while. Worry not, because there are a few things you can do to prevent dealing with a lot of damage by the time you need it running again.

  • Using a car cover for protection

Keep your ride cozy and safe from the elements with a snug car cover.

  • Thoroughly wash the vehicle before storage

 Give your car a good scrub before tucking it away.

  • Get an oil change before storage

Fresh oil means a happy engine. Treat your car to an oil change before its downtime.

  • Fill your gas tank

Keep that tank topped up to prevent any unwanted moisture buildup.

  • Place the vehicle on jack stands

Elevate your car to keep those tires in tip-top shape during storage.

  • Avoiding the parking brake

Don't want rusty brakes? Skip the parking brake when leaving your car for an extended break.

With these friendly tips in your back pocket, you'll be a pro at starting a car that's been sitting idle. Just remember to give your ride a little TLC, and it'll be ready to hit the road whenever you are.


Contact Us

Main: Leave us a voicemailSales: Leave us a voicemailService: Leave us a voicemail
or send us a message

Give us a call or click here to send us a message!

Main: (480) 389-3664
Sales: (480) 787-2375
Service: (480) 389-3735

1109 E Curry Rd, Tempe, AZ 85281