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

Car Hasn't Been Driven in 7 Months...Help!

My PT Cruiser has been parked since September of 2009. Every month or so my mother has gone out and has ‘driven’ it in her driveway (turn it on, back it up, reverse the direction it’s parked in, etc.) Then it sits again for another month until she does it again. Today when she does it the car accellerates when she puts her foot on the gas but stops (dead stop) when she let’s off it. Anyone know what this could be? I plan on getting the vehicle looked at and begin driving it again soon and I’m going to have it checked out before I put it on the road again for safety (it’s been sitting for 7 months) but I’d like to have an idea of what this problem might be before I go blindly and clueless into a repair shop.



Also, what other things should I have checked out that could have worn, broken down, or broke while the car was sitting not being used?

What your mother did to your car is about the worst thing you can do. Once the car is started, it should be run till it is well warmed up, preferably 20 miles of highway driving.

The best thing to do at this time is to take it out for a long and fast drive. If the engine runs smoother after that, you’re OK. If not, the plugs may be fouled and you need to take it in to a mechanic. Other posters may suggest some combustion chamber cleaner, which you put in the gas tank. In any case, a good, fast run is indicated.

What the car needs, more than anything, is to be driven. Tell mom to drive it, slowly at first, around the neighborhood and then out on the highway for 20-30 minutes.

It would have been better to let the car sit and not start it than what has happened. This is not really harmful in the long run however. I doubt there’s anything seriously wrong. As I said, if this were my car I’d want someone to drive it long enough to get it fully warmed up and get all the moisture dried out of the engine and exhaust system.

Some fresh gasoline wouldn’t hurt, either.

Thanks for your help! I did ask her to fill up the gas tank before I left but checking it today it registers as empty. She can’t remember if she did or not, and I going to assume that the fuel gauge is accurate and that she forgot to fill it up. Since it’s been sitting close to empty over a NY winter my guess is that there is now water in the fuel line or tank somewhere. How exactly would I get this out?

Thanks for your help. I plan on driving it again as I’m back home now but the last time it was driven was in September, which, conincidentially, is when the inspection sticker expired. Now if I want to drive it I’ll have to get it reinspected and I’m afraid it won’t pass after having sat this long. To drive it get rid of the problems I’ll need it inspected, but to have it pass it should be driven first. I think I’m screwed… :slight_smile:

If the gas cap was on tight, it should not have a lot of moisture in it. If you fill it with high test gas and add some gasline antifreeeze (alcohol) that should get rid of any water you may have.

start it up, and let it idle until it is warm. Look under it for leaking fluids, I assume an automatic transmission? look for red fluid. (you can get fresh gas in a five gallon can) check the fluid levels all around, and check the tail pipe for smoke. If nothing leaks, and you can rev the engine without a cloud of smoke, you are not screwed. Get it inspected, and if it fails, get a temp operating permit from your dmv and take it to a garage for a tune up.

It is funny you say “the worst thing to do” with regards to the car. The exact thing his mum performed is what a dealership does with a lot lizard car that does not sell. They move cars all about the lot and in New England especially when it snows so they can plow.

My Subaru 2004 WRX was manufactured exactly 1 year(June 2003) before I purchased it (cheaply) in June 2004 as a leftover. It only had 20miles(my test drive) + 15 miles before when delivered. It works perfectly and flawlessly.

Maybe It’s Running Out Of Gas.

If it was running fine 7 months ago, before you parked, it then it’s probably OK. Sometimes you can get a misfire and even have the “Check Engine Light” come on and stay on.

As was recommended, put fresh gasoline in it and try driving it (close to home or mechanic, just in case). It should straighten itself out.

If it gets going properly, you may have to disconnect and reconnect the negative battery cable to turn off the CEL or better yet stop by a big “chain” auto parts store. Most will check for trouble codes that have turned on the light. They’ll let you know and turn the light off for you.

Let us know what happens and we’ll go from there.

CSA