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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Having stored a variety of vehicles in both short term (wintertime) and long term (multiple years), this is what our family has done for prep and start-up.

1. Once parked, don't drive it.....periodic operation can induce more problems than if you let-it-be in most cases.

2. Wash, wax it, completely clean the interior and place an open box on a tray on the floor of baking will help absorb moisture

3.'s tires will not get flat spots like those built before 2000. Overfill them by 10 psi and this will help to ensure roundness.....if you want to fill them with nitrogen, this is ok as well because it is no prone to temp changes, precludes moisture formation & doesn't leak (larger molecules), but this is more of a "nicety" and not a "have-to". If exposed to sun, place large trash bags (contractor type) over them to protect against UV light...... and this also helps with the "pups" who may have to relieve themselves!

4. Fuel- add fuel stabilizer and fill tank to the top......fuel will begin to "turn" to a varnish like substance beginning at 6 months, with enough fuel stabilizer, this will prevent that. Filling to the top will eliminate as much air in the tank as possible which is a requirement for condensation & "turning" of the gasoline. If your vehicle has "cats", do not use Marvel Mystery Oil! Because the oil type concentration is high, it has the real potential of contaminating the cats. If no "cats", it works IMHO very well especially with carbs in keeping the gaskets, o-rings, etc. well lubricated during storage.

5. Ensure all fluids are topped off, lube/grease everything including graphite in all locks, dry lube in the window seals, etc. Don't bother changing fluids, you will want to do this before you fire it up upon your return. I would recommend purchasing a radiator anode (zinc) from JC Whitney...they sell for about $20, place it in the radiator will act as a sacrificial lamb for the entire cooling system- keeping it corrosion free.

6. Pull the battery.....on a short term, disconnecting the terminals is ok, long term, pull it just in case....especially with temp changes, although very rare, a crack in a battery case undetected can do a lot of damage.

7. Place a plastic bag over the end of the air intake tube or filter and tailpipes (zip ties work well to keep the ends secured)...this will help keep bugs/dirt out.

8. If there is a potential for rodents, place a few moth balls in the engine compartment.....if the storage facility has cats, forget it...the cats will do the work.

Vehicle Storage/With- Long Term Fire-up

When its time to start it for the 1st time, check all the fluids, change the oil (this will provide some lube from the top down in the engine) spin the engine over for 30 seconds (until the oil "idiot light" goes out or the gauge moves a bit as you now know you have oil pressure and the engine internals are well lubed).

On modern engines, the ECM will not let the engine start unless it has detected oil pressure so although a dry start is not as big of a "worry", IMHO, I would still desire to spin the engine over for 30 seconds just to make sure.

After this, it's time to start the engine.....It may or may not start- its ok....wait 1 minute, repeat......the 1 minute is a good cool down for the starter and the 30 second duration will not overly stress any component. By the 2nd or 3rd round, it should start...probably run a little rough, but it will be ok. Repack the wheel bearings (the newer cars are sealed so -does not apply), inspect & lube brake assemblies. After 50 miles of driving time, drain all the fluids & replace (coolant may be ok), but definitely engine, tranny, power steering, brake.

Vehicle Storage/No Pre Storage Prep- Long Term (Multi-Year) Fire-up

IMHO I would definitely pull the tank, flush it yourself or depending on condition, have it professionally cleaned.... this is IMHO going to be the biggest potential issue and potential to cause further issues. IMHO, I would spin the engine over by hand initially (without plugs), then with the starter, with no compression, the starter should be able to turn the engine without issue...if it doesn't, you will know right away and you can chase the issue down which could include the serpentine belt pulleys, starter/solenoid, ground cables, locked up AC compressor, etc..

When you initially try to fire her up, there will be some suttle, strange noises... this is normal and it can take up to 2 weeks for the engine to run smooth (like it should) just because things are working to free themselves up (like the valves may be just a little sticky). It's also a good idea to pull the valve covers and check to make sure to don't have any valves sticking.... turning the engine over (ratchet on crank is preferred but the starter is ok too). Pouring a bit of oil over them initially is a "good thing" and if you can get a can of "rev-lube" or similar product (this is used to coat the lobes of new cams on initial start-up), it would be a "good thing" as well.

If you do have valves that are sticking, no fret! Kerosene, marvel mystery oil or a 50/50 mix of kerosene/acetone is your "medicine"..... just pour it over the valves and turn the engine by hand until it's working again...they will not be perfect but will move close to what they are suppose to.... and this may take a few days...... myself and my family have stored vehicles over the past 50 years for up to 10 years of many different types. I had one that took 2 weeks to get the valves to initially move (OHC Flat tappet) ..... I had to use a ball-peened hammer and a punch and literally beat 3 valves over a period of 3 days to get them to loosen up... but they did..... and for those who may wonder, no, the valve guides and seals were fine.

You'll be ok...just have patience......some kalua & cream...more patience...more kalua and cream..... more patience.
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