Car not driven for a year


Last December I moved to the US from Europe where I left behind my 2000 BMW 316 with a 1.9 lit. gasoline engine. A cousin of mine tried unsuccessfully to sell the car, which remains until now parked outside my mother’s house. At last attempt yesterday he tried to start it but the car didn’t start. It hasn’t been driven for several months. I plan to be back there in November and I wonder what my course of action should be. Should I try to charge the battery or just go buy a new one? Thank you.

So, do you have a no-crank problem or an actual wont start issue. Depending on the quality of the battery and age, just replace it and save a lot of hassle. In the mean time, while you’re still in the States, have someone jump start the car and let it run for about an hour. If it restarts, or even starts at all then you’ll have no other issues. I think you’re going to have a bigger problem with the gas not having enough octane to even ignite because it sat for several months.

If the battery is currently 5 years old or more, and it won’t crank the car, don’t waste any time on it. Old maintenance free batteries that have been dead tend not to survive the experience.

The car should be OK. The gas should even be good enough to run the car after a year, though I would add some fresh gas right away. Knowing what you know now, some gasoline stabilizer added a year ago would have been nice.

You say the car has not been driven for several months. Was it driven regularly before that? When a BMW is parked for an extended period, you may find that the engine surges a bit between 2k and 3k RPM. If this does not clear up after a few weeks, you may have flat spots in the O-Rings in the VANOS actuators that won’t seat anymore after a year of inactivity. Replacing them is not too hard. BMW does not sell the O-rings as separate parts, but aftermarket vendors do.

Thanks for the reply. I’m not sure why the car won’t start but I’m suspecting the battery is dead. It is relatively new, I bought last August and the car was driven until November 2009. My other concern is the oil. I’m afraid it will be solid after a year of not driving. Should I even try to drive the car to a garage or add some new oil to the engine? Thanks.

Thanks for the reply. The car was driven regularly up until I left in November of 2009. I got a new battery in August of 2009 so it will be just over a year old when I get there in November. I will check about the o-rings.

Car batteries degrade much faster when they sit for a peroid of time in a discharged state. Therefore if you can have someone put a charger on the battery now, or as soon as possible that gives you a better chance of saving the battery.

The oil will not turn “solid”, but is should be changed. Your real problem is the gas going bad from sitting in the tank a long time. If you put a fuel stabilizer in the gas before you left the car then you should be OK. If not, you might be best to drain the old gas from the tank, and put in a few gallons of fresh gas when you go to start the car. If the old gas has damaged the fuel injectors or other parts of the fuel system it either might not run, or run poorly until you figure out what is damaged.

Hopefully a charged battery is all you need.

Thank you. How would you suggest draining the old gas? Is there a better way than sucking it out from the tank inlet?