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I have a '90 Jeep Cherokee Laredo. I've had some financial problems the past few years so my car has been sitting in my garage for the better part of 5.5 yrs. Prior to that it ran GREAT. Has around 32k miles, most of which were on it when purchased around '98. At one point the steering column became very loose and I just quit driving it. Three yrs ago a friend had her significant other, who'd had a mechanical shop prior, 'fix it'. He kept it for close to 2 mo and rebuilt the steering column. I so wish he would've just popped it out and replaced with even a used one but he didn't. I got car up and running around '04 (for a whole 3 mo) then was told I had an electrical short somewhere. A couple couldn't find it in obvious places although I've never taken it in for diagnostic testing. Do I have to do this? I know, it's horrible to let it sit, not good for car. My finances have been such that I didn't want to pay for towing then cost of diagnostic, to have someone say it could cost many hundreds to fix. I suspect the problem may be in the column or any wiring this guy may have moved, adjusted, but who knows. I know the car is old by everyone's standards but I'm fine with that. If I get a good job soon I'd consider having it repaired. Opinion? Also, I'd kept it in my garage but when he had it for close to 2 mo, it was outdoors and I imagine he opened the door alot to deal with the column and I'm in rainy Pac NW so it got some mildew. I've visibly cleaned any off but it smells some, I'd say 25%. Is that safe, do you think, and any ideas about that? I'd like some resolution with this long-standing problem. It's interior and ext are in very good shape and everything ran fine before although it ran a little hot even after radiator was replaced around '01. Thank you very much for your consideration.

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Jenny Trostel, Partner at Anderson of Hunt Valley Roz, Having a car sit for a long time is not good, but 5.5 years is too long. You could have many problems with the vehicle and they could continue to appear for many years. I would find a good ASE certified technician that works on Jeeps and ask for advice on whether it is worthwhile putting the car back on the road. Pay them to do an analysis of the car. If you decide to have all the repairs done, get a solid quote from the technician before you have anything done and then you can decide if it is worth repairing. Make sure you get all the work completed so that you know that the car is safe to drive. Good Luck!

Patty Streeter,  at Roz, Check out our expert answers! If you want to get a second opinion, make sure you take it to an ASE certified technician. You can find one near you by going here:

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