CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Starting/Running a Car after 4 Months

I was out of the country for just over four months and left my car keys with a neighbor. They were planning to start the car and drive it a few miles every week. Unfortunately this didn’t happen!



So, I am going to need to start my car after four months of it sitting in the driveway. And I am not sure what I need to do. Any recommendations would be a huge help!



I drive a 1998 Mercury Sable GS with 149,000 miles on it.

If the battery was left in the vehicle over this time, that may be the first issue. If so, you want to charge the battery prior to starting the engine. If you just put a jump on the battery to start the engine, and then ask the alternator to recharge the discharged battery, it can damage the alternator.

Once the battery is charged, turn the ignition switch to the run position so that the dash lights come on for two seconds and then turn the ignition switch off. Repeat this a half dozen times so it reprimes the fuel system. Try starting the engine and it should start.

This is more like long term parking. Not long term storage.

Tester

Sitting for 4 months isn’t a big deal at all. Get in and start it up. If the battery is run down get a jump start and go for a drive to charge up the battery. For 4 months it was probably better that the car just sat instead of short drives every week or two.

This is what comes with every remanufactured alternator I install.

Tester

They may put that warning on rebuilt alternators , but I have been jump starting cars with dead batteries and simply driving them to charge them sinc well before alternators came out ( about 1960 ) and never experianced any alternator problems as a result.

Chrysler alternators love to die if you attempt to charge your battery, or even jump another one. At least the older ones do…

1999 FORD F 150 LEFT FOR THRE WEEKS AND FOUR DAYS ON A SMALL SLOPE IN THE DRIVE WAY.
BATTRY CRANKS GOOD.SHOWS A HALF TANK OF GAS, I ADDED THREE GALLONS MORE, STILL WONT START.
CAN I PRIME THE ENGINE??? AND HOW.

Way to hijack the thread, make your own.

A few miles every week is not good. As noted four months is more of a long park than storage. A batter tender (a special battery charger designed for this kind of use) would be ideal and all that should be needed.

Those short drives every week or two would harm the engine by adding moisture and not bringing the engine up to full operating temperature long enough to get rid of that moisture.

Start if up and give it a good 30 minute run. You likely will need to have the battery charged to get it started.

No major worries except possible dead battery.

Charge the battery and then turn the key.

The start every week bit is an old mechanics(wife’s) tale. Not needed. Just disconnect the battery before leaving longer than 2-3 months.