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Car been sitting for about a year

It's a 1997 Cavalier coupe. My dad says he's let the engine run every month or few months and has regularly recharged the battery. But the car has not left the driveway for at least a year. What should be done to get the car back into good driving condition? He insists that it's a good car and needs basically nothing other than some brake-work, as well as that you shouldn't change most of the fluids before the engine has been warmed up by getting it out driving a bit.

I'd like to empty the gas tank, but he has said lately(he didn't say it the first few times I asked him about the gas in that tank) that he treated the 1/4 full tank of gas with some stuff meant for keeping sitting gas good; I just don't know what to believe about how long after the car had been sitting that he actually put that stuff into the tank.

Can cars sitting for a year still be in good driving condition, or should a lot be done to it before putting it back onto the road? What's the minimum of fluids/parts you'd recommend be replaced before driving it again? Thanks!


  • I'd just drive it. Follow the PM outlined in the owners manual, account for time as well as mileage.

    If you are having brake work done, have the brake fluid changed/flushed. I would do that with any brake work anyway.

    Fill up the gas tank.
  • I'd put in some fresh gas and drive it. The old gas is probably ok if it was treated. Smell it, it should smell like gas normally smells.

    Probably time for an oil change soon unless it was changed just before parking it.

    Make sure rust didn't build up on the brake rotors.

  • Yeah, just drive it. When you're low on gas, fill up. Nothing else need be done until then.

    I've restarted cars that sat idle for two years, no prior precautions taken. And none afterwards. Your dad has done right by his methods. For subsequent servicing, check with Pop.

  • edited October 2011
    Start it up and drive it gently at first and give the brakes a couple of test stops on roads without any traffic before you get out on the open road. Next fill the gas tank up with fresh gas, get the oil changed, and consider changing out most of the fluids (coolant, brake, transmission, etc.) in the next month or so. Since your dad said the car needs brake work, you should have the brakes checked. A service station can pull the wheels and inspect the brakes for pad wear and function.

  • I would guess that about 80% of the time, you can just drive it. I would fill the tank to dilute the old stuff.

    Good Luck
  • Gee, mine was sitting in the garage for a year and a half. I just took it out Friday, no problem. I keep the tank full though to reduce condensation and keep the battery charged and tires up. When I run it though, I run it through the gears to circulate trans fluid.
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