Civic sitting for six years
December 11, 2006 12:15 AM   Subscribe

Mechanic Filter: Someone left me a '98 Honda Civic that has been stored for 6 years it seems. VERY low miles lol. What do I tell the mechanic(s)?

What do I tell the mechanics fixing it? The truth? Or should I just ask them to flood/gut the fluids and tires/alignment, etc.? Extra points for telling them what to fix before confessing it's condition...

I hope the tranny is OK?!... I probably want to use this as an around town car. What is needed if the car has been sitting for 6 years?
posted by prodevel to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

You may want to drain the gas and throw in some seafoam with a fresh tank full, as the gas tends to varnish (turn into yellow gunk) over time and this can seriously gum up some parts.

The transmission shouldn't be affected by the long term storage.

Before starting, some like to squirt a teaspoon of oil into the cylinders to ensure that the piston rings are lubricated and prevent them from scratching the bores (this has happened to me, but due to fuel wash from flooding, not storage). Afterwards, clean or replace the plugs.

Flush the cooling system.

Alignment shouldn't have changed, but your tires may now have flat spots and/or dry rot. You'll be replacing them soon.

Everything else should be no different than when it was first stored, so you'll have to asses that according to the individual problems that occur.
posted by IronLizard at 12:28 AM on December 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

If you acquired this car through legal means

Pardon, I read this as an inheritance. Where are you getting the idea that it's been acquired illegally?
posted by IronLizard at 12:34 AM on December 11, 2006

Response by poster: The car is completely legal. I own it after 7 years of the previous owner. Before that it had 17k on it. It now has 33k. I want to care for the care as it will be my own and is in pristine condition inside and even has 'new car' smell for some reason...

Not all fluids systems need be flushed harshly and maybe t looked at for "gravity" wear, etc?

Please and thank you muchly,

posted by prodevel at 12:43 AM on December 11, 2006

Just tell the mechanic the truth. Why would you not?
posted by number9dream at 1:01 AM on December 11, 2006

Tell them this: "Someone left me a '98 Honda Civic that has been stored for 6 years".
posted by The God Complex at 1:42 AM on December 11, 2006

To better answer the question, what are you concerned would happen if you did tell the mechanic that it had sat for 6 years as opposed to lying to them? I only ask, as it may be relevant to getting your own concerns answered appropriately.
posted by qwip at 2:23 AM on December 11, 2006

Best answer: Tell them the truth! Don't lie to doctors, either.

Anyway, you won't even be able to start the thing immediately, nor would it be advisable. Some prep work is in order. This is based on how we got my brother's Festiva going after it sat for 5 years:

First, pull the spark plugs and fog some WD-40 into the cylinders. It'll have plenty of time to penetrate while you're doing the rest of this:

Pump the brake pedal a few times. Does it offer resistance, or did the rotten lines just blow and dump brake fluid all over the driveway? Fix those before trying to move it, obviously.

Put some air in the tires and see if they hold. They'll feel square if you try to drive on them, but if they hold air you can try it. Just keep a spare and a chase vehicle close at hand for the first few miles. Check the spare, too.

You'll need a new battery, guaranteed. The old one's plates are sitting at the bottom of the cells, a crumbled pile of lead sulfate. What's great is that they'll still refund your core charge when you bring the old one back for recycling.

Take the serpentine belt off and make sure the alternator, water pump, air conditioner, and everything turns when you twist it by hand. Seized bearings here could be a pain, but it's better to know before you shred a belt finding out. Throw a socket wrench on the crankshaft bolt and attempt to turn it a few degrees back and forth. If it moves, you're a lucky dog. Run it through at least 2 revolutions by hand, to smear that WD-40 around the cylinder walls. Then put the belt back on. Might as well make it a new belt, as the old one's trash.

Disconnect the fuel line from the fuel rail and point it into a gas can, or into a hose leading to a.. you know. Turn the key to Run and let the fuel pump empty the tank. Pour a half gallon of fresh gas in, with some alcohol added, and let it purge the foul spoiled gas from the lines. Reconnect the fuel line and put in some more new gas.

Drain whatever oil wants to come out, and refill with fresh, cheap oil. You're going to do another oil change tomorrow so it doesn't have to be good. You'll be doing the filter tomorrow too, so leave it for now.

Final critter check: Nothing living in the vents? No bees in the alternator, hornets in the tensioner? Crank it over a few times to let all the parts move, then put the sparkplugs back in. Start it up and stand back: The old varnish still in the fuel rail will stink to high heaven, and the WD-40 will burn off in a cloud of smoke. The worst should be over in about 20 seconds.

So is it running? Check the instrument panel: Oil pressure light? Shut down immediately, check the dipstick and driveway to see which has more oil on it. Alternator or charging system light? Check the serpentine belt, and throw a real voltmeter on the battery terminals. Radio work? Set the clock and pat yourself on the back.

If you don't feel confident doing all this yourself, or have a friend who reads this and grins, just have it towed somewhere. Especially don't try to move it if the brakes won't withstand you standing on the pedal.

Within the next week, plan on replacing the coolant and hoses because the degrade with time. Transmission fluid too, though if it's been well sealed this might not be a big deal. Do that second oil change, really. Run a bottle of injector cleaner through the fuel system, this is one of the rare instances where it might accomplish something.

Good luck, and have fun driving on those square tires until they regain some flexibility!
posted by Myself at 2:27 AM on December 11, 2006 [23 favorites]

i suspect the reason the questioner is asking about telling the mechanic the truth is out of fear that the mechanic will take advantage of the situation by recommending a lot of useless work.

if possible, look for a mechanic who comes highly recommended by someone you trust.
posted by jjsonp at 4:28 AM on December 11, 2006

Yes, I don't think the questioner wants to lie. He wants to know what should be addressed with his car that has sat for six years. Nice gift by the way, enjoy your new vehicle.
posted by LoriFLA at 5:45 AM on December 11, 2006

Best answer: start from the "road" and work your way back to you.


Here's what I mean:

The most important parts of the car are the parts that touch the road (the tires), since they control how your car starts, stops, and steers. Then work back to the brakes (stopping is always good), then hit all of the safety systems that stop the car (brakes, both 'normal' and 'emergency/parking') and keep you in your seat/from hitting anything (seatbelts/airbags). Then hit all of the systems that steer the car, then the systems that protect the running engine and transmission (coolant and oil)then the systems that make the car go, then the systems that keep you comfortable (windows, heater, a/c) then the 'extras'.... (radio, cd player, etc.)

This is just an off-the-top-of-my-head prioritization.

Secondly, if you have to worry that your mechanic is trying to fleece you, you have the wrong mechanic.

Thirdly, NEVER have someone start recommending services under a certain false pretense. Eventually, they'll find out the truth, and that makes you look like a liar, an idiot, an @$$, or all three.
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:30 AM on December 11, 2006

eh..... Have the coolant flushed and engine oil changed.

Inspect the tires for signs of dry rotting (cracks in the drywall)..... Inflate them to the proper pressure (there is a sticker on the door jamb indicating recommended PSI) (they can probably do this when you have the above done)

Have the battery tested and replaced, if neccessary.... It may just need a charge.

If the car will start with the gas that is in it, fill the rest of the tank with fresh gasoline.

A 1998 Honda is a well built car, not really requiring much service..... 33,000 miles is hardly anything for these cars, I would say it is just broken in......

Do the above and you should be good to go.

I like old cars and have started and driven cars that sat for FORTY years........
posted by peewinkle at 8:10 AM on December 11, 2006

Best answer: There are a 4 recalls for the 1998 Honda Civic. Contact American Honda Motor at (800) 999-1009, have your VIN # ready, to find out if the work to correct 3 of the problems has been done on your car.

If the work has not been done you should be able to have it done for free at any Honda dealer.

NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 97V193000
Recall Date: OCT 16, 1997

NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 02V120000
Recall Date: MAY 13, 2002

Component: OTHER [Floor Mats]
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 99E015000
Recall Date: MAY 07, 1999

There are also 10 recalls for aftermarket (the owner would have had to purchased them separately from the car purchase) headlights.

To see any of the recalls go to the NHTSA website and enter the vehicle information.
posted by mlis at 10:47 AM on December 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

« Older Name that fish!   |   Snot Rags in the Stocking Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.