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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our poor van (2016 3500, extended, diesel) has been sitting in COVID19 quarantine, in storage south of Boston since October 2019. Our normal MO is to fly down from Anchorage AK where we live and use it for extended trips of 4-7 weeks, usually in spring and fall. Because of COVID we are sticking close to home for the foreseeable future. It currently has a cover, wheel covers, no load or solar input on house batteries and a disconnected starter battery ground and is fully winterized.

Our daughter is going to go to our storage place to check up on the van. She will remove the cover and boot up the solar so the house batteries (AGM) get fully charged. I’m hoping she’ll be willing to use it for some weekend trips, but she sounds hesitant to deal with winterizing and being responsible for our baby.

I’m seeking advice as to whether it’s best to have her start it and idle or not. I don’t want to clog up the DEF system, but running it to get good and warm and charge up starting battery would otherwise seem like a good idea. Or maybe she’ll be willing to take it for a drive. Would driving it just enough to get it up to temperature be worthwhile? Thoughts?
 

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2018 159 High Roof gas, BC, Canada
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I'm somewhat concerned about how all your batteries have fared after sitting for the better part of a year. Lead-acid chemistry drains at a fair rate (10% per month? I'm not sure), even disconnected. If shore power is nearby perhaps invest in some pick up some inexpensive battery maintainers.

I should say that I'm not a mechanic am certainly not familiar with diesel, but I have read that idling a diesel is not sufficient to get it up to operating temperature. You have to drive it and put some load on it.

Also, I would think that diesels are better than gas engines at sitting because diesel is a better lubricant than gas. I bet it could sit for a long time. However, I have heard that diesel fuel doesn't like to sit long and perhaps DEF has an expiry date. While I hope you are having great luck with your diesel, one of their weaknesses is the complicated emissions systems and degraded fuel could exacerbate them.

I have a gasser and one thing I do is to fire it up once a month during its considerable idle times (Nov-Apr). I'm less worried about the engine and more concerned about the AC compressor. It could seize up or leak its refrigerant out if it isn't used for a long time (I had that happen to a car). Starting it up regularly also charges the starter battery, though I have addressed that recently with a 1.5A intelligent battery maintainer on shore power.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm somewhat concerned about how all your batteries have fared after sitting for the better part of a year. Lead-acid chemistry drains at a fair rate (10% per month? I'm not sure), even disconnected. If shore power is nearby perhaps invest in some pick up some inexpensive battery maintainers.

I should say that I'm not a mechanic am certainly not familiar with diesel, but I have read that idling a diesel is not sufficient to get it up to operating temperature. You have to drive it and put some load on it.

Also, I would think that diesels are better than gas engines at sitting because diesel is a better lubricant than gas. I bet it could sit for a long time. However, I have heard that diesel fuel doesn't like to sit long and perhaps DEF has an expiry date. While I hope you are having great luck with your diesel, one of their weaknesses is the complicated emissions systems and degraded fuel could exacerbate them.

I have a gasser and one thing I do is to fire it up once a month during its considerable idle times (Nov-Apr). I'm less worried about the engine and more concerned about the AC compressor. It could seize up or leak its refrigerant out if it isn't used for a long time (I had that happen to a car). Starting it up regularly also charges the starter battery, though I have addressed that recently with a 1.5A intelligent battery maintainer on shore power.
Thanks. Yes I too don't like the gradual drain on house batteries. Discharge rates are far less than 10% per month based in inf. provided by manufacturer and ambient temperatures. We will reconnect 300 watts solar for sufficient time to bring them back up to 100%. It will be interesting to see how they have fared at close to 12 months. Power at our location is not an option. The DEF is good for 36 months at winter temperatures and 18 months summer, so should be OK (knock on wood).
 

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Don't forget to monitor/charge the starter battery, too, which is also AGM in diesels. We bought our AGM house batteries new almost 2 years before installing them (got a good deal). I put a charger on them individually about every other month. They would only be down to about 95% SOC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Don't forget to monitor/charge the starter battery, too, which is also AGM in diesels. We bought our AGM house batteries new almost 2 years before installing them (got a good deal). I put a charger on them individually about every other month. They would only be down to about 95% SOC.
Good to know on house batteries. Yes I'm thinking of a small solar trickle charger for starting battery.
 

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Don’t start it. Be prepared to deal with the DEF which has a lifetime and it has been hot enough here to make it degrade so it may throw a code that is difficult to clear. I would research sphoning it out before you run the van next year and to refill it with fresh.
The batteries will do fine with a maintainer run on them once a month for a day. (I do that for 6 months each year with my other vehicles) Keep the negative cable detached.
Your concern is a significant part of our decision to sell our van. Hopefully it will get occasional use until travel and camping is restored. We were going to have to garage it for 8-10 months. There are no easy answers. Best of luck, it should be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Don’t start it. Be prepared to deal with the DEF which has a lifetime and it has been hot enough here to make it degrade so it may throw a code that is difficult to clear. I would research sphoning it out before you run the van next year and to refill it with fresh.
The batteries will do fine with a maintainer run on them once a month for a day. (I do that for 6 months each year with my other vehicles) Keep the negative cable detached.
Your concern is a significant part of our decision to sell our van. Hopefully it will get occasional use until travel and camping is restored. We were going to have to garage it for 8-10 months. There are no easy answers. Best of luck, it should be fine.
Thanks RD, yes the stale DEF is a concern. I’ll do some digging RE. Siphoning. Looking forward to life getting back to “normal “ down the road, but at the end of the day it’s just stuff, far less important than good health.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
An update on state of batteries after 11 months COVID quarantine in the Boston area. My daughter checked on the van this morning. After 11 months in storage with the ground disconnected the starting battery is reading 12.4 volts, or approx. 60% state of charge. The house batteries (also AGM) are at 12.2 with zero load and no solar, about 50% SOC. Not bad for 11 months. The van will get used for a couple weekend trips so solar and alternator should top everything up. I calculate a 24 month shelf life on the DEF based on the average temps. since the last add. I'm asking her to add 1 gallon fresh and keeping fingers crossed that she won't start throwing codes.
 
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