Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepardness

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Stercutus
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Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepardness

Post by Stercutus » Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:36 pm

So, it seems a couple of years ago I inherited a car. The person died without a will and through various vagaries I ended up with a stunning 1998 Dodge Stratus, running 111K miles. Due to various probate issues I had to wait two years before I could transfer the title. So I drove the car home (800 miles) and parked it some grass next to my shop.

And there it sat and sat and sat.

It was fully exposed to the mild weather we have here. I DID NOT do anything to prevent the vehicle from falling apart, did not put in fuel stabilizer or anything... at all.

Fast forward two years and a day. Time to sell the car and get my trailer parking space back. I made extensive checks of the vehicle.

The battery was clearly dead and could not be charged, no surprise there. The radiator had a congealed mass of petroleum products and anti-freeze in the surge tanks, all the tires were dangerously low on air.

I flushed the radiator, filled the tires to a couple of pounds bellow the the required amount and installed a new battery. Jumped in and it started on the first turn of the key.

I did a few laps around the place and all appeared normal.

I sold the vehicle on Craigs two days later (with full disclosure). The man took it on a ten mile test drive, all was normal. I never heard back from him so I assumed everything was ok.
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Re: Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepard

Post by MacAttack » Tue Nov 03, 2015 3:32 am

I keep telling people that plane old gas will keep for quite a while. Well over two years and more often quite longer.


Imagine how long it would last if you had actually tried to store it for long term emergency use.

Keeping a battery viable that long should be the hardest part.

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Re: Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepard

Post by Stercutus » Tue Nov 03, 2015 3:37 am

Without starting it at I guess I could have tried a small solar charger. The battery was not new and may have expired even with a trickle charge.

My intent was to see how how much trouble it would be to get it running again after being essentially abandoned for two years.

Very little trouble to get it running and on the road.
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Re: Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepard

Post by RonnyRonin » Tue Nov 03, 2015 5:19 pm

thanks for posting!

quick question, what was the fuel level when parked? I always heard to store gas empty or full and was wondering how true this was in your case.
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Re: Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepard

Post by Stercutus » Tue Nov 03, 2015 7:15 pm

By the fuel gauge, when first parked the fuel level was near 7/8. Two years later it was 3/4. So two about gallons were either lost somewhere or the float absorbed some and showed the tank being lower than it should have been.

I did not service the fuel system or add any fuel to the tank. It ran with what was in it just fine.
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Re: Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepard

Post by uncleben03 » Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:23 pm

Even having a vehicle that only gets driven once a month or so is a little bit of a chore. Obviously the gasoline issue isn't a factor there, but keeping the battery topped off seems to be troublesome for me. I have a trailer brake controller installed with a factory harness, but 1 single LED indicator on the display stays on 24/7. It's on my 05 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, which I don't drive very often because I have a company vehicle and several other vehicles. Nearly EVERY time I try to drive it the battery is dead and I have to pop the clutch out on my steep driveway.

I'm in the middle of finishing the inside of my garage right now (insulation, drywall, etc...). When I'm done, I'm installing retractable reel power cords above each stall (3) and putting float chargers on my Wrangler and Comanche. That's probably gonna be the single biggest issue storing a vehicle for long periods of time is the battery.
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Re: Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepard

Post by Stercutus » Sat Nov 07, 2015 12:14 am

I have on board float chargers on my bikes that I don't ride much.They work great.
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Re: Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepard

Post by MacAttack » Mon Nov 16, 2015 3:19 am

uncleben03 wrote:Even having a vehicle that only gets driven once a month or so is a little bit of a chore. Obviously the gasoline issue isn't a factor there, but keeping the battery topped off seems to be troublesome for me. I have a trailer brake controller installed with a factory harness, but 1 single LED indicator on the display stays on 24/7. It's on my 05 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, which I don't drive very often because I have a company vehicle and several other vehicles. Nearly EVERY time I try to drive it the battery is dead and I have to pop the clutch out on my steep driveway.

I'm in the middle of finishing the inside of my garage right now (insulation, drywall, etc...). When I'm done, I'm installing retractable reel power cords above each stall (3) and putting float chargers on my Wrangler and Comanche. That's probably gonna be the single biggest issue storing a vehicle for long periods of time is the battery.

They have battery shut off switches.
Since its only a trailer brake system and not an alarm it doesn't need to be on all the time.

http://www.harborfreight.com/battery-di ... 97853.html

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Re: Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepard

Post by TacAir » Mon Nov 16, 2015 7:01 pm

Sold my truck this summer. Ford F-350 - it was the prime mover for our 5th wheel rig.

In Sept we would park it, full tanks with some STA-BIL, disconnect the battery and ensure the windows were all the way up.

In May, go back over to the storage lot, connect battery and drive home. If I was going to leave a rig for 2 years, I would pull the battery and try to fill the gas tank with non-alcohol based gas.

If you have to park a rig for longer than that - sell it off.
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Re: Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepard

Post by grennels » Mon Nov 30, 2015 6:33 pm

I had a 1969 Chrysler Newport convertible that sat in my shed for about 15 years. Sold it to a kid who put a new battery in and started it.
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Re: Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepard

Post by synergyperf » Tue Dec 01, 2015 5:33 pm

I've bought and sold a ton of cars in the past 15 years or so. One in particular has always stood out in my memory.. 3 times is has sat for @2yrs at a time and started with a jump. I think before the 2nd stint it did have the tank drained and a few gallons of gas dumped in with a can of seafoam (trying to free up some oil rings that had gummed up and causes smoking issues). The car had 221K miles on it when I got it and the last time I had my hands on it, the odo had only moves @250 miles (in 6 years!). It finally got a new life as a tuner/pizza delivery mobile for about 1.5 years until it was totalled by a Tahoe. Had over 300K on it by that time.

...but don't leave any gas in your damn lawnmower for more than 30 days.. :roll:

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Re: Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepard

Post by Stercutus » Tue Dec 01, 2015 5:42 pm

An engine without fuel injection where the tank has access to the air through say a cheap gasket on a lawn mower will develop more problems, especially over a season.
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Re: Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepard

Post by Evan the Diplomat » Tue Dec 01, 2015 6:40 pm

synergyperf wrote:I've bought and sold a ton of cars in the past 15 years or so. One in particular has always stood out in my memory.. 3 times is has sat for @2yrs at a time and started with a jump. I think before the 2nd stint it did have the tank drained and a few gallons of gas dumped in with a can of seafoam (trying to free up some oil rings that had gummed up and causes smoking issues). The car had 221K miles on it when I got it and the last time I had my hands on it, the odo had only moves @250 miles (in 6 years!). It finally got a new life as a tuner/pizza delivery mobile for about 1.5 years until it was totaled by a Tahoe. Had over 300K on it by that time.

...but don't leave any gas in your damn lawnmower for more than 30 days.. :roll:
Dude, don't keep us in suspense! Make, model and year of this indestructible car please!
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Re: Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepard

Post by Stercutus » Tue Dec 01, 2015 7:19 pm

Evan the Diplomat wrote:
synergyperf wrote:I've bought and sold a ton of cars in the past 15 years or so. One in particular has always stood out in my memory.. 3 times is has sat for @2yrs at a time and started with a jump. I think before the 2nd stint it did have the tank drained and a few gallons of gas dumped in with a can of seafoam (trying to free up some oil rings that had gummed up and causes smoking issues). The car had 221K miles on it when I got it and the last time I had my hands on it, the odo had only moves @250 miles (in 6 years!). It finally got a new life as a tuner/pizza delivery mobile for about 1.5 years until it was totaled by a Tahoe. Had over 300K on it by that time.

...but don't leave any gas in your damn lawnmower for more than 30 days.. :roll:
Dude, don't keep us in suspense! Make, model and year of this indestructible car please!
He clearly noted that the vehicle had been destroyed, therefore not indestructible.
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Re: Long Term Vehicle Storage -A lesson in Vehicle Unprepard

Post by teotwaki » Tue Dec 01, 2015 8:02 pm

Very cool real life story. Sounds as if the nearly full tank was decently sealed and may not have allowed any moisture in. I store gas in Scepter military gas cans that are out of the weather and the gas is fine over a year later.
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