Spring is coming! For some of you that may still be a few months away, but here at the World Headquarters it’s a nice sunny day. As a result, I’m dusting off the Phoenixmobile and getting it ready to pull it out of the Phoenixcave. I didn’t totally winterize my car, so I don’t have a lot to do to prepare, but there are some things that I do have to do to assure that everything is ok before I get on the street. Since my job is to educate you guys, I have my mortarboard on, and am ready to give you some tips to pull your classic our of storage for spring. Pay attention in the back row there!
1. Do a thourough visual inspection. Even though you haven’t turned a wheel since November, your car has still been subject to “the environment”, which means that hoses and belts can crack over the winter. Check your wipers to ensure they are still good, and check all of your tires as well. They can crack over the winter, especially if you let them deflate. Check your tire pressure while you are down there. Take a good look at the wiring as well; some animals like to eat the insulation, and when a car sits for a while, that’s when it happens. This is also a good time to clean and check your battery – and put it on the charger before you get too far along.
2. Check all of your fluids – then change them. I realize that this is the second time in just a few months that I have talked about your fluids, but they are an important part of the car running well. Brake fluid tends to pick up moisture, so check it with a test strip. Check your antifreeze as well. Check everything, and then go ahead and change what needs changing, including your oil if you didn’t change it before you put the car away. What the heck – change the oil anyway.
3. Check that all of your lights are working. This one might require a partner, so grab your neighbor who secretly is envious of your cool weekend car anyway, and have him help you check that all of your lights are working. Headlights, turn signals, brake lights, etc. This will accomplish two things; you will be 100% sure you have working lights, and he will be even more jealous that you have a cool car, because you made him stand and look at it for the ten minutes the check took. Win/Win.
4. Open the garage up and start it. Now you have checked everything and feel good about where you are, go ahead and start it up. Open the garage door first so you don’t die of carbon monoxide inhalation, but go ahead and fire it up. Some people like to put a little Marvel Mystery Oil in the plug holes for lubrication, but that’s up to you. Don’t rev the engine, just let it idle. This is a great time to do a second check for leaking fluids under the car, and make sure you are still all sealed up. If everything looks and sounds good, go ahead and back it out of the garage.
5. Now wash it! Even cars that have been sitting get dirty – clan that bad boy. Look for any new dents, then yell at your kids for leaning their damn bikes up against your car. Enlist the help of a neighbor again to hose down the outside of the car while you sit inside and check for leaks from sunroof seals, roof seals, or window seals. Just like hoses, they can dry up during periods of storage. Thoroughly dry your car, and since it’s still nice outside, go ahead and put a coat of wax on. Waxing a car twice a year will protect your finish and really make your car a head turner.
6. Check that your insurance is up to par. Just about any agent can be appointed to write insurance, but you don’t want to deal wtih just any agency – you want to deal with an expert. Classic car policies are special, and require the agent to have a certain level of knowledge in order to be written correctly. If you don’t have a specialty policy for your Classic Car, why not look into it now? You will be surprised at how inexpensive the right kind of coverage can be.
7. Go for a spin. Now that everything is inspected, changed, polished and checked, go ahead and go for a drive. Don’t spool it up to a hundred right away, instead, go for a nice leisurely drive, listening for noises that are out of place and things that don’t feel right. Assuming that you put the car away correctly, bringing it back to life shouldn’t take long at all, and you are now ready to enjoy your classic auto again.
Obviously, you know your car better than I do, and you may have your own system that you use to bring it out of storage. Attention to detail is key when dealing with cars that have been in storage for a while, so whether you follow my tips or some system of your own, take the time to pull your classic car out of dry dock the right way, to ensure many more years of head turning fun.