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Wilson's Auto Restoration Blog

Spring is in the Air! Time to Get Your Classic Car Out of Storage!

The first day of spring is days away!  That’s right, Wednesday, March 20 will mark the first day of Spring for 2019.  Old man winter has been pretty stubborn this year… especially in the norther-most states, but here in the south, temperatures are quickly rising into 60s & 70s and birds are chirping as Spring begins to warm us all up.

The warmer temperatures mean one thing to the classic car owner.  Time to get your prized possession out of storage and back out on the open road.  Your classic car or truck might still need to dodge some April showers, but the Summer sun will be here before you know it.

There are few things more exciting than that first cruise of the year, but before you go, we have some pointers on awakening your classic from hibernation after being in storage.

Look for leaks – A great place to start is to look beneath the car.  You may find some clues to any leaks you have with the cooling system, power steering, transmission, rear axle, brake lines or oil leaks that need 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 go.

Freshen up the fluids – Replacing the oil and oil filter are a given, but if your car has been sitting a year or more you may consider replacing all fluids.  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 – If you followed our tips last December on how to store your classic car then your battery was disconnected and stored somewhere safe for the season.  If you left it on a trickle charger, all your battery should need is to battery posts and wires are free of any corrosion build up.

Check the exhaust – You may have plugged up the tail pipes to help keep critters out of your exhaust system.  Be sure to remove them to avoid an embarrassing stall out.  Air coming in is as important as exhaust going out so be sure to clean and inspect the engine’s air filter as well.

Inspect belts & suspension – Take a close look at all of your belts, suspension joints, pivot points and bushings.  Any part with cracks or other deterioration should be replaced.  Any rubber boots or seals should be soft and able to flex.  If they are not, then cracks are coming soon.

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

Lubricate the engine – before starting the engine you should remove the spark plugs and add a little oil to each cylinder.  Prior to 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.

Gentlemen 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.

Take her for a cruise – We suggest that you keep your first trip out close to home.  This first trip should be a test run for you to assess any other issues your classic car or truck may have developed during storage.  Really listen and feel how your car is performing and make note of anything suspicious you might find.  After you have done your initial run make any corrections you found on the test drive.  At this time, you should be good to go for a longer cruise and feel good that you have done the necessary steps to bring your classic car or truck out of storage.

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