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Vehicle Storage - What say you? #5410967 04/23/20 08:16 AM
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WylieCoyote Offline OP
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Good morning, all,

Just took part in a spirited debate over how one should manage a car that's going to be sitting for a while. No prep was discussed, just what you should and should not do during the course of the storage, of maybe a couple of months. A battery tender was a popular piece of advice to the people who believe they must start the car periodically to charge the battery. That myth was quickly debunked, in favor of a battery tender.

But then the discussion moved into the overall health of the engine if you 1.) Crank it and let it run for a few minutes, or 2.) Just leave it alone. This is where (I think) the conversation took a bad turn. I have a lot of respect for the collective knowledge in this group, so I'd love your input. I'm in the camp "leave it alone, unless you're going to take it for a drive long enough to get the oil up to operating temperature". I made the statement, which I fully believe, that you should just leave it alone, rather than run it for 5 minutes.

Naturally, the armchair mechanics, who claim to be real mechanics, started asserting that everything I believe is false, along with the usual belittlement that I'm not a mechanic, blah blah blah. Condensation! You must start it occasionally to remove condensation! More blah blah blah. I asked politely how they feel condensation is getting inside the engine if its never cranked. The replies continued to get worse, so I removed myself from the group.

What say you on this issue? If your car is going to be sitting for a while, do you crank it and let it run for a few minutes, or do you leave it alone?

Last edited by WylieCoyote; 04/23/20 08:16 AM.

2015 Canyon 3.6
2018 Mustang Ecoboost Convertible
2017 Focus ST
Re: Vehicle Storage - What say you? [Re: WylieCoyote] #5410977 04/23/20 08:26 AM
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SeaJay Offline
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It depends, for a few months I would let it be. If it was to be longer, I would start it every few months, and at a minimum move it a few feet back and forth so it doesn't sit on the tires in one location and to get the gear oil circulated a bit.

Re: Vehicle Storage - What say you? [Re: WylieCoyote] #5410990 04/23/20 08:43 AM
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dwcopple Offline
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I store my Mustang in the winter, usually Nov 1st to April 1st. I pull the battery and bring it in my basement and put a trickle charger on it once a month to keep it topped off. FILL the fuel tank and add stabilizer while filling. Max air pressure in all tires. I pull the airbox because it is easy to do on this car to keep mice from nesting in it. I also put tinfoil rubber banded over the exhaust tips for the same reason. Inside the car I put several dryer sheets to keep pests away. I also use a cheap car cover from Ollies outlet store. Works great. However, mice still made a nest in the valley between the cylinder heads. I shop vac it all out. Mind you, I live on a farm. YMMV with critters.


2017 Acura MDX SH-AWD
2011 Chrysler 200 Limited 3.6L V6
1998 Mustang GT 4.6L V8 convertible
2019 VW Jetta SEL 1.4T
Re: Vehicle Storage - What say you? [Re: WylieCoyote] #5411001 04/23/20 08:49 AM
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Donald Offline
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If you are going to start the engine you need to bring it to normal operating temp for 15 minutes. Most people do not start the engine. Thats probably best. Battery maintainer is what I would suggest, preferably a good one, not a HF one. No need for gas stabilizer for 6 months or less. Mice in vehicle and engine area can be a problem.


2015 Ford F-250 w/Powerstroke
2016 Subaru Crosstrek CVT (wife's)
Re: Vehicle Storage - What say you? [Re: WylieCoyote] #5411028 04/23/20 09:06 AM
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Char Baby Online Content
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I believe in the two schools of thought and you just need to pick one. Same with OPE.

I've been storing cars for over 46 years and I usually leave them sit for the whole 6-7 months without starting them. I do pick a nice warm day for that after winter startup.

Today I do things a bit differently than I did 30-40 yrs ago. For example, the past 20 years, I've used a battery maintainer/tender and use STA*BIL in the gas.

I've been storing the Firebird in my signature for 40 years and have never(that I can remember) started this car during storage. If I have, I just don't remember when that would have been.

I sometimes don't change the oil & filter for 2 years. This isn't to say that I don't take care of this car. I fact, it is beyond well maintained. But, about 2000ish miles is the limit over that same 2ish yrs. The last time I changed the oil/filter was October 2017 and I will do it this summer. It's gone 2050 miles since and the engine oil looks GREAT and the engine runs GREAT even if not a powerhouse.

AGAIN...I do use a STA*BIL in the gas and keep a FULL TANK... and I have NO issues considering we've been using E10 since 1995. Same with my OPE. NO ISSUES!

I do pump up the tires some(~36PSI) but, I DO NOT lift the vehicle off of its springs and let the suspension hang. Others may disagree.

Again, 2 schools of thought. Pick one or a variety of the two.

Last edited by Char Baby; 04/23/20 09:09 AM.

Retired 6 yrs now & lovin' it
-----------------------------------

'80 Firebird FORMULA V8/4bbl-purchased "NEW"
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Re: Vehicle Storage - What say you? [Re: WylieCoyote] #5411029 04/23/20 09:07 AM
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SevenBizzos Offline
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People have such diverse thoughts about storage. I guess it all depends on how long. If we're talking "months", I wouldn't do anything special. Heck, I use fuel stabilizer, disconnect the battery, and we'll see you in the spring (5 months). I've never had to charge the battery and it starts right up when it's time. If we're talking a year or more the game probably changes a little bit.

Unless we have a current and published study of measurable effects of "nothing" versus "a lot of things", there isn't a right answer. There's likely no ill effects to either way.


2018 Ford Edge Sport 22k - Amsoil XL 5W-30, EA15k43
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Re: Vehicle Storage - What say you? [Re: WylieCoyote] #5411030 04/23/20 09:08 AM
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"leave it alone, unless you're going to take it for a drive long enough to get the oil up to operating temperature".

You can leave an engine for months at a time if you live in a low humidity area and preferably have a garage to keep the car stored. If I lived on the coast I wouldn't let my car sit for more than a few weeks without a good run; or a dehumidifier in a climate controlled garage.


'18 Impala
'05 Park Avenue
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Re: Vehicle Storage - What say you? [Re: WylieCoyote] #5411046 04/23/20 09:15 AM
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SteveSRT8 Offline
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I worked for a guy with a HUGE car collection. Their rule was simple.

If you cannot start it and drive it for at least 20-30 minutes then leave it be or start the fixing process to get it ready.

It's not just about the engine, it's about the whole car...


"In a democracy, dissent is an act of faith."
J. William Fulbright
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Re: Vehicle Storage - What say you? [Re: WylieCoyote] #5411062 04/23/20 09:31 AM
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Do not start the car and let it idle. Either leave it be or need to get it up to full operating temp. During the warm up process the engine produces a LOT of water that will sit in the exhaust and oil, plus unburned fuel. Have been storing cars during the winter for 30 years. Here is my normal procedure:

Do an oil change a couple weeks before storage.
Add Stabil and fill tank with ethanol free gas.
Get car up to operating temp.
Park car.
Do not put the emergency brake on.
Put battery maintainer on it.
Inflate tires to 50 psi.
Leave it till it comes out of storage.

Not sure why people lift the car and let the suspension hang. All the bushings will be stressed in this position. Inflate the tires and you will not have flat spot issues.


Mighty Mouse Tech
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Re: Vehicle Storage - What say you? [Re: WylieCoyote] #5411127 04/23/20 10:49 AM
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I store everything, cars, in my sig for the salt season here; ~6 mos. Some of these cars are stored in a house on the water, but humidity has never been a problem over the winter.

My relatively simple ritual, which has served me well for ~25 years, is;

1) Fresh full tank of fuel w/ Sta Bil, MMO added for the older vehicles with steel fuel tanks
2) Oil and filter change
3) Coolant change, brake/clutch fluid flush (only if due)
4) Charge & disconnect battery
5) Inflate tires to max pressure on sidewall

Leave them be until the Spring... If you have to run one, run it long enough to get to operating temp for a good while.


'05 Lotus Elise S/C
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Piper Pa28-236


Re: Vehicle Storage - What say you? [Re: WylieCoyote] #5411134 04/23/20 10:52 AM
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Lubener Offline
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Leave it alone, don't start it unless you plan to drive it on the road. Fill the gas tank. Put a battery tender on it, set it and forget it. You will create condensation in the engine and exhaust by running if briefly in the driveway. I store two vehicle for six months out of the year and this is what I have been doing for 30+ years.

Last edited by Lubener; 04/23/20 10:56 AM.

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Re: Vehicle Storage - What say you? [Re: Lubener] #5411197 04/23/20 12:18 PM
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Tdbo Offline
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Originally Posted by Lubener
Leave it alone, don't start it unless you plan to drive it on the road. Fill the gas tank. Put a battery tender on it, set it and forget it. You will create condensation in the engine and exhaust by running if briefly in the driveway. I store two vehicle for six months out of the year and this is what I have been doing for 30+ years.


This. Only thing I do differently is add Stabil and use a car cover.
Have done this for years without issue.


2012 Honda Accord LX-P 103K
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Re: Vehicle Storage - What say you? [Re: WylieCoyote] #5411199 04/23/20 12:26 PM
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Kira Offline
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Just a query re springs.
Since springs do sag with time, wouldn't raising the car "save them"?
The wheels wouldn't need to be off the ground. Taking 80% (just to make up a number) of the weight off the springs can't be bad.
I've always been into increasing the tire pressure.

Believe it or not, I've heard people cry when I have had to take a minute to bleed off my storage pressure.

Some people are structurally lazy. Some people are fantastically stupid and can't be exposed to anything new.

Re: Vehicle Storage - What say you? [Re: WylieCoyote] #5411240 04/23/20 01:12 PM
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Kawiguy454 Offline
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Leave it alone especially in a cold northern climates. Only exceptions are humid places that are hot in the day and cool at night. The humidity will go into the engine as temp drops and can condense inside. This would be place like Miami or Houston.

Re: Vehicle Storage - What say you? [Re: WylieCoyote] #5411262 04/23/20 01:39 PM
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tomcat27 Offline
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Same as most: and I have been seasonally storing cars, boats, for many years with ZERO problems:
- do NOT start the car off-season
- remove the battery and put it on a tender (or leave it in place, but with a tender)
- I do raise my tires off the ground to avoid flat spots ( I did flat spot two sets of $$ tires when I did NOT raise them); however, I lift by the suspension
- I certainly use Stabil but I am not convinced that it handles ethanol properly, especially with OPE and motorcycles, so I drain the carbs


Question for wings&wheels regarding the Piper: do you have periods of time where you don't use it? Frequently used planes seem to have no problem making it to specified TBO, but many infrequently-used planes have an issue with camshafts rusting (from what I have read)


2019 Cherokee, 2018 Jetta, 2014 Sentra, 2001 Camry, 1995 Escort, 1970 Cougar, 2013 XT250, 2010 Vstar, 2014 CTX1300
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