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  1. #1
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    parking a car for a year.. or two

    So I've got this 89 chevy cavalier and it's only got 70k kms on it. I want to park it for a couple of years in my yard. Then it may become my only vehicle for 6 months or so. It's a long story...
    Anyway, I figure that I should probably:
    - take off the tires and put it on blocks
    - do a complete service (all new fluids, plugs and filters)
    - park it on a gravel pad (perhaps on top of a tarp??)
    - cover it with a tarp or car cover
    Is there anything I'm missing? Should I even bother to do this or will things inside (engine and interior) deteriorate and it just becomes mouse heaven?
    The thing runs like a dream, and I won't get $500 bucks for it so I figure I'd like to get some driving out of it before it dies.

  2. #2
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    As soon as it just sits it WIlLL become a mouse/chipmonk nest...Could try and shrink wrap like they do with boats.
    I put forth this question and the question is,
    When i did your mother twice last nite did I get sloppy seconds ?????

  3. #3
    Gman is offline Mack Master William Large
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    you might be a redneck......

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by pubes View Post
    As soon as it just sits it WIlLL become a mouse/chipmonk nest...Could try and shrink wrap like they do with boats.
    Seriously? That might work? Because oddly enough I have this huge (like 4ft wide and probably 300ft long) roll of plastic wrap. No idea where I got it, but hey I'm a pack rat (explains why I can't get rid of the car) as well as a red-neck (uhm not). Pubes - you figure it's worth a shot eh?

  5. #5
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    Don't shrink wrap your car. A waterproof cover is fine.

    Change the fluids and filters now and then also when you pull it out. Crystallized or gummy gas is probably your biggest concern. Get a bottle of gas stabilizer and run the car long enough to get the stabilizer cycled into the fuel system.

  6. #6
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    I would run most of the fuel out of the tank then thro a whole bottle of fuel conditioner in the tank and run the engine for 5 min to get it into the fuel system

    running the engine once a month for 10 min would be good ,we used to do that for a car the GF only used 6 months of the year

  7. #7
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    Sounds like good beta guys. OK no shrinkwrap. I think the idea with the fluids and the conditioner make sense, I like the waterproof cover. Will putting it up on blocks over top of a tarp keep the rodents out? May be elevate the blocks a coupla feet??

    Al, don't think I'll be starting it up every month. It'll be a bit hard to get to (my backyard sees a fair bit of snow Dec - March), I'll likely be out of country for at least a year. I'm thinking just take out the battery and buy a new one when I put her back on the road.

  8. #8
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    Definitely put it up on jackstands/blocks (securely as possible), to avoid flat-spotting the tires. No need to remove them.

    Don't change the oil now. Drain it and leave it empty. Oil changes are recommended every 3000 miles or 3 months. Most people who only put 500 miles on their cars every year and ignore the "or 3 months" part (read: snowbirds) end up having oil leaks.
    The additive packages decay not just with usage, but time. Having oil in the pan for a year or 2 could cause an oil pan leak. Important - don't forget to put oil in it when it's time to drive again Put the oil cap on the seat as a reminder.

    Rodents like to hide in cars because they are dark and warm - I think a complete covering would only promote this, they will find a way in. A normal car cover should be fine. To avoid them nesting under the hood (one of their favorites), leave the hood open, the sunlight (and cold in the winter) will keep them out. We get customers with rodent damage - they try the traps, poison, etc - and still come back with more damage until they listen to me and leave the hood open. Definitely a redneck factor if you park in the driveway, but looks like not in your case. Depending how heavy the snow is there, might want to just prop the hood open a foot or so - I think covering the engine/electrical with a tarp to avoid massive snow pileups would defeat the purpose of opening the hood.

    Oh, and clean the inside of the car, really really good - including removing the back seat bottom cushion. Probably some kid's candy, some french fries, and other random grossness under there. Anything remotely edible will smell like food to them, inviting them in.

  9. #9
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    If you let it sit for a year outside, no matter what you cover it with, I predict you will need an exterminator to remove all the mice. I have two tractors that sit in a barn for however long winter exists in VT, and its always an adventure in the springtime.

    But if you're determined...

    Yes, put it on blocks as the wheel bearings will likely be shot if you leave it sitting on the ground that long w/o moving it. Put the fuel stabilizer in the tank--you can drain the tank before you get going again. I wouldn't drain the fluids and leave it dry--what rusts faster, metal coated in nothing or coated in oil ? --the fuel pump should also stay covered to minimize corrosion. Remove the plugs and squirt a few ml motor oil in each cylinder. Buy 10 can's of WD-40 and spray everything metal.

    Take steel wool or something mice can't chew thru easily and block the tailpipe and the airfilter inlet. And make sure you tape a note on the steering you did this.

    Pray for the best. Though I think you will end up putting a fair amount of $ to get this back on the road again after such a long layover outdoors.

  10. #10
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    Leaving the oil pan empty won't cause anything to rust. 98% of the oil gradually drains down to the pan eventually no matter what. Leaving the pan empty won't hurt anything. Notice I didn't say anything about draining the coolant.

    And I forgot about the gas part. The gas stabilizer is definitely a good idea, but I'd leave it with as little gas in it as possible - draining the tank isn't always an easy thing to do if needed.

  11. #11
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    A breathable car cover would be a lot better idea than a blue plastic tarp. The tarp will condense water under it. A carport or garage would be best.

    Disconnect the battery entirely. If this will truly be storage for several years, remove the battery from the car and store it indoors. You still might need a new battery afterwards.

    Something that repels critters, scattered around under the vehicle and in the engine compartment, would also be a good idea. Mothballs in open plastic bags? (cheap, stinky...)

    Gas stabilizer would also be a good idea, or drain all the gas (PITA, but I suppose you could drive it to nearly empty, and let it idle to empty). If it's a metal gas tank, I'd be concerned about rust from condensation inside the tank.

    As an alternative to all of this: do you have someone you can leave the car with, who can simply drive it to work once every week or two? Driving the car intermittently would take care of a lot of these concerns.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  12. #12
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    Have you considered leasing it out for a hobo to squat in?

    I may come through Terrace again this year and could leave at least one dump in it, as a sign of appreciation, of course.

  13. #13
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    Go to a bank, borrow 3K over two years, put car down as security, bank keeps car and maintains, interest payment less than storage, put 3K on black at casino.

  14. #14
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    commonlaw - probably the best advice Deathvan no poo, but if you need a place to crash and I'm around, let me know dipshit.

    OK - here's what I'll do
    - can't have someone drive it every once in a while, too much hassle with insurance. I have a hassle aversion
    - plugs out, wd40 in, wd40 everywhere that's metal
    - up on blocks (high enough that wheels are in the air)
    - block tailpipe and air intake
    - vacuum the shit out of it
    - fresh antifreeze
    - hood open a bit
    - cover fuel pump
    - decent quality car cover
    - battery out, the existing one's not the best so I'll just buy a new one Dec 2013
    - moth balls inside
    - critter repellent under car

    I don't really get the logic of draining the oil and leaving it dry...
    wouldn't there be possibility of rust? Like KimJong says - why not leave the engine oil full (maybe even overflowing) and just drain it out when I start her back up? tripice - how come the potential of the oil pan leak?

    Also not sure about the gas. So if I fill it with fresh (may be high octane?) fuel and add conditioner - I then have to drain all of this out and have 80 litres of gas to light bonfires with in Dec/13? Don't really like this option, however a little leery about draining it completely and leaving the gas tank dry too. ElChupac - wouldn't leaving the gas tank full alleviate the danger of condensation/rust in the gas tank? Guess I better check to see if the tank is metal, but I'm betting since it's an 89, it is. How bout a 1/8 full with conditioner, so there's gas and fumes in the tank and I only have to set wood piles alight with about 10 litres (still a lot) of old gas.
    I suppose also when I get er back on the road: all new antifreeze, power steering fluid, tranny fluid, brake fluid, gas and oil filters, plugs.

    soooo tripice, elchupac - what you say?

  15. #15
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    The different opinions on fluids made me curious to Google it.. and found.. different opinions. Many say to drain the coolant; I've seen used radiators side tank gaskets shrink and go bad from being in storage. They say it protects against corrosion (as in the typical corrosion, not rust, of aluminum parts in the cooling system) - but then an empty coolant system which also contains iron may rust, right? All I can vouch for is my experience.

    I work on cars for a living. Have you ever heard the term "ridden hard and put away wet"? Engine oil isn't just oil, it has an additive package. Those additives include ones designed to keep the seals soft and prevent the chemicals in the oil from attacking the rubber. Those additives deteriorate with age. Having the car started periodically and maintaining oil changes really is the best solution, but because that isn't an option for you, I recommend draining the oil. Keeping the oil from being in constant contact with the oil pan gasket will prevent it from constantly attacking it. I've worked on a ton of low mileage, old cream puff cars that had severe oil leaks from lack of driving and oil changes (note: oil leaks very common, coolant leaks rare). Lack of driving allows the seals to dry up a bit and shrink. Draining the oil will only protect the oil pan gasket, but it's better than nothing, and again will not hurt anything. You seriously need to physically clean the inside of the engine to ever hope to remove the light coat of oil that clings to everything, and that light coat of oil that remains protects against rust.

    For the gas additive - they're normally only good for 6-12 months. If you're planning on going past 12 months, it's gonna turn into gummy turpentine regardless. Just looked it up, your 89 Cavalier's fuel pump is in the tank - constant submersion in sour gas can kill it. Also there is usually a small length of rubber hose in the fuel pump assembly itself, I've seen that hose get rotted out in a tank full of old gas. I still say drive it until it's almost empty (like 5-10 miles after the low fuel light comes on). I just removed a metal gas tank from one of my projects that had sat for 3-4 years with very little gas in it (in order to remove that very small amount of gas, I was bored). I found zero rust.

    Oh, another good tip - set the air conditioner to the "recirculate" or "max ac" setting, not "fresh air" (may have an icon with an arrow going in a circle inside a car = recirc, arrow outside car pointing in = fresh air) this will keep the environment and critters from using the a/c fresh air inlet as a path into the car.

    WD40 in the cylinders is also a very good idea, but I'd put the spark plugs back in after squirting it into the cylinders. Typically when an engine sits the moisture in the air condensates onto the cylinder walls and piston rings, causing rust. The wd40 is to protect against that, as well as cylinder wall gouging when first re-starting (again, only a very light coat of oil will cling long term). Liquid moisture (rain/snow), getting into the cylinders can cause rust no matter how much WD40 is in there.

  16. #16
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    ^^^^ Thanks buddy, great info - I find it hard to doubt someone who does this stuff for a living. Guess I know what I'm doing this weekend

  17. #17
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    Re: avoiding insurance costs by storing it --

    Is it mandatory (where you live) to keep a car registered? and if so, does registration require a certain minimum insurance be maintained?

    Just saying that dropping insurance may not be a viable option, but this will vary from state to state (or province to province).
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  18. #18
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    the insurance has been off it since my fiance left town in august. no worries about having to register or insure it (that's 2 different things here). no laws against having a vehicle stored for decades on your property without registration or insurance, if it burnt down or was struck by lightening guess I'd be SOL.

  19. #19
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    I just posted on here to be a dipshit but DAMN, there's some good information in this thread

    -Gary, Shames is sick (snowed 30+ inches the three days I was there) and the people are downright homey (like Kodiak), I look forward to getting back there sometime. But what the hell is it with every single business closing down on Christmas? -not even a hot taco at the pumps. If it weren't for the liquor store and the free toque I got in my Christmas day 18er of Old Style Pilsner I would have froze to death inside my van.

    Good Luck and have a great trip

  20. #20
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    yeah death, the town she shuts down alright. shit - hill's not even open that day. like i said before pm me if you're coming through, who knows - if i'm around you can prolly crash here.

    Thought i'd post of photo of bluebelle, only so i could show you the fresh snow on the mountain in the background (about 7km from town, elev about 4000'). It's a coming lads

    tripice, i did everything you mentioned and that i'd listed, except i topped up the antifreeze with fresh stuff and left it in. Also spent a bunch of hours removing and repainting some rusty spots (forgot about those).

    I think she's ready for a little nap.

  21. #21
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    Get Convicted? Sorry Bro...

  22. #22
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    I always heard that you want to start the car and run it from time to time- every couple of weeks to a month at the longest. Put it up on blocks and if possible- maybe 1/2 way through the idol time, change the fluids. Make sure there is not much gas in it. Do consider the stabilizer gas additive also. Cover it if you think that there will be added protection- but make sure it is tied down. Shrink wrap in my opinion is not a good idea either (how do you get in it to start and run it every few weeks? If animals getting in is a problem- then stock up on moth balls and place them around the vehicle on the ground every so often. Not sure how long they will last if outside in the weather and rain, but works for backpacking and leaving a car for a period of time out at a trailhead.

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