Car Has Not Been Started In 15 Years – What To Do

how to start a car that has been sitting upI’ve come across a ‘restored’ 1971 Camaro that has NOT been started in close to 15 years. The body and interior are fine except for the tires. It still contains gas and all other fluids as far as I know.

My questions are:

What needs to be done to the engine and drive train to get this car up and running?

Do I take it to a standard repair shop, transmission shop, or some specialty shop?

Estimated cost? I assume all the fluids need to be drained/flushed, and all seals, gaskets and hoses replaced.

I’d appreciate your opinion. Wayne

Hi there Wayne,

These things are hit and miss. I remember we had an older vehicle like yours, with fuel and fluids still intact. We installed a new battery, changed motor oil, installed spark plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor, a rebuilt carburetor (which are pretty cheap these days) and drained the fuel from the fuel tank.

After 15 minutes of cranking….it started right up and ran around the block. I was impressed.

We have done this same thing on 1930’s vehicles….and it took a week to get it to start and run. Just depends on how the vehicle ran BEFORE it sat up.

What tends to happen to everyone of these projects I have been involved with…..the repair bills NEVER stop coming!

Transmissions leak and slip and need overhauling, radiators are full of rust, alternators and water pump bearings fail, brake hydraulics leak fluid, engine oil leaks, wiring is old and brittle and connections are loose and come apart.

I would give yourself a starting budget, probably about $1,000 – $1,500 to start for what I mentioned in the first sentence. Take it for a drive around the block and see what happens before you really start spending more money on brakes, fluid leaks, fluid changes, seals etc. etc. I would do as little as possible until you are sure the engine and transmission are sound. You could easily spend $1500 on brake repair alone!

Any mechanic shop can do this for you………or they should be able to. Would be nice to find a mechanic who is OLD enough to have had this vehicle 🙂

Once you go over that initial price, think hard about what your level of interest is going to be.

Rarely did I see my customers keep these kinds of “toys” longer than a year……when they wanted to take the toy for a ride on a beautiful weekend the brakes leaked, or the alternator failed, or the battery was drained down. Point is, unless you drive this vehicle on a regular basis you will be disappointed.

There is a reason why you don’t see these vehicles on the road very often….they are broke down in the shop. 🙂

Hope this helps, but I hope you have a large wallet. If not, buy a 2 year old Honda Accord and be done with it.

Please share this with your friends,
Austin Davis

Posted in: Won't Start Issues

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