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Wilson's Auto Restoration Blog

9 Things to Check on Your Classic Car Before Your First Spring Cruise

If you are a classic car or truck owner, chances are you may have already taken your classic for a cruise this year.  Spring is certainly here and many of us have been looking for something to do while we wait out stay-at-home orders.

Last month we posted an article that outlined a COVID – 19 social distancing plan for classic car enthusiasts and the very first suggestion was to go for a joyride.  We should have mentioned that there are 9 things you should check on your classic car before your first spring cruise.

By now the entire country is experiencing springtime temperature! That means it is definitely time for our classic cars and trucks to be taken out of storage. The long winter nap is over! So, if we have caught you before your first cruise or not, we have some pointers on getting your vehicle ready for the summer season.

Check for leaks – The first place I would look is beneath the car. Hopefully at most, all you find is a few drips of oil from the front timing cover.  This is a quite common place for oil to leak from and is relatively an easy fix.  The cooling system, power steering, transmission, rear axle, or brake lines might show evident signs of a leak as well. Now is the best time to address the issue and give it your full attention. This is also a good time to check radiator hoses for cracks or any sign of rot. Be sure to check around the clamps as this is usually the first place they start to deteriorate.

Make sure fluids are fresh – An oil change is the bare minimum when pulling your car out of storage. It is actually in your best interest to replace all the fluids. That way you know you are ready for the season. Flush the radiator and use a new coolant of 30% – 50% max antifreeze. Drain the brake lines, flush, and refill the brake system. You may want to consider draining the gas tank and fuel system as well.

Charge the battery – You probably disconnected your battery for storage. If you left it on a trickle charger it should be good to go. Worst case scenario is that it needs a little charge. You should also check to ensure the battery posts are free of any corrosion build up.

Inspect the exhaust – You may have stuffed a rag up the tailpipe to help keep critters out of your exhaust system. Make sure you remove it, otherwise you might stall out which can be a little embarrassing. Air coming in is as important as exhaust coming out so be sure to clean and inspect the engine’s air filter as well.

Inspect belts & suspension – Inspect your belts, suspension joints, pivot points and bushings very closely. Note any parts that have cracks or other signs of wear and replace them immediately. Any rubber boots or seals should be soft and able to flex. If they are not, then cracks are inevitable.

Kick the tires – Proper tire pressure is important for safety, gas mileage and vehicle performance. Make sure you check the tire pressure and inflate them to their proper level. This is also a good time to check the tightness of your lug nuts as well.

Lubricate the engine – Prior to firing up the engine you should remove the spark plugs and add a little oil to each cylinder. Before removing the spark plugs, we suggest marking the plug wires for future reference when they go back in. After adding oil to the cylinder, crank the engine over by hand to help thoroughly lubricate all moving parts. Some choose to use the ignition key to turn over the engine a few times, but we suggest doing this step by hand. It may be a challenge to turn it over at first, but the piston rings should free up after that allowing the engine to turn.

Start your engines – Once you have everything inspected and tuned up and ready to go it is time to crank over the engine and let it warm up. Do not rev your engine yet, just let it warm up. If you flushed the fuel system you may need to spray some starter fluid into the carburetor and then replace the air filter. Before you back your ride out of the driveway give it one more once over to see if you can spot any leaks or other signs of trouble. Pump the brakes to see that the pressure is correct. Turn the wheel to check your power steering is working (if you have it) and shift through the gears to make sure the clutch and transmission feel like they are working smooth.

Go for a spin – Stay close to home for the first few trips out this season. Especially the first trip out. This first run is an excellent opportunity to discover any issues your classic car or truck may have developed during storage. Pay close attention to the performance and any suspicious sounds. After you return from your first trip out you can then try to fine tune your vehicle for the summer season. Once you feel you have her ready to roll in top condition you should take her out for a longer cruise to make sure everything is right as rain.

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