What Happens When a Car Sits Too Long?


We’ve all had that one vehicle that had more than enough drive time on it, or more than enough repairs to it, but our efforts still didn’t keep it running. When you’ve put a ton of time and money into owning a vehicle and keeping it running, it’s hard to let it go.

We convince ourselves that we’ll do one more repair to it. That we’ll put it on the back burner and take it to the mechanic in a couple months. Or that we don’t even know what could possibly be wrong with it now, so let’s park it and deal with it later. However, many times when we do this, the vehicle sits… And sits… And sits.

Then, months or even years later when we attempt to start our vehicle up, it’s a no go. It won’t turn over, or it tries to, but after a few sputters, it dies promptly. This happens because there are many things that affect a car’s ability to run after it’s been sitting for a while. So, let’s delve into what those things could be.

What Things Could Happen to a Car When it Sits Too Long?

There are so many things that can happen to a vehicle when it sits too long. We aren’t just talking about things like vandalism, rodent infestation, `or leaks either. There’s a plethora of things that happen to your vehicle when it lays dormant.

Things Like:

  • Dead battery
  • Seized engine
  • Flat tires
  • Seized brakes
  • Stale gasoline causing fuel pump breakdown
  • Exterior damage
  • Rodent infestation
  • Interior leaks
  • Cracked windshield

When a vehicle sits too long, especially outside, it puts many things at risk. Prolonged exposure to extreme weather, like the kind we have here in Vancouver, can cause things to become brittle (like your windshield), produce leaks and condensation, and become a home for rodents, birds, and even local house pets.

What Happens to a Car’s Engine When It Sits Too Long?

Let’s start with the obvious; having a vehicle sitting for months or years can harm the engine. Letting your car sit too long causes it to rapidly lose oil, coolant, and overall lubrication, which impacts greatly on how your engine performs (or its ability to even operate).


This is why after a car has been sitting too long, you’ll notice that you either can’t start it up, or if you can, it quickly sputters and comes to a halt.

When you don’t have oil to lubricate the engine, the engine can’t perform. Not only that, but it can also damage vital components of the engine, resulting in further repairs.

Before attempting to get your vehicle back on the road after sitting, have a professional check your oil levels and quality, and check your coolant levels as well.

Can a Car Battery Die if It Sits Too Long?

Absolutely. The next thing to be mindful of if you let a vehicle sit too long is the battery. Did you know that when you drive your vehicle, the alternator is charging your battery? So, when you have a vehicle sit for months on end, the battery isn’t getting the charge that it normally does from being driven regularly.

Without the battery’s regular charge, it will just die. This is why many of our customers who sell us their scrap cars need us to bring a battery just to get it started and pulled out of their underground parking lots. The vehicle has sat for far too long, and the battery is completely dead.

Some people who are aware of this fact thing that just starting the car periodically will help prevent the death of the battery. However, that is not the case. The vehicle needs proper driving, not just starting, to give it a proper charge, and to help keep the engine in working order.

Why Are My Tires Flat After My Vehicle Has Been Sitting for a Long Time?


You might think that the only way a vehicle’s tires lose air is by an obvious leak, or a slow leak, but you’d be wrong.

Varying temperatures impact your tires’ ability to hold air. Going from hot to cold temperatures causes a loss in air pressure, and vice versa. This happens because hotter temperatures make your vehicle’s tires softer, and colder makes them harder. When you switch from one to the other throughout season changes (especially Canadian season changes) this affects the PSI in your tires.

If your vehicle has been sitting for a long time, be sure to check your tires before attempting to get it back on the road.

Can Your Brakes Seize After Your Car Has Been Parked Too Long?

Yes, they can. Brakes are a vital part of any vehicle, as they are ultimately what is responsible for stopping your car in any situation.

When a vehicle sits too long, the brakes can rust. This is partly due to exposure to wet weather, but also due to temperature changes which can promote condensation. Without the brakes being used, they get stiff, rusted, and can seize up completely.

There’s also a risk for a brake fluid leak to go unnoticed when your vehicle isn’t being used. So, before getting your car back on the road, have your brakes checked by a professional.

Does Gasoline Go Stale When It’s Not Used?

Just like anything, when gasoline isn’t being used, it can go bad. By bad, we mean stale. And when gasoline goes stale, it greatly affects its ability to power your car. This can cause engine problems, and also kill your fuel pump in a hurry.

A fuel pump repair runs around $900-$1300 nowadays with labour costs and having to drain your gas tank. This is why we buy a lot of scrap cars that need a fuel pump replacement.


If you have a junk car that you want to sell due to a failed fuel pump, or any other major repair or replacement needed, call our team of scrap car buyers today to find out what your vehicle is worth.

Is Letting Your Car Sit Too Long Bad for Your Car?

Letting your car sit too long is never good, but letting it sit for long periods of time outside is worse. When you leave a vehicle dormant outside, whether it’s in your driveway or on the street, you’re leaving an open invitation to local wildlife and potential vandals.

Rodents are always looking for shelter, especially during the bad weather months. When a vehicle is parked outside for extended periods of time, it becomes a safe haven for those rodents. In fact, even local animals like family cats and small dogs will harbour themselves away from rain and snow in abandoned or dormant vehicles.

To avoid this happening to your car, park it indoors or at public storage. Or cover it with a protective car cover and check on it regularly.

Sell Your Scrap Car to More Cash For Scrap

More Cash for Scrap Cars

If, however, you don’t want to put in the time and effort to babysitting your dormant vehicle, you can sell your car to More Cash For Scrap instead.

We’ll take it away free of charge, and we always pay MORE cash for scrap cars than any other local scrap car removal company in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

Contact Us Today to Sell Your Junk Vehicle

All it takes is a simple call, text, or email to get rid of your scrap car for good. Provide our team with the make, model, year, and condition of your vehicle. Then, provide us with the pick-up location.

After collecting this information, we’ll make you a real time instant cash offer right over the phone. We don’t even need to see your car in person to make you an offer on it!

If you accept our offer, we’ll dispatch our free towing service that day to come and collect your car. Our driver will pay you cash in hand before leaving, and you’ll be rid of your junker forever. It’s really that easy!

Call or text us today to find out what your car could be worth.

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About the Author: scrapcar

Since 2005, we've specialized in turning our customer's scrap cars into quick cash. We buy vehicles in ANY condition and with ANY issues. We pay MORE cash for scrap cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans than any other scrap car removal company in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, and Vancouver Island. If you want MORE cash, same day free junk car towing, and a reliable scrap car buying service, you want More Cash For Scrap.