I am due for an oil change on my one year old Ford Escape on Jan. 1. I'm going away mid December for 3 months (not with that car).
The car will sit idle, except for a neighbor warming it up. Should I change the oil now or when I get home? Thanks.
If it were me, I'd do an oil change, and then drive it around until it's completely warmed up (including the new oil), and then just park it. If the "warm up" you're referring to is just the neighbor cranking it and letting it idle for a while, don't bother, leave it parked for the three months. If the neighbor will drive it around for a while, letting it heat up, fine. But again, unless the oil is already very fresh, I'd do a change before you leave.
I agree with elkpolk. Change the oil if it's old before letting it sit. The engine should be okay for three months.
Your bigger worries should be the brakes and battery. Three months outside is tough on the brakes - okay if garaged. Have it driven once in a while if it's parked outside.
The battery should be ideally disconnected and trickle-charged when you get back. You may get by with only reconnecting the battery once you get back.
Garaged or not.
Bag the neighbor warming the car up (unless as stated it means a real drive to fully drive the fuel and moisture out of the oil, moisture out of the exhaust, battery charging and brake clean up). More harm than good if just 5-10 minutes of idling - 3 months in not that long.
I would remove the battery and put it somewhere above freezing. It may indeed crank just fine when re-installed.
As for the oil, yes change it - then take a good highway romp. Make sure the engine gets good and hot - maybe the last 5 minutes turn the heater off.
3 months - the brakes will be rusty but should be OK.
The battery ideas are fine, although I park my motorhome for 2 to 3 months at a time and never do anything with the battery. Always starts right up, that is until this year (it is now a 4 year old battery), so maybe I need to do the extra battery things this year too. But the newer the battery (assuming a decent one to begine with) the less the extra battery precautions should matter.
I agree to nix the occasional idling by a neighbor. More harm than good. Change the oil & filter then run it just once before you leave to make sure the oil circulates through the motor.
Others' battery ideas are good ones ... but with a one year old vehicle, I think it'd be fine when you got back.
--- Bror Jace
Keep in mind that we obsess over minor details on this site!
Change the oil before you leave, let the neighbor run it a couple of times for 15-20 minutes while you're gone, forget about the brakes & battery, - (the battery is only 1 year old) - just enjoy your 3 month escape to a warmer climate!