It's just about time to "think spring," and with that comes a few things you should do before driving your car the first time after storage. If your car has been in storage for less than six months, follow these steps:
- If the battery has not been removed already for storage, take it out to charge and then store it in a warm dry place until start up.
- Inspect the fuel system. Be sure the choke and throttle linkages move freely and the system is free of any leaks. Check lines for signs of deterioration. Due to advances in refinery procedures, modern pump fuel remains stable for at least six months, so if you topped off the tank prior to storage the fuel should be fine for start up.
- Inspect cooling system. Look for cracking or loose fan belts and leaking or deteriorating radiator and heater hoses. Check that coolant is clear of debris, at the proper level, and is still a rich green color.
- Inspect the engine for signs of oil leaks and that the oil level is up. If the oil wasn't changed prior to storage, change it now; otherwise wait until after the initial start up. Also check transmission, brake, and differential levels and inspect for leaks.
- Inspect the ignition system for signs of cracking on ignition wires and related wiring connections. Check the distributor cap for moisture or deterioration.
- Inspect the brakes and suspension components for any signs of deterioration. Be sure all components are operating freely and functioning as designed, including the emergency brake.
- Repair any problems found prior to start up.
Now you’re ready to:
- Install the warm, fully charged battery into your classic. Remove the ignition wire from the coil and turn the engine over several times. You should do so until your oil pressure gauge needle moves up – if you have a light, let it spin for a 10 count.
- Reconnect the ignition. Also remove the air cleaner lid and check that there is fuel squirting in the carburetor when you move the throttle. Reinstall the air cleaner lid.
- Get in the driver’s seat and follow the usual starting procedures for your car. Be sure the vehicle is out of gear.
- Let the engine idle until it reaches operating temperature. Closely monitor engine operation, watching for leaks, or malfunctioning systems. Listen for noises such as knocks or rattles.
- After the engine has warmed up, shut it down. Change the oil and filter; this clears the engine of any moisture that gathered inside over the winter. Check for any leaks in general once again on and around the car.
- Now you can start it up and check the brakes for proper operation. Take the car for a 30-minute ride close to your home.
- Check again for any fluid leaks when you return home.
- Finally, give your classic a good wash and wax. It’s time to take a spin and enjoy the road with your classic.
NOTE: If your car has been in storage longer than six months, a more thorough inspection and procedures may be required. Storage for long periods of time can actually leave the car in a state of disrepair due to deterioration. It is good to reserve this type of inspection and start up to a trusted mechanic.