Bringing work vehicle out of storage

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Jan 2, 2015
Western Washingon, USA
I made a similar post about my personal vehicle being brought out of quasi-storage. This one is a bit different.

Today at work I was told to check on a couple of our work vans that have not been touched since Feb 2020. I've only been here for about a year, and until today our dept wasn't responsible for the vans. I was able to get to one of the vans today, the other is across town. I was told to get them back into shape for use again.

The van is a 2016 RAM ProMaster City SLT Wagon. I don't know mileage but it is likely very low as they were only used a couple times a month at best and driven 10 miles away at most.
When I got to the van it was completely dead, no power at all. We weren't able to get our work truck into the garage it was stored in to jump it due to clearance issues.
Tomorrow I'm bringing out a portable jumper to try and get it going.

Once I get the van going by jump or battery replacement I was planning on taking it for an oil change. Unfortunately due to fleet rules I have to go to Jiffy lube, i'm not thrilled but it's what it is. I was planning a synthetic change.

Would you check or replace any other fluids?
Is there anything else I should look at once I get it out of the garage?

To answer possible questions:
I'm looking for service records but I haven't come up with any yet.
I am planning on doing cabin and engine bay air filters on my own.

Once the change is done i'll take it on the road for an hour or so to try and work out any flat spots in the tires. They looked like they were in good shape visually.

Any other thoughts on what I should do?
Did they give you a budget to work with? Do as much within the budget as you can get away with.

Well, besides oil & filter changes, maybe a tranny fluid change or at least a ATF level check. And also, a differential fluid, coolant & p/s fluid check. Have the batteries Load Tested.

Also check for rodent damage and heavy rust on the brake rotors and sticky drums(if equipped). There is going to be noises while driving and some may go away while driving while others will not. You know, those scrapping noises?
1) Checking fluids is smart (of course) but likely you don't need to jump on an ATF change immediately.

2) Same goes for the engine air filter as they're good for 30K and more. Alas, I don't know about your air quality out there with the fires so it might be time saving to just throw in a new one.

3) I'm a fan of overinflating idled tires to 40 psi THEN take her around the block sedately to feel out the flat spots. You can then lower the pressure.
I also inflate tires going into storage to 40 psi as it's a round number to check (tire against tire) when you recommision the vehicle.

3a) Check the spare for air.

4) Bring some washer fluid or water + rubbing alcohol to see if the squirters work. Give the blades an alcohol wipe-down.

5) When you get her fired up do a lamp check for safety.

6) Once fired up you may want to apply the brakes and put it into D then R. Do this at idle just to send a little "boogie" into the dormant brake hardware.
The van has only been in storage a little over a year and a half. Unless the storage conditions were really bad or the vehicles got hit by rodents, that's really not that long. Some new vehicles sit out on the lot longer than that, although they keep the battery charged up. Of course, the battery would be dead. Some new vehicles can make a battery go dead in less than a month.
Again, unless there are other circumstances, drop in a new battery and try to start it. You want a new battery or that poor alternator will be working at 100% and it will be stressed. Even having it running for an hour or two won't bring that old battery back to life. Check the tires for old age or flat spots. When it starts, burn all the old gas out of it and give the vehicle(s) a good drive, visually inspecting them ahead of time. I wouldn't worry about any of the oils until you've got everything hot and the moisture has somewhat burned off. The vehicle(s) just needs to be started and driven.
Thanks for all of the advice. To answer some questions.

The car has been stored in an actively used parking garage 4 levels below street level, so that should hopefully mitigate damage from smoke, humidity, etc. It does worry me about rodent damage. I found the van covered in dust but no smells or anything unusual inside.

I have been told that fluids, battery, etc can be paid for as long as it's something that is needed. If I can get the car out I was going to take it to an AutoZone or similar and have the battery tested, same with the alt.

My other concern was mentioned in the last post about gas. I didn't see how much was in the tank, but would a water absorber like heet or a system cleaner like techron work to help?
My only major concern would be that the tags are expired. Other than that, a year and a half sitting in a garage won't require anything extensive to put back on the road. Top up the tires. Check fluid levels. Jump, charge or replace the battery. Take it for an oil change and car wash.
My other concern was mentioned in the last post about gas. I didn't see how much was in the tank, but would a water absorber like heet or a system cleaner like techron work to help?
I wouldn't worry about the gas too much unless you have issues starting, however the first thing I would do after it starts is get some fresh gas.
As i stated on other threads I bought the Elantra that was sitting for over a year, outside in a grassy field and under 6ft of snow all winter. I jumped the battery and drove it away this past summer.. I did change the oil the following day “just because” but I ran the same gas In it no problems until about 1/4 then filled it up. Not even a check engine light nor abs traction control, or brake light. Everything functioned perfectly even the battery! I did upgrade the brakes, sway bar links and changed transmission fluid and coolant a couple weeks later, with other maintenance items but I could of just ran it if needed. The car gave me no issues regarding the gas, nor did it smell or run funny… I’m sure you will be fine. Fill it up and change the oil check psi in tires and motor away. 😀
Well today was pretty much a failure. I went in with 2 different battery jumpers and while the engine turned over it never started. I also learned its almost out of gas, which is a good and bad thing I suppose. Tomorrow someone is bringing a couple gallons of gas and a new battery as I wasn't able to pick one up today.
Got it working today. Added some gas, replaced the batteries and after a few cranks it started up.
Drove it to jiffy lube (per company) changed oil, topped off fluids, filled tires with air.

Now at a tire shop waiting on a rotation and inspection.

The van had a CEL for the first couple miles of driving but it went away on its own. So far I've put on 30 miles of mixed freeway and city and it hasn't come back.

There was a slight vibration in the back end on the freeway but it improved and pretty much went away after 10 miles.

Everything else seems good. No odd noises or other problems so far.
Everything else seems good. No odd noises or other problems so far.
While your intentions are commendable, it sounds like your employer doesn't feel the need for the extensive check-ups you want to do. It's only been sitting for ~18 months, not a decade too, so since it's doing good at the moment, just drive it and maintain it as you're allowed to.
Yeah. It kind of slipped through the cracks due to some department changes, layoffs, etc. They want me to just watch after it, drive it around a couple times a month if its not being used.
Every time you park it park it with a full tank of gas and make sure it has been driven for at least 10 miles continually so everything is nice and hot.
Also run the a/c to keep the seals lubricated.
DO NOT set the parking brake, if it rusts it will seize and you’ll never get it to move.
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