10 Tips for
Taking a Car Out of Storage
Well the first nice day of the
season arrived this past weekend. A balmy 53
degrees here in New England, sunshine and clear
blue skies. There was no wind, but I swear
I could hear my Morgan calling me from the
storage lock-up some ten miles away!
Yes, brethren, Spring is
here! It's that time when a young mans heart
thoughts of 'Tinkering' and 'Fettling' and
CLASSIC CARS! But before you pull
your car from winter storage, don your
helmet and strap on your lap-belt, take
care of these ten things, to ensure miles
- Drain and properly dispose of any gas
in the tank, in the carburetor float bowls
and also flush the fuel lines. I know this
may seem like a terrible waste, but bad
gas gives you nothing but trouble! (just
as your mother!). If for some reason the
car doesn't start, the more potential causes
you have eliminated ahead of time, the
faster you'll be able to find the problem
and get on the road!
- Drain, flush and replace the coolant.
I know you only put it in three months
ago, but many of the newer 'coolants' have
corrosion inhibitors to help protect your
cooling system. These corrosion inhibitors
have been eating away at the rust inside
your cooling system for the past 90 days,
so flushing things through could prevent
a blockage and subsequent overheating the
next time the mercury soars. Replace with
fresh coolant. A 50/50 anti-freeze/water
mix is fine.
- Change the engine oil. Oil that has been
sitting in an engine for three months is
likely to be contaminated with water and
possibly acids that can cause premature
bearing failure and rust inside the engine.
While you are at it, now is a good time
to change the oil filter too.
- Charge the battery, and keep it warm
until you are ready to use it.
- If the car has been left for a very long
period of time unattended (more than 90
days), remove the sparkplugs and squirt
some form of 'upper-cylinder lubricant'
into the cylinders. This will help free
any piston rings that may have become stuck.
- Bleed the brakes
and check the operation at the wheel
cylinders. Make sure the Brake and Clutch
master cylinders are full of brake fluid.
Brake fluid can absorb water very quickly
so make absolutely sure your brakes are
working before tearing off down the street!
If the car has sat a long time, it is
recommended that you purge the system
of old and possibly contaminated brake
fluid. Don't forget to check the operation
of the 'hand' or 'emergency' brake too!
- Install the warmed
and fully charged battery in the car.
With the spark plugs removed, turn the
engine over with the key several times.
The aim here is to let that oil you put
into the cylinders lubricate the cylinder
walls, so you don't scratch things up,
and also to 'prime' the oil and fuel
pumps ready for ignition. You want to
continue cranking the engine until the
oil pressure gauge needle moves up, or
your oil pressure 'idiot' light goes
the spark plugs, ensuring to reattach
correctly. Now remove the air filter
cover and liberally spray some 'engine
starter fluid' like "Ez-Start" or
similar, into the mouth of the carburetors.This
will greatly increase the likely hood
that your car will start first time
and you want your engine to have the
possible chance for 'first time' ignition
as you can give it. Leave the air filter
cover off for now.
- Get behind the
wheel, make sure the gears are not engaged,
depress the clutch, give it a little
bit of gas or choke and turn the ignition
key! (Hopefully you are cheering at this
point to the sound of a running car!)
- Don't rev the engine,
rather let it 'idle' until it reaches
operating temperature. Replace the air
filter cover. Check there are no fluids
leaking beneath the car, check the brakes
work, then staying close to home, take
the car on a short 30 minute run. This
will loosen everything up evaporate all
the moisture in the exhaust and in the
engine. Once back home, check again that
there are no fluids leaking beneath the
car. Wash the entire car and apply a
good wax. Don't forget to clean the inside.
Do this early in the day to give it plenty
of time to thoroughly dry before your
run. You are ready for a season of Classic