CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

After a car has been sitting for several months

,

I have a 98 Audi A4 that has been sitting for several months (in a covered garage). Is there anything i should check / be aware of when driving the car after it has been sitting for quite awhile? Currently the battery is dead so i will need to jump start it … not sure if i need to be cautious of anything else. I dont want to damage the car.

I would not just jump it, I would have the battery charged. Other than that, I would expect it to start and drive. Several months is not all that long.

Is it “several months,” or is it “quite a while?”

If it’s a year or more there may be things to worry about.

A few months is not a big deal. I hope charging the battery is enough. You may need a new battery, and if the radio requires a security code you’ll need that, too.

Check the air pressure in the tires, check all the fluid levels, then start it up. Drive gently for the first few miles, until the rust is worn off the brake rotors. After that you should be good to go.

Any time the car will be sitting for more than a month you should add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank.

Thank you! Can you elaborate on how to have the battery charged. Can i have it jumped and then drive it some where to get it charged or do i need to remove the battery and take it to a garage?

Thank you

1 Like

Unless you’re ready to drive 16 hours (that’s how long it takes to properly revive a dead lead-acid battery) you should get a small ‘smart’ automatic battery charger. It’s likely the battery has been damaged from sitting dead. If you let the car sit again for months you can use the charger to preserve the replacement battery you will soon need.

1 Like

The “smart charger” circuitsmith refers to is also knows as a “battery tender,” and it would be a good thing to have if the car is going to sit idle for months at a time.

I use a “Battery Tender Jr.” in the winter to keep the battery in my summer car charged.

1 Like

The problem with just jump-starting a dead battery is modern alternators are sometimes overworked trying to charge the dead battery and power the car at the same time…A tiny trickle charger is not the answer here. You need something that will put out 6-8 amps. Then charge up the dead battery for 8 to 10 hours before you start the car.

WHATEVER you do, be very careful with battery polarity when making any connections. Double-checking here can save a lot of grief…

1 Like

Batteries in decent running condition to begin with, do not normally discharge on their own. Modern cars draw current for a variety of devices that over time drain the battery. Just pop off the neg. cable before storage, and a charged battery will have plenty of juice months later in not too severe temp conditions. No need for a trickle charge. I have a battery charger and in over twenty years of winter storage have yet to use it for anything more than topping off and that is usually not needed. I do it in case the vehicle (car/boat) has trouble starting for other reasons and needs full cranking capacity. Charge it, test it, and drive on if it’s OK.

I highly recommend every one has a charger with high load jump capacity and a travel back up battery with a built in compressor. I would never jump a completely dead battery unless in an emergency. I like the idea of over night slow charge then hook up your new back up if it still doesn’t start. It’s time for a replacement if it fails the overnight charge Good luck.