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Starting an improperly stored car

I have a 1982 Alfa Romeo Spider that has been stored without doing any of the things one is supposed to do before storing a car. I rebuilt the engine and transmission and needed to change the starter. I thought I’d get around to finishing the work the following week, then the week after that… now it’s a couple years. I just replaced the starter, charged the battery. I need to get it started. What should I worry about?

I should say it’s got Bosch electronic ignition and fuel injection, not points and the weird old Spica mechanical injection.

Thanks for the help. Wife says the cars got to go if I want a new guitar and amp. Suddenly I’m in a hurry.

Check with the condition of the gas in the gas tank by smelling down the filler tube. If it doesn’t smell like gas, but instead has an acrid odor to it, you’re going to have a fuel system issue with the engine.


Check and make sure it’s still got oil, transmission fluid if it’s an automatic, maybe think about putting in new fuel if, as Tester said, you suspect that the fuel has gone bad, and then get ready to fire it up.

Here is an idea that I will let others debate, but something that I’ve done with cars in similar situations in the past:

Since your car is fuel injected, pull the fuse that powers the fuel pump, and also pull whatever fuse powers the ignition system. Basically, eliminate fuel and spark, maybe by pulling the ECM fuse. On carbureted engines, I just pull the coil wire and don’t pump the throttle. Then get in and crank the motor over with the starter. Crank it for a few seconds, give it a rest, give it a few more seconds, give it a rest, and go again until the oil pressure light goes off (or the oil pressure gauge registers pressure).

The point of that is to get oil pressure built up in the engine without the stress of the combustion cycle and 1000+ RPM. After you see some oil pressure registering (it’s possible that you may not get any even after a lot of cranking, but you’ll have at least moved some oil up in to the engine), replace whatever fuses you removed, and fire it up.

The motor was just rebuilt and never started after the rebuild? Usually starting a motor up after a rebuilt is a bit different due to all the new parts and the motor being “dry”.

I’d go with something like the process recommended by Mr Josh. Slight addition is to pull the plugs and shot some oil in the cylinders and crank a bit with the plugs out to circulate the oil. Then put the plugs in and fire it up.

The old gas is a problem but not much you can do about varnish that might be in the injector system. If you can drain the tank an refill with a couple of gallons of fresh fuel that would be good. If you can’t start the car and get some fresh gas in it as soon as you can.

Thanks for the responses. The car was started and driven for a couple months after the engine rebuild and runs beautifully. The starter needed replacing along with a couple other things which is why it’s been sitting.

Anybody have any thoughts on fuel stabilizer? I read something online about adding it to the fuel in these cases. Any concern about any seals drying out?

Fuel stabilizer don’t work on gas that has already gone bad. The idea of a fuel stabilizer is to add it to the gas before it goes bad.


“…Wife says the cars got to go if I want a new guitar and amp. Suddenly I’m in a hurry.”

Just tell her to take a hike, problem solved.

Gee, I hope you treat your wife better than a beat up old car. Me, I love my wife. If I loved the car, I’d have fixed it a long time ago. Cost of new music gear is about the same as what I can get for the car. More that anything, my wife wants the driveway back. Does this make more sense to you now?

Just drop a note when you start it up and tell us the results.