CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

A car not in use for 6 months?

Beyond flat spots on tires, what else could go wrong with a car that sits for 6 months? This one is a 2010 Acura MDX, has 50,000 miles in the first 15 months, and sat for 6 months.

Battery dead which may mean need radio/security code, gas could be somewhat stale. Trans fluid should have been changed at 30K, probably need oil change, check filters, fluids, etc. Tires don’t get flat spots like they used to with nylon tires.

Make sure the battery is good.

The ignition switch should be switched to on ON and OFF a half dozen times to cycle the fuel pump, and then try starting the engine. Then you’ll know if there’s if there’s other issues with the engine.

Tester

Probably there is nothing inherently wrong with it. Just sitting idle doesn’t damage a car. If it was taken out of service with no problems, then it will take only a little bit of rejuvenation to get it back in service.

It would help you to know the history of the car. Otherwise, just get it started and go out for a test drive.

It might start right up. Most modern cars use a small amount of electricity to keep all systems operational when sitting, and that includes the security systems. Therefore, you can expect the battery to be run down and it may or may not have enough power left to start the car. Charge the battery up and you should be fine. Once running you have all the maintenance performed to bring the car up to date, oil change, etc.

I have a car that often sits for 6 months or more at a time without starting it. Get the battery charged up and everything should be fine if you’re up to date on your maintenance. Mine often sits for 6 or more months, but when I do start it it’s usually going on a road trip of 500-1000 miles.

If you leave something for months, perhaps put some gas stabilizer in the tank and, if you have an outlet nearby, put the battery on a trickle charge. It may be a good idea to disconnect the battery as well, unless you’d like the alarm to stay live.
Also leave the glovebox open and empty - Mice apparently like turning them into condos.

If the battery has enough juice to start it, you are good to go…If it won’t crank, charge the battery…If you try to jump-start it, be VERY careful how you connect the cables. We see lots of horror stories here about reversed-polarity jump-start attempts…

Worst case is the battery is so flat you need to replace it, Factory Honda batterys are not great when run down. We replace them on our lot ALL OF THE TIME when brand new cars are not started for awhile and the battery gets 100% depleated.

Also flat spots are a concern even on newer cars, but they should work there way out in a few miles. If you like we have learned that if you get the car off its wheels, over inflate the tires to 60-70 PSI and leave them sit over night the flat spots are much better in the AM. Just make sure you let the air out before you dirve it.

buy a battery tender not a charger that will keep the battery ready go when you want to put the car back on the road again and will keep the car’s memeroy up and good to go.

This is the same Acura with 50,000 miles after 15 months of use. I’m thinking they may have wanted it to look truly 2 years old with the high mileage so it would pass as closer to average mileage. I’m glad to see there are no other major concerns. They have put a little mileage on it in the six months, likely to keep the battery lively enough, etc.
Thank you.

I bought a new car, and it was 9 months old. only had 2 miles on it. Brakes did not feel right. Vibration, rumbling. I had dealer change all the rotors, as they were pitted.

“Lot rot” is a name or what happens to rotors that sit in the weather and get no usage.

1 Like

Welcome to Car Talk.

You reactivated an 8 year old thread. While your input is somewhat relevant to the original post, such post resurrection is unlikely to be helpful to the original poster.

2 Likes

@Tk-40, I had a similar situation in the late 1980s. We bought a new Taurus that had been on the lot for over 6 months, maybe as many as 9. The brakes were OK, but the AC compressor leaked. When they fixed it, they got grease on the clutch plate, and it squealed whenever it engaged. They kept screwing up the repair, and finally I wrote to Ford asking for a lemon law replacement. When I went in for the last time, they got smart and replaced the compressor. I told them several times to replace it, but rule #1 is don’t listen to the customer’s analysis. They ignored me very diplomatically, though.

Welcome to Car Talk. Stop back and post more often. You’re always welcome to join in.

1 Like