How to restart car after 19 months?



My 96 Honda Accord has been sitting in my

garage for 19 months. It was in very good

running condition when I put it there.

What should I do now, before starting it up

and running it?


First, make sure the battery will take a charge, and charge it fully. In all likelihood, it ran down, froze and needs to be replaced. If the battery case is cracked, be very careful not to get burned by spilled acid. Buy the biggest battery that fits in the car; it will take a lot of juice to get the car turned over. If it still does not turn over you may have to pour some solvent into the spark plug holes, and turn it over manually. I suggest you hire a mechanic to do this, as you can do a lot of damage if not done right.

The gasoline has probably gone skunky; if it smells nasty, not like typisal gasoline, syphon it out and replace with a full tank of high test gas. Even if it smells normal, it is a good idea to replace as much of the old gas as possible.

Check that the fluids (coolant, oil, brake fluid, power steering )are up the right level, then try to start it. With some luck, it will start, and allow you to warm it up before driving it.

Now that you have it running, take it to a good mechanice to have the oil and filter chnaged, probably the air filter ,and change the transmission fluid and filter if this was not done by the previous driver/owner. All belts and hoses should be checked as well and the coolant tested for strengt, and changed if dirty.

If the timing belt had not been changed, this should be done right away since a 1996 Honda should by now be on its third timing belt.

If all this seems very elaborate, it is what a professional would do, to ensure that the vehicle would keep running after startup and not have a major breakdown soon after.

If you or the driver had done all the maintenance previously, you would only budget for:

  1. Oil and filter chnage
  2. New air filter
  3. Maybe some belts and hoses
  4. New battery

Most of these posts deal with a son or daughter leaving home to go overseas, and leaving no history of mainteance behind.

In that case, add:

  1. Timing belt, water pump and tensioner $600
  2. Cooling system flush $100
    3 Transmission fluid change 80
  3. Possible wheel alignment and tire replacement $???

If you tell us what maintenance was done before the car was left, we can tell you what items MUST be addressed.


Charge the battery or install a new one. Check all fluid levels. Disconnect the spark plugs and crank the engine for 10-15 seconds to get some oil moving through the engine. Reconnect the spark plugs and start it.

Check the pressure in the tires before you drive off, and go easy on the brakes for the first few stops.

I hope you stored it without applying the parking brake, and that the fuel tank was full.


The only thing I will add is that it’s possible anyway to have a non-operative fuel pump or a pump that may fail soon after getting it up and running again. Aged gasoline can do them in.


The only think I can add is that you should have presented this question 19 months ago. We would have given you some simple cheap things to do to make getting your car back into service quick, easy and cheap. Now it might be a little more involved.


Thanks for all the replies!
It is my car. I bought a new one, and was planning to sell the old one soon but just
didn’t get around to it. That’s the plan – get it running and try to sell it now.

Before letting it sit, I had maintained it according to schedule.
And it is in San Diego so hopefully the lack of freezing limited the damage some.


14-15 Year-Old Accord - Charge Or Replace The Battery, Sit In Car, Turn The Key, Hope It Runs.

Make sure the brakes still work before you play chicken with a Tour Bus.

You don’t mention the climate in your area. I’ve had gasoline last longer than what you’re talking about, here.

Joseph is right. You should have asked this question on the other end.

If it doesn’t start then have it towed or post the results here and we’ll have some fun with it.