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Restarting my Camry after a year sitting idle


I have a '94 Camry that has not been started in a year. I’d like to either see if I can get it running again or donate it somewhere. But I heard recently that the onboard computer in a Camry has to be restarted if it’s been idle a certain time. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to get any life signs when I tried to jump start it. Is this computer issue true?


I don’t see any reason to think the computer needs anything other than electrical power from a good 12 volt battery. It will reset itself and begin adapting to current conditions as the engine runs and the car is driven.

You’ll probably need a new battery. Jumping may not be enough.

If this were my car I’d first check the air filter housing for evidence of rodents. Clean if necessary.

Then I’d remove the spark plugs, squirt a small amount of motor oil into each cylinder, then turn the engine with the starter a few times to distribute the oil on the cylinder walls, then reconnect the spark plugs and try to start the engine.

The biggest potential problem I see is with the gasoline, which may have started to go bad, depending on how much is in the tank and whether or not it was treated with stabilizer prior to being parked.

I know, “What’s stabilizer?”

If you’ve already tried to start the engine, what, exactly, happened?

thanks! I hooked the battery up to one of those battery packs, the kind triple a brings out on a call. it was fully charged and when I turned the key there was absolutely nothing. no click from the starter or anything. there is probably half a tank of gas with no stabilizer added after the last time we drove the car.

Since the car has been sitting unused for a long period of time I’d remove the battery cables and clean the terminals and battery posts good. There’s a good chance there’s some corrosion there preventing the power from reaching the starter. Also check to make sure your connections at the grounding point and starter are clean and tight.

Was the car running normally when you parked it a year ago?

I have experience w/92 Toyotas, and there is no computer-restart issue with them when the battery goes dead. A freshly charged battery (or a new one) is all you need. Those AAA battery-pack jump starts won’t work sometimes if the battery is severely discharged, which is likely the case after a year. I think you should have your battery recharged and tested. Sears will usually do this for free, so take it there if one is nearby. They’ll also tell you if your battery is shot, in which case you’ll have to buy a new one. Once you get a good battery in, and you have gas in the tank, the car will likely start right up if it was running ok when you parked it a year ago. Or at least it should crank w/no problem. You need to get a good battery in the car first. Then you can diagnose from there if it still won’t start.

One more thing. I think on newer cars sometimes a severely discharged battery can confuse those key-dongle electronic key things. Sometimes they need to be rekeyed. If your car has just a regular key, then it isn’t an issue. The only other thing I can think of if the battery has been out for a long time has to do with the radio. Some expensive car radios/stereos have a security code that gets messed up if the battery goes dead. But that wouldn’t prevent the car from starting. I suppose some car security anti-car-theft electronic add-on gadgets could have this same problem, so if your car has a super-duper anti-theft electronic gadget on it, consult the manufacturer to see if that could be the problem.