Cars not driven for 2 years

I’ve seen a lot of discussion about cars not driven for 6 months, but ours are in another league. We’ve been abroad for 2 years and our cars (a Jeep Liberty and a Mini Cooper S) have been sitting in our cool, dry garage the whole time.

We put fuel stabilizer in at the beginning, and added another dose after 12 months. We put the cars on jacks so that the tires are not in contact with the floor. And, we disconnected the batteries.

I’ve heard everything from “the fuel will separate and ruin the engine” to “no worries, just charge the batteries and go.”

Is the answer for 2 years of inactivity the same as for 6 months? Or are we in trouble?

Thanks, all!


Fuel stabilizers last only sixteen months. So what you should try is starting the engines. If they start then they’re probably good to go. If they don’t want to start then you might be dealing with bad gas in the gas tanks.


When you added the fuel stabilizer did you run the engine for 10 min. or so to allow the stabilized fuel to be pulled through the fuel lines and into the motor? If the answer is yes, you should be in good shape as far as fuel is concerned.

When storing motors for prolonged periods it is advisable to “fog” the motor which shooting an areosol spray into the motor as it is running. The stuff in the areosol is oily and coats the interior of the motor, pistons, rings, valves, and cylinder heads. Another way to do this is remove the spark plugs and shoot some oil in each cylinder and crank the engine (without starting it) to spread the oil around. It seems you did not do that.

The tires, springs, etc, should be ok since you put the car on jacks. To fire it up charge the batteries. Check all the fluids, oil, coolant, brakes, etc. to make sure they are out to the normal service range and there were no leaks.

If you start the motors as is, the pistons may have made marks on the cylinder walls from sitting so long without moving. Is that a problem? It could be, if the cylinder walls are pitted and scared as a result. It may be worthwhile to pull the plugs and squirt the oil in each cylinder now. If the plugs are easy to get to consider it, if not just go ahead and start the engine. If you shot oil into each cylinder when you finally start the motor the plugs will be “fouled” with oil and the motor will catch and run rough for a bit and should smooth out to normal in about a minute.

If you hear any loud screeching noises stop the motor and check that the alternator is spinning, and the water pump is spinning. Sometimes these parts can seize up when they sit a long time.

When running let the cars idle for a few minutes to warm the motor. This is a good time to watch for any leaks from hoses. Then put them in drive and drive slowly. The brake pads may be stuck to the rotors so you may need some power and feel a jolt as the rotors break free of the pads. Next try a few gentle stops to clean off any rust on the rotors before you resume normal driving in traffic. Check the brake petal to assure it is firm and doesn’t sink toward the floor.

When driving the car watch that the guages, they should go to the normal range on the temperature and oil pressure guages.

Hopefully, all will go smoothly and you’ll enjoy being on the road again.

Since they added stabilizer at the beginning and again at a year they should be OK there. Actually with luck and a full tank and cool conditions you could likely go two years with nothing added to the fuel, but I would use the stabilizer.

You should be ready to go. The batteries will need a charge and they may need to be replaced. You are due for an oil change and a brake fluid replacement after two years even if you don’t drive it.

Good luck, you did well and I doubt if you are going to experience any problems.

The cool, dry garage was perfect conditions. The batteries may or may not take a charge. If the oil was changed just before lay-up, it should be OK without changing again…If there is room in the tanks, fill them with fresh gas, check the tire pressure.

As others have said, you should be ready to go. Just look out for the spiders that have nested in both of them.



You all have been remarkably helpful. Thanks! I’m breathing easier and we’ll see how it goes. Please remember to cross your fingers for me in 4 weeks when I turn the ignition. :slight_smile:

UncleTurbo, I did not start the engine after dumping the fuel stabilizer in. I should have asked this question earlier! Given my own lack of mechanical prowess, I think I’ll have to go the “turn the key and see what happens” route. If I hear any screeching, I’ll tow the cars to our mechanic.

Thank you!

You should be OK even without running the engine after treating the fuel. It might be a little rough starting, but after the fuel has had a chance to flow though, it should be just fine. Now years ago when we had carburetors it could have caused problems, but it is not likely with modern fuel systems.