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About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: Bo
Date: July 06, 2020 05:41PM
My son is finally getting his license and he gets our old 2004 Volvo C70 which has been sitting dormant for over 2 years now...as in literally dormant and not started at all.

I need to replace the battery first as it was dying before we stopped driving it. My recollection is the alternator was failing as well so I'll likely dig in and replace that.

Will check over the tires and inflate to correct pressure assuming they are visually okay.

Should I top all fluids up first or drain what I can then top them up?
Anything to do with fuel? add more good fuel first? Additives?
Critical to do oil change before starting it?

Ideally I'd do the basics to just see if I can start it then perform tasks as needed prior to actually driving it.

Open to any and all input!
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: lost in space
Date: July 06, 2020 05:47PM
I had a similar situation when we went to live overseas. Cars sat 2 years. One started up as if we'd driven it the day before, the other needed a battery charge. Using my former-mechanic intuition, before starting I checked engine fluid levels, let each one warm up, then changed oil and filters. Drove both cars for years after, no probs. DO pay attention to how the brakes work first time out! Ours were a little noisy with the light rust from the moisture that had condensed on the brake rotors. This was in a dry climate, and cars were under a shelter, but I don't know how much that mattered.



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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: GGD
Date: July 06, 2020 05:48PM
Watch some videos from Vice Grip Garage, here's one starting a car that sat for 17 years. His videos are pretty long but very amusing.

[www.youtube.com]
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: ztirffritz
Date: July 06, 2020 05:54PM
I'd change oil and gas, or at least dilute the gas in the tank with fresh.



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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: July 06, 2020 05:57PM
Change the oil and flush the brake fluid (which is hydroscopic and supposed to be flushed every 2-3 years). Check the tires. With them sitting so long, they may have developed flat spots or dry rotted. Check the air filter. I would also look for any signs of animal habitation. Mice love to nest in cars that haven't been used.
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: davester
Date: July 06, 2020 06:09PM
I'd agree with the above...change oil, get some fresh gas in there, flush and bleed brakes (suck out the old fluid from the reservoir with a turkey baster first, then put in new and bleed the brakes to get the water-contaminated fluid out of the lines and calipers. I would also add a container of gas system cleaner to the gas tank to try to reduce the amount of varnish in the system.

Also, since all the bearings and other working surfaces such as cylinder walls are going to have drained down and will likely be dry by now, you need to make sure that they are lubricated before starting to avoid damage. To do this, pull each spark plug and put a SMALL squirt of oil in there. Then crank the engine over with the spark plugs or coil wire disconnected until you have oil pressure showing on the gauge (or the idiot light goes out). Only then should you connect everything and try to start the car. The reason for doing this is that if you start the car when there is no lubrication the bearings and cylinder walls/pistons may get scuffed and damaged from metal-to-metal high impact-force contact. This happened to my brother's car.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/06/2020 06:10PM by davester.
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: Z
Date: July 06, 2020 06:33PM
Maybe a squirt of WD40 or some other light oil into the spark plugs holes before you turn it over.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/06/2020 06:34PM by Z.
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: July 06, 2020 07:27PM
Quote
davester
I'd agree with the above...change oil, get some fresh gas in there, flush and bleed brakes (suck out the old fluid from the reservoir with a turkey baster first, then put in new and bleed the brakes to get the water-contaminated fluid out of the lines and calipers. I would also add a container of gas system cleaner to the gas tank to try to reduce the amount of varnish in the system.

Also, since all the bearings and other working surfaces such as cylinder walls are going to have drained down and will likely be dry by now, you need to make sure that they are lubricated before starting to avoid damage. To do this, pull each spark plug and put a SMALL squirt of oil in there. Then crank the engine over with the spark plugs or coil wire disconnected until you have oil pressure showing on the gauge (or the idiot light goes out). Only then should you connect everything and try to start the car. The reason for doing this is that if you start the car when there is no lubrication the bearings and cylinder walls/pistons may get scuffed and damaged from metal-to-metal high impact-force contact. This happened to my brother's car.

I would be careful with fuel additives. Some manufacturers recommend that they not be used.

Quote
Z
Maybe a squirt of WD40 or some other light oil into the spark plugs holes before you turn it over.

Not sure about the use of WD40 in an engine cylinder. It's flammable and I'd be concerned about pre-ignition and potential damage. On a 16 year old car, I don't think I would worry about wearing cylinder walls as long as there's oil pressure. I started a Ford 351W that had been sitting for more than 10 years without issue.
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: Cary
Date: July 06, 2020 07:31PM
I'd change the oil and filter, pull the plugs, squirt a few drops of oil into each cylinder, and turn over the engine for a bit before reinstalling the plugs and trying to start.

I'd also change brake fluid, as mentioned.
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: Speedy
Date: July 06, 2020 07:56PM
Start them and drive them. Stick to your normal maintenance schedule.

Next time this happens, treat the gas with a stabilizer or for your last few fills before parking it, fill with ethanol-free gas. Buy a battery maintainer to save your battery.



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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: Racer X
Date: July 06, 2020 08:12PM
Quote
ztirffritz
I'd change oil and gas, or at least dilute the gas in the tank with fresh.

Yeah, if you have a decent sized gas can, or can borrow one, 5 gallons of fresh if it fits will help. I have a 5 and 2 2s.

I'd run it until it fully warms up, then change oil and filter. Believe it or not, Costco Kirkland synthetic is one hell of a bargain. And use a premium filter, OEM, WIX or Purolator One or BOSS. Then you don't need to worry about oil changes for a year or two. Check air filter too. Might be mice/rats in the housing.

Or Amazon Basics Synthetic, same oil, and the Purolators can be sourced from Prime as well. I'd buy locally, but no one convenient carries Purolator Ones or BOSS.

And tell the kid Tier One gas. And if you have AAA, add the kid, its cheap. Then they call AAA, NOT you.



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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/06/2020 08:20PM by Racer X.
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: Bo
Date: July 07, 2020 12:09AM
Excellent...lots of great feedback and tips here!

And Davester, thanks for the kind offer to bring beer and come on over to take care of all this for me...very generous indeed! Oh wait...did I misread your post?! winking smiley

Follow up: spark plugs and a little oil no problem but I've never understood how to "crank the engine over with the spark plugs or coil wire disconnected" Is this something I do manually by turning the crankshaft once the belts are off? Keep in mind, I am merely a youtube mechanic that likes to tinker.

Racer X: AAA is a no brainer here, good call. And I only ever did top tier gas and will recommend the same but you know...teenagers
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: davester
Date: July 07, 2020 12:15AM
Quote
Bo
Follow up: spark plugs and a little oil no problem but I've never understood how to "crank the engine over with the spark plugs or coil wire disconnected" Is this something I do manually by turning the crankshaft once the belts are off? Keep in mind, I am merely a youtube mechanic that likes to tinker.

Nope. You just put the key in and turn it to start. That way the engine will turn and the oil pump will pump oil to all the bearings and cylinder walls without starting the engine.

If I'm going to help you do this I will need you to supply the beer!



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: Bo
Date: July 07, 2020 12:28AM
Quote
davester
Quote
Bo
Follow up: spark plugs and a little oil no problem but I've never understood how to "crank the engine over with the spark plugs or coil wire disconnected" Is this something I do manually by turning the crankshaft once the belts are off? Keep in mind, I am merely a youtube mechanic that likes to tinker.

Nope. You just put the key in and turn it to start. That way the engine will turn and the oil pump will pump oil to all the bearings and cylinder walls without starting the engine.

Okay, that is more straightforward than I was imagining

Quote
davester
If I'm going to help you do this I will need you to supply the beer!

Careful...beer is cheap, time is not!
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: tenders
Date: July 07, 2020 04:42AM
Two years is a pretty long time. Old ethanol-laced fuel becomes incredibly nasty over time; I wouldn't dilute the existing gas with fresh gas. You run the risk of creating more bad gas. I'd get as much of the old gas out of the tank as possible first with a long siphon hose.
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: rich in distress
Date: July 07, 2020 07:11AM
I love this place. You guys crack me up, and I get to learn so much...
Thanks!!
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: July 07, 2020 09:13AM
Start them and drive them.


Or "it" in this case.

I pretty much agree.

You have or are replacing the battery, the obvious first move.

If it starts, great.

Move on to the other things such as get some fresh gas as a precaution.

It started, but that may not happen the next time.

I'd toss some Sea Foam in it to help disperse water that will have accumulated.

From there it's service the brakes or have it done, depending on your comfort level, along with all the other maintenance moves - oil/filter change, check the plugs, air filter, etc., basically a tune up.

Then take a look at the cooling system and make sure it's up to snuff.

Some people have incredible luck with dormant vehicles, others not so much.

Let us know how you fare.




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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: July 07, 2020 09:14AM
....car.......park......



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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: Bo
Date: July 07, 2020 11:58AM
One more follow up:

Does it make sense to hold off on the alternator and not waste the time & energy until I do all the main fluids and battery first just to make sure it starts?

Alternator seems to be a pain in this car and I don't want to go down that route until I know the car even starts.
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: blooz
Date: July 07, 2020 12:07PM
Will the tires still be good after two years of not moving? Just asking if there could be rot on the part on the round all this time.



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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: Z
Date: July 07, 2020 12:28PM
Should start with a fresh battery, working alternator or not. If you have a multimeter, it'll tell you whether or not the alternator is charging once you've got it running. The B52X4 alternator swap should be similar to this.

This testing outline should be similar between the C70 and the 850 - Volvo 850 Alternator Service.

How old is the battery? If it was 4-5 years, it simply may have been at the end of its run and the alternator was but a red herring.
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: Bo
Date: July 07, 2020 12:57PM
Quote
blooz
Will the tires still be good after two years of not moving? Just asking if there could be rot on the part on the round all this time.

Certainly going to look them over as well as check pressure and fill accordingly (I have an air compressor). And once running, will likely get new tires anyway.
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: Bo
Date: July 07, 2020 01:21PM
Quote
Z
Should start with a fresh battery, working alternator or not. If you have a multimeter, it'll tell you whether or not the alternator is charging once you've got it running. The B52X4 alternator swap should be similar to this.

This testing outline should be similar between the C70 and the 850 - Volvo 850 Alternator Service.

How old is the battery? If it was 4-5 years, it simply may have been at the end of its run and the alternator was but a red herring.

Robert is my go to Volvo YouTube guy and that video you linked is my main reference for the alternator job (along with this one for same engine but non-turbo which has some procedural variations: [www.youtube.com]). Definitely like watching Robert DIY and find myself sometimes just watching him for non volvo info...great channel.

Thanks to for the testing link. Helpful that it gets very specific about contact points for continuity...that's where I'm kind of at the edge of my understanding with the multimeter.

Battery is 8 years old now (installed 3/2012) though dormant for the last two.
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: Z
Date: July 07, 2020 02:32PM
Battery was likely toward EOL when you stopped driving it.
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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: d4
Date: July 07, 2020 05:25PM
Maybe splurge and bring it in for an inspection?
New wiper blades and an Evergreen tree air freshener dangler.



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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: July 07, 2020 09:57PM
....burn baby burn.......????



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Re: About to start a car after 2 years sitting dormant...any particular things I should do?
Posted by: fauch
Date: July 08, 2020 04:37PM
I would drain as many/much of the fluids as I can. For sure oil change and get as much of the stale gas out of the tank as you can. For sure check the tires (or maybe just change them if they are old). Rubber Rot is a real thing...

Definitely don't invest in an alternator until you see if there is even anything to alternate...
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