February 3, 2023

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Motormouth: Is car OK after sitting for 2 years? | Auto Features

Q: I am writing on behalf of my 94-year-old dad, who has a 2000 Dodge Intrepid with 110,249 miles that hasn’t been driven for about two years. His neighbor would like to buy the car. However, he has heard that if a car has not been used for a long time, the cylinders are dry and should be oiled before driving. Is that true? If so, how do we go about doing it, or would it need to be towed to a garage? What would the cost for something like that be?

J., Minneapolis

A: Unless the car has been sitting in a corn field for several years, the cylinders may not be dry. A garaged car may still have an oil film. Chances are, it is OK. To be on the safe side, you could squirt a bit of oil into each cylinder by removing the spark plugs. But I suggest giving the car a compete once-over by a pro. It may take about an hour or close to $100. On the lift, the tech can check for leaks and change the oil if necessary. The oil must be clean. The air filter should not be a mansion for mice. The gas will be stale so adding fresh stuff along with some fuel conditioner is a good idea. The tires are likely OK. Once the vehicle is base-lined, the new owner can drive it with confidence.

Q: I read and enjoy your column every Saturday in the Las Vegas Review Journal. I drive my 2020 Toyota Camry TRD about twice a week. If I were to use a battery maintainer, would it harm my electrical system? I ask because of all the components on the new cars. I use one on my 1967 GTO, which helps me in keeping the battery charged up.

V.T., Henderson, Nev.

A: No, a battery maintainer will do no harm to neither a new, high-tech car nor your classic, low-tech “Goat.”

Q: Since moving to the Twin Cities in June, I have been searching for stations prominently displaying the Top Tier logo. Every list of TT vendors I’ve found includes BP and Holiday (just two examples), but I have yet to see any labeling or signage about Top Tier at any of these stations around here. Early on, I went to a BP station hoping to find TT. No labels, no signage. I went inside to ask and was not surprised at the blank stare I got. I believe Acura says my 2017 RD should burn only Top Tier. When I lived in California, I grudgingly paid the premium at Arco, and religiously saved every receipt in case I had a warranty claim and wanted to prove that I was a Top Tier apostle.

G.G., Eden Prairie, Minn.

A: You won’t see any neon signs announcing, “We have Top Tier gasoline.” But there is usually a sticker on the pump stating so. Oil companies agree to sell only fuel that meets the Top Tier standard at all of their retail outlets. You can find the list of stations at the organization’s website (www.toptiergas.com), which states:

— All retail locations within the licensed country must meet the high standards of the TOP TIER program.

— All gasoline grades must be treated with an approved TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline additive at the correct concentration.

— The TOP TIER logo must be prominently displayed.

— TOP TIER licensed retailers agree to not use organometallic additives (such as MMT or Ferrocine).

Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician in 1976. He maintains this status by seeking certification every five years. Weber’s work appears in professional trade magazines and other consumer publications. His writing also appears in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest. Send questions along with name and town to [email protected]

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