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Car Sitting For A Year? What Could Happen & How To Start?

Car Sitting For A Year? What Could Happen & How To Start?

If you own expensive cars not meant for day-to-day travel or you have a classic car in your garage that’s yet to run on the roads, you might wish to know how to start a car sitting for a year or longer. So, keep reading this article to know more about this.

Today, more and more consumers are shifting to cars from public transport. Still, you’ll find it common for people to again shift to using public transport for the sake of convenience.

This leaves their car sit for long periods in the garage. There are many other reasons why cars go unused for weeks, months, or even years. To list a few, here are them.

  • Their owners are using more public transport for their day-to-day commutation.
  • They have relocated to another city or country with the car sitting in your garage.
  • They might have suffered a serious injury that has left them bedridden.

And so on. Be it any reason, leaving a car unused for a long time is harmful to both the battery and engine.

This is because by doing so, the battery gets cold and you will find it hard to start the car again. Hence, it’s always suggested to avoid leaving the car used for even weeks.

Under unavoidable situations, experts recommend taking the car for a short trip just to keep the battery alive and other components lubricated.

This way, you will not witness a dead battery or a damaged engine even if the car remains unused for months.

Still, you may encounter other issues in starting your car, and here are the best ways of starting a car that’s sitting for a year.

How to start a car that is sitting for a year?

Be it whatever reason, starting a car that is sitting for a year or longer is a difficult endeavor for everyone.

Being a machine, if the battery isn’t charged/discharged regularly, higher are the chances of it incurring starting issues.

So, if that’s the case with your beauty too, jump-starting the car is the most straightforward option. Below is how you can do it.

  • Park the car in a safe location and stable position.
  • Make sure the engine is not running.
  • Connect the jumper cable’s red clamp to the battery’s positive terminal i.e. terminal marked +. Similarly, connect the jumper cable’s black clamp to the battery’s negative terminal i.e. terminal marked -.
  • Make sure all the connections are tight. After this, turn on the live battery car.
  • Run the car for a few minutes allowing it to start recharging the battery of the dead car.
  • Check the car with a dead battery. If it’s still not running, run the other car for a few more minutes and check again.
  • It should work by now and if yes, you can start removing the connections but in reverse order. That is, first remove the black clamp and then the red clamp from their respective positions.

Now, not all batteries will require this method and may merely get started by changing the battery which could have died after sitting for a year. So, here’s how you can replace the dead battery and replace it with a new one.

  • Park the car in a safe location and stable position.
  • Make sure the engine is not running.
  • Open the hood to access the car battery.
  • Now, start by removing the negative cable from the negative terminal and the positive cable from the positive terminal.
  • Next, remove all sorts of fasteners or connectors present to hold the battery in its place.
  • Once everything is done, lift the battery. Since the battery weighs more than 50 pounds, look for help if required.
  • Though the battery is dead, lift and store it with care.
  • Before attaching the new battery, clean the clamps with water with baking soda to remove any corrosion, dirt, or debris. You can likewise clean the battery terminals too.
  • Lift the battery and put it in the right position. Fasten all the connectors to fix the battery firmly.
  • Reconnect the positive terminal first and then the negative terminal.
  • Test the battery by starting the car and it should work.

Apart from the battery issue, your insufficient engine oil pressure can also cause hindrance in starting the car after a long while. So, you can check the engine oil pressure by following the below steps.

  • Pick out your car’s owner manual and locate the engine oil pressure sender. In most cases, it’s near the engine block’s oil sump.
  • You can place any old pan for collecting the oil spillage if you notice any oil spillage.
  • Next, remove the connectors from the pressure sender and then the sender from the engine block.
  • Now, following your oil pressure kit, mount on the tester in its right place and the right position.
  • First, check if the oil is insufficient or not. If it’s, top-up some.
  • Turn on the engine and run for a few minutes so that it reaches its optimal temperature.
  • Every car requires a particular RPM to perform the oil pressure test. So, find out how many RPM your car needs and what’s the ideal pressure reading for those particular RPMs.
  • Once done, turn off the engine and undo all the connections made earlier.

At last, if the oil pressure is low, top it and it would solve your starting issues. Note that all the above methods are doable at your end and won’t require you to hold a mechanical degree for the same.

Yet if you’re unable to start the car after the above three methods, you should tow your car to the nearby mechanic as this indicates there’s a major internal issue you can’t work on.

How Much Does It Cost To Start Your Car That’s Been Sitting for a year?

Now that you know that leaving a car sit for long periods can incur several damages to the various parts which would either ask for repair or a complete replacement, you’d know how much it would cost.

Depending upon the part’s size and damage incurred, a minimum of $20 is inevitable and a maximum of $150 if complete replacement is the only solution for you.

Plus, if the car is an expensive one or a classic model, a bill of over $350 can move you over.

What Happens If a Car Sits For a year?

If you have left your car unused for a year or longer without doing anything to keep it working at times, you may encounter the following issues.

Battery goes dead

It’s the most common result of leaving a car unused for a year. For a typical battery, the maximum life is 3-5 years, that too if it’s not sitting.

If the battery isn’t running, it will die within 2-3 months. Hence, if it’s over a year you last started the car, you won’t find its battery in working condition.

Rusting on the car’s body

Rusting is another common issue associated with cars sitting for a year. Though it’s highly dependent on the environment you had parked your car in, even a thin layer of rust is common if the car is not taken care of.

This includes not cleaning the car frequently with water and cloth due to which all sorts of dust, debris, and moisture can accumulate and accelerate the process of rusting.

This is why you should not park your car in damp conditions or the open. An air-tight garage is the best option in such scenarios.

Flat tires

Flat tires are also common on cars sitting for a year or longer. When you keep driving, the round shape of the tires remains so.

However, due to standing idle for long, the bottom section of the tires goes flat, and low tire pressure often accelerates this process.

In some cases, if there is enough tire pressure, the flat spots can disappear after driving the car again. But in other cases with more damage to the tires, you’ll have to change the tires.

Seat belts go bad

Every component of your car that is made from rubber requires replacement or slight repairing depending upon the mileage.

Now, since you had left the car as it is for a year, you won’t get an intuition to check the components for their condition. And as a result, the rubber components like seat belts and hoses will start to dry and crack.

So, these are the common problems your car standing in the garage for a year can develop. Other minor problems can include pests, foul smell, windows getting stuck, etc.

How long can a car sit without moving?

How long a car can sit without moving depends upon the state of the car i.e. is it old or new, its usage, and several other mechanical factors. For your reference,  a standard car that’s moderately old and less used can sit unused for a week or two.

However, car experts believe that no car should sit unused for such a long time under any circumstances for the sake of the car’s overall health.

As if made to sit unused, your car can develop serious issues. Also, remember that a decade-old car may hardly sit beyond a few days.

However, there are some cool tricks employing which the car can sit for months or even years without developing any serious issue.

These include starting the battery for a few minutes once a week, correctly storing the battery, etc.

You can expand the life of cars and their batteries by using them. So, if you feel you can use a car for a longer period by using it less, you are wrong.

In fact, the more the car will run, the better it is. That’s the main reason why heavy vehicles like trucks and buses tend to last for longer than smaller vehicles like cars.


You must have seen cars standing on the road or in garages and you won’t require special eyesight to make out the period for which the cars are there.

While some cars stay parked in the garage for weeks, others may stay so for months or even a year. There are several reasons why the cars are made to sit for a long period without running.

The most common among all being the owner shifted to another country or is using public transportation, etc.

Be it any reason, it’s not a good practice to leave any car unused for such a long period.

This is because such a car will surely develop minor to major issues like the lines mentioned above and subsequent repairing and replacement costs.