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September 23, 2012

Car Talk

Extended periods of sitting won't harm engines

Syndicated columnists

Dear Tom and Ray:
Are car engines damaged if left on dealership lots for weeks without running? My automotive instructor told me that letting a car sit for more than two weeks without starting it could corrode the fuel lines and injectors. Should I have any concerns about buying a new car that might have been sitting without running at a dealership? Do dealerships take this into consideration and start every car in the lot once every two weeks? Or is this just an urban legend? — Joshua

Ray: It's an urban legend. Most fuel lines these days are plastic. And the rest are stainless steel. So rusting of key parts is not an issue — certainly not in two weeks.

Tom: Not unless all the new cars are parked on sand, and you're finding seashells and starfish on the seats. And the place is called "Low Tide Toyota."

Ray: Even if a car sits for a month or more on a dealer's lot, I think the worst thing that'll happen is that the battery will die and the car will get covered in bird splat.

Tom: I suppose if a new car were left sitting on a lot for years, I might want to have the rubber components replaced — the belts, hoses and maybe the tires. Not because they'd be no good after a few years, but because rubber does get broken down by oxygen and UV light exposure. So it ages even if it isn't being used. And I'd rather start out with brand-new parts if I'm buying a new car.

Ray: But even after a couple of years of sitting on the lot, other than the rubber stuff, everything else would be brand new. So there's nothing to worry about, Joshua.

(Car Talk is a nationally syndicated column by automotive experts (and brothers) Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Write to them at the Car Talk website.)

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