If your car has been sitting for a while, check out this article and video to find out what parts to inspect before using it.
What Parts Should I Check If My Car Has Been Sitting?
Parts to inspect before driving with a car that has been sitting
- Charge the Battery
The battery will be weak if the car has been sitting for a few weeks, so you’ll want to charge it. Hook up the positive side first, and then the negative with a battery charger and let the battery charge. This will be the safest way to recharge the battery.
More on how to charge a battery
You’ll need to jumpstart your car if you can’t charge the battery. Check the owner’s manual for the best technique, or if you vehicle can be jump-started since some can’t.
- Check Fluid Levels and Conditions
Look at the fluid levels and condition, like the power steering fluid, oil, and coolant. Check out our how-to videos and find out how to check the level and conditions on different models.
Top off any fluids, like windshield wiper fluid.
- Check for Fluid Leaks
Look underneath the vehicle for any signs of leaks that will need to be addressed before starting the car.
More on how to tell which fluid is leaking from your car
- Check the Tire Pressure
Check the tire pressure of each tire with a pressure gauge. Find the correct psi for your vehicle’s tires by checking the sticker in the door jamb.
There may be something wrong with one of the tires is one has a large difference, like 10 psi. There could be a leak in the bead, a leak from an object like a nail, or a problem with the valve stem.
If you notice the psi is only a little down, like around 5 psi, then the tires likely just need more air.
More on how to check tire pressure
More on how to check for tire leaks
- Check the Windshield Wipers
Make sure the windshield wipers are in good condition. Lift the wipers up from the windshield to prevent any sticking, and replace them if they are torn or defective.
More on how to check the windshield wipers
- Remove Debris from the Cowl Panel
The cowl panel sits below the windshield. Remove any debris from the cowl panel, like pine cones and needles. These can collect in the HVAC system and cause problems there.
- Open the Hood and Do a General Inspection
Open the hood and inspect the parts for any obvious signs of damage that will need to be fixed.
More on how to clean the engine bay
- Start the Car, Let It Run, and Test Drive It
Start the car and let the engine run and warm up. Let it run for a little longer if it has sat for a bit. You may hear noises like squeaks from the brakes or you may feel the brakes sticking. The rotors can rust and the brake pads can stick and you might hear grinding, but this is common for this situation.
You’ll want to test the brakes before driving away. See how the brakes feel after trying a few stop tests. This should help clear up any problems with the brakes.
More on when brakes should be replaced