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Car has been sitting 4 years...what does it need?

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Old 06-26-2006, 03:27 PM
Join Date: Oct 2002
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Car has been sitting 4 years...what does it need?

I have a 1985 El Camino that I inherited from my Grandfather when he passed away. His health prevented him from driving it at all for the past 4 years. I drove it shortly before he parked it, and it drove fine. It only has a little over 50,000 original miles...he only drove a few thousand miles a year. I just towed the car to my house last night. It wasn't properly prepared for long term storage, so I'm not sure what all it's going to need. I'll definitely change the oil, flush and fill the cooling system, replace all the filters, new plugs and wires, new battery, maybe new brakes, and a new set of tires. I don't want to start the car up with all that gunk in the fuel tank and lines. Should I drop the fuel tank and clean it out, along with flushing out the fuel lines? Anything else I should do to get this car back on the road?

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Old 06-26-2006, 03:41 PM
ddellwo's Avatar
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My biggest concern would be the fuel -- that's an awfully long time for untreated fuel to be sitting in the system!

I'm also thinking that long of ill-prepared storage might have turned it into the "Exxon Valdez" since sitting there without being run can really raise havoc with the condition of the gaskets and seals in the engine.

But if the body is in nice shape, it might be a real "diamond in the rough" especially since that vehicle is no longer being manufactured. Getting the mechanicals back in shape is relatively easy, as long as the rest of the car (body, interior, etc.) is in good condition!
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Old 06-26-2006, 04:32 PM
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There's a gas treatment called STABIL that you can put in the gas tank to prevent it from sludging. I'd run the engine and get some through the fuel system. Enginewise, your valve seals may be dry rotted and cracked from lack of lubrication. I recommend you buy some Valvoline Max Life engine oil and ATF. It's specially formulated to recondition old valve seals and give new life to high milage or older engines. I sound like a commercial.

If the seals aren't too bad off, the Max Life will help it. Unless you plan on tearing it down and rebuilding it soon, that would be a good start.

Good luck with it.
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Old 06-26-2006, 07:35 PM
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Well first thing I'd do, after fluids filters and regular maintenece, regrease everything.
I would drop and drain the tank, I would also disconnect the fuel line and blow it out with compressed air. I would then rebuild the carburator, (it's cheap and will save countless hours of troubles and headaches later. It's also easy unless it's a quadrajet... then you'll never get it right. I only know one guy that can rebuild a quadrajet and make it work. I can make it run, but it wont work, might as well have a 2brl.) If it is a quadrajet and you have never messed with a quad, Take it off and dunk it in carb cleaner whole let it soak for a few minutes then pull it out and blow it out with air. Then hope for the best.

Inspect all bushings especially steering, as well as brake lines, vacumm lines, etc etc.

Before I ever fired it up, I'd go rent a hand drill pre oiler fro mteh auto store, or buy one for about $30. You pull the distributer and slide it in. It chucks up to your hand drill and runs the oil pump with out cranking the engine.

Depending on the climate that it was stored in, with that few miles and then sitting, be prepared for the possiability that every seal and gasket may now leak. Front/rear mains, oil pan, timeing cover, valve covers, etc etc.

The reason that Santa is always happy, is because he knows where all the naughty girls live!
Lucky bastard....
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Old 06-26-2006, 08:22 PM
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Let's see some pictures!
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Old 06-26-2006, 09:35 PM
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I'm going to be doing most of what has been mentioned and them some very soon. I am FINALLY starting in on my Torino that hasn't been driven in over 13 years. I know the engine was turned over about 5 years ago (we had to pour fuel right into the carb to do that but we wanted to know).

rdy2rac with
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Old 06-26-2006, 11:18 PM
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Did someone say El Camino?

I thought I was the token Chevy (El Camino) guy...

What PSS suggested is probably best, but just for the record my last El Camino (a '71 350/350) had sat for 10 years when I got it. I just dumped in 5gallons of gas, and the appropriate amount of Sta-Bil and added another fuel filter right before the fuel pump. I'm not suggesting you do this, just letting you know that I had no troubles with mine sitting that long. Although, I never even tried the engine. I pulled a 350, 350TH, exhaust, radiator, and several misc parts of my sister's wrecked '76 Malibu...

BTW, I bought a pre-oiler shaft for my Mopar for $8 off ebay. So, given the usual Mopar vs Chevy exchange rate you should be able to pick up one for around $4.

Also, its a 20+ year old Chevy. Your valve guide seals are rock hard regardless... As soon as I get my new valve covers cleaned up and powder coated, I'll be doing valve guide seals on my '77...

Oh, yeah. We need pictures please...

Except for the American woman, nothing interests the eye of the American man more than an automobile, or seems so important to him as an object of aesthetic appreciation.
Alfred Hamilton Barr, Jr., 1902 - Ď81, US art historian and first director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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Old 06-27-2006, 12:01 AM
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Location: great white north
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pull out the plugs, turn the engine over via the crank before you start it, a new cap and coil is a good idea, hopefuly you don't have a 267 v/8 and the Turbo 200 trans, the 267 is ok, but the T-200 trans is junk, 87 was the last year of the rear drive montie Carlo/ Malibu.
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Old 06-27-2006, 12:13 AM
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Replace the Batterie, turn the key and go. Do a complete service after you run the fuel out of it. Depends on what you want to do with it afterwards. At 50K miles, there are going to be leaks. the engine is going to need to be overhauled period, if you want a classic. It's up to you if you want to keep this as a momento. It's going to cost you a few $ to make it right.
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Old 06-27-2006, 01:46 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Vehicle: 2004 Ford F150
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sorry to hear about your grandpa.
welcome to the elcamino "club". not many folks have caminos. most of them were used to their full extent (as trucks) back in the day and beat to death, so you won't see many restored or at cruise nights as compared to chevelles, camaros and mustangs. i have a 70 SS and i am usually the only camino in the lot each cruise night. i think the ideas above are great. i would take a look at this website.........

it is for both elcaminos and our "cousin cars" the chevelles. any time i have a tech question about my camino i post it on the forum of this website and the guys on their provide excellent insite. there are some really top notch car guys on this site.

you can see my camino in my gallery.

one comment. once the gasoline in the tank has sat for more than 6 months, adding stabil to it will not "fix" it so to speak. once it has started to turn to varnish (typically after 6 months it starts to change), it can't be restored. so adding stabil now won't do anything. stabil would have had to be added at the time the fuel was fresh to preserve it.

see ya - oaw
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Old 06-29-2006, 10:34 PM
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I would do what PSS-Mag said, before that baby fires up. Change the oil and filter first, then do the drill pre-oiler trick for about 5-10 min. get everything lubed up good. Then I would work on the gas tank. I had a 85 camaro z28 with a 305 tpi that sat for 10 years. I changed the oil and a new filter ran my drill with the oiler. Than I figured out about the gas. Has to drop the tank and change the fuel pump and gas tank because of sludge. Couldn't blow out the fuel line because I couldn't get the fuel line off the fuel rail but anyway put some good gas in it with some Marvels Mystery Oil or ATF and it started right up with just alittle smoke but now seals leaking and not smoking now either.

Definatly get the oil going first BEFORE YOU START OR EVEN CRANK THE ENGINE. DON'T MOVE THE CRANKSHAFT BEFORE YOU DO THIS. That way you could oil the rings when you use the drill that way you won't break the rings from it sitting so long. Sometimes the rings will fuse to the cylinder wall, when you hit it with oil it would free it up. If you wanted to you could take the plugs out and spray some WD-40 in the cylinders, then after you pre-oil it, just crank the engine with the plugs out to blow the excess oil out of the cylinders. But before you do that part of blowing the excess oil out make sure you put the distributor back in so you get your timing back on track.

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Old 02-13-2014, 08:42 PM
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Hey guys, I'm new here but I'm going through the same thing now and a friend who is a great mechanic said to drop the fuel tank if the gas is older than a year not to take any chances. The main thing he said was to take the plugs out a turn the motor over by grabbing the belt with your hands that way you can tell if it has any drag to it. Because if it is siezed up it can mess a lot of things up, add a bottle of mystery oil to the engine and a bottle of sea foam to the new fuel this will help clean your fuel system out quick. I'm just trying to help the guy with the car cause I know what he's going through. Hope this helps.
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Old 02-14-2014, 01:21 AM
glc glc is offline
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Considering this was posted 6 years ago, I assume it's been taken care of or forgotten by now.
2003 F-150 XL RCSB 2wd 4.2 M5OD 3.55 LS
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Old 02-14-2014, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by glc View Post
Considering this was posted 6 years ago, I assume it's been taken care of or forgotten by now.
Honestly George, you can be brutally mean some times!

But you did save me from offering my 2 cents.
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Old 02-15-2014, 12:17 PM
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Geezzz George, perhaps if you were nicer, more people would like you.

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