What Happens When A Car Has Been Sitting For 3 Years?

When life happens, you can never help to let your car sit for a long time. But what happens if your car will sit for three years? Let us find out.

So what happens when a car has been sitting for three years? Inactivity will cause a lot of damages to your car, internally and externally. You will need to check and fix a lot of things before you can use your car again.

Today, let us talk all about letting a car sit for three years. We will talk about the damages it will bring and what to do to fix it. Let’s get started.

What Happens When A Car Has Been Sitting For 3 Years

Is It Bad For a Car to Sit For 3 Years?

If a car sits for three years, the inactivity can cause harm and damages to the vehicle. If you try to start the engine and drive the car, you will have to do some intensive checking to avoid further problems with your car. 

Cars must be driven around once in a while so that you can maintain the competence and the quality of their parts and its engine. If you let it sit for three years, major repairs need to be done. 

Driving a car that has been sitting for three years can be dangerous. Your battery can be already drained, or your battery can already be dead. 

The fluids will need to be replaced. Fluids that have been sitting on for three years will lose their effectiveness. 

It is terrible for a car to sit around for three years. Make sure to use it every once in a while.

Is It Safe to Start a Car After 3 Years?

Letting a car sit for three years can do extreme damages to the car. Though you can still run and use the car, you cannot start the car automatically. There are things and parts that you need to check. 

There are also things that you need to replace. Your car’s battery could die. If you start the engine, there is a very high possibility of it not starting because the battery is already dead. 

Your battery might need replacement, or you might need help in jump starting the car. Either way, it will require you some time, effort, and even money in trying to start your car. The fluids will also need attention. 

You cannot expect fluid to last and still be effective after three years of sitting there with no activity. These fluids will need their replacement. When we are talking about fluids, it means all fluids. 

You will need to get a new gas. You will also need to do an oil change. Your engine could also be damaged. 

This is a considerable risk and is very dangerous. So it is not safe to start a car after three years. It will only be safe if you will do a lot of safety precautions.

What Happens When a Car Sits For 3 Years?

There can be some uncontrolled situations where you need to put your car on dormancy, but if we talked about three whole years, you put your car at risk. If a car will sit for about three years, it is expected that there will be changes and damages to your car. 

So let us talk about that. Here are some situations that can happen if you will let your car sit for three years.

1. Your Car Can Be Damaged By Animals

Leaving your car to sit for years will make this a habitat for other animals. Animals like rats and other pests could reside in your car or your car engines, and they could ruin something in the process. 

Many car owners have left their cars dormant for years, and they found out that their wires and other parts of the engine are ruined and chewed by pests. This is a big problem. You have to consult an auto mechanic and have this fixed. You cannot run a car with ruined wires and chewed electrical wirings.

2. Your Car’s Battery Can Die

Another thing to worry about is your car battery. If a car has no activity for years, its battery will die or get drained. If a car is running and its engine is turned on, the battery will somehow recharge this way, and this activity will maintain the usual status of the battery. 

If an engine does not get the chance to start for years, the battery will soon die and be drained. The same with other batteries; if unused, it gets damaged. 

This will cost you money and time. Before you can start and rerun the engine, you will need to replace your car’s battery.

3. Your Car’s Physical Appearance Can Be Deformed

When talking about the appearance of a car, this will include the exterior and interior faces of the car. The paint is also another thing. The paint can wear down, and you might need to repaint your car. 

There will also be some parts in your car that might need replacement because they can get rusted in the long run. And you do not want a car with rust in them.

4. Your Car’s Tires Can Go Flat

You might think that a car cannot get flat because it was not driven. But no, cars will most likely get flat if not driven because when the car is running and the tires are on the move, this will maintain the standard shape and condition of the car. 

The inactivity will cause the air in the tire to deflate. Your car’s tires will also need to be checked because the tires carry all the car’s weight. Inactivity can cause the tires to get flat and deflate.

5. Your Car’s Brakes Can Get Rusted

If unused, your car’s brakes can get rusted. Letting your car sit for three years can accumulate rust in the car brakes. 

This is dangerous and must be repaired soon. You must not drive a car with rusted car brakes.

old car sitting 3 years

What Do You Do If Your Car Has Been Sitting For 3 Years?

If your car has been sitting for three years, there are a lot of things you must do before you start driving them again. You need to make sure that you will pump the old gas and replace it with a new one. You also need to replace the oil. 

You might also be needed to do an oil change. You also need to change the oil filter with a new one. You also have to add a new power steering fluid. In the process, you need to remove and also remove the transmission fluid. 

Change the brake fluid and install a new battery. Your battery is already dead. 

You also need to flush the radiator and replace the coolants. These are all the things you should do before starting your car sitting for three years.

What Auto Parts Might Be a Problem After Sitting For 3 Years?

If your car had been sitting for three years, you might have to check the fuel pump. In about three to six months, the unleaded fuel will start to turn bad. Diesel will go bad in six to twelve months. In three years, your car’s fuel can get sticky. 

This will be a massive problem for your car’s fuel pump. You need to consult a service center or get an auto mechanic to fix the problem for you. You will also need to check the gas tank. 

The gas tank can turn bad after years of dormancy and will ruin your fuel system and the engine. There can also be damages to the belts and the hoses of the car. You need to check these for any rotting and rusting.

Car Battery Sitting For 3 Years

If a car has been sitting for three years, your car’s battery can die or get drained. Inactivity will cause your car’s battery to lose its power and drain its power. 

This is bad because you cannot start a car with a bad and drained battery. You will need to jumpstart your car or, worse, remove and replace your car battery with a new one.

Car Engine Sitting For 3 Years

Your car’s engine needs maintenance. When you are driving your car, your car’s engine needs maintenance. If you are not driving your car, it needs more maintenance.

Inactivity in the car’s engine will cause it damages. Not to mention the animals that can reside in your engine and damage other parts there.

Car Spark Plugs Sitting for 3 Years

If your car had been sitting around for about three years, you might need to remove your spark plugs for precaution. You should remove your car’s spark plugs and give it some lubricant. You can also change your spark plugs if you want to.

Oil Sitting In Car for 3 Years

A car sitting for three years will make the oil lose its thickness. It would help if you did an oil change immediately before starting and driving the car again.

Fuel Sitting In Car for 3 Years

There can be moisture that accumulates in the fuel for sitting around for three years. Before starting the car, you have to ensure that you have changed its fuel.


In summary, it is strongly advised not to let your car sit for three years. Dormancy can damage your car and its engine. If you let a car sit for three years, you must be prepared for all the damages and risks it will bring. 

Before starting and driving the car again, you will need to replace and check all the car parts to avoid any problems while running.



Image credits – Canva

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My name is Hank, and I've been in the automotive industry for 27 years. I've been working in my own auto repair shop for the last 13 years, and now I want to help you here, on my blog. Let me know if you have any questions. Read more