Spring has finally made its long-awaited debut, which also means it’s auto show season!
If you haven’t already, now would be a good opportunity to perform some pre-driving maintenance on your collectible car before taking it out of storage.
On the preparation side of the equation, we’ve compiled a short list of what we consider to be the most crucial areas to cover.
If you have prepped your vehicle for winter storage, you may need to complete a few tasks, such as installing the battery, removing the jack stands, and inflating the tires. Now is the time, if you haven’t already, to place the battery on a trickle charger and bring it up to full cranking amps. Pay particular attention to cleaning the positive and negative terminals when putting it in the vehicle. Now would be a good time to inspect the starter solenoid and ground wires for nicks, frays, insulation tears, and loose terminal connections. If uncertain, replace with new.
After examining the battery and charging mechanism, go to the fluids. Check the levels of engine oil, coolant, and transmission oil. When was the last time you inspected the power steering reservoir and flushed the brake system with new DOT 3 or 4 fluid? If the vehicle is still on jack stands, remove the wheels, find a friend, bleed the brakes, and measure the thickness of the brake pads and shoes. Those with drums – when did you last adjust the shoes? Or looked for leaks in the wheel cylinders? Rubber flex lines? Examine these as well for worn marks/bulges or cracks.
Consider yourself prepared to turn the key and rev her up? Not quite yet. We have witnessed our fair share of stuck floats and misfires. If you don’t already have an ABC fire extinguisher in your garage, put down the tools and head to your nearest hardware or automotive store to purchase one.
Roll your vehicle out of the garage before turning the ignition switch and priming the carburetor. Stuck floats, leaking bowls, ruptured fuel lines, and dried-out diaphragms, you name it, we’ve seen it all lead to that four-letter “F” word: FIRE. And once it starts, you open the hood to check what’s wrong, and ‘woosh!’ the garage ceiling is immediately engulfed in flames. Panic ensues, and we have not just a car fire but also a house fire. Pull or push your vehicle out of the garage, keep a fire extinguisher handy, and then proceed with the ignition. The house/vehicle you save may become yours!
Tire pressure check. Check for dry rot, cracking, and date codes if you can locate them. Tires on the majority of classic automobiles never wear out; rather, they “time out” owing to age. When were they most recently replaced? And did you realize that tires also deteriorate internally? Do you wish to play the delamination game, in which the tire transforms into a weed whacker and rips your fender at 55 miles per hour? Before rolling the vehicle out, inflate the tires to make it easier to push!
Have you checked the coolant and oil levels? Also, when was the last time the oil was changed? Now that you have readied the vehicle for a startup, start it up and inspect it while it idles. Check for fuel leaks around the carburetor, fuel pump, fuel lines, etc.
Does the coolant circulate properly? Hoses should not bulge or leak. All systems ‘go’? It appears that you are prepared for a brief stroll around the block or maybe further. However, before you do so, ensure that you have your most recent auto insurance identification card with you.
Create your own checklist before starting the vehicle for the first time. Over the course of more than a century of automobile production, every vehicle has had a distinct technique, and it would be impossible to list them all here. Make a list – you are the expert on your vehicle – and make it happen. The automobile driving season has arrived, and we want you to enjoy it without incident.