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I just got a used Dodge Caravan from my parents. The van has sat idle for about 8 years. What do I need to do to get it safe to drive. We just changed the dead battery. None of the service lights go on so I wonder if it is safe to drive on a 2 hour trip.

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Amanda J. Pierce, MBA Angel, I would pay close attention to your tire condition, being that it has sat unattended for that long you may have dry rot on your side walls which can lead to compromised integrity of your tires. I would recommend a basic tune-up as well. Spark Plugs and wires, fuel filter, oil change, and you may look into a coolant flush as well. Hope this helps! A. J. Valle

Amy Mattinat, Owner and Author at Auto Craftsmen Ltd Hi Angel, NO - it is not safe to drive on a 2 hr. trip with this Caravan. After sitting for 8 yrs it is imperative you take it to your auto technician and have a thorough inspection of the vehicle to see what repairs and service work it may need. Any type of machine HATES to just sit. Think of the "Tin Man" in the wizard of oz. He got all rusty and couldn't more. There could be parts of the van that are rusted together and I would guess that there is various fluids that are contaminated. I so glad you wrote in before you headed out on the road with this vehicle.

Judy Curry, Co-Founder and Vice President of Marketing at Currys Auto Service Angel, I would have all the fluids changed: oil, transmission, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid and get a tank of gas run through the car before you take a long trip. Have the tires checked (including the spare!)- all tire manufactures suggest 5 years on tires due to dry rotting. This may not be an issue if the car was stored inside, It could be in good shape but don’t trust the car on a long trip until you have some time behind the will for a little history of the car there could me a few Mickey mouse issues that pop up. Oh, check the wiper blades too! To be in a downpour would not be the best time to find out that they need replaced. Judy and the Curry's Team.

Kerri Papajohn, Marketing Director at USA Sealants, Inc. There are a lot of other variables to be considered like where it was parked and the climate. Foremost - this may be expensive even with the cheapest parts. I wouldn't trust it for 2 hours before taking into a shop. I would drain the gas first (clean tank with a solution - ask your auto parts store for a cleaning solution for deposits left from gas oxidizing) THEN refill tank. Then filters should be replaced (oil and fuel)which is cheap. All others fluids replaced very soon. And then there is the mechanical side where a shop would recommend replacing plugs, etc. I would be worried about the brakes too. Other concerns: the ignition, drive belts, fuel lines, timing belt, water pump, cam shaft seals... I am sure you get the idea. Please take it into the shop before your trip.

Lori Johnson, Owner and Instructor at Ladies Start Your Engines Dear Angel, Since you want to take it on a trip, I would suggest having a technician do a complete check. Sitting for that long can effect the fluids, tires, belts and can cause rust on brakes and suspension components. Lori Johnson

Pat Fleischmann, Director of First Impressions at Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair What a Great gift! No doubt this is going to need some attention after sitting fo 8 years..ugh! Before this 2 hour trip, get it into your trusted Mechanic/facility. They will get it road ready not just for your trip but, as your driver vehicle upon your return. Expect to get an oil change, filters changed, the belts & tires I'm sure at this time are dry-rotten...don't take a chance with these! They will Check lights, brakes, etc. ALL the things to make sure you're road-worthy SAFE! You are going to have to put out some $$$, but will be well worth it. Have your mechanic prioritize your repairs they may find per your budget. Safety is most Important with a car full of precious cargo, Family! It's better to be sure and SAFE, than to have your 2 hour trip turn out to be an ALL day break down & being towed~~

Suzanne Grego, Technician at City of Philadelphia Fleet Management Angel, I would definately do a full service on this vehicle - oil and filter, fuel filter, air filter. Check all the levels of the other fluids and definately take a good look at the tires. After sitting that long, it's a good possibility that the tires are dry rotted. If you see many cracks in the rubber, you may want to put new tires on it. Also, check for rust anywhere and grease any grease points. Take a look at the serp belt and of course make sure the brakes are up to par. Look at the hoses and check the coolant. This maintenance may cost a few bucks, but will be less than a car payment every month. Suzanne

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