Car left idling without gas

  • 2005 KIA SPECTRA
  • 2WD
  • 194,000 MILES
I went on a trip for three months and I did not realize my car needed to have a full tank of gas. I left it close to empty. Will I have a lot of problems when I get back home and will anything need to be replaced?
Saturday, April 1st, 2017 AT 11:25 PM

1 Reply

  • 33,763 POSTS
You heard wrong. "Close to empty" is a normal condition, and nothing is going to be damaged. What you will have to consider is the battery is likely to be dead due to the numerous computers with memory circuits that must be kept powered up. There is always a fuse to remove or a connector to unplug when the car is going to be sitting unused for a long time. Those are left out at the factory so the cars can be stored for months, if necessary, until they are sold to a dealer. The mechanics at the dealerships install those fuses, or plug in the connectors, as part of the "new vehicle prep" all cars go through.

Unless specified differently by the manufacturer, most cars are allowed to have a drain on the battery of up to 35 milli-amps, (0.035 amps). Chrysler says at that rate, a good, fully-charged battery will be strong enough to start the engine after sitting for three weeks. That is all most manufacturers will guarantee. I have a 2014 Dodge truck that sat for seven weeks, multiple times this winter, and still started, but it is the three weeks they will guarantee.

The first thing I would do when you get home is to connect a small battery charger, and charge the battery at a slow rate for an hour or two. Do not try to start the engine first. If your car has a factory-installed anti-theft system, it will likely activate if the battery was totally dead, then recharged. If the battery was not totally dead yet, trying to start the engine could drop the battery's voltage enough to kick in the anti-theft system. Regardless, if that system activates, you should be able to turn it off with a remote key fob or by locking, then unlocking a front door with the key.

In most parts of the country, the fuel is not going to go bad in three months. I have two cars, one with a carburetor and one fuel injected, that are driven so little, the gas in them is over five years old. Both cars run fine. Even if you have minor running problems due to the gas, that will clear up once you add some fresh gas to the tank.
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Sunday, April 2nd, 2017 AT 12:30 AM

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