Used Jeep, Not Driven in 1+ Years -
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post #1 of 12 Old 02-04-2016, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
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Used Jeep, Not Driven in 1+ Years

Have a couple questions as far as maintenance and parts that might be checked/worked on before taking over a Jeep Grand Cherokee that hasn't been driven in roughly a year.

My girlfriends grandmother no longer drives and has decided she'd like to give us her Jeep Grand Cherokee being we only own one vehicle. From my understanding, up until the last year the vehicle has been maintained well and has had things done when necessary.

My concerns are, being I don't own a Jeep, is there anything in particular I should be looking for? Her grandmother lives in Los Angeles and we live in Fresno. We'll be taking the car over the grapevine, which for those who don't know, is the mountain pass that separates Southern California from the Central Valley. Other than going up and down the mountain pass it's 100% flat the rest of the way.

I believe there are new tires on the car, and the car really doesn't see any weather (it is parked outside) minus the few times in rains there. Heat would be the only issue.

I had business in LA a few weeks ago so was only able to stop by for a few minutes. It started up fine, didn't seem to be making any noises, so I'm just trying to see what I might need to do in order to get it back to Fresno (3 1/2 hours) without going to a shop.

Obviously coolant being topped out will be necessary, but what else might I need to do/check? Bring oil just to add some if low? My main worry is obviously belts, hoses, and the brakes, being it's a pretty steep downgrade off the Grapevine.

Once in Fresno I plan to take it to Jeep and have them do a 100% check on the vehicle.

Is there anything to be looking at specifically? Is it not smart to attempt to drive it that far, over a pass, when it's been sitting that long?

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post #2 of 12 Old 02-04-2016, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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I couldn't seem to find a way to edit the post, maybe because I'm new. The Jeep has roughly 80,000 miles on it.
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post #3 of 12 Old 02-04-2016, 12:48 PM
2004 WJ 
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If the car has sat for a year I would change the oil.
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post #4 of 12 Old 02-04-2016, 12:53 PM
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Off the cuff...

Before embarking on a large drive, I'd check:

- Tires for dry rot. Even if new, sitting in the sun and not moving can harm them. Would hate to have a blowout.
- Tire pressure check - make sure they are right.
- Oil change - check at minimum, but I'd change it too. (While oil itself doesn't necessarily degrade, it can collect condensation and some of the additives can break down)
- Check fluids:
- Coolant
- Trans fluid
- Check front/rear diff for signs of leaks, check fluid if leakage signs

How much gas is in it? I'd def top it off with some good fuel and put in some fuel treatment just to feel better.

Check main serpentine belt for signs of cracks and replace if needed. Its probably fine though.

New wipers would be nice incase it rains on your trip.

Do a walk around make sure all the lights and etc work. Make sure no lights on dash, gauges look ok, etc.

I would also take it for a shakedown run or two if you can before the big trip. Get it up to operating temp, test the brakes, steering etc. make sure nothing feels odd. Crawl underneath and make sure nothing's leaking after getting to operating temp, including looking in the wheel wells to ensure the axle seals aren't leaking.

If after all that it seems good you're probably fine.

That's more than 90% of folks would do in your case. Heck prob 99%.

When you get it home, prob not a bad idea to service all the fluids and see what is recommended for the mileage.
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post #5 of 12 Old 02-04-2016, 01:10 PM Thread Starter
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I was thinking about going to one of those quick oil places and getting one done, so I'll just do that right off the back. Maybe they have the full service where they'll top off the rest. I think they charge $50 here. Would probably save me quite a bit of time from getting dirty. And they might spot some extra things I wouldn't check.

I believe the check engine light did come on. Wasn't sure if that was due to not being ran for so long or what. That was a concern. Planned on driving around the block a few times, giving it some punch and what not. Tires looked fine when I saw them, but I'll inspect them a bit closer just to make sure.

Seems like what I planned on doing what pretty close. Just wanted to make sure there wasn't anything too special with Jeeps I had to worry about.
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post #6 of 12 Old 02-04-2016, 01:16 PM
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You can do a walk around once it's nice and warmed up (maybe start it up and drive it around for 20mins). Check the fluids, including trans (which needs to be warm and in N). Other than that, if its got air in the tires and is running strong, you're good to go! I drove one home that sat for nearly as needed some things, but it made it home in -20 weather! These things are tough! Enjoy Jeep ownership

Stone white '98 Laredo ZJ 4L - 5.9 "ultrastar" rims, CAI, header, Dynomax turbo w/stock V8 rear pipe
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post #7 of 12 Old 02-04-2016, 04:15 PM
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The Grapevine is nothing to mess around with. Make certain the cooling system
is all good. Coolant, all the hoses should be checked and make certain the thermostat isn't stuck closed. I'd carry some quick fix stop leak to get me by if necessary and a variety of hand tools. Belt's or belt? Check them to. Make sure the spare is good. I'd drive that thing around for a while and bring it up to operating temperature before I set off. Really, unless you know the maintenance and repair history, be prepared for anything.
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post #8 of 12 Old 02-05-2016, 07:01 AM
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1999 WJ 
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Not sure how to check it but the battery needs to be looked at. From other posts I have learned that a battery can be marginal and start the Jeep but will cause some issues while running.
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post #9 of 12 Old 02-05-2016, 09:53 PM
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1998 ZJ 
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Just last Saturday, I bought a WJ in San Fernando that had been sitting for just over a year. After checking oil, trans fluid, coolant, and seeing no leaks in the garage where it was parked, I took it straight to a budget Uniroyal garage. Had them change the oil and filter, and look at the brakes. Then I drove it to Bakersfield. I stopped at Pyramid Lake to take a few pics (see below). The Grapevine was no problem. Conditions were ideal: not too warm, no rain. Then I drove it home to Tehachapi, and on Sunday the skies opened up (see below). Believe it or not, these two pics were taken a little over 24 hours, and a little under a hundred miles, apart

Long story short, you shouldn't need to worry about heat this time of year. But I would suggest taking the wheels off to have a look in the brake calipers. The Grapevine is a long drive downhill, but as long as you have plenty of meat on the pads, you'll be fine.

Edit: Also wanted to suggest the 'Key Trick', since you mentioned a check engine light: Put in the key and turn it to on (just short of cranking it), then back to off, then to on, back to off, then a third time to on, and leave it for a few seconds. The odometer will display any error codes, and finally it will say 'done'. If it doesn't find any, it will just go straight to 'done'. You can google for the meaning of any codes it throws.
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2004WJ47.jpg   2004WJ47snow.jpg  
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post #10 of 12 Old 02-05-2016, 10:05 PM
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Mostly I would check all the rubber. Boots on the front axles, hoses belt tires. If they look good, change the oil, check the fluids, take a short trip up a steep hill, don't baby it - to make sure it doesn't get hot and them fill it up and crank the stereo... A year really isn't that long. My motorhome will sit for 2 years some times. No problem, we get in and go.

Its gonna feel different so take the corners a little slower, its a Jeep not a bmw.

good luck!
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post #11 of 12 Old 02-06-2016, 08:57 AM
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2001 WJ 
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Put some fuel conditioner in the tank and make sure the battery is good and cables and battery post are clean. The check engine light should have created codes that can be seen by doing what Cerbere described. I would want to know what caused the light to come on before departing on my trip home.

2001 GC Laredo 4.0 4x4 - Black l 2001 GC Laredo 4.0 4x4 - Silver
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post #12 of 12 Old 02-06-2016, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help everyone. It's been very useful. Happy to know about the code trick so I know what to search, if one pops up.
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