Long-term storage (years)

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May 23, 2004
Saskatchewan, Canada
There's always the possibility of corrosion inside the engine and some seals may have dried out and may leak. But if you're willing to deal with those things if/when they spring up then it's no big deal. I bought a 15k mile 89 engine from a junkyard a while ago. It had sat in their wearehouse for over 10 years. I got it cheap enough so I was willing to take a chance. Once I got it I took off the oil pan and cleaned it out. The oil didn't look so good but there was very little sludge on the bottom. The crank seals looked brand new but I replaced them anyways. I oiled up the bearings and cylinder walls and put the pan back on. I also removed the cam covers and oiled everything up but nothing looked unusual in there. I also squirted some oil into the spark plug holes. Once the engine was installed I discovered that all 6 injectors were plugged solid with dried up fuel residue so I removed them and sent them away to get cleaned. After they were re-installed the engine fired right up and ran like a champ. All told I spent maybe $150 for new seals(probably unnecessary) and the injector cleaning. I guess the thing to remember is that a low mileage older car can be a great find. You just have to take the time to make sure everything is up to par before relying on it as a daily driver.
Low-mileage metal components meant to be lubricated should be just fine if properly lubed, whether 1 yr old or 20 yrs old. The biggest issue, I believe, is rubber and plastic components which are aged by heat, ozone, UV, and/or chemicals. This includes everything from internal engine seals to rubber windshield molding. Oil leaks (engine, tranny, power steering, etc.), blue puffs of smoke upon leaving stoplights (valve seals), and the like would all indicate aged internal rubbers. The rest (moldings, hoses, belts, glove box condoms, etc.) you can visually inspect. The other, typical used car inspection points apply (noises, vibrations, feel, smells, fit and finish, compression check, fluid appearance, receipts, etc.). P.S. I shouldn't say it...can't say it...must prevent fingers from typing...it's no use..can't resist. "Don't let this be a Saab story for you!!!" (Sorry, I couldn't resist...)
I think the lubrication would be pretty good, some issues may occur if the engine was NOT fogged, or if the owner thought that starting it once a year or once a month would be good for it. Starting an engine in storage and not fully warming it up results in moisture and combustion gases to accumulate in the crankcase. End result acids, sludge, and corrosion. TC is also correct on the rubber/plastic parts. But finally, and maybe most importantly, the cooling system might be damaged. If coolant is allowed to stay in an auto engine for long periods without being HOT, bacteria can take over the cooling system, turning it black and eating away at the metal. The METAL would include the heater core, the Rad, the block, the thermostat, the water pump and seals, and finally the passages in the intake manifold.
There's +200 posts spread out thru the various BITOG forums wrt storage - some good info wrt fogging, HDEO, VPIs, diesel oil + LC, antiox & rust preventative There seems to be a general consensus (not necessarily on BITOG), to avoid buying older (+15 yr old) cars, w/low mileage, that have been stored for 5 - 10 yr periods, esp if a proper storage protocol wasn't followed or was unknown. Strong preference seems to be given to regularly driven cars, with mileage, and regular OCs What would the BITOG members suggest...not buy such a car? Anyone had such a car, _or_ a car _that was_ properly stored, and gone on to drive another +100K miles on it? Where would most of the metallurgic damage occur in an engine (bottom-end, bearings, top end, valve seats, etc), manual tranny, turbo bearings, or fuel system (in an improperly stored car)? and could any of it be partially checked for by pulling the camshaft cover on a DOHC engine to ck the cams, lifters, timing chain, etc. Compression ck? Is the damage so microscopic, that a visual inspection wouldn't yield much, and the damage wouldn't necessarily manifest itself until a few thousand miles down the road? Not sure if I'm phrasing my question well - lots of variables involved - but I would like to buy an older car (Saab), w/low-mileage, as was a favorite of mine Thank you, Lance
I stored a car in a building for over 4 years and everything was fine when I got it out and started driving it again. I changed the oil and filled the tank up with gas then drove it a few miles across town to where it was to stay. I sat the car up on blocks so the tires were off the ground and pulled the battery out of it and sat it on a block of wood on the floor so it could be used as a core when I pulled the car out of storage. Years later I went and got the car and put a fresh battery in it, started it and drove away.
Thanks, all. My main concern would be corrosion, oxidation, or rust to the engine cyl walls or bearing surfaces. OCIs are done either on mileage or time, with some/many skipping the latter. If whatever oil (I'm going to assume conventional and not HDEO or similar) sat in the CC for several years, it would have absorbed a fair amt of moisture? and the the pH would have changed? Thanks for the reminders on the valve stem guides and cooling system. I would also immediately change out the CV & tripod joint grease, and would also be concerned about the brake lines, etc I'm just trying to get a better feel for how much of 'don't get a potentially/improperly stored car' is hearsay or fairly valid. And what can be used, besides an engine tear down, etc., to ck for possible damage. I'm going to try to track down the POs for more details Lance [ June 20, 2004, 06:25 AM: Message edited by: LM ]
If I found an original, low mileage Hemi dart, a 427 side-oiler thunderbolt, or 409 Chevy in a barn with chickens nesting on top- I'd buy it.
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