Cars that aren't started frequently

Joined
Jan 23, 2014
Messages
533
Location
Australia
I don't use my car on weekdays, so it only gets started once every 6-7 days. Also, I go overseas at times for up to 2-3 months and the car isn't started in that time. Does this do any harm? Are there any precautions I should take?
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2011
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419
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None
Either plug the battery to a battery tender or simply unplug the battery completely to avoid the car draining it.
 
Joined
Jul 29, 2013
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1,900
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Villa Park, IL
Originally Posted By: Noobie
Either plug the battery to a battery tender or simply unplug the battery completely to avoid the car draining it.
If the battery is unplugged, will it not drain at all? there has got to be some loss right?
 
Joined
Jul 3, 2005
Messages
36,333
Location
NY
I always had two vans up until a few years ago. One would sit weeks at a time if not months, depending. I still have one of those vans. No problems to report in over 27 years of ownership. My last battery lasted almost 14 years. No disconnecting the battery, or battery tenders. The engine runs fine with no oil use either. Two to three months is not a long time. My comments are based on my experiences since 1986 when I first had two vans. Opinions vary.
 
Joined
Dec 12, 2002
Messages
43,672
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'Stralia
Originally Posted By: 01_celica_gt
If the battery is unplugged, will it not drain at all? there has got to be some loss right?
Yes, it will discharge slowly, just chemicals in a box, and will do so...OP is in Australia, so it's a bit more battery friendly than a lot of places. We didn't use either car for over a month recently middle of winter while we were in the US. Nissan (diesel, with big battery, and little draw when off) we just left. Let it glow fully before start, and it was perfect. Holden Caprice, has a much higher draw (huge if I plug in the trunk globe), so we left disconnected...again, started perfectly.
 
Joined
Dec 12, 2002
Messages
43,672
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'Stralia
Just an add...I had a car go to pasture, and had the old battery in the shed (handy, it's got a handle if I need to lug it around)...I charge it every couple of months when it suits my timing in the shed. Not needed it personally, but helped neighbours out at times, as in the cold weather, things suddenly go flat while listening to the radio while detailing the car. (Thinking of draining the electrolyte and going with alum).
 
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Messages
242
Location
twin cities mn
My truck sits all the time. usually for only for 2 months though. I hate resetting the radio so I leave the battery connected. I have never had a problem with it. The only thing I have noticed is the brakes tend to rust a bit and it takes just a little longer to stop for the first few trips. I didn't have that problem with the Ford factory rotors. It's 10 years old and has 109k miles on it. I don't know if its really true or not, but was always told a full tank of gas will get less condensation, So I try to keep the tank full. I haven't had any problems with that either, and I don't change my fuel filter as often as I probably should.
 
Joined
Sep 25, 2004
Messages
9,270
Location
Marshfield , MA
The Rat has a Valuecraft (cheapest and local) I bought it to get it up and running. I drove it very little for 6 months then let it sit disconnected for 4 months while I replaced the clutch and the brakes and a bunch of other stuff.It started with no extra effort. It needs a charge if I don't drive it for a month. The truck starts very easily.For the last 3 weeks ends, I have used it for errands. The starter goes "Urk" like the timing is way advanced and the engine lights off. I charged the battery overnight at the 2 amp rate. I have a HF 1/2 amp floater,but it requires a 50' cord to power it. I am suspecting a bad cell,so using the floater is not good.
 
Joined
Nov 8, 2003
Messages
3,863
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Cape Cod, MA
I think the key thing to remember is that starting it once in a while "just to keep it lubricated" (or reasoning to that effect) is a no-no. If you start it, drive it until it gets to operating temperature, at least. Otherwise, let it be.
 
Joined
Feb 12, 2013
Messages
3,117
Location
Virginia
Battery tenders cost money to keep plugged in, disconnecting the battery doesn't. If you know it's going to sit more than a month, disconnect the battery. My 99 Aurora started perfectly after sitting 8 months without having to charge the battery 1st.
 
Joined
Oct 10, 2008
Messages
19,699
Location
Sunny Florida
Anyone who has a big car collection will tell you the one steadfast rule is simple: if you cannot start the car and DRIVE it for at least 20 or 30 minutes then don't even turn it over. Nothing will rust or get ruined internally unless your car is stored in a wet environment, even if it sits for years. It's the external stuff that ages regardless...
 
Joined
May 25, 2005
Messages
3,559
Location
SE Pa
I have two of such cars. At the height of off-season, they can sit as long as a month between runs. If it's not long term storage (6+ mos), leave the batteries in, and setup a Ctek tender with a wired in monitor quick plug. Pulling and reinstalling batteries is a lot of unnecessary work, and repeatedly reenergizing the electrical system is not good for some electronics. The battery is going to self-discharge whether it's in the vehicle or not, so just leave it in. The monitor plug will tell you at a glance how the battery is doing. If you can, leaving the vehicle completely unlocked will reduce the resting draw on cars with alarm systems. All fresh fluids should go in before layup -- especially engine oil. If the area has a hint of mice, scatter dryer sheets about the engine and other compartments. A completely full tank of premium grade gas with stabilizer is also recommended (I typically add in a bottle of Techron for storage fills to keep the senders clean). Keep the tank full unless it is a very long haul storage layup, in which case you do the opposite, and completely drain the fuel system. Untreated gasoline loses on rough average around one octane point per month in storage. As others have said, when they go out for exercise, it's no less than 25 miles, to get everything up to full temperature and circulation. Any less, and you run a higher risk of moisture and acids buildup in the crankcase. Exercise all the switches and systems, including the AC and heater, too. Tires tend to temporarily flat spot when sitting short term, but will round back out after a couple miles as they warm up. Any longer than a month between runs, and you need to consider more proactive steps to protect the tires. If you decide to jack up the car, it should be rested on it's springs; leaving the suspension sitting unsprung puts excessive stress on bushings and boots and can take them out of their normal "set". Obviously, if you can store inside, that is best. If you expect humidity swings, I like to throw in a couple desiccant bags to check mildew/mold (check boat supply stores, they are actually cheap), especially if the vehicle has cloth/canvas elements (convertibles). But if outdoors, I do not recommend a car cover unless you live in a very dry climate. I would also install windshield and other window shades to reduce heat and UV wear on the interior. Throwing a sheet over the seats and dash also helps keep things clean. Take up rubber or vinyl mats to allow any trapped interior moisture to escape more easily. Also obviously, storing on other than a paved surface or sitting it under a tree is condemning the car.
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2004
Messages
2,441
Location
snowblind in TX
I had an old 1971 GMC truck with a 350 that sat for two years while I was away. Came home, rebuilt the carb, fresh gas, new battery, cranked it up and it missed like crazy. During cranking it was uneven like bad compression. Couple of false starts later, figured 2 valves had partially seized (in the closed position thankfully)and caused the rocker studs to pull up out of the head. Got the valves unstuck (penetrating lube and a hammer), got the studs put back in properly (again with a hammer)and it ran like a dream until I sold it a few weeks later. Always have a hammer for drivability concerns.
 
Joined
May 21, 2012
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6,765
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Fort Lauderdale, FL
I like to leave the kill switches off and crank the engine over until oil pressure builds before starting the engine, after it has been sitting for a while. I have absolutely no scientific justification for this. I just figure it's better to have the engine fire and start with pressure already built up some and oil spread, and the switches are already off when I get in.
 
Joined
May 25, 2005
Messages
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Location
SE Pa
Originally Posted By: punisher
I had an old 1971 GMC truck with a 350 that sat for two years while I was away. Came home, rebuilt the carb, fresh gas, new battery, cranked it up and it missed like crazy. During cranking it was uneven like bad compression. Couple of false starts later, figured 2 valves had partially seized (in the closed position thankfully)and caused the rocker studs to pull up out of the head. Got the valves unstuck (penetrating lube and a hammer), got the studs put back in properly (again with a hammer)and it ran like a dream until I sold it a few weeks later. Always have a hammer for drivability concerns.
If you're going to go years, cylinder fogging definitely has its benefits.
 
Joined
May 25, 2005
Messages
3,559
Location
SE Pa
Originally Posted By: DoubleWasp
I like to leave the kill switches off and crank the engine over until oil pressure builds before starting the engine, after it has been sitting for a while. I have absolutely no scientific justification for this. I just figure it's better to have the engine fire and start with pressure already built up some and oil spread, and the switches are already off when I get in.
Years ago, as opposed to dry cranking engines that had sat for a long while, we would prelube the journals by pulling the distributor and running the oil pump off of an electric drill. As mentioned above, on those cases, we made sure to fog the cylinders before lay up. Otherwise, we'd later have to pull all the plugs, squirt lube and hand crank them (a royal PITA). This is a much bigger deal with marine engines, where the costs of poor lay up practices can make your eyes water.
 
Joined
May 21, 2012
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Fort Lauderdale, FL
I've done that alot on fresh builds. Maybe one of these days, I'll get around to installing my Accu-sump and use the pre-lube feature, but then people will start to think I'm not lazy, and I do have an image to keep up.
 
Joined
Jun 15, 2003
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36,931
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ME
You might want to put some hardware cloth (thick screen) over the air intake to keep mice out of the air filter. Depending, you can do it so you can still drive the car, or if some caretaker has to for whatever reason. I'd overinflate your tires to help with flat spotting, though you already know if the set you have has any slow leaks.
 
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