Unexpected long term car maintenance - potential problems?


#1

Well, I rented an outside parking spot for my 2005 Nissan Xterra at a public storage place in Denver, CO, with the intention that it was only going to be a few months. But it turned into about a year. I have not had the chance to check on it since then because I have been in another state.



I didn’t realize that all kinds of bad things could happen when you store a car without proper preparation and I’m a little afraid of what I might find when I go to get my car.



Another issue is that I’m going to get my car so I can move it and any stuff I can fit inside it to California.



I was wondering if anyone could tell me what potential problems I can expect and what kind of maintenance I should do before driving it across the country. Also, will this end up being very costly?


#2

Whoops the question should read: Unexpected Long Term Car STORAGE - potential problems? I don’t see an edit feature.


#3

Inflate the tires as needed and inspect them for sidewall cracks. IF the tires were flat, they may well have cracks. Replace as necessary. It’s not wise to drive with cracked tires.

Recharge the battery or replace it as it will likely be flat by now.

Check for rodents nests in heating/cooling ducts and the air intake (remove the air filter and check the throttle body for ‘campers’.

Have a quick inspection of all visible wiring (including plug wires) for signs of rodent chewing.

Hopefully something hasn’t set up house keeping in the exhaust.

Check all fluid levels
If ok, start the engine and let idle until the oil pressure comes up. (Do not race the engine to warm it up)

Once warmed up, turn the heating and A/C on with the fan on full speed (change the air flow to different settings).

Hopefully, you did NOT set the PARKING brake before you left as it MAY be seized with rust.

If those components are working, it should be safe to move the vehicle enough to test the brakes.

If they are good, have all the fluids and needed filters replaced before driving to California.

Don’t forget the tranny fluid and filter/screen.

Check the wiper blades as they may need replacing.


#4

Thank you so much for your tips Roadrunner!!!

I never even thought about any critters shacking up inside the car.

I DID set the parking brake. If it is seized with rust, do you know if there is any way for me to loosen it?

Thank you again for taking the time to respond to my post. I really appreciate it.


#5

To try to free a parking brake, you go to the back wheel area and move the cables around until they aren’t tight. If your battery as completely dead, you may need a new one. If it was disconnected when you parked it, then it might still be good.


#6

I didn’t disconnect the battery, so it’s looking like I’m going to have to buy a new one. Thank you for the tip on loosening the parking brake!


#7

Try what PDV suggested and wiggle the parking brake lines (They’ll be encased in a plastic or metal sheathing.

If that doesn’t work, loosen the wheel stud nuts a LITTLE then jack the wheel clear, remove the nuts and wheel.

Now you can see the Parking brake better. If the brake is seized and the drum (I think this has rear drums) won’t turn, tap firmly all around the drum until you can turn the drum easily.
You don’t want to hit the drum too hard as you may damage it.

Not being a tech and therefore not knowing if the brakes are self-adjusting on this vehicle, I don’t know if there is a ratchet wheel brake adjuster inside the hub.

Look behind the brake drum for an oval shaped rubber insert. If there is one, pry it out (don’t lose it) and using a screwdriver, slack off the adjusting wheel.

If you get the brake loose and can remove the drum, spray a penetrating fluid on the rusted pivot points of the parking brake linkages.

Do NOT get any penetrating fluid on the drum or brake shoes.

You can use a brake cleaner for that and other brake components.


#8

You could try jumping or a trickle charger on the battery but planning to have an option there with you would be a good idea. Your battery may recover. Expect even if your parking brake does not stick the brakes will be a little weird for a while. I had a car parked a while and thought the rotors were warped from a pulsating pedal sensation, and brakes just not feeling right but it ended up being self healing. Some windex and paper towels would be a good idea. Hope all works and you are pleasantly surprised.


#9

Thank you for the added tips RR. I think they are a little beyond my poor capabilities, but if someone stumbles upon this thread and is having a similar issue, maybe it will help them. Geez this has taught me a lesson. I need to really need to understand how my car works and how I can better take care of it…


#10

Thanks waterboy. If it doesn’t start I’ll probably use my AAA for once and have them try to jump it, and if that doesn’t work I can have them tow it to a mechanic. Also thanks for the heads up on the weird brake problem. I’m sure that would have freaked me out.


#11

This is on a related note, but does anyone think I should take the potentially icy/snowy route going through Colorado, Utah and Nevada back to CA or would it be a better idea not to stress the car out in that way and take the slightly longer yet sunnier and supposedly easier route that goes down through New Mexico and Arizona?