What should I do to prepare my car for 4 months of garage storage?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 1999

Dear Tom and Ray:

I leave my '88 Buick Park Avenue in my garage in Florida for approximately four months of the year while I'm away during the summer. I was told to have an oil
change as close as possible to the time the auto will remain inactive and then to disconnect the battery. Just what is the proper thing to do for inactive periods? I saw an ad
for this thing called the "Exergizer" which "exercises" your battery while you're away. It apparently places a 65-amp load on the battery for 17 seconds twice a day.
Then it recharges the battery over the next couple of hours. An audible alarm and a "fail" light come on if there are any problems. It claims that it keeps your battery in
operating condition, just as if you were starting the car every day. Would this be a good idea for these long periods of inactivity? -- Gerald

RAY: Gee, I don't know, Gerald. My brother has long periods of inactivity, and we don't do anything special for him.

TOM: I think it's a bad idea, myself. First of all, you're only going to be gone four months. For four months, you really don't need to do anything. I'd disconnect the
battery, and that's it. My guess is that the car will start perfectly for you when you get back.

RAY: And I'd be wary of the "Exergizer." First of all, batteries have a limited number of charge and discharge cycles in their lifetimes. And I don't see any reason to
waste two cycles a day while you're away. It's summer, and it's only four months. The battery simply doesn't need it.

TOM: But, more importantly, I'd be concerned about safety. Although it may make noise and turn on a light if something goes wrong, who's going to be around to check
it? You won't know anything went wrong for four months!

RAY: So if it fails to shut off, melts your battery and sets your car, your garage and then your house on fire, it'll be nice to know a little red light came on, but will that
do you any good after the fact? I'm sure the Exergizer folks will tell you that's a rare or nonexistent occurrence, but there's so much energy in a battery that I don't see
any reason to take a chance.

TOM: If you're still not convinced, read our next column on Wednesday, Gerald.

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